Monday 9 September 2013

How To Build a Howitzer

Here's a beauty, the 305 mm model 1915 12-inch howitzer. Guns this big come with some assembly required, but in several easy steps, you too can be a proud owner of an artillery battery!

Step 1 is to built a foundation, because a gun of that caliber is going to hammer the ground hard. The foundation is composed of six layers. Here are layers one and two.

Three, four, five, and six! For those following along at home, that was step 1.

Step 2 is to put together another foundation, for the gun mount frame. This one takes 11 layers. I don't have pictures for layers 1-6, though.

11 layers of wooden beams later, step 2 is done. Can we put the gun down yet? Of course not!

More foundations! This is the frame for the gun mount. We're getting somewhere.

Next step is to add a railroad and 4 3-meter tall jacks. They will be used to move the gun mount on the frame, like so:

Next step is attaching the gun barrel. This part also needs the rails. It uses 1.5 meter tall jacks.

Now that the gun barrel is in position, it can be moved onto the gun mount.

After the barrel is attached to the mount, the entire assembly is lifted.

Using those 3 meter tall jacks, the barrel assembly is set into the foundation. The rails can now be removed. Figure 111 shows the gun in place. 

Now you need ammunition. That's a whole different story.

The ammunition cart gets its own rails and delivery mechanisms (the manual skims over this part). Figure 113 shows the gun in a dug-in emplacement (I hope you dug one out before step 1). The shell is lifted from the cart to the breech with a small crane.

The shell is rammed into the breech by that stick-like thing you see in the left part of the photograph. In figure 115, the howitzer is ready to fire!

In only 115 easy steps, you too can set up your own 305 mm model 1915 howitzer.


  1. I guess these howitzers were used during the early stages of World War II and the Winter War?

    1. Why just early? The Soviets didn't have any real fortifications to destroy until 1944/45. 305 millimeters is a lot of HE, regardless of when it was manufactured.

    2. It just seems fairly redundant to have, when the more modern 203 mm gun and the railway guns were already available.

      The "budyonovka" hats also seemed to give me that impression anyway.

    3. The manual is definitely pre-war, 1930s IIRC. The 203 mm guns themselves were obsolete, and replaced with 152 mm guns, at least in pre-war SPGs. And yet, the 203s fought in the war just as well. High caliber artillery is expensive, and there's no point in letting the (also expensive) ammunition for it go to waste.

    4. I would imagine that most artillery pieces don't get scrapped until after the last few shells are fired from them, and even then probably not.