BL 8-inch howitzer Mk VI – VIII

The BL 8-inch howitzer Mk VI - VIII was supposed to replace the predecessor models built only provisionally at the beginning of the war and more in line with the requirements of the British army.

After the British army discovered in 1915 that the temporary BL 8-inch Mk I-V guns were insufficient, Vickers began developing a follow-up gun. At that time, the 8 inch caliber had already prevailed in the UK, and accordingly, the new guns should also have this caliber.

The MK VI was based on the MK V version, but was a lot easier and had an 8 inch caliber. In August 1915, the prototype was presented and after some adjustments, the first 50 pieces were built from March 1916 and shipped.

The MK VII was introduced in July 1916, unlike the MK VI had a longer run and increased range. However, this gun also had significant defects and the pipes were too often damaged during firing.

In the MK VIII, the tube finally became thicker and more stable to remedy the shortcomings of the MK VII.

Another shortcoming was the stability of the guns when firing when they were too hard or too soft ground. For this reason, a special commission was sent by the United Kingdom to France to check this and find a solution. After the investigations, the commission introduced a platform that was geared specifically to these guns and thus significantly increased stability. However, the effort of assembly and dismantling was quite large, which caused problems especially for American soldiers later in the war.

In addition to the British army, the guns were also used by the Canadian, Australian and American Army. After the First World War, some guns were also sold to Finland, where they were used in the Finnish-Russian War of 1939-1940. During the western campaign of the German Wehrmacht some of these guns were also available to the British army. After the surrender of France they fell into the hands of the Wehrmacht, who could only use them for training purposes.


BL 8-inch howitzer Mk VI - VIII


BL 8-inch howitzer Mk VI - VIII




Data sheet:

Designation: BL 8-inch Howitzer Mk VI - VIII
Country of Origin: Great Britain
Year: 1916
Number of pieces: 711
Caliber: 203,2 mm
Tube length: 3,5 meters
Reach: Max. 11.200 meters
Mass: 8.740 Kg



Australian soldiers with their gun during the Third Battle of Ypres, September 15, 1917


BL 8-inch howitzer Mk VIII with British soldiers on April 23, 1940 in France






You can find the right literature here:


British Artillery 1914–19: Field Army Artillery (New Vanguard)

British Artillery 1914–19: Field Army Artillery (New Vanguard) Paperback – March 25, 2004

In 1914 the artillery of Britain's 'Field Army' encompassed those weapons judged to have sufficient mobility to keep up with troops in the field. This book describes all major variants, from the 60-pdr guns of the heavy field batteries, perched somewhat uncomfortably on the cusp between field artillery and siege artillery, to the 2.75in. guns of the mountain batteries, almost toy-like in comparison. Between these two extremes lay the bulk of the artillery of the Field Army: the 13-pdr guns of the Royal Horse Artillery, and the 18-pdr guns and 4.5in. howitzers of the Royal Field Artillery batteries.

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British Artillery 1914–19: Heavy Artillery (New Vanguard)

British Artillery 1914–19: Heavy Artillery (New Vanguard) Paperback – August 10, 2005

World War I is often deemed to have been 'a war of artillery', and British heavy artillery played a vital part in destroying the German trenches and providing invaluable cover for advancing troops on the Western Front. This book details the huge guns of the Royal Garrison Artillery, including the 6-in. siege gun and howitzer, the 8-in. howitzer, the 12-in. railway and siege howitzer and the infamous 9.2-in breech-loading siege howitzer. Camouflage and enemy battery locations and transport are covered, as well as tactics used and how the guns were developed and manned.

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Artillery in the Great War

Artillery in the Great War Hardcover – May 18, 2011

Artillery was the decisive weapon of the Great War - it dominated the battlefields. Yet the history of artillery during the conflict has been neglected, and its impact on the fighting is inadequately understood. Paul Strong and Sanders Marble, in this important and highly readable study, seek to balance the account.Their work shows that artillery was central to the tactics of the belligerent nations throughout the long course of the conflict, in attack and in defense. They describe, in vivid detail, how in theory and practice the use of artillery developed in different ways among the opposing armies, and they reveal how artillery men on all sides coped with the extraordinary challenges that confronted them on the battlefield. They also give graphic accounts of the role played by artillery in specific operations, including the battles of Le Cateau, the Somme and Valenciennes.Their work will be fascinating reading for anyone who is keen to understand the impact of artillery

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World War I Battlefield Artillery Tactics (Elite)

World War I Battlefield Artillery Tactics (Elite) Paperback – December 9, 2014


From the beginning of 'trench warfare' in winter 1914/15, artillery became the absolutely dominant arm in all the major armies for the rest of World War I, to a degree never seen before or since. The numbers and capabilities of the guns and ammunition available governed all the generals' battle plans; and the ways in which they were employed, and either succeeded or failed, decided the outcome of battles. The majority of the millions of casualties suffered during the war fell victim to artillery fire.

The artillery war fell into three distinct phases along a four-year learning curve (with the necessary equipment and training for the second and third phases always lagging behind the tactical needs). The war began with mostly light, mobile artillery equipped and trained to support fast-moving infantry and cavalry by direct fire, mostly with air-bursting shrapnel shells.

The entirely unexpected end of the first campaigns of manoeuvre as the armies bogged down in static trench warfare found both sides ill equipped and ill trained for what was in essence siege warfare on an industrial scale. This demanded more and heavier guns and high-explosive shells, and more complex skills for indirect fire - observation on the ground and in the air, locating targets (including enemy artillery), dropping the right kind of shells on them, the communications needed for co-ordinating the work of hugely increased numbers of guns, and getting many millions of shells up to them for week-long bombardments. These seldom worked as anticipated (classically, by failing to 'cut the wire' or to penetrate deep bunkers); so innovative officers on both sides worked to devise new tactics, with more versatile mixes of ammunition (e.g. gas shells, smoke shells, star shells and so on) and more imaginative ways of using them, such as box barrages and creeping barrages.

Finally, in early 1918, the static slogging broke down into a renewed phase of manoeuvre warfare, made possible by sophisticated co-operation between artillery and infantry, plus the newly important air and mechanised forces. The lessons that were finally learned shaped the use of artillery worldwide for the rest of the 20th century.

Fully illustrated with period photographs and specially drawn colour artwork and drawing upon the latest research, this engaging study explains the rapid development of artillery tactics and techniques during the conflict in which artillery played a pre-eminent role - World War I.

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