15cm schwere Feldhaubitz 36 L/23

The 15cm schwere Feldhaubitz 36 L/23 was a lightweight howitzer designed to towed by a single team of horses.

The existing 15cm schwere Feldhaubitz 18 was a good weapon for the 1930s, but it was very heavy, and had to be split into two loads to be towed by horses. In 1935 Krupp and Rheinmetall were both asked to produce a design for a lighter howitzer that could fire the same 149mm shells as the sFH 18, but that would be light enough to be towed by a single team of horses.

The Rheinmetal design won the contest. It was similar in overall layout to the sFH 18, with the recuperator above the barrel and barrel brake below, with two hydro-pneumatic equilibrators on the sides and a split trail carriage, but a great deal of effort went into lightening it. The barrel was 99cm shorter and the carriage and wheels were mainly made from ligt metals. As a result it only weighed 3,280kg in the firing position (down from 5,512kg) and 3,500kg when being transported (down from 6,304kg). The extra weight when being transported was made up of a two wheel bogey trailer that went under the ends of the trails and lifted the gun up so the barrel was horizontal. As a result it could be towed by a single team of horses.

Because the sFH 36 was quite lightly built, it couldn’t take as much propellant as the sFH 18, reducing its range. It was given a muzzle break to absorb some of the forces, partly compensating for the lighter construction. The shorter barrel also had an impact, and the sFH 36 had a maximum range of around 12,500m, down by 825m compared to the sFH 18.

Small scale production of the sFH 36 began in 1939, but had to stop in 1942 when the supply of the light metal alloys it used was running short, with priority going to the aircraft industry.


15 sFH 36



Barrel Length

3555mm (L/23.7)

Weight for transport


Weight in action



-1 to +43 degrees


56 degrees

Shell Weight


Muzzle Velocity

485m/ sec

Maximum Range


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 (6 March 2018), 15cm schwere Feldhaubitz 36 L/23 , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_15cm_schwere_feldhaubitz_36.html

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