QF 12-pounder 12 cwt naval gun

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Type 41 3-inch (7.62 cm) 40 calibre gun
Mikasa 3-inch gun.jpg
Type 41 3-inch (7.62 cm) 40 calibre gun on the Japanese battleship Mikasa
Type Naval gun
Coastal artillery
Place of origin United Kingdom
Service history
In service 1894–1945
Used by United Kingdom
Kingdom of Italy
Empire of Japan
Wars Second Boer War
British colonial conflicts
Irish 1916 Easter Rising
Boxer Rebellion
Russo-Japanese War
World War I
World War II
Production history
Designed 1893
Manufacturer Elswick Ordnance Company,
Japan Steel Works
Canadian Pacific Railway
Gio. Ansaldo & C.
No. built Mk I, Mk II 4,737
Mk V 3,494
Variants Mk I, Mk II, Mk V[1]
Weight 12 cwt (0.6 tons, 510 kg)
Length 10 ft 3 in (3.12 m)
Barrel length 10 ft (3 m)

Shell UK & Japan : Separate-loading QF
Italy : Fixed QF
Calibre 3-inch (7.62 cm)
Breech single-motion screw
Elevation mounting dependent
Traverse mounting dependent
Rate of fire 15 rounds per minute
Muzzle velocity 2,210 ft/s (670 m/s)[2]
Effective firing range 11,750 yd (10,740 m) at 40° elevation
Feed system Breech-loaded

The QF 12-pounder 12-cwt gun (abbreviated as Q.F. 12-pdr. (12-cwt.)[3]) was a common, versatile 3-inch (76.2 mm) calibre naval gun introduced in 1894 and used until the middle of the 20th century. It was produced by Armstrong Whitworth, Elswick and used on Royal Navy warships, exported to allied countries, and used for land service.[3] In British service "12-pounder" was the rounded value of the projectile weight, and "12 cwt (hundredweight)" was the weight of the barrel and breech, to differentiate it from other "12-pounder" guns.

As the Type 41 3-inch (76.2 mm)/40 it was used on most early battleships and cruisers of the Imperial Japanese Navy, though it was commonly referred to by its UK designation as a "12-pounder" gun.

United Kingdom service

United Kingdom naval service

As first mounted on 27-knot destroyers from 1894, here seen on HMS Daring
Mk V gun on a British trawler, World War II

Mk I and II guns, of "built up" construction of multiple steel layers, served on many Royal Navy destroyers up to and after World War I originally as primary and later as secondary armament against submarines and torpedo boats. They were also fitted as deck guns on D and E-class submarines.

It was estimated that out of the 4,737 Mk I and Mk II guns produced there were still 3,494 on hand for the RN in 1939.[4] Many Mk V guns, which had a "monobloc" barrel made of a single casting, served on smaller escort ships such as destroyers and on armed merchant ships, on dual-purpose high-low angle mountings which also allowed it to be used as an anti-aircraft gun.

Gun Mounting Data

Mounting[4] Elevation Weight Including Gun
PI* -10° to +30°  1.23 tons / 1,253 kg
HA VIII -10° to +90°  2.10 tons / 2,134 kg
HA/LA IX -10° to +70°  2.45 tons / 2,489 kg

Second Boer War (1899–1902) land service

Naval Brigade with a "long twelve" in Natal
Elswick Battery gun in South Africa

The gun was primarily a high-velocity naval gun, with its heavy recoil suiting it to static mountings, hence it was generally considered unsuitable for use as a mobile field gun.[5] An exception was made when the British army were outgunned by the Boer artillery in South Africa and the Royal Navy was called on for help. Among other guns, 16 QF 12-pounder 12 cwt were landed from warships and were mounted on improvised field carriages designed by Captain Percy Scott RN, with solid wooden trails and utilizing small-diameter Cape wagon wheels. Their 10,000-yard (9,100 m) range provided valuable long-range fire support for the army throughout the war. They were known as "long twelves" to distinguish them from the BL 12-pounder 6 cwt and QF 12-pounder 8 cwt which had much shorter barrels and ranges.[6]

Lieutenant Burne reported that the original electric firing system, while working well under ideal conditions, required support of an armourer and the maintenance and transport of charged batteries in the field, which was generally not possible. He reported switching to percussion tubes for firing and recommended percussion for future field operations.[7]

Another six guns were diverted from a Japanese battleship being built at Newcastle in January 1900, bought by Lady Meux, and were equipped with proper field carriages by the Elswick Ordnance Company in Newcastle and sent to South Africa. Perhaps uniquely, the guns were donated directly to Lord Roberts, the British commander in South Africa and became his personal property. They were known as the "Elswick Battery" and were manned by men from Elswick, recruited by 1st Northumberland Royal Garrison Artillery (Volunteers). The Elswick guns served throughout the war.[8]

Coast defence gun

Typical coast defence mounting, at Newhaven Fort, UK

Many guns were mounted on "pedestals" secured to the ground to defend harbours around the UK, and at many ports around the Empire, against possible attack by small fast vessels such as torpedo boats, until the 1950s. There were 103 of these guns (of a total 383 of all types) employed in coast defence around the UK as at April 1918.[9] Many of these were still in service in World War II although they had by then been superseded by more modern types such as twin QF 6 pounder 10 cwt mounts.

Guns were traversed (moved from side to side) manually by the gunlayer as he stood on the left side with his arm hooked over a shoulder piece as he aimed, while he operated the elevating handwheel with his left hand and grasped the pistol grip with trigger in his right hand.[5]

Army anti-aircraft gun

In World War I a number of coast defence guns were modified and mounted on special wheeled traveling carriages to create a marginally effective mobile anti-aircraft gun.

