Best light field artillery piece?

Discussion in 'WW2 General' started by Shortround6, Aug 16, 2011.

  1. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    As a spin off from the other threads how about the best light field artillery piece?

    What should be the upper weight limit? 500lbs or more or less?

    I am thinking of guns employed as divisional artillery in four-6 gun batteries on a regular basis.

    Dual purpose guns may count but just because an AT gun was issued HE ammunition doesn't make it a field gun.

    Infantry, mountain, airborne and jungle guns may be in a class of their own unless there are real good reasons to include them.
     
  2. Juha

    Juha Well-Known Member

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    #2 Juha, Aug 17, 2011
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2011
    IMHO Soviet 120-PM-38 M1938 120-millimeter mortar and its German copy Granatwerfer 42 and the Finnish 120 Krh/40. At least SU saw them as artillery pieces and had GHQ mortar regiments and brigades.

    Juha
     
  3. fastmongrel

    fastmongrel Well-Known Member

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    Shortround do you mean 5,000 lbs cant think of any artillery piece apart from mortars that weighed less than 500 pounds.

    If you mean 5,000lbs I would go for the 25 pounder and its Aussie baby version. It was the ultimate swiss army knife of artillery pieces especially if you can stretch the definition of the 25 pounder family and include the version of the 17 pounder that used the 25 pounder mount.

    I was lucky enough as a spotty young Territorial army reservist to crew a 25 pounder, they had gone out of regular army service years before but there was still piles of ammo left over from the Korean war and we got to blow up bits of Wales. Great fun especially when we almost won our regiment quick firing competition against a veteran bunch of lads who had fired them as regulars.
     
  4. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    Sorry, I meant 5000lbs but that may be a bit heavy.

    I also mean the basic field gun. While variants of some types did good work it gets a little complicated knowing when to stop.
     
  5. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    A dilemma is the weight limit. In Kilograms you have the 25pdr at 1742kg on the "light side" and and at 2450kg you have the Russian 122mm M 38 howitzer on the heavy side. With the US 105 howitzer going at 2030kg for the M2A1 and 2259 for the M2A2. The M2A2 makes a 5000lb weight limit by about 30lbs while the Russian howitzer misses by under 400lbs. The Russian piece is only about 8% heavier than the American. Granted it is 700kg heavier than the 25pdr (40%).

    For horse traction the limit for field guns had been about 1300kg before WW I but had crept up to about 1600kg by the end of the war. By WW II horse drawn field artillery was up to around 1900kg.

    The Russian 122mm has a number of things going for it. Weight, ammunition supply and perhaps rate of fire are against it?
     
  6. Juha

    Juha Well-Known Member

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    #6 Juha, Aug 18, 2011
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2011
    Hello Shortround
    you underestimate horse, max was well over 3000kg, even in Eastern Karelia where roads were notariously bad and with a team of Finnhorses which were not pure drought horse but smaller a bit like "Universal" type, used also for agricultural work, riding and harness racing. OK, even Finns thought that 152 H/09-30 (war-booty Soviet 152 mm howitzer model 1909 modernised 1930) was too heavy to be effectively horse-towed but it was anyway done, weight in action 3000kg, heavier in transport form.

    On Soviet 122mm M-30, Finns really liked their war booty pieces and didn't find any fault in it
    Juha
     
  7. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    It depends on how many horses you use and how far you want to go.....and how long you want the horses to last.

    British standards (and every army seemed to have different peace time standards) before WW I called for the horse artillery (the 13pdr) to move at a gallop when needed when pulled by 6 cart horses, the 18pdr field guns were supposed to able to move at a trot on occasion when pulled by the same 6 horse team. The 60pdr field gun (4470KG) was pulled by 8 large draft horses but only at a walk. Large teams of horses were used to move even bigger guns but might not be able to keep up with marching men. Horses that pulled too heavy a load for a week or 10 days often needed weeks to recover full strength.
     
  8. Juha

    Juha Well-Known Member

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    Hello Shortround
    heaviest fieldgun widely used by organic field artillery regiments of Finnish army during the WWII I can recall was 155 H/17 aka Canon de 155 C, mle 1917 Schneider, travelling weight 3800kg, and they were towed either by vehicles or by horse teams. Not being field arty specialist I can only say on the size of horse teams that the organic medium battalion of 15th Brigade used 8 horses teams to tow its 152mm H/09-30 howitzers, they weighted some 3200-3300kg in travelling mode. Each battery of the battalion had also one tracked tractor to help moving the howitzers into and out from firing positions. Of course independent heavy arty battalions had heavier guns, some of which were towed by horses.

    On light howitzers one can see Finnish opinions and technical info on 10,5 cm leFH 18, Soviet 122 H/38 M-30 and the Swedish 10,5 haubits m/40, which Finns knew as 105 H/37, we built the lattest by license during the WWII. And of course on wide variety of older types.
    FINNISH ARMY 1918 - 1945: ARTILLERY PART 5

    Juha
     
  9. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    First let me thank you for the link.

