BL 9,2-inch Howitzer

The BL 9,2-inch howitzer was a British development of a heavy siege artillery, which came from the experience of a purchased Skoda 9,45-inch howitzer.

In 1900, the British Army of Austria-Hungary bought a Skoda 9,45-inch howitzer, as Britain needed a counterpart to the heavy German 21-cm gun. The Skoda howitzer was extensively tested by British soldiers in South Africa and gained its first experience. After the completion of the gun was considered too bulky and too large and it was commissioned by the High Command to develop its own gun. The Skoda gun, however, the transport technology was adopted. With this, the gun could be divided into several parts and distributed on three trolleys, which was pulled either by horses or by tugs. This technique should allow for some mobility despite the size.

In mid-1913, the prototype of the British Army was presented and delivered in winter in Woolwich and Shoeburyness the first shots. In July 1914, the first soldiers were trained in Rhayader and ordered 16 guns, in October 1914 followed by another order for 16 pieces.

In order to maintain the stability during firing, a platform was developed especially for this howitzer, which could be transported like the gun itself. This was a platform made of steel profiles that could be filled with soil in a box provided for this purpose. In the first series of guns, the MK 1, this was up to 9.100 kg of earth, in the MK 2 up to 11.200 kg.

With the outbreak of the First World War, the howitzers were delivered from October 1914 to the British Expeditionary Corps to northern France. In June 1916, Major General Birch's Commander-in-Chief of the British Expeditionary Corps called for the range of the howitzers to be increased urgently. Then the MK 2 version was developed, whose range has now been increased to 12.742 meters, the wear on pipes increased and now held only half as long as the tubes of the MK 1 version.

A total of about 36 British, two Canadian and one Australian battery were used, each with between four and six guns. After the war, the US construction plans were also passed on to the American company Bethlehem Steel, so that they could build howitzers for the US armed forces. However, as production was constantly delayed, the US Army was equipped by British guns.

After World War I, most of the guns were scrapped, but some remained with the Expeditionary Corps. In World War II some of them were still in use in France against the German Wehrmacht, but most of them were used in the UK for defense in the event of an invasion.


Australian battery of 9,2 inch howitzers MK 1 in action during the Battle of the Somme


Two howitzers MK 1 of the Australian troops near Corbie, May 1918


Australian gunners of the 55th Siege Artillery Battery loading a 9,2-inch Howitzer MK 1, Western Front July 1916




Data sheet:

Designation: BL 9,2-inch howitzer MK 1
Country of Origin: Great Britain
Year: 1914
Number of pieces: 632 (MK1 and MK 2 version together)
Caliber: 233,7 mm
Tube length: 3 meters
Reach: Max. 9.200 meters
Mass: 5.000 Kg




Designation: BL 9,2-inch howitzer MK 2
Country of Origin: Great Britain
Year: 1917
Number of pieces: 632 (MK1 and MK 2 version together)
Caliber: 233,7 mm
Tube length: 4 meters
Reach: Max. 12.742 meters
Mass: 5.000 Kg



BL 9,2-inch howitzer ready for transport


Gunners of the 56th Heavy Regiment with a Howitzer MK 2, May 1940






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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