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Italian 149mm Howitzer Firing
Here we see an Italian 149mm Howitzer at the moment of firing, with the crew protecting their ears against the noise.
US 155-mm Howitzer
A U. S. Army 155-mm Howitzer M1 battery prepares for a firing mission in this post-World War II picture. Prior to a firing mission the crew of an M1 lowered a firing jack (pedestal) located under the center axle of the weapon. Once this device was in place, the two wheels were raised. This resulted in a three-point support system for the gun, one point of contact being the firing jack and the other two points being the spades of the trail. This arrangement improved both the stability of the weapon and its accuracy.
In recommending the development of a new 105-mm light howitzer for divisional use, the Westervelt Board had discounted the need for a divisional 155-mm medium support howitzer. The French Schneider 155-mm M1917 medium howitzer and its postwar American copy, the M1918, had proven unpopular during World War I, due to their heavy weight and resulting poor mobility.
After World War I, General John J. Pershing and others blamed the large-scale use of artillery for the static positional warfare that had developed in Western Europe. To prevent a recurrence, Pershing suggested that the army be organized into smaller, highly mobile divisions with tanks and machine guns. Artillery support was to be provided by guns or howitzers with a caliber of 75-mm or smaller.
The army studied the Westervelt Board and the Pershing recommendations and decided to reinstate the 155-mm howitzer in its infantry divisions in 1929. During the 1920s and 1930s the army began a modernization program for its aging M1917 and M1918 medium 155-mm howitzers to allow high-speed towing by trucks. Simultaneously, Brigadier General Lesley J. McNair began to suggest that the army had placed too much importance on artillery in close support of the infantry. He believed that modern long-range artillery pieces massing their fire together on important targets could be supremely effective on the battlefields of the future. McNair therefore urged that the army’s infantry divisions reduce the number of light guns and howitzers and increase the number of medium howitzers.
Field tests conducted by the army in 1937 had again confirmed McNair’s belief that the 155-mm howitzer, M1917 and M1918, was still superior to the new prototype 105-mm M2 howitzer, due to its ability to deliver more bang for the buck.
Additional tests in 1938 and information on foreign medium artillery development further pointed to the need for a 155-mm medium howitzer in its infantry divisional structure. A few days after the French-German armistice in June 1940, the army adopted a new infantry division structure with four artillery battalions three direct support battalions of 105-mm howitzer (54 pieces) and one general support battalion of 155-mm howitzers (12 pieces).
The Ordnance Department had begun work in 1939 on a replacement for the aging M1917 and M1918 155-mm howitzer. That replacement arrived as the M1 155-mm howitzer in early 1942. It featured a new longer barrel as well as a new carriage.
The M1 155-mm howitzer was often referred to by American cannoneers as “the sweetest weapon on the front” due to its outstanding accuracy. By the end of the war American factories had built over 6,000 of the howitzers. They would see heavy use with Patton’s troops from July 1944 until the war ended in Europe. The older M1917 and M1918 155-mm howitzers would soldier on until 1943, when enough of the new M1 155-mm howitzers reached artillery units in the field. American artillerymen affectionately referred to the old M1917 and M1918 howitzers “as faithful old dogs.”
155mm Howitzer M1 (M114). The Howitzer M1 was upgraded after World War II as the M114 and was widely exported. Mounted on a split trail carriage, it was served by a crew of eleven and capable of a sustained firing rate of 40 rounds per hour.
The Obice da 210/22 modello 35 is a very sound and modern design. It utilized a split trail carriage with two road wheels on each side. When put into action, these wheels raised off the ground and the weight became assumed by a firing platform under the main axle.
The 210/22 during transportation.
The entire weapon could traverse 360 degrees after raising the stakes anchoring the trail spades to the ground.
Ammunition weighs 102 kg, 836 mm long and contains 15.7 kg of Trotyl explosive.
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ATMOS Iron Sabre is a 155mm/52 caliber semi-automatic system capable of firing six to seven rounds a minute with a crew of four, Dave Richards, senior director of precision weapon systems ground combat & precision targeting solutions at Elbit Systems of America, said during a media availability.
The Elbit system is C-17-transportable and can traverse the battlefield at roughly 50 miles per hour and has a “shoot-and-scoot” capability of roughly 30 seconds, which means it takes a half minute to stop, set up and shoot and the same amount of time to stop shooting, pack up and move out of the way. This capability is critical against high-end adversaries like Russia, which have displayed its ability — particularly in the fight with Ukraine — to quickly detect firing locations and respond.
While ATMOS will arrive at the evaluation with its own fire control system used by Israeli forces, the system can be customizable and could integrate different fire control systems as customers see fit, Richards said. The Army will be looking at fire control system capability as part of the demonstration.
Should Elbit be chosen to manufacture and field its system for the U.S. Army, the company is looking at a plan to facilitate production capability in the U.S., according to Richards. As it stands today, ATMOS systems are mostly produced in Israel and final production would take place in the U.S. at least initially.
