Military Review

American standard

“It harnesses for a long time, but it drives fast” - perhaps it is this saying that best describes history the creation of the main guns of the American field artillery during the Second World War. The long development resulted in the creation of the 105-mm howitzer М2А1 - a very successful artillery system that went through the whole war and was produced before the 1983 year.

The long road to the new howitzer

By the end of the First World War, the basis of the American artillery were French-made guns - the famous 75-mm field guns, and (in a much smaller number) heavier systems. As soon as the battles in Europe died down, 11 December 1918 was ordered by the Chief of Staff of the US Army to create a Caliber Commission (better known as the Westerwelt commission named for its brigadier general), whose task was to develop recommendations for the further development of artillery weapons. 5 May 1919, the commission submitted a report that determined the development of the American artillery for the next two decades.

The findings of the Caliber Commission covered virtually all types of artillery, but we will consider only those that dealt with light field guns. On the one hand, the commission confirmed the conclusion made by American military agent in France Colonel C. Summermall in 1916 about the expediency of switching from 75 – 76-mm cannons to 100 – 105-mm howitzers, more suitable for positional warfare, in the divisional element. On the other hand, the commission did not consider it possible to completely abandon the light guns. As a result, it was proposed to develop in parallel both classes of guns.

In the view of the commission members, the light field howitzer should have a caliber of about 105 mm, a mass of 30 – 35 pounds of projectile (13,62 – 15,89 kg) and a firing range of up to 12 000 m (10 980 m). The angle of elevation should have been 65 °, which would allow mortar firing. A circular horizontal shelling was desirable. True, this idea was almost immediately abandoned due to the complexity of the design of the gun carriage. The gun had to have semi-unit loading, the main type of projectile was high-explosive fragmentation, auxiliary - shrapnel.

The light gun was supposed to have a caliber of about three inches (76,2 mm). The basis of its design was proposed to lay the principle of universality - the use of tools as not only field, but also anti-aircraft. However, having experienced several prototypes, the US military realized that nothing good would come of it, and abandoned the idea, confining themselves to upgrading the French-made 75-mm M1897 cannons.

As for the conclusion about the expediency of the transition to howitzers in the divisional link, he stood the test of time: in 1920, four prototypes of 105-mm howitzer М1920 appeared. The length of the barrel was 22 caliber. The guns were tested on two different carriages: the M1920 with sliding beds and the box-shaped single-bar M1921. The first of these provided the angle of elevation 80 ° and the angle of horizontal pickup 30 °. The single-layer carriage was simpler and cheaper to manufacture, but had significantly worse characteristics: the elevation angle was no more than 51 °, and the angle of horizontal pickup was only 8 °. According to the test results, the Field Artillery Bureau made disappointing conclusions: all the versions of the M1920 howitzer, as well as both models of gun carriages, were considered to be excessively complex and heavy.

In the second half of the 1920s, two more models of 105-mm howitzers appeared in the USA. The M1925 cannon on the M1925 single-carriage carriage was designed in accordance with the requirements of the Field Artillery Bureau. At the same time, the designers of the Rock Island arsenal proactively designed the T2 howitzer on the T2 carriage with sliding beds. The initiative development has so much surpassed its “rival” in tactical, technical and operational characteristics that the Bureau was forced to recognize its superiority, refusing to finish the М1925 howitzer. The T2 cannon was standardized as Howitzer M1 on Carriage M1 (M1 howitzer on M1 carriage), in January 1928 was adopted by the US Army, but everything was limited to the release of a small batch of 14 units. The limited supply of budget funds hampered the massive supply of the howitzer, therefore, having mastered the technology of mass production, its production was curtailed, retaining the possibility to resume production.

Meanwhile, the refinement of the 105-mm howitzer continued. In 1933, the development of a new carriage, adapted for towing by mechanical means, began - the old M1 carriage with wooden wheels allowed only horse traction to be used. From 1936, the T3, T4 and T5 gun carriages were successively presented for testing. The last in February, 1940, was standardized as the "M2 carriage". In the same year, 1933 began to refine the artillery unit in order to adjust the howitzer for firing unitary shots with a shrapnel projectile. The design of the charging chamber was changed. The final howitzer was standardized as the M2, but ultimately, the use of unitary shots was refused - the main type of ammunition was a semi-unitary shot with a high-explosive fragmentation projectile.

