In Her Majesty's Service

Weapons And Equipment Of The Late Victorian British Soldier

by Hans-Christian Vortisch

"We're marchin' on relief over Inja's coral strand,
Eight 'undred fightin' Englishmen, the Colonel, and the Band;
Ho! Get away, bullock man, you've 'eard the bugle blowed;
There's a regiment a comin' down the Grand Trunk Road."

--Rudyard Kipling, Route Marching

This article details the armaments and equipment of the British Army and Navy for use in both historical campaigns (GURPS China and GURPS Old West) in the late 19th century, as well as a number of popular fictional settings, including GURPS Castle Falkenstein, GURPS Deadlands, and GURPS Steampunk. The information will also prove valuable for Cthulhu By Gaslight and especially Space: 1889, although no game stats are provided for these systems.

A very short but useful introduction to warfare in the Victorian era can be found in GURPS Steampunk (pp. ST54-60); the sidebar on p. ST55 gives British Army ranks and unit organization.

Personal Equipment

During the Victorian era, most line infantry and Highlander units stationed in the British Isles still wore their famous redcoat dress: a scarlet jacket, blue trousers with red stripes down the legs, and white helmet and load-bearing equipment. Scottish troops from the Highlands substituted a kilt (or trews, tartan-patterned trousers). The white helmet and load-bearing gear were often stained with tea to reduce the highly visible contrast. Those units stationed in India wore more suitable khaki uniforms from 1885, and similar subdued dress was issued in limited numbers and on special campaigns from 1884; it was not until 1896 that khaki field dress started to fully replace the old colored types in all British Army combat units.

Each infantry soldier carried a greatcoat, spare shirt, trousers, socks and drawers, towel, and soap wrapped into a blanket and waterproof cape. This pack weighed 14 lbs. Together with the mess tin (1 lb.), a two-pint canteen (3 lbs.), boots and clothing (12 lbs.), Pattern 1884 combination entrenching tool (3 lbs., could be used as pick or shovel, p. HT95), and two days' rations of biscuits (2 lbs.), each man carried 33 lbs. apart from his weapons and ammunition (and not very comfortably -- the load-bearing arrangements were ill-designed, increasing Fatigue when on the march or in combat). Tents or other bivouac gear was seldom available; if it was, it was stowed on the pack animals.

In 1888 the Slade-Wallace valise (load-bearing) equipment was adopted, which had two belt pouches for .450 Martini-Henry ammunition; one held 40 rounds (3 lbs. for the ammo alone), the other 30 (2.25 lbs.). In 1889 pouches for .303 SAA ammo were introduced, which held 50 rounds (2.8 lbs.) and 40 rounds (2.25 lbs.). These were replaced in 1890 with new pouches holding 50 rounds each. For a short time, a separate pouch for a single magazine for the Lee-Metford Mk I was carried as well. From 1882, Cavalry and Mounted Infantry wore a cartridge bandolier holding 50 rounds over the left shoulder instead of the valise equipment.

Instead of the rifle and associated equipment, officers carried a sword, revolver, ammunition pouch with 20 rounds (1 lbs.), and field glasses or a telescope (pp. HT102, ST90). Many also chose to carry a small flask of whisky, pipe and tobacco, matches, and notebook and pencil.

Swords

The Cavalry, Horse Artillery, Foot Artillery, Engineers, Bandmen, and Hospital Corpsmen were issued a slightly curved, single-edged broadsword for all ranks, and officers of all services also carried one. Infantry types included the Sword Pattern 1864, Pattern 1882, and Pattern 1885, which proved too light and bent or broke too easily. They were therefore replaced by the slightly heavier Sword Pattern 1890. Although the latter was intended for both cutting and thrusting, it was not optimally designed for either.

All had a 34.5-inch Average blade and a bowl hilt (treat as basket hilt, p. CII23). The weight given in the table excludes the scabbard (+1.6 lbs.).

Cavalry swords included the Pattern 1885 and the Pattern 1890; these had the same blade lengths, but were lighter than the infantry types, as were their scabbards (+0.6 lbs.).

The shortsword issued to Foot Artillery was shorter, with a 23.5-inch Average blade and a bowl hilt (treat as basket hilt, p. CII23). The weight excludes the scabbard (+0.4 lbs.).

Lances

The Cavalry used lances until 1903. The standard weapon was the Lance Pattern 1868, a nine-foot long bamboo shaft with a small point and a ball butt. Bamboo had the advantage that it did not warp in tropical climates. However, it was replaced by an ash shaft when the Pattern 1885 was introduced (which was otherwise identical).

Privately Purchased Handguns

British officers were expected to furnish their sidearms at their own expense, typically bought at Richard-Westley's of London, or the famous Army & Navy Co-operative Society outlets. While many chose the regulation revolvers, some opted for other weapons, especially customized and longer-barreled high-end revolvers such as the Webley-Kaufmann or Webley-Wilkinson (p. HT110), the latter being sold together with a sword produced by the famous maker of cutlery.

Some officers selected less obvious choices, including so-called "howdah" pistols and early automatic pistols. Winston Churchill himself, then a lieutenant and war correspondent, used a Mauser C96 (pp. HT108, W94) instead of a revolver in the 1898 Omdurman campaign.

Lancaster Pistol,12×22mmR (.476 Enfield), UK, 1885-1900 (Holdout -2)
This "howdah"-type handgun had four barrels bored into one rectangular barrel block. It had a unique and fast double-action trigger, which allowed very rapid fire. The usual chambering was the contemporary British service caliber, but it was also made in .380 Webley (Dam 1d+1), .450 Adams (Dam 1d+2+), and .500 Webley (Dam 2d+). Lancaster pistols were popular with British officers, as the gun was more reliable than revolvers. Hunters used it as close-in defense weapon against tigers and other predators. Also see p. HT111.

