Showing posts with label howitzer. Show all posts
Showing posts with label howitzer. Show all posts

29 March 2015

Historical Photos of ANZAC weapons for painting reference

Painting and Researching the ANZACs

Since setting about painting the NZ ANZAC troop miniatures for the WW100 Diorama I realised that I really knew very little about WW1 Uniforms and weapons in general. (Compared to my knowledge of WW2 weapons)
So now it is Sunday evening, and I am waiting for the washes on the shirts and trousers to dry.

The Weapons:

Captured Turkish Mausers being inspected

Australian ANZAC troops displaying period equipment, similar to those of NZ troops


Still from the movie Gallipoli: Lee Enfields, bayonets fixed

Going to paint the rifles next: Wood rifle stocks painted. How far up does the wood go? Does it differ from the WW2 Lee Enfield. If so, how? The questions kept coming. Can't really say from the colour painting guide pictures.

I knew the the ANZACs had SMLE's - Lee Enfields. The Ottoman Turks had German Mausers. So .303 and 7.92mm rifles.

Off we go on the research. Isn't the internet just wonderful...leads you into dark corners of musty photographs and unseen treasures. This hunt also took me to a fascinating account from the Turkish perspective: Turkey's War (Gallipoli)

I have no idea about copyright on the photos I found, some are from the Central News Agency in the UK (Via Kings College London), The Australian War Museum, Imperial War  Museum, Te Papa, lotsa places.  So if I need to credit anyone, or remove a photo, just let me know, I hold no copyright.

Just collected the images for reference and out of hobby and academic interest want to share it with fellow gamers and history buffs.

So I share my meanderings of the afternoon, which may be useful for someone needing reference on troops at Gallipoli. Interestingly, whenever I view material on WW2 there is always tons of familiar photos. Not so with WW1 for me. Just plain fascinating historical records:

Rifle Models

Given the relentlessly high demand for any and all forms of offensive weaponry during the war - particularly during its earliest days when armament production was only beginning to accelerate - many different types of rifle were pressed into service, including a fair number of ancient models.

However for the most part a core set of weapon models were relied upon by the key belligerent armies at Gallipoli.

German Mauser GW 98

Mauser m98.jpg

GW 98 Mauser rifle: The standard weapon in the German army, the 7.92 mm Mauser Gewehr 98 was designed (as its name suggests) in 1898 by Peter Paul Mauser (1838-1914).  Somewhat superior in design to the majority of its contemporaries, it incorporated the clip and magazine into a single detachable mechanism, saving valuable loading time.

The Gewehr 98 (abbreviated G98, Gew 98 or M98) was a German bolt action Mauser rifle firing cartridges from a 5 round internal clip-loaded magazine that was the German service rifle from 1898 to 1935. The Gewehr 98 action, using stripper clip loading with the powerful 7.92×57mm Mauser cartridge, introduced advanced infantry weapon features in 1905; which was rapidly adopted in the Anglo-American Pattern 1914 Enfield/M1917 Enfield and the Japanese Arisaka Type 38/Type 99. 

The Gewehr 98 replaced the earlier Gewehr 1888 rifle as the German service rifle. It first saw combat in the Boxer Rebellion, and was the main German infantry rifle of World War I. The Gewehr 98 saw  military use by the Ottoman Empire and also by Spanish Nationalists. 

It suffered however from the disadvantage of being unsuited to rapid fire (on account of its bolt arrangement), and was limited by a five-cartridge magazine.

Mauser stripper clip

Nevertheless it was a thoroughly dependable, well tested and accurate weapon, and with its fitted optical sight, ideal for use in sniping.

British Lee-Enfield Mark III (SMLE)

The rifle that the regulars of the British Expeditionary Force carried into France in August 1914 was officially known as the “Rifle, Short, Magazine Lee-Enfield Mk III”.
This was abbreviated to SMLE and immediately bastardised into “The Smelly”  by the soldiers.

Lee Enfield and helmet used to check for Turkish sniper presence at Gallipoli

Although the SMLE Mk III was introduced into British service in January 1907, it was simply a modified version of a service rifle adopted much earlier – in 1888. In 1871, the British Army was equipped with the legendary Martini-Henry rifle, which fired a gargantuan 483-grain, .450-calibre lead bullet from a necked-down .577 inch cartridge case.


The single-shot Martini was a good, soldier-proof rifle but the perfection of a nitroglycerine-based powder by the French chemist Paul Vielle in 1884 rendered it, and every other military rifle, obsolete overnight. Vielle’s powder produced very little smoke to betray the rifleman’s position and could be used to drive copper-jacketed 8mm bullets at velocities in excess of 2,000ft per second. The adoption of the Modele 1886 Lebel rifle by the French (which was their standard rifle in WW1) immediately prompted every other major power to start to develop a small-calibre, smokeless-powder magazine rifle.

