Ordnance, BLC 15-pounder field gun

The Ordnance, BL converted, 15-pounder field gun was a modified version of a pre-Boer War weapon that was given a more modern recoil system and used to equip the Territorial Army before the First World War.

The 15-pounder originally entered service before the Boer War, as the 15-pounder BL Gun of 1896. At this stage it was a fairly simple weapon, with a spring loaded spade to absorb the recoil forces. The Boer War made it clear that this system was no longer effective, and something more modern was needed. In order to avoid wasting the large number of 15-pounders that were already in service, a new recoil system was developed that could be fitted on the existing guns. This consisted of a hydro-spring recoil system that was mounted above the gun barrel, in a metal housing with an angled front that gave the modified gun a distinctive appearance. The trunnions were attached to the metal housing for the recoil system and the barrel was carried below it. The modified weapons were also given a new breach system. The vast majority of the ammunition produced for the 15-pounder was shrapnel. A limited amount of traverse was made possible by adding a spade at the end of the trail that could be turned by a level to move the gun 2 degrees to either side.

The first of the modified guns were ready in 1907 and they were used to equip the artillery batteries of the Territorial Army. A total of 536 converted guns were issued to the Territorial Force. By 1914 the more modern 13-pounder and 18-pounder guns were preferred to the 15-pounder, and the first guns didn’t move to France until 1915. Even then only a few of the Territorial batteries took their 15-pounders with them, and once in France the lack of high explosive shells meant that they were of very limited use. Some were used at the battle of Loos, but their shrapnel had little impact.

The 15-pounder also saw active service in South Africa, where some were used against the Germans in East Africa. However their main use was as a training weapon, where the large stock of shrapnel shells was more useful, producing very visible bursts that were used to train artillery observers. The 15-pounder remained in use in this role in India into the 1930s.

The Ordnance, BLC 15-pounder should not be confused with the QF 15-pounder Ehrhardt Gun, a rather more modern weapon that was purchased by the British Army.


Ordnance, BL converted 15-pdr gun


76.2mm (3in)

Barrel Length

2.345m (92.35in)

Weight for transport


Weight in action

26cwt 1qr 13lb


-9 to +16 degrees



Shell Weight

6.35kg (14lb)

Muzzle Velocity

484m (1,590ft)

Maximum Range

5,258m (5,750 yards)

Rate of Fire


The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Weapons of World War I, general editor Chris Bishop. A useful collection of articles on the main weapons of the First World War, based on Orbis's War Machine of the 1980s. Still accurate despite its relative age, well illustrated and supported by some informative general articles, and provides a good overview of the military technology of the Great War. [read full review]
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Books on the First World War | Subject Index: First World War

How to cite this article: Rickard, J (10 September 2018), Ordnance, BLC 15-pounder field gun , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_ordnance_BLC_15pdr_field_gun.html

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