“COVID has demonstrated the importance of domestic supply chain security. We take that very seriously,” Richards said. “We are in a multi-year process of facilitating production of vehicle systems in the United States and obviously this will be contingent upon delivery timing, but we do have a broad plan to actually produce most systems and subsystems within the United States.”
BAE Systems announced earlier this year that it had offered up its Archer howitzer to the Army for the shoot-off.
The company confirmed to Defense News it was selected to participate in the shoot-off.
“We are confident that the Archer, highly mature and in service with the Swedish Army, will demonstrate its superiority at providing rapid, highly effective, and sustained fire support for troops in combat,” the company said in a statement. “The Archer’s automated design, armored cabin, fast shoot and scoot times, and extended range enhance its survivability on the battlefield. Soldiers can operate the vehicle entirely from inside the cabin, under armor, while striking enemy targets at long ranges.”
Archer is typically operated by a crew of three to four soldiers but can be operated by only one, according to BAE. Archer can also fire within 30 seconds after receiving an order to shoot and can scoot within 30 seconds as well. The magazine carries 21 rounds and can unload all of them in less than three minutes, BAE said. Archer can shoot the BONUS anti-armor munition up to 35 kilometers, conventional munitions up to 40 kilometers, and currently fielded precision-guided munitions like Excalibur in excess of 50 km, according to the company.
Global Military Products also announced Dec. 17 that the U.S. Army had chosen its Serbian partner Yugoimport’s NORA B-52 155mm wheeled howitzer for the shoot-off as well./>Serbia's Yugoimport has been chosen to provide the Nora B-52 155mm Howitzer System Firing Desert for the U.S. Army's mobile howitzer shoot-off scheduled to take place in early 2021. (Photo courtesy of Global Military Products)
NORA has a fully automatic autoloader and a “move-shoot-move while under armor” capability, according to the statement. NORA has undergone modernization and upgrades over the past several years “that are sure to get the attention of the U.S. Army” the statement adds.
Nexter told Defense News it had been selected to bring its 155mm self-propelled howitzer CAESAR — which has been in service since 2008 and battle-tested in Afghanistan, Lebanon, Mali and Iraq — as a strong candidate for the shoot-off. It will be bringing the 6x6 version used by the French Army.
The company has sold more than 300 CAESAR systems to the French, South-East Asian and Middle Eastern armies.
CAESAR can fire 6 shots in less than 1min 40 seconds, according to Nexter, and the system’s 8x8 version can carry 30 rounds. It’s 6x6 variant can carry 18. The gun has an adapted automatic loading system.
AM General has advertised both its Brutus 155mm and Hawkeye 105mm mobile howitzers and is expected to participate in the shoot-off. The company said it would not comment on whether it was selected at this time.
Correction: An earlier version of this story misidentified Elbit’s senior director of precision weapon systems ground combat & precision targeting solutions who was incorrectly identified in a company email.
Tuesday, August 22, 2017
Brigade boundaries from June 1941 at Tobruk
There was a division between the southern and eastern sectors at Tobruk from June 1941 into July. The line was just to the west of post R55. The 24th Brigade held the southern sector. The 26th Brigade held the eastern sector. The southern sector ran from posts R52 and R53 to the Salient. That included the El Adem Road area. The eastern sector ran from the boundary past the Bardia Road up to the coast. From early June, the men found that there was little evidence of enemy occupation from the perimeter outwards. For example some men walked some five miles into enemy territory without encountering enemy soldiers. Another group of men on another night walked to the tracks between "the Trigh Capuzzo and the Bardia Road". One consequence of Operation Battleaxe was that the Germans built an asphalt road in the area. This would become important later in 1941 during the Crusader Battle.
Routine patrols at night were established from June. Along with the patrols, observation posts that were manned during the day were established. From 18 June, the 2/32nd Battalion established observation posts outside the perimeter. Two posts were established, one at a walled camp and one at Bir el Azazi.
Near the 2/32nd Battalion, but in the other brigade, men from the 2/24th Battalion would go out to informal observation posts from the end of June. When the 2/32nd Battalion was replaced by the 2/12th Battalion, they continued the practice of occupying observation posts during the day. By then, the 2/24th Battalion had started using the walled camp for a daylight observation post.
On 7 July, the routine was interrupted when three men fired on Italians in a truck. The men had drawn attention to themselves, so they were brought out by carrier. They would use carriers there the next day, but they stopped using the post for infantry. Only later in July did the 2/9th Battalion revert to using the area as a daylight observation post.
In the east, the first attempt at daylight observation posts was taken on 27 June by the 2/23rd Battalion. The posts seemed to have been intermittently used in the east. The pioneers moved in after 15 July. They laid a minefield around "Jack" observation post on 19 July. This is based on the account in Vol.III of the Australian Official History.
Italian 149mm Howitzer Firing - History
In October 1953, the first unit equipped with atomic artillery arrived in the command and on 23 October 1953 atomic field pieces were exhibited at Mainz (Ordnance Depot) before the French, German and American press.
By June 1954, three additional units with a total of at least 8 atomic weapons of 280-mm caliber had arrived. They were used in fall and spring maneuvers in order to give troops practice in simulated atomic attack and defense action.