Having laid the M2 barrel on the M2 carriage (Т5) and made several minor changes, the American engineers received a new gun, and in March 1940 of the year it was standardized as the Howitzer M2А1 (“M2А1 howitzer”).

105 mm howitzer M2A1.

General device howitzer М2А1

As of June 1940, there were 4 236 75-mm M1897 guns (including those in warehouses), 91 75-mm mountain-howitzer and only 14 105-mm MXXX and MMX howitzers and MXMX and MXXMX and MX-howitzer and only 1 2-mm MXXX and MMX howitzers and MXMX and MXXMX and MX. The howitzer МХNUMXА2 was launched into mass production in April 1 of the year. Until September 1941, the Rock Island arsenal made 1945 of such guns (including 8536 in 1941, 597 in 1942, 3325 in 1943, 2684 in 1944, 1200 in 1945) that formed the basis of divisional artillery of the Army and the US Marine Corps during the Second World War.

American standard

Howitzer МХNUMXА2 on the gun МХNUMXА1.

During production, the howitzer design has undergone only minimal changes that have affected the mast. In November, high-ranking officials from the Department of Defense decided 1942, that for trailers weighing up to 5000 pounds (2273 kg) brakes are useless. As a result, in May of the following year, the supply took MXXUMX2 carriage, devoid of brakes. In August of the same year, the M1А2 carriage, which was notable for its improved design, was standardized. It was planned to upgrade all the M2 and M2А2 gun carriages to this level, but these plans were never realized.

105 mm howitzer M2A1 design

The howitzer М2А1 had a simple and rational design optimized for mass production conditions. The barrel length 22 caliber had 34 right-hand rifling; groove pitch - 20 calibers. The shutter is horizontal wedge, recoil devices hydropneumatic. The mass of the barrel with the bolt was 483 kg, the mass of the entire system in a combat position - 2259 kg.
After refusing to use shrapnel in the American 1935-mm howitzer ammunition in 105, only two types of shells remained: the high-explosive fragmentation М1 and smoke. Already during World War II, pointed pointed armor-piercing projectile, a sighting projectile (with colored smoke) and a cluster fragmentation projectile (used mainly in the Pacific theater of war) were put into service. Charging semi-unitary. There were seven variable charges. The weight of the propellant in the first charge was 238,42 g, in the seventh - 1241 g. The seventh charge provided the high-explosive fragmentation projectile weighing 14,96 kg initial speed in 472 m / s, while the maximum firing range reached 11 270 m.

Noteworthy and the shell itself M1. Adopted in the 1941 year, it is still used by the US Army and the Air Force (on AC-130 ganders). The length of the projectile is 494,8 mm, there are two modifications: standard and “deep penetration” - with a reinforced body, but with a reduced explosive charge. Two types of explosive are used for equipment: trinitrotoluene and the so-called “Composition B” - a mixture of trinitrotoluene and RDX. The explosive weight for standard projectiles is 2,3 kg “composition B” or 2,177 kg of TNT, for projectiles “deep penetration” - 2,087 kg or 1,93 kg, respectively.

Howitzer carriage has a pneumatic wheel course, sliding bed and a small shield. The barrel is displaced as far as possible to ensure firing at high elevation angles (because of this, a powerful spring balancer had to be introduced into the mast construction). The angle of vertical pickup was considered quite sufficient and ranged from –5 to + 66 °. The angle of horizontal guidance was also relatively large: right and left in 23 °. The only drawback of the gun carriage was considered to be the insufficient length of the staninas, which complicated the rolling of the gun and taking it on the hook.

Short carriage beds complicated rolling the howitzer and taking it on the hook.

