QF 1-pounder pom-pom

The QF 1 pounder, universally known as the pom-pom due to the sound of its discharge,[4][5][6] was a 37 mm British autocannon, the first of its type in the world. It was used by several countries initially as an infantry gun and later as a light anti-aircraft gun.

QF 1 pdr Mark I & II ("pom-pom")
Mk II gun dated 1903, on anti-aircraft mounting, at the Imperial War Museum, London.[1]
Place of originUnited Kingdom
Service history
In service1890s–1918
Used bySouth African Republic
British Empire
German Empire
United States
WarsSpanish–American War
Second Boer War
World War I
Production history
DesignerHiram Maxim
DesignedLate 1880s
Vickers, Sons & Maxim
VariantsMk I, Mk II
Mass410 pounds (186.0 kg) (gun & breech)
Length6 ft 1 in (1.85 m) (total)
Barrel length3 ft 7 in (1.09 m) (bore) L/29

Shell37 x 94R. 1 lb (0.45 kg) Common Shell
Calibre37-millimetre (1.457 in)
Actionautomatic, recoil
Rate of fire~300 rpm (cyclic)
Muzzle velocity1,800 ft/s (550 m/s)[2]
Maximum firing range4,500 yards (4,110 m) (Mk I+ on field carriage)[3]
Filling weight270 grains (17 g) black powder


Hiram Maxim originally designed the Pom-Pom in the late 1880s as an enlarged version of the Maxim machine gun. Its longer range necessitated exploding projectiles to judge range, which in turn dictated a shell weight of at least 400 grams (0.88 lb), as that was the lightest exploding shell allowed under the St. Petersburg Declaration of 1868 and reaffirmed in the Hague Convention of 1899.[7]

Early versions were sold under the Maxim-Nordenfelt label, whereas versions in British service (i.e. from 1900) were labelled Vickers, Sons and Maxim (VSM) as Vickers had bought out Maxim-Nordenfelt in 1897. They are all effectively the same gun.

Service by nation


The Belgian Army used the gun on a high-angle field carriage mounting.[3]


A version was produced in Germany for both Navy and Army.[3]

In World War I, it was used in Europe as an anti-aircraft gun as the Maxim Flak M14. Four guns were used mounted on field carriages in the German campaign in South West Africa in 1915, against South African forces.[8]

Bundesarchiv Bild 183-R52907, Mannschaft mit Gasmasken am Fla-MG

German gunners wearing gasmasks, with Maxim Flak M14

United Kingdom

Second Boer War

The British government initially rejected the gun but other countries bought it, including the South African Republic (Transvaal) government. In the Second Boer War, the British found themselves being fired on with success by the Boers with their 37 mm Maxim-Nordenfelt versions using ammunition made in Germany.

In response, Vickers-Maxim of Britain shipped either 57 or 50[9] guns out to the British Army in South Africa, with the first three arriving in time for the Battle of Paardeberg of February 1900.[10] These early Mk I versions were mounted on typical field gun type carriages.


Australian troopers with 1 pounder in South Africa circa. 1901


Boer 1 pounder with shield

World War I

In World War I, it was used as an early anti-aircraft gun in the home defence of Britain. It was adapted as the Mk I*** and Mk II on high-angle pedestal mountings and deployed along London docks and on rooftops on key buildings in London, others on mobile motor lorries at key towns in the East and Southeast of England. 25 were employed in August 1914, and 50 in February 1916.[11] A Mk II gun (now in the Imperial War Museum, London) on a Naval pedestal mounting was the first to open fire in defence of London during the war.[3] However, the shell was too small to damage the German Zeppelin airships sufficiently to bring them down.[12] The Ministry of Munitions noted in 1922: "The pom-poms were of very little value. There was no shrapnel available for them, and the shell provided for them would not burst on aeroplane fabric but fell back to earth as solid projectiles ... were of no use except at a much lower elevation than a Zeppelin attacking London was likely to keep".[13]

Nevertheless, Lieutenant O.F.J. Hogg of No. 2 AA Section in III Corps was the first anti-aircraft gunner to shoot down an aircraft, with 75 rounds on 23 September 1914 in France.[14]

The British Army did not employ it as an infantry weapon in World War I, as its shell was considered too small for use against any objects or fortifications and British doctrine relied on shrapnel fired by QF 13 pounder and 18-pounder field guns as its primary medium range anti-personnel weapon.

The gun was experimentally mounted on aircraft as the lighter 1-pounder Mk III, the cancelled Vickers E.F.B.7 having been specifically designed to carry it in its nose.[15] As a light anti-aircraft gun, it was quickly replaced by the larger QF 1½ pounder and QF 2 pounder naval guns.

