Artillery

Discussion in 'General Military Arms & History Forum' started by Pistolenschutze, Feb 16, 2007.

  1. Napoleon is reported to have once said that, "God fights on the side with the heaviest artillery." His words were very apt indeed, I think, for artillery has often been, in large part, the decider of battles since the 15th century. How about some discussion on the place of artillery in warfare over the last couple of centuries or so? Yup, that's a pretty broad topic, so to start off, let's narrow it just a bit. What artillery piece was the most useful and decisive of World War II? My vote goes to the 155mm howitzer, but I must admit to some prejudice there. My dad was a "cannon cocker" during the North African, Sicilian, and Italian campaigns during that war. Still, I think it would be very hard to beat the 155 as a candidate for the most outstanding artillery piece of World War II. On the German side, I would definitely pick the 88mm high-velocity cannon, mostly because of its effectiveness as a tank main gun. OK, hunker down in your bunkers and let the barrage begin! :D ;)
  2. Popgunner

    Popgunner New Member

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    A few years ago I had an employee who was in a guard unit here in Utah that invited me for a day of shooting his 155. It was one of the funnest Saturdays I've ever had. We shot a marker round over the hills onto a mountainside 12 miles away. It made a mark the size of a schoolbus. Then we dropped the barrels on all 5 155s in the unit waiting for the fire control truck to give numbers for aiming. We loaded, & fired pretty fast with from 4 to 7 bag loads & during two hours of firing not once did any of the guns miss the target. I even got to pull the lanyard a few times. Nowdays the fire control truck & the guns are aimed with lasers. I would guess that's the only diff between today & WW-II. They still use 30-40 Krag cases as primers to set off the bags. Two of us were able to move the pieces around by hand though mud would make that near impossible.

    I don't know too much about the German pieces, but I would not want to be on the target end of our 155s.
  3. Bill

    Bill New Member

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    Can't comment on WW2, but in the 60's when I trained on different artillery pieces, my favorite was the 155. I think the HE shell weighed about 96 lbs and you got the impression that you were sending a serious message to who ever received it. The 105 may have been more effective in Vietnam as the fire rate was so much faster and the 105 could shoot for a long, long time without wearing out the crews. The 8 inch Howitzer in the 60's was the most accurate. The 175mm Gun was the longest shooter but was inaccurate and had VERY short barrel life.
    Bill
  4. 17thfabn

    17thfabn New Member

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    Pistole, I would agree that the 155mm was the best Artillery piece of World War II. For it's size it had the best rate of fire, and weight of projectile.

    The modern U.S. military seems to have settled on the 155 as their standard piece. It can fire all types of ammunition, from standard high explosives to nuclear projectiles! The nuclear rounds have been taken out of service. Besides standard High Explosive rounds the 155 can fire:

    White phosphorus (W.P.) (quick smoke and incindiary use)
    Smoke (longer lasting than W.P.)
    Improved conventional munitions. (ICM) these a the artillery equivalint of cluster bombs. They can carry anti-personnel, anti-armor, bomblets, or anti-personnel, or anti-tank mines.
    Copperhead projectile. This round is guided onto it's target by a laser designantor. It is used as a tank and bunker buster.

    Most U.S. Army units use the self propelled 155mm howitzer. The light divisions (10th Mountain, 82nd Airborne, 101st Air Assault) have the towed 155mm and 105 mm howitzers. The 8" howizers have been phased out of service. So a heavy U.S. Army Division (mech infantry, or armor) needs to only supply one type of artillery ammunition, 155mm (plus mlrs rockets). A light division only needs two types of artillery ammunition 105mm and 155mm (plus mlrs rockets).

    On to the German 88mm anti-aircraft gun. It is the most :eek: OVER RATED :eek: weapon in history!

    The 88mm was a good medium anti-aircraft weapon. Many allied aircraft fell victim to it.

    It was a good last ditch anti-tank weapon. But the Germans had a much better anti-tank, and tank gun in their 75mm gun. The 75mm was just as effective an anti-tank weapon as the 88mm. And the 75mm was lighter, much more mobile, easier to handle in the field, and easier to conceal.

    The 88mm had a very high profile and was hard to conceal, and move. It's fire power against tanks was undeniable. But once spoted it would be an easy kill for artillery or mortars. One round over, one round short, and the third right on top of their heads!

    The 88mm could be used as a artillery weapon agains infantry. But a howitzer with it's arcing fire is a much better choice. A standard U.S. 105mm howitzer of World War II had a much more deadly high explosive round for use against infantry.
  5. When I was a kid, my dad used to tell me stories of his experiences in WWII with the 155 howitzer. He mentioned on seveal occasions how they would overcharge the guns to gain greater range, which testifies to how well built they were. In the march across France and Germany, and up the Italian Boot, they more than proved their worth. In Vietnam, my memories center more on the 105s though, since when we called on "Arty" it was those that were more often fired in direct support than the 155s. When we had an artillery observer with us, he was often worth his weight in gold.
  6. 17thfabn

    17thfabn New Member

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    In a close support role a 105mm with it's smaller kill radius can be brough in closer to friendles than a 155mm.
  7. Yes, that is most definitely true, 17th, and close infantry support was what artillery was most often used for in Vietnam.
  8. Pat Hurley

    Pat Hurley Former Guest

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    I know that this is not the answer you were looking for - and may not qualify uder the heading of artillary piece - but my vote is for the big cannons on the American, German, British, and Japanese battleships. 15, 16, and 18 inch guns are simply amazing and did mind boggling damage.
  9. Xracer

    Xracer *TFF Admin Staff Mediator*

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    Minn-eeee-sota, ya, sure, you bet!
    I agree, and my vote goes to the 105. It was a much smaller and more mobile gun, could even be towed behind a jeep, and was often used in direct fire support down to the platoon level.
  10. 17thfabn

    17thfabn New Member

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    Stories from Dad 17th Field Artillery Korea (8" howitzers)

    Since Pistole has opened up stories from Dad's, and Xracer brings up direct fire here goes one from my Dad.

