COASTAL ARTILLERY 1:

 

Light Coastal Guns

 

 

This is the first page delving into subject of Finnish coastal artillery weaponry from year 1918 to year 1945. Once Russian military had been forced to leave Finland in 1918, Finnish military was fortunate to inherit powerful coastal artillery, which had been built as Peter the Great's Naval Fortress System. Since most of this fortification system designed to defend Finnish coast and protect sea route to St. Petersburg had been built in 1914 - 1917, its coastal forts were quite modern, although large part of the artillery pieces used to equip it were already old-fashioned. During 1920's and 1930's Finnish military modernized both the coastal forts and improving equipment, but this did not extend into acquiring new artillery pieces. Hence when Winter War broke out in 30th of November Finnish coastal artillery had numerous new coastal forts, it was using new improved methods and had improved ammunition, but even after all improvements the artillery pieces that it had were still same individual guns that had been captured in 1918.

Finnish coastal artillery listed all guns less than 100-mm in caliber to be light coastal guns. According the original concept this sort of guns had been for rapid-fire against light craft like torpedo boats, defending beaches against landing troops and so on. Those of these guns, which had been equipped with gun mounts that provided enough elevation also saw anti-aircraft use, even if they were not as suitable for this sort of use as purpose-build anti-aircraft guns. One must note that practically all purpose-built light coastal guns had been or were used also on ships and in coastal artillery use were intended for fixed positions. However these "real" coastal guns were not the only light guns to see large-scale use with Finnish coastal artillery. The story of would not be complete without telling the significant role of light field guns and heavy anti-aircraft guns in this use.

During World War 2 large and versatile selection of light field guns often referred as "auxiliary guns" served with Finnish coastal artillery. Reasons for this are numerous. There were not enough fixed coastal guns to cover all places, nor would there have been enough troops for that either. So the need for mobile coastal artillery batteries was recognized already before World War 2, but besides few dozen old 87 K/95 field guns there was little equipment available for this purpose pre-war. During Winter War (11/1939 - 3/1940) France donated Finland large stockpile of old 19th century artillery pieces such as 90 K/77 field gun, which were pressed to this role. Only during Continuation War (6/1941 - 9/1944) when Finnish field artillery started getting better equipment, did more modern field artillery pieces really become available for the coastal artillery.

The weapons transferred from field artillery to coastal artillery at that time were mostly light field guns. Field artillery used the situation as an opportunity to get rid of its oldest and less common artillery pieces, while trying to at least slightly reduce large variety of artillery pieces in its use, which made sense but apparently also caused certain degree of bitterness among coastal artillery. There was a certain sentiment according which many in coastal artillery saw that their service arm was used as dumping ground for old and in some cases unfit equipment and this attitude was not completely unfounded. Field artillery served in the frontlines, while coastal artillery defended sections of the whole coast - most of which never came under attack. So, when it came to number of shots fired, field artillery typically had its artillery pieces in much harder use than those used than those used by coastal artillery. Hence the issues often related to rare artillery pieces, namely weaker availability of spare parts and ammunition, could be expected to be lesser problem for coastal artillery. It is also worth noting that coastal artillery was using light guns mainly for direct-fire use, in which use worn gun barrels were notably smaller issue than in normal (indirect fire) use of field artillery. Light field guns that saw use with coastal artillery during World War 2 included field guns 87 K/95, 90 K/77, 75 K/97, 75 K/01, 75 K/02, 75 K/17, 76 K/00, 76 K/02, 76 K/02-30/40, 76 K/22, 76 K/23, 76 K/36, 76 K/37 and mountain gun 76 VK/04.

PICTURE: 75 K/97 field gun in use of coastal artillery. Notice gun platform, which Finnish coastal artillery often used with field guns during Continuation War. This sort of coastal artillery platform placed under the gun allowed the guns to have 360-degree traverse, increased their maximum elevation (-> maximum range) and made shooting moving surface targets (ships) notably easier. Photo taken in Järisevä on Taipale Peninsula in January of 1943. (SA-kuva photo archive, photo number 122438). CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (194 KB).

Another type of artillery piece included to this caliber range and widely used by Finnish coastal artillery was heavy anti-aircraft gun. Coastal artillery had its own anti-aircraft units, whose guns also were normally used against surface targets, when needed. It must be noted that 75 mm - 76 mm anti-aircraft guns proved surprisingly successful in this dual-use role, even if coastal artillery was equipped with oldest and most ineffective of the heavy anti-aircraft guns in Finnish inventory. These old anti-aircraft-guns included 75 ItK/97-14 P, 76 ItK/14, 76 ItK/02/34, 76 ItK/16-35 Br and 76 ItK/16 V. Only year 1944 it finally succeeded acquiring really modern anti-aircraft guns, with 72 (German-captured) Soviet 76 ItK/31 ss bought from Germany issued at that time. In addition of of heavy anti-aircraft guns, also some medium anti-aircraft guns saw plenty of use with coastal artillery. While 40/60 BI (40-mm Bofors) was commonly used by anti-aircraft units of coastal artillery, the main user of 40/40 V (40-mm Vickers) during Continuation War was coastal artillery which used them mainly for beach defense.

PICTURE: 40/40 V15 coastal gun, aka 40 ItK/15 V anti-aircraft gun. (Photo taken in Ilmatorjuntamuseo). CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (187 KB).

