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The Newest Renovation at Armourgeddon

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Posted: 13/01/2016 12:09
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Having scoured Europe for a new gun for the collection, a rather dilapidated Krupp 10.5cm howitzer was found, transported and arrived here at Armourgeddon in December 2015 ready for the team to restore it to former glory. 

Having scoured Europe for a new gun for the collection, a rather dilapidated Krupp 10.5cm howitzer was found, transported and arrived here at Armourgeddon in December 2015 ready for the team to restore it to former glory.

Taken apart, needle gunned, restored, painted and put back together; the gun is now ready to head up from the workshop to the museum on site.

Quite a remarkable piece of engineering, the Krupp 10.5cm was the standard divisional field howitzer used by the Wehrmacht during the Second World War. Designed and developed by Rheinmetall in 1929-1930, the gun entered service with the Wehrmacht in 1935. However, the Krupp 10.5cm was not used by the artillery battalions until after the Battle of Stalingrad in 1943.

The Krupp 10.5cm was an evolution of the WWI field guns by German engineers in preparation for WWII. Significant learnings were taken from the trenches of WWI in the development of this equipment. Sharing the same carriage as the 7.7cm FK16, the guns turned over to Belgium as reparations after World War I were taken into Army service as the 10.5cm leFH after the Conquest of Belgium.

The original 7.7cm FK 96 field gun was very mobile but once the war had settled into the trenches, its lack of range became a serious issue for the troops. The FK 16 was intended to remove this issue. With a lengthened barrel and a box carriage added, greater elevation and increased range were the outputs of the improved Krupp 10.5cm. The new incarnation of the 7.7cm was also given separate loading ammunition to reduce powder consumption and barrel-wear at short ranges. This change however created the drawback of reducing the rate of fire compared to the older gun.

Having been rushed into production in 1916, many early incarnations of German guns had suffered a number of defects- often due to the frugal nature of manufacturers using substitute materials in order to reduce consumption of strategic metals. During early 1916 tests, premature detonation of shells was also experienced- again due to the poor quality of shell production and problems with picric acid being used instead of TNT.

The Belgium Army modified many of the guns it received as post-war reparations as the Canon de 75 mle GP11 ad the Canon de 75 mle GP111. After the war, a number of guns were retained by Germany, re-barreled into 75mm caliber and used in WWII as the 7.5cm FK 16.

The story of the Krupp 10.5cm mirrored that of the earlier incarnation of a Rheinmetall gun; originally built by Rheinmetall as the 10.5 Feldhaubitze 98, an old-fashioned, fixed-recoil weapon delivered to the German army as early as 1898, redesigned by Krupp between 1902 and 1904. At that point, Krupp evolved this machine with the addition of a new recoil mechanism and a new carriage. Accepted into service in 1909, existing weapons were all then rebuilt to this new standard. There were 1260 Feldhaubitze 98s in active service at the start of WWI, leading the way for the relationship between the build and re-build of the machinery from Rheinmetall to Krupp.

The 10.5cm used three different types of ammunition and the aiming instruments were marked with three different metre scales and a dial sight for both direct and indirect fire. Originally using 7 charges of propellant, this was increased during the war effort to 8 to increase and extend range.

Our version of the Krupp 10.5cm howitzer was the standard divisional field gun used by the Wehrmacht during the Second World. The gun was also known as the 105H 33. Exported to Bulgaria in 1943 and 1944, purchased by Sweden between 1939 and 1942 (142 in total) designating it Haubits m/39, the gun was only decommissioned from Swedish service in 1982. A further order for 32 guns was taken for Estonia to be delivered between December 1940 and June 1941, but due to the outbreak of WWII this order was not fulfilled.

A heavy, simple breech mechanism with a hydro-pneumatic recoil system, the Krupp 10.5cm had pressed steel wheels. With a muzzle brake added in 1941 to allow longer range charges to be fired, our Krupp 10.5cm was produced in 1940 and thus was pre- muzzle in its development. In March 1942, a requirement was issued for a lighter howitzer for the field. Leading to a second modification, the now named leFH 18/40 consisted of the mounting the barrel of an leFH 18M on the carriage for a 7.5cm PaK 40 antitank gun. Although balistically identical, this further incarnation increased rate of fire as well as reaching the desired lower weight. The more effective muzzle brake also decreased recoil.

Having seen significant active service, this gun is quite the collector’s item, on show at the Armourgeddon Museum. The museum will re-open in April 2016 following a refurbishment and is open year-round from then. If you are visiting Armourgeddon to take part in a tank driving activity experience, your entrance to the museum is included in the fee. Visitors can view the displays for £5. Under 5s may enter for free.

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