10.5cm leFH 18

The 10.5cm leFH 18 was the first in a large family of light howitzers that provided the standard divisional artillery guns for the German Army during the Second World War.

The standard German army howitzer of the second half of the First World War and most of the interwar period was the 10.5cm leFH 16, a wartime development of the earlier leFH 98/09. The leFH 16 was an impressive design for its day, but by the late 1920s the Army wanted a more modern design. The specifications for the new gun were issued on 1 June 1927, and in 1928-29 Rheinmetall developed the new weapon.

10.5cm leFH 18 in Oslo, 1940
10.5cm leFH 18 in Oslo, 1940

The new design was a significant improvement over the leFH 16. It had a longer barrel - L/25 in early designs and L/28 in the final version, for a length of 2m 94.1cm. As a result muzzle velocity increased to 450m/ sec and range to 10,765m, over 10km! A simplified aiming process was introduced, and was especially good for firing at moving targets.

The recoil system now had two separate parts. The barrel brake was mounted below the barrel, and absorbed the recoil. The barrel recuperator was mounted above the barrel and used compressed air to return the barrel to its firing position. The recuperator was shorter than the barrel brake.

The weapon was carried on a new gun carriage with a split trail, suspension on the carriage and shock absorbers. When the gun was deployed the split trail gave it three points of contact, forming a solid triangle, and making it much more stable than the older weapon. The new split trial also allowed for a much wider range of traverse - up from 4 degrees to 56 degrees! At first it used wooden spoked wheels, but in 1936 these were replaced with light metal cast wheels with a diameter of 130cm, which made the gun easier to tow. The protective shield now had a curved top, higher in the middle over the gun.

Two basic versions were produced - a horse-drawn version and a tractor-drawn version with extra air brakes to cope with the higher speed and wider wheels with solid rubber tires. The tractor drawn version was attached directly to a prime mover, without using a limber, and could move at 40kph on normal roads.

The leFH 18 could fire a wide range of shells, including a normal HE shell, star shells, incendiary shells, hollow charges, tracer, smoke, propaganda shells and a discarding sabot 88mm shell.

10.5cm leFH 18 from the right
10.5cm leFH 18 from the right

A total of 23,966 members of the leFH 18 family were produced. This included 11,795 of the original leFH 18 (including the leFH 18M), with 4,862 produced before the war and 6,933 during the war.

Another 10,245 examples of the leFH 18/40 were built between March 1943 and March 1945. 662 of the leFH 18/2, which was carried on the Wespe self propelled gun, were built between February 1943 and May 1944. Finally 1,264 Sturmhaubitze 42 were built between March 1943 and March 1945. Krupp and Rheinmetall were responsible for all construction until 1942, when it then moved over to six firms based in Pilsen, Altona, Elbing, Madgeburg, Dortmund and Borsigwalde.

Several variants were produced for use as self propelled guns. This included the leFH 18/1 (Sf) for the 10.5cm leFH 18/1 auf GW IVb Sdkfz 165/1, the 18/2 (Sf) for the leFH 18/2 auf FgstPzKpfw II(Sf) SdKfz 124 (Wespe), the 18.3 (Sf) for the GW B 2(f), the 18/4 (Sf) for the GW III/ IV and the 18/6 (Sf) for the GW IVb fur 10.5cm leFH 18/1  'Heuschrecke'. It was also used on the 10.5cm leFH 18 auf GW Lorraine Schlepper (f) and the 10.5cm leFH 18 auf GW 39H(f)


10.5cm leFH 18


105mm/ 4.134in

Barrel Length

2941mm/ 114.72in (L/28)

Weight for transport

2,535kg/ 5,589lb

Weight in action

1,985kg/ 4,377lb


-6 degrees 30 minutes to 40 degrees 30 minutes


56 degrees

Shell Weight

14.81kg/ 32.65lb HE

Muzzle Velocity

450m/s/ 1,542ft/ sec

Maximum Range

10,765m/ 11,678 yards

Rate of Fire


German Weapons of World War II, Stephen Hart . Covers a wide range of the weapons used by the Third Reich during the Second World War, from the pistol up to the battleship Tirpitz, and including a wide range of tanks, armoured vehicles, aircraft, artillery etc. All supported by a mix of full colour illustrations and contemporary photographs, giving an idea of vast range of weapons produced by the Germans during the war (Read Full Review)
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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (25 October 2017), 10.5cm leFH 18 , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_105_leFH_18.html

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