The atomic artillery was also used as regular heavy artillery, firing conventional ammunition.
The most significant change affecting Seventh Army's organization during FY 1955 was the addition of six field artillery rocket batteries, one 280-mm gun battalion (216th FA Bn (280mm Gun), and a guided missile battalion (259th FA Msl Bn (Cpl). These units, each capable of delivering either atomic or conventional warheads, substantially increased Seventh Army's combat capability.
Seventh Army assigned three "Honest John" rocket batteries to each corps to strengthen the corps artillery.
/>V Corps artillery: 1st, 7th & 84th FA Rkt Btry
/>VII Corps artillery: 3rd, 6th & 85th FA Rkt Btry
The "Corporal" guided missile battalion was assigned to Seventh Army artillery.
Seventh Army artillery: 259th FA Msl Bn (1)
The 280-mm gun battalion that reached Europe during FY 1955 was the sixth unit of that type to be assigned to Seventh Army. During the spring of 1955, Seventh Army assigned one battalion to each corps, the other four 280-mm battalions remained attached to the 42nd Field Artillery Group, which was assigned to Seventh Army artillery.
The 280-mm gun battalion that reached Europe during FY 1955 was the sixth unit of that type to be assigned to Seventh Army. (2) During the spring of 1955, Seventh Army assigned one battalion to each corps, the other four 280-mm battalions remained attached to the 42nd Field Artillery Group, which was assigned to Seventh Army artillery.
V Corps artillery: 216th FA Gun Bn
VII Corps artillery: 867th FA Gun Bn
Seventh Army artillery: 59th, 264th, 265th & 868th FA Gun Bn
The "Honest John" rocket batteries that arrived in command during the fiscal year were located at Kitzingen, Ansbach, Schwäbisch Gmünd, Darmstadt, Hanau and Leipheim.
(1) In January 1955, the 259th FA Msl Bn (Corporal) was deployed to Europe with full Type I CORPORAL field equipment. It was accompanied by an Ordnance support company. As the Calendar Year 1955 ended, the Army was preparing to send several Type II CORPORAL battalions to Europe to replace the 259th Field Artillery Missile Battalion, which was still equipped with the Type I CORPORAL. In 1956, the 259th CORPORAL Battalion was replaced in Europe by units equipped with CORPORAL Type II systems. In total, eight Corporal battalions were activated for overseas assignments in Germany and Italy (1955-56). Most Corporal battalions were deactivated in 1963 to be replaced by the SERGEANT missile.
(2) The Army will send the sixth battalion of 280mm, "atomic cannon," to Europe "in the near furture," with the deployment of the 216th FA Bn (280mm Gun) from Fort Bliss (A) , Okla. A 280mm battalion consists of three batteries of two guns each. Thus, arrival of the 216th in Europe wll mean the Seventh Army will have available a total of 36 280's, capable of firing conventional or atomic artillery. (Source: Army, Navy & Air Force Journal, 5 Feb 1955.)
(A) Source: Gene Stephens
I would like to correct the part in "Changes Seventh Army Artillery" section. The 1954/1955 section states the 216th gyroed from Fort Bliss OK. It was Fort Sill OK. I was a radio operator in Battery B of the 216th that went to Darmstadt on that move. I really enjoyed the history of the atomic cannon that you compiled.
New tables of organization for the infantry and armored divisions were published in 1948. Under these TOE's, the artillery of the infantry and arnored divisison were basically identical except that the howitzers in the infantry divisions were "towed" and those of the armored division were "self-propelled."
Both 1948 TOEs (TOE 7 for the infantry division and TOE 17 for the armored division) resembled the WWII infantry division artillery with the exception that an antiaircraft artillery (AAA) battalion was added and each infantry division artillery firing battery was increased by two howitzers (to a total of six). The number of field pieces in both the armored and infantry divisions was fifty-four 105-mm howitzers and eighteen 155-mm howitzers.
Reorganization of the infantry divisions in the Regular Army began in the fall of 1948. In Europe, the 1st Infantry Division in Germany was reorganizaed and authorized at full war strength.
All of the Augmentation divisions sent to Europe in 1951 and 1952 were also organized under these tables when they arrived in Germany.
The infantry divisions were equipped with the M101 105-mm truck-towed howitzer in the direct support battalions and the M114 155-mm tractor-towed howitzer in the general support battalion.
The armored division was equipped with M37 self-propelled 105-mm howitzers in the direct support battalions and (at least initially) with tractor-towed 155-mm howitzers in the general support battalion. (At some point, I believe, the GS battalion replaced the towed 155's with self-propelled M41's and then replaced those with M44's. Can anyone confirm or provide details? Doing more research on this topic.)
ORDER OF BATTLE - 7th ARMY NON-DIVISIONAL ARTILLERY (JUNE 1957)
The following lists show the non-divisional field artillery units assigned to USAREUR in June 1957 and their attachments to the various Army and Corps groups. Please contact me for any corrections, additions, suggestions or comments.
