Alternative Artillery of the 20th Century

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Carl Schwamberger
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Alternative Artillery of the 20th Century

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 05 Oct 2021 01:19

From the array of proposals, prototypes, & limited production runs, pick a cannon or rocket/missile & describe its possible use & history had it been picked for larger scale production & use. Naval cannon & missile systems are fair game here as are AA weapons.

ie: The surfeit of French 75mm & 155mm cannon possessed by the US Army post 1918 led to the decision to cease development based on the old 3" M1907 & 4.7" M1908 cannon. Absent US participation in the Great War a new generation of Army artillery derived from those home grown weapons would be possible.

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nuyt
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Re: Alternative Artillery of the 20th Century

Post by nuyt » 05 Oct 2021 16:44

I'd say the Germans wait with full scale production of artillery towards the second half of the 30s and so do not rely on designs that date back a decade, like the 10,5cm lFh 18, the 15cm sFH 18, its 10,5cm gun sister etc. Instead they could have kept Krupp/Rheinmetall/Bofors designs and prototypes a bit more closer to their chest and not sell anything to the Soviets - the main beneficiary (indirectly) of German artillery design in the 1930s.
So the Germans adopt either the Bofors 75mm or 90mm field guns, plus the 12cm howitzer (similar to the one that would become the Soviet 122mm) and the 15 cm Bofors how m39 and upwards. They also produce the 45 or 47mm version of the Rheinmetall 37mm anti tank (and tank) gun from the mid 30s. The Germans also produce the Bofors 40mm instead of the 37mm Rheinmetall and forbid Bofors to export to potential adversaries, like the UK, US, France, etc.
Consequences: the Germans have the better artillery deal and the Soviets need to shop elsewhere....
Last edited by nuyt on 06 Oct 2021 10:06, edited 1 time in total.

Carl Schwamberger
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Re: Alternative Artillery of the 20th Century

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 05 Oct 2021 17:57

I was under the impression the USSR was blocked from German military technology after 1933.

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T. A. Gardner
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Re: Alternative Artillery of the 20th Century

Post by T. A. Gardner » 05 Oct 2021 18:08

The US did continue 4.7" gun development after WW 1 culminating with the 4.7" M1922E model, including an experimental self-propelled version. This gun ultimately was not adopted for use in WW 2 because the US Army decided to go with a 4.5" gun (M1) to get ammunition commonality with the British. That turned out to be an unhappy decision for the US as the 4.5" gun M1 was considered a poor weapon largely because the shells had too little explosive for their size and the gun lacked hitting power.

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stg 44
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Re: Alternative Artillery of the 20th Century

Post by stg 44 » 05 Oct 2021 21:19

Though not an alternative necessarily, Germany recognizing that the 52/L 105mm long range artillery was not a great choice due to throwing weight relative to gun size would have resulted in a 128mm replacement earlier, as they already had a similar piece in service with the navy:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/12.7_cm_SK_C/34_naval_gun

Why not use an existing weapon and caliber? They could lengthen the barrel to get some extra range out of it like they did with the later K44 128mm piece. Of course they did that because of the existing standard 105/150mm calibers, but it would seem to make sense to use something in between the two calibers for long range counter battery work or coastal defense given the limitations of the two other calibers and what they were designed for as well as the fact that it didn't make much sense to field two such long range guns for the role.

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nuyt
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Re: Alternative Artillery of the 20th Century

Post by nuyt » 05 Oct 2021 21:53

Carl Schwamberger wrote:
05 Oct 2021 17:57
I was under the impression the USSR was blocked from German military technology after 1933.
:wink:

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Re: Alternative Artillery of the 20th Century

Post by Sheldrake » 05 Oct 2021 23:17

Image
The British invented the SP Artillery gun. - The Birch Gun. This isn't a million miles from the SP guns of WW2. The 18 pounder is not ideal as a close support weapon, but would KO any tank of the 1930s.

Arguments between the RA and RAC led to the concept being dropped in favour of a light howitzer battery.

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T. A. Gardner
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Re: Alternative Artillery of the 20th Century

Post by T. A. Gardner » 06 Oct 2021 00:24

Sheldrake wrote:
05 Oct 2021 23:17
Image
The British invented the SP Artillery gun. - The Birch Gun. This isn't a million miles from the SP guns of WW2. The 18 pounder is not ideal as a close support weapon, but would KO any tank of the 1930s.

