Military Review

Howitzer 28 cm Haubitze L / 12 (Germany)

Howitzer 28 cm Haubitze L / 12 (Germany)

In the course of the largest armed conflicts of the last century, belligerent armies often had to deal with the developed and powerful fortifications of the enemy. One of the best answers to such challenges was special power artillery. Like weapon It was created over several decades and was later applied with particular activity on the fronts. The German howitzer 28 cm Haubitze L / 12 has become a very remarkable representative of this class of weapons.

The development of a promising weapon, which later found use on the battlefields of world wars, started at the end of the 19th century. Krupp, a recognized leader in the field of artillery weapons, continued to develop existing systems in order to improve their basic characteristics. The task of the next project in this area was to create a new coastal defense weapon with an increased caliber and corresponding power. It was supposed to use some existing products and devices, first of all, various elements of the mast.

Howitzer 28 cm Haubitzr L / 12. Photo by Hogg, Ian V. "German Artillery of World War Two"

To obtain the required fire performance, an 283 mm caliber (11,1 inch) was selected. The gun was supposed to get a relatively short barrel and use heavy ammunition. Thus, a large-caliber howitzer, capable of firing targets at distances of at least 10 km, was to be a promising means of protecting the German shores from enemy ships. The specificity of the intended use and the large weight of the structure made it possible to use a stationary gun mount without the possibility of rapid deployment or transfer to the stowed position.

In accordance with the existing designation system at that time, the prospective artillery system was given a simple and clear name - 28 cm Haubitze L / 12 (28-cm howitzer, barrel of 12 caliber length). Alternative tool notation was not used. There were no unofficial nicknames. AT stories the gun remained under the dry official designation.

The technologies of the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century did not allow the creation of a large-caliber weapon suitable for a quick transfer to a new position. In addition, the new howitzer was supposed to be used as part of coastal artillery, as well as unified with existing samples. As a result, the basis of the artillery system was a carriage of traditional appearance, which received some new devices and assemblies.

As a supporting device howitzer 28 cm Haubitze L / 12 proposed to use a wooden platform. Before installing all the other elements of the gun in the firing position, it was necessary to assemble a square wooden structure of relatively small height. On its upper surface, in the center, there was a shoulder strap to install the turning part of the mast. With all the complexity of manufacturing and deployment, such a design of the mast support devices made it possible to correctly distribute and transfer to the ground the mass of the weapon and the recoil momentum.

The process of assembling guns, set the barrel. Photo by Hogg, Ian V. "German Artillery of World War Two"

On the chase of the supporting platform, a round unit of the turning part of the mast was placed. The latter was a metal structure of complex shape, equipped with all the necessary components and assemblies. The carriage was made of metal beams and sheets, interconnected by rivets. He had a wide lower part, necessary for installation on a shoulder strap, while the upper was significantly narrower. The narrower upper part of the carriage had a U-shaped cross section and was equipped with rails to move the bassinet bassinet. In addition, it provided mounting for mounting recoil devices. An interesting feature of the carriage was the inclination of the cradle rails in the vertical plane: the back of them was raised above the front.

The 28 cm Haubitze L / 12 was used to install the barrel using a U-shaped cradle moving on the rails. In preparation for the shooting, she had to be in the extreme forward position. For damping recoil, the cradle could move backwards. The absorption of the recoil momentum was partially due to the need to climb on inclined rails. The main work at the same time was performed by recoil devices. Hydropneumatic recoil brakes were developed, as well as similar devices based on hydraulics and springs. A pair of cylinders, regardless of their type, was mounted on the upper edges of the mast. The stationary carriage stand was connected to the piston, and the cylinder body was on the cradle side.

High requirements to the characteristics of the gun led to the need to develop a barrel specific design. It was proposed to use a rifled barrel with a caliber 283 mm long 3396 mm (12 calibers). Restrictions associated with production technologies and available materials, forced the designers to use thick walls and a complex external shape of the trunk. The outer surface of the muzzle of the barrel had the shape of a truncated cone, expanding towards the breech. The central part of the trunk was distinguished by a greater wall thickness, due to which two sections of the outer surface mated through a small ledge. Near the breech barrel had a shape close to the cylindrical. Behind to the trunk joined the breech with a movable bolt, characterized by a reduced diameter. On the side surfaces of the trunk were envisaged axles for installation on the carriage.

