7.7cm Feldkanone 96 n/A

The 7.7cm Feldkanone 96 n/A was the standard German field gun at the outbreak of the First World War, but suffered from a lack of range, and was superseded by the 7.7cm Feldkanone 16 from 1916.

The FK 96 n/A was designed by Krupp in response to an order for the German army, which like most of the European powers was aware that the French were developing a new field gun with a barrel recoil system (the famous 'Seventy Five'). The existing 7.7cm Feldkanone 96 lacked any barrel recoil system, and so although it was very new, was already obsolete.

The unusual calibre was just larger than the French 7.5cm and Russian 7.62mm standards, and allowed the Germans to bore out captured enemy guns to take their 7.7cm shells, while preventing their opponents from doing the same. The weapon used the contemporary German howitzer carriage, and a horizontal sliding breach block. n/A stood for 'neues Art' or new model. The barrel was only slightly longer than the cradle for the recoil mechanism. The FK 96 n/A was paired with a Limber 96 n/A, which carried the ammo. The gun and limber were drawn by six a team of six horses.

The 7.7cm Feldkanone 96 n/A was a contemporary of the famous French Canon de 75 le 1897, but it didn't compare terribly well to the French weapon. It had a lower muzzle velocity, shorter range and slower rate of fire than the French gun, although it did fire a slightly heavier shell.

The FK 96 n/A was produced in large numbers. Field gun batteries in infantry divisions had six guns, those in cavalry divisions had only four guns. By August 1914 there were 5,096 FK 96 n/As in service. 

In combat the FK 96 n/A proved to be too short ranged, at least in part due to the relatively short barrel and limited range of elevation. In 1915 the existing barrel was placed on howitzer carriages to increase elevation and thus range. In 1916 it was superseded by the 7.7cm Feldkanone 16, which had a longer barrel, giving it higher muzzle velocity, and used the carriage from the 10.5cm FH 98/09 (field howitzer), giving it a much better range of elevation (maximum elevation rose from 15.2 degrees to 40 degrees. As a result the range with standard HE shells rose from 7,800m to 9,100m.

After the appearance of the 7.7 Fk 16 most of the surviving FK 96 n/As were moved to training units, although some remained in use to the end of the First World War. A total of 3,744 were still in use by November 1918, although that figure must have included training units.

Name

7.7cm Feldkanone 96 n/A

Calibre

77mm (3.03in)

Barrel Length

2m 8cm

Weight for transport

1,910kg

Weight in action

1,020kg

Elevation

-12.9 to +15.2 degrees

Traverse

8 degrees

Shell Weight

6.85kg high explosive
6.85kg shrapnel

Muzzle Velocity

465 m/sec

Maximum Range

7,800m for shell with impact fuse

Rate of Fire

12 rounds/ min

Books on the First World War | Subject Index: First World War

How to cite this article: Rickard, J (27 September 2017), 7.7cm Feldkanone 96 n/A , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_77cm_FK_96_na.html

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