Object Title

9.0 cm BL field gun - 9.0 cm C73 Heavy Field Gun

9.0 cm BL field gun - 9.0 cm C73 Heavy Field Gun

Date

1874

Object Number

XIX.350

Provenance

Purchased from a private collector. The gun was purchased by the seller from a small engineering company in Lowestoft which was being sold after the death of the owner. How the gun came to be at this company is not known, although it is believed to have been in the company's premises for some twenty years.

Physical Description

The barrel has no muzzle moulding, and tapers to the muzzle from a reduction in diameter of the barrel some ten inches ahead of the trunnions. The breech is almost cylindrical, and at its forward end carries the trunnions, which are in line with the axis of the bore. The trunnions spring from flared rectangular bases. The heavy breech ring area was formed as part of the barrel, and is of square section with bevelled corners. The rear face has a circular hole for loading ( ie. there is no opening between this aperture and the side of the breech as there is on later Krupp designed guns using fixed ammunition). The heavy iron breech-block is of rearward facing D-section and was drawn out to the left side for loading by a large T-bar handle of usual Krupp type; with a square section thread locking device ( in this a chord of thread, passing adjacent to the core, is cut away on the locking bar, the remaining part engaging with a similar segment of thread inside the breech ring). A hole the full breech-ring aperture size is bored through from front to rear of the right hand end of the breech block, which is extended to the right to give adequate stability during loading. On top at the rear of the breech ring is a D-shaped iron cup for the location of the head of a friction tube and as a shield to protect the gunners from the tube as it blew from the breech, since the fire channel ran diagonally through the breech block at the centre of the base of the fabric powder cartridge. The right side of the rear of the breech ring is drilled vertically for a sight bar. The foresight is a simple pointed iron peg mounted on the skirt of the right trunnion. The rear face of the breech ring is engraved with No. 238, and 1874 over K.P. The muzzle was originally incised with crossed lines, but these are now faint and any other muzzle markings are now lost through corrosion. The top of the forward part of the barrel is engraved with an imperial German eagle surmounted by a ribbon bearing PRO GLORIA ET PATRIA. The top of the breech tune is engraved with a crowned ER monogram beneath a ribbon bearing ULTIMA RATIO REGIS. The barrel is pitted overall and the breech block is jammed in the fully open position. The bore, which is quite badly corraded, is rifled with 24 quite deep angular grooves, equal in width with the lands.
The carriage consists of two brackets of pressed steel, joined on top of the trail by a half-length upper plate rivetted on and equipped with a tool box. Two flat plate transomes space the forward ends of the brackets and a heavy circular section tapered iron axle is bolted to the underside of their forward ends. The rear of the trail has a stout shoe and towing eye, flanked by two lifting handles. A hinged handspike lies along the left of the trail. Beneath the breech is an elevating screw of two concentric threads, locating in the end of an elevating strap hinged at the front of the brackets and forming a shoe on which the breech of the barrel rests. Two flat struts, attached, attached one to each around the axle adjacent the wheel, behind the breech, end in a circular eye around the axle adjacent the wheel, to prevent the axle twisting during towing. Two A-frames, the base of each A attached by a swivel bar and eyes to the trail, support iron pads fitted with wooden brake shoes (the left shoe missing) which lie behind the rim of each wheel. A handbrake lever and ratchet is mounted on the forward end of the left bracket, but the linkage and wire brake-bands around the hubs are now much out of repair (the left band is missing, and the left tip of the transverse operating bar is lost). The barrel sits in trunnion cups rivetted to the front upper edges of the brackets and is secured by capsquares sliding sideways over L shaped lugs flanking the cups. A sheet brass bearing is fitted in each trunnion cup, from which a rectangular tab from this bearing protrudes. The forward end of both cups and both capsquares are stampd 490. The twelve-spoke wheels are of conventional artillery type with a one-piece bolted iron tyre. One felloe of each wheel is marked with a monogram, (perhaps ML), and the date 1915. The felloes of both wheels are lost at one part of the rim.
Range of 7,108 yd (6,500 m).
Rate of fire of 2 rounds per minute.
Crew of 6.

Dimensions

ProjectileWeight7.42kg
ProjectileWeight16.35lb
AxleWidth76in.
AxleWidth1.9m
Wheeldiameter55in.
Wheeldiameter1.4m
Barrellength83in.
Barrellength2.1m
Carriagelength96in.
Carriagelength2.4m

Firearms/Artillery

Serial Number 238

Calibre

88 mm

Associations

Places Germany

Notes

This type of gun was introduced into German service in 1873 and became the standard German field gun until the introduction of the much more sophisticated model 1896 77mm gun (see XIX.276 for example).
The C 73 was designed during the early 1870s, after the defeat of France in the Franco-Prussian War. Despite its victory, the Prussian army realised the shortcomings of their breechloading [BL] field artillery. But unlike the British following problems with the Armstrong breechloaders, the famous Krupp firm of Essen, persevered with the principle. Krupp designed a better breech mechanism for the C73 to produce their first really effective breechloading field gun. A lighter version was made for the horse artillery, this is a foot artillery example. With further modifications, the C73 [as the C73/88/91, with a nickel steel barrel and change from gunpowder to smokeless propellant] remained in service into the First World War. In its original form, the gun was first loaded with the projectile, then with a bag charge containing gunpowder. After closing and locking the breech, a friction tube was placed in the vent on top of the breech ring. When the lanyard was pulled, this ignited and sent flame down the vent, which was drilled diagonally through the breech block, lining up of course only when the breech was properly closed. This flame then ignited the main charge. [Depending on and if an image is used, the shield for the friction tube can be seen on top of the breech ring]. Leakage of gas from the main charge was prevented by the tight fit of the wedge breech block against the ‘Broadwell Ring’ [obturator] at the end of the chamber; this was a specially-shaped copper ring that acted as a seal.