Atomic Delivery Weapons for NORTHAG
a. The USAREUR/NORTHAG Agreement. US EUCOM Operations Plan 100-3 made USAREUR responsible for providing ground-delivered atomic support to non-U.S. NATO nations in Central Europe. The Northern Task Force (NORTAF), composed of two 280-mm gun, two Honest John rocket, and two Corporal missile battalions as well as the necessary logistical support units, had been formed to furnish atomic support to NORTHAG. The new USAREUR/NORTHAG agreement, which had been drafted in February 1958 to replace the US Seventh Army/NORTHAG Agreement then in existence, was not ratified until 15 June 1959. This new agreement covered the movement, operational control, administration, logistical support, and communications of NORTAF. After approval by US CINCEUR/SACEUR, the order for the deployment of this force would be issued by CINCUSAREUR, through the Commanding General US Seventh Army.
Two types of movement were planned: The first, designated ADRIAN, was a gradual movement under the guise of training and would take place either during a period of tension or in the early stage of a simple alert. The second, designated CHEVRON, was a rapid movement to be executed when direct deployment to concentration areas or battle positions was required, as upon declaration of ORA or GAO. The time needed to travel from home stations to GAO positions would depend upon the distances involved and the conditions under which the movement was to be executed. Under relatively ideal conditions, times would vary approximately 12 hours for the first unit to arrive in position to 72 hours for the last. When deployed, the units would carry the prescribed load of atomic munitions, which would form part of the NATO allocation of weapons to NORTHAG. Atomic weapons subsequently allocated would be provided through US Advanced Weapons Ammunition Supply Points (US AWASP's) and would remain under physical custody of US forces at all times. Upon crossing the CENTAG/NORTHAG boundary the task force would be relieved from assignment to the US Seventh Army, assigned to USAREUR (Theater Army), and attached to NORTHAG for operational command. Since the delivery units would normally be employed in army and corps atomic artillery roles, COMNORTHAG probably would further attach them to corps or lower level headquarters, except that he would retain operational control of the Corporal battalions.
To preclude any misunderstanding, USAREUR amplified in March 1959 the procedures prescribed for the emergency deployment of NORTAF to the NORTHAG sectors. No atomic warheads under NORTAF control were to precede the delivery units into the NORTHAG area. Warhead supply planning for NORTAF was to conform to these instructions.
b. Reduction of Support. On 15 September 1958 USAREUR advised US CINCEUR that the United Kingdom expected to deploy one Corporal unit in the NORTHAG area on or about 1 November 1958. If the British unit attained its operational readiness capability one month later, USAREUR would like to withdraw one of the US Corporal battalions currently commited to support NORTHAG in the event of an emergency. In acceding to USAREUR's request for approval, US CINCEUR specified that operational plans earmarking US delivery units to NORTAF would be revised as NORTHAG's non-US NATO ground atomic delivery capability progressed.
In February 1959 General Hodes informed COMNORTHAG that the time appeared to be proper to plan for reducing NORTAF, because a number of non-US NATO atomic delivery units were expected to become operational in his area in the near future. With a British Corporal regiment expected to become operational, one US Corporal battalion might be withdrawn from the commitment to the US task force by 30 June 1959. It also seemed appropriate to plan on phasing out the entire task force commitment by June 1960 in consideratioon of the other non-US atomic delivery units that would become available in the NORTHAG area by that time.
In his reply COMNORTHAG mentioned the many problems with which his command was faced in building up atomic delivery units. Although he was urging the five national elements of NORTHAG to have their own organic atomic units, there was still some uncertainty regarding the buildup plan. He suggested, therefore, that CINCUSAREUR postpone his efforts to establish specific dates or plans for a phased reduction of NORTAF. In reality General Hodes did not intend to establish specific dates for the release of each battalion from the NORTAF commitment, but wanted to reach an agreement that US units would be withdrawn from NORTAF on a one-for-one basis as NORTHAG's own atomic delivery units became operational. In any event, the planning assumptions specified in the April 1958 LANDCENT message were for the 1958-59 timeframe and were not valid beyond 1959.
On 30 March 1959 General Hodes requested COMLANDCENT's assistance in eliminating the requirement for US atomic delivery support to NORTHAG during 1960. This could be accomplished by three specific kinds of action: First, by announcing unequivocally to the Central Region army groups and defense ministries that USAREUR planned to support only the US Seventh Army with ground atomic delivery units after mid-1960 second, by promulgating 1960-61 planning guidance according to which each member nation of LANDCENT would have to provide its own ground atomic delivery units, and third, by LANDCENT headquarters taking an increasingly active lead in site selection, unit stationing, land acquisition, infrastructure funding, and other aspects of the NATO stockpile program that would fall within its responsibility. NATO organic atomic capability could come about only if the NATO subordinate commands and the national authorities in the Central Region made a concerted, unified effort to bring it into being. On 5 May 1959 LANDCENT notified the defense ministries of the countries in the Central Region of USAREUR's intentions of withdrawing US Atomic delivery units, and at the same time reminded them of the Allied Command Europe Plan for NATO Atomic Stockpile , dated 12 September 1958, which provided for three Corporal battalions for NORTHAG. LANDCENT also asked SHAPE to leave the Corporal support of NORTHAG at a minimum of three battalions. Upon reexamination of the problem, General Eddleman -- the new CINCUSAREUR -- notified US CINCEUR that his command would provide NORTHAG with the necessary US Corporal support until the Northern Army Group's non-US capability was increased to the equivalent of three Corporal battalions. At the end of the reporting period it was estimated that NORTAF would be phased out within a year except for one US Corporal battalion. The commitment for the last Corporal battalion would continue until FY 1962, when the third NORTHAG Corporal battalion was expected to become operational.
