ARTILLERY PART 1:

Russian guns without recoil system

During World War 1 Russia build several fortified defense lines in Finland as forward defenses for its capital St. Petersburg. These fortified defense lines formed a land front for the Peter the Great's Naval Fortress, which was a coastal artillery fortification system that Imperial Russia in year 1913 started building to defend its capital, St. Petersburg, due to earlier losing practically its whole navy in Russian - Japanese War (1940 - 1905). The fortification lines needed artillery support, but Russian military simply did not have enough modern artillery weapons to provide them for this purpose. Hence the land front part of these defenses was mostly equipped with old 19th century cannons and coastal mortars, which lacked modern recoil systems. During Finnish Civil War of 1918 large number of these old guns was taken in use by both sides of the war, Finnish White Army and Finnish Red Guards, and saw plenty of combat use. In less than five months Finnish White Army won the Civil War capturing all the guns, which the Russian military had either left behind and had provided to Finnish Red Guards. As with the small arms, when it came to field artillery, the weapons captured in 1918 provided the starting point for equipping field artillery of Finnish Army.

For these guns the another high point of use with Finnish military came during Finnish - Soviet Winter War (1939 - 1940), during which acute shortage of field artillery weapons and ammunition forced Finnish military to re-introduce many of these outdated guns back to service and combat use. Smaller number of guns saw also use in Continuation War (1941 - 1944), but at that time they had been largely replaced by old French field guns, which were equally old-fashioned but had far more ammunition and usually in much better shape. Usually these old guns were used in secondary roles, in which they still proved useful substitutes for more modern guns, which Finnish military did not have enough during World War 2. The total number of shots fired in combat by the Finns with their old Russian and French made guns, which had no recoil system, may not look very substantial. But still they allowed Finnish military to save its newer guns and proved useful addition for Finnish artillery. In Winter War only about 4 % of shots were fired with guns without recoil system and in Continuation War the number was only 8.2 %.

As the title tells these old guns do not have a modern recoil system. Because of this the guns demanded first building well-prepared positions with ramps and recoil-effect reducing equipment before shooting with the guns could begin. Even then their rate of fire was not usually comparable to modern quick-fire artillery pieces, which had proper recoil systems. The firing rate varied from one shot per two minutes to two shots per minute, the rate-of-fire depending caliber of the gun, ammunition, training level of crew and the equipment used with the gun. Most of these old Russian guns were already in pretty sorry state when Winter War started and their ammunition was also well beyond "use-by date", this lead to much larger percentage of misfires than average. Ammunition inventory that Finnish military issued with these guns was basically what had remained of the ammunition captured in 1918 - some effort had been made to keep the ammunition in such shape that it remained in usable condition, but Finnish military had not bothered acquiring new ammunition for guns that old. The high-explosive shells used with these old guns were usually filled with black powder instead of more modern and potent high explosives. And as if this had not been bad enough during Winter War about 40 % of the remaining ammunition was old-fashioned shrapnel, which in earlier tests had proved to be relatively ineffective. Ammunition used in these guns was bagged type - meaning that gunpowder came in bags and was loaded separately from projectile and primer. So ammunition had no cartridge case of any type. Ammunition used at least with 87-mm guns had only one propellant charge size (propellant charge came in single bag), so their propellant charge size really could not be adjusted.

During Winter War many of the guns had not been even equipped with wedges and other primitive recoil reducing equipment, which at least partially benefitted to these guns being named with nicknames just as "Hyppyheikki" ("Jumping Henry") and "Hyppyjaakko" ("Jumping Jack"). These nicknames spread and became widely used for all kinds of guns without recoil system within Finnish military. The stories and jokes exaggerating the "jump" caused by the recoil spread to among the Finns, while in reality with the proper equipment and techniques the guns simply rolled bit backwards on their wheels and if equipped with proper ramps then rolled back pretty much to their earlier position. Admitted, this sort of gun typically still required for its crew to manhandle the gun with crowbars after each shot to lay the gun correctly towards its target. When it comes to opinions of Finnish soldiers concerning these guns there seems to have been two basic lines. Finnish military leadership and HQ's often did not value the old field guns too much and losing few of them was not considered to be much of a loss, while rank-and-file soldiers using the guns or getting fire support from them were grateful of the little they had.

