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M1 75-mm gun / M1923E 75-mm gun

As American entered the Great War, the War Department's action hampered arming the field artillery. Although the simplest and quickest way to supply the American Expeditionary Force (AEF) with field guns was to use French 75-mm. guns and 155-mm. and 240-mm. howitzers and British 8-inch and 9.2-inch howitzers and although General Snow believed that the 3-inch gun was excellent and could serve in Europe, Chief of Ordnance, Major General William Crozier (1901-1917), chose to develop a new field piece. With the idea of simplifying ammunition supply in Europe and making a field gun that was superior to those to be furnished by American allies, Crozier and the Ordnance Department recaliberated the 3-inch gun's tube to make it 75-mm. and adopted a split-trail carriage to achieve greater elevation and traverse than the stock-trail carriage permitted. Because of the desire to equip the field artillery with this experimental gun (M1916), the ar Department signed contracts with American manufacturers in 1917. Field tests in December 1917, nevertheless, revealed that the M1916 was inaccurate and that its carriage would break down after hard service.

Following the decision to use French 75-mm. ammunition as the standard, it remodelled British 18-pounder, which was designated the M1917, to fit French 75-mm. rounds. The slow production of the M1917 and the American M1916 caused by frequent design changes and defects with those pieces compelled the War Department to expand production of the French M1897 75-mm. field gun. Nevertheless, the war ended before the United States could field the M1897 because retooling took time and because the French reluctantly furnished the promised information about their field gun. In fact, American manufacturers completed only 109 French 75s by the end of the war.

Fighting in trenches and shelling strong defensive positions caused the Americans to increase the ratio of heavy guns to light because of the need for greater range and power than the flat-trajectory 75-mm. field piece offered. By doing this, the AEF compromised mobility and maneuverability but confirmed a prophecy of the Chief of Ordnance, who had predicted prior to the war that pieces heavier than 75-mm. guns would be required to defeat a well-armed enemy.

The United States and France had been the only belligerents during the war to be equipped with the 75-mm. gun because other countries had discarded it for a light, mobile field howitzer with a high rate of fire.28 Despite these arguments, Chiefs of Field Artillery and the War Department enthusiastically endorsed the 75-mm. gun and 105-mm. howitzer for the division early in the 1920s. In 1926 they received additional support when the Ten Year Ordnance Program for Rearmamentand Extended Service Test standardized the 75-mm. gun and 105-mm. howitzer for division artillery.

Using the experience gained developing the M1916 75-mm. gun during the war, the Ordnance Department constructed several different 75-mm. guns between 1920 and 1925. As new tubes were being produced, the War Department built different models of split-trail and box-trail carriages. After the Field Artillery Board had thoroughly tested the various gun and carriage combinations, the War Department standardized the M1923E split-trail 75-mm. gun in 1926. This gun had better stability and greater elevation and traverse than any of the 75-mm. boxtrail guns had or even the M1920 75-mm. split-trail gun had and had a range of 14,880 yards. With the adoption of M1923E 75-mm. gun, later designated the M1 75-mm. gun, the War Departmenthad four 75-mm. guns--the French M1897, the American M1916, the British M1917, and the Ml. Nevertheless, the Ten Year Ordnance Program for Rearmament and Extended Service Test of 1926 supported using only the Ml since it most closely met the Westervelt Board's standards of the ideal field gun.

By 1935 the modernization of the 75-mm. gun had produced a weapon that was fast becoming the Army's idea of an all-purpose gun. The modernization program for that weapon had been so successful that plans were made to equip all active divisional 75-mm. gun batteries with new carriages by the end of fiscal year 1937. These modifications permitted high-speed towing (motor-drawn) and wider traverse, but they did not really improve the firing capacity of the gun. At the same time the program for modernizing the 155-mm. howitzer carriages continued.

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