Arguments between the RA and RAC led to the concept being dropped in favour of a light howitzer battery.
Hardly. This is WW 1 and French.

Image

Those Schneider SP's were used into WW 2 and even by the Wehrmacht well into the war.

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nuyt
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Re: Alternative Artillery of the 20th Century

Post by nuyt » 06 Oct 2021 10:12

stg 44 wrote:
05 Oct 2021 21:19
Though not an alternative necessarily, Germany recognizing that the 52/L 105mm long range artillery was not a great choice due to throwing weight relative to gun size would have resulted in a 128mm replacement earlier, as they already had a similar piece in service with the navy:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/12.7_cm_SK_C/34_naval_gun

Why not use an existing weapon and caliber? They could lengthen the barrel to get some extra range out of it like they did with the later K44 128mm piece. Of course they did that because of the existing standard 105/150mm calibers, but it would seem to make sense to use something in between the two calibers for long range counter battery work or coastal defense given the limitations of the two other calibers and what they were designed for as well as the fact that it didn't make much sense to field two such long range guns for the role.
Yeah, they could also have adopted the 12cm caliber for both light field howitzers and guns. They helped develop the Soviet 122mm 1931 which fired a lighter grenade but could reach 20 kms. Funny that Germany adopted the 10,5cm cal way before WW1, while its neighbors Switzerland, Belgium, Netherlands, Sweden, Norway and adversaries like the SU stuck to the 12cm cal. And while doing that they mostly relied on Krupp (or Kruppish) designs. But the French did the same after WW1 (105mm) while the US Watervliet Board advised the adaptation of the 10,5cm lFH 16 (hence the later development of the US 105mm howitzer M1).

The Soviets were the smartest.

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Re: Alternative Artillery of the 20th Century

Post by Gooner1 » 06 Oct 2021 12:34

Despite developing a rocket system for anti-aircraft use - the Z Batteries - and the Navy also developing anti-aircraft, shore bombardment and anti-submarine rockets and then the RAF enthusisatically adopting them for air-to-ground use, the British Army was very slow to develop its own surface-to-surface rocket artillery.
When they eventually got around to it thanks to the unstinting efforts of the Canadian Lt. Col. Eric Harris and the British Lt. Col. Michael Wardell a seemingly pretty effective rocket system was created with a bodge of AA and RN rocket parts.


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Re: Alternative Artillery of the 20th Century

Post by Sheldrake » 06 Oct 2021 19:09

T. A. Gardner wrote:
06 Oct 2021 00:24
Sheldrake wrote:
05 Oct 2021 23:17
Image
The British invented the SP Artillery gun. - The Birch Gun. This isn't a million miles from the SP guns of WW2. The 18 pounder is not ideal as a close support weapon, but would KO any tank of the 1930s.

Arguments between the RA and RAC led to the concept being dropped in favour of a light howitzer battery.
Hardly. This is WW 1 and French.

Image

Those Schneider SP's were used into WW 2 and even by the Wehrmacht well into the war.
Not quite true - or quite the same concept.

25 of these Schneider SPs were delivered after the end of the First World War. The two vehicles were the gasoline powered ammuniton carrier and crew vehicle and the electrically powered SP gun. The gun received its power from the generator on the ammuniton carrier through a cable. It is an elegant but complex solution to the problem of local mobility and deployment time of a seiege howitzer. It did not work well and the Germans made very limited use of captured examples during WW2. Do you know which German unit used them?

The British got there first with the first SP medium and heavy guns.

Image
The Gun carrier was designed to transport guns across the rough terrain of no mans land. The guns were occasionally fired from the SP carrier and first used on Pilckem Ridge in 1917. THe problem was ammunition supply and the Gun Carrier was more used as a supply carrier to the end of the war..
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gun_Carrier_Mark_I

Neither of these were the same as the Birch gun, an SP field gun with comparable to mobility to the tanks.

