BRITISH ARTILLERY IN WORLD WAR 2

 5.5-INCH

Updated 14 June 2014

Conversion factors to metric measurement

 B.L. 5.5-inch Gun Mk 3 on Carriage 5.5-inch Mks 1 - 2

 Picture List

 The 5.5-inch Gun was one of the two British medium guns of World War 2, which both used the same carriage (the other was the 4.5-inch Gun).  It first entered service in 1942 replacing 6-inch Howitzers in medium regiments.  It had limited service in Indian regiments and equipped a South African and three Canadian regiments in Europe.  It was popular and recognised as an effective gun, however, there was a problem with bore prematures, particularly in Burma and in late 1944 some 5.5-inch were temporarily replaced by old 6-inch howitzers in that theatre.  Initially it had a 100 lb shell but later in the war an 80 lb shell was introduced and this eventually replaced the 100 lb.   It left British service in the mid-1970s, UK last used them operationally in Borneo and Radfan in the mid-1960s and the last round was fired in UK was in 1995.  Its last operational use seems to have been with the South African Defence Force in Angola in the 1980s.  In European countries it was referred to as the 140-mm (or 14-cm) gun.

Calibre

 5.5 inches

Ordnance length
Bore length

 171.6 inches
 
29.8 calibres

Rifling

 36 grooves, 1 in  20 uniform twist

Chamber capacity

 650 cubic inches

Barrel

Autofrettaged loose liner

Breech

Welin screw & Asbury mech

Recuperator

Hydro-pneumatic

 Sights

 Calibrating &  reciprocating

Carriage configuration

 Split trail

Max elevation

  - 5 to 45 & 70
             
Note 1

Top traverse

 30 Left & Right

Loading Angle

 

Basic Weight

 5.3 tons

Length (muzzle to towing eye)

 24.7 feet

Trunnion height

 4.4 feet

Width at wheel hubs

 8.3 feet

Standard HE Shell (Mk 1D)

Length (less fuze)

 25.9  inches

Calibre radius head

 6/12

Body Diameter

 5.485  inches

Driving Band Diameter

 5.75 inches

Weight (incl fuze)

 100 lbs

Explosive Weight

 10.5 lbs

Charge

New Gun MV

RT MV

RT Max Range

Time of Flight @ Max Range

Probable Error @ Max Range

Approx  Propellant Weight

 

 1

 901 f/s

875 f/s

6,800 yds

33 secs

 45 yds

2.8 lbs

 Cartridge 1

 2

 1175 f/s

1150 f/s

10,700 yds

46 secs

 45 yds

4.3 lbs

 Cartridge 1

 3

 1425 f/s

1375 f/s

12,900 yds

49 secs

 70 yds

7 lbs

 Cartridge 2

4

 1721 f/s

1675 f/s

16,200 yds

56 secs

 80 yds

 9.8 lbs

 Cartridge 2

80 lb HE Shell (Mk 3D)

Length

  inches

Calibre radius head

 8/16

Body Diameter

 5.485  inches

Driving Band Diameter

 5.75 inches

Weight (incl fuze)

 82 lbs

Explosive Weight

 12 lbs

1

974 f/s

950 f/s

7,600 yds

35 secs

55 yds

2.8 lbs

 Cartridge 1

2

1283 f/s

1250 f/s

11,100 yds

43 secs

30 yds

4.3 lbs

 Cartridge 1

3

1549 f/s

1525 f/s

13,800 yds

53 secs

50 yds

7 lbs

 Cartridge 2

4

1887 f/s

1825 f/s

16,800 yds

59 secs

55 yds

9.8 lbs

 Cartridge 2

Super

 2030 f/s

1950 f/s

18,100 yds

61 secs

85 yds

12 lbs

 

Rates of fire

Gunfire

Intense

Rapid

Normal

Slow

Very slow

Rounds/Minute

 2 to 3

 2

 1

 1

 2/3

 1/3

Normal Detachment

 10 men

Gun Tractor

Medium Artillery Tractor 4  4 (Matador)

Artillery trailer

 None

1st Line Ammo (per gun)

 100 HE

VARIANTS

There were no significant variants, different marks of ordnance were minor internal modifications.  The carriage marks reflected increasing using of welded instead of riveted assemblies.  During the course of the war PL Locks and AC Slide Boxes were replaced by PK Locks and Y Slide Boxes, this modification normally occurred at the same time as modifying the axial vent for a 0.303-inch tube instead of a 0.5-inch one.  Later production ordnance were fitted with these new components.