REDESIGNATIONS UNDER CARS - 7th ARMY NON-DIVISIONAL ARTILLERY (1957/58)
The following lists show the non-divisional artillery units assigned to USAREUR in June 1958 and their new designations under CARS. Please contact me for any corrections, additions, suggestions or comments.
17cm Kanone 18 (17cm K18)
Authored By: JR Potts, AUS 173d AB | Last Edited: 09/27/2018 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site.
Adolf Hitler and his Germany had always held a fondness for big, powerful weapons and heavy howitzers proved no exception. A Corps-level artillery piece was needed as a counter battery-weapon capable of taking out enemy battalion gun positions at long distances. The premier armament manufacturer in Europe from the 16th Century and onwards into World War 2 was Krupp Industries of Essen, Germany. The Krupp 21cm Mrs 16 howitzer of World War 1 was now an ageing system and new guns were being developed for the revamped German army. The first new German heavy howitzer produced for World War 2 became the Krupp 21cm Morser 18, a 211mm caliber field gun appearing in 1939. The gun was initiated using a double-recoil hydropneumatic mechanism to help minimize recoil while at the same time increasing target acquisition ranges, able to send out a 250lb HE (High Explosive) shell some 15,857 yards (14,500 meters) down range.
However, by 1941 the German Army was looking for a heavy "mortar" system with inherently more range (the German military community called howitzers "mortars" since they used them for plunging fire missions as well as for pure counter-battery duty). Krupp produced a smaller version of the 21cm Morser 18 and this became the 17cm Kanone 18 with a caliber of 172.5mm (6.79 inches). The 17cm impressed German artillery units firing the 150lb HE shell with a range of 30,621 yards (27,432m), effectively doubling the range of the preceding 21cm with an increase of velocity of 1,000 feet per second. The real surprise was the explosive power of the 150lb shell, almost indistinguishable from the 21cm 250lb shell. The production of the 21cm was halted for almost two years so that production of 17cm guns production could be increased.
The 17cm Kanone 18 series guns weighed with a combat weight of 38,600lbs. When set up to travel, she displaced 51,500lb. Her overall length measured in at 28 feet which led to her being something of a cumbersome and heavy weapon to maneuver through tight spaces such as town roads and the like. While officially listed as a 172.5mm gun, the informal caliber was displayed as 173mm. Her breech consisted of a horizontal breech block system. Elevation ranged from -6 to +50 degrees with a basic traverse of 16 degrees when set on its wheels. Muzzle velocity was rated at 3,035 feet per second and maximum range was out to 18.4 miles. She fired two types of HE shells - a 138lb and 150lb projectile, each differing in muzzle velocities and range.
The 17cm utilized the double-recoil system which made her an inherently solid firing platform. The gun assembly was attached to the 21" Mrs. Laf. Carriage, this assembly having four hard rubber-tired wheels for maneuvering and transport. Preparing the gun for firing required the platform to be let down onto two sockets in the carriage. There, three large steel rollers - mounted on vertical legs - would support the weight of the gun. The rear-most roller was connected to a large screw jack leg. The design did not require a spade for stability for the trails sat on an oblong metal float connected to a gear, allowing the gun to have a 16-degree traversal, this being controlled by turning a traversing hand wheel. If additional traversing was required, the screw jack leg could be screwed down using a hand wheel on the side of the carriage. This action would then pick the float off of the ground allowing one soldier, using the trail spike, to swing the 19.25-ton gun carriage in a 360 degree arc, allowing firing positions to be changed rather rapidly in the heat of battle.
When the gun was fired, the barrel recoiled rearwards into its cradle while the bottom section of the carriage (holding the barrel) moved forward across the main part of the carriage. This "double recoil" system reduced the overall recoil force and effectively increased the platform's stability when firing. A manually-operated breechblock was used and was of a horizontal sliding wedge type. The firing mechanism and the extractors were conventional heavy artillery Krupp designs.
Today, modern heavy howitzers are generally self-propelled designs containing both for gun and crew for the sake of speed and safety and from being spotted and fired upon by enemy forces in the air and on the ground. This "shoot and scoot" capability was not built into the likes of field guns such as the World War 2-era 17cm Kanone 18. Howitzers of this size were still being deployed as they were back in World War 1, essentially in fixed positions. In the new "Lightning War" mentality brought about by Hitler's Army in their invasion of Poland, troops on both sides were now expected to cover more ground then ever before.
