8cm Feldkanone M.5

The 8cm Feldkanone M.5 was the standard Field Artillery piece of the Austro-Hungarian Army during WW1. At the outset of the war, three quarters of the Austro-Hungarian Field Artillery were equipped with this type of gun. The gun itself was of the new generation with modern recoil system, and had replaced the old Feldkanone M.75/96 with rigid lavette.

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The gun itself was of a pretty standard design, with a bronze metal tube and a sliding wedge type of breech done in the same material, and a hydro-pneumatic recoil system using steel feathers to bring the tube back to its position after discharge. (The length of the recoil was fixed: 1.26m.) Notice that the actual calibre was 7.65cm, but fractions were not used when it came to designations. The box was of a standard box type, with a fixed so–called ice spur, plus a movable trail spade. It had a steel shield (4.5mm thick), whose upper part could be folded down in transport, a elevation of -5° to +23°, and a traverse of 4° to the left and right. Weight of the deployed gun was 1.020kg, when moving 2.140kg. The ammunition was 6.68kg heavy shells, of two types: Shrapnel and HE. The muzzle velocity of the gun was 500m/sec, and the maximum range was some 7.000 meters. There was two seats in front of the shield. The gun was moved with a special limber, using six horses. The ammunition was transported in special armoured caissons.

A variant of the M.5 was the M.5/8, which was in all respects identical to the M.5. The only difference was that the M.5/8 could be disassembled for transport in rugged terrain.

It was a rugged, simple and reliable gun, in most respects equal to, say, the German FK 96 n.A. The problems with the gun, was not the gun per se, but the ammunition and, most important, the tactics. The HE grenade had to small a charge (120g ammonal), which reduced the effect. And the shrapnel shell had a peculiar mix of small and big shrapnel balls: 316 9g balls plus 16 13g balls. The problem here was that the 9g balls were simply too light, causing a diminished effect on long range. The Austro-Hungarian Field Artillery had great tactical problems in the beginning of the war, when they deployed and fought pretty much as their greatgrandfathers had during the Napoleonic Wars: in line, in the open, high up, using direct fire. And at the same time the Russians, with their recent experience from the Russo-Japanese War, deployed in hidden positions, and often using indirect fire.

The gun below can be seen in the fantastic Army Museum in Brussels - don't miss it if you are nearby! The camo appears to be authentic. Note however that some of the white markings are museum inventory number and not original.

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