    We may be in close agreement on the basic question. I know that horses moved quite heavy loads and had done so for years. In Muzzle loading days artillery had been broken down into two or more categories. Basically "horse" artillery could keep up with cavalry, Field artillery could keep up with marching troops, and siege artillery was going to show up at the battle site when ever it did show up, usually too late to any good unless the target was a town or fortress. Most armies had made "rules" on the weights that horse teams of different sizes could pull based on speed per day and days of march. They had hundreds of years of experience to go on.
    The "rules" were far from being absolute, a 6 horse team tasked with moving a load 20% heavier than they were rated for wasn't going to stand there and not move it. They might be able to move it without noticeable problems given good conditions for several days. But if the movement or "march" continued for 7-10 days the horses would loose strength and be more likely to become injured or go lame than a team pulling the lighter (rated) load. If you had extra horses you could swap the teams in and out and keep up a pretty good rate of travel but no army really had enough horses to do that. Most armies came up with these "rules" because it allowed for the most movement of weight for the longest period of time with the least amount of wastage of the horses. In desperate circumstances they did what they had to do, sacrifice the horses in order to retreat or to cut off an escaping enemy. But if too many horses died, came up lame or broke bones the loads they were towing would be lost anyway or the "blocking column" would find itself seriously reduced in strength and strung out.
     
  10. Juha

    Juha Well-Known Member

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    #10 Juha, Aug 19, 2011
    Last edited: Aug 19, 2011
    Hello Shortround
    on horse pulled artillery, yes, I understand well what you are saying. In the small farm where my father was born was a horse. We visited the farm every summer to help my uncle and my cousins in hay making etc so I saw something the horse, happened to be a “war veteran”, did in agricultural surroundings. And on the effects of load, while I did my compulsory military service I learned, that while I could run, even uphill while carrying four 10kg (22lb) A/T mines, I could not ran very far with that load, while carrying 2 A/T mines I could ran clearly longer distance but still not very far but after a while it didn’t do much difference on my running if I had one A/T mine on my back under my combat harness or not .

    I wrote mostly on organic field artillery of infantry formations and not on independent heavy batteries or battalions just because of the organic FA units were supposed to be able to be capable to move as fast as their parent units.

    BTW according to a WWII action photo in my field gun book, Finnish Army used 8 horses team to pull 155 H/17 aka Canon de 155 C, mle 1917 Schneider. and the battery was moving along a forest track while changing firing positions

    And back to topic, the best light FA gun, maybe Soviet M-30, 25pdr or Swedish/Finnish 105H/37. I don’t have now time to check the US 105mm, it might well be a good candidate, too.

    Juha
     
  11. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    The main contenders seem to be:

    The British 25pdr. it's light weight (1800kg) is an advantage and it had a full range of ammunition. Another plus is it's range of 12,250 meters. Minuses are a less than ideal HE round (low HE content 1.8-2.0lb?)), elevation to only 45^ without digging a pit and until the Italian campaign in 1944, a restricted charge system ( 4 charges including the supercharge) which limited it's ability to hit reverse slopes/valleys in all situations. Traverse without turntable is restricted but with turntable 360^, use of turntable with trail pit is questionable.

    US 105mm. It's max elevation of 66^ and 7 zone charge system gave great flexibility in selecting trajectory and time of flight to suit terrain and tactics. traverse of 46^ is better than the 25pdr but less than many other field guns. It is on the heavy side (2030-2258kg)for it's caliber and range is 11,270 meters. It may have the highest rate of fire of the howitzers but that is only used a very small percentage of the time. Shell has a good HE payload (4.7-4.8lb).

    Russian 122mm M30 is the heaviest (2450kg in firing order) Of course it fires the heaviest shell, 21.7kg with the most HE (8lb) and a range of 11,800meters. While at some point it had a full range of ammunition I am not sure how great the variety was in WW II, actually issued and used that is. Elevation is good at 63^ or so and the zone charge system has 9 increments according to one source. Traverse is 49^ in most sources. it does have the lowest rate of fire at 5-6 rounds a minute and uses a screw breech so the ability to speed things up may not be very good.

    German 10.5cm was medium in weight at 1985KG and has 56^ of traverse. In it's early form it used a six charge system to propel it's shell 10,675meters. Shell carried about 3lb of HE. While it had good traverse at 56^ it had a low max elevation of 40^ which again limits firing solutions and tactical deployment (firing out of forests or built up areas), the addition of a muzzle break and a 7th zone charge got the range up to 12,325meters but only using a special long range shell. The long range shell had the driving band 1 in closer to the base and a different rear section to allow room for the propelling charge. The long range shell did hold more explosive. While the Germans did make a wide range of ammunition for this weapon, ammunition was generally in short supply and any specialty projectiles were not made in the long range form.
     
  12. fastmongrel

    fastmongrel Well-Known Member

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    SR6 the additional bags to give an increased range of charges for upper register fire were officially introduced in 1944 but previous to this the age old expedient of making up bags of cordite as needed by opening and reweighing spare charges to give smaller charges was done semi officially. Whilst everyone paid lip service to the book every regiment would have had an unofficial set of range tables and spare equipment, senior officers would carefully make sure that they didnt see them as they had all probably done the same thing in WWI.
     
  13. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    Thank you for the information.
     
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