11inch Breech Loading Howitzer on a Naval Mounting
Volunteers at Explosion have recently restored an 11inch breech loading Howitzer. The gun, on a Naval Mounting, had been stored in building 309 for the last few years awaiting conservation. The exhibit has now been restored and will become an integral part of the Museums Reserve Collection.
The 11inch breech loading Howitzer was introduced into RN service late in the 1914-18 war and deployed on Q-ships and cruisers as an anti-submarine weapon. It could fire shells and stick-bombs fuzed to detonate underwater, the effects of the shock extending over a considerable area to damage a submarine of force it to the surface for subsequent sinking by gunfire.
The shell, with a nominal weight of 350lbs, had the longer extreme range – of the order of 3,000yds, whereas the 600lbs stick-bomb had a maximum range of 650yds but a larger bursting charge giving it increased lethality. It had a bursting charge of 120lbs of TNT or Amatol and a nose-fitted delayed-action fuze so that the shell detonated approximately 2 seconds after striking the surface of the water by which time it would have sunk to a depth of about 50ft. The shell and bagged propellant charge were loaded into the breech of the Howitzer.
The stick-bomb consisted of a spherical bomb, with a hole in the side into which a fuze and exploder were fitted, attached to a ‘stick’ with three collars whose external diameter fitted the bore of the Howitzer. It was loaded into the muzzle of the Howitzer with the bagged propellant being loaded into the breech. Four different hydrostatic fuzes, activated by water pressure, could be fitted to the stick-bomb, each of the four being designed to function at a different depth namely 40ft, 90ft, 140ft and 190ft, and each had a bursting charge of 290lbs of TNT or Amatol.
This example of an 11inch Breech Loading Howitzer on a naval mounting, complete with stick-bomb, is held in the Reserve Collection at Priddy’s Hard having been recently conserved by the volunteers. The Howitzer was fitted to HMS Leviathan in 1918, the Howitzer having been manufactured by Vickers Sons and Maxim and the mounting by the Coventry Ordnance Works.
The Howitzer can be seen as part of a reserve collection tour at Explosion and as part of Heritage Open Days each year in September.