BL 16.25-inch Mk I naval gun

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Ordnance BL 16.25 inch gun Mk I
BL 16.25 inch 110 ton gun Photo.jpg
TypeNaval gun
Place of originUnited Kingdom
Service history
In service1888 – 1909?
Used byRoyal Navy
Production history
ManufacturerElswick Ordnance Company
No. built12
Variantsno two guns were identical
Mass111 tons
Barrel length487.5 inches (12.38 m) bore (30 calibres)

Shell1,800 pounds (820 kg) Armour-piercing, Common, Shrapnel
Calibre16.25-inch (412.8 mm)
Elevation-5° – 13°
Muzzle velocity2,087 feet per second (636 m/s)[1]
Maximum firing range12,000 yards (11,000 m)[2]

The Elswick BL 16.25 inch naval gun was an early British superheavy rifled breech-loading naval gun, commonly known as the 110-ton gun or 111-ton gun.


Forward barbette on HMS Benbow
111-ton gun on proof mount

Elswick had already supplied similar guns to Italy's Regia Marina and fitted in the Italian ironclad Andrea Doria of 1885 and the Royal Navy required parity for its Mediterranean Fleet. The adoption of this gun was influenced by the slow rate of production of the preferred new 13.5-inch (343 mm) guns: the Royal Navy had the option of delaying the completion of the new Admiral-class ironclads until sufficient 13.5-inch guns were available to equip them with four guns in two twin barbettes as planned; to use 12-inch (305 mm) guns, or to equip them with the new 16.25-inch (413 mm) guns.

The decision made was to install 16.25-inch guns in HMS Benbow in 1887 in single barbettes fore and aft, each gun substituting for two 13.5-inch guns. For the following HMS Victoria and HMS Sans Pareil the 16.25-inch guns were mounted in pairs in a single turret placed forward.

Weaknesses such as droop and cracking were discovered in the early design, and the many subsequent changes meant that none of the twelve guns built were identical, so the Mk I denomination was discontinued and the individual guns were referred to by their serial numbers. The great weight, low rate of fire and short life of less than 75 rounds meant that the guns were less than successful and were in fact never fired in action.


Diagrams of common, shrapnel and armour-piercing projectiles and their fuzes for the gun

See also[edit]


  1. ^ 1800lb shell, with 960lb S.B.C. (slow burning Brown "cocoa" powder – a form of gunpowder) charge. Text Book of Gunnery, 1902. Table XII, Page 336
  2. ^ Text Book of Gunnery, 1902. Table XII, Page 336


  • Text Book of Gunnery, 1902. London: Printed for His Majesty's Stationery Office, by Harrison and Sons, St. Martin's Lane

External links[edit]