Ordnance QF 15-pounder Ehrhardt (QF 15-pounder Mark I)

The Ordnance QF 15-pounder Ehrhardt was a German produced gun bought for the British Army after the Boer War, and used in limited numbers in France in 1915.

The gun was ordered during the Boer War, when the British Army found that its existing artillery was outclassed by the best of the Boer guns, and at a time when the French were making a big fuss about their quick firing 75mm gun.

The Army turned to Ehrhardt (better known as Rheinmetall-Borsig) for a quick solution and in 1901 placed an order for 108 15-pounder guns, 275 limbers, 162 ammo wagons, 54 supporting wagons and 54,000 rounds of ammo. This was enough guns to equip an entire army corps. It had to be ordered in secret, as the relationship between Britain and Germany was very tense, at least in part due to the Boer War.

The Ehrhardt guns were always expected to be an interim measure before better guns could be developed. They served with the regular army when new, but were soon replaced by the famous 18-pounder, and passed on to the Territorial Army. In Territorial service they were given gun shields, a traversing indicator, and mounts for the No.6 sighting telescope. The modified carriage was designated as the Carriage Mk. I*.

One battery went to France in 1914, and more with their TA units in 1915, but they were replaced with 18-pounders as soon as they became available. Some were also spent to Egypt, but saw little combat.

The 15-pounder was a standard Ehrhardt design for the period, using a pole trail that was strong but limited the gun’s elevation and thus range. The recoil mechanism was carried under the barrel. They were delivered with Ehrhardt wheels, but later had these replaced with standard British types. When first built there were two seats mounted over the axle to carry two crewmen when the gun was being towed. These were later replaced with a gun shield.

This was the first British field gun to have an on-carriage recoil system. It used a ‘long recoil’ system, with the barrel mounted on a buffered cradle that allowed it to recoil almost its entire length. It was also built with a spring telescopic trail, which would absorb any remaining recoil forces, but in service this proved to be unreliable, and had to be pinned into the closed position. It had an interrupted screw breech, and could fire the same shrapnel shell as the British BL 15-pounder field gun.


Ordnance, QF, 15-pounder, Erhardt


76.2mm (3in)

Barrel Length

2.286m (90in)

Weight for transport


Weight in action

1,030.5kg (2,272lb)


-5 to +16 degrees


6 degrees

Shell Weight

6.35kg (14lb)

Muzzle Velocity

510m (1,674ft)/ sec

Maximum Range

5,852m (6,400 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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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (28 September 2018), Ordnance QF 15-pounder Ehrhardt (QF 15-pounder Mark I) , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_ordnance_QF_15pdr_ehrhardt.html

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