Considering that majority of the guns to which this particular page concentrates were either versions of 57-mm Hotchkiss quick firing cannon or based to it, going through its basic history is in order. First quick-firing guns appeared to naval use in end of 19th century. The most important of these gun designs were 57-mm/6-pound Hotchkiss gun and Nordenfelt gun of the same caliber. When it comes to popularity among military forces worldwide and resulting sales, the Hotchkiss gun proved more successful of the two. However when it comes to Finland, the situation was different with 57-mm Nordenfelt for all purposes becoming the standard artillery piece of this type and other artillery pieces of this caliber usually being modified to use its ammunition. The reason for this exceptional situation was quite easy. Still during World War 2 light coastal artillery weaponry used by Finnish Coastal Artillery was based to artillery pieces left behind by Russian military, when it withdrew from Finland in 1918. When it came to these guns in addition of actual 57-mm Hotchkiss and its copies, Russia military left behind a mix of smaller 47-mm guns, which had originally been acquired for ships for which normal 57-mm gun would have been too large and heavy. In addition of guns designed for naval and coastal use, Finnish coastal artillery used variety of guns and large number of field artillery pieces transferred from field artillery. Some of the guns listed in this page also saw use in armoured trains built by Finnish Red Guards in Fredriksberg Engineering Works during Finnish Civil War in 1918. After the Civil War the guns used in these armored trains got returned to use of coastal artillery.

 

47/40 H

(47 mm coastal gun with 40 caliber barrel, model Hotchkiss)

(3 pound quick firing naval cannon model Hotchkiss)

PICTURE: 47/40 H coastal gun. Notice recoil system on both sides of gun barrel. Photo taken on Martinsaari Island in Virolahti July of 1941. (SA-kuva photo archive, photo number 23446). CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (162 KB).

47/40 O

(47 mm coastal gun with 40 caliber barrel, model Obuhov)

PICTURE: 47/40 O coastal gun. Notice recoil system under the gun. Photo taken in Mustamaa Coastal Fort August of 1944. (SA-kuva photo archive, photo number 156573). CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (189 KB).

Calibre:

47 mm x 376 R (fixed ammunition)

Barrel length:

204.8 cm aka L/43.6

Weight in action:

47/40 H: 632 kg / 482 kg (*)

47/40 O: 557 kg (gun) + 73 kg (gun shield)

Rate of fire:

20 shots/minute (maximum)

Muzzle velocity:

700 - 715 m/sec

Traverse:

360 degrees

Elevation:

47/40 H: - 22 degrees, + 24 degrees

47/40 O: - 18 degrees, + 16 degrees

Max. range:

5.5 km

Ammunition weight:

about 1.5 kg (HE) (**)

Ammunition types:

HE

Country of origin:

France / Russia

(*) Weight with Hotchkiss gun mount / with elastic gun mount.

(**) Weight of the whole fixed round was 2.7 kg.

Finnish use: Finnish coastal artillery used about 20 Hotchkiss guns and 50 Obuhov guns left behind by Russian military year 1918. During World War 2 they were used for beach defense and few guns on auxiliary gunboats.

Hotchkiss 47-mm (3 pound) gun was a smaller version of 57-mm (6 pound) quick firing gun. While not as popular as the 57-mm version countries that used it included at least France, Great Britain, Russia and United States. What is known Russian Navy had tested 47-mm Hotchkiss quick firing guns the first time around year 1879 and had started acquiring them in real numbers in year 1884. Russian Obuhov plant designed its own version of the gun, which it manufactured 1888 - 1896. By year 1901 Russian Navy had acquired about 700 guns from these two manufacturers. For all practical purposes these were smaller and lighter versions of 57-mm (6 pound) Hotchkiss quick firing cannon. Russian Navy used in them large numbers as deck guns intended for shooting small fast-moving targets - such as torpedo boats. During Russian - Japanese War of 1904 - 1905 Russian Navy suffered several humiliating defeats, which partly resulted 47-mm deck guns being removed from larger ships, while their use in some smaller ships like torpedo boats and minesweepers seem to have continued. During World War 1 Russian military had some of the guns were equipped with new dual use gun mounts, which allowed them maximum elevation of 80 or 85 degrees, due to which they could used against zeppelins and aircraft.

PICTURE: Good example how things sometimes are not always what they seem. This 47/40 gun looks like Hotchkiss with early gun mount version, but brass plate on it indicates that it is actually direct copy made by Obuhov in year 1896. (Photo taken in Lentusadam Seaplane Harbor Museum in Tallinn). CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (134 KB).

Obuhov's version was quite a close copy of Hotchkiss gun. They both had breech system with vertical sliding breech block and "quarter-automatic" breech system, which after firing a shot extracted cartridge case and armed, but did not open breech for the next round. In addition they used the same 47-mm x 376 R ammunition. The main differences in between the two were in gun mounts, which were all pedestal gun mounts, but came in numerous designs. Early Hotchkiss gun mount designs lacked recoil system of any kind, with later elastic gun mount version forming a cage of metal strips which flexed in recoil and latest gun mounts containing a recoil system of hydraulic buffer and spring recuperator. The elastic gun mount had been manufactured by Obuhov for Hotchkiss guns. The recoil system used in these latest Hotchkiss gun mounts had cylinders of recoil system on both side of the gun. Obuhov gun mount on the other hand had its recoil system cylinder (also containing hydraulic buffer and spring recuperator) placed under gun barrel, which made the gun more compact. Obuhov had also manufactured for these guns some Meller gun mounts, which had mercury-filled buffer and pneumatic recuperator. Due to their original role as deck guns, most common gun mounts used in these guns had larger negative than positive elevation - in other words they had been designed to mostly shoot downwards. Some of the gun mounts had gun shields, but not all. Two of the 47/40 O guns had been equipped with anti-aircraft gun mounts, which allowed maximum elevation of about 80 degrees. This anti-aircraft gun mount was a pedestal gun mount, which contained arm equipped with counter-weight system under the gun barrel.

When Russian military left from Finland in 1918, it left behind rather large number of these guns and also some ships equipped with them. These ships included eight C-class torpedo boats, from which four were taken to Finnish use, mine layer Louhi (M1) and five A-class minesweepers. Year 1918 during Finnish Civil War some of these guns saw use in armored trains built in Fredriksberg Engineering Works for the Finnish Red Guards.