Example of typical Finnish joke concerning this sort of field guns:

"Why does "hyppyheikki" need two observers?

The first observer will keep track of where the projectile lands while the second observer will check where the gun goes".

 

87 K/77

(87 mm cannon model 1877)

(Polevaja lehkaja pushka obr. 1877 g.)

87 K/77-R

(87 mm cannon model 1877, cavalry version)

PICTURE: 87 K/77 field gun. Notice that the muzzle of gun barrel has no bulge used to strengthen it, unlike in French guns of same era. Also breech block seems to be missing from this individual gun. (Photo taken in Tykistömuseo). CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (133 KB).

Calibre:

87 mm (bagged charge ammunition)

Barrel length:

L/24 (K/77) / L/18 (K/77-R)

Weight in action:

445 kg (K/77) / 360 kg (K/77-R)

Muzzle velocity:

445 m/sec (K/77) / 412 m/sec (K/77-R)

Traverse:

0 degrees

Elevation:

- 0 degrees, + 20 degrees

Max. range:

6,5 km (K/77) / 6,0 km (K/77-R)

Ammunition weight:

6,8 kg (HE)

Ammunition types:

HE, shrapnel

Country of origin:

Russia, early on made in Germany for Russia.

Finnish use: Captured and used in large numbers in Finnish Civil War of 1918. In 1920's these guns were used only for training and did not see any use after that. Not used in World War 2.

These were the smallest caliber cannons acquired by Imperial Russia in 1870's. The gun had two versions - normal field gun version (87 K/77) and cavalry gun version (87 K/77-R). Both versions had naturally been designed as horse-towed, but cavalry version had been intended to be more mobile with reduced weight. This reduction of weight happened by equipping cavalry version with shorter barrel and by leaving off details like seats for the crew from top of the gun. The gun had box trail and the usual wooden wheels equipped with steel hoops. Early on German firm Krupp manufactured the gun for Russian military, but later on Russian Obuhov factory became the main manufacturer. There were clear differences between the Obuhov made and Krupp manufactured versions. There were also two types of breech systems used in these guns: The large majority (the ones made in year 1893 or later) had de Bange type screw breech, while first batch of the Krupp made guns had Krupp horizontal sliding block breech (model 1873). Also two variations of elevation screw system existed and even gun barrels used by Obuhov and Krupp were structurally different: Krupp barrels had only one layer and their back part inside casing, while Obuhov barrels had two layers inside each other for the whole length of barrel. Some of the guns had gun shields, but most did not. During World War 1 these guns were no longer among the best ones that the Russians had, but were still considered good enough for non-frontline use. Year 1918 large number of the guns had been positioned in fortifications, which the Russians had built in Finland for possible German attack.

Finnish Civil War started in January of 1918. During first weeks of the war Finnish White Army captured almost exclusively 87-mm guns such as these in its main support area of Pohjanmaa (Österbotten) region. As a result these guns become the de facto the standard field artillery piece of Finnish White Army from until city of Tampere was captured in April of 1918. Early on also White Army had problems finding trained crews for its artillery pieces, so Artillery School (Tykistökoulu) was established for training them in town of Pietarsaari. Five out of six White Army artillery batteries formed in Artillery School and sent to front in February-March of 1918 were equipped with Russian 87-mm field guns. In late December of year 1918 Finnish military had 144 of these guns in its use. Even if their number was large as it was, Civil War was the first and last war in which the Finns used them. The guns were simply too old and well worn for military use anymore. Even Suojeluskunta (Civil Guard) artillery units of 1920's and 1930's, which otherwise got plenty of artillery weapon models of questionable quality transferred to them and tried using them for training, took none of these guns to its use. In 1920's Finnish Army used small number of them as practice weapons before most of them were scrapped and small number was used as monuments. The last ones were not removed from Army warehouses until 1950's.

 

87 K/95

(87 mm cannon model 1895)

87 K/95-R

(87 mm cannon model 1895, cavalry version)

PICTURE: 87 K/95-R - aka cavarly version of Russian 87-mm model 1895 field gun. Finnish soldier guarding the gun seems to from coastal artillery, since he wears so-called "sentry fur jacket", which was a special winter jacket only used by coastal artillery. Notice shorter gun barrel and primive recoil reduction system under trail of gun carriage. Photo taken during World War 2. (Original photo part of Jaeger Platoon Website photo collection). CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (85 KB).

