The military value of a 21cm howitzer (Mörser) had been apparent to the German Army from the Franco-Prussian war
of 1870-71. The first crude bronze 15 ton 21cm howitzer was used in the siege of Strasbourg. There was a requirement raised in 1902 to
replace the 21cm Krupp 1899 mörser with a gun with recoil/recuperator. The first two Krupp prototypes Nr.1 and Nr.2
were rejected. The third prototype (Nr.3) was promising enough for an order of 8 guns (two batteries) to be placed in 1906.
This Versuchsmörser was considered generally satisfactory except that the max. range was too short. The Mörser
was fitted with removable track pads with 10 wooden plates for each wheel to prevent the gun from sinking into the
ground. The weight of the gun was too large to be moved as single horse drawn load so a 4 wheeled trailer was used to
transport the barrel of the gun.
|Weight of Gun (emplaced)||5384kg + 750kg (trackpads)|
|Type of undercarriage:||Räderlafette mit Rohrrücklauf|
|Max. Range||7000 m|
|Shell Weight||112 kg|
|Elevation||-4° to +60°|
Images courtesy of "easo" MVCA forum
References for 21cm development section
"Das Gerät der schweren Artillerie", Generalleutnant a.D. H. Schirmer, Verlag Bernard & Graeffe, Berlin 1937, Page 92-95.
"War Trophies From the First World War", Major R.S. Billett, Simon & Schuster Australia, 1999.p.57
"Die schweren Geschütze der Welt", F. Kosar, Motor Buch Verlag, Stuttgart 2002, Page 57.
"German Artillery of World War 1", Herbert Jäger, Crowwod Press 2001, Pages 36,38.
When the War started in 1914, the German Army could field 216 of these big guns, and they were used from the very first days of combat. When the Germans came upon the strong Belgian fortress of Liège, it was these guns that started the attack on August 5th, by sucessfully shelling the forts in the Eastern perimeter, and eventually paving the way for the REALLY big guns, the 42cm Dicke Berthas. It was then used with effect on all fronts, primarily in the Regiments of the Fuss-Artillerie, as one of the standard weapons of indirect fire and support. The Foot Artillery Regiments - a Corps asset - were the primary units of the heavy German Artillery, each containing two batallions of four batteries each, were the main equipment was 15cm guns. Howitzer Battallions however, had only two batteries per batallion. The number of guns per battery varied between 3 and 4. In a quiet sector, a Division had some 8-9 batteries of 15cm and 21 cm guns in support, but normally some 16 batteries were employed per division.
Experience from the fighting soon made the Artillery men realize that an increase in range would be most helpful, as the comparatively short range of the Howitzer often forced the units to site their guns well within range of most enemy artillery. A small redesign followed: the gun barrel was lengthened somewhat, from L/12 to L/14.5.
This new variant was called m/16 or Langer Mörser. However, as the gun already was pretty heavy and cumbersome, the redesign had been done from the premiss that the weight should not be increased. That was pretty much adhered to, but with the effect that the increase in range was even less than one kilometer. Another small redesign, following combat experiences, was the fitting of a Shield. (Some m/10 were retrofitted with this, but not all.) When the war came to an end in 1918, the 21 cm Howitzers of the German Army had fired some 7 million shells.
The video below, courtesy of PDA, shows the Mörser in action:
|Weight of Gun||15.49 (m.10)|
|Max. Range||9.4 km (m.10)|
10.2 km (m.16)
|Muzzle Velocity||225-394 m/sec|
|Shell Weight||121 kg|
The plans below have been made by Ken Musgrave and are his copyright. Any commercial use of them can only be made after an agreement has been made with Mr Musgrave.
Captions will appear with the expanded image
There is a highly detailed walkaround of a 21cm Mörser at Childers, Queensland on the AMMS Brisbane website.
The location of the following is not known but Peter suspected that the colour is the original German paint, showing yet another variant of the so called Feldgrau colour, this time the shade called Reseda-Grün.
21cm Mörser at the Army Museum in Brussels. (Photos courtesy of Philippe Massin!) Here you can see the gun in a sort of semi-limbered state, with the barrel wagon in position to maneuver the barrel in place. Notice that this gun is equipped with the shield.
21cm Mörser can be seen in the A6 Military Museum in Jonkoping, Sweden: