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25 Pounder v American Howitzer

Discussion in 'Royal Artillery' started by Uncle Target, Sep 26, 2019.

  1. Uncle Target

    Uncle Target Learning more every day

    I am sure that I read somewhere that some 8th Army RA Regiments were issued with American 105mm Howitzers at Monte Cassino due to problems with crest clearance (Firing over the top of hills/mountains) rather than resort to Upper Register firing which required specially constructed gun pits therefore reducing mobility.
     
    Last edited: Sep 26, 2019
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  2. Uncle Target

    Uncle Target Learning more every day

    American 85 Div replaced Brit 1st Infantry Div.
    American 329 Field Artillery used 105mm Howitzers 1 Div used 25 pounders, some having to be placed at Upper Register (see IWM Photos link below) for Counter Mortar Battery operations. How did the Americans handle this.

    THE BRITISH ARMY IN ITALY 1944
     
    Last edited: Sep 26, 2019
  3. Dave55

    Dave55 Atlanta, USA

    I don't know exactly what Counter Mortar Battery operations are but the 105s look like they would be fine in mortar-like roles.

    upload_2019-9-26_14-48-54.png
     
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  4. Uncle Target

    Uncle Target Learning more every day

    Certainly looks the part. If it was so good why were they using 25 pounders to replace them. Counter Mortar was firing at German Heavy Mortar positions over the crest of the hills and mountains on the reverse slopes. The 25 pounders were set to 70 degrees but had to be moved position to change to 60 degrees as the reverse slopes were very steep and it was easy to over or under shoot and miss the target or even hit their own infantry. Meteorological conditions were extremely variable (Barometric Pressure and wind gusts etc). Were 25 pounders more accurate than these howitzers therefore less risky in this type of work. Normal horizontal setting was 50 degrees maximum elevation on 25 pounders Upper Register needed different sights and calculations, hence the name. The gun pit construction was crucial and the Territorials were more successful than the regulars in building them as they had skilled builders in their ranks. One or two troops per Regiment were used for this, the rest were horizontal.
     
    Last edited: Sep 26, 2019
  5. idler

    idler GeneralList Patron

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  6. Uncle Target

    Uncle Target Learning more every day

    Don't seem to be able to see it I'm afraid but I was aware of Indian Mountain Gun Regiments in Northern Italy but they were few.
    Perhaps the person I read about was from the 85th Mountain Regiment that trained in Palestine, later going to Italy in March 1944.
    Were they using the American 105mm Howitzer. In which case how did it compare with the 25 pounder.
     
  7. idler

    idler GeneralList Patron

    I've converted it to pdf - that might help:
     

    Attached Files:

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  8. Uncle Target

    Uncle Target Learning more every day

    So we are talking 85th Mountain Regt and Monte Grande Sector in Spring 1945 the same area as covered by 1st Div November 1944 to Jan 45.
    I will have a good read. Thanks for that very interesting.
    However I am still trying to compare the 25 pounder with the American 105 Howitzer and why it was respected for so long. Whilst criticised at Upper Register it seems its versatility was its attraction. What about the 105 in comparison.
    Has anyone on the forum ever used one.
    Whilst the 25 pdr was a Field gun it was also a howitzer and the single spade ended trail was designed to stand up in modified gun pits to raise the elevation of fire.
    The IWM photos were taken to supplement instructions on gun pit construction.
    THE BRITISH ARMY IN ITALY 1944
     
    Last edited: Sep 26, 2019
  9. Robert-w

    Robert-w Well-Known Member

    The answer lies I think into the designation of both guns. The 25 pounder was a gun howitzer whereas the 105 was a howitzer. The 25 pounder could answer more needs than the 105 being effectively an all round general purpose weapon but was never going to be quite as effective in pure howitzer roles.
     
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  10. Uncle Target

    Uncle Target Learning more every day

    The 105 was a much heavier weapon to tow which may have been why it was not favoured as much as the 25pdr British forces did not have so many 6 wheelers as the Americans and at Monte Grande were loaned them by the Americans. The 25 pdr had a slightly higher muzzle velocity and a frontal gun shield to protect the crew from frontal small arms fire. It also save a few lives when the odd shell exploded in the barrel. Otherwise they were both popular and widely used until well after WW2.
    Sadly there are no responses yet from Gunners who are familiar with the 105 and 25 pounder as of yet. This is merely a comparison on paper.
    M101 howitzer - Wikipedia
     
  11. Gary Kennedy

    Gary Kennedy Member

    I did have a very quick look through "The development of artillery tactics and equipment" as to whether RA Field Regts were equipped with US 105-mm howitzers at times in Italy. I couldn't find a specific reference, though I'll stress it was a quick look; my copy is in PDF format but is not searchable. There is this snippet from Chapter on the perceived problems that Italy would bring;

    "For fighting up the spine of Italy it seemed likely that some mountain artillery would be of value, although experience in Tunisia had shown that, provided OPs were put on a pack basis, existing equipments could usually do all that was required. To make more certain of this, incremental charges were produced for the 25-pr, which, if added to charges I and II, would give much the same crest clearance and angle of descent as the 3.7-in howitzer at the shorter ranges. Thus equipped, the ordinary field regiment would be capable of engaging targets up to 7.5 miles from a road. If supporting fire was likely to be required beyond that range, recourse would have to be made to pack artillery; and this meant the introduction of a pack portee 3.7-in or 75-mm (American) howitzer as an alternative to the 25-pr".

    We can be sure that SP Regts of the RA and RCA (and I think latterly also the NZ and SA artilleries) did use the US supplied M7 Priest, which was armed with the 105-mm howitzer, while in Italy, more specifically in Armd Divs. The 105-mm fired a 33lb shell and is general credited with a maximum range of 12,500 yards (approx. 11,250m, though I think I've seen 10,500m as well). The same title quoted above also gives the US 105-mm a range of 10,500 yards. The exact range would appear to be dependent upon the number of increments used so there are a variations in different publications.

    Counter mortar was primarily concerned with locating enemy mortar positions and bringing fire to bear on them. It didn't require the friendly guns to fire in a mortar like fashion themselves. Counter Mortar personnel were tasked with the role of observing the fall of mortar rounds and calculating by various means the likely originating position, which would be duly 'stonked'.

    British and Canadian Divs, both in Italy and NWE, had small CMO units added to Div Arty, which allowed for a small HQ element and a Section to each Inf Bde. There used to be a report available online regarding the US approach, which I think rejected the idea of a specialist CM unit and instead added the function to the existing duties of their Fire Direction Center.

    Gary
     
  12. Robert-w

    Robert-w Well-Known Member

    The 105 mounted in the M7 Priest could not achieve maximum elevation so that practical range is likely to be the lower figure.
     
  13. Dave55

    Dave55 Atlanta, USA

    Wouldn't maximum range be achieved at something less than maximum elevation?
     
  14. Robert-w

    Robert-w Well-Known Member

    Only if max elevation is more than 45 degrees as with an AA gun
     
  15. Uncle Target

    Uncle Target Learning more every day

    Counter Mortar was not the sole prerogative of field guns but as with other targets the CMO could call upon a whole range including Medium or Heavy Artillery from AGRA.
    The idea was to rapidly overwhelm the enemy mortar fire which was considerable at times with company positions being hit with 400 mortar bombs in 6 hours and 110 in 45 minutes quoted by the Royal Scots and Sherwood Foresters on Monte Castellaro at the end of November/early December. The Upper Register was used to clear the crests to hit targets that the other artillery could not reach. Heavy AA was also used with air burst. The 25 Pdrs returned to horizontal fire after a short period as the targets were accessible by others and their rapid and accurate fire required elsewhere in their sector. Being in Upper Register Pits they were not available for normal use.
     
    Last edited: Sep 27, 2019

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