QF 3-pounder Hotchkiss

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Hotchkiss 47 mm L/40 M1885
& QF 3-pounder
A Royal Navy 3-pounder on a central pivot mount in 1915.
Further information
Type Naval gun
Anti-aircraft gun
Coastal artillery
Place of origin France
Service history
In service 1886–1950s
Used by See users section
Wars See wars section
Production history
Designer Hotchkiss
Designed 1885
Manufacturer Hotchkiss et Cie
Produced 1886
No. built 2,950 (UK)
Variants 32 to 50 calibers in length[1]
Mass 240 kg (530 lb)
Length 2 m (6 ft 7 in)
Barrel length 1.8 m (5 ft 11 in) 40 caliber

Shell Fixed QF 47 × 376 mm R
Complete: 3 kg (6.6 lb)
Projectile: 1.5 kg (3.3 lb)[2]
Calibre 47 mm (1.9 in)
Breech Vertical sliding-wedge
Elevation Dependent on mount
Rate of fire 30 rpm[3]
Muzzle velocity 571 m/s (1,870 ft/s)
Maximum firing range 5.9 km (3.7 mi) at +20°
4.5 km (2.8 mi) at +80°

The QF 3-pounder Hotchkiss or in French use Canon Hotchkiss à tir rapide de 47 mm were a family of long-lived light 47 mm naval guns introduced in 1886 to defend against new, small and fast vessels such as torpedo boats and later submarines. There were many variants produced, often under license which ranged in length from 32 to 50 calibers but 40 caliber was the most common version. They were widely used by the navies of a number of nations and often used by both sides in a conflict. They were also used ashore as coastal defense guns and later as an anti-aircraft gun, whether on improvised or specialized HA/LA mounts.

Operational history

French service

Hotchkiss 47 mm L/50 M1902
Further information
Type Naval gun
Place of origin France
Service history
Used by France
Wars World War I
Production history
Designer Hotchkiss et Cie
Designed 1902
Manufacturer Hotchkiss et Cie
Produced 1902
Mass 594 kg (1,310 lb)
Length 2.85 m (9 ft 4 in)
Barrel length 2.35 m (7 ft 9 in) 50 caliber

Shell Complete: 4 kg (8.8 lb)
Projectile: 2 kg (4.4 lb)
Caliber 47 mm (1.9 in)
Breech Vertical sliding wedge
Rate of fire 25 rpm
Muzzle velocity 690 m/s (2,300 ft/s)[4]

The French Navy used two versions of the Hotchkiss 3-pounder: the short-barreled 40-caliber M1885 and the long-barreled 50-caliber M1902. The French L/40 M1885 and the British QF 3-pounder were largely the same gun.[4] Like the British who paired their 3-pounders with the larger QF 6-pounder Hotchkiss the French often paired theirs with the Canon de 65 mm Modèle 1891 sometimes called a 9-pounder in English publications. The 3-pounder was primarily used as anti-torpedo boat defense aboard armored cruisers, destroyers, ironclads, pre-dreadnought battleships, protected cruisers and submarines. During World War I, the role of the guns changed from anti-torpedo boat defense to anti-aircraft defense and new high angle mounts were developed but were found to be ineffective. After World War I the majority of 3-pounders in the anti-aircraft role were replaced with either the anti-aircraft version of the Canon de 75 modèle 1897 or the Canon de 75 mm modèle 1924.[5]

Australian service

A 3-pounder Hotchkiss was used on an improvised mounting in a battle that resulted in Australia's first prisoners of World War 2 being captured near Berbera in 1940.[6] The guns are now used in a Three Pound Saluting Gun Battery at the Garden Island Naval Base.[7]

Austro-Hungarian service

Skoda 47mm SFK L/33 H
Further information
Type Naval gun
Place of origin France
Service history
Used by  Austria-Hungary
Wars World War I
Production history
Designer Hotchkiss et Cie
Designed 1890
Manufacturer Skoda
Produced 1890
Mass Gun: 133 kg (293 lb)
Gun & Mount: 530 kg (1,170 lb)
Length 1.55 m (5 ft 1 in) 33 caliber

