Country of origin
14.9 - 15.1 kg
Maximum range of fire
11.3 - 14.5 km
Maximum rate of fire
3 - 4 rpm
- 5 to + 65 degrees
+- 22.75 degrees
Dimensions and weight
Length (in combat order)
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
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 M101’s 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 Melara’s Mod.56 and the L118 shared 100% compatibility with the M101’s ammunition
type and kept the concept and practice of light artillery alive.
The M101’s 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
M101’s these were repurposed as a new self-propelled system called
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
M101’s in its long battle against restive Muslims in Mindanao.
The M101’s 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 hasn’t become redundant. With its literal impact on modern
history it is apparent the roar of the M101’s thunder will echo for
years to come.
original production model introduced during the World War II.
post-war designation of the M2A1.
upgraded version, introduced in 1964. It has a modified carriage
with a different shield.
Canadian designation of the M2A1.
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.
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 tank’s hull and chassis.
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.
Vietnamese truck-mounted howitzer, which utilizes the M101A1
howitzer on the Russian Ural 6x6 truck chassis.
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