United Kingdom ammunition

UK shells weighed 12.5 lb (5.67 kg) filled and fuzed.
The cordite propellant charge was normally ignited by an electrically-activated primer (in the base of the cartridge case), with power provided by a battery. The electric primer in the cartridge could be replaced by an adaptor which allowed the use of electric or percussion tube to be inserted to provide ignition.

2 lb Cordite cartridges Mk II & Mk III, 1914
Mk II common pointed shell
Mk III & Mk II common Lyddite shell
Mk IV common Lyddite shell with internal night tracer, 1914
Mk IX shrapnel shell, 1914

Italian service

The Italian Cannon 76/40 Model 1916 was a licensed derivative of the QF 12-pounder used in a number of roles during World War I and World War II.

Japanese service

The Japanese Type 41 3-inch (76 mm) naval gun was a direct copy of the QF 12-pounder. The first guns were bought from the UK firms as "Elswick Pattern N" and "Vickers Mark Z" guns. Thereafter production was in Japan under licence.[10] It was the standard secondary or tertiary armament on most Japanese warships built between 1890 and 1920, and was still in service as late as the Pacific War.

The gun was officially designated as "Type 41" from the 41st year of the reign of Emperor Meiji on 25 December 1908. It was further re-designated in centimeters on 5 October 1917 as part of the standardization process for the Imperial Japanese Navy to the metric system. Although finally classified as an "8cm" gun the bore was unchanged at 7.62 cm.

The Type 41 3-inch naval gun fired a 12.5-pound (5.7 kg) high-explosive shell.

Surviving guns

  • A gun of the Elswick Battery that served in the Second Boer War is displayed in the Royal Artillery Museum, London
  • Another Elswick gun is with 203 (Elswick) Battery RA (V)
  • Mk V naval gun at Royal Artillery Museum, London
  • Early coast defence gun at Newhaven Fort, UK
  • Coast defence gun at Army Memorial Museum, Waiouru, New Zealand
  • On the battleship Mikasa, Yokosuka, Japan
  • The gun of HMS Campbeltown, recovered around 1972, on display in Saint-Nazaire, France
  • 12pdr on coastal Defence pedestal at Pendennis Castle, Falmouth,Cornwall http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/places/pendennis-castle/
  • The gun of HMS Overdale Wyke of the Ceylon Naval Volunteer Force,now kept in SLNS Ranagalle

See also


  1. ^ Campbell, Naval Weapons of WWII, p.62-63.
  2. ^ 2210 ft/s in British service in 1902, using 1 lb 15 oz (0.88 kg) cordite Mk I size 15 propellant (Text Book of Gunnery 1902); 2,258 ft/s (688 m/s) in British service in World War I using 2 lb (0.91 kg) cordite MD size 11 propellant (Hogg & Thurston 1972, page 55).
  3. ^ a b Gun drill for Q.F. 12-pdr. (12-cwt.) gun (Land service) 1925, the War Office, 1925
  4. ^ a b Campbell, Naval Weapons of WWII, p.64.
  5. ^ a b Hogg and Thurston 1972, Page 54
  6. ^ Hall June 1978
  7. ^ Burne 1902, Chapter IX
  8. ^ Crook June 1969
  9. ^ Farndale 1988, Page 404
  10. ^ DiGiulian, Tony. "3"/40 (7.62 cm) 41st Year Type". NavWeaps.com.



  • Brown, D. K. (2003). Warrior to Dreadnought: Warship Development 1860–1905. Book Sales. ISBN 978-1-84067-529-0.
  • Brown, D. K. (2003). The Grand Fleet: Warship Design and Development 1906–1922. Caxton Editions. ISBN 978-1-84067-531-3.
  • Lieutenant C. R. N. Burne R.N., With the Naval Brigade in Natal (1899–1900). London: Edward Arnold, 1902
  • Farndale, General Sir Martin (1988). History of the Royal Regiment of Artillery. The Forgotton Fronts and the Home Base, 1914–18. Royal Artillery Institution, London. ISBN 978-1-870114-05-9.
  • Gardiner, Robert; Lambert, Andrew, eds. (2001). Steam, Steel and Shellfire: The Steam Warship, 1815–1905. Conway's History of the Ship. Book Sales. ISBN 978-0-7858-1413-9.
  • Hodges, Peter (1981). The Big Gun: Battleship Main Armament, 1860–1945. United States Naval Institute Press. ISBN 978-0-87021-917-7.
  • Hogg, I.V. and Thurston, L.F. (1972). British Artillery Weapons & Ammunition 1914–1918. Ian Allan, London. ISBN 978-0-7110-0381-1.
  • Parkes, Oscar (1990) [1957]. British Battleships. United States Naval Institute Press. ISBN 978-1-55750-075-5.
  • Admiral Percy Scott, "Fifty Years in the Royal Navy" published 1919
  • Campbell, John (1985). Naval Weapons of World War Two. Naval Institute Press. ISBN 978-0-87021-459-2.

External links

  • DiGiulian, Tony. "3"/40 (7.62 cm) 41st Year Type". NavWeaps.com.
  • Major D Hall, The South African Military History Society. Military History Journal – Vol 4 No 3 June 1978. THE NAVAL GUNS IN NATAL 1899–1902
  • Major L.A. Crook,The South African Military History Society. Military History Journal – Vol 1 No 4 June 1969. "The Elswick Guns"
  • 203 (Elswick) Battery History

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