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FV433 Abbot 105-mm SP gun

Since 1966 the field regiments in BAOR were equipped with the Abbot 105-mm SP gun, which was to remain in service until the mid-eighties. There were three batteries of six guns each in a regiment. The gun is mounted in a standard chassis of the new FV 430 range. It can reach out to 17 km, firing the British-designed alloy 33-pound shell. All the normal types of conventional ammunition are supplied: HE, smoke, armour-piercing HESH (high explosive squash head), and illuminating. Forty rounds are carried in the turret and a further 200 are carried in its supporting Stalwart limber vehicles. The Abbot weighs 15 tons, has a speed of 29 mph, and is powered by a Rolls Royce 240-BHP multifuel engine.

The detachment consists of six men, of which four the No 1, the layer, the loader, and the drivertravel with the gun. The armour provides the detachment and ammunition protection against small arms and shell fragments. The barrel had a particularly long life, over 10,000 rounds, and the firing system is very reliable. The Abbot has some minor faults: the internal situation is very cramped, making accurate laying somewhat difficult; and the system of checking oil levels in the power plant is awkward. Intercommunication between the guns and the command post is still by telephone line, laid by hand, or radio. However, it must take its place among the best SP guns in the world when it came to handling, reliability, and serviceability.

The regimental and battery staffs were carried in the FV 432 range of APC's, and the observation officers use either APC's or Centurion tanks, which were soon replaced by the Chieftain, as used by the Royal Armoured Corps. Communications were lavish and permit full and close contact not only between the guns, the various OP's, and artillery headquarters, but also with the infantry and armor being supported. In many battles it is the artillery communications which had "saved the day" for the infantry commander. The Gunners have an enviable reputation of always "being through."

Mortar-locating troops were attached to the field regiment; they use the successful Green Archer radars and computers, which can locate enemy mortar positions out to 10 km after the first bomb is fired. They were found to be very effective in Sharjah, where locations were obtained, to the dismay of the dissidents, whilst the first bombs were still in the air. The Green Archer was later replaced by the lighter and even more effective Cymbeline.

The medium regiments in 1 (BR) Corps were organic to divisions as general support regiments. Each had two batteries of 155-mm SP guns (six guns per battery), one battery of four 8-inch guns, and their own forward observation officers mounted in APC's. The 8-inch guns carried only a small amount of conventional ammunition, because they were the divisional nuclear weapons. The 155-mm is the US M109; it is a most effective medium gun and will shortly have a nuclear capability. It fires a 95-pound shell to a range of 14 km and uses all normal types of ammunition, with 112 rpg carried on the gun position as the normal load.

To provide the "copy book" allocation of one close support field battery to each battle group, further Abbot batteries were required. This is because the brigades in 1 (BR) Corps were now "square" formations, each having two infantry battalions and two armoured regiments. Each brigade can provide four battle groups; therefore, two 155-mm batteries are normally placed in direct support of the fourth battle group in each of the two brigades to overcome the problem of providing close support for eight battle groups with only six batteries of Abbots. This shortage of artillery, purely for economic reasons, to some extent can inhibit the very close cooperation and friendship that has been built up between field regiments and their "own" infantry and armored units an important factor in the system of artillery support in the British forces.

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Page last modified: 13-05-2013 11:45:42 ZULU