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Re: Alternative Artillery of the 20th Century

Post by stg 44 » 06 Oct 2021 21:23

nuyt wrote:
06 Oct 2021 10:12
Yeah, they could also have adopted the 12cm caliber for both light field howitzers and guns. They helped develop the Soviet 122mm 1931 which fired a lighter grenade but could reach 20 kms. Funny that Germany adopted the 10,5cm cal way before WW1, while its neighbors Switzerland, Belgium, Netherlands, Sweden, Norway and adversaries like the SU stuck to the 12cm cal. And while doing that they mostly relied on Krupp (or Kruppish) designs. But the French did the same after WW1 (105mm) while the US Watervliet Board advised the adaptation of the 10,5cm lFH 16 (hence the later development of the US 105mm howitzer M1).
According to this the 105mm caliber was picked over the 120mm due to the issue of weight:
https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/10,5-cm-l ... aubitze_98
The French developed in the period following the obusier de 120 mm C modèle 1890 , but was according to the ideas of the German General Staff too heavy: She weighed in driving position with limber 2345 kg and was close to the upper limit of what could be drawn in the six-horse horse-drawn.
....
The German side was therefore looking for a gun that was no heavier than the ordinary field cannon, i.e. fully equipped and should weigh less than two tons in the driving position. German tests with a 12 cm howitzer, which was tested in two batteries in the Saxon army in 1889, also showed that a howitzer with a 12 cm caliber was too heavy [5] .
Then with the 105mm SK18 it looks like they went with it because it could use the new 150mm howitzer's carriage:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/10_cm_schwere_Kanone_18
The German army wanted a new 10.5 cm gun as well as 15 cm howitzer which were to share the same carriage. Guns are heavier than howitzers due to the longer barrel. This also led to the 15 cm sFH 18. As such both weapons had a similar weight and could be carried by a similar carriage.
A 128mm gun would have probably been too heavy for the 15cm sFH 18's carriage, even though the naval gun had a similar barrel length to the 10cm SK18:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/12.7_cm_SK_C/34_naval_gun
Barrel length 5.43 meters (17 ft 10 in) (bore)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/10_cm_schwere_Kanone_18
Barrel length 5.46 m (18 ft) L/52
So it makes sense why they did not develop a 128mm piece pre-war, but had they been willing to overlook the carriage issue they could have had a truly exceptional corps level artillery piece for counter battery fire or long range interdiction, which was the role the 10cm sk18 was supposed to do.
nuyt wrote:
06 Oct 2021 10:12
The Soviets were the smartest.
Indeed:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/122_mm_gu ... /37_(A-19)
Best gun in its class.

Still even then upgraded after WW2 and even replaced their longer range 152mm gun:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/130_mm_to ... 954_(M-46)

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nuyt
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Re: Alternative Artillery of the 20th Century

Post by nuyt » 07 Oct 2021 13:10

Thanks for your reply.

Yes, the 12cm may have been to heavy for a horse team, but my point is also that, because the Germans developed their artillery in the 1920s, they still relied on horse traction and continued to do substantially throughout WW2. A decade later and they would be truck or halftrack drawn. Then the weight issue should be resolved. The Soviets developed their main artillery in the late 1930s so theirs was truck drawn.
Also versions of the lFH 18 and sFH 18 with regular wheels/tyres were never delivered to the troops. They continued to use the typical "train engine" wheels. Not suitable for high speed travel...

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Re: Alternative Artillery of the 20th Century

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 07 Oct 2021 17:09

T. A. Gardner wrote:
05 Oct 2021 18:08
The US did continue 4.7" gun development after WW 1 culminating with the 4.7" M1922E model, including an experimental self-propelled version. This gun ultimately was not adopted for use in WW 2 because the US Army decided to go with a 4.5" gun (M1) to get ammunition commonality with the British. That turned out to be an unhappy decision for the US as the 4.5" gun M1 was considered a poor weapon largely because the shells had too little explosive for their size and the gun lacked hitting power.
I corresponded with a NCO who was assigned to the FDC of a 4.5" M1 battalion. His memory was they were mostly firing battalion concentrations on interdiction & suppression targets. The combination of only wanting suppressive effects and the 12 cannon concentration got around the low destructive power of the 4.5" round. Still it was not suitable for targets requiring rapid neutralization or destruction.

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Re: Alternative Artillery of the 20th Century

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 07 Oct 2021 17:20

In the 1920s the US Army went on with development of the 3" gun as a AA weapon. The M1 - M4 series the result. The M3 being the most common production model. Related to that was examination of developing a gun/carriage combination for making this a "universal" gun. One that could be used as a AA cannon, AT gun, and field artillery as the situation required. The idea seems to have carried on into the 1930s, but was ultimately dropped, probably from strong favor for the 105mm M1/M2 howitzer as the primary FA cannon.

Im trying to visualize the US Army infantry divisions deploying to the Pacific and Europe/Africa 1942-43 with this universal 3"cannon as their primary artillery piece.

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