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Old 07-07-2009, 01:40 PM
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Default 15cm schweres Feldhaubitze m02

Like the standard German Army fieldgun, the FK 96 n.A., the 15cm schweres Feldhaubitze m/02 also started its life as an old type of rigid-mount gun. This howitzer was introduced in 1893, but in 1899 the question rose of using the gun tube for a gun with a modern recoil system. The first try by Krupp, the Versuchshaubitze 99, turned out a bit heavy, and troops trials led to a re-design with a lighter carriage, and the result was the schweres Feldhaubitze m/02, the first gun in the German Army with a modern recoil system.
The gun weighed some 2.035tons when deployed, 2.710tons when on the march. It had an elevation of between 0 and +45, and very limited traverse of 4 right and left. It had a wheel height of 1.230m. The muzzle velocity was 325m/sec and the maximum range was 7.450 meters. (To further increase the effect of the gun, a new type of HE shell was designed for this gun: the 15cm-Granate 04, weighing 40.5kg, and used with the Gr.Z. 04 fuse. The batteries themselves were also equipped with new and improved optical gear, communications gear etc.)
It was officially introduced in June 1903. Each Army Corps were given 1 Heavy Artillery Batallion, each with 4 companies with 4 sFH 02. Already the before the war, the batteries using this gun was trained for the main task: long-range fire against targets in cover. When Germany went to war in 1914, its Army could field 416 of these heavy howitzers.

It was a surprisingly nimble gun, actually more so than the smaller 10.5cm light Howitzer 98/09 (which had the disadvantage of having a different wheel base of the gun and the limber). It took an average of 17-18 minutes for a battery to go from marching mode to firing for effect 100 rounds at two different targets. The main problem was more of an organizational kind: as the batteries belonged to the Corps but were used by the Divisions, they spend a lot of their time on the road, shifting from Division to Division. Already before the war further modernizations was considered, primarily of equipping it with a shield, and also trying to increase its rather poor range. The result was the sFH 13.

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