Calibre:

87 mm (bagged charge ammunition)

Barrel length:

L/24 (K/95) / L/18 (K/95-R)

Weight in action:

455 kg (K/95) / 370 kg (K/95-R)

Muzzle velocity:

445 m/sec (K/95) / 412 m/sec (K/95-R)

Traverse:

4 degrees

Elevation:

- 0 degrees, + 20 degrees

Max. range:

6,5 km (K/77) / 6,0 km (K/77-R)

Ammunition weight:

6,8 kg (HE)

Ammunition types:

HE, shrapnel

Country of origin:

Russia

Finnish use: Large number captured and 12 bought from Germany in during Finnish Civil War in 1918. Used by Coastal Artillery and Suojeluskunta (Civil Guard) artillery before World War 2. During Winter War about 50 guns were used - the majority of them by coastal artillery, while few were used by two separate artillery batteries. They remained in use of coastal artillery until year 1941.

At late part of 19th century the great powers spent decades trying to outdo each other in development of light field gun, which would have superior rate-of-fire. Breech loading, cartridge shot and hydraulic recoil system become the parts needed for the winning solution, but developing them took time and hard work. The first successful recoil-system did not just appear all of the sudden with 75-mm French model 1897 (75 K/97). Several systems of varying success reducing but not removing problems created by recoil effects were introduced for artillery pieces before the final success. The Russian 87-mm artillery pieces m/1895 were among the ones equipped with these more primitive recoil-reduction systems. Basically they were the latest versions of m/1877 cannons equipped with flexing spur added in end of the box trail. As one can guess the spur-system developed by Engelhardt removed some of the worst kick of recoil, but not enough to allow shooting without gun crew still manhandling the gun to exactly correct direction for each shot. The other improvement was simple traverse setting system allowing sideways gun laying to be adjusted 4 degrees worth without turning the whole gun. As was common to the era these guns had wooden wheels with steel hoops. The guns also had de Bange type screw breech, just like in most Obuhov manufactured earlier m/1877 field guns, even if Obuhov does not seem to have manufactured this gun. The manufacturers for Finnish captured guns were St. Peterburg Metal Factory (which manufactured both versions) and Brjansk Arsenal (which manufactured only "normal" field gun version). During World War 1 Russian military had brought large number of these guns to Finland. Some of the guns had been equipped with gun shields.

At end of January of 1918 some of these old field guns were among the first guns, which Finnish White Army captured in Pohjanmaa (Botnia) region in beginning of Finnish Civil War. Along the older model 1877 versions of the same caliber they formed the backbone of Finnish White Army artillery during early part of Civil War. The German training plan for Prussian Jäger Battalion 27 also proved wise in advance: Among training guns issued to this unit of volunteered Finns seeking independence for their country were also two 87 K/95 guns and during the Civil War this previous experience proved very useful. Twelve guns were bought from Germany during the Civil War, but much larger number was captured from Russian military arsenals in Helsinki and Viipuri. According one source the total number of 87 K/95 and 87 K/95-R guns captured in 1918 was only 24 guns, but this piece of information does not seem to be correct. The Finnish military artillery piece inventory from end of November 1939 includes 47 87 K/95 and 33 87 K/95-R. These guns saw plenty of use with Finnish military also after the Civil War. Two guns were used by Finnish volunteers of Aunus Carelia expedition in year 1919 in Soviet Carelia. Another four guns were sold to newly established State of Estonia and issued to 2nd Artillery Battery of Finnish volunteer unit Pohjan Pojat (literally translated: Boys of North) that fought in Estonian War of Liberation against the Bolsheviks. When that war ended Finnish volunteers left their four guns to the Estonians. However, the large majority of these guns still remained in Finland, where they were first issued to Coastal Artillery. But already early on some were transferred to Suojeluskunta (Civil Guard), which used them as training weapons for its field artillery units until World War 2.