Borchardt Mod. 1893, 7.63×25mm Borchardt, Germany, 1894-1897 (Holdout -3)
The first successful self-loading pistol, developed by Hugo Borchardt and made by Loewe & Co. of Berlin. It had a toggle-lock action similar to the later Luger pistol (Georg Luger was assistant to Borchardt at the time), and fed from a detachable magazine in the grip. However, it was a bulky and clumsy weapon, and difficult to shoot single-handed (-2 to Guns (Pistol) skill). Most people used it as a take-down carbine, as it was delivered with a detachable shoulder stock. This featured a leather holster and allowed the weapon to be carried on the belt or saddle ring. It was sold in a presentation case with matching stock, four magazines, and accessories; it was apparently popular with British officers (even though regulations required a weapon able to chamber the .455 SAA). The round was interchangeable with the 7.63×25mm Mauser, but slightly weaker.

 

Ammo Supply

Ammunition for the Martini-Henry, Gatling, and Nordenfelt came in sturdy 0.54-cf wooden boxes holding 600 rounds and massing 80 lbs. They were tin-lined and tightly closed with screws to protect the contents against the elements. This proved to be a very unfortunate arrangement, when in 1879 at Isandhlanwa the troops became hardpressed for ammo, and not enough screwdrivers (not to speak of quartermasters) were at hand to open the boxes -- the soldiers desparately hacked at the copper bands with axes and bayonets . . . and suffered a sound defeat at the hands of the Zulus.

A crate of .450 Martini-Henry ammunition was $15.

Revolvers

All senior NCOs (Military Rank 2), trumpeters, and team drivers were issued a revolver. Officers had to acquire their own sidearm (see BOX).

Adams Mk II, 11.5×18mmR (.450 Adams), Great Britain, 1872 (Holdout -1)
A double-action revolver of hinged-frame design, based on the earlier .450 Adams Mk I. That was a converted percussion-fired .442 Beaumont-Adams (p. HT109). The Adams Mk II fired a blackpowder cartridge. Also see p. HT109.

The Mk III (1872-1880) was practically identical.

Enfield Mk I, 11×18mmR (.442 Enfield), Great Britain, 1880-1882 (Holdout -1)
This double-action revolver was a classic English hinged-frame design. It replaced the Adams Mk II and Mk III. Those for service in India were nickel-plated to protect them against corrosion. It fired a blackpowder cartridge.

Enfield Mk II, 11.7×22mmR (.476 Enfield), Great Britain, 1882-1887 (Holdout -1)
This weapon replaced the Enfield Mk I. The chief difference was the larger caliber. The soft lead bullet of the blackpowder-loaded .476 Enfield had a clay wedge in the tip, which caused it to expand massively (not unlike a Hollow-Point, pp. HT7, MF4-5). This made it effective, but also led to its ban under the 1899 Hague Convention.

Webley Mk I, 11×18mmR (.442 Enfield), Great Britain, 1887-1894 (Holdout -1)
The successor to the Enfield designs, the Webley Mk I was also a hinged-frame, double-action design, but based on the commercial Webley-Green weapon. It featured a self-ejector. While chambered for the 11×18mmR (.442 Enfield), it was also able to fire the 11.5×20mmR (.455 SAA) and 11.7×22mmR (.476 Enfield). The grip's shape was of the so-called bird's head design and featured a lanyard ring. Most went to the Navy. Also see p. HT110.

Webley Mk II, 11.5×20mmR (.455 SAA), Great Britain, 1894-1897 (Holdout -1)
Slightly modified Webley Mk I, chambered for the new standard ammunition and also featuring a new hammer with larger spur and reconfigured grip shape.

The Mk I* (1894-1897), Mk III (1897-1899), and Mk IV (1899-1904) were functionally identical.

Rifles

"When 'arf of your bullets fly wide in the dirch,
Don't call your Martini a cross-eyed old bitch.
She's human as your are -- you treat her as sich
An' she'll fight for the young British soldier."

--Rudyard Kipling, The Young British Soldier

Martini-Henry Mk III, 11.43×59mmR (.450 Martini-Henry), Great Britain, 1879-1889 (Holdout -7)
The perfected version of the Martini-Henry single-shot breechloading rifle that had started to replace the Snider-modified Enfield Pattern 1853 (p. HT113) in 1874. It continued in service for a long time, into the 20th century with some units. The cartridge was loaded with blackpowder. Also see p. HT113.

Martini-Metford Mk VI, 7.7×56mmR (.303 SAA), Great Britain, 1889-1890 (Holdout -7)
Originally known as the Martini-Henry Mk VI, this was converted from the Martini-Henry Mk II by replacing the barrel, breech block, extractor, sights and other smaller components, in order to fire the newly adopted small-bore blackpowder cartridge. All conversions were made by the Birmingham Small Arms & Metal Co. Most were directly sent to the colonies, including to Australia, Canada, and South Africa.

Martini-Metford Mk I Carbine, 7.7×56mmR (.303 SAA), Great Britain, 1892-1894 (Holdout -6)
This was a converted Martini-Henry Mk I cavalry carbine rechambered to the new small-bore caliber by the Henry Rifled Barrel Co.

The Mk I*, Mk II, Mk II*, Mk III, and Mk III* were very similar.

Lee-Metford Mk I, 7.7×56mmR (.303 SAA), Great Britain, 1889-1892 (Holdout -7)
Adopted in December 1888 and first issued in 1889 (but not widely seen until 1895), this weapon slowly superseded the Martini-Henry designs with the British Army. It combined the turnbolt action and magazine of James Lee and the rifled barrel designed by William Metford into a quick-firing, accurate weapon. The magazine was fitted with a cut-off, to allow use as a single-shot weapon (conserving ammunition). The shooter would reload after every shot, but could use the full magazine when necessary. Furthermore, the magazine was removable, which allowed it to be quickly replaced in an emergency (for a time, each soldier was issued two magazines, one in the weapon and one as spare on the belt). Also see p. HT114.