The gun received a sliding horizontal shutter with fully manual control. Inside the shutter there were parts of the trigger mechanism responsible for igniting the propellant charge and firing a shot.

The 28 cm Haubitze L / 12 gun carriage was equipped with manual drive mechanisms. On the left surface of the gun carriage, above the platform formed by its wide aggregate, were several flywheels for controlling guidance. The design of the drives and the carriage provided a circular aiming of the gun horizontally. Vertical guidance varied within a sector from 0 ° to + 65 °. The gun was supposed to be used only for firing from closed positions, because of which it was equipped with appropriate sighting devices.

Howitzer ready to fire. Photo by Hogg, Ian V. "German Artillery of World War Two"

Large bore gauge led to the appearance of heavy projectiles and accordingly affected the principles of preparation for the shot. To move ammunition howitzer received a special crane. On the back of the gun carriage, to the left of the trunk, a l-shaped boom was placed with the possibility of turning and tilting in the right direction. To lift the load in the form of a projectile used a manual winch. On the cable issued by it the tray of the required dimensions was attached. With it, the projectile could rise from the ground or transport carts and move to the gun. Sending, however, had to be done manually.

For use with a promising howitzer, a high-explosive 28 cm Sprgr L / 3.5 350 kg mass was developed. The shell had a body with a head part of an ogival shape. The bottom of the ammunition was carrying one lead belt of copper. It was proposed to send a projectile to the target using a variable propellant charge. Depending on the distance to the target, the calculation of the gun could use up to ten cannons with gunpowder. The mass of the maximum charge was 17,3 kg.

When using standard 350-kg ammunition and the largest propellant charge, the 28 cm Haubitze L / 12 howitzer showed the initial velocity of the projectile at the level of 350 m / s. By combining the elevation angle and the propellant charge, the firing range could reach 10,4 km. The heavy weight of ammunition had a negative impact on the rate of fire. In practice, the preparation for the shot took about 4 minutes.

The characteristic design of the gun led to a considerable size and certain problems with mobility. The unrolled 283-mm howitzer had a total length of more than 8 m with a maximum installation width of about 4-5 m. The total mass of the gun, along with all the elements of the mast, including the wooden platform, reached 50,3 t. As a result, the complex was proposed to be used only on long-term fire positions. However, the project provided some means for transporting the gun.

The gun on the position. Photo

It was proposed to transport the howitzer to a new firing position in a disassembled form. With a carriage with the help of a crane of the required capacity, the barrel should have been removed. Then the carriage was deprived of a cradle, after which its turning part was removed from the supporting platform. All elements of the gun were placed on four special three-axle trailers. It was proposed to transport the platform separately, the turning part of the mast, the cradle and the barrel. After arriving at a new firing position, the artillery complex was re-assembled. It took up to four days to fully prepare for shooting.

At the beginning of the last century, a promising howitzer of naval artillery was sent to the training ground, where it successfully passed all the necessary tests. The gun was recommended for adoption and used to protect the coast from a possible attack fleet probable adversary. The adopted howitzer, previously used in the tests, was transferred to one of the coastal defense units.

According to some reports, the German Defense Ministry approved the new 283-mm gun, but still did not want to massively buy such weapons. Because of this, a unique sample remained in a single copy. According to some sources, Krupp soon received an order to produce additional howitzers. In accordance with this contract, at least 12 guns were built, including an experienced one. Information about the later operation of howitzers allow us to consider the second version as the most relevant to reality. It is known that in the future several guns were simultaneously used at once, and this directly speaks of mass production.

Until the beginning of World War I, new-style howitzers guarded the German coast and from time to time took part in various exercises. However, such a service could not be called active. After the start of a full-scale conflict in Europe, the guns remained in place and continued to serve in the interests of coastal defense. Whether the calculations of the guns had to be fired at the enemy is unknown.