Year 1937 inventory lists 47/40 coastal guns in Finnish inventory as:

  • 16 Hotchkiss guns (with 2 anti-aircraft guns among them).
  • 54 Obuhov guns.
  • During Continuation War Finnish Navy and Coastal Defense had some 16 - 17 Hotchkiss guns and 48 - 49 Obuhov guns. Since some of the earlier damaged or worn-out guns were repaired with missing parts were manufactured for them during Continuation War. By May of 1944 the total number of these guns in Finnish use had reached to 19 Hotchkiss guns and 56 Obuhov guns. Some Finnish military documents listed 47/40 O as model 1896. During World War 2 grand majority of guns were issued to Coastal Artillery, but few saw also use on some of the small ships and boats used by Finnish Navy. During World War 2 there also seem to have been some attempts of increasing mobility of existing 47/40 coastal guns. During Winter War four of the guns issued to coastal artillery in north-west part of Lake Laatokka / Ladoga were installed on sleighs and period photos suggest that year 1941 at least one gun used by coastal artillery in Hanko / Hango / Gangut Peninsula had been installed on two-axle gun carriage. They were also used as main guns for minelayer Yrjö and auxiliary gunboat Aunus, which both operated on Lake Laatokka / Ladoga. During Continuation War they were again used on Lake Laatokka / Ladoga as main guns of auxiliary gunboats Aunus (*) and Kukkapää.

    (*) Winter War era and Continuation War era auxiliary gunboat Aunus were two different boats.

    Even by Finnish World War 2 era standards these guns were old-fashioned. They were designed to be aimed by hand and had only iron sights. Their ballistics were reasonably good, rate of fire quite high for guns this old and thanks to simple structural design also reliability seems to have been relatively good. Coastal artillery used them in fixed positions for defending beaches, purpose for which they were relatively well suited. Their guns mounts could be bolted to ship deck, concrete structure or when needed to wooden log frame. Last of the guns were not scrapped until 1960's at which time they saw use as sub-caliber live firing training liners for 152/45 C coastal guns.

     

    57/26 Ka "Korpraalitykki"

    (57 mm coastal gun with 26 caliber barrel, model Kapioner, "Corporal Gun")

    PICTURE: 57/26 Ka coastal gun. Photo taken on Vuoratsu Island on northern part of Lake Laatokka / Ladoga August of 1941. (SA-kuva photo archive, photo number 37167). CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (219 KB).

    Calibre:

    57 mm x 224 R (fixed ammunition)

    Barrel length:

    L/26.3

    Weight in action:

    about 750 kg (whole gun with gun carriage)

    Rate of fire:

    ? shots/minute

    Muzzle velocity:

    420 m/sec

    Traverse:

    360 degrees

    Elevation:

    - 6 degrees, + 10 degrees

    Max. range:

    3.0 – 4.0 km

    Ammunition weight:

    2.6 kg (HE)

    Ammunition types:

    HE, APHE

    Country of origin:

    Russia

    Finnish use: Finnish coastal artillery took to its use 17 guns left behind by Russian military in 1918. They were mostly used for beach defense, but in addition 8 guns saw combat use in gun bunkers of Mannerheim line during Winter War.

    This quite old-fashioned quick-firing gun had been introduced to Russian military use year 1892 and intended as flank firing gun for fortifications and as close-range artillery weapon. While the gun carriage was peculiar and rather poorly suited to about any use and the gun lacked recoil system of any kind, it still had a rather modern breech system with vertical sliding breech block, which allowed relatively high rate of fire. Originally the high pyramid-shaped gun carriage used with these guns had four small wheels – one in each corner. This gun carriage was intended to be attached to wooden floor with separate steel frame to secure it against recoil. However Finnish World War 2 era photos show that the wheels had been removed and bottom of the gun carriage had been equipped with steel sleeve, which was bolted on the wooden or concrete floor - no information exists if this change was done already before Winter War. All that can be said for sure is that it seems to have happened by year 1941. The gun could be rotated on top of the gun carriage for lateral laying while elevation was set with a elevation screw which had its own hand wheel. Period photos and drawings show that guns used by Finnish military during World War 2 had second hand wheel used for more accurate lateral laying of the gun, since this sort of system does not appear in old Russian sources, it might be a Finnish-made modification.

    PICTURE: 57/26 Ka coastal gun. Notice how the gun carriage has been bolted to wooden floor with a steel sleeve. Photo taken in River Syväri / Svir March of 1942. (SA-kuva photo archive, photo number 78083). CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (226 KB).

    Apparently year 1918 Russian military left behind 17 of these of these guns. Due to their old-fashioned structural design and low muzzle velocity these guns were poorly suited for use of coastal artillery, but were used by it anyway. Coastal artillery used them for beach defense, but most action they saw during Winter War in Mannerheim-line, when eight of them were installed to gun bunkers on northern shores of River Vuoksi and Lake Suvanto. During the war nine 57/26 K and eleven 57/48 No coastal guns were used to equip these gun bunkers originally built in 1923 - 1924 and saw heavy fighting in Winter War. When building of new fortified Salpa-line to new eastern border was started after Winter War, 15 of these guns were issued to its blocking batteries (direct-fire batteries), typically installed to gun pits and bolted on timber frames for this purpose.

    Guns used in gun bunkers of Mannerheim-line:

    bunker location:

    57/48 No

    57/26K

    75/50 C

    Oravaniemi Cape

    3

    0

    -

    Noisniemi Cape

    4

    0

    -

    Kiviniemi

    0

    1 (*)

    1 (*)

    Hovinniemi Cape

    2

    2

    -

    Kekinniemi Cape

    1

    3

    -

    Patoniemi Cape

    1

    3

    -

    total:

    11

    8/9

    0/1

    (*) Originally Kiviniemi gun bunker had 75/50 C gun, which was replaced with 57/26 K in 19th of January 1940.

    PICTURE: Map showing locations of gun bunkers equipped with light coastal guns in Mannerheim-line during Winter War. CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (200 KB).

