Saturday, February 23, 2013

German 7.7 cm Feldkanone 16

Artillery - Field Gun

Type: Field gun
Place of origin: German Empire

Service history
Used by: German Empire
Wars: World War I

Production history
Designer:    Krupp
Produced: 1916-18
Number built: 3,020+

Weight     1,318 kg (2,910 lb)
Barrel length     2.695 m (8 ft 10 in) L/35
Shell     separate loading, cased charge
Caliber     77 millimetres (3.0 in)
Breech     horizontal sliding block
Recoil     hydro-spring
Carriage     box trail
Elevation     -10° to +40°
Traverse     4°
Muzzle velocity     545 m/s (1,790 ft/s)
Effective range     9,100 m (10,000 yd) 7.2 kg (16 lb)(HE shell)
Maximum range     10,700 m (11,700 yd) (gas shell)

Pretty soon after the start of the war, the Germans realized that their standard field artillery piece, the FK 96 n.A. had some serious drawbacks, and that it was often only because of the numerical superiority of their field guns that they could hold their own against the field artillery of their opponents, which often had both a greater range and a greater effect. Therefore, development work was soon started on a new Field Gun.

The most obious fault of the FK 96 n.A. was that, although it could fire above 5.600 meters, the tail of the gun then had to be dug down into a pit, in order to allow the tube to be raised further. A quick and dirty solution to this was devised by the firm of Rheinmetall. It consisted simply of mating the tube of the FK 96 n.A. with the carriage of the lFH 98/09. This allowed the tube to be elevated up to 40 degrees, making it possible - with much ado - to reach a range of 7.800 meters. This hybrid gun, the so called KiH (Kanone in Haubitzlafette), had some other small modifications, including some structural strengthening and a new elevating drum, but soon, in June 1915, the first KiH reached the front.

The KiH was of course an interim solution, and - encouraged by the favourable response from the front - work soon started on a new design. This eventually became the FK 16. It was based on the KiH, but a number of big modifications was introduced: first the barrel was lengthened to L/35, the breech volume increased, and the rifling in the barrel was also altered, which - together with new munitions that had recently introduced - increased the range even more. Also the new munitions made it possible to use a split charge in the cartridge, using only one of two charges of propellant when firing at shorter ranges, which was favourable, as it not only allowed the Army to save propellant, but it also meant slightly less wear on the barrel itself. Another change concerned the sighting gear. 


The older 7.7 cm FK 96 n.A. field gun was very mobile, but, once the war settled into trench warfare, its lack of range became a serious disadvantage. The FK 16 was intended to remedy this problem. The barrel was lengthened and it was given a box carriage to allow for greater elevation, which measures increased the range. It was also given separate-loading ammunition to reduce powder consumption and barrel wear at short ranges, although this had the drawback of reducing the rate of fire compared to the older gun.

It was prematurely rushed into production in 1916 and early guns suffered from a number of defects, mainly stemming from the German use of substitute materials to reduce consumption of strategic metals. It also suffered from a large number of premature detonations of its shells during 1916. These were traced to poor quality control of its shells, which were sometimes too large in diameter, and problems with the picric acid used as high explosive filler in lieu of TNT. The picric acid would form very sensitive picric salts within days of filling the shells and would often detonate from the shock of firing. Lacquering the insides of the shells and spraying them with a turpentine/starch solution neutralized the picric acid and prevented it from forming picric salts.

The barrel of this gun was mounted on the carriage of the 10.5 cm Feldhaubitze 98/09 as the 7.7 cm Kanone in Haubitzelafette (i.e. "cannon on howitzer carriage") to allow it greater elevation and range.

Belgium modified the guns it received as post-war reparations as the Canon de 75 mle GP11 and the Canon de 75 mle GP111. After the war, some guns were retained by Germany, re-barreled into 75mm caliber, and used in World War II as the 7.5 cm FK 16 nA.


Post a Comment