Shot. Photo

During the First World War, the issue of transferring existing 28 cm Haubitze L / 12 howitzers to land fronts to combat enemy fortifications could be considered. Nevertheless, such use of the weapon was considered inexpedient. The howitzer assembly alone took several days, because of which its operation at the front did not look comfortable. A weapon with similar operational characteristics could not be used in all operations - only in the absence of risks of an enemy breakthrough or a retaliatory strike on a firing position. As a result, until the very end of the war, 283-mm howitzers were in full firing positions of coastal defense units.

The Versailles Peace Treaty imposed the most severe restrictions on the weapons of the German army. In accordance with its terms, Germany no longer had the right to use 28 cm Haubitze L / 12 howitzers and other weapons with similar characteristics. However, somehow the German army still managed to keep at least some of the unique guns and not send them to the smelter. The artillery systems remained in such an “illegal situation” until the end of the thirties, when the new authorities decided to return powerful weapons to the battlefield.

The specific characteristics and difficulty of deployment did not allow the use of existing howitzers during the first operations of the Second World War. For quite a long time, the German troops did not encounter much resistance, which was able to delay their advance for a long time. As a result, during the preparation of the cannon for firing, the advancing units could move far ahead, leaving his area of ​​fire in their rear. A suitable operation for applying 28 cm Haubitze L / 12 was “found” only in 1942 year.

Having started a war with the Soviet Union, Nazi Germany almost immediately ran into serious problems. Her army was able to move forward, but the goals were achieved at the cost of great efforts and losses. In addition, over time, the attack slowed down and even stopped in some sectors of the front. By the end of the autumn 1941, Sevastopol became a particular problem for the German command. The Sevastopol defensive area turned out to be extremely difficult to capture, because of which Germany had to push troops from other directions, as well as use special means.

The consequences of an unsuccessful shot - the barrel is broken. Crimea, 1941. Photo by

At the end of autumn 1941, several special-purpose artillery systems were transferred to the region of Sevastopol. According to some reports, 12 28 cm Haubitze L / 12 X too was transferred to the next storming of the city in the Crimea. The howitzers were reduced to four batteries and submitted to the command of the 11 Army of the Army Group South. The unique weapon was used in parallel with other small-scale and single samples of weapons, distinguished by increased power. The objectives of the 283-mm howitzers and other guns were various fortifications of the Sevastopol defense region and objects of the Red Army. During the combat operation of the 12 shells used 2761 projectile.

The overwhelming majority of shots ended with the defeat of the intended targets or objects located near them. However, it was not without problems. Old enough guns were no longer very tough. There were also flaws in the design of shells. As a result, several howitzers were lost due to the explosion of a projectile in the barrel. After all these incidents, less than half of the 28 cm Haubitze L / 12 available in Crimea remained in the ranks.

As subsequent events showed, the combat use of a small number of large-caliber howitzers available was not able to produce the required results. By the end of December, the German offensive was exhausted, the troops had to take on counterattacks and retreat to their original positions. The joint work of several special-powered weapons caused noticeable damage to the defenders, but was unable to break their resistance. The Wehrmacht had to start preparing for a new assault.

Any information about the further combat operation of 28 cm Haubitze L / 12 guns is missing. Apparently, the remaining howitzers were recalled from the Crimea and returned to their original positions. After that, the tools could serve for several years, but the great age and development of the resource imposed serious restrictions. Approximately at the end of the war in Europe or immediately after it ended, 283-mm guns were written off due to the impossibility of further exploitation. No longer needed unique samples were sent for disassembly and remelting.

The initial task of the 28 cm Haubitze L / 12 project was to create a promising large-caliber gun for coastal defense. In general, the goals were achieved, but the weapons turned out to be too difficult to manufacture and operate. Specific capabilities and characteristics, combined with the lack of full mass production led to the corresponding results. The gun was able to take its place in the history of German artillery, but he did not manage to exert a noticeable influence on the course of any military operations.

