St Peters Port, Guernsey
Lat : 49.45910 / Long : -2.54190
General comments on this surviving gun :
There are two rare 13cm guns displayed in this memorial, as WW1 trophies. They were saved from the Nazis during the occupation years by burying them in the park, and unearthed again only in the 70s.
Identical items in the same location :
Items covered by this file :
Historic context :
The German headquarters request for a mobile and long range heavy gun comes from the early XXth century, and corresponds to the aim of sending heavy shells on the central core of besieged fortified places while staying out of range of counter battery and defending perimeter forts. A modernisation of the 15 cm existing guns could have answered to this specification, but the resulting gun would have been too heavy, as demonstrated by the 15 cm KiSL gun inspired by the symetrical need of defending the fortified places against long range weapons, but weighning more than 12 tons.
This is how the idea came of the development of a compromise gun, with a brand new 13cm caliber, able to send shells of comparable weight to the ones of the existing 15cm guns to a longer distance, lihgter hence with a good mobility.
This path, begun as early as 1901, lead to the design and manufacture by Krupp from 1906 to 1908, partially on the base of the 10cm K 04, of a battery of 4 guns, tested by the army from 1908. These tests were succesful so that the gun was adopted in 1909 and named '13 cm Kanone' or '13 cm K09'. It was one of the major aces of the German artillery at the war outbreak, and its range of more than 16 km was frightening the allies who had no comparable weapon at this time.
In its initial version, this gun was transported in two separate loads on two wagons (plus one with accessories and the wheel belts and accessories) towed by horses. Later in 1916/1917 a new version appeared, named '13 cm K09 gef.' ('gef.' = 'gefedert', on suspension), equipped with re-inforced carriage and wheels in order to allow the automobile towing in a single load.
Thanks to its high initial speed (almost 700 m/s), the long L/35 barrel (4725 mm) of the 13cm K09 was able to send its 42 kg at a distance of more than 16 km, making this weapon an excellent counter-battery and harassment weapon in the positions war, while saying away from the ennemy artillery (as a comparaison, the French 75 range was only 8500 m at the war outbreak). Some of the improvised long range guns (14 cm and 16 cm) improvised by France in 1915 were mostly dedicated to counter the German 13cm.
At the start of the war, the relative rarity of this gun was really its only issue : 32 guns only (8 batteries) were available in Juky 1914, and the wartime prodution was quite modest. Indeed, the German authorities soon wanted to reserve the long range guns manufacturing capacities to the new 15cm guns initially made with naval barrels (such as the 15 cm SK L/40), then to the excellent and modern 15cm K 16 guns of Krupp and RheinMetall, whose the projectile was heavier and the range equal or even better.
Nevertheless, the total wartime production attained 202 guns, including the 1917/1918 modified design version (for automobile towing in a single load). In 1918, 40 batteries equipped with 120 13cm guns were still in service.
Technical data :
- Complete description : 13cm gun L/35 M1909
- Design year : 1909
- Calibre : 135.00 mm
- Weight in firing position : 6730 kg without wheel belts (380 kg each)
- Weight for transportation : 4700 kg barrel wagon, 4300 kg carriage wagon (+ 3350 kg accessories wagon incl. belts). Gefedert (1916), 7847 kg without belts
- Tube length in calibres : 35.00 (total tube length) - 25.4 for the grooved part only
- Grooves : 36
- Projectile weight : 42 kg
- Initial speed : 695 m/s
- Fire rate :
- Range : 16500 m
- Elevation range : -5 / +26 degrees
- Direction range : 4 degrees total range