In 1962, the howitzer М2А1 was assigned the designation М2 on the М1А101 carriage, and on the МХNUMXА2 carriage - М2А101. In both versions, trunks of two modifications could be used (М1А2 or М1А2), as well as wheel chocks of one of five modifications - from М2А2 to М1А2. At the same time the carriages were different: М5А2 for the howitzer М1 or М101А2 for М2А101. The sighting devices were improved and included a telescopic sight for direct-fire “Elbow” M1A16D (1-fold increase, field of view - 3 °); panoramic sight “Panoramic” M13A12S (7-fold increase, field of view - 4 °); quadrant М10А4. The ammunition still consisted of semi-unit shots, but their range was expanded to include these types of shells:
М1 - high-explosive fragmentation;

М60 and М84 - smoke (М60 could also be used as a chemical one - in this case it was filled with mustard gas);
М314 - lighting;
М327 - semi-armor-piercing (armor-piercing with enhanced high-explosive effect);
М444 - cassette containing 18 fragmentation submunitions М39;
М546 - tracer armor-piercing;
М548 - high-explosive fragmented improved ballistics.

Mass production of howitzers on the Rock Island arsenal continued until 1953, the total number of M2A1 manufactured was reduced to 10 202 units. However, in subsequent years, the release of howitzers M101А1 periodically resumed to meet export orders. The last such order (for 133 howitzers) was received in 1981 from Indonesia, and the company completed it by November 1983.


At the end of 1930, the US Army began to transfer its infantry divisions to a new, “triangular” structure. The artillery of such a division was to consist of three divisions of 75-mm cannons and one - 105-mm howitzers (for 12 guns in the division). Since there were no 105-mm howitzers serial samples yet, in the division instead of these guns they introduced the division of old Schneider’s M155 1917-mm howitzers. Following the results of the German blitzkrieg in France, the US military decided to replace 75-mm cannons with 105-mm howitzers, leaving 155-mm howitzers in the division and division — such organization of divisional artillery existed during the Second World War.
An important innovation was the organization in each division of the fire control center (CAM, Eng. FDC - Fire Directio Center). He allowed the division's fire to be focused on one target, and after its defeat it was quickly transferred to the next. Equipment CUO provided communication with batteries and advanced artillery observers, as well as the development of data for the installation of gun sights. In 1941, CUOs appeared at the division level.

Operation Torch (landing in North Africa in November 1942 of the year) was the first campaign in which the M105-2 1 howitzer was widely used.

In 1937, the US Army had only 25 divisions of field artillery. By December, the 1941 of the year (the time of the US entry into the war), their number reached 142-x, and by the year of 1945 exceeded 700. 264 of them were armed with howitzers МХNUMXА2: 1 division (161 in divisions and 147 separate) in the European theater of operations, 14 (respectively, 71 and 62) in the Pacific and 9 divisions in the United States.

Calculation of howitzer М2А1 for combat work.

In 1942, howitzer M2А1 appeared in the Marine Corps: artillery regiments of divisions introduced one division of such guns along with three divisions of 75-mm howitzers. By the beginning of large amphibious operations on Saipan and Guam, the artillery regiments already had two divisions: 105-mm and 75-mm howitzers, and by the time of landing on Iwo Jima, in 1945, three and one respectively.

LVT tracked transporters were not regular tractors for the M2А1 howitzers, but were sometimes used in this capacity. The photo shows how to tow a howitzer on Iwo Jima, 1945 year.

Calculation of howitzer М2А1 Marine Corps firing at the enemy. District of Naha, Okinawa Island, June 1945 of the year

The main beneficiaries of American aid under the Lend-Lease program, the United Kingdom and the USSR, did not show much interest in American artillery systems, dispensing with their own guns. The USSR did not receive any such howitzers, the British were given only 16 units. American howitzers were much more necessary for China and Free France, which received, respectively, 476 and 223 М2А1. 223 also sent these howitzers to a number of Latin American states that entered the war on the side of the Allies, but only Brazilians used them in battle, who sent an infantry division to Italy that had three 105-mm howitzers divisions.

Private Francisco de Paula from the Brazilian expeditionary force charges the howitzer М2А1. The inscription on the shot translates as “cobra smokes” (the cobra smoking a pipe was the emblem of the Brazilian expeditionary forces). District of Massarosa in Tuscany (Italy), September 29 1944

105-mm howitzers were widely used during the war in Korea, and on both sides of the front: both the armies of the United States and South Korea, and parts of the Chinese volunteers who fought on the side of the DPRK.

