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Military


Artillery - Great War

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In the Great War the armament of the divisional field artillery brigade had consisted of two light 75-mm. gun regiments (48 guns) and one 155-mm. howitzer regiment (24 howitzers) , plus a trench mortar battery. In furnishing direct support to the infantry, there were enough guns to provide one battalion (12 guns) for each infantry regiment. The 75-mm. gun was a light weapon with a slightly longer range than the 105-mm. howitzer, but its projectile was small and not very powerful and its trajectory flat. The 155-mm. howitzer provided high-angle fire support for the division as a whole and counterbattery fire, but it was heavy and not as mobile as the 75-mm. gun and 105-mm. howitzer.

Even during the War artillerymen saw the need for a weapon heavier than the 75-mm. gun and for a howitzer lighter and more mobile than the 155 to provide high-angle fire. Major Charles P. Summerall, who had commanded the 1st Division's artillery at Cantigny and had risen to command the V Corps, recommended that the divisional artillery brigade be increased by one regiment of 105-mm. or 3.8-inch howitzers. Summerall felt that the light howitzer was indispensible in all classes of warfare and was especially suited for wooded areas and ravines. It was the best weapon for giving depth to barrages, and it had the same mobility as the 75-mm. gun.

One new weapon in the Marine Corps was the 8-inch howitzer, a British piece, Model 1917, Mark VI, that was licensed to be manufactured in the United States (this caliber of weapon has remained a part of Marine artillery). The big cannon was towed by a 10-ton Holt tractor and fired a 200-pound projectile some 11,000 yards.

And the guns got larger a regiment of 7-inch naval guns on caterpillar mounts was readied for service in France during World War I, but never saw action. The unit was formed by the artillerymen from Quantico, VA, who practiced firing at Indian Head Naval Proving Ground in Maryland. The awesome looking guns fired a 153-pound projectile to a range of 24,000 yards. The weight of the piece was in excess of 38 tons.

The numerous artillery calibers in the United States prior to the Great War were a confused issue to say the least, and weapon development was uncoordinated. One expert stated that there were 17 standard calibers in the United States military in the 1920s. Finding a standard was a difficult hurdle to overcome, but standardization was to improve as a result of WWII.




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Page last modified: 29-05-2019 19:05:26 ZULU