A cleaning rod was carried below the barrel, inserted into the forestock. An oil-bottle and jag were stored in the buttstock. When fitted with the 12-inch Average bayonet (+0.9 lbs.), use Spear -1 skill (Dam thr+3, Reach 1, 2).

The rifle was made at the Royal Small Arms Factory, Enfield (RSAF), as well as the Birmingham Small Arms & Metal Co. Ltd. (BSA) and the London Small Arms Co. (LSA).

In 1892, it was improved to the Mk I* configuration. The chief modification was the introduction of cordite ammunition (smokeless propellant, pp. HT27-28) instead of blackpowder, which necessitated different sights.

Lee-Metford Mk II, 7.7×56mmR (.303 SAA), Great Britain, 1892-1895 (Holdout -7)
This weapon was, like the Mk I*, intended to fire smokeless ammunition. In addition, it introduced a double-row 10-round magazine in place of the old single-row 8-round magazine.

The Mk II* of 1895 differed in minor details such as a slightly longer bolt and a new safety.

Lee-Metford Mk I Carbine, 7.7×56mmR (.303 SAA), Great Britain, 1894-1895 (Holdout -6)
This cavalry carbine was based on the Mk II rifle, but differed in the shorter barrel, smaller magazine, and various minor details. Issued from 1897.

Lee-Enfield Mk I, 7.7×56mmR (.303 SAA), Great Britain, 1895-1902 (Holdout -7)
Much the same as the Lee-Metford Mk II*, differing only in the rifling, since the Metford rifling was eroded by the hotter cordite. Issued from 1900.


Notes on Mechanical Machine Guns

The tactical use of early machine guns was ill-understood at first. They were almost invariably mounted on heavy artillery carriages, and some of the early guns couldn't even be traversed, which means the whole carriage had to be moved to aim the gun, just like an artillery piece. Many early guns therefore fired multiple projectile rounds like Shot (pp. HT18-19, MF8) to give at least some spread of fire. Consequently, they weren't used very effectively, proving their worth only on the defensive and in fortified positions. With time, however, the mounts lightened (until eventually the tripod appeared in the 1870s), and generally allowed a 180-degree arc of fire. At the same time, rates of fire, ammunition feeds, and the ammunition itself were improved.

As detailed on pp. HT73 and VE107, rate of fire of mechanical machine guns depends on the gunner, calculated from a formula depending on gun type (note that the formula given here differs from what those books say; it is based on the actual rates quoted for the weapons):

Gardner/Gatling/Nordenfelt -- maximum RoF is (skill+ST)/2.

Hotchkiss -- maximum RoF is (skill+ST)/5.

All guns have a mechanical upper limit, which cannot be increased regardless of skill (noted as RoF ≤ n in this article, where n is the maximum number of shots possible). For example, early Gatlings couldn't fire faster than RoF 5, even if skill and ST would allow for more. Also, the faster the gunner cranks, the higher the chance of a jam or other malfunction -- Malf will get worse by one level if RoF exceeds 5 or 66% of the listed maximum RoF, whichever is higher.

 

Alternative Machine Guns for Fictional Adventures

Although these specific weapons -- fictional in these chamberings and configurations -- were never adopted by the British military, the guns (and the technical principles underlying them) are real, and all dates of appearance are historical. They are well-suited to small group campaigns, since they are lighter and more easily transportable than the contemporary issue weapons, and more readily embody the modern picture of the machine gun.

Gatling Mk I Camel Gun,11.43×63mmR (.450 Gardner-Gatling), Great Britain, 1875
The U.S. Army acquired the M1874 Camel Gun in .45-70 Springfield, so named because it was proposed to be mounted on a camel saddle and fired from the back of the animal (lying down -- not on the move). While this was almost certainly nothing but a selling ploy (and the U.S. Army did not regularly employ camels anyway), it could also be fitted to the howdah of an elephant (or Martian ruumet breehr . . .). Even without such an animal, it was very useful because of its much lighter weight than other Gatlings.

The (fictional) Gatling Mk I Camel Gun was made in England, chambered for the standard British machine gun cartridge, and issued to colonial troops. It had shorter barrels than the standard Gatling Mk I, encased in a bronze sleeve. It was also much lighter. Apart from the saddle mount ($110), it could be fixed on a tripod (45 lbs., $125), or small cavalry cart (925 lbs. including gun and ammo, $300), which required only one horse on good roads (two on bad ones) and stored four loaded 250-round Broadwell drum magazines and 2,000 loose rounds in ammo chests.

Electric Gatling Machine Gun Mk I,7.7×56mmR (.303 SAA), Great Britain, 1893
In 1893, Dr. Gatling patented a fully electric weapon based on his earlier designs, chambered for the 7.62×59mmR (.30-40 Krag) round. It was a 10-barreled weapon, water-cooled and with the motor included inside its bronze housing. (Already in 1890 the Crocker-Wheeler Motor Co. had experimentally attached an external motor to an M1889-pattern gun, but this less satisfying arrangement never caught on.) The cyclic rate attainable was a marvelous 3,000 rounds per minute (a RoF of 50 that would not be reached again until the General Electric M61 Vulcan cannon was introduced in 1953; see "Autocannons in GURPS"). The Electric Gatling Gun was designed for naval use, where the ship's generators could provide electrical power. It was never made in production quantities.

The (fictional) Electric Gatling Gun Mk I, made at Enfield, was instantly adopted by the British authorities, who insisted on the weapon being chambered for their new smokeless .303 cartridge (it being thus the TL(5+1) equivalent of the General Electric M134 minigun introduced in 1963, pp. HT119-120). The gun fed from the side using 20-round metal feed strips.

