MANUFACTURER(S): Skoda Works - Czechoslovakia
OPERATORS: Czechoslovakia; Nazi Germany
Detailing the development and operational history of the Skoda 76.5mm kanon vz. 30 76.5mm Towed Field Gun.
Entry last updated on 5/10/2017.
Authored by Staff Writer. Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com.
Second only to Krupp of Germany, Skoda Works of the Austro-Hungarian empire proved itself an instrumental participant in artillery gun design and production for various European powers of the late19th and early 20th centuries. The famous Skoda Works in Pilsen then fell within the borders of newly-established Czechoslovakia following the close of World War 1 (1914-1918) - which also witnessed the end of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The facility went on to benefit Czech military industry and economy immensely during the lead-up to World War 2 (1939-1945).
After The Great War concluded in late 1918, there was a glut of readily-available war-making material in the global marketplace. This forced Skoda to turn to new ideas to help sell products to global armies still reeling from the effects of a massive worldwide military drawdown. In the late 1920s, work began a new niche weapon intended as a multi-role solution covering general field gun use, mountain operations, and anti-aircraft support. The end result produced two distinct versions of gun - a 75mm field gun form as the "75mm kanon vz 28" and a 100mm howitzer mountain form as the "100mm houfnice vz 28". Both were developed with anti-aircraft capabilities in mind by having a barrel elevation function of +80 degrees. By all other qualities, the weapon systems were highly conventional, featuring twin-wheeled carriages for towing and breech-loading hardware for quick reloading. For full 360-degree traversal, a turntable could be set under the guns to help them rotate in place.
The weapons were quickly taken on by the forces of Romania and Yugoslavia through export. By this time, the anti-aircraft function was a less marketed quality for the weapons held little value in that role. Instead, their transportability and field function were the proven qualities going forward.
The local Czech Army thought enough of the two designs to adopt them in 1930 so the original 75mm field guns were modified to the 76.5mm caliber while the 100mm howitzers were given slightly modified carriages featuring new rubber tires. The field gun became the "76.5mm kanon vz 30" and the howitzer was designated as the '100mm houfnice vz 30".
Despite the clear tactical value of the weapons, they were not used in anger at any point prior to the German takeover of Czechoslovakia in the late 1930s. The rapidly changing European landscape suddenly found the Skoda Works under German control and existing stocks of these effective guns were quickly made German Army property - producing the "7.65mm FK30(t)" designation for the field guns and the "10cm leFH 30(t)" designation for the howitzers. From then on, Skoda was to supply any new guns, ammunition, and related components solely for German Army consumption.
In German hands, the weapons proved themselves excellent artillery pieces and were used in both offensive and defensive roles when possible during World War 2. The guns soldiered on throughout the war which ended in 1945. A collection of these artillery pieces were showcased along Hitler's fabled "Atlantic Wall" defensive line protecting the northern approaches of France against an amphibious attack from the English Channel. Despite never being officially used to engage low-flying aircraft (its rate-of-fire was much too slow and its accuracy against moving targets quite poor), the elevation capability of the barrel made it an effective gun in mountain warfare.