Shell Projectile: 1.1 kg (2.4 lb)
Caliber 47 mm (1.9 in)
Breech Vertical sliding wedge
Elevation -15° to +20°
Traverse 360°
Rate of fire 25 rpm
Muzzle velocity 560 m/s (1,800 ft/s)
Maximum firing range 3 km (1.9 mi)[8]
Skoda 47mm SFK L/44 S
Further information
Type Naval gun
Place of origin France
Service history
Used by  Austria-Hungary
Wars World War I
Production history
Designer Hotchkiss et Cie
Designed 1897
Manufacturer Skoda
Produced 1897
Mass Gun: 256 kg (564 lb)
Gun & Mount: 790 kg (1,740 lb)
Length 2.048 m (6 ft 8.6 in) 44 caliber

Shell Projectile: 1.53 kg (3.4 lb)
Caliber 47 mm (1.9 in)
Breech Vertical sliding wedge
Elevation -10° to +20°
Traverse 360°
Rate of fire 25 rpm
Muzzle velocity 710 m/s (2,300 ft/s)
Maximum firing range 4 km (2.5 mi)[8]

The Austro-Hungarian Navy used two versions of the Hotchkiss 3-pounder. The first was the short 47 mm SFK L/33 H of 1890 produced under license by Skoda. The second was the long 47 mm SFK L/44 S of 1897 produced under license by Skoda. These two guns were the primary rapid fire anti-torpedo boat guns of many ships built or refitted between 1890 and 1918.[8] On 16 August 1914 at the Battle of Antivari, the Austro-Hungarian protected cruiser SMS Zenta was sunk by a combined Anglo-French force. Both sides in the battle were armed with Hotchkiss guns.

Chinese service

China adopted the Hotchkiss 3-pounder in the 1880s, to arm its cruisers and smaller auxiliaries; the Hai Yung-class cruisers of the Imperial Chinese Navy built by AG Vulcan Stettin were armed with Nordenfelt 3-pounder guns firing the same ammunition.[9] During the First Sino-Japanese war, ships of both sides were armed with Hotchkiss 3-pounder guns.

Italian service

Italy adopted the Hotchkiss 3-pounder in the 1880s to arm its armored cruisers, battleships, protected cruisers, torpedo boats and torpedo cruisers. Ships on both sides of the Italo-Turkish war were armed with 3-pounder guns. The Italians carried Hotchkiss and Vickers guns, while the Ottoman Navy carried Nordenfelt guns.[10]

Japanese service

Hotchkiss 2½ Pounder
Yamanouchi Mk I
Further information
Type Naval gun
Place of origin France
Service history
Used by  Empire of Japan
Production history
Designer Hotchkiss et Cie
Designed 1894
Manufacturer Elswick Ordnance Company
Produced 1894
No. built 253
Variants Elswick: Mk I, Mk II, Mk III
Yamanouchi: Mk I
Mass 127 kg (280 lb)
Length 1.55 m (5 ft 1 in)
Barrel length 1.4 m (4 ft 7 in) 30 caliber

Shell Fixed QF 47 × 131R
Projectile: 1.12 kg (2.5 lb)
Caliber 47 mm (1.9 in)
Breech Vertical sliding wedge
Muzzle velocity 432 m/s (1,420 ft/s)[11]

Japan adopted the Hotchkiss 3-pounder 5-barrel revolver cannon in the 1880s and later adopted the simpler single-barrel quick-firing weapon. The Japanese versions of the 3-pounder were known as Yamanouchi guns and were largely identical to their British equivalents.[4] The Japanese also had a related 30 caliber 2½-pounder gun from Elswick, the Yamanouchi Mk I. During the Russo-Japanese War, ships of both sides were armed with Hotchkiss 3-pounder guns. The Japanese found them to be ineffective and removed them after the war.