British ammunition

The British are reported to have initially used some Common pointed shells (semi-armour piercing, with fuse in the shell base) in the Boer War, in addition to the standard Common shell. However, the common pointed shell proved unsatisfactory, with the base fuse frequently working loose and falling out during flight.[10][16] In 1914, the cast-iron common shell and tracer were the only available rounds.[17]

QF 1 pounder pom-pom Mk I steel shell diagram 1902
Mk I Steel shell, 1902
Mk II explosive Common shell & Mk I tracer round, 1914
Mk I nose percussion fuse

United States

On USS Vixen, circa. 1898–1901

The U.S. Navy adopted the Maxim-Nordenfelt 37 mm 1 pounder as the 1-pounder Mark 6 before the 1898 Spanish–American War. The Mark 7, 9, 14, and 15 weapons were similar.[18] It was the first dedicated anti-aircraft (AA) gun adopted by the US Navy, specified as such on the Sampson-class destroyers launched in 1916-17. It was deployed on various types of ships during the US participation in World War I, although it was replaced as the standard AA gun on new destroyers by the 3 inch (76 mm)/23 caliber gun.

Previously, with the advent of the steel-hulled "New Navy" in 1884, some ships were equipped with the 1-pounder Hotchkiss revolving cannon.

In the aftermath of the Battle of Blair Mountain, the United States Army deployed artillery, including pompoms: "Their armament was strengthened with a howitzer and two pompoms."[19]

Rapid-firing (single shot, similar to non-automatic QF guns) 1-pounders were also used, including the Sponsell gun and eight other marks; the Mark 10 to be mounted on aircraft. Designs included Hotchkiss and Driggs-Schroeder. A semi-automatic weapon and a line throwing version were also adopted. Semi-automatic in this case meant a weapon in which the breech was opened and cartridge ejected automatically after firing, ready for manual loading of the next round.[18]

It is often difficult to determine from references whether "1-pounder RF" refers to single-shot, revolving cannon, or Maxim-Nordenfelt weapons.

Surviving examples

WWI-German-37 mm Maxim-001
Gun 543 mounted on field gun carriage, South African National Museum of Military History (2007)

See also

Notes and references

  1. ^ a b Imperial War Museum (2012). "1 pdr Vickers Gun Mk II". Imperial War Museum Collections Search. Retrieved 18 February 2012.
  2. ^ "Handbook of the 1-PR. Q.F. Gun", 1902. Page 19, Range Table for British Mk I gun. Muzzle Velocity of 1,800 ft/second, firing 1-pound projectile with 1 oz 90 grains Cordite.
  3. ^ a b c d Hogg & Thurston 1972, pp. 22–23
  4. ^ The Waverley pictorial dictionary (Volume SIX). London: Waverley Book Co. p. 3335.
  5. ^ "Weapons". Australian Boer War Memorial Committee. Archived from the original on 19 July 2008. Retrieved 28 August 2008.
  6. ^ "...my paper strength will be 2,400 mounted men, 6 guns, and 8 pom-poms". Brigadier Henry Rawlinson, 2 January 1902, in South Africa. From "The Life of General Lord Rawlinson of Trent", by Sir Frederick Maurice. London: Cassell, 1928
  7. ^ Hogg & Thurston 1972, p. 22, state the Hague Convention dictated the 1 lb (0.45 kg) shell; however 400 grams was set as the minimum for exploding shells by Laws of War: Declaration of St. Petersburg; 29 November 1868
  8. ^ Major D.D. Hall, The South African Military History Society Military History Journal - Vol 3 No 2, December 1974. "GERMAN GUNS OF WORLD WAR I IN SOUTH AFRICA". Major Hall states that these guns were made by Krupp, but the 2 captured guns in the South African Military History Museum were made by Deutsche Waffen und Munitionsfabriken (DWM)
  9. ^ 'The Times History of the War in South Africa' mentions 57; Headlam 'The History of the Royal Artillery' only mentions 50.
  10. ^ a b Fiona Barbour, The South African Military History Society Military History Journal - Vol 3 No 1 June 1974. Mystery Shell
  11. ^ Farndale 1988, pp. 362–363
  12. ^ Routledge 1994, p. 7–8
  13. ^ Official History of the Ministry of Munitions 1922, Volume X, Part 6, pp. 24–25. Facsimile reprint by Imperial War Museum and Naval & Military Press 2008. ISBN 1-84734-884-X
  14. ^ Routledge 1994, p. 5
  15. ^ THE CANNON PIONEERS: The early development and use of aircraft cannon, by Anthony G Williams
  16. ^ The British 1902 manual listed only the Common Shell as currently produced : "A number of steel shells have been issued, but no more will be provided": "Handbook of the 1-PR. Q.F. Gun", 1902. Page 18
  17. ^ Treatise on Ammunition 10th Edition, 1915. War Office, UK
  18. ^ a b DiGiulian, Tony, United States of America 1-pdr (0.45 kg) 1.46" (37 mm) Marks 1 through 15
  19. ^ Lon Savage (1990), Thunder in the Mountains: The West Virginia Mine War, 1920-21, rev. edition, Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh, Ch. 24, "'The Miners Have Withdrawn Their Lines'", p.151.
  20. ^ Bundesamt für Wehrtechnik und Beschaffung
  21. ^ Museo Naval y Maritimo | Archivo y Biblioteca Histórica de la Armada