The Electric Gatling Gun Mk I is a perfect weapon for steam-powered automata or battlesuits (pp. ST76-77), and would be especially deadly against airships (pp. ST80-81), light liftwood vessels, and other aerial vehicles. Note that it is a different weapon from the entirely fictional Electrical Gatling on p. ST88.

Nordenfelt Mk I Single-Barrel Machine Gun, 11.43×59mmR (.450 Martini-Henry), Great Britain, 1882

This (non-fictional) weapon was a single barrel light machine gun version of the Nordenfelt designs, which was not officially adopted by any military, but offered unheard of mobility and firepower for a small section (the first light machine gun in history!). Fewer than ten were purchased by the Royal Navy for trials; it doesn't stretch credibility for the British Army to adopt it in larger numbers in a fictional campaign. It functions like the multi-barrel Nordenfelt guns above and feeds from a gravity hopper magazine.

It was mounted on a small folding tripod (15 lbs) and featured a wire shoulder stock.

 

Basil Zaharoff
Maxim's "Merchant Of Death"

Basil Zaharoff (1849-1936) was one of the most important arms dealers in the early 20th century, supplying and spying for the Allies during WWI. Also known as "the mystery man of Europe," he was highly decorated by the French and knighted for his efforts by the British (and immortalized as Basil Bazarov of Korrupt Arms GmbH in the comic series Tintin . . .).

Born Basileios Zacharias in Mugla, Turkey, he spent his youth in Russia, before working for his uncle in the cloth trade in Istanbul. In 1866, he was sent to London for education, and in 1870 became his uncle's London representative. Two years later he was accused of embezzlement, but acquitted of the charge. He left London for Greece under the assumed name of Z.B. Gortzacoff.

Soon, he was made sales agent of Nordenfelt for the Balkans. In 1888, Maxim and Nordenfelt joined forces in the Maxim-Nordenfelt Gun & Ammunition Co., which broadened Zaharoff's range of wares and his area of operations, extending to all of Eastern Europe, including Russia. When Vickers Co. purchased the company in 1895, he found he had still more weapons to offer and more markets to serve. Later he was made director of Vickers-Armstrong Co. Zaharoff became a millionaire from arms sales, and was reputed to hold shares in the German Krupp and Czech Skoda armament firms.

Zaharoff was fluent in several languages, and personally knew many important European statesmen. In the 1920s, he was accused of formenting warfare and of secret political intrigue (in some German circles he was called the Dämon of Europe). He would be a valuable Contact to acquire for any PCs in need of heavy armaments as early as the 1880s, or could play a shadowy background figure in a Victorian Espionage adventure.

Machine Guns

Machine guns were originally only used by the Royal Artillery and Royal Navy; most campaigns of the era were fought with naval weapons crewed by sailors detached to regular Army units. In 1891 machine guns (especially the Maxim patterns) first became available to Infantry, Mounted Infantry, and Cavalry units as well. However, the full potential of the machine gun was never appreciated in the entire period, it being seen as an auxiliary weapon, an inferior version of the artillery.

Machine guns were nominally attached at brigade level (some 3,000 men), but often assigned to smaller units in colonial warfare. They were grouped in two-gun sections, each with one officer and 17 enlisted in the Cavalry or Mounted Infantry, or 12 enlisted in the Infantry. Seven respectively four of the enlisted were team drivers. In addition, two two-horse carts with ammunition and one with foray for the horses were included.

Gatling Mk I, 11.43×63mmR (.450 Gardner-Gatling), Great Britain, 1874-1880s
"The sand of the desert is sodden red,
Red with the wreck of the square that broke.
And the Gatling's jammed and the Colonel dead
And the regiment blind with dust and smoke."

--Henry Newbolt, Vitai Lampada

The Gatling gun was an icon of its era. It was patented by Dr. Richard Gatling of Indiana in 1862, and originally had four barrels. The prototype used percussion-fired 14.7mm paper cartridges which were inserted into steel cylinders and fed from a gravity hopper (pp. HT117, OW87). The feed system was copied from the earlier Coffee Mill Gun: the cylinders were dropped into the hopper, a crank on the right side of the breech was turned, firing a round and ejecting the cylinder. At the same time, the next barrel was brought with a new round into position. Six of these were made by Greenwood & Co., but they were destroyed in a fire before any could be sold.

Later that year, Gatling offered an improved 6-barreled pattern chambered for the then modern 14.7×44mmR (.58 Berdan) rimfire cartridge. It was mounted on a wooden artillery carriage, which was pulled by a limber and horse team. The weapons were made on his behalf by McWhinny, Rindge & Co. Twelve M1862 guns were bought by General Butler of the Union Army and used during the American Civil War. The New York Times acquired three which were manned by staff in June 1863 against rioters in New York City (but never fired).

The M1866 in 12.7×53mmR (.50-70 Government), made by Colt, was the original series production model, the first 50 being taken into U.S. Army service in 1867. It was mounted on an artillery carriage, pulled by a limber and four horses.

Armstrong & Co. of England made a similar model under license, known as the Gatling Mk I, which was adopted in 1870 by the British military and chambered for the 11.43×63mmR (.450 Gardner-Gatling) blackpowder cartridge. The guns were not delivered until 1874, and most went to the British Navy; consequently, many colonial operations included a detachment of Naval gunners. The Mk I had ten barrels and used Broadwell drum magazines, which consisted of a circular cluster of several gravity magazines. The 352-round Broadwell drum had 16 vertical cells, each holding 22 rounds, while the 250-round drum (AWt 50) had 16 vertical cells, each holding 15 rounds. After all rounds of a vertical cell had been fired, the gunner (or preferably, a loader) had to manually rotate the drum so that the next cell was aligned with the feeder (2 seconds). Installing a new drum took 10 seconds. The weapon was mounted on a wooden artillery carriage and required a limber (387 lbs.) and four horses for movement. It was less reliable than other Gatling variants because of the British Boxer-type cartridges, whose rims were ripped apart by the extractors, causing a jam.

