Krupp was quite open to modifying the design of its export guns to suit the needs of a customer. With the M1908 mountain gun the design was fundamentally changed to suit Japanese requirements. The resulting gun had an very long service life with the Imperial Japanese Army (IJA) even when its original role of mountain gun was superceded by more modern guns such as the Type 94 75mm Mountain Gun.1
The IJA had a preference for interrupted screw breeches so the M1908 had such - the breech design looks as if it was based on contemporary Schneider breeches. The barrel on the M1908 was longer (L/19.3) than earlier Krupp mountain guns presumably to give longer max. ranges although the gun was somewhat heavier than the earlier guns. The carriage was completely redesigned compared to the earlier mountain guns. The typical box section, or open box on the M1904, trail was replaced with tubular elements. The carriage looked like a large tuning fork in plan. The rear part of the trail which carried the spade could be folded over the front tubes. The trail design was more like that on Ehrhardt (Rheinmetall) guns than a Krupp design. The M1908 could be broken down into 6 horse loads. In part, this may reflect that the M1908 was somewhat heavier than earlier guns but may be a recognition that Asian pack horses were smaller than their Western counterparts. The gun could be man-packed by a large team and often was in rough jungle country like New Guinea.
|Weight of Gun (emplaced)||529kg|
|Elevation||-7° to +38.5°|
The Krupp M1908 was accepted as the Type 41 75mm Mountain Gun and was produced by the Osaka Arsenal. The land actions of the IJA were very limited in WW1, about the only major action was the siege of the German enclave at Tsingtao in 1914. Even when the Type 41 was replaced in its original role by more modern guns such as the Type 94 (1934) 75mm Mountain Gun it was issued as a regimental gun to infantry divisions. Production of the Type 41 continued into WW2 until at least 1942 2 although the later guns were built at the Nagoya Arsenal rather than Osaka The total number of Type 41 guns built is not known but judging by the number of surviving guns it must have been of the order of several thousand.
A number of different projectiles were developed by the Japanese for the Type 41 gun including HE, Shrapnel, Armour Piercing, Hollow charge (AP), Smoke, Illumination and Incendiary rounds. The ammunition for the Type 41 was a fixed cartridge type with the cartridge case providing obturation (preventing gas escape from the breech). The Type 41 was heavily used in the WW2 Japanese campaigns across the Pacific as well as in China and proved to be more useful than mortars in thick jungle where mortar rounds were deflected by the jungle canopy. The Type 41 was also adapted to be a pedestal mounted gun on Japanese transport ships.
The poor road infrastructure of China meant that mountain guns proved to be better than conventional field guns to support infantry in spite of the lesser performance of mountain guns. Both the Nationalist and Communist Armies in WW2 used numbers of captured Japanese Type 41 guns. These seem to have remained in service until the end of the Civil War in 1949.
Copies of the Japanese Type 41 mountain gun were manufactured at the Shansi Province Arsenal controlled by the warlord Yen Hsi-shan as the Type 133 (Model of 1924) mountain gun; Shansi Province Arsenal also manufactured a copy of the Type 41 (Improved) mountain gun as the Type 17 (Model of 1928) mountain gun. The Manchurian Arsenal in Shenyang also built copies of the Type 41 as the Type 14 (Model of 1925). 72 of these guns were made at Shenyang by 1931.4 The image below is of a Chinese made Type 41 gun at the Beijing Military Museum. The plaque says it is a Type 10 (1921) gun which, if correct, suggests another Chinese centre of production of the Type 41 gun.
There are a large number of surviving 75mm Type 41 Mountain Guns in existence. The following is a small sample of the surviving guns.
Yasukuni Shrine, Chiyoda, Tokyo - source - Google Images
ANZAC Museum, Meandarra, Qld - source - courtesy of Graham McNamara (www.ammsbrisbane.com)
This gun was built in 1942 at the Nagoya Arsenal
Royal Canadian Regiment Military Museum, London, Ontario - source - Google Images
St.John's-Northwestern Military Academy, Dellafield, WI - source - courtesy of John Anderson (www.warmemorials.us)