15cm schwere Feldhaubitz 18

The 15cm schwere Feldhaubitz 18 was the standard German heavy howitzer during the Second World War, and combined a Krupp carriage and a Rheinmetall barrel.

Both Krupp and Rheinmetall were asked to produce a new 15cm howitzer during the late 1920s and early 1930s. The two designs were very similar, and when the order was finally placed in 1933 the German army decided to use the Krupp carriage and the Rheinmetall barrel.

The Rheinmetall barrel followed the standard German layout for the period, with the recuperator above the barrel and barrel brake below, with two hydro-pneumatic equilibrators on the sides.

The Rheinmetall box carriage was used on their 15cm Kanone 18, where it let down an otherwise quite promising gun.

The Krupp carriage had a split trial, giving it 60 degrees of traverse. It had cast wheels with triangular holes.

The first version of the gun was designed to be towed by two horse teams and could be split into two loads – barrel and carriage. This was soon replaced by a version designed to be towed by a half track as a single load. The two part system greatly increased the amount of work required to get the guns in and out of action, and required the use of a ramp to get the barrel up onto the higher carriage from the low gun carriage.

The 15cm sFH 18 performed well in the early campaigns of the Second World War, but it was outranged by its Soviet equivalents. Two alternative approaches were taken to this problem. The first was to increase the range of the 15cm sFH, either by giving it a muzzle break (producing the 15cm sFH 18(M) or by adding two more propellant charges, bringing the total usable to eight. This increased the range to 15,100m, but put too much strain on the recoil mechanism and caused excessive barrel wear. The second approach was to produce heavier guns, in particular the 17cm Kanone 18, which had more than double the range of the 15cm sFH 18.

The 15cm sFH cost between 38,000 and 40,000 Reichsmarks and took nine months to construct. It was produced in large numbers, with 1,353 in service at the outbreak of the Second World War and 5,400 in May 1945! Another 1,200 were produced to go into self propelled guns such as the Hummel, as the sFH 18/1. The gun was produced at a wide range of factories, including Spreekwerke (Berlin), MAN (Augsburg), Skoda-Werke (Dubnica) and Dorries-Fullner (Bad Warmbrunn).

The 15cm sFH 18 remained in use with the German army to the end of the Second World War, serving with the heavy artillery battalions in the artillery regiments of the army divisions. It was also used on the Atlantic Wall, alongside many of the 15cm Kanone 18 and 15cm Kanone 39. Some were installed on the Hummel self-propelled gun carriage, and in this form served with the artillery of the panzer divisions.

It was also used by the Finns (as the m/40) and the Italians (Obice de 149/28), and saw post-war service with the Czechs, Portuguese and in Central and South American.

Name

15cm schwere Feldhaubitz 18

Calibre

149mm (5.87in)

Barrel Length

4.44m (14ft 6.8in)

Weight for transport

6,304kg/ 13,898lb

Weight in action

5,512kg/ 12,152lb

Elevation

-3 to +45 degrees

Traverse

60 degrees

Shell Weight

43.5kg/ 95.9lb

Muzzle Velocity

520m/ sec (1,706ft/ sec)

Maximum Range

13,325m/ 14,570 yards
15,100m with extra charge

Rate of Fire

4 rounds/ min

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]
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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (23 February 2018), 15cm schwere Feldhaubitz 18 , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_15cm_schwere_feldhaubitz_18.html

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