    Besides modern high explosive (HE) shells this gun could fire also armor piecing high explosive (APHE) shells. This rather old-fashioned APHE ammunition had projectile, which weight 4.58 kg, had muzzle velocity of 420 meters per second and contained 105-gram explosive charge of black powder.

     

    57/48 No "Nortti"

    (57 mm coastal gun with 48 caliber barrel, model Nordenfelt)

    (6 pound quick firing Nordenfelt coastal gun)

    PICTURE: 57/48 No coastal gun. This gun is rather easy to identify from its gun shield. (Photo taken in Coastal Artillery Museum). CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (158 KB).

    Calibre:

    57 mm x 409 R (fixed ammunition)

    Barrel length:

    272.7 cm aka L/47.8

    Weight in action:

    1000 kg (gun with gun shield and gun carriage)

    Rate of fire:

    20 shots/minute (maximum)

    Muzzle velocity:

    628 - 660 m/sec

    Traverse:

    360 degrees

    Elevation:

    - 14 degrees, + 16 degrees

    Max. range:

    9.0 km

    Ammunition weight:

    2.6 kg (HE) (*)

    Ammunition types:

    HE, APHE, SAPHE, shrapnel, grape shot (**)

    Country of origin:

    ?

    (*) Weight for the whole fixed round 4.9 kg.

    (**) Small number of grape shot was still in ammunition inventory in year 1935, but may have been removed from use before World War 2.

    Finnish use: Some 35 - 40 left behind by the Russian military in 1918 taken to use of Finnish coastal artillery. De facto standard Finnish coastal artillery 57-mm gun, whose ammunition all other coastal guns of this caliber were modified to use. During World War 2 used for beach defense, 11 guns used in gun bunkers of Mannerheim line during Winter War and also used by direct fire batteries of fortification artillery.

    This gun was unusual in two ways. Unlike basically all other light coastal guns used by Finnish military, 57-mm Nordenfelt had originally been acquired as a coastal gun - to be specific Russian military had originally acquired them as ranging guns for coastal artillery. This gun had also lost to its main competitor 57-mm (6 pound) Hotchkiss quick firing gun in the international market, but still got the de facto status of standard gun of its caliber in Finland. It gained some commercial success with (British) Royal Navy and Belgian Army with some captured Belgian guns even ending up to German A7V tanks during World War 1, but never gained real success. One must note that apparently both British and Belgian guns fired notably less powerful ammunition than 57 mm x 410 R used in Russian-acquired guns. What is known it had been officially added to Russian military inventory in year 1892 and had remained in use of Russian coastal artillery until World War 1. When Russian military left Finland in 1918, it was the most common among guns of its caliber left behind, with some 35 - 40 guns falling to Finnish hands.

    57-mm Nordenfelt had rather unusual but effective structural design, which made the gun itself notably lighter than its main competitor, but due to gun mount design the resulted whole gun was not particularly light - it literally weight a (metric) ton. The gun was on top of Y-shaped fork made from bronze, which rotated on top of cylinder-shaped lower section of gun mount manufactured from steel. The recoil mechanism was placed under the gun and in its structural simplicity included a simple lever and a spring mechanism, which served both as a buffer and recuperator. Originally the old gun mounts had a very long cylinder-shaped lower section which had been intended to be dug into ground. While the stability of such arrangement can only be considered questionable, apparently this was not considered to be a real issue. Aiming of the gun was done with hand wheels and the guns had either optical or iron sights.

    Due to its large numbers 57/48 Nordenfelt gained the status of de facto standard 57-mm coastal gun for Finnish coastal artillery. For the purpose of simplifying ammunition supply in 1920's other 57-mm coastal guns existing in Finnish inventory were modified to use Nordenfelt's 57 mm x 410 R ammunition. When the gun was installed on rock, concrete structure or wooden log frame, the lower section of gun mount was cut and equipped with steel collar, which could be bolted to any of these platforms. Finnish soldiers apparently called this gun with nickname "Nortti", which was also commonly used nickname for popular cigarette brand.

    PICTURE: Closer look behind gun shield of 57/48 No coastal gun. Notice closed breech, it is operated by the handle on its right side - pulling down from the handle opens the breach. (Photo taken in Coastal Artillery Museum). CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (97 KB).

    During World War 2 these guns saw extensive combat use with Finnish military and not only with coastal artillery. Finnish Winter War era main defense line in Carelian Isthmus, Mannerheim line, had six gun bunkers built to northern shores of River Vuoksi and Lake Suvanto in 1920's. These bunkers were in Oravaniemi Cape, Noisniemi Cape, Kiviniemi Cape, Hovinniemi Cape, Kekinniemi Cape and Patoniemi Cape. When Winter War started in November of 1939 only one of these bunkers (Kiviniemi) had guns, while the others were unarmed. Only after strong opposition in December of 1939 Navy provided personnel and 57-mm coastal guns needed for getting them operational - 11 Nordenfelt (57/48 No) and 8 Kapioner (57/26 K)guns were installed to these gun bunkers. Especially Kekinniemi and Patoniemi bunkers saw heavy fighting during the war. As usual with guns of this caliber range coastal artillery used Nordenfelt guns for defending beaches. After Winter War 57-mm guns evacuated from the earlier mentioned gun bunkers and coastal batteries of Lake Laatokka / Ladoga were used to equip blocking batteries (direct-fire batteries) of fortification artillery in parts of Salpa-line in area of Lake Saimaa. Presumably the number of 57/48 No guns used in Salpa-line blocking batteries was 11 guns. But their service in Salpa-line seems to have been cut short, before they were replaced with field guns and got transferred back to coastal artillery. Unlike other light coastal guns equipped on pedestal gun mounts, 57/48 No were ever used on ships of Finnish Navy. During the war Finnish soldiers found this gun to be highly reliable and easy to use even in most difficult to conditions. Nordenfelt 57-mm continued in active service with Finnish coastal artillery until in 1950's, when the guns were worn-out. Sometimes Finnish documents refer to this gun as 57/48 NR, in which the "NR" is probably referring to Nordenfelt Rannikkotykki (Nordenfelt coastal gun).