See p. ST52 for illustration (note Broadwell drum). GURPS High-Tech, First Edition, p. 62 shows a Colt-made Gatling M1877, which was similar.

Gatling Mk I, 16.5×97mmR (.650 Gatling),Great Britain, 1875-1878
The Royal Navy used the Armstrong-made Gatling Mk I in a larger caliber as deck-mounted gun from 1875. It had ten barrels and fed from a 60-round Broadwell drum, with 10 cells each holding 6 rounds.

It was also mounted on a carriage for land-use; the limber was 888 lbs.

These weapons were first used in the 1877 clash with the Peruvian gunboat Huàscar and then in 1879 in land warfare against the Zulus.

Hotchkiss Q.F. 1-pr Mk I, 37×94mmR Hotchkiss (1-pounder), Great Britain, 1884-1889
Benjamin Hotchkiss, an American living in France, invented a machine cannon externally similar to the Gatling weapons in 1871 (pp. HT117, OW87). In 1875, he built a factory in St. Denis near Paris, and started producing the weapon for the world market. The basic gun had five revolving barrels and was designed to fire a 1-lbs. blackpowder shell (SAPLE), the smallest exploding round allowed under the 1868 St. Petersburg Declaration. Its intended use was the defense against the torpedo boats then gaining popularity (the contemporary torpedoes had a range of 400 yards, while the guns typically opened fire at 1,000 yards). Other, less commonly used ammo was Solid (Dam 10d++), Canister (Dam 1d++, 1/2D 150, Max 500, WPS 1.6), APLE (available from the late 1880s, Dam 6d×2(2) plus 1d-4 [2d], WPS 1.5), and from around the turn of the century, SAPHE (Dam 10d(0.5) plus 1d [3d], WPS 1.5). It fed from an open 10-round gravity-feed hopper. A loader could top up the hopper with 10-round charger clips or loose rounds while the gun was firing. A shipboard installation weighed 1,181 lbs. (a traversing pintle mount, including gun), the weight in the table is for the gun and an artillery carriage. The limber stored 200 loose rounds and 100 rounds in clips.

Armstrong & Co. in England made it as the Ordnance, Quick-Firing, 1-pr Mk I for both the Royal Navy and export from 1884.

Gardner Mk I, 11.43×63mmR (.450 Gardner-Gatling), Great Britain, 1884-1889
This weapon was invented in 1874 by William Gardner of Ohio. The Gardner had two fixed barrels side-by-side, both sheathed in a common brass jacket for protection. Upon turning the crank on the right side, the barrels fired alternately. Each barrel fed from a top-mounted Parkhurst feeding rail, which could be topped up during firing by a loader. The Gardner was considered to be more reliable than the Gatling. It was also cheaper and lighter. From 1875, small numbers of guns were made by Pratt & Whitney of Connecticut. However, main production of the Gardner took place at the Royal Small Arms Factory, Enfield. The Mk I detailed in the table and adopted as standard weapon by the Royal Navy was a deck weapon mounted on a pedestal mount with gun shield (PD 4, DR 10). It used 30-round Parkhurst feeders.

In 1889, the Gardner Mk I was adopted by the British Army in 11.43×59mmR (.450 Martini-Henry), superseding the earlier Gatling Mk I. It used 20-round Parkhurst feeders and was mounted on a light folding tripod; Malf Crit, Dam 5d+, Ewt 138+40, AWt 4, RoF ≤10*, Shots 220, Cost $300.

Nordenfelt Mk I, 11.43×63mmR (.450 Gardner-Gatling), Great Britain, 1884-1890s
This weapon was invented in 1873 by Helge Palmcranz of Sweden (p. HT117). The businessman Thorsten Nordenfelt took out patents under his name, set up factories in Sweden, Spain, and England, and the gun was soon adopted by most European navies. The weapon consisted of a number of barrels side-by-side, which were fired in sequence by working a lever on the right side of the gun back-and-forth. It fed from a hopper magazine.

The Nordenfelt Mk I of 1884 was made in England by the Nordenfelt Guns & Munitions Co. As a standard shipboard anti-personnel weapon in service with the Royal Navy, it was chambered for the .450 Gardner-Gatling cartridge. The gun had five barrels and a closed 100-round hopper magazine. The parapet mount was 168 lbs.

The Nordenfelt Mk II of 1886 was used by Army and Navy, and slightly lighter at Ewt 133, but otherwise identical.

Nordenfelt Mk I, 25×94mmR (1-inch), Great Britain, 1878-1890s
The Royal Navy made much use of the four-barreled Nordenfelt Mk I, adopted in 1878 to replace the .650 Gatling Mk I. It was the first gun in history to fire AP ammunition (pp. HT7, MF6, VE101), another answer to the threat of torpedo boats.

See GURPS High-Tech, First Edition, p. 119 for illustration (note closed hopper magazine).

Nordenfelt Mk I, 11.43×59mmR (.450 Martini-Henry), Great Britain, 1887-1880s
In 1887, the British Army adopted the three-barreled Nordenfelt Mk I in 11.43×59mmR (.450 Martini-Henry). It was mounted on a light wheeled carriage.

Technically, the Nordenfelt guns were made obsolete by the Maxim, but they continued to see service for years. During the 1900 Boxer Rebellion in China (pp. CH98-99 and MA8-9), the Royal Marines used one of these defending the Legation Quarters in Peking.

From 1898, many British Nordenfelts were converted to the 7.7×56mmR (.303 SAA) cartridge (Dam 6d+2, Ewt 110), and used for fortress defense.

