Musée Royal de l'Armée
Lat : 50.84560 / Long : 4.39430
General comments on this surviving gun :
Identical items in the same location :
Items covered by this file :
Historic context :
At the end of the first decade of the XXth century, Germany had since several years made the choice to give its field artillery a light howitzer at the side of its 7.7cm FK 96n/A fieldgun, and was starting to create numerous field artillery units generously equipped with the very good 10.5cm lFH 98/09.
Meanwhile in France the debate was still going on between the partisans of the omnipotence of the mighty 75 Mle 1897 fieldgun (and the induced budgetary savings), and the ones exposing the need of a bell curve light and mobile gun capable to send powerful shells in entrenchments and counter-slopes inaccessible to the flat trajectory fire of the fieldgun.
In 1911, triggered by the sudden tension increase with Germany with the Morocco crisis, and under the impulse of the new War Minister Messimy, the subject was put on the top of the pile, a budget was voted, and the private companies Schneider and Saint Chamond requested to propose their solutions. Trials in January and May 1912 demonstrated the superiority of the Schneider material. This modern 105 mm light field howitzer named 'Canon court de 105 OC' was equipped with all the modern systems of its time and typical of the Schneider design (hydro-pneumatic recoil recuperation system, shield, long rear cradle balancing the tube around the trunions in a rear position, eccentric screw quick action Schneider breech, ...).
However during this same period of time, the French government had fallen in the beginning of 1912 and Messimy had been replaced by Millerand without having had the time to obtain the authorization to order the weapons. The new Minister asked new tests and a 4 howitzers battery was created and tested during manoeuvres in Autumn 1912. These exercises allowed the Schneider howitzer to demonstrate remarkably in maneuverability, its ability to fire from positions protected from the flat-trajectory fire enemy artillery, and its capability to reach targets hidden behind hills ans slopes.
But the order was still not coming and in March 1913, despite the fact the budget was still including 80 millions francs for the purchasing of light field howitzers, a last and fatal 'coup de théatre' happened : tests demonstrated that the shells of the 75 Mle 1897, when equipped with the 'plaquette Malandrin' (simple disc mounted behind the fuze), adopted a curved trajectory. It took no more for the partisans of the budgetary savings and for the 75mm fieldgun sufficiency, among them the new War Minister Etienne and the Général Joffre, to definitively refuse the light field howitzers. This weapon absence in the French field artillery will be cruelly missed and was the cause for frightful infantry losses from the first months of the war...
In 1915, the 4 howitzers of the test battery were given by France to Belgium, where they remained in service until 1917 under the name 'Ob. 105 S' (Obusier de 10.5 cm Schneider') before they were replaced by '105 A' howitzers (105 German - 10.5 cm lFH 98/09 taken from the enemy).
Technical data :
- Complete description : 105 mm light field howitzer Schneider (105 OC short gun)
- Design year : 1910
- Calibre : 105.00 mm
- Weight in firing position : 1150 kg
- Weight for transportation : 1918 kg
- Tube length in calibres : 14.00 (total length)
- Grooves : 0 unknown
- Projectile weight : 16.38 kg
- Initial speed : 300 m/s
- Fire rate : 8 rounds / minute
- Range : 7500 m
- Elevation range : -3 to +43 degrés
- Direction range : 6 degrees total range