During Winter War (1939 - 1940) only Finnish field artillery units using these guns were 2nd and 5th Separate Artillery Batteries. 2nd Separate Artillery Battery with its six 87 K/95 guns fought in Carelian Isthmus. 5th Separate Artillery Battery with four 87 K/95-R guns fought well in Petsamo region in Finnish Lapland, where it was the only artillery unit supporting Finnish troops in that most northern part of the frontline. Two of the guns of 5th Separate Artillery Battery were lost and recaptured twice and also one Soviet tank was destroyed with its guns. The other 32 guns used in Winter War served as two-gun strong Artillery Sections of Coastal Artillery, which fought in shores of Lake Laatokka / Ladoga and in Viipuri Gulf. In Viipuri/Wiborg Gulf units using these guns even succeeded destroying two Soviet tanks with them. Grand majority of the artillery shells remaining for these guns during Winter War was old shrapnel ammunition, while practically all high-explosive shells were old black powder shells. Many of the guns issued to Coastal Artillery did not see battle use.

War:

Shots fired:

Winter War (1939 - 1940)

14187

Continuation War (1941 - 1944)

26717

Total

40904

At 1941 the only remaining user for these guns was Coastal Artillery, which still had 40 guns. 24 of them were used by Hanko/Hango Detachment, while Coastal Brigades had 16 guns. They fired their last shots in combat in December of 1941. After 2nd World War 48 guns still remained, but most of them were scrapped soon after it. From historical perspective the scrapping process proved to be too thorough - none of the 87 K/95 and 87 K/95-R field guns survived for museum use.

 

107 K/77 ptrik

(107 mm cannon model 1877, artillery battery version)

PICTURE: 107 K/77 ptrik field gun. Finnish Army typically uses yellow colour to mark training equipment, so the wheels might not be the real thing. (Photo taken in Tykistömuseo). CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (203 KB).

Calibre:

107 mm (bagged charge ammunition)

Barrel length:

L/19

Weight in action:

1213 kg

Muzzle velocity:

411 m/sec

Traverse:

0 degrees

Elevation:

- 0 degrees, + 20 degrees

Max. range:

5,3 km

Ammunition weight:

12,5 kg (HE)

Ammunition types:

HE, shrapnel

Country of origin:

Russia, also some made by Krupp

Finnish use: Large number captured in 1918, but only three guns used by Finnish White Army in Civil War. These guns also saw very little use before World War 2. During Winter War some 80 guns were used by coastal defence. Last shots fired in March of 1940. No longer used in Continuation War. The gun had been equipped for direct-fire use only.

This was the battery gun aka field artillery version of the Russian 107-mm cannon m/1877. Originally Krupp designed and manufactured the gun for Imperial Russia, but later also Obuhov factory in Russia started manufacturing it. Use of these guns was limited by lack of equipment needed for indirect fire - the Russian gun-sight used with them was suitable only to direct fire. Because of this during World War 1 Russian military usually issued the gun only as direct fire guns of siege artillery (namely: typically to coastal defense in such positions, which allowed the guns to shoot direct fire for defending harbours and beaches). The gun has Krupp model 1873 horizontal sliding block breech typical to Russian field guns of this era, wooden wheels with steel hoops and box trail.

Finnish White Army captured 102 of these guns during Civil War in 1918. Some of them were captured already in end of January, but White Army took only three of the guns to its use. To be more exact: 2nd Carelian Artillery Battery of White Army used those 3 guns. During the peacetime in between Finnish Civil War and Finnish - Soviet Winter War the guns saw only some occasional use. Some 80 guns got used in Winter War. January 1940 some 30 guns were issued to Finnish units in Karelian Isthmus for direct fire use. Most of these 30 guns were issued to infantry units, which proved to be a mistake: Infantry lacked any training for using them, so they often left the guns unused. The other 50 guns had been issued to coastal defense units. During Winter War both the guns and their ammunition were already in very poor shape and there remained only quite small number of fuses suitable for their shells, which substantially limited the amount of available ammunition. Also, when it came to ammunition only available shell types were old-fashiones shpranel and old high-explosive shells filled with black powder. The last battles in which the guns took part were in Viipuri/Wiborg Gulf in March of 1940, three Finnish artillery sections armed with these guns took part to those battles:

Because of errors made in ammunition supply from those three artillery batteries taking part to Viipurinlahti Gulf battles only one had fuses for its artillery shells. This resulted the situation in which the other two artillery batteries were able to participate only as spectators and due to this also two of the guns were lost. Because of their limitations these guns quite likely were the most outdated of all artillery pieces used by Finnish Army in World War 2. Winter War was the last war in which these guns got used.

