Ferdinand the 1st military museum
Lat : 44.44260 / Long : 26.07760
General comments on this surviving gun :
Identical items in the same location :
Items covered by this file :
Historic context :
In spring 1915, Karl Freiherr von Skoda, director of the famous Pilsen factory, was allowed to visit the Belgian fortresses that had been crushed by the German heavy artillery assisted by the Austro-Hungarian 30.5cm M11 during summer 1914. Impressed, he quickly commanded his engineers to work on a new howitzer with a caliber as big as possible and with a range of at least 15 km, while staying as mobile as the M11 mortars.
The design was real quick and allowed Skoda to propose spontaneously to the Austro-Hungarian army a 17 calibres 38cm howitzer as soon as May 1915, as well as a 40 calibres 24cm heavy gun in November 1915. An order for two 38cm howitzers was given in July 1915. The two first weapons, named 'Barbara' and 'Gudrun' were tested between January and April 1916, and then used successfully on the Italian front during the spring offensive that started on May 15 1916 near Rovereto. The excellent ballistic properties demonstrated during this real fight test decided the army to order 14 other such weapons.
The '38cm H M16' howitzer was inspired by its famous German and Austro-Hungarian 30.5cm and 42cm ancestors, and included several innovations, including a simplified breech system and a particularly well designed movability. In order to achieve this target, this 80 tons giant was divided into 4 separate loads, each transported by a road train composed of special wagons equipped with 8 motorized wheels (having each their own electric motor), coupled with a generator truck that was providing energy both for the wagon and itself. The wheels of these wagons could be removed so that the convoy could use the railways for long distance transport.
The howitzers that followed the first two ones received numerous improvements, the most visible of which being a variant of the massive carriage, this time having two pairs of trunnions positions, allowing it to be used either for the 38cm M16 howitzer or the 24cm M16 gun (that was less succesful and built in 9 items).
A total of 11 such 38cm howitzers were built before the end of the war. They were engaged on the Eastern front and in the Alps, but also on the West front (at St Quentin). Strangely, the surviving 38cm howitzers were not used by the German Wermacht during WW2.
Technical data :
- Complete description : 38 cm howitzer M 1916
- Design year : 1916
- Calibre : 380.00 mm
- Weight in firing position : 81727 kg (40 t gun, 41 t base)
- Weight for transportation : 4 separate loads
- Tube length in calibres : 17.00
- Grooves : 80 constant angle, to the right
- Projectile weight : 740 kg
- Initial speed : 460 m/s
- Fire rate : 1 round / 5 minutes
- Range : 15000 m
- Elevation range : +25 to +75 degrees
- Direction range : 360 degrees range