Military Wiki
Ordnance QF 13-pounder
Battery and detachments of the Honourable Artillery Company (HAC) near Belah, Palestine, March 1918
Type Light field gun
Place of origin United Kingdom
Service history
In service 1904–1940 (UK)
Used by British Empire
Wars World War I, Easter Rising, World War II
Production history
Number built 416[1]
Variants Mk I, Mk II
Weight Barrel & breech
685 lb (311 kg);
Total 2,236 lb (1,014 kg)[2]
Barrel length Bore 5 ft 8 in (1.73 m);
Total 6 ft (1.8 m)[2]
Crew 9[2]

Shell Fixed QF 76.2 x 313 mm R[3]
Shell weight 12.5 lb (5.7 kg) Shrapnel, later HE
Calibre 3-inch (76.2 mm) L/23
Recoil Hydro-spring, constant, 41 in (1.0 m)[2]
Carriage Wheeled, pole trail
Elevation -5°to +16°[2]
Traverse 4° L & R[2]
Muzzle velocity 1,675 ft/s (511 m/s)[2]
Maximum range 5,900 yd (5,400 m)[1]

The Ordnance QF 13-pounder[lower-alpha 1] (quick-firing) field gun was the standard equipment of the British and Canadian Royal Horse Artillery at the outbreak of World War I.


Photo showing gun team galloping into action

It was developed as a response to combat experience gained in the Boer War and entered service in 1904, replacing the Ehrhard QF 15-pounder and BL 12-pounder 6 cwt. It was intended as a rapid-firing and highly-mobile yet reasonably powerful field gun for Royal Horse Artillery (RHA) batteries supporting Cavalry brigades, which were expected to be engaged in mobile open warfare. It was developed in parallel with the QF 18-pounder used by field artillery.

The original Mk I barrel was wire wound.[2] Later Mk II barrels had a tapered inner A tube[1] which was pressed into the outer tube.

The first British artillery round on the Western Front in World War I was fired by No. 4 gun of E Battery Royal Horse Artillery on 22 August 1914, northeast of Harmignies in Belgium.[4]

It saw action most famously at the Battle of Le Cateau in August 1914 as the British Expeditionary Force retreated from Mons.

It was used to great effect by "L" Bty, Royal Horse Artillery in its famous defensive action on September 1, 1914 at Néry, France, for which 3 Victoria Crosses were awarded. The medals,[5] and No. 6 gun and limber involved in this action,[6][7] are held in the collection of the Imperial War Museum.

From late 1914, when the Western Front settled into trench warfare, the 13-pounder was found to be too light to be truly effective against prepared defensive positions. As a result, a few RHA batteries that were not supporting cavalry formations converted to 18-pounder guns and 4.5-inch howitzers. However, it was retained in the British and Canadian cavalry brigades on the Western Front.[8] and also used throughout the war in batteries (both RHA and Territorial Force) supporting cavalry and mounted formations in Palestine and Mesopotamia.[9]

Batteries normally carried 176 rounds per gun. The gun and its filled limber (24 rounds) weighed 3,368 lb (1,528 kg) and was towed by a 6 horse team. All members of the gun detachments were mounted on their own horses.

As the war progressed, however, the increasing air activity created a requirement for a medium anti-aircraft gun. Some 13-pounders were slightly modified to become "Ordnance QF 13 pdr Mk III" and mounted on high-angle mounts to produce what became known as the 13-pounder 6 cwt anti-aircraft gun.

In 1940, some 13-pounders were brought out of store for use as emergency anti-tank guns, mounted in pill boxes,[10] for the home defence of Britain against possible German invasion.