 

107 K/77 piirk

(107 mm cannon model 1877, siege gun version)

PICTURE: 107 K/77 piirk cannon. Notice the equipment around wheels used to reduce recoil. Also notice the Krupp horizontal sliding block breech, box trail open from the top and metal plate under end of the trail. (Photo taken in Tykistömuseo). CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (202 KB).

Calibre:

107 mm (bagged charge ammunition)

Barrel length:

L/24

Weight in action:

2500 kg

Muzzle velocity:

543 m/sec

Traverse:

? degrees

Elevation:

- ? degrees, + ? degrees

Max. range:

8,3 km

Ammunition weight:

8,3 kg (HE)

Ammunition types:

HE, shrapnel

Country of origin:

Russia

Finnish use: Several dozen guns captured in 1918, but only three guns used by White Army in Finnish Civil War. 10 guns used in Winter War and 20 guns used in Continuation War. Last shots fired in March of 1942 and the guns did not see any use after that.

107 millimetres was the caliber artillery of Imperial Russia had selected for its medium guns in late 19th century. When it came to model 1877 guns of this caliber, there were two versions: Heavy siege gun version and lighter field gun version (aka battery gun), this gun is the siege gun version. The gun is easy to identify from its high gun carriage and long thin barrel. Like usual for the guns of the era, the wheels had been made from wood and were with steel hoops. The guns also had the usual box trail and Krupp model 1873 horizontal sliding block breech. Obuhov factory seems to have been the sole manufacturer of this gun.

Finnish White Army captured either 46 or 57 of these guns (number varies depending source). The first ones were captured in Pohjanmaa region already in end of January. Only three guns saw use in Finnish White Army, they were used by 2nd Heavy Artillery Battery (also later in war known as "2nd Artillery Battery of Carelia") established in Pietarsaari Artillery School. The artillery battery was sent to frontline in end of March and took part to battles fought in Carelian Isthmus until end of the Finnish Civil War. Most guns (29) were captured in Helsinki and the rest in Viipuri. During the years of peace after the Civil War these guns saw very little use.

However quite a larger number of these guns was used first in Winter War and later also in Continuation War. Finnish military still had large number of these guns storaged when Winter War started, but typically the guns were seriously worn out, which decreased their usefulness. Ten guns were issued during Winter War. Four of them were used in Carelian Isthmus by Heavy Artillery Battalion 3, which after breakthrough in Summa in February of 1940 had to leave two of the guns to the Soviets. Later during Continuation War one of the two lost guns was re-captured by Finnish troops. Four guns were used in Coastal Defence of Lake Laatokka / Ladoga and another two guns saw use with tractor-towed artillery section in northern shore of Lake Laatokka / Ladoga. During Interim Peace between Winter War and Continuation War 20 guns were issued to Fortification Artillery Battalion 5 in Salpa-line.

During Continuation War (1941 - 1944) 38 guns saw use. From these twenty were briefly used by Fortification Artillery Battalion 2 supporting 14th Division, but the guns proved too heavy and difficult to keep up in that area of operations, which had only very few small dirt roads of poor quality, so they got replaced after less then a month of use. During Continuation War the main user of these guns was Fortification Artillery Battalion 6, which had the specific mission to shoot with the guns as long as they were still in useful condition and ammunition remained. The unit did just this in Kiestinki - Louhi sector of the front until the remaining guns became finally too worn-out for further use in March of 1942. That was the last time these guns were used in battle.

War:

Shots fired:

Winter War (1939 - 1940)

4074

Continuation War (1941 - 1944)

3953

Total

8027

 

152 K/77-120p

(152 mm cannon model 1877, 120-pud barrel version)

PICTURE: 152 K/77-120p field gun, notice structure of the gun mount and relatively short gun barrel. (Photo provided by MK). CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (212 KB).

