In the first decade of this century the French Schneider concern took over the Russian Putilov armaments factory as part of a deliberate plan of commercial expansion. Putilov had for long been the main Russian armament concern, but during the early 1900s had been restricted in its expansionist ideas by the backwardness of the Russian commercial scene, so the infusion of French capital was a decided advantage.
Among the designs found on the Putilov drawing boards was an advanced design of 107-mm (4.21-in) field gun that appeared to offer considerable increase in range and efficiency over comparable models. Schneider eagerly developed the model and offered it to the French army, which was at first not interested as the 75 was all it required and there was no need for heavier weapons. But eventually the Schneider sales approach triumphed and in 1913 the Russian design was adopted by the French army as the Canon de 105 modèle 1913 Schneider, more usually known as the L 13 S. The events of 1914 rammed home to the French the fact that the 75 was not capable of supplying all the artillery fire support required, and that heavier guns would be necessary. Thus the L 13 S was placed in a higher priority bracket and large numbers began to roll off the Schneider production lines.
Between 1914 and 1918 the L 13 S provided sterling service, It was a handsome gun with a long barrel and a conventional box trail that provided enough elevation for the 15.74-kg (34.7-lb) shell to reach a range of 12000 m (13,130 yards). After 1918 the L 13 S became a French export as it was either sold or handed on to numerous armies under French influence. These nations included Belgium, Poland and Yugoslavia but it was in Italy that the L 13 S achieved its main market penetration, There the L 13 S became the Cannone da 105/28, and it remained one of the main field guns of the Italian forces until 1943. The Poles modified their L 13 S guns to take a new split trail design, and this armata wz 29 was in service when the Germans attacked in 1939.
After 1940 the Germans found that the L 13 S was a viable weapon and out of the 854 still in French service in May 1940 they captured many that were still intact. Large numbers were handed over to various occupation units but it was not until 1941 that a real use was found for the bulk of the booty. When the Atlantic Wall was ready to be armed the L 13 S was decided upon as one of the primary weapons to be used. There were enough on hand to become a standard weapon, and there were stockpiles of ammunition ready for use. Thus the L 13 S became the German 10.5-cm K 331(f) and was ready to play its most important part in World War II. Ex-Belgian guns were designated 10.5-cm K 333(b).
The Germans took the guns off their carriages and mounted them on special turntables protected by curved or angled armour shields, These were placed in bunkers all along the French and other coasts, and many of the bunkers can still be seen among the Atlantic sand dunes to this day. As a beach defence gun the L 13 S was more than suitable, and the bunkers were hard nuts for any attacking force to crack. Fortunately the Normandy landings of June 1944 bypassed most of these bunkers. Not all the guns in these bunkers were directly ex-French; some found their way into the defences from as far away as Yugoslavia and Poland. Captured guns used by the Germans were the 10.5-cm K 338(i) and 10.5-cm K 338(j) Italian and Yugoslav weapons, while unmodified and modified Polish weapons were the 10.5-cm K 13 (p) and 10.5-cm K 29 (p) respectively.
Specification L13S Calibre: 105 mm (4.134 in) Length of piece: 2.987 m (117.6 in) Weight: travelling 2650 kg (5,843 lb) and in action 2300 kg (5,070 lb) Elevation:-0∞ to+37∞ Traverse: 6∞ Muzzle velocity: 550 m (1,805 ft) per second Range: 12000 m (13,130 yards) Shell weight: 15.74 kg (34,7 lb) for French guns and 16.24 kg (35,8 lb) for Italian guns