13 pdr state saluting guns of the King's Troop, Royal Horse Artillery in the 2009 Trooping the Colour

For combat purposes the gun is long obsolete, yet it remains in service with the King's Troop, Royal Horse Artillery for ceremonial purposes and as state saluting guns.[1]

13-pounder 6 cwt QF Mark V naval gun[]

This was a pedestal-mounted adaptation by Vickers Limited of the Mark I horse artillery gun, intended to arm the Royal Navy's new Motor Launches in World War I. 650 examples were constructed, including 250 made in the United States.[11] Because of the German U-boat campaign, many of the guns were used on defensively equipped merchant ships, some being removed from motor launches for that purpose.[12]


Mk II Shrapnel round
No. 80 T. & P. (Time and Percussion) Fuze
Shrapnel shell on display at the Australian War Memorial, Canberra
234 balls, 41/lb (90/kg)[2]
Sectioned high explosive round, which contained 9oz 4dr (262 gm) Amatol explosive (white area). Cartridge held 1 lb 3.9 oz (536 gm) Cordite propellant (simulated with bundle of cut string).[2] Shell from the Imperial War Museum collection.[13]

Surviving examples[]

A 13-pounder of the King's Troop, Royal Horse Artillery, firing a gun salute in Hyde Park, London in April 2018.

The Néry Gun and limber, used during the action at Néry, 1 September 1914.[6][7]
No.4 Gun, E Battery Royal Horse Artillery; fired the first British artillery round on the Western Front, August 1914.[14]
  • Canadian War Museum, Ottawa
  • Fort Seclin – 1914/1918 Museum (Between Ypres and Vimy – Near Fromelles)
  • Musee des Abris, Albert, France. (Mk. 2)
  • There are 6 examples in South Africa:[lower-alpha 2]
    • 1 restored in 2009,
    • 1 at THA HQ in Johannesburg,
    • 2 with the NFA in Durban,
    • 2 at the National Memorial in Potchefstroom.
  • Mark V naval gun recovered from a sunken merchant ship, is on display at the harbour in Scarborough, North Yorkshire .
  • There is one example on display in the Tsumeb Museum in Namibia. The gun was used by the THA at the Battle of Sandfontein on 26 September 1914 and was captured by German Troops and later dumped into Lake Otjikoto prior to the German surrender in June 1915.

The Néry Gun, on display at IWM London, April 2008

No 4 Gun E Battery RHA, on display at IWM North, February 2010

13-pounder at the Canadian War Museum

Popular culture[]

A QF 13-pounder features in the Big Guns (Dad's Army), where it is supplied to the Warmington-on-Sea platoon for home defence.[15]

See also[]



  1. British artillery denoted guns by the weight of its standard projectile, in this case approximately 13 pounds (5.9 kg), and mortars and howitzers by calibre.
  2. Pictures available on request, please contact via the 1914–1918 forum :
  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Clarke 2004
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 2.8 2.9 Hogg & Thurston 1972, page 58
  4. Farndale 1986, page 10
  5. Imperial War Museum. "Search results for "Néry" [in category 'medals and decorations'"]. IWM Collections Search. Retrieved 17 April 2013. 
  6. 6.0 6.1 Imperial War Museum (2013). "QF 13 pdr Mk 1 (Nery Gun) (ORD 102)". IWM Collections Search. Retrieved 10 March 2013. 
  7. 7.0 7.1 Imperial War Museum (2013). "Limber for QF 13 pdr Mk 1 (Nery Gun) (ORD 102.2)". IWM Collections Search. Retrieved 10 March 2013. 
  8. Farndale 1986, page 388
  9. Farndale 1988, page 380
  10. Cruickshank 2001
  11. Friedman 2011, p. 112.
  12. Royal Navy Motor Launches: Armament
  13. Imperial War Museum (2013). "Round 13 Pdr HE (Sectioned) (MUN 504)". IWM Collections Search. Retrieved 10 March 2013. 
  14. Imperial War Museum (2013). "QF 13 pdr Mk 1 (ORD 101)". IWM Collections Search. Retrieved 10 March 2013. 
  15. Dad's Army "The Big Gun" on YouTube


Further reading[]

  • "Extracts from Handbook for the 13-pr Q.F. gun (land service)". HMSO. 1908. 
  • "Handbook for the 13 – pr. Q. F. gun, land service". HMSO. 1909. 
  • "13-pr. Q.F. gun : gun drill". HMSO. 1914. 
  • "Gun drill for 13 pounder Q.F. gun Marks I and II carriage Mark I". HMSO. 1920. 

External links[]

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