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Great War Artillery - Russia

caliber gun systemsystem
shots per
field light artillery
76-mm field light gun 1902 109220176.58.510
76-mm mountain light gun 190962412366.50.7810
122mm field howitzer 1909 (Krupp)1337221723.37.72
122mm light howitzer 1910 (Schneider)13312375237.72
field heavy artillery
107 mm heavy gun 19102486217216.410.75
152- mm heavy howitzer 19102520216040.97.72
heavy artillery
47 mm Hotchkiss1.1000.9001.61.1?
57 mm rapid-caponier0.5000.9002.90.9?
57 mm fast-firing shore0.7001.7002.95.9?
3.4 in (86.4mm) field 1877 and 18951.7001.0008.26.42
4.2 in (107 mm) 18773.0002.50016.49.61 1/2
4.2 in (107 mm) battery mod. 18772.0001.20015.65.31 1/2
120 mm 50 calibers, Obukhov (Vickers)6.20011.10022.913.93
6 in (152 mm) Coastal Canet5.70019.60041.413.25
6 in (152 mm) in 200 pounds. 19045.9005.4004112.11
6 in (152 mm) in 190 pounds. 18775.4004.80033.28,81
6 in (152 mm) 120 pounds. 18773.8003.10033.28.31 1/2
6 in (152 mm) rapid-fire Howitzer 19093.3002.800418.72
9 in (229 mm) coastal 186715.200 32.700106.610.21/3
10 in (254 mm) coast in 45 calibers 29.000 49.300225.520.51/2
11 in (280 mm) coastal uncoupled 187728.700 57.400213.211.71/3
11 in (280 mm) coast fastened 187728.700 57.400213.212.61/3
11 in (280 mm) coastal 188748.000 81.900341,412.41/3
12 in (305 mm) coastal Fixed installation416.928,81/3

Was Russia ready for confrontation with Germany and Austria-Hungary? Two weeks before the war, Minister of War Vladimir Sukhomlinov stated: yes, I am ready. And he was right. The Russian army was the most numerous on the planet, for the first time in its history entered the war with the fully staffed field artillery. By the number of 76-mm field guns, Russian troops occupied the first place in the world (7,112 vs. 5,500 from Germany).

The success of the artillery combat work is entirely dependent on the art of its firing. Russian gunners knew how to shoot. The actions of the Russian artillery in 1914-1917. by openly located or openly moving enemy troops were terrifying; the fire of the Russian artillery produced enormous destruction during the breakthroughs of the enemy fortified strip.

In the battles of the Great War, one of the major shortcomings of the Russian army was the insufficient interaction of artillery with infantry. The most important task of artillery in battle is the destruction of enemy manpower by fire. At the same time, the fight against enemy artillery is inevitable and necessary in order to destroy it, or at least suppress its fire. The success of this struggle is provided by aerial observation from aircraft and tethered balloons, as well as the presence of chemical projectiles and long-range guns. Losses in the ranks of the infantry, inevitable in decisive battles, were inversely related to the intensity of artillery fire: wishing to save people, it is impossible to spare projectiles.

In the 1890s, long-barreled guns firing smokeless powder were adopted in all developed countries. The type of the machine changes drastically, the barrel does not roll away with the machine, but along the channel axis, and the energy is extinguished by the hydraulic pull back brake, then the hydropneumatic knurler returns the barrel to its place.

Until 1894, the artillery of the army and navy was made exclusively at state-owned factories Obukhovsky, Perm, St. Petersburg guns and others, but with the beginning of the reign of Nicholas II, the artillery was handed to his friend Grand Duke Sergei Mikhailovich. Sergey together with his mistress Matilda Kshesinskaya, the boards of the Schneider and Putilov factories were organizing a criminal syndicate. Schneider defined the Russian company in the contract, where his products would be manufactured. Naturally, the Putilov factory always turned out to be it. And his board, guided by the will of its French masters, carried out orders only for field artillery, and broke all contracts for artillery of great and special power.

The organization of Russian artillery in the last 20 years before the Great War was distinguished by extreme uncertainty and inconsistency with the requirements of the time, which adversely affected its combat training. In 1911, Nikolai II abolished siege (heavy) artillery, after which only field artillery remained in the army. Until 1914, the Russian army did not receive a single modern heavy weapon. During the war, about 30 152-mm Schneider guns of the 1910 type were manufactured. Meanwhile, the Germans and Austrians fired at the Russian positions of 420-mm howitzers and mortars.

