10.5cm leFH 18/40

The 10.5cm leFH 18/40 was a wartime version of the leFH 18, produced in an attempt to lighten the otherwise satisfactory light field howitzer.

The 10.5cm leFH 18 was a great improvement on the First World War vintage leFH 16 that it replaced, but it was considered to be rather too heavy, and many had to be abandoned during the winter fighting in Russia in 1941-42 as they simply couldn't be moved. In an attempt to solve this problem Rheinmetall mounted the leFH 18 gun on a modified carriage from the 75mm Pak 40 anti-tank gun. The carriage was modified to have double axle suspension with torsion bars, and a better muzzle brake was installed. The gun position was lower, but the weapon was lighter, so the new weapon was slightly less stable. Although the two versions of the gun weighed roughly the same when in action, the 10.5cm leFH 18/40 was significantly lighter when travelling.

The new weapon wasn't entirely satisfactory, as the gun was too heavy for the carriage and the split trails were prone to break when the gun was fired at high angles or when fired at full power for maximum range. However the modified carriage was a significant improvement on the Pak 40 original, and was later used on the 7.5cm FK 7M85, which used the original 75mm gun and the modified carriage from the 10.5cm leFH 18/40.

The leFH 18/40 was produced in a number of versions. The basic gun was produced in horse drawn and tractor drawn versions. There were also a number of versions for self propelled vehicles. The leFH 18/40/1 (Sf) was for use on a Panzer IV. The leFH 18/40/2 (Sf) was for the Geschützwagen III/IV. The leFH 18/40/3 (E) was for use on armoured trains. The leFH 18/40/4 (Sf) was for the Geschützwagen 638/19. The leFH 18/40/5 (Sf) was for the Geschützwagen 638/21. The leFH 18/40/6 (Sf) was for the Geschützwagen 634/6. Specific versions was also produced for the 'carriage 396 (r)' and 'carriage 445 (r)', using captured Russian vehicles.

The original intention was for the leFH 18/40 to be the standard weapon by 1943, but it never entirely replaced the basic model, so both remained in use until the end of the war.

A total of 19,104 leFH 18s were built during the Second World War. Of these 10,245 were the leFH 18/40, delivered between March 1943 and March 1945. The first ten were delivered in March 1943, and 418 were in service by the start of the battle of Kursk.

Name

10.5cm leFH 18/40

Calibre

105mm/ 4.134in

Barrel Length

2,710mm/ 115.75in

Weight in action and transport

1,955kg/ 4,310lb (or lighter?)

Elevation

-6 to 40 degrees

Traverse

56 degrees or 60 degrees

Shell Weight

14.81kg/ 32.65lb

Muzzle Velocity

540m/s/ 1,771ft/sec

Maximum Range

12,325m/ 13,483 yards

Rate of Fire

 

German Heavy Artillery Guns 1933-1945, Alexander Lüdeke. Despite the title actually covers light, medium and heavy artillery as well as mortars and anti-tank guns (excludes railway guns, flak and rocket launchers). Each gets a useful write-up, supported by stats and at least one photo. Covers German-built guns and the many types captured and used by the Wehrmacht. [read full review]
cover cover cover

 

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (10.5cm leFH 18/40 ), 2 November 2017, http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_105_leFH_18_40.html

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