    Ammunition available for this gun included high explosive (HE), armor piercing high explosive (APHE), semi-armor piercing high explosive (SAPHE) and shrapnel. While HE-shell was rather modern design filled with TNT, the APHE-ammunition used similar old-fashioned 4.58-kg projectiles, which had muzzle velocity of 420 m/sec, as 57/26 K coastal gun. SAPHE ammunition had 652 m/sec muzzle velocity.

     

    57/58 H

    (57 mm coastal gun with 58 caliber barrel, model Hotchkiss)

    (6 pound quick firing Hotchkiss coastal gun)

    PICTURE: 57/58 H coastal gun. (Photo taken on Kuivasaari Island). CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (185 KB).

    Calibre:

    57 mm x 520 R / 57 mm x 409 R (fixed ammunition) (*)

    Barrel length:

    315.1 cm aka L/55.4

    Weight in action:

    1975 kg (gun with gun shield and gun carriage)

    Rate of fire:

    20 shots/minute (maximum)

    Muzzle velocity:

    675 - 700 m/sec

    Traverse:

    360 degrees

    Elevation:

    - 15 degrees, + 18 degrees

    Max. range:

    9.7 km / 9.0 km (**)

    Ammunition weight:

    ? kg (HE)

    Ammunition types:

    HE, APHE, SAPHE, shrapnel

    Country of origin:

    Finland

    (*) Originally these guns used 57 mm x 520 R ammunition, in 1920's they were modified to use less powerful 57 mm x 409 R ammunition.

    (**) Maximum range 9.7 km with 57 mm x 520 R ammunition / 9.0 km with 57 mm x 409 R ammunition.

    Finnish use: Year 1939 there was 17 of these guns in use of Finnish coastal artillery, but by end of Continuation War their number had dropped to just 8 guns. During World War 2 they were used mainly for beach defense, but four guns also used on VMV patrol boats VMV 101 - 103 and VMV 105.

    As noted, 57-mm (6 pound) Hotchkiss was the most successful quick firing light naval / coastal gun introduced in late 19th century. Countries whose military used it included Denmark, Finland, France, Great Britain, Ireland, Iceland, Japan, Russia / Soviet Union and United States. What is known Russia acquired first 57-mm Hotchkiss guns for its Navy in year 1904. Russian Imperial Navy used three versions of this gun, which had barrel lengths of L/40, L50 and L/58. Russian Navy used them shortly on destroyers, but once they proved too ineffective transferred them to coastal artillery around 1911 - 1912. The Russians had some of them converted into anti-aircraft gun mounts during World War 1.

    These were fixed guns on pedestal mounts with recoil system containing the typical combination of hydraulic buffer and recuperator. They had gun shields and breech system with vertical sliding breech block. The breech system was semi-automatic in sense of those days - in other words after firing a shot it extracted cartridge case, armed the firing mechanism and opened breech for the next round. The gun was aimed with hand wheels, but the gun could also be aimed by hand after the hand-wheel system had been switched off. At least some of the guns had been equipped with optical sights. Originally these guns used 57 mm x 520 R ammunition, but in 1920's along other 57-mm guns in Finnish use, they were modified to use 57 mm x 409 R ammunition originally used in 57/48 Nordenfelt. However, in this case the modification was made in such manner, that if needed the guns could still be returned to use their original ammunition. While 57 mm x 409 ammunition produced smaller muzzle velocity than 57 mm x 520 R, soldiers serving in Finnish coastal artillery must have found the modification positive - when firing their original ammunition these guns had reputation of being extremely loud to extent of busting ear drums of gunners operating them. Before World War in 1930's there were plans about equipping as many as ten of these guns with gun anti-aircraft or dual-use gun mount, which would have allowed them to be used as anti-aircraft guns, but this plan never went into action.

    PICTURE: Another view to 57/58 H coastal gun. (Photo taken on Kuivasaari Island). CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (218 KB).

    Apparently all 57/58 H guns taken to Finnish use originated from Russian coastal batteries around Koivisto / Bolšoi Berezovyi Island. Year 1939 Finnish military had 17 of these guns, but by end of Continuation War their number had dropped to only 8 guns. Even if State Artillery Factory (Valtion Tykkitehdas = VTT) manufactured new gun mounts, gun barrels and other parts for these guns during World War 2, some of the guns were in such of poor shape that they were scrapped already during Continuation War. Four of the guns were used to equip German Infanterielandungs Boote bought to Finnish military and operated by Finnish Navy on Lake Laatokka / Ladoga in 1942 - 1944 and named as VMV patrol boats VMV 101 - 103 and VMV 105. The official naming abbreviation used with these guns seems to have varied over place and time, with abbreviations H, HL, Ho and HN being used for them. After World War these guns returned to depot, but after repairs they were re-issued for training use starting year 1949. The post-war improvements made in depots at that time included adding equipment for measuring angle of elevation & bearing and new gun sights. These guns remained in active training use until year 1965.

     

    75/50 C

    (75 mm coastal gun with 50 caliber barrel, model Canet)

    (75 mm / 50 naval gun model 1892)

    75/50 C (Canet naval mount):

    PICTURE: 75/50 O coastal/naval gun. This was the oldest gun mount version. Notice that the gun has been inverted to increase its maximum range - resulting recoil mechanism being on top of the gun. (Photo taken in Coastal Artillery Museum). CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (150 KB).