The Russian General Staff almost until 1913, that is, for more than 7 years after the end of the Russian-Japanese war, did not undertake anything definite to dispel the fog of tactical views that thickened in the army, especially with regard to the use of artillery in combat. Therefore, the artillery had in combat training to be guided, so to speak, by its tactics carried out by the officer artillery school. Only at the end of 1912, after the publication of the official “Field Service Charter” and “Manual for the action of field artillery in battle,” was the more or less definite task for the tactical achievements of artillery fixed, and only then did the army and all-arms command know not in everything as it should, which can be demanded from artillery in battle.

By 1914, the Russian artillery was equipped with the most up-to-date and very uniform material part. It was based on the 76.2-millimeter cannon of 1902 and the same caliber mountain cannon of 1909, 122-millimeter howitzers of 1909 and 1910, 107-mm cannon of 1910, and finally 152-mm heavy howitzer 1910 This enumeration alone is enough to see how modern the Russian artillery was.

By the beginning of the world war in 1914 heavy artillery was divided into three categories: Krepostnaya (fortresses), Beregovaya (coastal) and Osadnaya (siege). In 1914, siege artillery, in the absence of appropriate instruments, no longer existed. She merged with the serf, and part of her guns was transferred temporarily to the field heavy artillery - 4.2in (107 mm) guns, 6- in. (152 mm) guns at 120 pounds. and single copies of 6- in. (152 mm) fortress howitzers.

The most "oldest" in this series is the famous three-inch Putilov factory. However, the corresponding guns of the Germans (7.7 cm FK 96nA) and the French (not less famous 75 mm Modelle 97) were, as is clear from their designation, even older (1896 and 1897 years of adoption, respectively) and were inferior to our three-inch characteristics.

Another example of the competitiveness of Russian artillery is the 107-mm cannon. This gun was developed for the Russian army by the French firm "Schneider". The French, who did not have such powerful guns, did not find anything better than to adopt the Russian artillery system, adapting it to their caliber. The 105 mm Schneider gun of 1913 became one of the most successful and demanded during the First World War, was widely exported to many countries and in significant quantities participated in the battles of World War II.

The main models of field light and field heavy Russian artillery guns were not inferior in general to the same type guns of the Austro-German artillery, and in some respects even exceeded their ballistic data. But the armament of the Russian heavy artillery with more powerful weapons of the siege-positional type remained much weaker until the very end of the war compared with the artillery of the German, Austrian and even French artillery.

Only 6 254-mm cannons were assigned to the fortresses, and therefore it is more correct to assume that the largest caliber of Russian heavy cannons is 152 mm, whereas the Germans had 210- mm, 240- mm and 380- mm calibers. As for heavy howitzers, the Russian artillery was armed with no larger than 305- mm caliber, while the Germans had 42- cm mortars, and by the end of the war the French had 400- mm and even 520- mm howitzers. Russian artillery did not have ultra-long guns, like the German Colossal cannon, firing at Paris from a distance of 100–120 km, or the French 210- mmthe gun on the railway installation with a range of up to 120 km.

During the first months of the war, three million brown-coated peasants marched singing beneath the banners of God into hostile territory. As each reviewing General swept by them, they saluted briskly and eagerly chorused their stirring, “Glad to try, Your High Born Excellency!” While the supply of ammunition lasted, they battled gloriously in Galicia, Poland and East Prussia. They overwhelmed one of the most impregnable forts in Europe; they drove hundreds of thousands of their enemy before them. They were the only entente warriors who overran and held whole regions of Teuton soil.

The general headquarters of the tsarist Russian army, under the leadership of the preparation of the country's defense, made a profound mistake in assuming the short duration of the forthcoming war and waging it at the expense of mobilization stocks of artillery weapons prepared in peacetime. The colossal needs of a modern big war, the duration of which cannot be foreseen, can not be covered with any mobilization reserves prepared in advance. Such reserves are needed only to start a war, and then the war is fought on the funds that will be provided by the productive forces of their country.

From the third or fourth month of the war, when there was an acute shortage of ammunition, brilliant military operations of the Russian artillery were already quite rare, which was the reason for some commanders to accuse artillery of inept action in battle.

The political revolution began in Russia in the Carpathian Mountains. It was started by the shortage of heavy ammunition which brought about the Russian retreat. This shortage was the greatest governmental crime of the war; it caused a futile loss of life without parallel in history. The appalling horror of that disaster at last awakened the Russian muzhik from centuries of lethargy and ignorance. The Muscovite bureaucrats, always the bitter enemies of progress and freedom in Russia, have brought their own ruin upon themselves. Their tyranny, their greed and corruption were directly responsible for the shell shortage of the Russian armies.

