In its artillery role, the 10cm Kanone 1914 proved effective in combat and generated much interest in a longer-range piece along similar lines. The necessarily longer barrel, to provide this increased range meant greater weight. Keeping in mind that the primary means of transporting these pieces was a six-horse team; a suggestion was made by the Artillery Armament Agency to Krupp’s Professor Rausenberger to separate this larger barrel from the carriage during transport. By using many of the components of the K.”14, lengthening the barrel and simplifying the breech to a basic manual horizontal sliding wedge type the new 10cm Kanone 1917 design evolved.
The 10cm K.”17 fired semi-fixed ammunition and had a maximum range of 14,100 meters. Each battery was comprised of only three guns. This was effective because of the high rate of fire characteristic of the K.”17. Horse transport was fairly effective with the K.”17 broken down into two loads. Motor transport of this piece was also sometimes utilized. There were even plans to remount the K.”17 on an automotive suspension.
The 10cm design was not envisioned in exactly the niche it ultimately filled. It first was seen as a fortress or siege weapon. It was then developed as a quick fire; long range fortress and field artillery piece with its expected secondary mission to be an anti-aircraft weapon. It had the advantage of common ammunition with the Imperial Navy. It also benefited greatly from the development of high explosives and chemical munitions, to multiply its bursting radius. At he same time it suffered from poor dispersion characteristics, small bore size, and transport complications. Even Bruchmueller, in his 1922 work, says of the 10cm, that it was looked on by howitzer batteries like a stepmother (Stiefmuetterlich) looks at the other child. Also, the 10cm developed into a difficult piece to manufacture largely because of its perceived value as an anti-aircraft weapon. Despite a few K.”04s downing balloons during the war, these pieces never fulfilled a useful air defense niche.
Picture: Camouflaged 10cm model 1917 field gun
In 1914 few active army corps had heavy guns within their organization. Often these pieces were found in the reserve units. By 1918 all corps incorporated heavy guns. The Foot Artillery organization was typically made of a mixture of two howitzer batteries, with one battery of heavy guns per Foot Artillery Battalion. Overall it appears the 10cms did find useful service. They served as an excellent long-range counter battery weapon and were more than passable as an anti-personnel weapon. They were well paired with the 15cms, which did more commonly serve in the anti-personnel role. As final evidence of their value, the Kanone 1917 and K.”17/04 soldered on with the Reichswehr and Wehrmacht. The 10cm Kanone series continued with the 10cm Kanone18, and these three most modern types even saw excellent service though out the Second World War.