External links

37 mm caliber

37mm gun or 3.7 cm gun can refer to several weapons or weapons systems. The "37mm" refers to the inside diameter of the barrel of the gun, and therefore the diameter of the projectile it fires. However, the overall size and power of the gun itself can vary greatly between different weapons, in spite of them all being called "37mm" guns.

The 37mm version of the Maxim gun used by both sides during World War I

QF 1 pounder pom-pom, the British version

37-mm air-defense gun M1939 (61-K), a Soviet World War II anti-aircraft gun

37 mm anti-tank gun M1930 (1-K), a Soviet World War II anti-tank gun

37 mm Gun M1, an American World War II anti-aircraft gun

37mm Gun M3, an American World War II anti-tank gun

3.7 cm Flak 18/36/37/43, a German World War II anti-aircraft gun

3.7 cm PaK 36, a German World War II gun

3.7 cm SK C/30, a German World War II naval anti-aircraft gun

BK 3,7, a German World War II airborne anti-tank gun

Bofors 37 mm, a Swedish designed anti-tank gun

Cannone-Mitragliera da 37/54 (Breda), an Italian World War II naval anti-aircraft gun

Canon de 37 mm Modèle 1925, a French World War II naval anti-aircraft gun

Canon d'Infanterie de 37 modèle 1916 TRP, a French World War I gun; In US World War I service known as the 37mm M1916

COW 37 mm gun, a British World War II airborne anti-tank gun

M4 cannon, an American World War II airborne anti-tank gun

Milkor Stopper 37/38 mm riot gun, a riot gun

Nudelman N-37, a Soviet airborne auto-cannon

Nudelman-Suranov NS-37, a Soviet World War II airborne anti-tank auto-cannon

Puteaux SA 18, a French semi-automatic gun mounted on armored vehicles and in bunkers used during and after World War I

Skoda 37 mm A7, a Czech World War II gun

Skoda 37 mm Model 1934, a World War II gun

Skoda 37 mm Model 1937, a World War II gun

Type 11 37 mm Infantry Gun, a World War II Japanese infantry support gun

Type 1 37 mm Anti-Tank Gun, a World War II Japanese anti-tank gun

37-mm trench gun M1915, a World War I Russian gun

37 mm flare, civilian variant of the 40 mm grenade system

3,7cm ÚV vz. 38

ARA Buenos Aires (1895)

ARA Buenos Aires was a protected cruiser of the Argentine Navy. It was built by the British shipyard of Armstrong Mitchell and Co, being launched in 1895 and completing in 1896. Buenos Aires continued in use until 1932.

BL 12-inch railway howitzer

The British Ordnance BL 12 inch howitzer on truck, railway, a type of railway gun, was developed following the success of the 9.2 inch siege howitzer. It was similar but unrelated to the 12 inch siege howitzers Mk II and IV.

BL 12-pounder 6 cwt gun

The Ordnance BL 12-pounder 6 cwt was a lighter version of the British 12-pounder 7 cwt gun, used by the Royal Horse Artillery in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

BL 15-inch howitzer

The Ordnance BL 15-inch howitzer was developed by the Coventry Ordnance Works late in 1914 in response to the success of its design of the 9.2-inch siege howitzer.

The howitzer was cumbersome to deploy, since it was transported in several sections by giant Foster-Daimler 105 horsepower tractors.

BL 15-pounder gun

The Ordnance BL 15-pounder, otherwise known as the 15-pounder 7 cwt, was the British Army's field gun in the Second Boer War and some remained in limited use in minor theatres of World War I. It fired a shell of 3-inch diameter with a maximum weight of 15 pounds (6.8 kg), hence its name which differentiated it from its predecessor '12-pounder' 3-inch gun which fired shells weighing only 12.5 pounds (5.7 kg).