Calibre:

152,4 mm (bagged charge ammunition)

Barrel length:

L/21,3

Weight in action:

3425 kg

Muzzle velocity:

251 - 390 m/sec

Traverse:

0 degrees

Elevation:

- 18 degrees, + 40 degrees

Max. range:

7,1 - 9,3 km

Ammunition weight:

33,0 - 35,6 kg (HE)

Ammunition types:

HE

Country of origin:

Russia

Finnish use: Large number of guns captured in 1918, but none used by Finnish White Army in Finnish Civil War of 1918. Some of the guns saw use as training weapons until early-mid 1920's. Dozen guns used in Winter War and 23 in Continuation War. Last shots in Finnish use fired in June of 1944, which was the last time they were used.

Imperial Russian military had two versions of 152-millimetre siege gun m/1877 and this was one of them - 120-pud version. The Russians name the two versions based to weight of their barrel using old Russian unit of weight measurement "pud", which is about 16.38 kilograms. This 120-pud version had somewhat thinner gun barrel, than the other (190-pud) version. The gun had box-trail, wooden wheels with steel hoops and horizontal sliding block breech typical to large caliber Russian siege guns of the era. The trail used included also primitive recoil reduction mechanism. It seems that Obuhov and Perm factories were only manufacturers of these guns.

Finnish White Army captured no less than 102 of these (120-pud) guns in year 1918, but used none in the Finnish Civil War. Immediately after the Civil War six of the guns were issued to three artillery batteries (with 2 guns each), which were placed to Äyräpää, Metsäpirtti and Sakkola near the Russian border in Carelian Isthmus. When needed the three artillery batteries were to be crewed by local Suojeluskunta (Civil Guard) units and remained in that use until year 1921. The guns were also used as training equipment in Heavy Artillery Regiment until early - mid 1920's.

During Finnish - Soviet Winter War twelve 152 K/77-120p guns were used by Heavy Artillery Battalion 5. Later during Continuation War they saw some use with Syväri Fortification Artillery Battalion 1. When Finnish troops retreated in June of 1944 retreated from River Syväri/Svir the Fortification Artillery units stationed there still had 23 of these guns. But as the guns were so worn-out, outdated and difficult to transport in poor dirt roads Finnish troops left them behind. Finnish military found these old guns to be accurate and their projectiles highly effective on target, but transporting guns this heavy often proved problematic. Finnish ammunition inventory for these guns contained mainly high explosive shells filled with Melinite (mix of Picric and Guncotton) - Russian military explosive notably more powerful than black powder used in older artillery shells.

War:

Shots fired:

Winter War (1939 - 1940)

552

Continuation War (1941 - 1944)

189

Total

741

 

152 K/04-200p

(152 mm cannon model 1904, 200-pud barrel version)

PICTURE: 152 K/04-200p in yard of Finnish Artillery Museum. Notice the de Bange screw breech and recoil reduction system partly visible in end of the trail. French 155 K/77 in the background. (Photo taken in Tykistömuseo). CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (196 KB).

Calibre:

152,4 mm (bagged charge ammunition)

Barrel length:

L/30

Weight in action:

5437 kg

Muzzle velocity:

623 m/sec

Traverse:

0 degrees

Elevation:

- 3,5 degrees, + 40,5 degrees

Max. range:

11,2 km

Ammunition weight:

41,1 kg (HE)

Ammunition types:

HE

Country of origin:

Russia

Finnish use: Only four guns captured in year 1918. Two of the guns saw use with Finnish White Army in Civil War. During Winter War guns got issued to Ladoga Coastal Defence. In Continuation War used by Fortification Artillery and Coastal Artillery. Last shots fired in Finnish use in June of 1944, that was the last time they saw any use.

This was the last, heaviest and most modern of Russian 152-mm siege guns. The gun was manufactured by Russian Obuhov factory and unlike earlier heavy siege guns had de Bange screw breech. The wheels were the typical design for the era with steel hoops and the gun also had the usual box trail, but it also had in-built system which somewhat reduced its recoil. The recoil reduction system related to ones used in Russian heavy mortars at that time and used a hydraulic axle anchored to ground for dampening the recoil.

PICTURE: 152 K/04-200p that used to be in front of now long-gone Finnish Coastal Artillery Museum in Suomenlinna fort. Unfortunately some numbskulls had spoiled the other side of this particular gun with graffiti. (Photo taken in Suomenlinna). CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (200 KB).

