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15 cm sFH 13

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Type  Heavy field howitzer
In service  1914–45
Place of origin  German Empire
Designer  Krupp
15 cm sFH 13
Used by  German Empire Ottoman Empire Belgium Netherlands Nazi Germany
Wars  World War I World War II

The 15 cm schwere Feldhaubitze 13 (15 cm sFH 13), was a heavy field howitzer used by Germany in World War I and the beginning of World War II.



The gun was a development of the previous standard howitzer, the 15 cm sFH 02. Improvements included a longer barrel resulting in better range and a gun shield to protect the crew. Variants were: the original "kurz" (L/14 – 14 calibre short barrel version), the lg. sFH13 with a longer barrel; and lg. sFH13/02 with minor modifications to simplify wartime manufacture of the lg. sFH weapons. Initially there were serious issues of weak recoil spring mechanisms that would break, and gun barrel explosions. The problems were solved with the upgrades.

The British referred to these guns and their shells as "Five Point Nines" or "Five-Nines" as the internal diameter of the barrel was 5.9 inches (150 mm). The ability of these guns to deliver mobile heavy firepower close to the frontline gave the Germans a major firepower advantage on the Western Front early in World War I, as the French and British lacked an equivalent. It was not until late 1915 that the British began to deploy their own 6 inch 26 cwt howitzer.

About 3,500 of these guns were produced from 1913 to 1918. They continued to serve in the Reichswehr and then the Wehrmacht in the interwar period as the standard heavy howitzer until the introduction of 15 cm sFH 18 in the 1930s. They were then shifted to reserve and training units, as well as to coastal artillery. Guns turned over to Belgium and the Netherlands as reparations after World War I were taken into Wehrmacht service after the conquest of the Low Countries as the 15 cm sFH 409(b) and 406(h) respectively.

In the course of World War II about 94 of these howitzers were mounted on Lorraine 37L tractors to create self-propelled guns, designated 15 cm sFH13/1 (Sf) auf Geschuetzwagen Lorraine Schlepper (f).

In literature

  • Siegfried Sassoon expressed the British respect for the "five-nine" in his World War I poem Counter-Attack
  • Timothy Findley mentions "5.9s" in his book The Wars
  • Wilfred Owen mentions being shelled by "Five-Nines" in his poem Dulce et Decorum est.
  • Robert Graves, in Good-Bye to All That, says "five-nines [were] called 'Jack Johnsons' because of their black smoke" in reference to "the boxer Jack (John Arthur) Johnson (1878-1946), the first black American world heavyweight champion (1908-1915)."
  • References

    15 cm sFH 13 Wikipedia

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