Vickers-Maxim Mk I, 11.43×59mmR (.450 Martini-Henry), Great Britain, 1889-1897

Vickers-Maxim Mk I, 7.7×56mmR (.303 SAA), Great Britain, 1889-1912

"He stood upon a little mound
Cast his lethargic eyes around
And said beneath his breath:
'Whatever happens we have got
The Maxim gun, and they have not.'"

-- Hilaire Belloc, The Modern Traveller

Invented by Hiram Maxim in 1883 in a small shop in London, this was the first truly automatic firearm, and a milestone in the history of machine guns (pp. HT117-118). It introduced the self-loading action and made popular the ammunition belt. It was water-cooled (the sleeve around the barrel was filled with 7.5 pints of water). By 1887, after years of improving his design, Maxim had a few pre-production guns made for him at Vickers of Crayford, Kent, chambered for the 11.43×59mmR (.450 Martini-Henry) blackpowder round; Dam 5d+, 1/2D 700, Max 2,500, Ewt 60+100, AWt 32, RoF 10, Shots 333, Rcl -1. Three were ordered by the British Government for testing.

In 1889, it was adopted in slightly modified form by the British Army in both 11.43×59mmR (.450 Martini-Henry) and the new smokeless 7.7×56mmR (.303 SAA). Both variants were originally mounted on an artillery carriage (1,456 lbs. including gun and limber), but from 1897 also on a tripod (48 lbs. without gun). The carriage was pulled by one horse in Infantry units, and by two horses in Cavalry and Mounted Infantry units. The tripod allowed the mount and gun to be carried by a single mule. The belts were stored in heavy wooden chests; because of their excessive weight, a 150-round belt was introduced for the .450-variant in 1893 (AWt 20).

They were made by the Maxim-Nordenfelt Guns & Ammunition Co., whose board included Maxim, Thorsten Nordenfelt, and Albert Vickers.

The weapons reached the troops in 1891 in batteries of two, and were first used in Rhodesia in 1893, then Afghanistan in 1895, and from then on, everywhere the British fought. In 1912, it was replaced in production by the Vickers Mk I (pp. HT118, W96), which was an improved version.

(In 1889, the British Navy also adopted the Maxim Q.F. 1-pr Mk I, which was an enlarged version firing the same 37×94mmR shells as the Hotchkiss Q.F. 1-pr Mk I. See "Autocannons in GURPS" for a description and stats.)

Cannons

"They sends us along where the roads are, but mostly we goes where they ain't
We'd climb up the side of a sign-board an' trust to the stick o' the paint
We've chivied the Naga an' Looshai, we've give the Afreedeeman fits,
For we fancies ourselves at two thousand, we guns that are built in two bits -- 'Tss! 'Tss!
For you all love the screw-guns . . ."

-- Rudyard Kipling, Screw-guns

Royal Gun Factory 2.5-inch R.M.L. Mk II, 63.5mm (7-pounder), Great Britain, 1879-1880s
The 2.5-inch Rifle, Muzzle-Loaded, Mark I was adopted in 1879 by the Royal Artillery for service as a light mountain gun. It had been proposed two years earlier by Colonel Le Mesurier, who envisioned a steel gun made in two parts (to allow transportation on pack animals) which screwed together. The breech portion was 201 lbs., the muzzle portion 199 lbs. Thus it received its famous nickname, the "Screw-gun." The Elswick Ordnance Co. made 12 Mk I guns in 1879, and after successful service in Afghanistan that year, a much larger number were made as the Mk II by the Royal Gun Factory. Gun and carriage were carried by five mules or four camels (alternatively by four Martian gashants or Venusian pacyosauri), with additional animals required for the ammunition. (Note that occasionally, stampeding animals could and did rob entire units of their only artillery support.) A battery had six guns, but typical deployment was in sections of two, one always on the move, covered by the second. The Screw Gun could be assembled and loaded in 20 seconds by a trained crew. Apart from LE, it also fired Shrapnel (Dam 10d+, Max 3,300, WPS 10), Canister (Dam 10d+, 1/2D 130, Max 650), and Starshell. Even though it was actually one of the heaviest weapons of its type, and a blackpowder muzzleloader when many countries adopted modern breechloaders, it was considered the finest mountain gun of its day. It became obsolete with the widespread introduction of smokeless powder -- each time it was fired, it created large amounts of smoke, thus announcing its position to the enemy. This became painfully clear during the Boer War, and it was removed from service in 1903.

Rockets

Hale 9-pr War Rocket Mk I, 63.5mm, Great Britain, 1867-1899
The Hale gunpowder rocket was invented by William Hale in 1844, introducing spinning propulsion to dispense with the guidance stick of earlier designs like the Congreve pattern (p. ST89), which made it both more accurate and lighter. It was fired from a rocket machine, a trough on a light tripod. Some 2,000 57mm (6-pounder) rockets were available to the U.S. Army Rocket Brigade in the Mexican War (1846-1848). Hale rockets were also adopted by several European forces, notably the Austrian Rocket Corps, the Dutch colonial troops, and the Russian Artillery.

Although Hale rockets were used experimentally in the Crimean War, the Royal Artillery was late to see their advantage (even though the British had used rockets of earlier designs extensively during the early 19th century). The pattern detailed here was finally adopted in 1867. However, from then on, it was widely used in the various colonial wars, showing its age first in the 1890s, when modern breech-loading artillery made it obsolete. The last were bought in 1899, and the British Army disbanded the Rocket Artillery in 1901. From 1870, the British military used only 9-pr and 24-pr sizes, and the latter was only used from ships and for sieges. The 9-pr was popular since it was light enough to be carried on pack animals, and could be used in areas like swamps, where even light mountain guns were of no use. It was launched from a trough in land service, or from tubes in naval service. A mule could carry two packs of six rockets each (a load of 202 lbs.); the disassembled trough and its associated carrying equipment added 32 lbs.


