BL 6-inch Gun Mark XIX
Author: P Radley

The 6-inch Gun Mark VII was OK, but not spectacular. The carriage was low and did not allow for much elevation, which limited the maximum range. Additionally, the whole equipment was very heavy, and that very much limited mobility. A better long range gun was needed and in October 1916, Vickers Limited came up with the solution. A naval 6-inch Gun Mark XIX was mated to the carriage of the 8-inch Howitzer Mark VI, and at a stroke, range was increased by nearly 40%, and weight decreased by 60%. The new equipment, officially designated BL 6-inch Gun Mark XIX on Travelling Carriage Mark VIIa, was lighter, more mobile, and had much greater range.

6 inch Mark XIX 1 6 inch Mark XIX 2

The Mark XIX was so light and powerful that it had to be emplaced on a special mounting, just like the 8 inch Howitzer Mark VI. When it came time to move, the mounting plate had its own wheeled carriage that was hitched to the limber. The gun itself was then also hitched to the limber, so forming a train that was then attached to the towing vehicle.

Sources disagree on the number of 6-inch Mark XIX guns made during the war, with Hogg (1998) saying 108, and Clarke (2005) claiming 310.

Calibre6 inches (152mm)
Barrel LengthL/36.5
Weight of Gun (Emplaced)10338 kg
Elevation0° to +48°
Muzzle Velocity733 m/sec
Max. Range17,140 m
Shell Weight45.4 kg

The following text is copied from the American book: Ordnance Department Document No. 2033, Handbook of Artillery, prepared in the Office of The Chief of Ordnance, May 1920. Note that there are some disagreements about range and the name of the carriage the gun was mounted on.

"The 6-inch gun materiel, model of 1917, is British throughout, being designed and manufactured in England. It consists of a 6-inch gun, Mark XIX, mounted on an 8-inch howitzer carriage, Mark VII, known as the 6-inch gun carriage, Mark VIIIA. This Mark XIX gun is of wire-wound construction, having a muzzle velocity of 2,350 feet per second and a range of 17,500 yards.

6 inch Mark XIX 3 6 inch Mark XIX 4 6 inch Mark XIX 5

The gun body is of steel and consists of tubes, a series of layers of steel wire, jacket, breech bush and breech ring. The breech ring is prepared for the reception of the breech mechanism and is provided with a lug on the under side for the attachment of the hydraulic buffer and recuperator of the carriage.

6 inch Mark XIX 6 6 inch Mark XIX 7

The breech mechanism is operated by means of a lever on the right side of the breech. On pulling the lever to the rear the breech screw is automatically unlocked and swung into the loading position. After loading, one thrust of this lever inserts the breech screw and turns it into the locked position. The breech mechanism is similar to that used on the 8-inch howitzers both in design and operation.

6 inch Mark XIX 9 6 inch Mark XIX 10 6 inch Mark XIX 11

The firing mechanism is of the percussion type and is not interchangeable with other British guns. The firing mechanism is designed for percussion firing, and is so arranged that the gun can not be fired until the breech screw is locked and the breech mechanism lever home.

The only changes necessary on the 8-inch howitzer carriages for mounting this 6-inch gun are: The rear extension plug, which connects the gun to the recoil mechanism, is modified and the cut-off gear is set differently to shorten the recoil when in action. The firing platform and all of the accompanying vehicles of the 8-inch howitzer materiel are used.

Ammunition of the separate loading type is used, both shrapnel and shell being issued"

6 inch Mark XIX 8 6 inch Mark XIX 12

Post-WW1 Service

The Mark XIX gun remained in British service until WW2. A small number, 3 batteries, were sent to France with the BEF in 1939. The remaining guns were used as coastal defence guns throughout the war. The Mark XIXs were updated with pneumatic tyres replacing the original steel wheels presumably for vehicle towing between the wars.

The US Army had Mark XIX guns on strength after WW1. These guns were British in origin since the US did not build Mark XIX guns under licence unlike the 8 inch Mark VI howitzer. It's unlikely that the Mark XIXs remained in service for long since the 155mm M1918 (licence-built 155mm GPF) was produced in numbers after WW1.

Brazil acquired Mark XIX guns from the USA in 1940 as coastal defence guns.

South Africa was given a number of Mark XIX guns in the 1930s to bolster the coastal defences around important harbours.


There is a surviving Mark XIX from Brazilian service displayed at the Forte de Copacabana Museum, Rio de Janiero.

6 inch Mark XIX 13

Three Mark XIX guns survive in South Africa: at the South African National Museum of Military History, Johannesburg, Signal Hill, Cape Town and the Apostle Battery, Hout Bay (no image).

6 inch Mark XIX 14 6 inch Mark XIX 15


Clarke, D. 2005. British Artillery 1914-19: Heavy Artillery.
Hogg, Ian V. 1998. Allied Artillery of World War I.
Ordnance Department. 1920. Document No. 2033, Handbook of Artillery.

How To Model This Gun

Strelets make a plastic, 1/72 scale kit. It comes with the later, pneumatic tyred wheels, so they will have to be substituted for appropriate WWI wheels.
Matador Models make a 1/76 scale one.