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Old 07-07-2009, 04:40 PM
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Default 152mm Obuchov m/04 Cannon

This gun is a prime example of a design obsolete from its very inception. The technisque was decidely 1880-ish, with no on-carriage recoil system, just an old-style “napoleonic” type two-wheeled carriage. Like its forerunners, like the old 152mm m/1877, (and also like its french equivalent, the 120mm mle1878) it was best used on a wooden ground platform and equipped with a ground anchor to which a hydraulic cylinder was attached. The piston rod of the cylinder was attached to the gun carriage and as the gun recoiled backwards when the gun was fired, it dragged the piston through the oil-filled cylinder and retarded the movement back. In addition to this, two large wooden wedges were almost invariably placed behind the wheels, in a standard WW1 arrangement: when the gun was discharged it ran up these wedges, and then back into the firing position – helped by the recoil cylinder, if present. Without wedges or recoil cylinder it was pretty uncontrollable on discharge. It was not to heavy for its calibre, 5.43 tons, and was moved in one piece, the trail end being hoisted up on a two­wheeled limber, and towed either by one tractor, or by double teams of horse. While the overall design was obsolete, the gun itself was actually pretty good: the long cannon was capable of throwing a 40.1kg grenade to a maximum of 14.2kms, and it was very accurate – so it was not just a rediculous antique.
The big problem for the Russian Artillery at the outset of the war, was not so much the design of the guns (although it of course was troublesome, as this piece really proves) but rather the fact that the Russian Army had far too small stocks of Artillery Ammunition, and this goes for the 152mm m/04. Although many very lost during the hasty to-and-fro movement of the Eastern Front during the first years of the war, it was used all up to 1918. And as some at that year were taken over by the Finns, it was actually used in WW2 as well, during the Winter War of 1939-40.
The gun below can be seen on display in the excellent Army Museum in Brussels. (Don't miss it if you are nearby!) I have examined the exotic paintwork, and I am sorry to say that I am not sure if it is the original. It could be, but I have my doubts.


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