Notes

Swords use Broadsword

Weapon

   

Type

   

Damage

   

Reach

   

Wt

   

Min ST

   

Cost

Infantry Pattern 1885

   

cut

   

sw+1

   

1

   

2.4

   

8

   

$45

imp

   

thr

   

1

   

 

   

 

   

 

   

 

Infantry Pattern 1890

   

cut

   

sw+1

   

1

   

2.6

   

8

   

$50

imp

   

thr

   

1

   

 

   

 

   

 

   

 

Cavalry Pattern 1885

   

cut

   

sw+1

   

1

   

2.1

   

8

   

$45

imp

   

thr

   

1

   

 

   

 

   

 

   

 

Cavalry Pattern 1890

   

cut

   

sw+1

   

1

   

1.9

   

8

   

$50

imp

   

thr

   

1

   

 

   

 

   

 

   

 

 

Shortswords use Shortsword

Weapon

   

Type

   

Damage

   

Reach

   

Wt

   

Min ST

   

Cost

Foot Artillery Hanger

   

cut

   

sw

   

1

   

1.9

   

7

   

$40

imp

   

thr

   

1

   

 

   

 

   

 

   

 

 

Lances use Lance

Weapon

   

Type

   

Damage

   

Reach

   

Wt

   

Min ST

   

Cost

Pattern 1868

   

imp

   

thr+3

   

4

   

6

   

12

   

$10

Pattern 1885

   

imp

   

thr+3

   

4

   

6

   

12

   

$10

 

Revolvers use Guns (Pistol)

Name

   

Malf

   

Type

   

Damage

   

SS

   

Acc

   

1/2D

   

Max

   

Wt

   

AWt

   

WPS

   

RoF

   

Shots

   

ST

   

Rcl

   

Cost

   

TL

Adams Mk II, 11.5×18mmR

   

Crit

   

Cr

   

1d+1+

   

10

   

2

   

120

   

1,350

   

2.7

   

0.3

   

0.05

   

3~

   

6

   

11

   

-2

   

$20

   

5

Adams Mk III, 11.5×18mmR

   

Crit

   

Cr

   

1d+1+

   

10

   

2

   

120

   

1,350

   

2.6

   

0.3

   

0.05

   

3~

   

6

   

11

   

-2

   

$20

   

5

Enfield Mk I, 11×18mmR

   

Crit

   

Cr

   

1d+2+

   

10

   

2

   

150

   

1,500

   

2.8

   

0.3

   

0.05

   

3~

   

6

   

11

   

-2

   

$25

   

5

Enfield Mk II, 11.7×22mmR

   

Crit

   

Cr

   

2d-1++

   

10

   

2

   

150

   

1,500

   

2.8

   

0.3

   

0.05

   

3~

   

6

   

11

   

-2

   

$25

   

5

Webley Mk I, 11×18mmR

   

Crit

   

Cr

   

1d+2+

   

10

   

2

   

150

   

1,500

   

2.8

   

0.3

   

0.05

   

3~

   

6

   

11

   

-2

   

$25

   

5

Webley Mk II, 11.5×20mmR

   

Crit

   

Cr

   

2d-1+

   

10

   

2

   

150

   

1,500

   

2.8

   

0.3

   

0.05

   

3~

   

6

   

11

   

-2

   

$25

   

5

 

Pistols use Guns (Pistol)

Name

   

Malf

   

Type

   

Damage

   

SS

   

Acc

   

1/2D

   

Max

   

Wt

   

AWt

   

WPS

   

RoF

   

Shots

   

ST

   

Rcl

   

Cost

   

TL

Lancaster Howdah, 11.7×22mmR

   

Ver

   

Cr

   

2d-1++

   

10

   

2

   

150

   

1,500

   

2.7

   

0.3

   

0.05

   

4~

   

4

   

11

   

-2

   

$25

   

5

Borchardt Mod 1893, 7.63×25mm

   

Crit

   

Cr

   

2d+1-

   

11

   

3

   

150

   

1,800

   

3.2

   

0.3

   

0.023

   

3~

   

6

   

11

   

-2

   

$35

   

5

   with shoulderstock

   

 

   

 

   

 

   

12

   

6

   

 

   

 

   

4.2

   

 

   

 

   

 

   

 

   

10

   

-1

   

 

   

 

 

Rifles use Guns (Rifle)

Name

   

Malf

   

Type

   

Damage

   

SS

   

Acc

   

1/2D

   

Max

   

Wt

   

AWt

   

WPS

   

RoF

   

Shots

   

ST

   

Rcl

   

Cost

   

TL

Martini-Henry Mk III, 11.43×59mmR

   

crit

   

Cr

   

5d+

   

15

   

10

   

700

   

2,500

   

9.1

   

0.056

   

0.056

   

1/4

   

1

   

11

   

-2

   

$25

   

5

Martini-Metford Mk VI, 7.7×56mmR

   

crit

   

Cr

   

6d+2

   

15

   

10

   

800

   

3,100

   

8.8

   

0.056

   

0.056

   

1/4

   

1

   

11

   

-2

   

$25

   

5

Martini-Metford Mk I Carbine, 7.7×56mmR

   

crit

   

Cr

   

6d

   

12

   

8

   

500

   

2,800

   

8.1

   

0.056

   

0.056

   

1/4

   

1

   

11

   

-2

   

$28

   

5

Lee-Metford Mk I, 7.7×56mmR

   

crit

   

Cr

   

6d+2

   

14

   

11

   

800

   

3,100

   

10

   

0.45

   

0.056

   

1

   

8

   

11

   

-2

   

$30

   

5

Lee-Metford Mk II, 7.7×56mmR

   

crit

   

Cr

   

6d+2

   

14

   

11

   

800

   

3,100

   