Polish service

Polish 47 mm Hotchkiss guns named the wz.1885 gun, were used on first ships of the Polish Navy, received after World War I, like ex-German torpedo boats and minesweepers. By the time of World War II most had been replaced on naval ships but several stored guns were used in combat on improvised stationary mounts by Land Coastal Defence units in the Battle of Kępa Oksywska in September 1939.[12][page needed]

Romanian service

Romanian armored boat

The Romanian Navy used the Škoda-produced version of the gun. The gun was used as secondary and later tertiary armament on the Romanian monitors of the Mihail Kogălniceanu class. It also served as the main armament of the Căpitan Nicolae Lascăr Bogdan class of armored multi-purpose boats, each of the 8 boats carrying one gun.[13][14]

Russian service

47 mm L/43 Hotchkiss
Further information
Type Naval gun
Place of origin France
Service history
Used by  Russian Empire
Wars World War I
Russian Civil War
Production history
Designer Hotchkiss et Cie
Designed 1883
Manufacturer Obukhov State Plant
Produced 1888
Mass Gun: 235 kg (518 lb)
Length 2 m (6 ft 7 in)
Barrel length 1.5 m (4 ft 11 in) 43 caliber

Shell Projectile: 1.53 kg (3.4 lb)
Caliber 47 mm (1.9 in)
Breech Vertical sliding wedge
Elevation -23° to +25°
Traverse 360°
Rate of fire 25 rpm
Muzzle velocity 701 m/s (2,300 ft/s)
Maximum firing range 4.5 km (2.8 mi) at 10°[15]

Russia adopted the Hotchkiss 3-pounder 5-barrel revolver cannon in the 1880s, and later adopted the less complicated single-barrel 43 caliber quick-firing weapon. The 5-barrel guns were equipped on the Ekaterina II-class battleships commissioned in 1889 but by 1892 the battleship Dvenadsat Apostolov and her successors had single-barrel weapons. In 1888 licensed production of a Russian variant started at the Obukhov State Plant.[16] During the Russo-Japanese War, ships of both sides were armed with Hotchkiss 3-pounders, which were found to be ineffective against Japanese torpedo boats and were removed from first-line warships after the war. The Evstafi class, commissioned in 1910 ceased carrying the weapon but they were later fitted to patrol vessels and river craft during World War I and at least 62 weapons were converted to anti-aircraft guns by 1917.[15]

United Kingdom service

In 1886 this gun was the first of the modern Quick-firing (QF) artillery to be adopted by the Royal Navy as the Ordnance QF 3 pounder Hotchkiss, built under licence by the Elswick Ordnance Company.[17]

By the middle of World War I the Hotchkiss gun was obsolescent and was gradually replaced by the more powerful Ordnance QF 3 pounder Vickers gun. Of the 2,950 produced it is estimated that 1,948 were still available in 1939 for RN use.[18] The availability, simplicity and light weight of the gun kept it in use in small vessels and many were later brought back into service on merchant vessels used for auxiliary duties in World War II or as saluting guns and sub-calibre guns for gunnery practice until the 1950s. Early in WWII, it was also pressed into service in ports around the British Empire, to defend against possible incursions by motor torpedo boats, until the modern QF 6 pounder 10 cwt gun became available.

United States service

United States 3-pounders:
Manufacturer Manufacturers Designation US Designation Caliber
Hotchkiss Mk I Mk I 40
Driggs-Schroeder Mk I Mk II 45
Driggs-Schroeder Mk II (trunnionless) Mk III 45
Hotchkiss Mk IV semi-automatic Mk IV 45
Maxim-Nordenfelt Mk I semi-automatic Mk V 50
Maxim-Nordenfelt Mk II semi-automatic Mk VI 50
Vickers-Maxim Mk III semi-automatic Mk VII 45
Hotchkiss-Armstrong ? Mk VIII 40
Nordenfelt Mk I Mk IX 42
Hotchkiss ? Mk X 50
US Rapid Fire Gun and Power Company ? Mk XI 50
Nordenfelt Mk I semi-automatic Mk XII 50
Vickers-Maxim Mk M Mk XIII 50
Driggs-Seaburry ? Mk XIV 50[19][1][20]

The US Navy used several types of 3-pounder guns from multiple manufacturers and it is difficult to determine from references which type a particular ship carried. Hotchkiss 3-pounder 5-barrel revolving cannons were used, along with single-barrel quick-firing single-shot Hotchkiss 3-pounders. Both are called rapid-firing (RF) in references. Ships on both sides in the Spanish–American War were armed with Hotchkiss 3-pounders. By 1910 the US was building the dreadnought-type South Carolina class, with a secondary armament composed entirely of 3-inch (76 mm) guns. Although removed from first-line warships by World War I, some 3-pounders were fitted on patrol vessels, with a few weapons serving on those ships through World War II.[1][18]


The most common types of ammunition available for 3-pounder guns were low yield Steel shells and common lyddite shells. In World War II higher yield high explosive rounds were produced.

