MANUFACTURER(S): Elswick Ordnance Company - UK
OPERATORS: United Kingdom
Detailing the development and operational history of the Ordnance BL 9.2-inch 234mm Railway Gun.
Entry last updated on 3/9/2018.
Authored by Staff Writer. Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com.
Quantitative availability of various 9.2" British Royal Navy warship guns allowed for some experimentation in the field of railway gun usage. These weapon systems provided tactical, long-range heavy firepower with their mobility restricted to an established railway network. The weapons proved a common sight during World War 1 (1914-1918) and remained en vogue throughout World War 2 (1939-1945). All major powers of the two World Wars deployed some form of railway gun, armored train or armored train car for action.
When World War 1 came to Europe in July of 1914, Mk III and Mk VI versions of the storied 9.2" naval gun were in supply and the Elswick Ordnance Company was commissioned to add these to railway cars to produce a new series of railway guns for service in Mainland Europe. The work occurred in the early part of 1915 just as the war had settled into the slugfest known as "Trench Warfare" when any-and-all artillery pieces available were thrown into the mix to help unseat stubborn defenders from their holdings.
The early-form guns were limited in their tactical capabilities, namely because of their basic mountings which restricted elevation and traversal. This changed some in mid-1916 when Elswick produced newer railway gun systems with more advanced mountings which, in turn, improved on the weaknesses of the earlier designs. Various large-caliber naval guns were used to finalize their construction - including the massive Mk X series form.
The Mk I guns held an elevation of 28 degrees against the 40 degrees offered in the Mk IV gun versions. Similarly traversal was improved from 10 degrees left-and-right of centerline to a full 360 degrees in the Mk III-gunned versions.
The Mk III and Mk VI guns could reach out to target areas 17,000 yards away. Mk V guns had a range out to 21,000 yards and the Mk XIII gun followed with a 22,600 yard reach. Each gun fired a 380lb 233.7mm High-Explosive (HE) shell.
About sixteen of the large railway guns were available at the end of World War 1 in November of 1918. These remained in active circulation into the fighting of World War 2 and were mainly held back for homeland defense. They survived the Second World War of Europe only to be scrapped soon thereafter.