- Years of issue – 1932 – 1945
- In total, 8266 units were produced. (1939 – 1945)
- Caliber – 75 mm
- Weight in firing position – kg 400
- Barrel length – 885 mm
- Threaded length – 685 mm
- Calculation – 5 people
- Travel speed – 50 km / h
- Rate of fire – 8 – 12 rds / min
- The greatest firing range – 3550 m
- Direct shot range – 300 m
- Shooting angles:
- Horizontal – 11 °
- Vertical – 10 ° + 73 °
During World War I, the German army did not have special infantry weapons. Direct support of the infantry was carried out by individual guns attached to the infantry or by platoons of divisional artillery (77-mm field guns sample 96 n.A.). However, the divisional guns were unsuitable for this purpose due to their large size and mass, and low mobility.
In the late 1920s, the revival of German militarism and the formation of a new military doctrine in Germany, based on the idea of ”lightning-fast” mobile warfare (“blitzkrieg”), proceeded at a rapid pace. The main attention was paid to the mobility of the guns, which was primarily due to their mass, as well as to give the infantry guns the ability to fight the enemy’s armored equipment. Therefore, after a thorough study of the experience of the First World War, in 1927 – 1929, the design bureau of the Rheinmetall-Borsig AG concern creates a new 75-mm infantry gun belonging to the class of light weapons.It was intended to destroy enemy manpower located both outside cover and behind light cover, to suppress firing points, as well as to fight tanks and armored vehicles at a direct shot range of up to 300 m (quite large according to the ideas of that time). At the same time, the maximum firing range was 3550 m, which made it possible not only to suppress machine-gun nests from a safe distance (up to 2000 m), but also to conduct artillery duels on equal terms with most regimental guns of that time.
The Reichswehr was armed with a new artillery system, named “75-mm light mortar sample 18”, entered the 1932 year. The discrepancy between the date of adoption of the date of development is due to the fact that in accordance with the Versailles Treaty of 1920, Germany was prohibited from creating new types of weapons, including artillery weapons. In 1937, this gun received a more appropriate name – “7.5 cm leichte Infantriegeschutze18 (leIG. 18)” (75-mm light infantry gun sample 18).
The leIG tool. 18 consisted of: trunk; sled; cradles with recoil devices; a machine with a single-bar box-shaped bed; combat axle with wheel travel and suspension mechanism; shield cover; sighting devices and mechanisms of vertical and horizontal guidance. Structurally, the leIG. 18 was very original – it used a loading scheme that was not used in any other German artillery system.The peculiarity of his device was that this weapon did not have a conventional bolt, and the role of the bolt was performed by the breech link (rear wall) of the slide, in which all the mechanisms necessary for the production of a shot were assembled. When turning, mounted on a slide, the handle backward – it was not the bolt that moved (as in conventional guns), but the whole barrel assembly – the breech of the barrel was raised above the breech link of the slide, the barrel bore opened and the spent cartridge case was extracted. The barrel bore was closed automatically when loading: when the cartridge was discharged, its flange shifted the ejector legs forward, thereby freeing the barrel, the breech of which was lowered under the influence of its weight.
The gun had a monoblock barrel, equipped in the muzzle with two trunnions that fit into the slots of the slide and serve as the axis of rotation when raising and lowering the breech to open and close the channel. A very short barrel (only 885 mm) with a slide was mounted in a trough-shaped cradle together with recoil devices: a hydraulic spindle brake (left) and a hydropneumatic knurler (right). If the hydraulic brake cylinder was rolled back together with the slide, then the knurled cylinders were fixed in the cradle motionless (only the knurled rod rolled back).Overrun brake – valve type (attached to the end of the spindle). The gun carriage is a single-beam box-type. On the trunk of the machine there was a pivot share and a permanent opener. Lifting mechanism – sector, with internal gearing. Horizontal guidance was carried out by moving the gun carriage along the combat axis using a rotary screw mechanism located on the right side of the gun carriage; swing flywheel – was located on the left. The vertical guidance mechanism provided a very wide range of guidance angles – from -10 ° to + 75 °.The angle of horizontal firing was only 5.5 °, which was due to the use of a single-beam gun carriage. However, this disadvantage was partially offset by the small mass of the gun in the firing position (about 440 kg), which made it possible to rearrange the gun carriage trunk and roll the gun on the battlefield without much difficulty. To compensate for the overweight of the muzzle, the gun had a one-sided spring balancing mechanism located on the right side of the gun carriage.
