Friday, 21 August 2015

Military History Photo Friday: German Artillery of World War One

I'm hard at work on No Man's Land, book 3 in my Trench Raiders series, and the guys are having a bit of trouble with German artillery. They've been mucking about in No Man's Land, trying to assert their primacy over the space between the opposing lines, and now the Germans are telling Willoughby, Crawford, and the rest of the gang what they think of their antics by lobbing over a bunch of shells.

It's only a year into the war, so the Germans are still using a lot of older field guns, like the 7.7 cm Feldkanone 96 shown above in this image courtesy Wikimedia Commons. As the name suggests, they first came out in 1896 and by 1915 were well out of date with current technology. The piece had a significant recoil that meant it needed to be adjusted after each shot, thereby reducing the rate of fire.

Most were remodeled just before the war with a recoilless system plus a new carriage and front shield. They were given the added specification n.A. (neuer Art, meaning "new model"). This model proved much more useful and was the standard German field gun throughout the first two years of the war. One can be seen in the photo below photo courtesy Drake Goodman. Both models used a crew of five, so I'm not sure who the extra guys were. Perhaps they just wanted to have their photograph taken!
These two models were specifically designed as mobile field artillery. It soon became apparent, however, that the Germans were going nowhere fast. The guns' effective range of 5,500 meters was considered insufficient and in 1916 a new model came out, the 7.7 cm FK 16 with an effective range of 9,100 meters.

It had a much longer barrel that could be brought to a higher angle, as can be seen in this Wikimedia Commons photo, and it weighed considerably more. By this point in the war mobility no longer mattered, range and destructive power did. While this proved a more useful gun, shortages in German industry by this point meant that older field guns remained in use until the end.

The average British soldier came to know these guns all too well, being on the receiving end of their shots day in and day out. In fact, they probably knew more about German artillery than their own. No one wanted to get near the artillery of their own side because it was so often a target of the enemy!

1 comment:

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Recoil would be bad as you'd have to realign the cannon for every shot.

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