Ordnance BL 15 pounder

When gunpowder was replaced by the smokeless propellant cordite in 1892, the British military decided to continue to develop and increase the caliber of the BL 12 pounder 7 CWT cannon used since 1883. The result was the Ordnance BL 15 pounder, which was able to fire grenades weighing up to 6.8 kilograms.

From the BL 15 were built a total of three different versions, which had different interception mechanisms for the recoil:

  • MK 1 = In this version the recoil was controlled by drag shoes. These were placed under the wheels of the gun and connected by chains and cables with the hubs and the trail
  • MK 2 = This version had the same system as the MK 1, only a hydraulic buffer was installed. Since the recoil was shortened by this very few of this version were built
  • MK 3 = 1899 a uniform recoil system was introduced in the British Army, which consisted of a spade under the axle and retreated on firing

By default, the gun was drawn by six horses in three pairs.

During the second Boer War from 1899 to 1902 a total of 349 guns of this type were used. This 166,548 shells were shot down, which meant more than half of all shells in the war.

The range of the guns at the beginning of the war was still between 5,300 and 5,400 meters, this shortened to 3,750 meters, when the grenades were equipped with a time fuse to ignite the shrapnel shards can. Only with the introduction of an improved Zeitzünders the range could be increased again.

From 1904, the Ordnance BL 15 pounder gun was replaced by the QF 18 pounders, so that at the beginning of the First World War, only four were available. These were used in the 2nd and 6th light battery against German troops in German East Africa.


Ordnance BL 15 pounder




Data sheet:

Designation: Ordnance BL 15 pounder
Country of Origin: Great Britain
Year: 1892
Number of pieces: 349
Caliber: 76,2 mm
Tube length: 2133,6 mm
Rate of fire: 7 - 8 rounds / min
Mass: unknown


Ordnance BL 15 pounders around 1900 in South Africa


Gun of the 7th field battery, pulled by oxen in German East Africa






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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