When compared to the massive experimental Krupp Karl-Gerat 041 self-propelled gun (SPG) - which required more than a day to set up - the 17cm Kanone 18 howitzer was a simpler design to move, arrange and break down for transport. However, compared to other similar-class artillery pieces seeing extensive combat usage in the war, the series was noted as a cumbersome component. The gun barrel was usually transported separately from the rest of the gun and carriage and featured a locking ring, breech jacket, and breech ring for faster separation. For short distance transport, the SdKfz 8 semi-tracked vehicle would tow the gun on the gun's carriage, wholly intact. The barrel could be managed by winches and ramps which allowed the assembly to swing over to a second towing vehicle. This was fairly rapid for the day though still consisted of several hours time. For longer transport maneuvers, the gun barrel (or "tube") was completely removed. Occasionally, Kanone 18 guns were loaded onto a special railway flatbed cars for transport and these guns could also be fired as a conventional mobile "rail gun" from her tracks ala World War 1.
For its time, the 17cm Kanone 18 field gun had a technically advanced recoil system and proved an excellent long range howitzer for German Army actions. If the gun maintained any inherent faults it was that the series became rather expensive to produce in wartime Germany. Additionally, the series required much attention to maintain her to quality standards, required many hands and setup time for preparation to fire and take-down and her carriage was rather slow when going it off road. Many Kanone 18 guns were therefore captured by the Allies when German positions were overrun, there being no time for the German gunners to pack up their large artillery pieces for the retreat. In these cases, and when the Kanone 18's ammunition was also captured intact, Allied forces were not shy about loosing their new guns against their former masters.
The 17cm Kanone 18 series guns were in operational service from 1941 to the end of the war in 1945. Production was handled by Krupp up to 1942 to which then Hanomag took over the reins. Overall production was rather limited, however, to some reported 338 systems in circulation.
Artillery Order of Battle, Tobruk Fortress, 5 November 1941
The OOB below is from the war diary of the Commander Royal Artillery (CRA) of Tobruk Fortress (TobFort) command, which was provided by the divisional command of British 70 Division. 70 Division was reinforced by a number of artillery regiments and the Polish Carpathian Brigade, which included the Polish Carpathian Artillery Regiment.
The OOB does not include the ‘bush guns’ which were captured Italian equipment used by the frontline infantry battalions. It does however include the captured 75mm, 100mm and 149mm guns captured from the Italians during Operation COMPASS, and operated by artillery units.
What is noticeable otherwise is the mix of guns. There are eight different types. What is also noticeable is the very low number of heavy calibre guns. Essentially just 4x 149mm, also the 4.5” guns and 60-pdr were also considered ‘medium’ by the Royal Artillery. The besieging Axis forces were far better equipped with heavy artillery, which would have given them a fair advantage in particular in counter battery work.
Equipment Status of Polish Carpathian Artillery, Tobruk November 1941, from Czech documentation. Courtesy Lukáš Víšek, Twitter @lukas_visek. The document indicates the presence of captured Italian 75mm and 149mm guns.
Czech Crew of a captured 105/28 m 1913 Italian gun now of the Polish Carpathian Artillery, Tobruk November 1941, from Czech documentation. Courtesy Lukáš Víšek, Twitter @lukas_visek.
Czech Soldiers visiting a dump or repair shop with captured 149mm guns, Tobruk November/December 1941, from Czech documentation. Courtesy Lukáš Víšek, Twitter @lukas_visek.
The gun total was 88 field guns of various calibres and 16 medium guns on 5 November. This compares to 72 25pdr field guns and no medium guns in a typical infantry division at the time.
The total was broken down as follows:
8x 18pdr (A.Tk. – but were used also for thickening up barrages)
8x 4.5” how’s (obsolete, presume with Polish Carpathian Brigade)
8x 75mm (captured Italian, serving with the Polish Carpathian Brigade)
4x 4.5” guns (modern mediums)
4x 60pdr (obsolete mediums)
4x 149mm (captured Italian guns – unfortunately like with the 100mm below impossible to tell which gun exactly)
4x 100mm (I count these as medium, and would presume they are captured Italian equipment. There were six of these guns still in service with TobFort in February 1942 – see here)
LIBYAN DESERT. 1941. AUSTRALIAN SOLDIERS FIRING CAPTURED ITALIAN GUNS AND AMMUNITION BACK AT THE ITALIAN AND GERMAN FORCES OUTSIDE TOBRUK. THIS WAS HUMOUROUSLY KNOWN AS THE “BUSH ARTILLERY”, THOSE WORKING THE GUNS WERE NOT TRAINED ARTILLERYMEN AND IN THE MAIN, WERE COOKS, ORDERLIES, DRIVERS ETC., WHO DID IT FOR THE FUN OF IT. THEIR RANGE FINDING WAS NOT ALWAYS FIRST CLASS BUT THEIR CONTRIBUTION ALL HELPED TO HARASS THE ENEMY AND THE EFFECT ON MORALE WAS GOOD.(AWM)
On 16 November, 20 new 25pdr guns were received by the fortress, which had to be assembled first. They were landed from what the war diary says was a minelayer, but probably were A-Lighters and a storeship. They were assigned as follows:
12x Polish Carpathian Artillery Regiment, where I presume they replaced the 8x 75mm and 4x 4.5″ howitzers.