Russia had men enough, food enough, holy zeal enough to conquer a world of enemies. Her preparation for her invasion of Teuton lands was more deliberate and thorough than is generally believed. Yet Russia failed, could not help but fail: the wholesale piracy of public funds, the cancerous blight of oflicial immorality all inevitable concomitants of government by assassination — crippled her industrial life — thereby causing the shell shortage — ravaged her splendid energy and rotted her very vitals.

While Russian troops were pouring into Hungary through the passes of the Carpathians, and gazing upon fields of conquest as fair as have ever been seen by soldier’s eye; while Przemysl was being reduced and taken, Cracow being evacuated, and Russian armies were upon the eve of victories which might long since have ended the war, a precipitate retreat from the Carpathians began.

There was no heavy ammunition. Through hours of despair the peasants waited. Then, while our long lines of field guns remained cold and silent in the snow, the German loosed millions of shells which literally blew Russian soldiers out of their trenches, annihilated them, buried them alive. Trainloads of Russian shells were dragged up to the trenches and frantically unloaded. Many were found filled with sawdust! Other shells were found to be too large or too small to fit the guns.

On January 16, 1915, Grand Duke Nicholas issued an order asking his ofiicers to do everything possible to conserve the ammunition supply, adding that “the shells now available will not last beyond March." About the middle of February another order came from the Grand Duke limiting units to two shells a day per field gun.

Beyond the Carpathians and the Vistula a gang of courteous, ostentatiously uniformed, imperial blacklegs had for a hundred years been robbing and ravishing one hundred and fifty helpless millions of the most patient people on earth. The crime they staged in the Carpathians would be their last. The transformation of the Imperial Russian conscripts into a people’s army was one of the most portentous political facts before the world.

By June-July 1915 the Imperial Army seemed on its last legs. Yet only a year later it had recovered sufficiently to score a 3 brilliant victory on the Southwest Front that surpassed any thus far won by its allies. In addition, this victory also demonstrated that some Russian generals were capable of learning the lessons of trench warfare at the operational and tactical levels.

The fact is that not a single belligerent escaped “shell hunger”. In England, for this reason, the government even resigned. Yes, the projectile famine was in Russia, but unprecedented measures taken during the war allowed to increase the production of ammunition by more than 20 times by February 1917.

In 1916–1917 the case of the formation of heavy artillery was streamlined, certain organizational forms, staffs and tables were established. During these years, by order of Upart, special purpose heavy artillery (TAON) was created in the form of an artillery reserve of the Supreme Commander-in-Chief, to which more powerful weapons were handed over.

The idea of forming the TAON in the form of the strongest attack artillery "fist" for breaking through the fortified band of the enemy in the area intended for delivering a decisive blow was fully justified. In July 1917, wide gaps were created in the defensive zone of the Austro-Germans in the South-Western and Western fronts by fire of heavy batteries; the enemy fortifications were destroyed and in many places were compared to the ground; Russian infantry, meeting no resistance and almost no losses, took up enemy positions. By the July 1917 offensive, the TAON consisted of 176 batteries with 632 guns of different samples and calibers - from 4 anti-aircraft (anti-aircraft) 76- mm cannons to 32 heavy 305- mm howitzers.

Since 1915, the shell hunger was the cause of the weakening of the combat activity of the Russian artillery. Only by the third year of the war did the Russian light cannon artillery, due to some lull in operations on the fronts and the increased influx of 76- mm cartridges from Russian and foreign factories, become sufficiently provided with cartridges and from the second half of 1916 until the end of the war did not tolerate a shortage. But in the shots for light howitzers and for heavy guns, especially for large caliber guns, Russian artillery suffered a great disadvantage throughout the Great War. At the beginning of the war, this deficiency did not cause alarm, since the Russian command believed that in the conditions of field maneuvering combat, the 76- mm field artillery would play the main and almost decisive role. In general, large-caliber guns received only one tenth of the number of shots they needed.

The fighting of the old Russian army ended in July 1917 with a failed attempt to attack it on the fronts. The old army ceased to exist. The remnants of it, engulfed in a wave of spontaneous demobilization, rushed uncontrollably from the front to their own homes.

The experience of the Great War pointed to the unconditional need for a unified organization of the highest command of artillery both in peacetime and in wartime. The control of artillery must be united in the hands of a single, for peacetime and for wartime, chief, subordinate directly to the high command of the army. The artillery commander is obliged to be in charge of all the artillery combat and combat service, its techniques and tactics, as well as the supply of artillery with materiel and ammunition, meaning the supply calculation of the need, requirement and supply of artillery supplies. The matter of their procurement should be under the jurisdiction of a special artillery procurement command (GAU).

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Page last modified: 27-05-2019 15:58:29 ZULU