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"German Conversion of French 75s into Antitank Guns" from Tactical and Technical Trends

The following U.S. military report on German conversion of French 75-mm field artillery guns into antitank guns was published in Tactical and Technical Trends, No. 34, September 23, 1943. Designated the Pak 97/38 (7.5 cm Panzerabwehrkanone 97/38), the German anti-tank gun combined the French 75-mm Model 1897 field artillery with the carriage of the German Pak 38.

[DISCLAIMER: The following text is taken from the U.S. War Department publication Tactical and Technical Trends. As with all wartime intelligence information, data may be incomplete or inaccurate. No attempt has been made to update or correct the text. Any views or opinions expressed do not necessarily represent those of the website.]


Conversion by the Germans of French M-1897 75s to make them suitable for use as antitank guns is described in a translation of an article in a recent issue of a Fighting French publication. The writer of the article comments that the captured French artillery, as converted, may serve as hard-hitting, mobile weapons in antiinvasion operations. It is stated that Germany probably has "a good few thousand" of the French 75s which were captured in Poland and France prior to 1941.

Principal features of the conversion of the French 75s are described as follows:

The barrel seems to have undergone only two external modifications:

(1) The addition of a muzzle brake. This brake, which is of the Bofors type, seems to be exceptionally large. If it is compared with a brake of the same type mounted on high-powered Bofors 75, it can be estimated that it absorbs at least 33 1/3 per cent of the recoil.

In all probability the initial velocity is increased. (The regulation initial velocity of the 75, model 97, firing model 10 armor-piercing, shell was about 1,800 f/s. Before the war it was possible to obtain an initial velocity of about 2,000 f/s with the model 36 Gabaud shell weighing 13.23 pounds. It can be assumed that the initial velocity of the converted gun will be slightly over 2,000 f/s.

(2) The addition of a light box on the upper part of the barrel a little in front of the supports of the clinometer. Its function is not known but it may be the device for establishing the lead on a moving target.

It does not seem that the position of the trunnions has been changed. The disequilibrium created by the addition of the muzzle brake has been compensated for by the addition of a single equilibrator, low-powered and vertical, acting on the right trunnion of the oscillating cylinder.

The Germans have mounted the gun on a 5-cm Pak 38 carriage known as Pak 97/38 or on a 7.5-cm Pak 40 carriage, when it is known as Pak 97/40.

Although a field piece cannot be judged solely by appearance, the conversion described above seems to be particularly good. The only improvements that have not been effected are the automatic opening of the breech and the firing of the piece by the gunner.


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