9.9

   

0.56

   

0.056

   

1

   

10

   

11

   

-2

   

$30

   

5

Lee-Metford Mk I Carbine, 7.7×56mmR

   

crit

   

Cr

   

6d

   

12

   

8

   

500

   

2,800

   

7.7

   

0.34

   

0.056

   

1

   

6

   

11

   

-2

   

$33

   

5

Lee-Enfield Mk I, 7.7×56mmR

   

crit

   

Cr

   

6d+2

   

14

   

11

   

800

   

3,100

   

9.8

   

0.56

   

0.056

   

1

   

10

   

11

   

-2

   

$35

   

5

 

Mechanical Machine Guns use Gunner (McMG)

Name

   

Malf

   

Type

   

Damage

   

SS

   

Acc

   

1/2D

   

Max

   

EWt

   

MWt

   

AWt

   

WPS

   

RoF

   

Shots

   

Rcl

   

Cost

   

TL

Gardner Mk I, 11.43×63mmR

   

16

   

Cr

   

5d+

   

20

   

9

   

700

   

2,500

   

92

   

168

   

6

   

0.075

   

≤10*

   

2×30

   

-1

   

$1,000

   

5

Gatling Mk I, 11.43×63mmR

   

15

   

Cr

   

5d+

   

25

   

9

   

700

   

2,500

   

444

   

(incl MWt)

   

60

   

0.075

   

≤10*

   

16×22

   

-1

   

$1,300

   

5

Gatling Mk I, 16.5×97mmR

   

16

   

Cr

   

9d+1++

   

25

   

9

   

1,000

   

4,400

   

817

   

(incl MWt)

   

30

   

0.25

   

≤7*

   

10×6

   

-1

   

$1,900

   

5

Gatling Mk I Camel Gun, 11.43×63mmR

   

15

   

Cr

   

5d+

   

25

   

9

   

700

   

2,500

   

135

   

45

   

60

   

0.075

   

≤10*

   

16×22

   

-1

   

$925

   

5

Hotchkiss Q.F. 1-pr Mk I, 37×94mmR

   

16

   

Cr

   

5d×2(0.5)+1d-3[2d]

   

25

   

10

   

900

   

3,300

   

1,047

   

1,092

   

16

   

1.5

   

≤2*

   

10

   

-1

   

$1,200

   

5

Nordenfelt Mk I, 11.43×59mmR

   

16

   

Cr

   

5d+

   

20

   

9

   

700

   

2,500

   

93

   

45

   

12

   

0.075

   

≤5*

   

77

   

-1

   

$1,000

   

5

Nordenfelt Mk I, 11.43×63mmR

   

16

   

Cr

   

5d+

   

20

   

9

   

700

   

2,500

   

154

   

45

   

15

   

0.075

   

≤15*

   

100

   

-1

   

$1,200

   

5

Nordenfelt Mk I, 25×94mmR

   

16

   

Cr

   

5d×2(2)++

   

25

   

9

   

1,000

   

4,500

   

440

   

260

   

24

   

0.6

   

≤4*

   

40

   

-1

   

$1,500

   

5

Nordenfelt 1-Barrel Mk I, 11.43×59mmR

   

16

   

Cr

   

5d+

   

20

   

9

   

700

   

2,500

   

15

   

15

   

4

   

0.075

   

≤3*

   

40

   

-1

   

$750

   

5

 

Machine Guns use Gunner (MG)

Electric Gatling Mk I, 7.7×56mmR

   

crit

   

Cr

   

5d+

   

25

   

10

   

800

   

3,100

   

250

   

50

   

1.3

   

0.056

   

50

   

20

   

-1

   

$2,000

   

5+1

Maxim Mk I, 7.7×56mmR

   

crit

   

Cr

   

6d+2

   

20

   

10

   

800

   

3,100

   

60

   

48

   

25

   

0.056

   

10

   

250

   

-1

   

$125

   

5

Maxim Mk I, 11.43×59mmR

   

crit

   

Cr

   

5d+

   

20

   

10

   

700

   

2,500

   

60

   

48

   

34

   

0.075

   

10

   

250

   

-1

   

$125

   

5

 

Cannons use Gunner (Cannon)

Name

   

Malf

   

Type

   

Damage

   

SS

   

Acc

   

1/2D

   

Max

   

EWt

   

MWt

   

AWt

   

WPS

   

RoF

   

Shots

   

Cost

   

TL

R.M.L. Mk II, 63.5mm

   

16

   

Cr

   

7d×4(0.5)+6d[4d]

   

25

   

10

   

800

   

4,000

   

400

   

400

   

-

   

12

   

1/11

   

1

   

$1,500

   

5

 

Rockets use Gunner (Rocket)

Name

   

Malf

   

Type

   

Damage

   

SS

   

Acc

   

1/2D

   

Max

   

EWt

   

AWt

   

WPS

   

Shots

   

Cost

   

TL

Hale 9-pr Mk I, 63.5mm

   

16

   

Exp*

   

6d[4d]

   

-

   

6

   

1,200

   

3,400

   

27

   

-

   

8.4

   

1

   

$2.50

   

5

 

Ewt: Empty weight of the gun, in pounds.
Mwt: Weight of the usual mount, in pounds.
AWt: Weight of the standard ammunition container, in pounds.
WPS: Weight of a single round, or of a single projectile and loose powder, in pounds.
Cost: Cost with mount and limber, as applicable. Given in U.S. dollars; for most of the period, $5 roughly equal 1 pound sterling.


Victorian Illustration

Bibliography

* * *

Special thanks go out to Volker Bach (for the quotes and photos), Nigel McCarty-Eigenmann (info on blades), andi jones (edits and illustration), Tony Williams (material on the Hotchkiss revolver cannon), and the Hellions for the usual support.




Article publication date: July 4, 2003


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