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Cannone da 105/28

Cannone Da 105/28. Photo credit: Esercito Italiano

In the first decade of the 20th Century the French Schneider concern took over the Russian Putilov armaments factory as part of a deliberate plan of commercial expansion. Putilov had for long been the main Russian armament concern, but during the early 1900s had been restricted in its expansionist ideas by the backwardness of the Russian commercial scene, so the infusion of French capital was a decided advantage.

Among the designs found on the Putilov drawing boards was an advanced design of a 107mm field gun that appeared to offer considerable increase in range and efficiency over comparable models. Schneider eagerly developed the model and offered it to the French army that was at first not interested as the 75 was all it required and there was no need for heavier weapons. But eventually the Schneider sales approach triumphed and the Russian design was adopted by the French army as the Canon de 105 modele 1913 Schneider, more usually known as the L 13 S.

Photo credit: Vic Miriello

The events of 1914 rammed home to the French that fact that the 75 was not capable of supplying all the artillery fire support required, and that heavier guns would be necessary. Thus the L 13 S was placed in higher priority bracket and large numbers began to roll off the Schneider production lines.

Between 1914 and 1918 the L 13 S provided sterling service. It was a handsome gun with a long barrel and conventional box trial that provided enough elevation for for the 15.74 kg shell to reach a range of 12,000 meters. After 1918 the L 13 S became a French export as it was either sold or handed on to numerous armies under French influence. These nations included Belgium, Poland and Yugoslavia, but it was in Italy that the L 13 S achieved its main market penetration. There the L 13 S became the Canone da 105/28 and it remained one of the Italian forces until 1943. The Poles modified their L 13 S guns to take their new split trail design, and this armata wz 29 was still in service when the Germans attacked in 1939.

After 1940 the Germans found that the L 13 S was still a viable weapon and out of the 854 still in French service in May 1940, they captured many that were still intact. Large numbers were handed over to various occupation units but it was not until 1941 that a real use was found for the bulk of the booty. When the Atlantic Wall was ready to be armed, the L 13 S was decided upon as one of the primary weapons to be used. There were enough on hand to become a standard weapon, and there were stockpiles of ammunition ready for use. Thus the L 13 S became the German 10.5-cm K 331(f). Ex- Belgian guns were given the designation 10.5-cm K 333(b).

The Germans took the guns off their carriages and mounted them on special turntables and protected them by curved or armored shields. These were placed in bunkers all along the French and other coasts. As a beach defense gun the L 13 S was more than suitable, and the bunkers were difficult for any attacking force to overcome. Not all of the guns in these bunkers were ex-French and Belgian guns, but included ex-Yugoslav (10.5-cm K 338(j)) and ex-Polish (10.5-cm K 13 (p)) and ex-Italian guns (10.5-cm K 338(i)) as well.

Caliber 105mm (4.134 inches)
Length 2.987m (117.6in)
Travelling Weight 2,650 kg (5,843lbs)
Weight in Action 2,300kg (5,070lbs)
Elevation 0 degrees to +37 degrees
Traverse 6 degrees
Muzzle Velocity 550m/sec (1,805 ft/sec)
Maximum Range 12,000m (13,130 yards)
Shell Weight 15.74kg (34.7lbs) for French guns and 16.24kg (35.8lbs) for Italian guns

Information courtesy JDG

The Encyclopedia of Weapons: From World War II to the Present Day
Twentieth-Century Artillery: 300 of the World’s Greatest Artillery Pieces