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Old 07-07-2009, 01:36 PM
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Default 15cm schweres Feldhaubitze m13 Lang

One of the most important pieces in the arsenal of the German Artillery, was the 150mm Heavy Howitzers. At the start of the war, most of them was of the type called sFH 02 (i.e. Schweres FeldHaubitze model 1902). This piece was upgraded in several stages. In 1913, a new model was introduced, the sFH 13, that had a modified carriage and lavette and a longer barrel (L/14). This new gun fired some 1000 meters longer than the old model 02. The first battery that was equipped with the sFH13 got their guns in August 1914. Until May 1915, 252 sFH 13 were delivered by Krupp.
One of the problems with the first version, was that the recoil mechanism tended to break: the reason was that the spring mechanism was too weak, and it was therefore replaced with a mechanism based on air pressure. It increased the weight somewhat, but there were no visible changes. The second variant of the sFH13 aimed at increasing the range, and at the same time reducing the number of misfires in the barrel - this was a big problem with the sFH13 initially: there were several cases of guns only firing a couple of rounds before the barrel exploded, often with devastating results. A number of internal changes were made, but the gun was also given alonger barrel, a L/17. This new variant was both produced anew in the Factories of Krupp, while others were the result of refitting and modernization of old model 02:s - which were given this new barrel. At the end of the war Krupp and Rheinmetall had delivered 3.409 sFH13.
Click on the picture below, to see an actual wartime German plan of the gun. It is BIG, but it's worth it, because the detail is super! (courtesy of Jon Hornbostel!)
And click on the photos below, to get a real detail view of a surviving sfH13, that is on display in the US. (courtesy of Stephen Brezinski.)




After the modifications, it turned out to be a real work horse. If only maintained properly, it was not unusual for sFH13:s to fire over 20.000 shells, and even up to 25.000, and still remain fully serviceable. The gun was capable of firing 4 40.5-22 kilo heavy grenades a minute, with a maximum range of some 8.500 meters. While the weight of the grenade was quite adequate, the range was considered a bit too short. (Click on the thumbnails below, to see photos of the exceptionally well-preserved sfH13 that is on display in the Army Museum in Brussels, a gun still sporting its original WW1 camouflage! courtesy of Philippe Massin.)

It was a very important gun, as it combined mobility and firepower in a very balanced way. The German High Command also stated in November 1917 that "in this war, the sFH13 has become the principal gun of battle" (Hauptkampgeschütz).




The sFH13 was kept in service in the 20-ies, and was used - briefly - at the start of WW2.

Calibre
15cm
Weight of Gun (emplaced)
2135 kilos
Maximum Range
8.500 meters
Muzzle Velocity
365 metres per second
Min/Max Elevation
-0/+45
Weight of Shell
40.5 kilos (Gr.12)
42 kilos (Gr.14)
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