Ordnance QF 3.7 inch mountain howitzer
QF 3-7inch mountain howitzer duxford.JPG
A 3.7-inch QF mountain gun.
TypeMountain gun
Place of originUnited Kingdom
Service history
In service1917–Present
Used byNepal (The Nepalese Army still has 90-100 in Service)[when?][citation needed]
Wars
Production history
Produced1915–?
Specifications
Mass1,610 lb (730 kg)[2]
Barrel length3 ft 7.5 in (1.10 m)[2]

ShellSeparate-loading QF
94 x 92 mm R[3]
Shell weight20 lb (9.1 kg) HE, Shrapnel, Smoke, Star shell, HEAT
Calibre3.7 in (94 mm)
RecoilHydro-pneumatic, variable, 17.5–35 inch[2]
CarriageWheeled, split trail
Elevation−5° to +40°[2]
Traverse20° L & R[2]
Muzzle velocity973 ft/s (297 m/s)[2]
Maximum firing range5,899 yd (5,394 m)[2]

Ordnance, QF 3.7-inch howitzer is a mountain gun, used by British and Commonwealth armies in the First and Second World Wars, and between the wars.

History

The British Indian Army first requested a modern mountain gun in 1906 to replace the BL 10 pounder Mountain Gun, which had been hastily developed after the Second Boer War, but itself had several shortcomings. In particular, the shell weight was seen as too light and the gun lacked any recoil absorber or recuperator, meaning the gun had to be relaid after every shell was fired. However, financial constraints delayed production of the 3.7-inch weapon until 1915. As a stop-gap, the barrel of the 10-pounder gun was mounted on an updated carriage to produce the 2.75 inch Mountain Gun.

First World War

Indian Army battery, probably 39th, at Jerusalem, December 1917
Indian Army battery, probably 39th, at Jerusalem, December 1917

The 3.7-inch howitzer was first introduced in 1917, and was used in action in that year in the Mesopotamian Campaign (modern Iraq area).

The 22nd (Derajat) Indian Frontier Force mountain battery arrived in the East Africa campaign on 18 December 1916, when they relieved the 28th Battery which returned to India.[4] They appear to have re-equipped from the 10-pounder mountain gun to the 3.7-inch howitzer while in East Africa, and first used the new weapon in action in an attack on German positions at Medo, 11 April 1918.[5]

Interwar years

Indian gun crew firing, India, circa. 1930
Indian gun crew firing, India, circa. 1930

The 3.7-inch howitzer superseded the 2.75-inch mountain gun following the First World War. It was used by mountain artillery regiments of the Royal Artillery and the Indian Artillery, and saw much service on the North West Frontier of India between the wars.

Second World War

In action in Burma, 3 November 1944
In action in Burma, 3 November 1944

During the Second World War, the weapon equipped artillery units engaged in the North African Campaign (Tunisia), the Italian Campaign, the Kokoda Campaign, and Burma Campaign, and was also used in the Netherlands and Ruhr fighting in 1944–45 by units originally destined for mountain warfare in Greece. In the latter theatre, on occasion the gun was dismantled and manually hauled up to the upper floors of buildings to provide close support in urban fighting. A lightened version was used briefly by airborne formations. Several were supplied to the French Army after 1945; one is on display at the Vietnam Army Museum in Hanoi while another is displayed at the Zone 5 Military Museum, Danang. It was also used on Close Support versions of the A9 and A10 Cruiser Tanks in place of the standard 2 pounder, though mostly to fire smoke shells.

During the war the gun, and its ammunition, were also manufactured in other Commonwealth countries, including South Africa, by the ISCOR (Iron and Steel Corporation of South Africa), and India. South Africa also produced modified versions of the gun.[6]

The gun was finally declared obsolete by the British Army in 1960, although it had not seen service since 1945.

Post War

After the war, the gun was used by French forces during the First Indochina War[7] and by India during the Indo-Pakistani wars of 1965 and 1971.[8] The "Mujib Battery" of Bangladesh used this gun in 1971's Bangladesh Liberation War. They were provided by India to the Mukti Bahini.[citation needed]

Details

QF 3.7-inch howitzer left elevation diagram.
QF 3.7-inch howitzer left elevation diagram.

The weapon was designed to be broken into eight mule loads, for transport over difficult terrain. The heaviest single section is the interrupted screw breech, which weighs 247 pounds (112 kg). Given an open gun position, a practised crew could have the guns unloaded from the mules, reassembled and deployed ready for action in about two minutes. The 3.7-inch howitzer's adjustable suspension system allowed it to be deployed on almost any position, even those too uneven or with too steep a gradient to allow field artillery to be sited. The process of removing the howitzer from a position and reloading it onto the gun mules involved much more lifting and securing loads than deploying it, but could be accomplished in three minutes in favourable conditions.

The howitzer has a split trail, the first British weapon to do so, which allows firing at very high angles (a useful feature in mountainous terrain). It also has a large rectangular shield to protect the crew from small-arms fire, but this was often omitted to save weight. When it was first introduced, the howitzer had two wooden wheels and was light enough be towed by two horses. Later marks have pneumatic tyres and could be towed by any light vehicle, such as the Bren Carrier or jeep.

The propellant casing had five "charge zones", but HE was restricted to no more than "charge four", to prevent premature detonation of the shell. The Australian Army did employ charge five in Papua New Guinea in emergencies – the gun crews referred to it as "O'Hara's charge".

Ammunition

See also

Surviving examples

QF 3.7-inch mountain howitzer at Bangladesh Military Museum used by "Mujib Battery" in 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War.

Notes and references

  1. ^ "Victory Day: Enrich knowledge through exploration". The Business Standard. 16 December 2020. Retrieved 18 February 2021.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Hogg & Thurston 1972, p. 91
  3. ^ "78- MM CALIBRE CARTRIDGES". www.quarryhs.co.uk. Retrieved 2 October 2017.
  4. ^ Farndale 1988, p. 338
  5. ^ Farndale 1988, p. 351
  6. ^ British Artillery in the Second World War: The 3.7-inch howitzer
  7. ^ Windrow, Martin (20 September 2018). French Foreign Légionnaire vs Viet Minh Insurgent: North Vietnam 1948–52. Combat 36. Osprey Publishing. p. 36. ISBN 9781472828910.
  8. ^ Singh, Jagjit (1994). Indian Gunners at War: The Western Front-1971. Lancer International. pp. 48, 50. ISBN 978-1-897829-55-4.
  9. ^ Imperial War Museum (2013). "QF 3.7in Mountain Howitzer Mk I (ORD 137)". IWM Collections Search. Retrieved 10 March 2013.

Bibliography