No SP versions ever entered service although an SP was the highest priority equipment at the end on WW2.  After WW2 there was an open SP built on the Crusader gun tractor, some design work on FV 305, a 5.5-inch SP using the proposed FV 300 series carriage, it was cancelled in 1948.  However, in 1950 a new SP design started, FV 3805, based on a Centurion tank chassis.  A prototype was built,  it had a fully enclosed fighting compartment and a barbette mounted gun.  It was cancelled in about 1958.  

 Notes:
1.    A dial sight adaptor and digging either a trail pit or wheel mounds enabled upper register fire to a maximum elevation of about 70. 

Picture List

5.5-inch Gun Mk 3 on Carriage 5.5-inch Mk 2 - a studio picture, has PK lock

Gun Detachment duties in action:

No 1

Detachment Commander

No 2

Operate breech, load lock, fire gun

No 3

Layer

No 4

Load and ram

No 5

Load and ram

No 6

Prepare cartridges

No 7

Prepare shells

No 8

Prepare shells

No 9

Prepare shells

No 10

Coverer, supervise ammunition

Equipment Publications:
Range Tables Part 1:
26/Manuals/2625    HE, Mk 1D, 100 lbs 6/12 CRH,1940.
26/Manuals/3125    
Chemical, BE, Mk 1D to 4B (5 projectiles wts 90 - 98 lbs), 1943.
(WO Code 1440)
26/Manuals/3271    HE, Mk 1D, 100 lbs 6/12 CRH, 1943.
(WO Code 1439)
26/Manuals/3342    HE, "80-lb", Mk 1D, Charge Super, 1944.
26/Manuals/3446    
HE, "80-lb", Mk 1D, 1944.
26/Manuals/3498    
Coloured Smoke, Coloured Flare, "100-lb", 1945.
(WO Code 1441)
26/Manuals/3521    
HE, "80-lb", Mk 2D & 3D, Upper Register, 1945.
(WO Code 1443)
26/Manuals/3684    
HE, "80-lb", Mks 1D & 2D, 1948.
(WO Code 5275)
WO Code 14544    HE, 1966.

Gun Drill:
26/Manuals/1373   BL 4.5-inch Mk 2 Gun, 5.5-inch Mk 3  Gun on Carriage 5.5-inch & 4.5-inch Mks 1 & 2, 1945
(WO Code 7348)
WO Code 8902      BL 4.5-inch Mk 2 Gun, 5.5-inch Mks 3 & 4 Gun on Carriage 5.5-inch & 4.5-inch Mks 1 & 2, 1955
WO Code 9090      BL 4.5-inch Mk 2 Gun, 5.5-inch Mks 3 & 4 Gun on Carriage 5.5-inch & 4.5-inch Mks 1 & 2,
WO Code 71098    Gun Equipment 5.5-inch Gun, 1976

Handbook:
                            Ordnance, BL, 5.5-inch, Mk 3 on Carriage,
5.5-in Mk 1, (Provisional), 1941.
WO Code 897       Ordnance, BL, 5
.5-in Mks 3 on Carriage 5.5-inch & 4.5-inch Mks 1 & 2, 1944
WO Code 11077   Ordnance, BL, 5
.5-in Mks 3 & 4 on Carriage 5.5-inch & 4.5-inch Mks 1/1 & 2/1, 1956. 

Maintenance Manuals:
26/Manuals/3230    Ordnance BL 5.5-inch Mk 3 Gun on Carriage 5.5-inch & 4.5-inch Mks 1 & 2, 1943

Identification List:
26/Manuals/2961     Ordnance BL 5.5-inch Mk 3 & 4.5-inch Mk 2 on Carriage 5.5-inch & 4.5-inch Mk 1, 1944
                             Ordnance BL 5.5-inch Mk 3 & 4.5-inch Mk 2 on Carriage 5.5-inch & 4.5-inch Mk 2, 1945
26/Pubs/9582         Comprehensive list of component parts (illustrated) for Ordnance 5.5-inch Mks 3 or 4 on Carriage 5.5-inch or (WO Code 13351)    4.5-inch Gun Mk 1/1 & 2/1 and Accessories, 1961

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