8x 144 Field Regiment (where they replaced the 18pdr which went in reserve and pure anti-tank roles, and were immediately committed) The rapid deployment of these guns shows that there were no reserve field guns in the fortress.
Regarding A.Tk. guns from 149 A.Tk. Rgt, these are not mentioned in the document, but I would presume that this was a 48 gun regiment, with 3 troops of 4 guns to each battery, for a total of 48 guns. The artillery statement for 8 Army of 4 November gives this regiment 40x 2pdr and 9x 18pdr, with another 8 guns being in transit to Tobruk, which would confirm the organisation as a pure 2-pdr regiment with the 18-pdrs attached as supernumeraries to the regiment. When 144 Fd. Rgt. retired 8 18pdr guns, this would have meant there were enough 18pdrs to make up a full battery of 16 guns, similar to the other 64 gun regiments. The war diary of 149 ATk Rgt refers a few times to portees and towers, indicating that it actually operated both the 2pdr (which would have been porteed) and the 18pdr (which would have been towed).
While this indicates that this is all the AT of Tobruk this is not the case. While 149 A.Tk. Rgt. controlled the AT of TobFort, there was a considerable amount of AT guns in the three AT companies under the infantry brigades, and then the ‘bush guns’ within the infantry battalions, although their AT value would have been negligible to non-existant.
The table is reduced from the original table, I have removed the location statements, and merged troops into batteries where they had the same equipment, even if they were at different locations.
Actual damage dealt by (bolt-A/semi-A/assault)rifle
one of the biggest question in this game is exactly how much damage does the weapons deal, especially that of the various small arms.
The game doesn't display value below 1, and seems to hide decimal value as well. For example, 1.5 damage is shown as just 1 in the armory. This is a pretty glaring omission, as there's a big difference between 3.0 and 3.9.
However, by comparing different squad, I believe I have a decent guess at the exact damage of various weapons. For this topic, I will go over the bolt-action, semi-auto, and assault rifles.
Bolt action rifle (Lee-enfield/kar98/mosin/feg 43m): 0.10 damage/2 suppression per rifle. This one is fairly simple to deduce. The partisan's 10x mosin deal 1.0 damage, while the strelki's 9x mosin deal 1> damage. This would mean each bolt action rifle deal .10 damage.
semi-auto (g43/svt/garand): 0.15 damage/ 3 suppression. The Ravzvedka's 7x svt is shown as 1 damage, while the Soviet shtrafniki komroti's 6x svt is shown as 1> damage. Similar case with the French Nueve and voltigeurs-mitr. Mathematically it could be either 1.5 or 1.6 damage, but 1.5 make the most sense. It's not 1.7 as the Hungarian have a x12 feg31m shown as ɱ'.
Assault rifle (mp44): 0.30 damage/ 6 suppression Everyone know of the infamous sturmschutzen, but what if I tell you the 13x mp44 actually deal 3.9 damage instead of 3.0 damage?
the sturmjager's 7x mp44 is shown as 2 damage, the stosstrupp(mp44)'s 5x mp44 is shown as 1 damage, the begleit-grenadier's 8xmp44 is shown as 2 damage, while the infamous sturmschutzen is shown as 3 damage. a true damage value of .30 would give 2.1, 1.5, 2.4, and finally 3.9. Given the mp44 deal 6 supression, 3 times that of a bolt action, 0.30 make the most sense.
History of the 40/43M Zrínyi Assault Howitzer
The Hungarian troops wanted self-propelled artillery, anti-tank and anti-aircraft vehicles as early as 1940. The cavalry troops had a 75mm horse-drawn mountain gun battery on a regimental level. The infantry regiments of the 2nd Hungarian Army were reinforced with horsed drawn escort batteries with aged 80mm light guns. However, these elements were far away from what the requirements of the modern war requested and the Army was aware of it.
The Hungarian Ministry of Defence recommended the organization of the self-propelled artillery in 1942. By the end of 1943, the organization of the two Hungarian armored divisions completed. The next step was to organize and equipped the assault artillery. The theoretical guidelines, methodology, and practice had been learned from the Germans. The Hungarian Army Command wanted to purchase German assault guns but the German side has blocked the sale of their proven assault guns or their production right since 1942.
Design and production
The Hungarian military leadership, therefore, commissioned the Weiss Manfred Factory (WM) to design and manufacture a new self-propelled artillery vehicle. General Major Árpád Denk-Doroszlay (Chief of Logistic) and Jurgen János, Chief Engineer (WM’s Technical Director) agreed that the new assault artillery vehicle will be built on the already available main parts of the Turán tank already in production and the available 40M 105mm howitzer and the 43M 75mm long-barreled gun. Based on the discussions, the final plans were prepared by Ernő Kovácsházy, a mechanical engineer (the chief engineer of the tank division at WM).
