British 6-inch 26 cwt howitzer

Discussion in 'Weapons, Technology & Equipment' started by Fatboy Coxy, Aug 21, 2019.

  1. Fatboy Coxy

    Fatboy Coxy Junior Member

    Hi all

    Can we have a discussion on the pro’s and con’s of the British 6-inch 26 cwt howitzer, regarding its use in ww2.

    The gun was a success in WW1, and upgraded in the 1930’s with calibrating sights, and to allow vehicle towing, pneumatic tyres and improved brakes. It was used to equip medium regiments, 8 in a battery, 2 batteries per regiment. It began to be phased out late 1941 for the 5.5-inch medium gun, which provided greater range.

    In the European and North African theatres, distance would be all important, but maybe in Malaya and later in Burma, this might have been less of an issue.

    In relatively confined terrain, ie jungle, woods, hilly country, might the 6-inch howitzer prove to be easier to manoeuvre than the heavier 5.5-inch gun, and given they both had a ten-man crew, can I assume it offered better man handling capacity, or was it just too big for that?

    Secondly with a much shorter barrel, 7ft 3in, as opposed to 13ft 9in for the 5.5-inch, I presume it could operate in a smaller clearing?

    However, the 5.5-inch had a maximum elevation of 70 degrees, able to drop a big shell over a relatively short distance, which could be useful in jungle terrain, I can only find a 45-degree elevation mentions for the 6-inch

    On the back of all this, I had wondered why part, if not all of the 6th Medium Regiment RA, wasn’t deployed into Malaya in 1941, where they had a chronic shortage of artillery, or whether terrain was considered an issue then.

    Fatboy Coxy
    CL1 likes this.
  2. Trux

    Trux 21 AG Patron

    I have little knowledge of the war in Malaya/ Burma etc. However some points about the guns. A maximum elevation of 45 degrees was normal for British howitzers. The 5.5" had a maximum elevation of 45 degrees. The mechanism would not allow for more and if it did the breech would hit the ground when recoiling. It was possible to increase the elevation by digging a pit or trench under the trail but then the sights would not work.

    The 6 inch howitzer was a good gun and as you say was lighter than the 5.5. However in most respects the 5.5" was better.The range would be important. 4.2" mortars were best for shorter ranges, the 25pdr could fill in the intermediate ranges and the 5.5" the longer ranges.

    Although it was never achieved in the Far East standardisation of ammunition and spares was always a consideration.

    Fatboy Coxy and Aixman like this.
  3. Fatboy Coxy

    Fatboy Coxy Junior Member

    Thanks for your reply Mike

    They couldn't build enough 25 pounders earlier on in the war, and it wasn't until 1942 that the 5.5" gun and 4.2" mortar really joined the arsenal, so the earlier team would have been the old first world war stalwarts, the 18 pounder, 4.5" howitzer and the 6" howitzer for many theatres. Both the 18 pounder and 4.5" howitzer were present in Malaya, but the 6" didn't make it there. I was wondering if the gun itself presented particular operating problems for the terrain there?

    Fatboy Coxy

    JITTER PARTY Active Member

    I believe that 6" Howitzers were used in both Hong Kong and Burma -see Fort Dufferin, Mandalay, 03/45 - but not in Malaya. There were no Medium regiments in Malaya.
  5. TTH

    TTH Senior Member

    The 6" how was, I believe, being phased out in India when they had some problems with the 5.5 Inchers sent out there--ammo, maybe?--so they brought the 6" back into service in time for the last phase in Burma. The 6" in Hong Kong belonged either to the HKVDC or to the HK&SRA I think, no standard RA medium units there either. Medium weapons of any sort would have been invaluable in Malaya. As would heavy field weapons have been, as would tanks, as would some competent commanders, etc., etc....
  6. Fatboy Coxy

    Fatboy Coxy Junior Member

    The HKSRA (Hong Kong and Singapore Royal Artillery) had three batteries of four 6-inch howitzers, and to give them mobility, a number of commercial trucks were requisitioned/borrowed/hired to act as tractors

    Fatboy Coxy

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