National Army Museum, Waiouru, New Zealand : Military History & Army War Museum

Breech Loading 5.5 Inch Medium Gun

Breech Loading 5.5 Inch Medium Gun

BL 5.5 inch Medium Gun

The BL 5.5 inch Medium Gun, known in New Zealand as the 5-5 gun, was first developed during the early part of World War Two, but was only of 4.5 inch calibre. By 1941 the barrel had been ‘enlarged’ and the 5.5 inch gun was introduced into the British Artillery, where it first saw action in North Africa. At that time the New Zealand Divisional Artillery did not have a Medium Battery as part of its organisation, so it did not officially use the 5-5 gun during the Second World War. However during the assault across the Sangro River in Italy some New Zealand Gunners were attached to a British Medium Artillery Regiment firing 5.5in guns in support of the New Zealand infantry.

In 1951 the New Zealand Government purchased 12 of the BL 5.5in guns to equip the newly created 4 Medium Regiment, which originally had two Batteries of six guns each. By 1953 this had been reduced to four guns per battery with two guns going to the School of Artillery in Waiouru, and two into storage. In the mid 1970’s the New Zealand Artillery began to look for a replacement Medium gun, but costs proved prohibitive and in the early 1980’s the New Zealand Army removed the Medium Artillery Battery from its organisation.