QF 4-inch naval gun Mk I – III

The QF 4-inch gun Mks I, II, III[note 2] were early British QF (quick-firing) naval guns originating in 1895. They all had barrels of 40 calibres length.

Ordnance QF 4-inch gun Mk I, II, III
Australian troops with gun on a transport ship, circa. November 1914
TypeNaval gun
Coast defence gun
Place of originUnited Kingdom
Service history
In service1896 - 1920[note 1]
Used byBritish Empire
WarsBoxer Rebellion,
World War I
Production history
Mass2,912 pounds (1,321 kg) barrel & breech
Barrel length160 inches (4.064 m) bore (40 cal); 165.35 inches (4.200 m) total

ShellSeparate-loading QF 25 pounds (11.34 kg) Common pointed or Lyddite
Calibre4-inch (101.6 mm)
BreechSingle-motion screw
Muzzle velocity2,300 feet per second (700 m/s)[1]
Maximum firing range9,000 yards (8,200 m)[2]

The gun was intended to be a more powerful alternative to the quick-firing 3-inch QF 12-pounder gun, and a faster-firing replacement for the BL 4-inch gun.

It was mounted on the following ships :

Its 25-pound (11 kg) shell proved insufficiently powerful to make it much of an improvement on the 12-pounder. From 1907 onwards it was succeeded in its class on new warships by the BL 4 inch gun Mk VIII, which fired a 31-pound (14 kg) shell.

Coast Defence gun

From 1906 a number of Mk III guns were transferred from the Royal Navy for use as coast defence guns around the United Kingdom, and remained until 1939.[3]

In 1918 three guns were in service at Dover Garrison and eight at Forth Garrison.[4]

World War I land service

On 20 September 1914 the British cruiser HMS Pegasus was sunk by SMS Königsberg in Zanzibar harbour. Her 8 QF 4-inch Mk III guns were recovered and used ashore in the East African campaign. Some were used as coast defence guns at Zanzibar and Mombasa. Two guns, and from 11 February 1916, three guns, were used by 10th Heavy Battery manned by the Royal Marines, mounted on improvised field carriages and towed by Packard lorries, supported by six REO lorries carrying ammunition.[5]

Surviving guns

  • A gun from HMS Pegasus used in the WWI land campaign stands outside Fort Jesus on Mombasa Island, Kenya, next to one of the 10.5-cm guns from SMS Königsberg.[6]
  • A gun from HMAS Protector is on display outside the Elizabeth and Salisbury Navy Club in Elizabeth, South Australia.
  • A gun was installed in 1918 on the island of Hirta in the St Kilda archipelago, northwest Scotland, after a German submarine attack there, by the German submarine SM U-90.

See also


  1. Remaining ships were all scrapped or decommissioned following WWI, by 1921 at latest
  2. I.e. Mark 1, 2 and 3. Britain used Roman numerals to denote Marks (models) of ordnance until after World War 2. Hence this article describes the first three models of British QF 4-inch guns.


  1. 2300 ft/s with 25 lb (11 kg) projectile in 1902, using 3 lb 9 oz (1.6 kg) cordite Mk I size 15 propellant (Text Book of Gunnery 1902)
  2. Text Book of Gunnery 1902, Table XII page 337
  3. Hogg & Thurston 1972, page 96
  4. Farndale 1988, pages 398 - 404
  5. Farndale 1988, page 316
  6. Kevin Patience, Konigsberg: A German East African Raider


  • General Sir Martin Farndale, History of the Royal Regiment of Artillery : Forgotten Fronts and the Home Base 1914-18. London:The Royal Artillery Institution, 1988
  • Hogg, I.V. and Thurston, L.F. (1972). British Artillery Weapons & Ammunition 1914-1918. Ian Allan, London. ISBN 978-0-7110-0381-1.

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