The Ordnance BLC 15lber Field Gun was a British made Field Artillery piece used by the Territorial Force Artillery to support other units and protect the British Isles. The BLC 15lber was a modified version of the BL 15lber, with an improved breech loading mechanism to bring it closer to other British Guns in use at the time.
The BLC 15lber was among the first Field Guns to be fitted with a recoil reduction mechanism from its initial production. This was combined with a recuperator to return the gun to its original position after it had been fired, as the energy produced by the recoil would push the gun backwards. These two systems worked together to improve the rate of fire as the crew didn't have to drag the gun forwards again before setting it up again.
The barrel and breech were mounted to the carriage by a forged, inverted U shaped bracket (manufactured from steel) which also had trunnions attached. These trunnions were then removed along with sight brackets and elevation lugs to be mounted onto other parts of the BLC 15lber, improving their (ie each components) overall usability.
The major change in design from the BL 15lber to the BLC 15lber would be to the breech loading (BL) mechanism. The original 3-motion mechanism was replaced by a single motion interrupted screw breech, which was quicker to operate and allowed a protective shield to be added around the barrel/breech area (protecting the users from small arms fire). A spring loaded lever was used to strike the firing lever (on the breech) which then dropped a plunger into the T-section of the breech and ignited the shell.
The Ordnance BLC 15lber used the same 14lb (6.35kg) cordite shell that the original BL 15lber was designed to use. However the BLC 15lber could fire a HE (High Energy) shell (as well as the standard shrapnel shell) which would be used against aircraft rather than infantry.
The Ordnance BLC 15lber was a cheaper alternative to arming the Territorial Forces with a new Field Artillery piece, as it was simpler (and cheaper) to modify an older design. This modifaction brought the BLC 15lber relatively close to the standard of the newer equipment in use at the time, but would be often used as a last resort to defend the British Isles.
Royal Canadian Field ArtilleryEdit
The 10th battery of the Royal Canadian Field Artillery, armed with 4 BLC 15lbers, successfully (and remarkably) defended the left flank of the British line during the 2nd Battle of Ypres. This success demonstrated the true capability of the BLC 15lber in its intended role as a Field Gun), even though by 1915 the BLC 15lber was deemed obsolete.
Indian Expeditionary ForceEditThe Number 1 15lber Camel Battery RGA, serving as part of the Indian Expeditionary Force, armed with 6 BLC 15lbers took part on the defence of the port at Aden during the South Arabia Campaign in July 1915. Despite loosing the first engagement the IEF managed to hold to port, with Sgt Curtis (incharge of the Number 1 15lber Camel Battery) being awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal for saving his guns.
The Number 1 15lber Camel Battery RGA would later be present at the capture of Hatum in 1918.
The BLC 15lber would, in later stages of the First World War, be used as an anti-tank gun, allowing newer equipment to be used in their conventional role. This change of role meant that the BLC 15lber would be fixed in position, the carriage replaced by a frame capable of changing elevation.
Likewise in Cape Town two BLC 15lbers would be put onto elevation adjustable frames. Their role, instead, would be to defend Cape Town from aircraft rather than tanks. A similar use had been found in Britain, defending the east coast from Zeppelins. In this instance, however, the carriage was left on, meaning that a pit was dug out to allow for a greater range of elevation.