British military authorities had become aware of the work of a  Swiss officer, Colonel Rubin, who was experimenting with small-bore rifle bullets propelled with compressed charges of black powder.

 In 1888 Britain bought 350 of James Lee’s patent rifles chambered for the .303 Rubin cartridge, which had a rimmed case and its bullet held centrally by a washer. After some further development, Britain’s first .303 service rifle, the Lee-Metford Mk 1, was adopted officially on 22 December 1888. This combined the Lee’s action (with its eight- round magazine) with William Ellis Metford’s seven-groove rifling and a modified version of Rubin’s cartridge. In 1895, the rifle was modified again with an enhanced 10-shot magazine, improved five-groove rifling developed at the Royal Small Arms factory at Enfield and a smokeless cartridge that used cordite as a propellant. This was the first in a long series of .303 Lee-Enfield rifles.

The Long Lee-Enfield, as it became known because of its 30in barrel, was the standard British rifle throughout the Second Boer War (1899–1902). It was supplemented by a carbine version with a 21in barrel carried by the cavalry. The Royal Irish Constabulary had its own special carbine; this version would accept a bayonet, presumably for crowd control.

Lee Metford upgraded to Lee Enfield Long (ca 1900)

The British were routinely outshot by the Boers with their state-of-the-art Mauser Model 1896 rifles. Although the Lee-Enfield had a 10-shot magazine it had to be loaded with individual cartridges, which took time. The Mauser’s magazine could be loaded with five cartridges in a single action by means of a charger clip. This gave a higher rate of fire. The Mauser’s 7mm cartridge was ballistically superior and enhanced the average Boer's already impressive marksmanship skills.

SMLE's piled up as Highlanders arrive on Gallipoli Beaches. 
Note the canvas wraps to protect the firing mechanisms.

After the Boer War, the military sought to remedy the Lee-Enfield’s shortcomings. In what was a classic example of British government thriftiness and pragmatism, the SMLE was born. The concept was that there should be a standard rifle for all arms of the service, whether infantry, cavalry, artillery, engineers or the Royal Navy. This would be capable of having its magazine loaded by the use of two five-round chargers of cartridges. The bayonet would no longer be supported by the barrel but fixed to a separate nose-cap that incorporated “ears” to protect the foresight.

The new universal rifle had a 25in barrel, a 10-round magazine and a Japanese-inspired sword bayonet with a wicked, 17-inch blade. The barrel was encased in a wooden hand-guard.

Although the SMLE was only an updated version of the earlier rifle, it was to become the quickest-firing and most effective bolt-action battle rifle of the 20th century. The British regular soldier was expected to be able to fire 12-15 aimed shots a minute from his rifle.

The SMLE’s effective range in competent hands was about 400 yd. However, it was fitted with long-range sights calibrated from 1,600yd to 2,800yd. These were intended for mass volley fire when large bodies of men fired at large targets, such as an artillery battery at long range. The cleaning kit – a brass oil bottle and a pull-through – was carried in the butt.

Mark III with its long-range sight, unsuitable for trench warfare

In 1914, tensions in Europe were running high. The assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand and Archduchess Sophie in Sarajevo on 28 June caused international outrage and polarisation. A month later, Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia and within days all of Europe followed suit. Britain went to war with Germany on 4 August 1914.

1916 SMLE III*

In January 1916, a simplified version of the SMLE was introduced. This was the Mk III* (Star), which did not have long-range sights or magazine cut-off.

The 1916 SMLE III * was the standard issue rifle to ANZAC Infantry

Some strange and unusual weapons also saw the light at Gallipoli:

The periscope gun, a SMLE modified to be shot from within the trench but out of harm's way:

Drip (or "pop off") rifle
These were self-firing rifles used at Gallipoli to deceive the Turks during the evacuation of December 1915.

Fire was maintained from the trenches after the withdrawal of the last men, by rifles arranged to fire automatically. This was done by a weight being released which pulled the trigger. Two kerosene tins were placed one above the other, the top one full of water and the bottom one with the trigger string attached to it, empty. At the last minute, small holes would be punched in the upper tin; water would trickle into the lower one, and the rifle would fire as soon as the lower tin had become sufficiently heavy.

Another device ran a string, holding back the trigger, through a candle, which slowly burnt down, severed the string, and released the trigger.

