Historic context :
The French Parliament, alerted by some officers, expressed in 1910 its concern about the lack of a heavy field artillery in the army. A specific commission was created and soon required, in a 'October 31st 1911 program', the development of a new 105 mm light field howitzer and a middle caliber long range field gun. Unusually for France, the private industry was invited to present its materials.
Indeed, the Schneider company, located in Le Creusot, had developped for Russia in 1910 a very modern long and quick firing 106.7 mm field gun (named 42 lines field gun), manufactured both in Le Creusot and in the Putilov mills under license. This gun, adapted to the 105 mm caliber, was adopted in 1913 by the French Headquarters to which it had been presented in 1912, together with a 105 mm light field howitzer from the same company, this one beng however rejected.
The 'canon de 105 L modèle 1913 Schneider' ('L' as Long) introduced in France many technological innovations that were to be found later in the numerous materials that Schneider developped during WW1 and that became the backbone of the new weapons that progressively gave to France the quantity and technologic superiority in the artillery forces during the second half of the war.
This modern gun succesfully allied power, range and mobility. Its weight increase due to the longer and larger barrel was kept reasonable, allowing this gun to be towed in a single load by horses, despite the fact it also had a protecting shield for its crew. It included :
The recoil recuperation mechanism was original since, contrarily to the usual practice, the pistons were static and attached to the carriage, while the cylinders and reservoirs were moving together with the barrel. Consequently, the moving mass was much heavier, slowing down the recoil speed and allowing an optimization of the recuperating system récupérateur. The craddle rear long excescent created the advantage of 'containing' the barrel recoil movement amplitude, thus avoiding the accidents linked to the high angle aiming (wher the breech could have hit the ground). It was also acting as a counterwight for the long tube.
- a long barrel of more than 22 calibres,
- a very efficient quick manoeuvring Schneider breech (interrupted screw type with a flat shutter),
- a recoil recuperating system composed of a hydraulic brake and a hydropneumatic recoil recuperator located side by side below the tube,
- a long craddle overhanging long beneath the breech back, and in which the heavy mass composed of the tube, the breech and the recuperating system blocks were sliding back and forth under the recoil action,
- a long polygonal carriage with two spades, with a hollow part in the center to allow high elevation angles.
The first group of 105 L modèle 1913 Schneider fielguns came into action as soon as September 1914, at the end of the first battle of the Marne. The initial pre-war order planned for 220 guns, but the fabrication delays, linked with the increased needs created by the war as well as by the numerous losses caused this gun specific fragility induced a slow rate of implementation despite a increased order quantity, so that there were only 93 such guns in action in February 1915. In november 1917, 372 of the 555 already delivered 105 L fieldguns were in service, while they were 576 in November 1918.
Le 105 L Mle 1913 équipait les armées Françaises et Polonaises en 1939, et fut utilisé par les Allemands à partir de 1940.
Technical data :
- Complete description : 105 mm Long Quick Firing fieldgun M 1913 Schneider
- Design year : 1913
- Calibre : 105.00 mm
- Weight in firing position : 2350 kg
- Weight for transportation : 2750 kg with the additional fore wheels, single load
- Tube length in calibres : 22.40 (rifled part only), 28.4 total length
- Grooves : 40 7 degrees, oriented to the right
- Projectile weight : 15.45 kg à 16.95 kg, semi-encartouchées
- Initial speed : 360 to 555 m/s
- Fire rate : 6 to 8 rounds per minute
- Range : 12500 m
- Elevation range : -5 to +37 degrees
- Direction range : 6 degrees range