M14 and M15 15 cm heavy howitzers

The development of the Monarchy’s artillery became an urgent task after the outbreak of the Great War. Heavy artillery was increasingly needed in the emerging trench warfare. Previously, it was only necessary to use large calibre cannons to overcome fortresses and fortified strongholds. In the Great War battles, tasks of this kind appeared at all points of the front line. Therefore, increasing the fire power capable of destroying fortified positions became the number one task. According to the descriptions, in the first two years of the war, the heavy artillery units were equipped with extremely mixed gun park taken from fortresses and military stores. Most of the weapons were non-recoilable, out-of-date devices with bronze barrels, which had to be re-aimed at the target after each shot. Therefore, their rate of fire was low. Modern weapons were mainly 24 and 30.5 cm heavy mortars, but these expensive weapons were only available in small numbers.

The M14 15 cm heavy howitzer was given the main role in the modernization of the gun park. The gun was designed between 1912 and 1914 and came to the fronts in larger numbers from 1915. It was able to deliver a projectile weighing 40 kg to the target at a distance of 9 km. It was a pneumatically braked weapon with a sliding barrel corresponding to the technical standards of the time. The gun barrel could be moved from -5 degrees to +70 degrees. Its rate of fire was 1-2 shots per minute. Until the end of the war, around 800 units were manufactured in Plzen and 200 units in Győr.

The M15 heavy howitzer was developed by the design engineers of the Skoda plant from the 15 cm tower howitzer of the fortress artillery. This weapon also fired the M14 heavy howitzer projectile, at a maximum distance of 3.5 km. Divided into four parts, it could also be moved on mountainous terrain. The first guns were delivered to the units at the beginning of 1916. A total of 56 units were produced until the end of the war.

The 15 cm howitzers were manufactured and kept in service by several European countries until 1939.

The M14 15 cm heavy howitzer appears on many cap badges, as it was the most important gun type of the heavy artillery regiments. The insignia presented in this post is the Kappenabzeichen of the 15th Heavy Artillery Regiment (formerly the 6th Heavy Howitzer Division). The opening picture shows the M14, and the picture at the end of the post shows the M15 heavy howitzers in firing position.

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