    Calibre:

    75 mm x 660 R (fixed ammunition)

    Barrel length:

    375.0 cm aka L/50

    Weight in action:

    2979 kg (whole gun with gun carriage)

    Rate of fire:

    15 shots/minute (maximum)

    Muzzle velocity:

    750 - 823 m/sec

    Traverse:

    360 degrees

    Elevation:

    - 10 degrees, + 32 degrees

    Max. range:

    9.6 - 9.8 km

    Ammunition weight:

    5.7 - 6.3 kg (HE)

    Ammunition types:

    HE, APHE, shrapnel, star shell

    Country of origin:

    Russia

     

    75/50 O (Ohuhov naval mount):

    PICTURE: 75/50 O coastal/naval gun. This was the most common version of 75/50 gun used by Finnish Navy. (Photo taken on Kuivasaari Island). CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (235 KB).

    Calibre:

    75 mm x 660 R (fixed ammunition)

    Barrel length:

    375.0 cm aka L/50

    Weight in action:

    2556 kg (whole gun with gun carriage) (*)

    Rate of fire:

    10 or 15 shots/minute (maximum)

    Muzzle velocity:

    750 - 823 m/sec

    Traverse:

    360 degrees

    Elevation:

    - 10 degrees, + 20 degrees

    Max. range:

    10 km

    Ammunition weight:

    5.7- 6.3 kg (HE)

    Ammunition types:

    HE, APHE, shrapnel, star shell

    Country of origin:

    Russia

    (*) Weight for the whole gun with gun carriage and gun shield if used in specific version. Exact weight varied depending gun carriage and if the gun had been inverted on its gun carriage.

     

    75/50 OH (naval howitzer mount):

    PICTURE: 75/50 OH coastal gun. The breech is missing from this indivual gun. This was the favourite version of 75/50 gun for coastal artillery. (Photo taken on Kuivasaari Island). CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (188 KB).

    Calibre:

    75 mm x 660 R (fixed ammunition)

    Barrel length:

    375.0 cm aka L/50

    Weight in action:

    2880 kg (whole gun with gun carriage) (*)

    Rate of fire:

    10 - 12 shots/minute (maximum)

    Muzzle velocity:

    750 - 823 m/sec

    Traverse:

    360 degrees

    Elevation:

    - 9 degrees, + 65 degrees

    Max. range:

    12.9 km

    Ammunition weight:

    5.7 - 6.3 kg (HE)

    Ammunition types:

    HE, APHE, shrapnel, star shell

    Country of origin:

    Russia

    (*) Weight for the whole gun with gun carriage and gun shield if used in specific version. Exact weight varied depending gun carriage and if the gun had been inverted on its gun carriage.

    Finnish use: About 100 guns left behind by Russian military in year 1918 taken to Finnish use.

    French artillery engineer Gustave Canet designed an artillery system, which caught Russian interest and resulted Imperial Russia buying blueprints for the guns and ammunition in year 1891. Also the interrupted screw breech system used in these guns named after Gustave Canet as Canet screw breech. This gun was the smallest of Canet guns manufactured in Russia and its manufacturing started year 1892. Russian Obuhov and Perm artillery factories manufactured it for Russian Navy presumably until early 1920's. Russian Navy installed them to its ships mainly as anti-torpedo boat guns and after Russian - Japanese War of 1904 - 1905 they replaced much of the remaining 47-mm and 57-mm guns in this use. During Russian Civil War in 1917 - 1922 they were also commonly used in armored trains.

    During its service history 75/50 guns saw use with variety of gun mounts, which were all pedestal type and equipped with modern recoil systems. Original Canet gun mount was very bulky and heavy, equipped with pneumatic buffer and spring recuperator and hand wheels for laying the gun. Around 1896 - 1898 Captain A.P. Meller designed notably smaller, higher and lighter gun mount, which had hydro-pneumatic recuperator and hand wheel only for adjusting elevation, with gunner rotating laying it rotating the gun mount by pushing it with his shoulder. Later for example St. Petersburg metal factory manufacturers its own gun mount design for 75-mm Canet and during World War 1 Meller designed dual-use mount suitable for anti-aircraft use. Finnish Armed Forces also knew this version also as 75 mm Zenit-Meller anti-aircraft gun.

    Majority of the 75/50 Canet guns taken to Finnish use originated from Russian coastal installations with notably smaller number being captured with warships, which the Russian Navy had left behind in 1918. At least partly due to these guns serving in several roles, Finnish military had several naming system for these and sometimes the naming systems did not agree or provided several naming options for the same gun. The number of variations and further complication is that lot of the guns, but not all were inverted on their gun mounts. The reason for inverting the guns was that original gun mount designs used with 75/50 guns had recoil system under gun barrel and these limited the possible maximum elevation. So inverting the guns on their mounts in such manner that the recoil systems got turned on top of the gun allowed larger maximum elevation and better maximum range. Since the guns that had ended up to Finnish inventory included extensive variety of gun mount designs, often naming the gun was based to gun mount design used with the specific gun.

    Names used Finnish late naming systems for 75/50 guns:

  • 75/50 CO = 75/50 Canet manufactured by Obuhov.
  • 75/50 COI = 75/50 Canet manufactured by Obuhov, anti-aircraft gun version.
  • 75/50 Coi = 75/50 Canet manufactured by Obuhov without hand wheel for lateral laying (*).
  • 75/50 C = 75/50 on Canet (naval) gun mount.
  • 75/50 O: 75/50 on Obuhov (naval) gun mount.
  • 75/50 CMe and 75/50 Me: 75/50 on gun mount manufactured by St. Petersburg metal factory.
  • 75/50 M: 75/50 on Meller (Zenit) gun mount.
  • 75/50 ML: 75/50 on Meller naval mount.
  • 75/50 OH = 75/50 on naval howitzer mount (compare: 76 ItK/02/34 OH).
  • (*) In other words the same as 75/50 M.

