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Great Britain

BL 9.2-in. Mk.I and II siege howitzer

Heavy artillery

Contributor :
Gilles Roland      http://vestiges.1914.1918.free.fr/
(Wikimedia commons) Marcin Wichary      http://commons.wikimedia.org/
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Location :
United Kingdom
Imperial War Museum
Coordinates : Lat : 51.49540 / Long : -0.10982
General comments on this surviving gun :

Identical items in the same location : 1
Items covered by this file : 1

This is the famous 'Mother' howitzer, the prototype that succeeded the trial tests in July 1914 before being sent to France in August 1914 to take part in the fightings

Historic and technical information
Denomination :     BL 9.2-in. Mk.I and II siege howitzer Origin :       ( Coventry Ordnance Works)             ( Vickers )          

Historic context :

At the beginning of the XXth century, The British Army acquired the conviction that a heavier howitzer should be added to the reglementary 6 inches howitzer. Both seduced and deceived by the performances of a Skoda 9.45 inches howitzer bought to the famous Austrian company, the army decided to develop a specific equipment, using the calibre of 9.2 inches that was yet in use in coastal defense units. The 'Coventry Ordnance Works' received the contract, and a first prototype was delivered in the summer of 1914 for trials that proved satisfactory yet in July 1914. While the industrial production was starting, that prototype nicknamed 'Mother' (who survived and is now exposed in the London Imperial War Museum), was sent to France in August 1914, and shoot its first shells at Neuve Chapelle in the beginning of 1915.

The 'BL 9.2 inches Mk I Howitzer' was a robust and modern weapon equipped with the very first British hydro-pneumatic recoil system (that was later on adopted as the standard system of this Army), in a variable recoil technique depending on the elevation angle. It had to be transported in three separate loads for automotive transport. Because of a relative instability during the fire, it had to be attached to an 'earth box' that the soldiers had to fill with 9 tons of earth with shovels, in adddition to a heavy wooden platform. Needless to say, that operation did not created a lot of enthusiasm for this weapon in the soldiers hearts...

A model 'BL 9.2 inches Mk II Howitzer' was introduced by Vickers in 1916, with a longer tube to compensate the relatively low range of the Mk I. This second version never entirely replaced the existing Mk I. 512 items were produced as a total of the MkI and MkII, and a lot of them were still in service at the beginning of WW1. In addition to the United Kingdom, this weapon was used in Canada, Australia, USA, Belgium and Russia.

Technical data :

  • Complete description : Ordnance Breech Loading 9.2 inches Mark I to Mark II siege howitzer
  • Design year : 1913
  • Calibre : 234.00 mm
  • Weight in firing position : 13577 kg (Mk I) - 16460kg (Mk II) plus 9 - 11 tons of earth
  • Weight for transportation : 3 separate loads
  • Tube length in calibres : 14.50 (Mk I) - 19 (Mk II)
  • Grooves : 0 unknown
  • Projectile weight : 131.5 kg
  • Initial speed : 362 m/s (Mk I) - 483 m/s (Mk II)
  • Fire rate :
  • Range : 9200 m (Mk I) - 12740 m (Mk II)
  • Elevation range : +15 / +55 degrees (Mk I) - +15 / +50 degrees (Mk II)
  • Direction range : 60 degrees total range

  • Allied Artillery of World War One           Ian V. Hogg                   Crowood   1998  
  • British Artillery 1914-19, Heavy Artillery       Dale Clarke                   Osprey Publishing   2005