A blast in the night

A 10,5-cm leichte Feldhaubitze 18 (10.5 cm light field howitzer) at maximum elevation fires off a round in the night. The gun was developed in 1928-29 by the arms manufacturer Rheinmetall, and adopted by the Wehrmacht in 1935. It could be towed by artillery tractors or horse teams. It could fire 6-8 shots a minute, the maximum range being a little over 10 kilometers. The Army had 4,862 leFH 18 when the war began. It was the standard divisional field howitzer. There were a total of 1,023 horse-drawn light field artillery battalions in the Wehrmacht and 62 motorized light artillery battalions in the Panzer and Panzergrenadier divisions, as well as GHQ artillery. The leFH 18 had a superior caliber compared to its opponents early in the war and performed well as the supporting arm of the panzer divisions.

While not ideally suited to it, the howitzer could in the right circumstances be effective in anti-tank combat, particularly in the North African Campaign where the motorized batteries of Artillerie-Regiment (mot.) 33 of the 15. Panzer-Division played an important role in defeating British armored units at Sidi Rezegh on 23 November 1941. On the Eastern Front, the light field howitzers were less successful in the anti-tank role, but served as a stop-gap solution until better anti-tank guns became available.


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