Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Flames of War: Polish Artillery

With the opening of hostilities of World War 2 Poland may have been a second place runner with regards to its development of armour and mechanisation but one area that Poland had not, perhaps fallen too far behind its more aggressive neighbours, Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, was in artillery.

The most common piece in Polish service at the start of September 1939 was the venerable French Soixante-Quinze otherwise known under Polish denomination as 75mm wz.1897.

A fast firing and accurate piece, it would go down in history as one of the most reliable, and thus most prolific artillery pieces ever to go into production. In 1939 the Polish had access to 1374 of these pieces allocated to their divisions with the wooden spoked, steel rimmed, wheeled versions equipping the Infantry and Cavalry divisions and brigades whilst pneumatic tire versions equipped the pieces of the Motorised Artillery attached to Poland's two motorised divisions.

A full Piechoty Light Artillery Battery with Command Team, Spotter and Staff Team
30 regular divisions had 75mm wz.1897's allocated to them with a further 9 divisions mobilised in case of war having an allocation as well. Typical regiments had a 24 gun allocation in two detachments with a third detachment of 100mm howitzers.All batteries had an allocation of 4 guns each.

One of the exceptions to this was the Naval Infantry Gun sections organised in Gdansk to support the 1st and 2nd Naval Rifle Brigades which had a total of 4 guns in two platoons of two guns each.

Polish Artillery Staff Team

Looking at the business end of a 75mm battery

Another look at the staff team

Looking at the battery from above

By the time the Polish entered into hostilities with Nazi Germany the stock of 75mm and 100mm guns were about 70% through their lifespan... still time enough left to wage a war!

Poland's other artillery mainstay was the Czech Skoda 100mm Howitzer which was purchased in bulk during the Polish War of Independence and subsequently produced under license from 1928 with a few modifications making them more suitable for Polish operations doctrine and named 100mm wz.14/19.

A complete 100mm wz.14/19 howitzer platoon with associated command team, staff team and spotter team

Poland had access to about 900 of these howitzers in 1939 and was organised in batteries, platoons and sections just as the 75mm wz.1897 were.

A look at the business end...

A close up look at the front of one of the 100mm wz.14/19 Howitzer

A close up look at the side of one of the 100mm wz.14/19 Howitzers

A look at a complete gun platoon from the rear.

Along with the Field Guns and Howitzers of the light artillery batteries which were all attached to the front line and reserve divisions the Polish could also call on a selection of heavier artillery pieces which were organised into Heavy Artillery Detachments of the Infantry Divisions which were equipped with 105mm, 120mm and 155mm Field Guns and Howitzers. They were also found in the Army Reserve artillery parks as well.

Polish battery of 155mm wz.1917 Howitzers

There we have it... some pretty meaty artillery pieces to pound the Fascist and Red scum into the dirt... the question is, how quickly can you get them into position if they are being dragged everywhere by horse?

Alea Jacta Est!

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