    Year 1924 Finnish inventory contained 95 guns, which included also anti-aircraft guns of this type. By year 1944 anti-aircraft gun version had been moved to completely different inventory, but Finnish coastal artillery and Navy still had 66 guns, from which 10 guns were serving on ships. While the biggest user of 75/50 guns in Finland was coastal artillery, they also saw plenty of use on smaller Finnish gunboats and other ships of about same size. During World War 2 Finnish ships equipped with these guns included gunboats Karjala and Turunmaa (ex Tshirok), minelayer Louhi (ex Voin), minesweeper Rautu, convoy escort Aura II, Aallokas and Continuation War era Lake Ääninen / Onega auxiliary gunboats Karhumäki and Kontupohja. The last Finnish warship to carry 75/50 gun was minelayer Ruotsinsalmi, which was not de-commissioned until year 1975. During Continuation War three guns were used in Finnish gun bunkers - two guns in Mannerheim line in Kiviniemi and Muolaa plus one in Läskelä on north-side of Lake Laatokka / Ladoga. Finnish wartime losses included only eight guns, but hard wartime service use also resulted about 20 guns being worn-out to such extent that they had be removed from use and scrapped soon after the war. War experiences revealed that the versions equipped with spring recuperator proved to be most reliable of these guns.

    PICTURE: Another 75/50 O coastal/naval gun. (Photo taken in Suomenlinna). CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (182 KB).

    From these guns 75/50 C, 75/50 O and 75/50 OH saw also post-war use, with 75/50 OH being the most common version to remain in active use with coastal artillery in post-war era. This was probably at least partially because high pedestal mount of 75/50 OH gave this version the highest maximum elevation and resulting also biggest maximum range. The gun mounts used for 75/50 OH originated from Russian naval howitzers captured in 1918, the ammunition used in these howitzers and therefore their whole concept proved useless. Hence the howitzer barrels were scrapped and their gun mounts recycled to 75/50 coastal guns. Finnish Navy on the other hand preferred 75/50 O version on its ships. Due to their structural similarity to 152/45 C especially 75/50 C played important role of small-scale simulator for training gun crews to 152-mm Canet coastal guns. After World War 2 Finnish Navy made plans about standardizing the gun mounts used with 75/50 guns in such manner that only three gun mounts versions would have remained in use - two for coastal artillery and one for naval use. The last 75/50 guns remained in use of coastal artillery and navy until 1970's.

    Starting year 1934 eight of the 75/50 OH coastal guns were converted to 76.2-mm caliber and issued as anti-aircraft guns. The resulting anti-aircraft guns were named as 76 ItK/02/34 OH. Even if they proved less than successful, they remained in use for Winter War and Continuation War.

    PICTURE: 75/50 Canet coastal gun. Notice the recoil mechanism above gun to indicate that that the gun has been inverted. Photo taken in Hanko / Hango / Gangut front in November of 1941. (SA-kuva photo archive, photo number 63361). CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (137 KB).

    During Continuation War Finnish military tried increasing muzzle velocity of 75/50 guns by equipping them with longer gun barrels. The resulting 75/55 CR gun had L/55 barrel, but proved ballistics-wise very similar to gun equipped with normal L/50 barrel. Due to using the same propellant charge and new kind of rifling the increase of muzzle velocity proved to be insignificant - only about 5 meters/second. State Artillery Factory (Valtion Tykkitehdas / VTT) manufactured 14 of these L/55 barrels, with some of them being completed before ending of Continuation War. Also prototype of even longer L/60 gun barrel was manufactured and Finnish Navy would have wanted to acquire them for its guns after the war, but apparently none besides the already mentioned were prototype were never made. The small number of 75/55 CR guns saw use in coastal artillery among normal 75/50 guns.

    Ammunition used with these guns included high explosive (HE), armor piercing high explosive (APHE), star shell and shrapnel. APHE ammunition had 4.9-kg projectile with muzzle velocity of 806 m/sec.

     

    OTHER LIGHT COASTAL GUNS:

    37/20 O (37 mm coastal gun with 20 caliber barrel, model Obuhov): This was a simple Hotchkiss-designed and Obuhov-manufactured 37-mm quick fire gun designed as deck gun for shooting fast moving targets from short range. It used same 37 mm x 94 R ammunition as crank-operated revolving 37-mm (1 pound) Hotchkiss gun, 37/30 Maxim automatic gun and 37-mm infantry guns. The gun had simple pedestal mount and was aimed by hand with spur of the gun supported on left shoulder of the gunner. It had breech lock with vertical sliding breech block and recoil system containing hydraulic buffer and spring recuperator under the gun barrel. The gun had only iron sights and rather poor ballistics due to low muzzle velocity (420 m/sec for 470-gram HE-projectile) and low elevation (-30/+21 degrees) resulting poor maximum range (4,000 meters). But relatively good rate of fire of 8 - 10 aimed shots per minute, making it suitable for defending beaches. Year 1918 Finnish military captured about 10 guns, from which some were early on used on mine sweepers and minelayer Sveaborg. During Continuation War seven guns remained. Some of the coastal forts in south-coast of Finland between Loviisa and Hanko / Hango used these guns for beach defense during World War 2. It is unclear if they saw any combat use. During World War 1 some of these guns were convered in Russia (presumably by Obuhov) as infantry guns, which became known in Finland as 37 K/14 Obuhov.