The gun was also one of the rarest gun models captured by Finnish White Army in 1918 as only four guns were captured. Those 4 guns were captured in beginning of Civil War in Kaskinen and transporting them proved problematic early on. However as heavier artillery was needed two of the guns were issued to 1st Finnish Heavy Artillery Battery established in end of February. After training of just two weeks the newly established artillery unit was sent to frontline where it arrived to Vilppula sector in 13th of March. The unit nicknamed its two guns as "Ukko" (= Cogler) and "Akka" (= Hag). After battles of Vilppula front the unit also took part to offensive that ended in capturing of city of Tampere. For obvious reasons 1th Finnish Heavy Artillery Battery was one of the very few Finnish White Army units in Finnish Civil War to rely using indirect fire and was never used for direct-fire missions.

During World War 2 all the four guns saw use with Finnish coastal artillery in both Winter War and Continuation War. In Winter War they were issued to Coastal Defence of Lake Laatokka / Ladoga, which used them to give fire support against Soviets besieged in Kitilä motti and also in battle of Koirinoja. During Interim Peace between Winter War and Continuation War the four guns were issued to Fortification Artillery Battalion 1 of Salpa-line. When Continuation War broke out the same unit first continued using the guns. Later they were transferred to 3rd Artillery Battalion of Coastal Artillery Regiment 13 and Ladoga Coastal Brigade in northern shore of Lake Ladoga. In hands of Ladoga Coastal Brigade the guns fired their last shots in battle of Tuulos in June of 1944. Two of the four guns were lost in that battle. The last two remaining guns are now in Finnish museums. The primary ammunition used with these guns in Finland was high explosive shells loaded with TNT.

War:

Shots fired:

Winter War (1939 - 1940)

1707

Continuation War (1941 - 1944)

(*) 440

Total

2147

(*) Or 600 shots fired depending sources.

 

229 M/77

(229 mm mortar model 1877)

PICTURE: 229 M/77 coastal mortar. (Photo taken in Suomenlinna). CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (181 KB).

Calibre:

229 mm (bagged charge ammunition)

Barrel length:

L/12

Weight in action:

3286 kg

Muzzle velocity:

305 - 335 m/sec

Traverse:

? degrees

Elevation:

- ? degrees, + ? degrees

Max. range:

7200 - 7470 m

Ammunition weight:

122,9 - 138 kg (HE)

Ammunition types:

HE

Country of origin:

Russia

Finnish use: Finnish White Army captured six guns in during Finnish Civil War in 1918, but none were used in that war. Four guns installed to Salpa-line around 1940 - 1941, but again did not see any combat use. One gun was transported to Syväri/Svir front in August of 1942, it was used in battle until June of 1944.

This was 9-inch Russian coastal mortar model 1877. As the mortar was designed for coastal forts, it was anything but mobile. Six (presumably) mortars were captured in year 1918, but the Finns did not find them any use until first phase of constructing new fortified defence line, known as Salpa-line, after Winter War. During Interim Peace of 1940 - 1941 four of these coastal mortars were installed to fortified artillery positions which had been built to provide fire support for defenders of Salpa-line. The mortars were issued to Fortification Artillery Battalion 4, but they did not saw any battle use as Soviets never managed reaching Salpa-Line. Summer of 1942 one mortar was placed to fortified artillery position build to Syväri/Svir sector of frontline. Starting from August of 1942 this mortar issued to Syväri Fortification Artillery Battalion 1 shelled the Soviets every now and then. The mortar crew named the weapon as "Rymy-Eetu" after popular figure of propaganda cartoon. When Finnish troops retreated from river Syväri/Svir in June of 1944 the mortar, which had spent all its ammunition, was left behind. By that time it had fired 241 shots. Apparently much of the shells fired by "Rymy-Eetu" failed to detonate - probably due to old age of shells and fuses. The primary ammmunition type in Finnish inventory for this mortar was 138-kilogram high explosive shell filled with TNT, although also older HE-shell versions filled with black powder existed in large numbers. explosive The "Rymy-Eetu" mortar was largest caliber artillery piece used in battle by Finnish fortification artillery during World War 2.

