Exotic GER guns part 3 – 81mm L/105

Hello everyone,

today, we are going to have a look at one of the least known German guns, the 81mm L/105. It was a smoothbore AT gun and as far as we know, it was never considered for a self-propelled gun platform, but it could make an interesting option for mid-tier German tank destroyers.


The origin and properties of this gun are somewhat mysterious. Its prototype was found by the Americans after the war on some artillery shooting range. The gun is designated as 8,1cm Panzerabwehrwerfer, which implies it’s a gun of the same type as the 81,4mm PAW 600, based on high-low pressure system with the intent to fire HEAT shells. It’s a smoothbore gun, but – just like the PAW600 – completely historical.

The barrel of this gun consists actually of two pieces, screwed together in the middle. The barrel could thus be broken down into two piece on the battlefield for easier manipulation. The rest of the gun however is pretty conventional, the mount (lafette) probably comes from the classic sFH 18 (150mm) howitzer, the wheels come from the 105mm K18 lafette. When moved, the barrel was actually removed from the mount itself.


The gun was supposed to fire an experimental 3kg Krupp HEAT mine – the plans for it were actually found in one Krupp facility by Allied soldiers. Apparently it was possible for it to penetrate cca 150mm, but maximum effective range of this gun is not known (believed to be significantly higher than the 750m of PAW 600). This however is likely compensated by lower muzzle velocity (around 500-600 m/s), needed to fire HEAT shells without having issues with shell fuses. Plus, since HEAT shell performance does not depend on high muzzle velocity (or, in some cases it actually is worse), there was no need to push the metalwork to the limit.

The caliber 81,4mm is probably familiar to you – it’s the caliber of the most common German mortar, the 81mm Granatwerfer 34. It was selected for two reasons:

- the shells for this gun (and for the PAW600) too were readily available, they were based on existing mortar shells

- the barrel was easy to produce, since the Germans already had enough metal-working machines to mass produce this caliber (left over from the mortar production).

In the end, the PAW series were supposed to be cheap and easy to produce, but the war was over before they could be truly produced en masse.

Franz Kosar – Panzerabwehrkanonen 1916-1977

52 thoughts on “Exotic GER guns part 3 – 81mm L/105

    • yeah but this one clearly was made during the war so they could make an exeption but i doublt it

        • what’s the problem with smoothbore guns?

          I understand that they were not often used in wwII, and are more of a modern thing, but that doesn’t mean we are going to have Challenger II or an M1 Abrhams finding their way into the game just because this gun is added.

          • PAW 800 and PAW 1000/10H64 could be excellent solutions for high tier german lights, too bad WG simply doesn’t care…

        • Given that the T-62A is already in the game, once you start introducing smoothbore guns, people would be crying about introducing the contemporary T-62 with its 115 mm U-5TS smoothbore.

          • Which actually had worse performances then D-54/U-8, but was cheaper to produce, lighter, ammo was cheaper (steel APFSDS vs tungsten carbide APDS) and HEAT ammo had better performances (450mm vs 380mm penetration).

            • Well on top of the pen differences it also means the mbt’s classified as mediums will have alphas similar to the current heavies with a med’s reload and accuracy, since wot damage ranges are mostly based on caliber.

            • Soviets are 320, so if they bump it to 390+ dmg that could be an extra 700ish dpm and a much higher chance of pen. Btw that diff of 5mm giving an extra 70 dmg always seemed a little excessive to me.

            • Logically, heavier 115mm shells would have lower RoF than 100mm. Also, RoF is an arbitrary balance stat. Well, T-62 was not exactly known for firing fast IRL (has only three shells for ready rack)

          • Well,they said “NO ” to smoothbore guns,but sitll,it would indeed be a good idea to put this and the PAWs in.Only problem would be that this would make alot of people ask for tanks like the T-62 with 115mm smoothbore or the KPz-70 with 120mm smoothbore to be implemented…

        • How does it set a dangerous precedent, its clearly historical and of the WW2 period. Just say smoothbore that are post WW2 are not allowed.

    How long does it take to post them?
    Or are they coming with something else?
    Or a few pictures will be used for a special post on lets say.. some BTR or tank?
    Please answer me!!!

