Historic context :
Faced to the sudden obsolescence of its new but so conventionnal Krupp fieldgun 7.7cm FK 96 ('FK' = FeldKanone = Fieldgun) because of the appearance of the revolutionary new French 75 mle 1897 fieldgun and the demonstration of its capacities on a battlefield in China in 1900, Krupp was ordered to coordinate with its most serious competitor Rheinmetall to engage a costly modernization program that would integrate this company technical innovations.
Indeed, Rheinmetall was proposing for some years modern devices denied by the APK (Artilerie Prufungs Komission) that the Krup gun was cruelly missing : a quick-acting breech (Ehrardt-Rheinmetall) and a hydro-mechanic recoil recuperator designed by Haussner (Rheinmetall).
Ironically, this brilliant engineer could not convince its use by his employer already in 1888, when he was working for. The powerful bult conservative... Krupp (!). That new gun was genuinely named '7.7 cm FK 96 n/A' ('n/A' = neue Art - new mark) since it was - at least on the paper - only a modification of the existing gun.
However, in practice, this operation was Consequent since on the tube only, the workshops had to machine the rear chamber in order to accommodate the use of assembled ammunitions, change the whole breech, re-machine the diameter and slighrly shorten the barrel to lighten the gun, add side guides, and mount on a new recuperator. The carriage was almost a new one with a longer trail, a shield was added, ...
The few rare remaining guns that were not modernized were named '7.7 cm FK 96 a/A' ('a/A' = alte Art - ancient mark)
Manufactured since 1904 by Krupp and RheinMetall and introduced in the batteries from 1906, that fieldgun was the backbone of the light artirrely of the German army. This country entered in war in 1914 with 5068 guns of that type, organised in powerful 6 guns batteries for the field artillery and 4 guns batteries for the cavalry divisions. 3744 fieldguns 77 FK 96 n/A were still in service at the armistice.
This was a modern and efficient gun, whose perfomances are comparable to the French "75", but for the maximum range (500m lower for the German gun with the initial shell type).
A whole generation of guns derivated from that concept were commercialized by the German indusrty before the Great War for exportation in various countries. During the war, IInd Reich allies such as Turkey and Bulgaria were dotated with the same guns.
Technical data :
- Complete description : 77mm light fieldgun M 1896 n/A
- Design year : 1904
- Calibre : 77.00 mm
- Weight in firing position : 971 kg
- Weight for transportation : 1477 kg without the ammunition trailer, 1812 kg with it
- Tube length in calibres : 27.00 (total tube length) - 21.2 for the grooved part only
- Grooves : 32 (progressive angle)
- Projectile weight : 6.85 kg
- Initial speed : 465 m/s
- Fire rate : 12 rounds / min
- Range : 7800 m to 8300 m
- Elevation range : -13 / +15 degrees
- Direction range : 8 degrees total range