German WW II 15cm sFH 18 and Horse Team

As I started with my Hobby, the best magazine to read and collect was the Military Modelling. It was for that time (1970's and 1980's) the best magazine of its kind. It gave a lot of otherwise difficult to obtain information and sources for model kits and related stuff. In one of these long gone magazines I saw a kit from Calder Craft. A completely tin manufactured ensemble of a German 15-cm horse drawn Feldhaubitze. This is one of the models/diorama's that I always wanted to build. But I was at that time not able to obtain the kit. Although it is not a model/diorama that fits into my main area of interest, it was still a diorama that I wanted to build. I was sadenned to hear that Military Modelling stopped publishing. It was integrated into another fine magazine, Model Military International. The box looked like this:

When you look at the pictures you can imagine the craftsmanship that it took to produce it. But this kit is no longer available.
I found some pictures of the real thing.

I tried to restore some of the pictures as best I could. These are shown below.

Some research in older Military Modelling magazines gave me this picture below that I was able to restore to a complete
overview of the entire diorama. It's very impressive ! But not easy to complete and realize.

Below some pictures of horse-drawn Gesch├╝tze


This picture shows the 8-span horse drawn Gun.

Picture of the 8-span horse-drawn s.FH 18 in 1942 Eastern Front.

Below some more horse drawn combinations that show how these were rigged.

The Models and Materials needed

So what now .... Let's see whats on the market today to produce a diorama of this kind. Let's begin with the sFH 18. Trumpeter has a very fine model that can be used for this project. Although it's depicted with a Half-Track as a towing means on the box, it's in fact almost the same artillery piece as is shown in the pics with the horses in front of this gun.

Except for the protze (limber) which is somewhat different as is shown in the following drawing. This limber is obviously for horse drawn purpose. In the pictures above the smaller limber wheels are clearly visible. But as you can see on the Calder Craft box art, the wheels on the limber and the gun are similar in size and appearance which clearly shows this as a gun and limber normally drawn by a halftrack or truck, as is also shown on the Trumpeter box art. Below a side view of the gun as ist will be built in the diorama.

This in part makes it easier to model this subject as there is no need to model the horse limber for this diorama. And the first restored picture at the beginning of this article shows clearly the limber for the half-track or truck. For more clarity I added the horse drawn limber below. So if somebody wants to build this.....


I always liked the idea of this project. The confrontation between old and new so to speak. My main interest lies within the developments of the Allied and German forces and not only the physical battles but also the technical aspects of this most crucial part of WW II. And the old also fascinated me. For me, this horse-drawn piece of artillery and the ambient it shows always drew me to one day make this a project I would love to create. This said it gave me a lot of challenges that I would have to face. I almost know nothing about how such a combination is formed. Just only look at how the horses are put into this combination. How is this done? The pictures on the box itself do not give away a lot. So I have to find out myself. Are there any manuals that I can get info from? Is there info on the internet? Can anyone else help me in this regard? Maybe forums? Let's see what develops. As is evident from the drawing above, there were horse-drawn combinations. This picture clearly shows that this Protze (limber) is used for the artillery piece to be drawn by horses. Unfortunately, not a lot of information can be found on this subject. Especially how the horses are attached to the limber and how the rest of the ropes and gear has to be attached. I did a lot of searching and some useful information can be found in the publications listed below.

Building The Models

I scavanged a few kits for the horses. I got the Trumpeter kit and figures are also available from different sources. But where do I get the dog ?

Although not much info on the rigging of the horses was at hand, I started investigating the sources I had. Magazines, manuals etc. Lucky enough I'm a person who keeps info albeith it being of no use in the first place. But as it seems, it pays of later. I had somewhere in the past copied a book that was used by the German Army for instruction purposes. It was "Der Dienstunterricht im Heere" from Reibert, dated 1943. Somewhere at the end of this book, there were a few pages on how to proceed with horses, riding and yes rigging ! And some nice illustrations too !

And as time progresses, it always gives you some more insights and information if you put effort in research. Above you can see a few German manuals on how horses are being put into service and how to train them for several puposes. The last tw manuals H.Dv. 465-1 and 6 gave me a good look on how rigging is supposed to be done. Below the rigged horses are shown in pairs as they should be shown in the diorama. The order in which the horses should be placed are as follows: Vorderpferde - Mittelpferde - Stangenpferde (Fronthorses - Middlehorses - Polehorses)

Thus the horses should be placed in the diorama as follows:

After some more researching I came across a picture that gives some more details of the rigging for the "Stangenpferde". It shows these horses, part of a "Vierergespann" (four horse combination) somewhere in Russia in bad conditions, pulling an ammunitions cart.

The picture below shows the first two horses from above. Withoutthe saddle, but clearly gives info on the rigging of the pole between these horses. Image from handbook on "Fahrlehre".

Where to find information

Publications found
on the sFH 18 and horses in the German Army

Waffen Revue No. 40 (1981)
In depth article on the sFH 18

Waffen-Arsenal No. 135 - Deutsche schwere Feldhaubitzen 1934-1945 by Joachim Engelmann

Waffen-Arsenal Sonderband No. 77 - Schwere Artillerie im Einsatz by Wolfgang Fleischer

Wydawnictwo Militaria No. 151 - German Cavalry - author unknown

Model Detail Photo Monograph No. 19 - s.FH.18 by Mariusz Skotnicki

Horses of the German Army in World War II by Paul Louis Johnson from Schiffer Publications
Very good and informative publication on this subject

H.Dv. 465/1 - Fahrvorschrift Heft 1 Allgemeine Grundsatze der Fahrausbildung

H.Dv. 465/2 - Fahrvorschrift Heft 2 Ausbildung des Zugpferdes

H.Dv. 465/3 - Fahrvorschrift Heft 3 Fahren vom Bock

H.Dv. 465/4 - Fahrvorschrift Heft 4 Fahren vom Sattel

H.Dv. 465/6 - Fahrvorschrift Heft 6 Fahr- und Fahrlehrgerat

So by now I need a lot of stuff and other things to realize this diorama. At least 9 horses, a dog, a big gun, a base with groundwork like a street with tram rails, some stuff to make it more realistic like trees, and of course the electrical lines above the street. Perhaps a lonely viewer of the spectacle and lampposts not to be forgotten. A park bench maybe ? And a wooden base to put it all on. The basic layout looks somehow like the restored picture seen at the start of this article.

Fortunately I allready invested in some things like the Miniart Tram Supports and street lamp. Also the street lamps and clocks set from Miniart could come to good use. As is the Miniart European Tramcar set has some nice additions that can be used as templates for this diorama.

Now for the dog the Tamiya Live Stok set comes in handy.

A very nice looking German Shepherd. A good thing that I have been collecting all these years and that I had room to stow it all away somewhere. Now I hope I can find it back!!



The Final Result