  2. Germans had quite a few smoothbore guns, including APFDS.
    What stopped early research was a lack of tungsten, one is lucky that they didn’t think about using uranium as replacement earlier…

    • There was never enough Uranium. 1500-2100 total tons of just raw unprocessed ore. Sitting in warehouses throughout Europe. Now incidentally, as the Russians found out after the war, Germany and Czechoslovakia is sitting on several hundred thousand tons of Uranium ore (1%- to a high of about 7%, pre ton ore, iirc).
      But the ore was difficult to mine and like all ores has to be processed into metal. But it also took the Russians some time to locate and assay the ore. The Germans could have done it but it would have been a major undertaking. Also at the time few people knew how many different forms of Pitchblende there was. Some forms are more difficult to separate then others and can make mining conditions difficult. The geology of the region (where Czechoslovakia and Germany met) is very unstable underground and prone to collapse and cave-ins.
      What everyone did know about the area was that it was a source for Radium and Silver. The rest of the products were generally considered junk and waste.
      On top of the above argument was the limited number of firms that had the known ability to handle the metal and know how it could be worked. Most uranium ended up in the ceramic glaze markets and as coloring in glass ware.
      See for more info.

      • Actually the germans did experiment with uranium based APCR shells for 3.7cm cannons mounted on a special version of the Ju-87 for anti-tank use. The shells proved to be effective, but it wasnt depleted uranium, which is less radioactive (even depleted uranium is dangerously radioactive if you put enough in an area) so I think thats why they discontinued research in that department.

        They also didnt have the idea of making nuclear bombs, that an american invention to scare people of the evil nazi regime and make them look like heroes because they stopped the nazis before they couldve dropped nukes on american cities. Irony that america was the only country that actually had developed and DROPPED 2 nuclear bombs in WWII.

        • Aside from the fact that Germany flat out lacked the resources to build the considerable infrastructure needed to produce weapon-grade fissionables (nevermind now what the RAF and USAAF would’ve done to such), their whole theoretical framework on the topic was plain wrong and as a result they didn’t think such practicable in the first place. To what degree Heisenberg actively sabotaged the theoretical research is AFAIK still debated.

          The scenario of Germany pursuing such weapons was, however, a major factor in the US initiating the fantastically expensive Manhattan Project pretty much “just in case” – oughta tell you something about what kind of relative resource surplus *they* were working with.

          • IIRC the last conclusion I heard was that the Graphite he used was not 100% pure when first deciding between Heavy Water and Graphite Modulators.
            Also the advanced chemical warfare being developed in Germany is a lot more frightening then any Nuclear Bomb. Thankfully Hitler was also opposed to being the first to use it in Europe. The counter to use in Europe by Germany argued that it would leave Germany open for retaliation by the British and the Russians who they both knew had stock of chemical weapons. Not to mention the stocks in America.
            Also by the end of the war stock of Tabun could be measured in the thousands of tons. But by the end of the war there was a growing lack of bombers to carry it and pilots to fly them. And even if there was enough of those, and it could be argued there was, there was a honest lack of fuel to even get a plane off a ground. Tabun is serious stuff and something you should fear more then any Nuclear Bomb.

            • There’s kind of a reason nobody’s bothered with using chemical weapons against decently equipped armies after ’18 you know; they’re not even remotely worth the trouble and potential escalation and just throwing explosives at the other guy tends to produce better results for far less hassle and expense.
              Big explosions and shell fragments also can’t be largely ignored by donning a rubber suit and gasmask.

            • AFAIK nerve agents have a general bad habit of being rather difficult to disperse properly for offensive purposes, so the point is somewhat moot – and the Americans in particular had the resources to equip their forces with damned near whatever was required if need be anyway. And then there’s the blunt fact any use of chemical weapons would only have brought about a response in kind, and as the Germans certainly weren’t in any position to protect their troops any better from the nasty junk their enemies could have cheerfully stuffed any number of shells and bombs with it’s rather hard to see what practical purpose it would have served to let the chemical genie out of its bottle.

            • The Germans more or less had the dispersion problem solved. Secondly the allies knew of Tabun as early as 1943 but didn’t do anything with the information and were surprised by it at the end of the war. Troops landing in Normandy were also not equipped with gas masks. Also Tabun will eat through rubber suits… eventually. The Germans making the Tabun could only safely reuse their suits 5 times before they had to be discarded. Horribly corrosive stuff.
              A good book on both sides is by Harris Paxman. A Higher Form of Killing The Secret History of Chemical and Biological Warfare. Published 1982. You can find copies of it for free on the Internet.

