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42cm M 16 AutoHaubitze

Heavy power artillery

Contributor :
Association 14/18      http://www.association14-18.org/
Massimo (Flickr) Foti     
Guy François     
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Location :
Ferdinand the 1st military museum
Coordinates : Lat : 44.44160 / Long : 26.07660
General comments on this surviving gun :
This impressive 42 cm M 16 howitzer has been captured inside a Skoda plant in Györ, Hungaria, in 1919 during the Rumania intervention in Hungaria to throw the new communist government away.

During this intervention cautioned by the allied governments (including France, locally represented by the General Bertthelot mission), the Rumanian army seized several Skoda very heavy artillery guns.

Identical items in the same location : 1
Items covered by this file : 1

Historic and technical information
Denomination :     42cm M 16 H Origin :       ( Skoda)             ( T.M.K. )          

Historic context :

In 1907-1908, the Austro-Hungarian headquarters requested the development of a very heavy howitzer able to hit the deck of a 'Dreadnought' (heavy armoured battleship) with a high angle trajectory, and sink it with one single target hit. The design proposed in 1910 by Skoda in cooperation with the TMK (Technical Military Commission) capitalized on several concepts developped with the 30.5 cm mortar such as the sliding wedge breech block, the barrel design, and the general organization of the carriage. It was accepted, and the first ordered weapon could be tested in July 1912. A second one was launched in manufacturing the next year.

In summer 1914, the Austro-Hungarian army officially adopted the '42 cm Haubitze M14' (also called '42 cm KustHaubitze M14' - Kust Haubitze = coast howitzer, or even '42 cm Haubitze M11'), and installed the first one in the Gomila fortress defending the Pula naval base on the adriatic sea. The second howitzer was adapted into a 'mobile turret' and used for the first time in Poland in January 1915, before going to Gomila as well. It was again removed from this position to participate to siege actions against Russia, Italy or Serbia.

In 1916 the army coulds align 4 such weapons including the static one in Pula, and received another 4 ones afterwards. However, the transport and setup of these super heavy weapons on 'mobile' turrets was particularly difficult, needing up to 39 cars and a 40 tons mobile crane... The TMK therefore asked in 1915 for the development of a new specific field carriage replacing the turret system.

Skoda began the design of this new version, that could be hauled in 7 separate loads by 5 trains made of electric-driven wagon / trucks couples, inspired from the ones created for the 38 cm M16 howitzers, and 2 trailers. More mobile, simpler and less expensive, this '42 cm AutoHaubitze M16' kept the good ballistic properties than the M14 version.

A last version was introduced in 1917 with the '42 cm AutoHaubitze M17' and its improved transportability thanks to a modification of the base box and pivot system, allowing to reduce by two units the number of loads to carry and ease the assembly and transportation with smaller elements.

At the war end, the Austro-Hungarian army had eight 42cm howitzer in service (the static one in Gomila, two M14 on mobile turret, four M16 and one M17). A second M17 was still in production when the Pilsen works were invaded, but it was finished later. The German Wermacht used one of them against the maginot Line in France in 1940, then in Russia in 1942 against Sevatopol and leningrad

Technical data :

  • Complete description : 42 cm howitzer M 1916
  • Design year : 1916
  • Calibre : 420.00 mm
  • Weight in firing position : 183000 kg (M14) / 112735 kg (M16) / 104730 kg (M17)
  • Weight for transportation :
  • Tube length in calibres : 15.00
  • Grooves : 84 constant angle, to the right
  • Projectile weight : 1000 kg (M16) - 800 kg (M17)
  • Initial speed : 415 m/s (M16) - 470 m/s (M17)
  • Fire rate : 1 round / 5 minutes
  • Range : 12700 m (M16) - 14600 m (M17)
  • Elevation range : +15 / +70 degrees (M14), +40 / +70 degrees (M16 and M17)
  • Direction range : 270 degrees (M14) / 360 degrees (M16 and M17) total field