Ferdinand the 1st military museum
Lat : 44.44110 / Long : 26.07760
General comments on this surviving gun :
Identical items in the same location :
Items covered by this file :
Historic context :
In 1905 Austro-Hungary armies General Staff, Franz Conrad von Hötzendorf expressed the need to replace the young and modern but disappointing 24cm M98 Mortar with a better weapon, more powerful and having a longer range. Skoda worked on the basis of a specification from the Technical Military Commission (TMK) and proposed in 1908 a first design for a 30.5cm heavy howitzer.
That same year, the relations with Italy, although an ally within the Triple Alliance, degraded so much that a war scenario became a possibility. In these circumstances, the need was even stronger for giving to the army a heavy weapon able to silence the modern forts built by Italy as well as being moveable on the mountainous grounds of the potential battlefield.
The lessons learned from the tests of a first prototype presented in 1909 allowed Skoda to propose in spring 1911 the final model. In the complex Austro-Hungarian political environment, the General Moritz Ritter von Auffenberg, War Minister; took alone the decision of the first 12 batteries order without having the vote of the government, whose Hungarian part was opposed to such projects. This decision had two consequences : the War Minister resignation occured in 1912, and the arrival in Austro-Hungaria army of a brilliiant weapon whose reputation is still alive nowadays !
Indeed, the '30.5 cm M11' howitzer was a real good weapon allying both the usually oppsite power and mobolity target, since despite its 21 tons weight in firing configuration it was still 'easily' transportable in three separate loads on mountain roads by automotive towing at a maximum speed of 6 km/h, and its setting in firing position was only taking less that 6 hours.
This quite compact dimensions weapon was equipped with a hydro-spring recoil recuperation system and a sliding wedge breech mechanism. Its almost 300 kg heavy shells were loaded on a loading table device, with the tube pointing at 0 degrees. The mortar balanced the relative weakness of its shells by its ability to shoot them with high elevation angles and good initial speeds so that they could reach a pretty high altitude and penetrate into the fortifications shieldings. It was mounted on a heavy steel platform allowing a large horizontal aiming field (-60 / +60 degrees).
12 batteries with 2 pieces each were delivered between 1912 and 1914 and were available at the war outbreak. The production continued during the war so that a total number of 44 units had been produced in 1916 (58 according to some sources) before 28 were built in 1916 according to an improved M11/16 version, with its modified carriage and platform able to give a 360 degrees horizontal aiming range. From 1917, the production turned to the new 30.5 M16 design.
In addition to their continuous presence amongst the Austro-Hungarian empire armies on the Eastern and Alps fronts, some were used (8 mortars) aside with the German Heavy Siege Artillery weapons as soon as August 1914 on the Western front to help them crushing the Namur, Anvers, Maubeuge and Troyon forts. Some were also used by Italy and Hungary after WW1.
Technical data :
- Complete description : 30.5 cm howitzer M 1911 and M11/16
- Design year : 1911
- Calibre : 305.00 mm
- Weight in firing position : 20830 kg
- Weight for transportation : 3 separate loads
- Tube length in calibres : 14.00 (total length) - 10 calibres rifled part only
- Grooves : 68
- Projectile weight : 290 kg à 390 kg
- Initial speed : 334 m/s to 407 m/s
- Fire rate : 1 shot each 6 minutes
- Range : 9600 to 11000 m
- Elevation range : +40 à +75 degrés
- Direction range : 120 degrees range (360 degrees with version M11/16)