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105 mm towed howitzer

M101 howitzer

The iconic M101 field howitzer is in service since the World War II

Country of origin United States
Entered service 1940-1941
Crew 8 men
Main gun 105-mm
Barrel length 22.5 calibers
Projectile weight 14.9 - 15.1 kg
Maximum range of fire 11.3 - 14.5 km
Maximum rate of fire 3 - 4 rpm
Elevation range - 5 to + 65 degrees
Traverse range +- 22.75 degrees
Dimensions and weight
Weight 2.26 t
Length (in combat order) 5.99 m
Towing vehicle 6x6 truck


   It is one of the most recognizable artillery pieces ever made. The M2 howitzer was slowly developed during the long pause between World Wars. Upon its introduction in 1940 (as the M2A1) it was a powerful and accurate gun often deployed at the battalion level. Its sterling performance in North Africa, the Pacific, China, Italy, and Western Europe cemented its reputation with the US Army and Marine Corps. By 1945 over 10 000 were manufactured by Rock Island Arsenal and many were kept in storage or exported to NATO members and allies as surplus. After the World War II the M2A1 was redesignated as the M101. Production continued until 1953.

   This field howitzer fought an unbroken succession of wars in four continents from 1941 until the present. This left it ample time to impact the development of both towed and self-propelled howitzers. Its familiarity with US artillerymen was so entrenched by the time it was upgraded and renamed the M101A1 in 1964 the improvements were met with criticism from veteran crews who preferred the same howitzer that dated to the last World War.

   Like other 20th century towed artillery pieces the M101 was the sum of four vital components: these were the barrel assembly, the breech, its carriage, and trailer. Since it was designed in the 1930s peculiar features like the splinter shield and a short barrel remained unchanged for many, many years. But what made the M101 innovative during its heyday was it being designed to be pulled by trucks and not horses. Its hydro pneumatic recoil system placed above the barrel was distinctive as well. Despite its quaint appearance the M101 was a reliable weapon with astounding adaptability. It functioned in different climates and remained in step with technological breakthroughs decades after it entered service.

   This artillery system influenced the development of self-propelled artillery when it became the primary armament for the M7 Priest that mounted a howitzer on a medium tank chassis. The advent of helicopters allowed the M101, along with its heftier sibling the 155-mm M114, to attain air mobility suitable for either grueling campaigns like Vietnam or the fast-moving mechanized warfare that could erupt in the Central European Plain.

   One of the M101s unsung achievements was to create a market for 105-mm low-velocity high explosive rounds. This was brought about by the sheer number of 105-mm howitzers deployed around the world, from Mexico to Taiwan to Ethiopia. Other howitzers like OTO Melaras Mod.56 and the L118 shared 100% compatibility with the M101s ammunition type and kept the concept and practice of light artillery alive.

   The M101s operators among US allies and developing countries cherished its better attributes; simple, consistent, and effective. South Korea, for example, used the M101 as the basis for its KH178 light howitzer. But instead of completely getting rid of the old M101s these were repurposed as a new self-propelled system called the EVO.

   Meanwhile, the M101 remained a fixture across Southeast Asia where it was continuously employed by the militaries of the Philippines, Vietnam, Singapore, Indonesia, and Thailand. The Philippine Army in particular never let go of its Vietnam-vintage M101s in its long battle against restive Muslims in Mindanao.

   The M101s career is far from over. It remains in the arsenals of at least a half dozen Latin American countries and is found throughout Asia. Whether marking a national holiday with a salvo or pounding terrorist camps in the Southern Philippines the M101 hasnt become redundant. With its literal impact on modern history it is apparent the roar of the M101s thunder will echo for years to come.




   M2A1 original production model introduced during the World War II.

   M101 post-war designation of the M2A1.

   M101A1 upgraded version, introduced in 1964. It has a modified carriage with a different shield.

   C1 Canadian designation of the M2A1.

   C2 upgraded Canadian version of the C1. Between 1995 and 1997 Canada upgraded 96 of its C1 towed howitzers to the C2 standard. These are used by reserve units.

   C3 Canadian version of the C1 with a longer 33 caliber barrel. This howitzer has extended range of fire.

   M7 Priest self-propelled artillery combining an M101 with an M3 Lee medium tanks hull and chassis.

   EVO-105 self-propelled artillery system developed by Samsung Techwin that mounts an M101 barrel assembly, recoil system, and breech onto the bed of a Kia 6x6 military truck.

   Unidentified Vietnamese truck-mounted howitzer, which utilizes the M101A1 howitzer on the Russian Ural 6x6 truck chassis.


Miguel Miranda

   Article by MIGUEL MIRANDA

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M101 howitzer

M101 howitzer

M101 howitzer

M101 howitzer

M101 howitzer

M101 howitzer

M101 howitzer

M101 howitzer

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