76mm Divisional Gun Model 1902 (M1902)
Field Artillery / Field Gun
The Russian Empire 76mm Divisional Gun Model of 1902 saw considerable service for an artillery piece, from the Russo-Japanese War to World War 2.
Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited:
In the early part of the 20th Century, the Russian Empire took on two new field guns of note - the Model 1900 and the Model 1902. The former was the first Russian gun available in 76.2mm caliber and incorporated a recoil mechanism for accurized repeat-fire capabilities. Then followed the Model 1902, a divisional-level field gun which offered more modern elements and greater battlefield performance/effectiveness than the earlier design. The M1902 went on to supersede the M1900 series as the M1900 began a process of being handed down to Soviet-supported nations and states. Production of M1902 guns spanned from 1903 until 1931 and these saw combat service in the Russo-Japanese War (1904-1905), World War 1 (1914-1918), the Russian Revolution (1917) (and the internal strife that followed), and were available in various model forms by the time of World War 2 (1939-1945).
Like the M1900 before it, the M1902 was of a conventional design and arrangement for the period. It featured solid, heavily-spoked road wheels and a fixed trail carriage. The recoil mechanism was integral as was the elevation and traverse hardware. Elevation spans reached from -3 to +17 degrees (greater than that as seen on the M1900 series) and traversal was +5 degrees left-to-right from centerline. Rate-of-fire could reach up to 12 rounds-per-minute and maximum reaches were out to 5.28 miles (about equivalent to the preceding M1900 design). A rectangular gun shield was fitted ahead of the breech (which was of an interrupted screw design) and the piece's combat weight was 1,095 kilograms. When set up to travel, the gun weighed 2,380 kilograms requiring use of animals or mover vehicles for long-distance transportation.
After the Russian Revolution was over and things had settled somewhat, thought was given to modernizing the existing stocks of M1900 and M1902 pieces. In 1930 work began to bring these systems to a more viable fighting form as new barrels and new ammunition was introduced. Both the M1900 and M1902 were modernized under the new collective designation of "Model 02/30" and formed the primary light artillery piece of the Soviet Army heading into World War 2.
As such, the aging weapon was in play during the German invasion of the Soviet Union through "Operation Barbarossa" in June of 1941 and this saw large stocks of these guns fall into enemy hands amidst the German advance on Moscow. The Germans, all too eager to strengthen and defend their holds, redesignated these captured systems as 76.2cm FK 295/1(r) and 76.2cm FK 295/2(r) - the difference in designations lay in the original, shorter L/30 length barrels and the newer, longer L/40 length barrels. German use of these guns constituted second-line roles and many were featured along the famed "Atlantic Wall".
Despite this setback, the guns continued in their form and function throughout the grand war. Its availability was such that thousands were still in circulation in the post-war years and fielded by lesser armies still requiring a low-cost, readily available field piece. Many fell to the Chinese, North Koreans and Vietnam in the decades following and promptly featured in the Korean War (1950-1953) and Vietnam War (1955-1975) for a time.