Howitzer МХNUMXА2 from the artillery of the 1 Infantry Division for positions in the Wirson area. Korea, 25 August 27 of the year

The last campaign of the American army, which widely used howitzer М101А1, was the Vietnam War. Their main task in this war was the direct support of infantry units; in the battalions, howitzers operated relatively rarely. Much more often they were used batched, platoon or even with separate tools. The use of howitzer 1 of the 7 division of the artillery regiment as a weapon for the landing craft LCM-6 became quite exotic. Subsequently, AMMI pontoons assembled from standard sections were used as floating batteries. For two howitzer М101А1, a pontoon of size 27,45 x 8,66 m was used, in the extremities of which there were ammunition depots, in the center - living space, and between it and howitzers (all this was protected by armor operators). Each battery had three AMMI pontoons and five amphibious boats LCM-8 (three of them served as pusher pusher tugs, one as the PAM, another carried additional ammunition).

From 1966, new 101-mm M1 howitzers began to come in to replace the M105-102. The old systems were gradually transferred to the allies - by the end of 1969, South Vietnam received the 730 howitzers M101A1 (the new M102 systems were transferred only to 60). A year later, the South Vietnamese army had 40 divisions of 105-mm howitzers (30 - as part of infantry divisions, 7 separate and 3 airmobiles), as well as hundreds of individual M101-1 platoons in fortified points. The losses were also considerable, especially when repelling large-scale offensive operations. So, for the period from 31 March to 10 April 1972, the 81 howitzer was lost.

Transportation howitzer М101А1 by CH-21С helicopter on an external sling.

Howitzer МХNUMXА2 in firing position in Vietnam.

In the American army and marines, the M102 was never able to completely supplant the old 105-graph paper. In 1985, the US Army had (mainly in the National Guard and Reserve) six howitzers М101 and 494 М101А1. It was only in 1990-s that both the M101А1 and М102 were replaced with new 105-mm howitzers М119 (the licensed version of the British system L118).

The last operation, in which American troops used howitzer МХNUMXА101, was the invasion of Grenada in 1 year.


In the post-war years, American 105-mm howitzers entered into service with the armies of several dozen countries, primarily NATO members (Belgium, Denmark, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Turkey, Germany, France). They were received by non-aligned Austria and Yugoslavia, and after the collapse of the latter, the new independent states. In Canada, Australia and New Zealand, M101А1 replaced the British-style 25-pounds. While in Australia and New Zealand, American howitzers have already been replaced with the licensed version of the English L118 gun, then Canadians in the 1997 year underwent modernization 105-graph paper (replacing the barrel with a longer, 33-caliber) and under the designation С3 retain some of these systems in service. The original version М101А1 was designated in Canada as С1 and was produced under license in 50-s of the last century.

Of the Latin American countries, it is easier to mention countries that have not exploited American 105-mm howitzers - this is Costa Rica and Panama. In all other countries of the region (from Mexico in the north to Argentina in the south, as well as in the island of Haiti and the Dominican Republic), these weapons are in service. Their number varies from country to country and ranges from a few to a few hundred (for example, in Brazil, over 250 units).

In Africa, M101 is less common, but in this region one can name a good dozen countries that have received these systems. Ethiopia, Libya and Liberia received 105-mm howitzers as military aid from the United States, and Mozambique and some other states were inherited from the colonialists.

In the Middle East, M101 was used by both sides of the Israeli-Jordanian and Iranian-Iraqi conflicts, used in the armies of Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, and Yemen. American 105 graphs are quite widespread in Indochina and the Far East (Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, Burma, Taiwan, South Korea, Japan). In Taiwan, the licensed issue of the M101А1 was adjusted, and in Thailand these tools were modernized with the help of Dutch specialists.

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  1. mark1
    mark1 13 August 2017 07: 44
    Howitzer like howitzer, our M-30 is much prettier
    1. DimerVladimer
      DimerVladimer 14 August 2017 11: 31
      “Sympathetic” - there is no such characteristic in artillery.

      The most important characteristics - rate of fire, range, accuracy (accuracy), the initial velocity of the projectile, the mass of the projectile and explosive - affecting the power of the projectile at the target (which in general can be described as the power of the gun system). As well as weight, dimensions and towing speed.

