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RHA 13 Pounder


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#1 Melvin Hurst

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Posted 01 May 2012 - 08:11 AM

I recently watched an excellent Battlefield History TV film about the RHA's 13 pounder gun. It was an excellent introduction to the weapon,with the King's Troop Royal Horse Artillery demonstrating how the weapon is manned and brought into action. A large part of the programme was devoted to the shrapnel shells used on the outbreak of war, but frustratingly there was little about the operation of the weapon itself.

The duties of the five-man team (plus gun commander) were outlined, the No.2 gunner on the right being in charge of the range drum, and also setting the sights. Unfortunately, neither of these operations was described in detail. How did the range drum work, and how could the gun be aligned, other than by moving it bodily?

The No. 3 gunner on the left was in charge of the elevation, but surely this also set the range, since for a standard cartridge load, the range is entirely dependent on the barrel's elevation?

The most important action of all – firing the gun – was not demonstrated at all. How was this done?

#2 Greg

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Posted 01 May 2012 - 09:23 PM

Generally speaking - my own service was on a much later gun- the gun would have a limited degree of traverse ie left and right movement on a handwheel and any greater traverse would be obtained on the 13 or 18 pounders by lifting the pole trail and physically swinging the whole gun around. The bearing to target in direct fire would simply be achieved by pointing the gun at targets in the open using the direct sight. In indirect fire a dial sight is used . This is oriented using a compass or a director (a form of angle measuring instrument including a compass).When a director is used it passes line to each dial sight of each gun in the section or battery in turn until all guns and their sights are parallel on a known bearing. The gun sergeant would then order aiming posts set out. The angle between the aiming post and the dial sight is known. When a change of bearing was ordered it would be set on the dial sight and then the gun would be traversed until the dial sight lined up with the aiming posts again.


The gun also has an elevation handwheel. Because of the pole trail the 13 and older 18 pounders had limited elevation. AS you say in a fixed charge gun (as opposed to an adjustable charge as used on howitzers)the elevation determines the range . I think the range drum would have worked from range to elevation ie the gun would receive a range as an order and convert it using the drum into an elevation for the individual gun. This may have had a sliding scale on which some of the individual characteristics of the gun could be set. Because of wear , differences in ammunition weight etc etc which affect muzle velocity no two guns will achieve the same range on exactly the same elevation.
13 pounders were primarily to support cavalry and consequently expected to work in direct fire most of the time-hence the shield. they were , however, (I think) also equipped with a dial sight so that they could fire in indirect fire if necessary.
IN the breech block, which was an interrupted screw on a hinge, there is a firing pin and trigger mechanism . Once the gun is loaded, and the breech closed and locked, the firing pin is cocked and there is normally some form of lever on the side of the breech block attached to a lanyard which is used to trigger the gun.

I stand to be corrected on the exact process on the 13 pounder but essentially that is what happens!
Greg

#3 nigelfe

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Posted 02 May 2012 - 08:40 AM

Horses are in 'teams', Gunners are in 'detachments'.

#4 squirrel

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Posted 02 May 2012 - 03:02 PM

QF 13 pounder gun - calibre 3 inch, elevation arc 16 degrees, maximum range 5900 yards.

#5 nigelfe

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Posted 05 May 2012 - 05:26 AM

Unfortunately I've been unable to find a useful selection of contemporaneous photos of 13-pr. However, its useful to remember that the origianl specification was is essence a scaled down 18-pr. The extent to which this was reflected in the gun that entered service is unclear to me. However, I assume that by mid 1914 the 13-pr batteries in UK had been fitted with No 7 Dial Sight and its mount that was reciprocating and enabled cross levelling, not so sure about the many batteries in India. However, 18-pr was very unusual for a British gun, it used two-man laying. Both guns used fixed ammunition. These details significantly affect the duties in action of the various members of the gun detachment.

If 13-pr used two man laying then the duties in action (bring the gun into action had its duties) would be (based on normal practice, I haven't seen a 13-pr Gun Drill pamphlet):

No 1 - Detachment commander, moves the trail during laying, supervises the detachment, adjusts firing data for displacement if required.
No 2 - (right side of the gun looking forward) - set the range on the range scale, elevates the barrel lay in elevation, opens and closes the breach.
No 3 - left side, lays in line using dial sight, fires the gun (short lanyard attached to firing mechanism?).
No 4 - loads.
No 5 - unpack ammunition.
No 6 - set fuze indicator, set time fuzes.

#6 squirrel

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Posted 05 May 2012 - 12:28 PM

And the following:

No.2 also unlimbers the gun with No.3 when going in to action.
No.4 unlimbers the gun limber with Nos. 5 & 6
Nos. 7,8 and 9 reserves at wagon line assist with with the supply of ammunition and replace casualties
No.10 "Coverer" and second in command to No.1 takes over detachment if No.1 becomes a casualty remains at wagon lines i/c the sub section's gun teams, limbers and wagons.

#7 Lancashire Fusilier

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Posted 05 May 2012 - 02:16 PM

13 pounder ' going into action '

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#8 Lancashire Fusilier

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Posted 05 May 2012 - 02:29 PM

Training with 13 pounder.

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#9 Lancashire Fusilier

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Posted 05 May 2012 - 02:32 PM

13 pounder.

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#10 Lancashire Fusilier

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Posted 05 May 2012 - 02:55 PM

13-Pounder 'Nery Gun' of 'L' Battery.