BL 5-inch howitzer

The Ordnance BL 5-inch howitzer was initially introduced to provide the Royal Field Artillery with continuing explosive shell capability following the decision to concentrate on shrapnel for field guns in the 1890s.

BL 5.4-inch howitzer

The Ordnance BL 5.4-inch howitzer was a version of the British 5-inch howitzer designed for British Indian Army use, especially on the Northwest Frontier.

BL 6-inch 30 cwt howitzer

The Ordnance BL 6 inch 30cwt howitzer was a British medium howitzer used in the Second Boer War and early in World War I. The qualifier "30cwt" refers to the weight of the barrel and breech together which weighed 30 hundredweight (cwt) : 30 x 112 lb = 3360 lb. It can be identified by the slightly flared shape of the muzzle and large recuperator springs below the barrel.

Motor War Car

The Simms Motor War Car was the first armoured car ever built, designed by F. R. Simms.

A single prototype was ordered by the British Army in April 1899, a few months before the Second Boer War broke out. It was built by Vickers, Sons & Maxim of Barrow on a special Coventry-built Daimler chassis and had a German-built Daimler engine.Because of difficulties that arose, including a gearbox destroyed by a road accident, Vickers did not deliver the prototype until 1902, and by then the South African wars were over. The vehicle was an improvement over Simms's earlier design, known as the Motor Scout, which was the first armed (but not armoured) vehicle powered by a petrol engine.

The vehicle had Vickers armour 6 mm thick and was powered by a four-cylinder 3.3-litre 16 Horsepower Cannstatt Daimler engine, giving it a maximum speed of around 9 miles per hour (14.5 km/h). The armament, consisting of two Maxim guns, was carried in two turrets with 360° traverse. Some sources also mention a single QF 1 pounder pom-pom.Fully equipped, the vehicle had a length of 28 feet (8.5 m) overall, with a beam of 8 feet (2.4 m), a ram at each end, two turrets, and two guns. It was "capable of running on very rough surfaces". It was designed to be operated by a crew of four men.

The Simms Motor War Car was presented at the Crystal Palace, London, in April 1902.Another armoured car of the period was the French Charron, Girardot et Voigt 1902, presented a few weeks before at the Salon de l'Automobile et du cycle in Brussels, on 8 March 1902.

QF 3-pounder Nordenfelt

The QF 3-pounder Nordenfelt was a light 47 mm quick-firing naval gun and coast defence gun of the late 19th century used by many countries.

QF 6-pounder 6 cwt Hotchkiss

The Ordnance QF 6-pounder 6 cwt Hotchkiss Mk I and Mk II was a shortened version of the original QF 6 pounder Hotchkiss naval gun, and was developed specifically for use in the sponsons of the later Marks of British tanks in World War I, from Mark IV onwards.

RML 2.5-inch mountain gun

The Ordnance RML 2.5-inch mountain gun was a British rifled muzzle-loading mountain gun of the late 19th century designed to be broken down into four loads for carrying by man or mule. It was primarily used by the Indian Army.

RML 25-pounder 18 cwt

The RML 25-pounder gun was a British rifled muzzle-loading light siege gun and gun of position designed in 1871. It was intended to be an intermediate gun between the 16-pounder and 40-pounder Rifled Muzzle Loading guns. It was part of a series of guns designed after the British military reverted to rifled muzzle-loading artillery until a more satisfactory breech-loading system than that of the Armstrong guns was developed.

RML 8-inch 9-ton gun

The British RML 8-inch 9-ton guns Mark I – Mark III were medium rifled muzzle-loading guns used to arm smaller ironclad warships and coast defence batteries in the later 19th century.

Rifled muzzle loader

A rifled muzzle loader (RML) is a type of large artillery piece invented in the mid-19th century. In contrast to smooth bore cannon which preceded it, the rifling of the gun barrel allowed much greater accuracy and penetration as the spin induced to the shell gave it directional stability. Typical guns weighed 18 tonnes with 10-inch-diameter bores, and were installed in forts and ships.

This new gun and the rifled breech loader (RBL) generated a huge arms race in the late 19th century, with rapid advances in fortifications and ironclad warships.

Tank guns
Infantry guns
Field artillery
Medium & heavy artillery
Siege artillery
Mountain artillery
Smoke and chemical weapons
Anti-aircraft guns
Coastal artillery
Railway guns

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