Based on:
Hogg, Ian V. German Artillery of World War Two. Mechanicsville, PA: Stackpole Books, 1997

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  1. brn521
    brn521 3 February 2017 18: 15
    A howitzer is a cannon firing from a closed firing position. I did not know that those were used in coastal defense. On the one hand, it is much more profitable to put a heavy shell on the deck of an armadillo, rather than on board. On the other hand, you are tormented by falling, you need a lot of guns to fire in one gulp.
    1. Mikado
      Mikado 3 February 2017 18: 26
      In the 80-90s of the 19th century, coastal batteries of Russia were also built or re-equipped with mortars (for example, Kronstadt). The last of them survived to the Russo-Japanese war. After the appearance of a successful rapid-firing gun - the Kane gun, the batteries were rearmed on it. Thanks to the author for the next article! Great weekend to everyone! drinks
  2. Rurikovich
    Rurikovich 3 February 2017 18: 16
    But I like howitzers yes To solve tactical tasks within the front (high power), to solve local problems in the offensive zone of a division (regiment in particular) they are not interchangeable. With trained calculations, the replacement of aviation is complete ... The destruction of manpower, nodes of resistance, strong points is what we need.
    In general, artillery is the god of war good Only you need to use it wisely. Know where to use the gun and where the howitzer yes request
    So, for the artillery drinks
  3. Dekabrist
    Dekabrist 3 February 2017 18: 19
    Regarding the stay in Crimea.
    There is such a book

    Among the artillery weapons used in June of 1942 near Sevastopol, it also lists 28 cm Haubitze L / 12.
    And on the Axis History Forum (there is such an English-language resource on the history of the Second World War) there is such a photo:

    Signed: "28 cm H L12. Krim"
  4. The comment was deleted.
  5. demiurg
    demiurg 3 February 2017 18: 55
    Good people are Germans. But why is it that they rush into Russia with their fists once every 50-60 years, restless. And they’re doing a real prodigy. Now Bertu, then Douro, then Mouse. The first to approach the idea of ​​MBT, and implemented it in a very controversial tank. They created an air defense system and did not produce it.
    But as one character used to say, like smart people, they invented diesel. By the way, I can’t remember where it came from. Did they fight for their homeland?
    1. Comrade Stalin
      Comrade Stalin 4 February 2017 01: 33
      Berta, Dora and Mouse are not a prodigy. Wunderwaffe is the MG-34, STG-44, T-4, T-6, Me-109, 88-mm flak 18/36/37, Me-262, Fau-2, which revolutionized the military and technology.
  6. Comrade Stalin
    Comrade Stalin 4 February 2017 01: 29
    Some kind of nonsense. How can a howitzer be used to fire ships? These are moving goals !!! The very concept of howitzers implies that they fire at fixed targets from closed positions. It is clear that this is an initially stillborn project that will not bring any benefit.
    1. Bersaglieri
      Bersaglieri 4 February 2017 11: 38
      However, it was shells of 28 cm howitzers that the battleships of 1 TOE were sunk in the internal roads of Port Arthur. And in 1940, a pair of such guns sent to the bottom of the Blucher missile launcher (during the Wehrmacht landing in Norway). The thing is in a tactical environment :)
      1. Mikado
        Mikado 4 February 2017 17: 43
        as far as I remember, howitzers that drowned the Blucher were released back in the 19th century. hi That is, we must look at the reason why in the 80-90s. The 19th century concept of coastal mortars was popular. Even in Port Arthur, in addition to cannon, there were mortar coastal batteries (not to mention Kronstadt). Most likely, there was something related to the imperfection of the guns on smoky gunpowder, apparently, the mortars then had some advantages over the guns. Or they tried to complement each other. request
        1. Bersaglieri
          Bersaglieri 5 February 2017 17: 32
          So they are that in the desired material. Authentic, Krupp
        2. Bersaglieri
          Bersaglieri 5 February 2017 17: 34
          And BO howitzers / mortars are a burp of the Russian-Turkish war of 18777-1878, for example, when the Turkish monitor sank a mortar battery (that one did not have deck armor) :)