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"German Gun-Howitzer (Standard 105 mm)" from Intelligence Bulletin

[Intelligence Bulletin Cover: WWII German 105-mm Artillery]   A report on the WWII German 105-mm artillery piece with comparisons to the U.S. 105-mm howitzer and British 25-pounder, from the U.S. WWII Intelligence Bulletin, April 1943.

[Editor's Note: The following article is wartime information on enemy tactics and equipment published for Allied soldiers. In most cases, more accurate data is available in postwar publications.]




The standard light gun-howitzer of the German Army is the 105 mm (see figs. 1 and 2). It is directly comparable to our 105-mm howitzer and to the British 25-pounder. The following table of characteristics shows the relationship between the German gun-howitzer and its American counterpart:

     German 105-mm
    U.S. 105-mm
Weight       4,260 lbs.       4,235 lbs.
Maximum range  11,674 yds.  12,250 yds.
Maximum muzzle velocity  1,542 ft per sec.  1,550 ft per sec.
Weight of standard H.E. shell    32.65 lbs.  33 lbs.
Weight of bursting charge  3.0 lbs.  4.8 lbs.

It must be noted, however, that the performance of the German gun-howitzer is rendered less effective by a standard use of charge 5 rather than charge 6.[1] This reduces the maximum muzzle velocity from 1,542 feet per second to 1,283 feet per second, and the maximum range from 11,674 to 10,007 yards. The use of semi-fixed ammunition cuts down the maximum rate of fire and further reduces the effectiveness of the weapon.

The German gun-howitzer may either be tractor-drawn or horse-drawn. In tractor-drawn units a light tractor is used; when the piece is horse-drawn, the howitzer and limber are pulled by a six-horse team.


The tube of the German 105-mm gun-howitzer is long, and of monobloc construction, with the counter-recoil cylinder above it. The elevating mechanism permits the piece to be used as either a gun or a howitzer, as the occasion dictates. Its high elevation and the use of semi-fixed ammunition give it the characteristics of a howitzer. On the other hand, the long tube allows a high muzzle velocity, and the long split trail gives the piece good stability when it is to be used as a gun.

[Figure 1. German 105-mm Gun-Howitzer, Left Side View (trails spread and spades locked in position).]
Figure 1.—German 105-mm Gun-Howitzer, Left Side View (trails spread and spades locked in position).

The breech mechanism is of the horizontally sliding type, and simply designed. Built-in safety devices allow the firing mechanism to operate only when the breech block is in the fully open or fully closed position. Also, a hand-operated safety device is provided.

[Figure 2. German 105-mm Gun-Howitzer, Rear View (traveling position)]
Figure 2.—German 105-mm Gun-Howitzer, Rear View (traveling position)

The recoil and recuperator systems are of the hydro-pneumatic type. The elevating mechanism is a well protected unit; it is entirely enclosed except for the elevating arc and its pinion. The total elevating arc is 47 degrees and 37 minutes. Since the worm and worm wheel are permitted to move against Belleville springs, the recoil and counter-recoil force is absorbed.

The traversing mechanism is of the nut-and-screw type, and is almost completely enclosed. The total traversing arc is 56 degrees and 14 minutes, or 28 degrees and 7 minutes, to the right and to the left.

The bottom carriage is of very complicated design, and has more parts than the bottom carriage of our 105-mm howitzer.

In design and general construction, the optical fire-control equipment is similar to the corresponding equipment used on the American 105-mm howitzer.


The standard high explosive shell used in the German gun-howitzer consists of a shell case, primer, and propelling charge of nitroglycerine powder (divided into five zones and contained in cloth bags). This powder is not flashless.

The projectile consists of a two-piece steel shell, similar in shape to our 105-mm M-1 shell, and has a rotating band of copper (on a steel backing) that is rolled into place.

A super-quick percussion fuze, or a time-and-percussion fuze, is provided, and a booster fits in a pocket below the fuze cavity.

[1] Howitzers with semi-fixed ammunition have propellant charges which are divided into sections called "zones." When a range has been determined, one or more zones can easily be removed from the shell case, so as to give the desired charge for the range in question. The German gun-howitzer, which has six zones, uses any combination of the first five as the standard charge; whereas the American howitzer, which has seven zones, uses any combination of the first six as the standard charge.

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