The Hotchkiss 37 mm/5 (5 = five-barrel) gun was first tested in Russia in 1879. Starting in 1884, the Russian Navy bought over 150 of these and the similar 47 mm five barrel gun for use as anti-torpedo boat weapons on large ships and to arm light craft. By 1884 there were 126 of the 37 mm/5 guns in service. Russian production of these guns was started at Tula in 1886 and by the time production stopped in 1896 an additional 290 weapons had been made. During World War I some of the surviving guns were used in the AA role.

These Hotchkiss weapons were crank-operated, five-barrel revolver-style rotating guns, externally somewhat similar to a Gatling gun but having a different ammunition feed system.

In addition to the five-barrel weapons, the Russians also purchased 37 mm/1 (1 = single barrel) Hotchkiss guns in 1883. By 1901 some 276 guns of this type were in service. As these single barrel guns were easier to manufacture than the multi-barrel guns, they became standard equipment in the Russian Navy until 1905. In that year, combat during the Russo-Japanese War proved these weapons to be ineffective and they were quickly removed from most larger ships. During World War I and the Russian Civil War they were widely used to arm light ships and river craft. Several of these weapons survived to serve in World War II on the ships of the Pinsk River flotilla.

These guns had monobloc barrels with a vertical blade type breech mechanism.

Gun Characteristics

Designation 37 mm/5 (1.5") Hotchkiss gun: 20 Calibers
37 mm/1 (1.5") Hotchkiss gun: 22.8 Calibers
Ship Class Used On Almost every Russian ship built between 1880 and 1905, light ships in World War I
Date Of Design 37 mm/5: 1873
37 mm/1: about 1883
Date In Service 37 mm/5: beginning of 1880s
37 mm/1: 1884
Gun Weight 37 mm/5: 460.8 lbs. (209 kg)
37 mm/1: 72.3 lbs. (32.8 kg)
Gun Length oa 37 mm/5: 58.47 in (1.485 m)
Bore Length 37 mm/5: 29.13 in (0.74 m)
37 mm/1: 33.15 in (0.842 m)
Rifling Length 37 mm/5: 24.25 in (0.616 m)
37 mm/1: 24.25 in (0.617 m)
Grooves 12
Lands N/A
Twist N/A
Chamber Volume N/A
Rate Of Fire 37 mm/5: 60 rounds per minute design, 32 rounds per minute practical 1
37 mm/1: about 20 rounds per minute
  • ^As the feed lips on the rotary guns only held a few rounds and rounds were fed into them individually, it proved impossible for the loaders to keep up with the firing rate, hence the low practical rate of fire.


Type Fixed
Weight of Complete Round 1.38 lbs. - 1.49 lbs. (0.625 kg - 0.675 kg)
Projectile Types and Weights HE: 1.11 lbs. (0.505 kg)
Bursting Charge HE: 0.033 - 0.044 lbs. (15-20g)
Projectile Length 6.57 - 6.65 in (167 -169 mm)
Propellant Charge 0.18 lbs. (0.08 kg) smokeless powder
0.072 - 0.084 lbs. (0.033 - 0.038 kg) smokeless powder
Muzzle Velocity HE: 1,450 fps (442 mps)
Working Pressure N/A
Approximate Barrel Life N/A
Ammunition stowage per gun N/A


47 mm/5
Range with 1.11 lbs. (0.505 kg) HE
Elevation Distance
11 degrees 3,038 yards (2,778 m)

Mount/Turret Data

Designation 37 mm/5 single mount
37 mm/1 single mount
37 mm AA mount
Weight 37mm/1 ship mount: 248.68 (122.8 kg)
37mm/1 small craft mount: 95.9 (43.9 kg)
Elevation N/A
Elevation Rate Manually operated, only
Train 360 degrees
Train Rate Manually operated, only
Gun recoil N/A


Data from:

  • "Etsiklopediya Otechestvennoi Artillerii" (Encyclopedia of Fatherland (Russian) Artillery) by A.V. Shirokorad
  • "Morskaya Artilleriya Rossiyskogo Flota 1867-1922" (Naval Artillery of the Russian Fleet 1867-1922) by A. B. Shirokorad

Special help from Vladimir Yakubov