QF 12-pounder 12 cwt naval gun

The QF 12-pounder 12-cwt gun (abbreviated as Q.F. 12-pdr. (12-cwt.)[4]) 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.[4] 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.

QF 12-pounder 12 cwt naval gun
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
TypeNaval gun
Coastal artillery
Place of originUnited Kingdom
Service history
In service1894–1945
Used byUnited Kingdom
Kingdom of Italy
Empire of Japan
WarsSecond Boer War
British colonial conflicts
Irish 1916 Easter Rising
Boxer Rebellion
Russo-Japanese War
World War I
World War II
Production history
ManufacturerElswick Ordnance Company,
Japan Steel Works
Canadian Pacific Railway
Gio. Ansaldo & C.
No. builtMk I, Mk II 4,737
Mk V 3,494
VariantsMk I, Mk II, Mk V[1]
Mass12 cwt (0.6 tons, 510 kg)
Length10 ft 3 in (3.12 m)
Barrel length10 ft (3 m)

ShellUK & Japan : Separate-loading QF
Italy : Fixed QF
Calibre3-inch (7.62 cm)
Breechsingle-motion screw
Elevationmounting dependent
Traversemounting dependent
Rate of fire15 rounds per minute
Muzzle velocity2,210 ft/s (670 m/s)[a]
Effective firing range11,750 yd (10,740 m) at 40° elevation
Feed systemBreech-loaded

As the Type 41 3-inch (7.62 cm)/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. Italy built guns under licence as the 76.2 mm/40 (3") by Ansaldo.

United Kingdom serviceEdit

United Kingdom naval serviceEdit

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.[5] 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 dataEdit

Mounting[5] 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 serviceEdit

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.[6] 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.[7]

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.[8]

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 refused by the War Office and 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.[9]

Coast defence gunEdit

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.[10] 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.[6]

Army anti-aircraft gunEdit

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 ammunitionEdit

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 serviceEdit

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 serviceEdit

A captured Type 41 8 cm naval gun.

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 English firms as "Elswick Pattern N" and "Vickers Mark Z" guns. The gun was officially designated as the Type 41 3-inch (76 mm) naval gun from the 41st year of the reign of Emperor Meiji on 25 December 1908. Thereafter production was in Japan under license. On 5 October 1917 during the third year of the Taishō period, the gun was redesignated as the 8 cm/40 3rd Year Type naval gun as part of the Imperial Japanese Navy's conversion to the metric system. Although classified as an 8 cm gun the bore was unchanged. The gun fired a 12.5-pound (5.7 kg) high-explosive shell. 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.[11]

The 8 cm/40 3rd Year Type was also widely used as a coastal defense gun and anti-aircraft gun to defend Japanese island bases during World War II. Guns with both English and Japanese markings were found on Kiska, Kolombangara, Saipan, Tarawa, and Tinian. Japanese Artillery Weapons CINPAC-CINPOA Bulletin 152-45 calls the guns "8 cm Coast Defense Gun 13th Year Type (1924)" but it isn't clear how they came up with that designation?[12]

Surviving gunsEdit

  • A gun of the Elswick Battery that served in the Second Boer War is displayed in the Royal Artillery Museum, London but the museum has closed and re-located to Larkhill, Wiltshire.
  • Another Elswick gun is with 203 (Elswick) Battery RA (V)[13]
  • Mk V naval gun was at Royal Artillery Museum, London but the museum has closed and re-located to Larkhill, Wiltshire.
  • 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[14]
  • 12pdr on coastal Defence pedestal at Pendennis Castle, Falmouth, Cornwall
  • The gun of HMS Overdale Wyke of the Ceylon Naval Volunteer Force, now kept in SLNS Ranagalle
  • A good example can be seen mounted at Tilbury Fort in Essex. This is an ex-naval type of WW2 vintage.
  • A 12pdr of first world war vintage is mounted on a skeletal high angle mount at Predannack Anti-Aircraft battery and museum in Cornwall

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ 2210 ft/s in British service in 1902, using 1 lb 15 oz (0.88 kg) cordite Mk I size 15 propellant;[2] 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 [3]
  1. ^ Campbell, Naval Weapons of WWII, p.62-63.
  2. ^ Text Book of Gunnery 1902
  3. ^ Hogg & Thurston 1972, p. 55.
  4. ^ a b Gun drill for Q.F. 12-pdr. (12-cwt.) gun (Land service) 1925, the War Office, 1925
  5. ^ a b Campbell, Naval Weapons of WWII, p.64.
  6. ^ a b Hogg and Thurston 1972, p. 54
  7. ^ Hall June 1978
  8. ^ Burne 1902, Chapter IX
  9. ^ Crook June 1969
  10. ^ Farndale 1988, p. 404
  11. ^ DiGiulian, Tony. "3"/40 (7.62 cm) 41st Year Type". NavWeaps.com.
  12. ^ Japanese Artillery Weapons. United States Pacific Fleet and Pacific Ocean Areas. 1 July 1945. p. 33. OCLC 51837610.
  13. ^ "History". www.army.mod.uk. Archived from the original on 8 October 2007. Retrieved 13 January 2022.
  14. ^ "PunTheHun".



External linksEdit