    My father was assigned to B Battery (dad says b was for best!) 17th Field Artillery Battallion, 8" howitzers in the Korean War. He said on several occasions they went into the line for direct fire missions with their 8" howitzer. If you absolutely have to destroy a bunker it's a good choice.

    If you want to bring fire in very close the best choice is mortars, especially the 60mm.

    Xracer I don't think a standard M2 105mm howitzer of World War II vintage could be pulled behind a jeep very far, it weighed 5,000 pounds! The much lighter M3 105mm infantry howitzer could be pulled behind a jeep.
  11. AL MOUNT

    AL MOUNT New Member

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    Holy Smoly.......:eek:

    17thabn is a veritable wealth of information........:D :D :D



    But then what else would expect from a "Trooper":D




    [​IMG]
  12. Re: Stories from Dad 17th Field Artillery Korea (8" howitzers)

    Yup, 17th, my dad mentioned the 8 inchers occassionally too, though he never crewed on them. The ones he saw were the M115 203mm gun (originally designated as the 8" Howitzer M1) that was generally towed by a large truck or specialzed vehicle. According to him, they were much slower to set up, much, much harder to move around efficiently, and required a larger crew to service the gun. The Germans used a similar gun, the 17cm K18. If time was available to get them into action though, they were devastating, especially against fortifications, or troops if they fired air bursts. The shell they threw weighed in at about 200 lbs, twice that of the 155mm.
  13. SF Mike

    SF Mike New Member

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    Disagree on arty being used mostly for close infantry support.
    I have used artillery as support-you got to be careful.
    105's were much used for this. More accurate than 155's but shorter range. Accuracy being paramount in this application.
    Some firebases were primarily artillery sites with various size guns.
    8 inchers were most accurate, but rarely used in close support.
    175's had reach but not accuracy.
    These guns, including 155's were more for area coverage. H&I, harassment and interdiction was an important mission. Unsafe as close support.
    I spent some time near LZ Buttons, a cav firebase near Nui Ba Ra.
    They had 175's and 8 inchers. There was outgoing 24 hours a day.
    They had lots of old 175 barrels used as telephone poles.
    A round detonated inside a 8 inch turret-it was a mess.
    Close support in VN was chiefly choppers. Cobra was king.
    Some redlegs put 5 rounds of 155 inside our perimeter one night, "gunner's error" killed some guys.
    I have used 60mm mortars lot, they even had a hand held version.
    Not real effective, though an M 79 is almost as good. 81s a lot better.
  14. Bill

    Bill New Member

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    Interesting thread. Keep it up guys. Bill
  15. 17thfabn

    17thfabn New Member

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    SF Mike I understand you have to be careful when bringing artillery in close to friendlies. For each artillery round there is a minimum safe distance for that round. The bigger the round the bigger the safety zone.

    I was a fire direction specialist in the late 70's and early 80's. We were still using charts and tabulated and graphical firing tables to get firing data, just like they did in World War II. I know from the guys who served in Vietnam on occasion fire was intentionaly called into friendly positions that were about to be over run. Our troops would have to have over head cover, and air bursts were used. It would take a big pair of brass ones to do that!

    SF Mike for "danger close" missions would you prefer to have artillery or aircraft bombs coming in? I would think artillery would be safer since it could be "walked" in to a target, especialy with Vietnam era technology.
  16. DWARREN123

    DWARREN123 New Member

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    As light Infantry the 105 towed is my favorite. It has a good rate of fire, many different types of rounds and if needed can do direct fire. Small and light enough to air lift by helo or pull by a light prime mover and small crew operated.
  17. Bill

    Bill New Member

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    My favorite training at Ft. Sill was the Bunker shoot. They had heavy duty concrete bunkers on the range and for training you would call in artillery on to your bunker. There was a slot to view thru and as the rounds impacted you would hunker down below it and schrapnel would hit the rear wall. Great training for Danger close situations. Bill
  18. SF Mike

    SF Mike New Member

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    I have used both artillery and aircraft. BOTH are extremely chancy and dangerous.
    I was the guy on the recieving end, I know a lot about blast radius.
    I know how innacurate the maps were. I know that we often were not where the maps said we were.
    know how a gunship cannot see you in triple or even double canopy.
    I have called in close support when no overhead cover was available, we travelled in small light groups.
    Some people are very accurate with ordnance, some are not.
    A ground unit cannot call in bombers. The best we had was Cobras or old Hueys. Anything else was coordinated through a FAC.
    Hard to adjust fire when you can't see 20 feet through the brush, too.
    Anyways, that stuff was an asset that was good to have when it worked well. Sometimes it didn.t.
  19. AL MOUNT

    AL MOUNT New Member

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    Triple canapoy always added a thrilling aspect to the situation too......:eek:.......:D :D
  20. 17thfabn

    17thfabn New Member

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    SF Mike, it makes it tough when the enemy wants to grab you by the belt and fight at close range. It is hard if not impossible to bring heavy fire support to bear, be it from aircraft, artillery or mortars when the enemy is 50 yards or less from the good guys.

    SF Mike I'm in the mood to post pin ups, so hear is one from your era, Raquel Welch. One of the most beautiful women of all tiem. And she has aged very well.

    http://www.chenardwalcker.com/photos/RaquelWelch1.jpg
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2007
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