" On the morning of the 1st September 1914 the German 4th Cavalry Division attacked 1st Cavalry Brigade and L Battery, who had been camped in the village of Néry. In the action that followed, L Battery, less for one gun, was all but destroyed. The 13-pounder gun manned by Captain Bradbury, WO2 Dorrell, Sergeant Nelson, and Gunners Osbourne and Darbyshire, managed to keep the single gun in action against the three German Batteries located a thousand yards away. The Artillery fire put down by this gun allowed the 1st Cavalry Brigade to deliver a successful Counter attack. For this action Captain Bradbury, WO2 Dorrell, Sergeant Nelson, were all awarded the Victoria Cross. "

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#11 Lancashire Fusilier

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Posted 05 May 2012 - 03:01 PM

Field Artillery scenes from WW1.

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#12 ianjonescl

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Posted 05 May 2012 - 03:27 PM



#13 Lancashire Fusilier

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Posted 05 May 2012 - 05:05 PM


Excellent program to watch, very informative and interesting.
Thank you,
LF

#14 nigelfe

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Posted 06 May 2012 - 02:27 AM

My assumption was right, 13-pr like 18-pr was two-man laying, unlike 4.5 How which was one-man laying. Interestingly none of the photos show the fuze indicator in use, it's a tad difficult to use shrapnel without it.

The photo labelled 'RFA practice at Okhamp[ton is obviously wrong, either its not RFA or not 13-pr, it cant be both since 13-pr was only used by RHA. I'll leave it to a uniform expert to deal with the cap badges in that photo, lack of spurs on the gun detachment may also be a bit of a giveaway. The photo labelled 2002 presents the same problem, men marching behind the gun. Not in RHA, all men were mounted, hence probably 18-pr of RFA.

#15 Melvin Hurst

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Posted 06 May 2012 - 07:17 AM

My thanks to everyone for their contributions - most interesting and informative.

Melvin

#16 squirrel

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Posted 06 May 2012 - 12:03 PM

The photo labelled 'RFA practice at Okhamp[ton is obviously wrong, either its not RFA or not 13-pr, it cant be both since 13-pr was only used by RHA. I'll leave it to a uniform expert to deal with the cap badges in that photo, lack of spurs on the gun detachment may also be a bit of a giveaway. The photo labelled 2002 presents the same problem, men marching behind the gun. Not in RHA, all men were mounted, hence probably 18-pr of RFA.


I would agree that the photo captioned 2002 is probably RFA for the reasons you state and also that the horses look a bit on the heavy side for RHA.
The one captioned RHA practice at Okehampton looks more like an 18 pdr and the No.1 and the Officer (?) on the left are wearing spurs but none of the others seem to be. This could however, be RHA as they were armed with the 18 pdr during the latter part of the war and post war. Some of the TF RHA batteries still had 18 pdrs at the outbreak of WW2 and were still wearing SD uniforms also. Some TF batteries also carried out their annual firing practice at annual camp at Okehampton - 254 bty RHA for instance.

#17 munster

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Posted 06 May 2012 - 12:15 PM

Very interesting i always wondered how these guns were actually fired,john

#18 Lancashire Fusilier

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Posted 06 May 2012 - 01:16 PM

Photograph of 18 Pounder Detachment.

In the attached photograph of an 18 pounder detachment, we can see the length of the barrel as it relates to the recoil mechanism sitting on top of the barrel.
When compared to the photographs of known 13 pounders, as in posts 9 & 10, and the film shown in post 12, there seems to be a considerable difference in the barrel length between the 13 pounder and the 18 pounder, although the guns themselves look very similar.
In post 8, the RFA, Oakhampton photograph, again we can see the difference in the length of the gun barrel as it relates to the recoil mechanism, which is very different to that of the 13 pounder.
Could someone kindly confirm the barrel length of a 13 pounder as compared to the barrel length on an 18 pounder ?
LF

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#19 CharlieBris

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Posted 06 May 2012 - 01:28 PM

Kosar's "Artillerie im 20. Jahrhundert" quotes the 13 and 18 Pdrs as:

13 Pdr - 76.2mm L/24.4 - Barrel length = 1.859m

18 Pdr - 83.8mm L/29.4 - Barrel length = 2.464m

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#20 Lancashire Fusilier

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Posted 06 May 2012 - 01:35 PM

Kosar's "Artillerie im 20. Jahrhundert" quotes the 13 and 18 Pdrs as:

13 Pdr - 76.2mm L/24.4 - Barrel length = 1.859m

18 Pdr - 83.8mm L/29.4 - Barrel length = 2.464m

Regards,

Charlie


Charlie,
Many thanks for the information.
LF

#21 Warwicks

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Posted 06 May 2012 - 07:02 PM

Excellent thread with some fantastic references.

Can anyone tell me the dimensions of the 13 pounder shrapnel shell? Does anyone have line drawings of the shell?

Many thanks

#22 Lancashire Fusilier

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Posted 06 May 2012 - 08:09 PM

Can anyone tell me the dimensions of the 13 pounder shrapnel shell? Does anyone have line drawings of the shell?
Many thanks


Hope these help.
LF

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#23 Lancashire Fusilier

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Posted 06 May 2012 - 08:36 PM

13 pounder Gun and Limber at the gallop.

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#24 johnreed

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Posted 14 May 2012 - 07:18 PM

The photograph in post 22 is a shrapnel round of a 13 Pr 9 cwt an Anti-Aircraft round as the cartridge case is a necked down 18 Pr cartridge case.

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#25 Lancashire Fusilier

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Posted 14 May 2012 - 08:51 PM

The photograph in post 22 is a shrapnel round of a 13 Pr 9 cwt an Anti-Aircraft round as the cartridge case is a necked down 18 Pr cartridge case.

John


John,
Thanks for the information on the photograph which was captioned 13 pounder shell.
Is the line drawing correct ?
LF