Heavy Siege Howitzer
A very domestic scene for such a brute of war.
This is a British 9.2-inch (234mm for the modern-minded) heavy siege howitzer and is seen adjacent to the Imperial War Museum's cafeteria. Originally intended for operations against fortress defences, the 15-tonne howitzer saw general service with the British Army's artillery during World War I.
Although the final design was only approved in July 1914, it was in action in France just four months later (MoD Procurement pay attention!). The static nature of trench warfare suited this highly immobile weapon, which required a 36-hour dismantling operation and transportation depending on three purpose-built carriages hauled by horses or traction engines. Although the lack of range (just 9,200m for a 131 kg HE shell) led to development of a Mk II version, the Mk I remained in service throughout the war and by its end some 450 had been supplied to the British Army.
The barrel seen here, nicknamed "Mother," is the original prototype of the weapon. After the July 1914 firing trials, it was hastily shipped to France and from October 1914 to July 1915 served with the 8th and 10th Siege Batteries, Royal Garrison Artillery. The barrel was relined in 1917 and returned to France in 1918. The carriage is of an identical pattern to the barrel's original mount. Two shells can be seen in blue and yellow/mustard at the rear of the carriage.