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Object Title

Gun - 18 pounder QF (Quick-Firing) Field gun

Gun - 18 pounder QF (Quick-Firing) Field gun

Date

1918

Object Number

XIX.529

Provenance

Believed to have been chosen by Charles ffoulkes after the First World War for the Royal Armouries collection of artillery.

Physical Description

During the Boer War the British, realising the shortcomings of their artillery, decided on a true quick-firing (QF) gun. No existing model was considered suitable. So the new gun combined the designs of the great firm Vickers, Sons & Maxim and the Royal Arsenal, Woolwich. Introduced in 1904, later versions gave improved durability and range. Originally intended for mobile warfare firing shrapnel shell against troops in the open, once the armies became entrenched on the Western Front, the 18 pounder had to be modified to enable it to fire heavy barrages of high exposive shell. Steel barrel sliding on recoil through bronze cradle, by means of a long rib on each side of the barrel, forged in one with the barrel and machined to engage in matching slots in the cradle. Above the barrel is the cylinder containing the hydraulic recoil and run-out control mechanism, part of which was wound with rope in the field, which, if kept wet during prolonged firing provided a cooling effect. Full recoil was 49 inches [1.25 m]. Rifling is polygroove, 18 grooves. At the rear the breech ring is screwed to the barrel. It carries the lug or eye to which the recoil cylinder piston rod is bolted and it accepts the Vickers tapered interrupted screw-breech block [based on French designs and, as for example, used in their 75 mm QF mountain howitzer, later adopted by the British as the 2.95 inch QF but still known by the men as the ‘millimetre gun’]. This is so arranged that the forward [inner] diameter is greater than that at the rear [carrier] end so that there is a wedge effect when the block is under pressure during firing. The block has two threaded and two plain sections. The single motion action is operated by a lever on the right with the bronze carrier hinged likewise. The extractor is operated on opening the breech by a cam effect at the hinge. The breech block contains the firing mechanism which is cocked and fired by a lever on the left, working through a transfer mechanism housed in the breech ring. This of course only operates when the breech is properly closed. The transfer mechanism is arranged so that if required, a lanyard can be hooked onto it for firing. A safety catch is fitted on the right. A planed flat is worked onto the right of the breech ring for the use of a field clinometer to verify tangent elevation. The breech ring is marked on top.

Featured in

Techniques

Wire round

Materials

Dimensions

Barrellength8.1 ft.
Barrellength2.46 m

Firearms/Artillery

Serial Number None visible

Calibre

3.3 in

Inscriptions and Marks

V.S.M. 18PR MKII

Notes

The 18 pounder is one of the most famous British artillery weapons of WWI. After the Boer War the British decided to equip the army with a true quick-firing gun since it had fallen behind other European countries in the arms race. The new gun combined the designs of the major arms firm Vickers Sons & Maxim, the Elswick Ordnance Company and the Royal Gun Factory at Woolwich. It was introduced in 1904 and four different Marks of gun were produced during the war with the Mark 2 used on a high-angle mounting in an anti-aircraft role. Field Gun elevation was limited until the Mark V carriage was introduced which had some modern-looking improvements such as a split trail. The 18-pounder continued in service after WWI as the basis for developing a combined field gun and howitzer but with the need for firing a heavier projectile. To this end 18-pounder barrels were removed from their carriages and the new 25-pounder barrels (87 mm/3.45 in) substituted. It became known as the 18/25-pounder and thereafter the 25-pounder Gun/Howitzer. A lighter version, the 13 pounder was built for the Royal Horse Artillery in 1904 and is still used today by the King's Troop for firing salutes.

Thumbnail image of 18 pounder QF (quick-firing) field, by Vickers, Sons and Maxim, 1918, Britain. (XIX.529) © Jonty Wilde
Thumbnail image of 18 pounder QF gun. British, dated 1918 (XIX.529)
Thumbnail image of 18 pounder QF gun. British, dated 1918 (XIX.529)
Thumbnail image of 18 pounder QF gun. British, dated 1918 (XIX.529)
Thumbnail image of 18 pounder QF gun. British, dated 1918 (XIX.529)