            • The last I checked the Normandy assault waves were outfitted with special protective coveralls against possible German use of war gases, so I’d be quite surprised if gasmasks weren’t also carried… also from what I’ve read of it nerve-agent dispersal issues are something of an engineering headache even today so I’ll have to express certain doubts about the Germans having figured out a genuinely satisficatory and reliable solution sixty years back. AFAIK the issue tends to be that the damned stuff tends to be liquid at normal temperatures so you have to use atomisers to turn it into a mist, and even then the cloud tends not last long.
              Another related issue is IIRC that after the droplets have fallen to the ground they tend to stick around for a fair while making the whole area rather hazardous, which makes finding actual militarily meaningful use for the stuff somewhat challenging. And let’s not even get started on the inherent hazards of transporting and handling ordinance filled with the stuff doubly so in the face of enemy air and artillery attacks on transport networks, identified munitions dumps and transshipping points and battery sites…

          • “To what degree Heisenberg actively sabotaged the theoretical research is AFAIK still debated.”
            -I used to like Heisenberg, then I hated him, now I’m uncertain………….

        • I didn’t say they didn’t. I just said there was not ENOUGH uranium to make rounds. They made 30mm and 37mm AT rounds to be fired from aircraft and as Zarax mentioned in a previous article possible 50mm, 75mm, and 8.8 cm iirc. I have also tried to do research into the Uranammo and its a royal nightmare. Speer seems to be one of maybe a handful of sources on the ammunition situation.
          Second I NEVER mentioned depleted uranium. The 1-7% thing is the amount of total uranium metal contained in a 1 ton of ore.
          They planned to use nuclear bombs. However after not investing enough into it and the fact that Hitler didn’t care for “Jewish Physics” the last plans presented and available was for a dirty bomb approach while they continued towards an nuclear bomb in the long run after the war.
          Nuclear Powerplants had a higher priority then Nuclear Bombs by the end of the war. Even a nuclear powered (heavy water design) submarine was tentatively designed during the war.
          If we are really counting America detonated 3 nuclear weapons during the war. Trinity, Little boy and Fat Man.
          I had been corresponding with Zarax on the Uranammo until I too ran out of research material.

          • ‘Course, not like their putative nuclear-reactor program was going anywhere fast either… what little I’ve seen mentioned thereof didn’t suggest they had even begun developing methods for turning the heat produced by a critical fission pile into useful work.

            • They had some rough plans. But by the mid 40s they began to realize that it would not become possible to really develop it (reactors and bombs) until after the war. And so they diverted materials and fund to other projects for the most part although I think they did keep working on both projects until the end of the war in limited ways.
              As for converting it to useful work its deceptively simple Reactor>Heat Exchanger>Steam Turbine>Cooling>Back to Heat Exchanger.
              The only hard part about the design for the Germans at the time would have been the reactor. The rest I think they could have solved.

            • The basic concept of nuclear reactors is certainly straightforward enough, a high-tech steam engine more or less, though as usual the practical implementation gets tricky. Point is AFAIK the Germans hadn’t yet even begun tackling the question and by the time the war was over had yet to get beyond as-such useful “basic research” on the whole topic of nuclear fission.

          • You have no idea how hard it is to get someone in Germany to ask for info in Koblenz…
            The museum is going to be closed so I doubt I’ll manage to learn german myself and go there in time.

      • Hard to extract yes but still useable when you’re short of wolframium.
        BTW, there hints on the internet about pre-war patents for such ammo but couldn’t find anything solid.

  3. Kind of looks a little short for an L/100, but I guess that’s because of the angle of the shot.
    Or maybe WG is responsible and they screwed up the proportions of their own in-game toothpick guns. :D

    • Well, it’s a HEAT-tosser. Ofc in *practise* militaries haven’t exactly been persuaded of the excellence of the concept aside from gainful use in infantry grenade launchers and the like…

    • According to the one of the old Waffen-Revue’s that’s more or less exactly what it was. Apparently there is zero German documentation about it and it most likely was just something put together on a proving ground to test parts of other guns.