Serbian quick-firing field artillery
first attempt to equip the Serbian Artillery with quick-firing guns was done
in summer of 1899, when a commander of the Active Army, ex-king Milan Obrenovich,
planned the purchase of 23 batteries with 6 guns each. Since he had been
always in close relations with
1900, young king Aleksandar expelled his father, so all new military projects
came to stand still. In 1903
In August 1903 the Serbian Army formed a committee to review what kind of quick-firing artillery was available on the market, with consideration on technical and tactical issues. It was composed by col. Damjan Vlajich (chief), col. Mikhailo Rashich and lt.col. Nedeljko Vuchkovich.
During September-October 1903 they visited the following artillery factories:
- Saint Chamond and Schneider, in France;
- Vickers and Armstrong, in Great Britain;
- Krupp and Erhardt, in Germany;
- Cockerill-Nordenfelt, in Belgium;
- Skoda, in Austria.
This small committee suggested that, before the adoption of particular model, comparision tests should be made and listed which factories should be considered:
- for field guns: St. Chamond, Schneider, Vickers, Krupp, Erhardt, Skoda.
- for mountain guns: Vickers, Krupp, Erhardt, Skoda.
It is interesting to remark that for mountain artillery the committee found nothing worth considering in France. This happened at the end of 1903, the same time as Bulgarian quest for a suitable type of mountain gun.
More than one year ago, on 8th February 1905, four factories were invited to place offers for their guns: St. Chamond, Schneider, Krupp and Skoda. Three days later they were also asked to send one field gun to Belgrade for tests. Only Skoda gun arrived to Belgrade by March, since the Austrians made bureaucratic problems for other contestants, so decision could be made only on political grounds. Vickers was dropped because ties with Great Britain were broken, after the murder of king Aleksandar, and English banks were not interested. Erhard was also avoided, probably because Handelsgesellschaft, the German bank involved in loan deal had interest in Krupp only.
1905 at Kragujevac 75mm Skoda M. 1903 field gun was tested from a Serbian
military commission of 16 officers along with Krupp, Schneider and St.
Chamond models of the same calibre. But after the fall of
main reasons led to the Serbian choice: political one – to gain independence
During 1904 Serbian Army demands rose rapidly – from 10 millions for 15 field and 6 mountain batteries at the start (planned mainly for introduction of cadre troops to modern guns) to 43 millions at the start of 1905 (more guns, 47 field and 9 mountain batteries, more artillery ammunition, 100.000 more modern 7mm rifles). The main reason for this increase was the current Bulgarian and Turkish weapons orders.
by Bulgarian choice, at first Serbs asked for P.R.1 model; however, they also
asked what Schneider could offer as alternative. At the end, they considered
P.D.1 (most expensive), P.D.2 (golden middle) and P.R.1 (cheapest)
For accepting Schneider offer voted the Ministry of War, gen. Radomir Putnik and 8 members of committee, 3 voted for St. Chamond guns and one voted neutral. This vote was made after the review of offers. Since loan offered to Serbia in March 1905 implied purchase of French artillery, Krupp’s offer was probably not taken into consideration. The loan was offered from consortium made of French (40%), German (30%) and Austrian (30%) banks, so each country expected Serbian orders at the same level (for military and railway material). However, Germans made demand that Serbia have to order artillery ammunition from Krupp, but faced with Serbian stiff resistance, they changed their mind to other small ultimatum: 5 millions of artillery deal (about 25%) must go to Krupp (who will share that part with Skoda, according to later agreement). Serbia accepted the clause and planned to buy artillery wagons from Krupp/Skoda. However, the government which made arrangements (Radical party, President Minister Nikola Pašić) had fallen at the end of May, so nothing came of this deal.
It seams that mountain gun issue was treated as secondary one (only 9 batteries, compared to 47 field ones) and no tests were asked for them. However, requests placed to French companies indirectly suggest that they introduced suitable mountain gun types during 1904.
the time problem was how to avoid Austrian pressure to buy Skoda field guns,
because this means less independent
Schneider-Cresuot 70mm mountain gun M. 07 was not a weapon of choice of
Serbian military circles, who preferred the Krupp 75mm mountain gun, which at
first vote was indeed the winner of the Military artillery council selection,
even if it was slightly expensive than Schneider gun. For political and
economical reasons the Serbian Government decided to purchase only 9
batteries from Schneider and later 15 more batteries from Krupp. This was not
realised, however, because French put diplomatic pressure on Serbian
government to cancel this order. Later 75mm Schneider mountain guns became
After the Balkan Wars the Serbian Army tested also a 8cm Rheinmetall mountain gun, and according with Franz KOSAR, Gebirgsartillerie…, p. 71-72 bought some of these guns as 8cm mountain guns L/17 M. 14. But about this powerful, but too heavy, gun I was not able to find any reference in any other sources.
The first guns arrived only in 1908-09 and were destined for the five “First call” infantry divisions, the core of Serbian army, for the Cavalry division and for one mountain artillery regiment.
- 19 batteries of M.1907A field guns,
- 6 batteries of 120mm M.1910 light howitzers,
- 2 batteries of 150mm M.1910 medium howitzers.
These guns were destined for five “Second Call” divisions, and the Cavalry division (“First call”). This was the armament of Serbian artillery at the beginning of the Balkan War, considered as “minimal requirement” at that time (64 field gun batteries in total).
additional loan, granted from
- 21 batteries of M.1907A field guns,
- 2 more 120mm howitzer batteries,
These guns were planned to strengthen the “Second call” divisions with a second group of 12 guns. The rest (6 batteries) were planed for independent use in various “task forces” (Serbian: “Odred”, sized regiment to brigade, or “Vojska”, division to corps strength). The crew planned for all these batteries were “Second call” men taken from the obsolete De Bange field batteries.
1912, when First Balkan War broke out, some 75mm M. 07A field guns were in
Salonika, awaiting transportation to
exact number of the guns used actually by the Serbian Army is still not
clear. At the beginning of the World War the Serbian Army had only 272
Schneider-Canet 75mm field guns, namely 68 batteries. Since in 1912
Unlike the Bulgarians, the Serbs did not use the great number of Turkish guns captured during the Balkan War. It seems that only one group (12 guns) of Krupp guns were ever raised for service during the World War I. These batteries were used separately on “quiet” sectors on front, due to the lack of ammunition. Another group of captured Krupp guns was donated to Montenegrin Army, desperately short of modern artillery.
As for the Austrian guns, Serbian sources states that batteries of
captured Austrian guns existed, but their number should be low. According
with a report written by gen. Paul Pau, the head of the French military
mission dispatched in