British Artillery Equipment

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Hierarchical Path: Seven Years War (Main Page) >> Armies >> British Army >> British Artillery Equipment

Introduction

It is not before the 1750's that the ordnance of the British artillery began to be standardized. However this standardization was much less extensive than the one which was taking place in Austria during the same period. Since pieces lasted several years, different designs existed within each category.

There was no horse artillery in the British army of this era.

Artillery Pieces

Cannon

Britain centred her artillery pieces on the 3 - , 6 - , 9 - and 12-pound cannon calibres, as did Austria, Denmark, Prussia and Russia.

The most commonly used battalion guns were the short 6-pounder (barrel length of 137 cm, barrel weight of 241 kg), usually drawn by 2 horses. In 1762, the British contingent operating in Germany had 34 such short 6- pounder guns.

The light 12-pounder (barrel length of 152 cm, barrel weight of 457 kg) was the most commonly used field gun. It was usually drawn by 5 horses.

Siege artillery consisted mainly of 24-pounder guns but iron 12-pounder guns were also used.

Howitzers

The howitzers of the Royal Artillery were of 4 1/2 and 5 1/2 inch calibre. Of these pieces, the brass 9 - pounder saw most service during the Seven Years War.

In this section, dimensions are given as per the 1764 ordnance specifications and according to a certain Mr. Glegg who described these pieces in the 1740s. However, the 1764 ordnance specifications likely draw on earlier designs first mentioned in the 1750s, since several dimensions mentioned by earlier sources seem to match well.

Length is given apparently from the cascabel to the extremity of the muzzle.

4½-in Howitzer

The 4½ inch Howitzer was created by basically mounting a Coehorn Mortar on a field carriage.

Model Barrel
Weight
Barrel
Length
Barrel
Bore
Calibre
(Ratio
Length/Bore)
Shot
Weight
Shot
Diameter
Charge Horses
Model 1764 4.5-in 214 pounds
97.3 kg
1' 10”
55.88 cm
4.52 inches
11.48 cm
5.1 n/a n/a n/a n/a


Note: the chamber at the back of the barrel was slightly conical, being 4.52 inches (~11.48cm) long, 2.73 inches to the front (~6.9cm), tapering down to 2.24 inches (5.7cm) to the back.

5½-in Howitzer

Model Barrel
Weight
Barrel
Length
Barrel
Bore
Calibre
(Ratio
Length/Bore)
Shot
Weight
Shot
Diameter
Charge Horses
Model 1764 5.5-in 414 pounds
188.2 kg
2' 2”
66.04 cm
5.62 inches
14.27 cm
n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a

Note: the chamber at the back of the barrel was slightly conical, being 6.01” (15.3cm) long, 3.2 inches front (8.2cm), tapering to 2.45” (6.2 cm)

8-in Howitzer

Model Barrel
Weight
Barrel
Length
Barrel
Bore
Calibre
(Ratio
Length/Bore)
Shot
Weight
Shot
Diameter
Charge Horses
Model 1764 8-in 1,500 pounds
681.2 kg
3' 4”
132.6 cm
n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a


10-in Howitzer

The 10-in howitzer seems to have been largely disused during the Seven Years' War, as it is not mentioned in the 1764 specifications, and there seems to have been no attempt at a redesign after 1744. The dimensions given hereafter are those of Model 1727.

Model Barrel
Weight
Barrel
Length
Barrel
Bore
Calibre
(Ratio
Length/Bore)
Shot
Weight
Shot
Diameter
Charge Horses
Model 1727 10-in 3176 pounds
1,443.6 kg
4' 4.2”
132.6 cm
n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a

Note: the chamber at the back of the barrel was slightly conical, being 16.8 inches (42.7cm) long, diameter tapers from 6.5 to 5.6 inches (16.5 to 14.2 cm)

Mortars

No information available yet

Types of Shot

Solid shot was cast, then reheated and forged over to reduce irregularities.

Canister was an anti-personnel projectile, it consisted of small balls (iron or lead) held in a copper cylinder, with an iron lid and a wooden base, which sat on the charge cartridge in the barrel.

Grape was similar, but with larger balls.

Firing Procedures

No information available yet

Piece Barrel

No information available yet

Gun Carriages

Gun carriages and the bodies of other artillery vehicles in Britain were made of oak, but the wheels were a cocktail: the hubs were of elm, the spokes of oak and the felloes of the rim were of ash, for the greater flexibility of that wood. Most wheels were standardised at 4 feet 2 inches in diameter.

All carriages were painted a bluish grey lead colour with ironwork painted black. The carriages of the smaller field guns carried ammunition boxes on each side of the trail. Those used for mortars were particular, consisting of a solid block of wood. They were carried in wagons.

The carriages of guns used in forts and places were very similar to naval carriages.

References

Dawson, Dawson and Summerfield, Napoleonic Artillery, Crowood Press, 2007.

Funcken L. and F., Les uniformes de la guerre en dentelle

Kinard, Jeff, Artillery: An Illustrated History of its Impact, ABC Clio, 2007.

May R. and Embleton G. A., Wolfe's Army, Osprey Publishing, London, 1974

Partridge, Mike, The Royal Regiment of Artillery, Seven Years War Association Journal, Vol. XII No. 3

Scharnhorst, Gerhard Johann David, Handbuch für Offiziere in den Andwendbaren Theilen der Kriegeswissenschaft, Hanover, 1787.

Yahoo Lace Wars Users Group Message no. 4317, 4329, 10852

Acknowledgments

Digby Smith for the initial version of this article

Ibrahim90 for the information on the various models of howitzers