Conversion by the Germans of French M-1897 75s to make them suitable for
use as antitank guns is described in a translation of an article in a recent
issue of a Fighting French publication. The writer of the article comments
that the captured French artillery, as converted, may serve as hard-hitting, mobile
weapons in antiinvasion operations. It is stated that Germany probably has "a good
few thousand" of the French 75s which were captured in Poland and France prior to 1941.
Principal features of the conversion of the French 75s are described as follows:
The barrel seems to have undergone only two external modifications:
(1) The addition of a muzzle brake. This brake, which is of the Bofors
type, seems to be exceptionally large. If it is compared with a brake of
the same type mounted on high-powered Bofors 75, it can be estimated that
it absorbs at least 33 1/3 per cent of the recoil.
In all probability the initial velocity is increased. (The regulation initial
velocity of the 75, model 97, firing model 10 armor-piercing, shell was
about 1,800 f/s. Before the war it was possible to obtain an initial velocity
of about 2,000 f/s with the model 36 Gabaud shell weighing 13.23 pounds. It
can be assumed that the initial velocity of the converted gun will be slightly
over 2,000 f/s.
(2) The addition of a light box on the upper part of the barrel a little in
front of the supports of the clinometer. Its function is not known but it may
be the device for establishing the lead on a moving target.
It does not seem that the position of the trunnions has been changed. The
disequilibrium created by the addition of the muzzle brake has been compensated
for by the addition of a single equilibrator, low-powered and vertical, acting
on the right trunnion of the oscillating cylinder.
The Germans have mounted the gun on a 5-cm Pak 38 carriage known
as Pak 97/38 or on a 7.5-cm Pak 40 carriage, when it is known as Pak 97/40.
Although a field piece cannot be judged solely by appearance, the conversion
described above seems to be particularly good. The only improvements that have
not been effected are the automatic opening of the breech and the firing of the
piece by the gunner.