Object Title

6 in. howitzer barrel - 6-inch breechloading (BL) howitzer; barrel only

6 in. howitzer barrel - 6-inch breechloading (BL) howitzer; barrel only

Date

1917

Object Number

XIX.875

Provenance

Purchased by private treaty from Trident Arms on 10/11/95

Physical Description

The barrel of a 6 inch breech-loading howitzer of the type used in the First World War. The breech is missing and the remnants of a shell are trapped part-way along its length. Inside the barrel are the remains of a shrapnel shell which exploded prematurely. This was probably caused by a faulty fuze since the accident occurred before the breech could be closed. Damage to the threads of the Welin breech ring can be seen, caused as the breech block was blown out.
Sadly, some of the gunners were probably killed or injured as a result. The barrel bulged under the strain but shows the great strength of ‘wire-wound’ construction; during manufacture, steel strip was wound around the barrel under tension to resist the force of firing.
Range of 10,424 m (11,400 yd)
Rate of fire is 2 rounds per minute.
Crew of 10.

Dimensions

ProjectileWeight45.35kg
ProjectileWeight100lb
Barrellength87.5in.
Barrellength2.22m

Firearms/Artillery

Serial Number C6928B (?)

Calibre

152 mm (6 in.)

Inscriptions and Marks

1870barrel
breech ring
inner liner

Associations

Notes

This barrel was part of the 6 inch howitzer of 26 cwt introduced in late 1915 and used during the heavy bombardments during World War I. In all, 22,400,000 rounds were fired on the western front from this type of gun. The British army also used it during WWII notably in Eritrea against the Italians in 1941. It is of so-called wire wound construction; the main tube has steel strip wound around it under tension to give the barrel walls extra strength. There is an exploded round stuck near the chamber. This 'premature' explosion might have been caused by a faulty fuze as it appears that the breech was not closed at the time. The barrel has bulged slightly, but shows the strength of the 'wire wound' construction. The breech block was of interrupted screw design fitted with a pad device (obturator) to seal the gases on firing. This was necessary because the propellant was contained in bags not a brass cartridge case. Bag charge guns were known as BL (Breech-Loading) and those with cartridge cases as QF (Quick-Firing).