    37/40 Po (37 mm coastal gun with 40 caliber barrel, model McLean Poole): This was one of the first modern automatic cannons. It had been developed by American inventor Samuel Neal McLean, which had patented the design in year 1902. McLean had also originally also developed machinegun design which he never got to work properly, but which Colonel Isaac Lewis later succeeded re-designing as highly successful Lewis-machinegun. This gas-action full-automatic cannon was loaded from the top with 5-round cartridge clips. As usual for guns of this caliber at that time it was on pedestal mount, had a gun shield, iron sights and was aimed by hand. Ammunition used in it was 37 mm x 136 R used by US Navy and notably more powerful than 37 mm x 94 R, which had de facto became international standard in this caliber already before World War 1. The muzzle velocity was around 600 meters per second, maximum range about 5,000 meters and the gun had rate of fire about 100 rounds per minute. Even after repeated attempts McLean's automatic cannon failed to successfully pass tests arranged by US military, but Imperial Russia suffering from shortage of suitable during World War 1 could not afford to be so picky. Hence Russia bought in 1916 - 1917 no less than 216 or 218 guns, which were manufactured by Poole Engineering Company in Baltimore Maryland. Russian military used them both on pedestal mounts and gun mount resembling the gun carriage used in field guns, which were apparently used as infantry guns. Russian military commonly knew the gun as "Maklan", which is presumably development of poor pronunciation and limitations of Cyrillic alphabet from of the inventors surname - McLean. Some of the guns saw use in armored trains used in Russian Civil War (1917 - 1922) and the version equipped with field gun carriage remained in use of Soviet Red Army at least until late 1920's. Year 1918 Finnish military found five of these guns and plenty of ammunition among the equipment left behind by Russia troops. Due to their extremely limited (-5 degrees / + 15 degrees) elevation these guns could not be as anti-aircraft weapons, but during World War 2 they were used for defending beaches of coastal forts. They did not see any post-war use and were presumably scrapped by 1950's.

    47/30 Ja (47 mm coastal gun with 30 caliber barrel, Japanese): How these Japanese-manufactured copies of 47-mm Hotchkiss gun ended up to Russian Navy remains uncertain. They may have been captured in Russian-Japanese War (1904 - 1905) or part of the weapons that Japan delivered to Russia during World War 1. Compared to other 47-mm guns of Hotchkiss design these had notably shorter barrel and used much less powerful (47 mm x 130 R) ammunition, which resulted muzzle velocity being only about 455 meters per second. Because Hotchkiss had manufactured at least some of these guns, the gun was sometimes also listed as 47/30 H. Only four of the guns were left to Finland in 1918. Three of them were modified to fire same 47 mm x 376 R ammunition as other 47-mm coastal guns and coastal artillery used for beach defense. In end of Continuation War all three guns served in Ahvenanmaa / Åland Islands. All guns except one saved for museum collection were scrapped in year 1945.

    57/40 H (57 mm coastal gun with 40 caliber barrel, model Hotchkiss): These guns had been acquired for Russian Navy in year 1904, but soon they were considered too ineffective and removed from its ships already around 1909 - 1910. During World War 1 the Russians had modified some of the guns as anti-aircraft guns. It was less powerful version of the 57-mm Hotchkiss than 57/58 H more common in Finnish use. Year 1918 only two guns ended to Finnish hands, what is known both guns had been manufactured by Armstrong. Originally they used 57 mm x 305 R ammunition, but year 1941 they were modified to use same 57 mm x 409 R ammunition as used in 57/48 Nordenfelt. That same year the guns were transferred to Salmisaari coastal fort and later in Pihjajasaari coastal fort. From Pihlajasaari they were transferred to Kytö coastal fort in 1943, where they remained until removed from active use in year 1945.

    PICTURE: 57/45 Br coastal gun. (Photo taken on Kuivasaari Island). CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (208 KB).

    57/45 Br and 57/50 De (57 mm coastal gun with 45 caliber barrel, model Bridgeport) (57 mm coastal gun with 50 caliber barrel model Derby): As mentioned numerous manufacturers made more or less licensed copies of 57-mm (6 pound) Hotchkiss quick firing cannon. These guns were such copies made by two separate manufacturers. Finnish military captured three Bridgeport-manufactured guns and two Derby-manufactured guns in 1918. Originally these guns used their own ammunition, which were incompatible with all other guns in Finnish inventory, but year 1941 Tampella modified them to use same 57 mm x 409 R ammunition as used in 57/48 Nordenfelt. All five guns seem to have remained in use of coastal artillery until end of Continuation War, ending of which also ended their career with Finnish military. Year 1944 two 57/45 Br guns were on Kuggskör coastal artillery battery and two 57/50 De guns in nearby Mörskär coastal artillery battery.


    SOURCES:

    Itsenäisen Suomen rannikkotykit 1918 - 1998 (Coastal Guns of Finland 1918 - 1998) by Ove Enqvist.

    Itsenäisen Suomen laivaston laivatykit 1918 - 2004 by Pekka Kiiskinen and Pasi Wahlman.

    Itsenäisen Suomen kenttätykit 1918 - 1995 (Field Guns of Finland 1918 - 1995) by Jyri Paulaharju.

    Suomen linnoitustykistö 1940 - 1944 (Finnish Fortification Artillery 1940 - 1944) by Teuvo Rönkkönen.

    Suomen linnoittamisen historia 1918 - 1944 (History of Fortifying Finland) by Reino Arimo.

    Suomen rannikkotykit / Coastal Guns in Finland by Ove Enqvist.

    Ampumatarvikenimekkeistö by Puolustusvoimien Pääesikunta, Tst-välineosasto (1941).

    Rannikkotykistökäsikirja by Eino Virkki (1929).

    Article: Mottoroidun rannikkotykistömme alkuaikoja by Everstiluutnatti Kalle Koski in Rannikon Puolustaja magazine vol. 4/72.

    Article: Jokisen 57/55 (Jokinen's 57/55) by Ove Enqvist in Rannikon Puolustaja magazine vol. 4/96.

    Article: Nortti, 57 mm:n 48 kaliiperin merikanuuna mallia Nordenfelt (57/48 No) by Ove Enqvist in Rannikon Puolustaja magazine vol. 1/06.

    Article 47/40 O, 47 mm:n 40 kaliiperin meritykki mallia Obuhov by Ove Enqvist in Rannikon Puolustaja magazine vol. 1/07.

    Ammunition Depot 4 inventory lists from year 1935, Finnish National Archives, folder number T-4360/7.

    Special thanks to Suomenlinnan Rannikkotykistökilta (Suomenlinna Guild of Coastal Artillery).

    NavWaps website Excellent Website about naval artillery and technology. Many of these guns saw use as coastal guns in Finland.

     


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