War:

Shots fired:

Winter War (1939 - 1940)

0

Continuation War (1941 - 1944)

241

Total

241

 

OTHER OLD RUSSIAN ARTILLERY PIECES WITHOUT RECOIL SYSTEM:

152 K/77-190p (152-mm cannon model 1877, 190-pud barrel version): This was the other version of 152-mm Russian m/1877 siege gun - the version with slightly longer and considerably heavier barrel. These two versions had been named according barrel weight, which was expressed in Russian weight measurement "pud" (about 16.38 kg). As usual the gun had box trail and wooden wheels with steel hoops. The gun also had somewhat ineffective in-built recoil reduction system. No less than 115 guns were captured in 1918, but the Finns never used any in battle. Russian Obuhov and Perm factories had manufactured all of these captured guns. This gun had both high explosive (HE) and armour piercing high explosive (APHE) and shrapnel ammunition in its pre-war ammunition inventory. The version with 120-pud gun barrel not only had better range because of more modern projectiles, but it also was handier and weighted less, so Finnish military favoured it instead of this 190-pud barrel version.

PICTURE: 152 K/77-190p. Notice the vertical sliding breech block, which is open. The 120-pud version looked quite similar, but had slightly slimmer barrel. (Photo taken in Tykistömuseo). CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (209 KB).

279 M/77 (279-mm mortar model 1877): This was Russian 11-inch coastal mortar. Just like its 9-inch cousin, it was designed for coastal artillery fortresses and moving one to another fire position demanded laboured process of first dismantling the mortar and its fortification carriage and then assembling it again in new position. The mortar had wedge-block breech. Four or five of these mortars were captured in year 1918, but they did not see any use with Finnish military until finally four coastal mortars were installed to fortified artillery positions of Salpa-line and issued to Fortification Artillery Battalion 1 (Linnoituspatteristo 1). Even then they did not see any battle use and already in year 1945 three of the mortars were scrapped. The only mortar still remaining is nowadays in Suomenlinna, on a hill near gates of Kustaanmiekka. Finnish ammunition inventory for these guns contained 293-kg high explosive shells filled with TNT and 279-kg high explosive shells filled with Guncotton.

PICTURE: 279 M/77 coastal mortar. This 11-inch Russian coastal mortar has some parts missing. Notice its 9-inch cousin on the background. (Photo taken in Suomenlinna). CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (199 KB).


SOURCES:

Jyri Paulaharju: Itsenäisen Suomen Kenttätykit 1918 - 1995.

Unto Partanen: Tykistömuseon 78 tykkiä.

Jyri Paulaharju: Suomen Kenttätykistön historia, volumes 1 - 2.

Pertti Tamminen: Vienan Tykit.

Ove Enqvist: Itsenäisen Suomen Rannikkotykit 1918 - 1998.

Talvisodan historia book series.

Jatkosodan historia book series.

Article "Talvisodan kenttätykkikalusto" by Jyri Paulaharju in Ase magazine vol. 3/1987.

Article "Vapaussodan kenttätykistö" by Jyri Paulaharju in Ase-lehti magazine vol. 4/1986.

Article "Vapaussodan tykkikalusto" by Jyri Paulaharju in Vapaussodan invalidi magazine vol. 4/1985.

Article "Suojeluskuntatykistön historia" by Jyri Paulaharju in Ase-lehti magazine vol. 3/1996.

Military manual: Ampumatarviketarviketäydennysopas (printed by Otava 1939).

Military manual: Lyhennetty tykistön ampumatarvikenomenklatuuri (printed 1939).

Military manual: Kenttätykistön ampumatarvikkeet by Puolustusvoimien Pääesikunta Taisteluvälineosasto (printed 1940, updates added until 1947).

Suojeluskuntain historia book series.

Finnish Military Archives folder T19043/20 (contains list of these guns by serial numbers with manufacturers also listed).

Article "Linnoitustykistö - aselaji välirauhan alkamisesta jatkosodan loppuun" by Teuvo Rönkkönen in Journal of military history 14.

Ammunition Depot 4 inventory lists from year 1935, Finnish National Archives, folder number T-4360/7.

Special thanks to Tykistömuseo (Finnish Artillery Museum), Hämeenlinna

Special thanks to Rannikkotykistömuseo (Coastal Artillery Museum), Suomenlinna


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