      M2A1 was half a ton lighter (in marching / combat 2260 kg) than the M-30 (2900 kg in marching and 2360-2500 kg in combat), which made it somewhat more mobile and allowed it to be towed if necessary, even by jeeps.
      But with comparable rate of fire and range, the M2A1 lost in projectile power:
      HE grenade weight 14,97 kg weight BB 2,30 kg (Composition B) or 2,18 kg (TNT),
      against M-30 21,76 kg of HE grenade 3,67 kg (TNT) - the overwhelming advantage of M-30 - that’s it.
      1. Fei_Wong
        Fei_Wong 5 September 2017 17: 20
        What is it like comparing an elephant to a dog?
        The M-30 is a 122 mm howitzer. Of course, both the weight of the projectile and the number of explosives in it will be much larger than that of the 105 mm M1A2.
    2. Hammer
      Hammer 12 March 2018 02: 38
      And someone can clearly explain why the M2A1 with a unitary munition does not have an advantage in rate of fire over the M30 with a separate case loading? Vika says that the M30 (5-6 rounds / min) is even slightly faster than the M2A1 (4-5 rounds / min). But the Soviet calculation, at least one operation performs more ...
  2. chenia
    chenia 13 August 2017 08: 56
    It is a pity that ours before the war did not finish the 107 mm howitzer. Having two ADN 107 mm and one ADN 122 mm in the second artillery regiment. SD would have a substantial artillery component.
  3. andrewkor
    andrewkor 13 August 2017 09: 35
    Quote: mark1
    Howitzer like howitzer, our M-30 is much prettier

    But much more powerful. And the pictures are cool, more of these from the everyday war !!
    1. mark1
      mark1 13 August 2017 13: 15
      Quote: andrewkor
      But much more powerful

      with comparable weight in a fighting position
      1. Bormanxnumx
        Bormanxnumx 13 August 2017 13: 48
        Quote: mark1
        with comparable weight in a fighting position

        Alternative math? :) D-30 3160kg in combat, and the M2A1 howitzer 2260kg.
        1. Ingvar 72
          Ingvar 72 13 August 2017 16: 13
          Quote: BORMAN82
          Alternative math? :)

          Inattention often leads to incorrect conclusions. It's not about the D-30.
          Quote: mark1
          our M-30 much prettier
          1. Bormanxnumx
            Bormanxnumx 13 August 2017 19: 05
            Sprinkle my head with ash, was inattentive feel
      2. chenia
        chenia 13 August 2017 17: 34
        Quote: mark1
        with comparable weight in a fighting position

        I agree M-30 is super, but more than one ADN in the howitzer regiment, the infantry division (at that time) would not have pulled (in the literal sense). 107 mm Grabin’s howitzers (almost twice as light), could complement the howitzer artillery regiment, sorry they hacked the project.
  4. Speedy
    Speedy 13 August 2017 10: 36
    The Vietnamese are now putting it on trucks. They have enough of these howitzers left.
    1. ICT
      ICT 13 August 2017 18: 54
      Quote: Sorrow

      like Korea, don’t know the truth dopili or not
      1. Speedy
        Speedy 13 August 2017 20: 28
        Maybe the Koreans too .. Here are the Vietnamese
        1. ICT
          ICT 13 August 2017 21: 02
          so interesting
          1. DimerVladimer
            DimerVladimer 14 August 2017 11: 42
            Even outriggers added for stability to the frame of the Urals - I don’t know how many springs will serve during intensive shooting ...
  5. Doctor Evil
    Doctor Evil 13 August 2017 13: 15
    I wonder why the Argentinean gunners in the Malvins did not use an American, but beat the British from the Italian 105-mm mountain howitzers UTO Melara?
  6. Music
    Music 13 August 2017 15: 48
    But where was ours with Caliber 107 mm? They write about their suffering. And about ours?
    1. Lganhi
      Lganhi 14 August 2017 02: 23
      There were no 107 mm howitzers in the USSR. The military rejected the 107 mm howitzer caliber as low-powered, and gave the order to develop 122-mm howitzers as the minimum caliber for destroying bunkers.
  7. The comment was deleted.
  8. Zaurbek
    Zaurbek 14 August 2017 22: 18
    Soviet howitzer D-30 is much more functional. Another thing is the availability of a computer with the calculation of amendments. 122mm projectile 1,5 times more effective ...