QF 3-pounder Hotchkiss

This article is about the 1880s Hotchkiss gun. For other 3-pounder guns, see 3 pounder gun.
QF 3-pounder Hotchkiss

Typical Royal Navy deck mounting, 1915
Type Naval gun
Coast-defence gun
Place of origin France
Service history
In service 1886 - 1950s
Used by French Navy
Royal Navy
Regia Marina
United States Navy
Imperial Russian Navy
Wars WWI
Production history
Designed 1885
Manufacturer Hotchkiss et Cie
Number built 2,950 (UK)
Barrel length 74.06 inch (1.88 m) bore (40 cal)

Shell Fixed QF. Shell 3.3 lb (1.5 kg), steel shell, common lyddite
Calibre 47-millimetre (1.850 in)
Breech vertical sliding wedge
Rate of fire 30 / minute[1]
Muzzle velocity 1,873 ft/s (571 m/s)
Maximum firing range 4,000 yards (3,657 m)

The QF 3-pounder Hotchkiss or in French use Canon Hotchkiss à tir rapide de 47 mm (47mm / L40) was a light 47-mm naval gun introduced in 1886 to defend against new small fast vessels such as torpedo boats, and later submarines. It was also used ashore as a coast defence gun and later occasionally as an anti-aircraft gun.

French service

Model of gun in French service on "elastic frame" mounting (affût-crinoline), at the Musée national de la Marine Paris

United Kingdom service

United Kingdom History

HMS Majestic showing 7 guns mounted in crow's nests circa. 1897

In 1886 this gun was the first of the modern QF artillery to be adopted by the Royal Navy as the "Ordnance QF 3 pounder Hotchkiss",[2] built under licence by Elswick Ordnance Company.

By the middle of World War I the Hotchkiss gun had become obsolescent, and was gradually replaced in its class by the more powerful Ordnance QF 3 pounder Vickers gun. The gun's availability, simplicity and light weight resulted in its continued use in small vessels, and many were later brought back into service on merchant vessels used for auxiliary duties in World War II, or as subcalibre guns for gunnery practice until the 1950s. Early in WWII it was also pressed into service in ports around the British Empire, to defend against possible incursions by motor torpedo boats until the modern QF 6 pounder 10 cwt gun became available in numbers for that purpose.

United Kingdom ammunition

Steel shell round circa. 1898
Mk IV base percussion fuze
Mk V N.T. lyddite shell, 1914

Australian service

A 3-pounder Hotchkiss was used on an improvised mounting in a battle that resulted in Australia's first prisoners of World War 2 being captured in 1940 near Berbera.[3]

The guns are now used in a Three Pound Saluting Gun Battery at the Garden Island Naval Base.[4]

Russian service

Russia adopted the Hotchkiss 5-barrel Gatling-type 3-pounder revolver cannon in the 1880s, and later adopted the less complicated single-barrel quick-firing weapon. The 5-barrel guns were equipped on the Ekaterina II-class battleships commissioned in 1889, but by 1892 the battleship Dvenadsat Apostolov and her successors had single-barrel weapons. 47 mm Hotchkiss guns were used during the Russo-Japanese war and were ineffective against Japanese torpedo boats, so they were removed from first-line warships following that war. New Russian battleships ceased carrying the weapon with the Evstafi class, commissioned in 1910. However, they were subsequently fitted to patrol vessels and river craft during World War I, and at least 62 weapons were converted to anti-aircraft guns by 1917.[5]

US service

The US Navy used several types of 3-pounder guns, and it is difficult to determine from references which type a particular ship had. Hotchkiss 5-barrel Gatling-type 3-pounder revolving cannon were used, along with single-barrel quick-firing single-shot Hotchkiss 3-pounders. Both are called rapid-firing (RF) in references. Other manufacturers included Driggs-Schroeder, Maxim-Nordenfelt, and Vickers-Maxim. By 1910 the US was building the dreadnought-type South Carolina class, with a secondary armament composed entirely of 3 inch (76 mm) guns. Although removed from first-line warships by World War I, some 3-pounders were fitted on patrol vessels of that war, with a few weapons serving on those ships through World War II.[6][7]

Polish service

47 mm Hotchkiss guns, designated as wz.1885 gun, were used on first ships of the Polish Navy, received after World War I, like ex-German torpedo boats and minesweepers. By the time of World War II they were mostly phased out of service on naval ships, but several stored guns were used in combat on improvised stationary mounts by Land Coastal Defence units in the Battle of Kępa Oksywska in September 1939.[8]

Surviving examples

3 Guns used for ceremonial purposes at HMS Drake.

See also

Weapons of comparable role, performance and era


  1. 30 rounds per minute is the figure given by Elswick Ordnance for their 40-calibres model. Quoted in Brassey's Naval Annual 1901
  2. British forces traditionally denoted smaller ordnance by the weight of its standard projectile, in this case approximately 3 pounds (1.4 kg).
  3. http://news.navy.gov.au/en/Oct2013/Events/492/3-Pounder-saluting-guns.htm#.VBKwgaPgWoY
  4. http://news.defence.gov.au/2013/07/31/saluting-guns-ready-for-arrival-of-worlds-navies/
  5. DiGiulian, Tony, Russian Hotchkiss 3-pounders
  6. DiGiulian, Tony, US 3-pounders
  7. Campbell, John (1985). Naval Weapons of World War Two. Annapolis: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0-87021-459-4.
  8. Tym, Wacław; Rzepniewski, Andrzej (editors) (1985). Kępa Oksywska 1939. Wydawnictwo Morskie, Gdańsk. p.285 (in Polish)
  9. AMMS Brisbane
  10. Mémorial Maginot de Haute-Alsace
  11. Jane's Fighting Ships 2005-2006


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See also

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