QF 3 pounder Round with Steel Shell.jpg
QF 3 pounder cartridge with common shell Mark II diagram.jpg
A steel shell round circa. 1898
Mk IV base percussion fuze
Mk V N.T. projectile, 1914
Mk II common shell

Photo gallery

Surviving examples

Weapons of comparable role, performance and era

Licensed production




  1. ^ a b c DiGiulian, Tony. "USA 3-pdr (1.4 kg) [1.85" (47 mm)] Marks 1 through 12 – NavWeaps". www.navweaps.com. Retrieved 2017-07-05.
  2. ^ "38–37 MM CALIBRE CARTRIDGES". www.quarryhs.co.uk. Retrieved 2017-07-04.
  3. ^ 30 rounds per minute is the figure given by Elswick Ordnance for their 40-calibres model. Quoted in Brassey's Naval Annual 1901
  4. ^ a b c Friedman 2011, p. 118.
  5. ^ Friedman 2011, p. 229.
  6. ^ Navy, Royal Australian. "3-Pounder saluting guns". navy.gov.au. Retrieved 7 July 2017.
  7. ^ Media, Defence News and (7 July 2017). "Defence News and Media". defence.gov.au. Retrieved 7 July 2017.
  8. ^ a b c Friedman 2011, p. 295.
  9. ^ "Hai Yung protected cruisers (1898) – Chinese / People`s Liberation Army Navy (China / People`s Republic of China)". www.navypedia.org. Retrieved 2017-07-06.
  10. ^ Langensiepen & Güleryüz 1995.
  11. ^ Friedman 2011, p. 119.
  12. ^ Tym & Rzepniewski 1985.
  13. ^ Robert Gardiner, Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships, 1906-1921, Naval Institute Press, 1985, p. 422
  14. ^ Е. Е. Шведе, Военные флоты 1939—1940 гг., Рипол Классик, 2013, pp. 120-121 (in Russian)
  15. ^ a b DiGiulian, Tony. "Russia / USSR 47 mm (1.85") [3-pdr] – NavWeaps". www.navweaps.com. Retrieved 7 July 2017.
  16. ^ Friedman 2011, p. 265.
  17. ^ British forces traditionally denoted smaller ordnance by the weight of its standard projectile, in this case approximately 3 pounds (1.4 kg).
  18. ^ a b Campbell 1985, p. 66.
  19. ^ Friedman 2011, p. 197.
  20. ^ DiGiulian and Friedman differ on the details of Mk 10-12.
  21. ^ "AMMS Brisbane". www.ammsbrisbane.com. Retrieved 7 July 2017.
  22. ^ Weyant, Hervé. "Mémorial Maginot de Haute-Alsace". www.maginot68.com. Retrieved 7 July 2017.
  23. ^ Jane's Fighting Ships 2005–2006


  • Campbell, John (1985). Naval Weapons of World War Two. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 978-0-87021-459-2.
  • Friedman, Norman (2011). Naval Weapons of World War One. Barnsley, South Yorkshire, UK: Seaforth. ISBN 978-1-84832-100-7.
  • Langensiepen, Bernd & Güleryüz, Ahmet (1995). The Ottoman Steam Navy 1828–1923. London: Conway Maritime Press. ISBN 978-0-85177-610-1.
  • Tym, Wacław; Rzepniewski, Andrzej (1985). Kępa Oksywska 1939: relacja uczestników walk lądowych [Oksywska Fort 1939: Relations of Combatants on Land] (in Polish). Gdańsk: Wydawnictwo Morskie. ISBN 978-83-215-7210-9.

External links

  • Handbook of the 3 pounder Hotchkiss quick-firing gun Land service 1892, 1900 at State Library of Victoria
  • Handbook for Hotchkiss 6-pr and 3-pr. quick-firing guns 1896 at State Library of Victoria
  • Tony DiGiulian, British Hotchkiss 3-pdr (1.4 kg) (1.85"/40 (47 mm)) QF Marks I and II
  • DiGiulian, Tony, US 3-pounders
  • DiGiulian, Tony, Russian Hotchkiss 3-pounders
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