Delayed-action device invented by Lance Corporal Scurry of the 7th Battalion, AIF.
(AWM G01291)

Such devices provided sporadic firing which helped convince the Turks that the Anzac front line was occupied long after thousands of men had crept down to the beaches and escaped. British generals estimated that half the force would be lost in any attempt to withdraw because the Turks could not fail to notice as the trenches were so close. In the event, the Turks were so deceived that 80,000 men were evacuated with only about half a dozen casualties.

The drip rifle was invented by Lance Corporal W. C. Scurry of the 7th Battalion, AIF, with assistance from Private A. H. Lawrence. For the part he played in making the evacuation a success, Scurry was mentioned in dispatches, awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal, and promoted to sergeant.

Heavy Machine Guns:

Ottoman Turks: 
Machinengewehr 08 (Maxim variant) :

When war in Europe broke out in the summer of 1914 the major armies (bar France and Austria) largely made use of machine guns based upon Maxim's original MG design.

The Maxim Gun was water-cooled (via a jacket around the barrel which held approximately one gallon) and fed from fabric belts; the German version of the gun, the Maschinengewehr, utilised 250-round belts.  The whole was mounted on a sledge which, although heavy - 1914 machine guns weighed from 40-60 kg - did enable the gun to be carried in the manner of a stretcher.  The Maxim was usually operated by a four to six man team.

In designing his machine gun, Hiram Maxim utilised a simple if ingenious concept.  The gas produced by the explosion of the powder in each cartridge itself generated a recoil which served to continuously operate the gun's mechanism.  No external power was needed.  His initial design allowed for a theoretical rate of fire of up to 600 rounds per minute (half that number in practice).

Maxim triumphantly demonstrated his new invention to, firstly, the British Army - he had moved to London shortly before developing the machine gun - in 1885.  Two years later the British government placed an initial order for three of the devices for testing purposes.  Although his invention passed all stipulated tests it was nevertheless not picked up the British; the military high command envisaged limited infantry use of the weapon.

Later the same year, 1887, Maxim's gun was demonstrated to the German Army.  Kaiser Wilhelm II personally attended trials and, duly impressed, authorised its use.  Thus the Maschinengewehr was born - a more or less direct copy of Maxim's invention; similarly the British Vickers and the Russian Pulemyot Maxima were also based upon Maxim's Gun. Effectively both sides used Maxim guns.

MG 08

The Maxim Gun in ANZAC Use:

Auckland Mounted Rifle Machine Gun Company

The Vickers Gun

The Vickers machine gun was based on the successful Maxim gun of the late 19th century. After purchasing the Maxim company outright in 1896, Vickers took the design of the Maxim gun and improved it, reducing its weight by lightening and simplifying the action and substituting components made with high strength alloys. A muzzle booster was also added.

English Vickers gun in action. These only reached most NZ Units after Gallipoli

The British Army formally adopted the Vickers gun as its standard machine gun on 26 November 1912, using it alongside their Maxims. There were still great shortages when the First World War began, and the British Expeditionary Force was still equipped with Maxims when sent to France in 1914. Vickers was, in fact, threatened with prosecution for war profiteering, due to the exorbitant price it was demanding for each gun. As a result, the price was slashed. 

As the war progressed, and numbers increased, it became the British Army's primary machine gun, and served on all fronts during the conflict. When the Lewis Gun was adopted as a light machine gun and issued to infantry units, the Vickers guns were redefined as heavy machine guns, withdrawn from infantry units, and grouped in the hands of the new Machine Gun Corps (when heavier 0.5 in/12.7 mm calibre machine guns appeared, the tripod-mounted, rifle-calibre machine guns like the Vickers became medium machine guns). 

After the First World War, the Machine Gun Corps (MGC) was disbanded and the Vickers returned to infantry units. Before the Second World War, there were plans to replace the Vickers gun; one of the contenders was the 7.92 mm (.312 in) Besa machine gun (a Czech design), which eventually became the British Army's standard tank-mounted machine gun. However, the Vickers remained in service with the British Army until 30 March 1968. Its last documented operational use was in the Radfan during the Aden Emergency, but I was told by my cousin that water-cooled Vickers Guns were still in use by the SA Defence force for suppressive fire at Ruacana Falls in Angola in the late 1970s and early 1980s

Turks with a Vickers gun captured from the British

Stokes Trench Mortar

Mills bomb hand grenades

Gallipoli, Turkey. 1915. ANZAC soldiers making hand grenades from empty jam tins.
(Imperial War Museum Q13281)

Jam-tin grenades or bombs (recreation

German Howitzer in Turkish use at Gallipoli

And who would have thought that they had Airships at Gallipoli ?
Well, maybe not at Chunuk Bair. 

