To see the French WW2 25mm Anti-Tank Gun 1937 firing live rounds click onto the photograph above
(Canon leger de 25mm antichar SA.L mle.1937. L/77)
The French 25mm SA.L Model 1937 is an improvement on the 25mm Model 1934. These anti-tank guns served France up to the German invasion of 1940. They were then captured and used by Germany and her allies including Vichy France and Finland. In German service the piece was designated 2,5cm PAK 113 (f). These pieces had a fair amount of service in the North African Campaign and in the Finnish war with the Soviet Union.
The 25mm SA.L 1937 and its limber were frequently drawn by a single horse in French service and must have been hauled or carried on top by every variety of Axis truck and tracked vehicle imaginable. During transport, the shield folded forward and was locked in place by a coil spring and handle. In this way, as the wheels collect mud traveling along, the shield does not inhibit them from turning.
The 25mm is fitted with both “iron sights” and an optical scope. The correct scope is quite rare. The typical ammunition for the 25mm was Armor Piercing Tracer Shot. These rounds have a tracer that lights more than 100 meters after firing. In this way, it is not as easy for an enemy to find the location of the gun.
The 25mm SA.L 1937 has several unusual features. The tube is fitted with a single baffle muzzle brake plus a flash hider. There is an exposed spring around the tube. This is part of the Hydro-Spring Recoil Mechanism. While setting up to fire, the wheels of the weapon lift up; lock in place and a pad from under the axle drops down, giving the anti-tank gun three points of contact, that is the two spades on the split trails and the pad. Given the light weight, two men can easily emplace the gun. The breech mechanism is a semi-automatic vertical sliding wedge and can be fired with just a gunner and a loader. Elevation and Traversing Handles are within easy reach of the gunner, with the trigger and safety located on the elevation handle grip.
This piece was imported into the US from Finland and was acquired in reasonably good condition. It is currently painted French Dark Yellow/Tan with the muzzle brake/flash hider painted black. When we received the piece it still had remnants of its Finnish winter snow camouflage (white and forest green).
Caliber 25mm (0.98 in)
Above: 25mm mle/37 semi-automatic vertical sliding wedge breech
Above: ready to fire
Above: Shield folded
Above: Front Shield Folded for transport
Above: ready for transport
Above: Close-up of the 25mm SAL 37 elevation mechanism, shield and breech
Above: 25mm mle/37, view from front, optical direct fire scope
25mm mle/37, view from front, secondary “iron sights”
Below: An original WW2 Era photograph of a French 25mm SAL 37 in either German or Finnish Army Service.
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All images, research, and text are sole property of Ralph Lovett.