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15 cm schwere Feldhaubitze 13
Brantford Ontario 15-cm-sFH-13-L14-1.jpg
15 cm sFH 13 L/14 howitzer displayed as a monument in Brantford, Ontario.
Type Heavy field howitzer
Place of origin German Empire
Service history
In service 1914–45
Used by German Empire
Ottoman Empire
Nazi Germany
Wars World War I
World War II
Production history
Designer Krupp
Designed 1913
Manufacturer Krupp, Rheinmetall, Spandau
Produced 1913–18
Number built 3409+
Variants kurz sFH 13
lg. sFH13
lg. sFH13/02
Weight 2,250 kg (4,960 lbs)
Length 2.54 m (8 ft 4 in)
Barrel length 2.096 m (6 ft 11 in) L/17

Shell separate-loading, cased charge (7 charges)
Shell weight 42 kilograms (93 lb) (HE)
Caliber 149.1 mm (5.89 in)
Breech horizontal sliding block
Recoil hydro-spring variable recoil
Carriage box trail
Elevation −4° to +45°
Rate of fire 3 rpm
Muzzle velocity 381 m/s (1,250 ft/s)
Effective range 8,600 m (9,400 yd)

The 15 cm schwere Feldhaubitze 13 (15 cm sFH 13), was a heavy field howitzer used by Germany in World War I and the beginning of World War II.


The gun was a development of the previous standard howitzer, the 15 cm sFH 02. Improvements included a longer barrel resulting in better range and a gun shield to protect the crew. Variants were: the original "kurz" (L/14 – 14 calibre short barrel version), the lg. sFH13 with a longer barrel; and lg. sFH13/02 with minor modifications to simplify wartime manufacture of the lg. sFH weapons. Initially there were serious issues of weak recoil spring mechanisms that would break, and gun barrel explosions. The problems were solved with the upgrades.[1]

The British referred to these and their shells as "5 point 9"s or "5 9"s as the bore was 5.9 inches (150 mm). The ability of these guns to deliver mobile heavy firepower close to the frontline gave the Germans a major firepower advantage on the Western Front early in World War I, as the French and British lacked an equivalent. It was not until late 1915 that the British began to deploy their own 6 inch 26 cwt howitzer.

About 3,500 of these guns were produced from 1913 to 1918.[2] They continued to serve in the Reichswehr and then the Wehrmacht in the interwar period as the standard heavy howitzer until the introduction of 15 cm sFH 18 in the 1930s. They were then shifted to reserve and training units, as well as coastal artillery. Guns turned over to Belgium and the Netherlands as reparations after World War I were taken into Wehrmacht service after the conquest of the Low Countries as the 15 cm sFH 409(b) and 406(h) respectively.

In the course of World War II about 94 of these howitzers were mounted on Lorraine 37L tractors to create self-propelled guns, designated 15 cm sFH13/1 (Sf) auf Geschuetzwagen Lorraine Schlepper (f).

Image gallery

Weapons of comparable role, performance and era

In literature

  • Siegfried Sassoon expressed the British respect for the "five-nine" in his World War I poem Counter-Attack
  • Timothy Findley mentions "5.9s" in his book The Wars
  • Wilfred Owen mentions being shelled by "Five-Nines" in his poem Dulce et Decorum est.


  1. Retrieved 2012-03-06
  2. Roger Lee, The Battle of Fromelles 1916 (Australian Army Campaign Series), Big Sky Publishing 2012

External links

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