RML 6.3-inch howitzer

RML 6.3-inch howitzer

One of the two guns used during the Siege of Ladysmith
Type Howitzer
Place of origin  United Kingdom
Service history
Used by British Empire
Production history
Produced 1878[1]
Weight 2,016 lb (914 kg) barrel[2]
Barrel length 3 feet 9 inches (1.1 m) bore (7.14 calibres)[2]

Shell 70 lb (32 kg)[2]
Calibre 6.3 inches (160 mm)
Action RML
Traverse nil
Muzzle velocity 751 ft/s (229 m/s)[3]
Effective firing range 4,000 yards (3,700 m)[1]

The RML 6.3-inch howitzer was a British rifled muzzle-loading "siege" or "position" howitzer/mortar proposed in 1874 and finally introduced in 1878 as a lighter version of the successful 8-inch howitzer that could be carried by the existing 40-pounder gun carriage.[4]

By 1880 the RML 6.3-inch was superseded by a longer 6.6-inch howitzer with higher muzzle velocity.[5]


Barrel construction

The barrel consisted of an inner "A" tube of toughened mild steel, surrounded by wrought-iron "B" tube and jacket.

Rifling was of the "polygroove" type, with 20 grooves and a twist increasing from 1 turn in 100 calibres (i.e. 630 inches) to 1 in 35 (i.e. 220 inches).[4]

Operational use

Ten 6.3-inch Howitzers were landed in Egypt in 1882 to form part of a Royal Artillery Siege Train during the Anglo-Egyptian War, however they were not used in action.[6] Many were mounted in Forts and batteries around the United Kingdom as part of the fixed defences scheme. Most were dismounted and scrapped after 1902.

A number of RML 6.3-inch howitzers were used by the British forces during the Second Boer War, normally mounted on 40 pr RML carriages.[1]


Mk I studless common shell, 1886

The gun was the first British rifled muzzle-loader to dispense entirely with studs on shells to impart spin : its shells from the beginning had gas checks attached to their base which expanded and engaged with rifling on firing to impart spin to the shell.[4]

Surviving examples

See also


  1. 1 2 3 Hall, Darrell (1971). "Guns in South Africa 1899-1902 Part V and VI". The South African Military History Society. Retrieved 2008-10-22.
  2. 1 2 3 Text Book of Gunnery 1902, Table XII Page 338.
  3. 751 ft/second firing 70 lb projectile, using 4 lb RLG2 (gunpowder) propellant. Text Book of Gunnery, 1902, Table XII page 338.
  4. 1 2 3 Treatise on Construction of Ordnance in the British Service, 1879, pages 79; 171; 259-260
  5. "The Gun - Rifled Ordnance: Howitzers". Royal New Zealand Artillery Association. Retrieved 2009-07-14.
  6. Goodrich, Caspar F (Lt Cdr), Report of the British Naval and Military Operations In Egypt 1882, Navy Department, Washington, 1885, p.231
  7. "9/2/415/0028 - Castor and Pollux 6 3 in. RML Howitzer Ladysmith". South African Heritage Resource Agency. Retrieved 28 August 2012.
  8. "Managing Heritage Objects that form part of the National Estate" (PDF). South African Heritage Resource Agency. 2005-07-15. Retrieved 2008-10-22.
  9. "Government Gazette Vol. 477" (PDF). Government of South Africa. 2005-03-30. p. 5. Retrieved 2008-10-22.
  10. Nevinson, H. W. Ladysmith - The Diary of a Siege. METHUEN & CO. p. 125. Retrieved 2008-10-22.


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