7.5cm leichte Feldkanone/ leFK 18

The 7.5cm leichte Feldkanone 18 was designed after the German Army decided to switch from 77mm to 75mm field guns, but it was more complex and had shorter range than the weapon it was designed to replace and was only produced in small numbers.

In the aftermath of the First World War, the German Army decided to adapt 75mm artillery as its new standard. The army had been allowed to keep a number of First World War era 7.7cm Feldkanone 16, and these were updated by giving them new 75mm barrels. The modified guns were issued in 1934 as the 7.5cm Feldkanone 16 nA, but they were considered to be rather too heavy for their intended purpose.

Work was already new on their replacement - Krupp and Rheinmetall had been asked to produce a new design in 1930-31, and the Krupp design had been chosen. The new gun could fire a wide range of shells, including a hollow charge shell for use against armour. It also had a split trail carriage, which allowed for a wider range of traverse than the original, again making it more useful for anti-tank warfare. It used separate ammunition (shell and cartridge case), allowing for different cartridges for different range. 

The leFK 18 had its recoil brake in the cradle under the barrel, the repositioning spring above the barrel and a pair of vertical equilibrators behind the gun shield. It has a split trail carriage, with recoil spades at the end of each leg. The two legs were hinged towards the centre, and the ends could be folded back over the front of the legs to reduce its length when being towed. The towing hock was at the fold. The leFK was expected to be towed by horses, and so it kept the wooden spoked wheels with steel rims used on the earlier models.

Although the new weapon was more modern, in some ways it was less effective than the gun it replaced. It had a shorter barrel and lower muzzle velocity and a result had significantly less range (3,450m down on the FK 16 nA).  It was also expensive (actually more expensive than the heavier 10.5cm leFH 18) and complex to build, and as a result only a small number were produced. By 1938, when the first examples were issued, the focus had switched to more powerful 10.5cm field guns. Some examples were built for export, in particular to South American, where they remained in use for many years after the end of the Second World War. The weapon was also used by a number of German light artillery formations early in the Second World War. Thirty six were used at the start of Operation Barbarossa, where they served with a cavalry division. Some may also have been present on the D-Day beaches. Later on it was partly replaced by the 7.5cm Feldkanone 38, a weapon originally produced for a South American customer, in this case Brazil.

Name

7.5cm leFK 18

Calibre

75mm (2.95in)

Barrel Length

1.94m/ 76.38in (L/26)

Weight for transport

1,324kg/ 2,919lb

Weight in action

1,120kg/ 2,470lb

Elevation

-5 to +45 degrees

Traverse

30 degrees

Shell Weight

5,83kh/ 12.85lb

Muzzle Velocity

485m/ 1,590ft per second

Maximum Range

9,425m/ 10,301 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]
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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (14 December 2017), 7.5cm leichte Feldkanone/ leFK 18 , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_75cm_leFK18.html

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