According to unconfirmed sources, Hungarian experts visited Italy somewhere 1941-42, where they were shown around the factory where Semovente assault guns were produced for the Italian Army. The Italian Semovente self-propelled gun was designed on the basis of the Italian M13/40 medium tank in 1941. There is no proofed evidence whether the Hungarians were influenced by their Italian colleges. At least we can say that the concept of the Italian and Hungarian design was very similar.
Design of the assault artillery vehicle
The Turán tank turret was removed the chassis was widened to 40 cm in width, to install and handle the gun. The gun is placed behind the 75 mm thick, thickened, frontal armor plate. The fighting compartment was a spacious box with wide, polygonal, tilted armor plates (25-13 mm).
The hull was made in riveted and bolted version as the Turán family. The length of the Zrínyi body, the driven chain elements, the power transmission systems, the controls, and the suspension, as well as the production technology, remained the same as Turán tanks.
The already well-proven 43M rotatable periscope was installed on the roof slides and hatches, and an escape hatch was built on the underside of the vehicle. Widening the body has improved the maneuverability of the vehicle. The fuel tank’s capacity reached 445 liters, so the vehicle’s range - on road - increased to 280 km.
The 260 horsepower 4-stroke, water-cooled, 8-cylinder Turán petrol engine could move the 21.6 tons (with skirt plates) vehicle at a maximum speed of 43 km/h.
The Zrínyi had the gearbox of the Túrán tank, with compressed air, six forward and six reverse gears, and equipped with steering wheel brakes. Driving the vehicle was simple: the driver pulled the lever in the direction of rotation by breaking the side chain.
When the lever was fully pulled, the Zrínyi could turn around on the spot. The vehicle was able to move along a 45° slope in good terrain with good lateral stability. The braking distance was then 200-250 m.
The 40/43M Zrínyi assault howitzer’s full length was 5500 mm, the barrel was 5900 mm, and the armored body itself was 5100 mm long. The width of the vehicle is 2890 mm its height is 1900 mm without the periscope.
The lower front panel closed the hull, which was also equipped with 1-1 drawbar hooks. Mudguards were mounted above the chassis, which slid backward at 3°. The headlights are positioned on the edge of the mudguard. The fire extinguisher was positioned behind the left headlamp and on the right side, the loudspeaker of the horn was attached. On the inside of the front mudguards, there were additional tools the left-side was a wire cutter, on the right side a special tool for replacing the track, and a hammer for bolt pinching. In front of the headlamps, 2-2 thick wooden blocks for lifting were secured.
The armored hull was joined by the superstructure, the sidewalls of which were tilted 80 degrees inwards. Additional hand tools were secured to the superstructure to the left, a field shovel, jimmy, pickaxe, and a large hammer for mud shedding, a steel tow cable to the right. In the lower part of the engine compartment, there is a bullet-proof grille that can be locked from inside with 4-4 shuttering louvers. On the sloping front panel, there is a circular mounting window for maintenance purposes and there are two iron straps that clamp the replacement track parts. The drivers’ observation panel is located on the frontal armor plate, right to the gun. This was also different on the iron sample vehicle, the first three vehicles in the series, and the other serial produced vehicles.
The H-801 iron vehicle was equipped with a one-one round-shaped observation aperture for the driver and the gun layer. The first three Zrínyi II (3H-000-3H-002) of the series were equipped with the driver observation panel of the 41M Turán tank. In the other vehicles of the series, this round-shape plate in front of the gun layer was completely gone, and the driver got the new 10-cm-higher 43M driver’s observation panel.
In the center of the frontal armor plate, slid by 150 mm from the longitudinal axis to left, was fitted a hinged locking sphere to move the gun, formally known as an armor spherical ball. This was protected by the gun shield attached to the front panel.
Zrínyi’s armament was a 105mm howitzer, or a 75mm anti-tank gun and a light machine gun finally excluded from the weaponry.
The ammunition allowance was 52 rounds per vehicle. According to the battlefield experiences, the crew could pack more than 30 rounds at the expense of the individual equipment. The ammunition allowance consisted of 38/33M HE-fragmentation, 42M HEAT, and 38/33M smoke shells. The assault howitzer fired cased separate loading ammunition, made the rate of fire slower, only 5 to 6 shots per minute.
The crew was armed for close protection with four service pistols, three sub-machineguns, eight hand grenades, and one flare pistol. These were placed inside the assault howitzer.
The firing of the gun may have occurred with compressed air or mechanically. Its vertical angle of travel was -5° - + 25° vertical, 11°-11° horizontally. The Zrínyit was designed with a targeting device designed to fire with direct and shared sight. The latter had never been used in combat.
The R5/a type radio was installed in the vehicle. The crew (commander, gun layer, loader-radio operator, and the driver) wore the 39M Italian style crash helmet with a well-insulated headset and mechanic overalls in the vehicle. The commander directed the vehicle’s main armament (howitzer) by commands by the intercom or due to the combat noise with conventional signals or sounding horn. The gun layer also could signal with green and red light signals to the driver to adjust the rough direction of the gun.