The gun had a shield cover, consisting of a fixed shield 4.5 mm thick (with a folding bottom shield) riveted to the front of the machine tool and a movable shield (3 mm thick) mounted on the front of the cradle. Sights consisted of a swinging sight independent of the gun with an independent line of sight and panorama. The height of the line of fire was 650 mm. Light infantry guns designed for horse-drawn transport (four horses behind the front end) had wooden wheels with metal tires;The cushioning of these tools was carried out using two helical springs working in compression. When switching to a combat position, the suspension was turned off by a handle located on the left side. If necessary, a light infantry gun could be transported without a front end by a single-horse team or over short distances on the battlefield directly by a gun crew on straps, while a special roller was used to support the trunk of the carriage.
In 1934, the Wehrmacht adopted an improved modification of the 75-mm light infantry gun “leIG. I8 Мt “with metal disc wheels with pneumatic tires and suspension by means of” swinging cranks “and coil springs operating in torsion. These guns were intended to be transported by mechanical traction for motorized parts. The time for transferring the gun from the traveling position to the combat position was 1 minute.
The ammunition load of a light infantry gun consisted of separate-case loading shots with a high-explosive fragmentation grenade, a cumulative projectile and a target designation projectile. There were 5 variable charges, which provided a firing range of up to 3550 m. A high-explosive fragmentation grenade (weighing 5.45 kg) was equipped with an instantaneous and inertial shock fuse head with a slowdown setting.
When firing a high-explosive fragmentation grenade on charges No. 1 – 3, when setting the deceleration fuse, it penetrated a light field shelter up to 1 meter thick, and with charges No. 4 – 5 – brick and concrete walls up to 25 cm thick. When a grenade burst at an angle of incidence less than 25 °, the scatter of the fragments to the sides was 20 m, forward – 6 m, backward – 3 m. When a shell burst after a ricochet at a height of up to 10 m, the scattering of the fragments to the sides was 12 m, forward – 10 m, backward – 5 m.The armor penetration of a cumulative projectile (with an initial speed of 260 m / s) at a distance of up to 800 m ranged from 75 mm to 90 mm (depending on the type of projectile). The target designation projectile was intended to mark the terrain for tank landings, infantrymen, etc. This projectile was fired with a double-acting remote tube. When ignited from the expelling charge tube, 120 brick-colored cardboard circles and 100 hard red circles were thrown back from the shell of the projectile, which scattered over the terrain.
The infantry gun companies of the infantry regiments were armed with 75-mm light infantry guns of model 18. Each company had 6 light infantry guns leIG.18 and two 150-mm heavy infantry guns 5.10-33. Thus, taking into account 2 light infantry guns in the reconnaissance battalion, the state in the Wehrmacht infantry division had 20 light and 6 heavy infantry guns. The number of leIG.18 guns in mountain rifle divisions was similar – 4 (for 2 regiments) or 6 (for 3 regiments), for cavalry – 28, for motorized divisions – 16 guns per division. In offensive operations, these weapons were transferred to battalions (two per battalion), and, if necessary, to a company.
The transfer of artillery to the lower infantry echelons (to a battalion, company, and in some cases to a platoon) fully corresponded to the concept of offensive mobile warfare and sharply increased the capabilities and initiative of infantry commanders. For the first time leIG.18 were used in hostilities by artillerymen of the German Legion “Condor” during the Spanish Civil War in 1936-1939. Before the German attack on the Soviet Union, the Wehrmacht already possessed 4176 guns of this type.
The German 75-mm light infantry gun sample 18 had a low mass, good maneuverability on the battlefield and sufficient power for an infantry gun. The low height of the line of fire and the ability to fire at high elevation angles facilitated the choice of closed positions, and the small dimensions of the gun made it possible to mask it well. Thanks to the large vertical angle of fire and the presence of five charges, this gun had good flexibility of fire. On the basis of the leIG.18 infantry gun, two more variants were later developed: a 75-mm light mountain infantry gun model 18 and a 75-mm light infantry gun model 18 for parachute units. The 75-mm light infantry gun leIG.18 became one of the most massive field artillery systems of the Wehrmacht during the Second World War.
Serial production of the leIG 18 guns began in 1932 and continued until 1945. The Habamfa company (Ammendorf), and after the occupation of the Czech Republic in 1939, also the largest Czechoslovak arms concern CZ, known by the Germans as “Bohmische Waffenfabrik” (Strakonice), was engaged in the manufacture of a 75-mm light infantry gun, model 18. Only in 1939 – 1945, the Wehrmacht received 8266 LeIG 18 guns. On March 1, 1945, the German army had 2,549 leIG.18 cannons and 2,400,000 rounds for them.