17 June 2013

Horsing around: Revell's German Horse-drawn artillery leFH 18 and Cossacks

Horsing Around: German WW2 Horse-drawn 105mm Light Field Artillery

Modelling Revell's leFH 18 Horsedrawn kit and Cossacks

I seem to have developed a Russian/East front theme to my modelling and painting in the last week. First the IS-2s and now the Revell Cossacks, throwing in the Cossack with a horse on foot strangely included in their Infantry set. 

Have been basing the infantry for FoW, then worked on the Cossack Cavalry. Whilst most modelers will bemoan the presence of the Cossack on foot in the infantry set, I found it useful. The Cossacks can dismount in FoW, send their horses to the rear, and fight on as regular infantry. The dismounted guy will be useful for this, and can also double as an officer with the seated officer with binoculars from the Cossack set for  unit command .

Photographs nicked from Plastic Soldier Review. 
An excellent site about our passion. Recommended reference.

Having built and based these guys I thought I'd stick with the horse theme, and proceeded to work on the German Field Artillery with the LeFH 18 10.5cm field guns. Much to my delight the guns are very detailed, more so than the Zvezda kits I have used before. 

In fact on the table it can be hard to distinguish the Zvezda LeFH 18 from a PAK 40. With the Revell kits there are no doubts.The reason is that two different carraiges are modeled, the earlier model with spoked wheel, the latter with the Pak 40s carriage. The Revell kit also does not have the muzzle brake.

See details below.

German leFH18: 

The 10.5 cm leFH 18 (German: leichte FeldHaubitze "light field howitzer") was a German light howitzer used in World War II.

The 10.5 cm leFH 18 was the standard divisional field howitzer used by the Wehrmacht during the Second World War. It was designed and developed by Rheinmetall in 1929-30 and entered service with the Wehrmacht in 1935. Generally it did not equip independent artillery battalions until after the Battle of Stalingrad in 1943. Before 1938 the leFH 18 was exported to Hungary and Spain. 53 were also exported to Finland.

It had a heavy, simple breech mechanism with a hydro-pneumatic recoil system. The 10.5 cm leFH 18 had wood-spoked or pressed steel wheels. The former were only suitable for horse traction. Initially, it was not fitted with a muzzle brake. In 1941 a muzzle brake was fitted to allow longer range charges to be fired. This increased the range by about 1,800 yards and was known as the leFH 18M. 

In March 1942 a requirement was issued for a lighter howitzer. This led to a second modification, known as the leFH 18/40. This modification consisted of mounting the barrel of an leFH 18M on the carriage for a 7.5 cm PaK 40 antitank gun. The new carriage increased the rate of fire as well as making the howitzer lighter. Additionally, a more efficient muzzle brake was added, decreasing the recoil. Ballistically, the 10.5 cm leFH 18M and the leFH 18/40 are identical.

During the French campaign the leFH 18 was often pressed into service in the anti-tank role when isolated pockets of heavily armoured French tanks, like the Char B and Somua, made breakthroughs. The leFH 18 and the famed "88" were often the only weapons available.

While its weight proved useful in its sturdy construction and as a stable firing platform, it was a draw back when it came to manoeuvrability. It weighed 1985 kgs, which increased to 2050 kgs once the muzzle brake was added. During the Russian winter of 1941/42 the mud proved too much for many leFH 18. Many were abandoned to be captured by the Soviets when their crews could not drag them from the mud. Despite being designed with motor traction in mind, the German artillery still relied heavily on horse drawn limbers as it’s main means of motive power.

During 1942 thought was put into how to over come this design flaw. The final result was the leFH 18/40 which utilised the much lighter PaK 40 trail and wheels (wider wheels were introduced later) for its carriage, though the result wasn’t substantially lighter than its predecessor, 1900 kgs, its was put into production in 1942. The leFH 18 continued to be the main form of artillery in the German army, the introduction of the leFH 18/40 merely supplementing those already in service.

A total of 6986 leFH 18s and 10265 leFH 18/40s were manufactured during the war to add to those already in service in 1939.

The Germans did consider a complete redesign, Krupp, Rheinmetall and Skoda put new designs forward, but none of these designs were adopted.The 10.5 cm leFH 18 howitzer was a good weapon that served the Wehrmacht well. It maybe thought of as the plain Jane of the German gun arsenal when compared to more glamorous contenders like the 8.8cm FlaK 36 and the 7.5 cm PaK 40, but in overall damage done to the Allies the leFH 18 would be hard to beat.