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M101 howitzer

M101A1 105 mm Howitzer
U.S. Marines fire a M101A1 howitzer during a ceremony in 2005
Type Howitzer
Place of origin United States
Service history
Used by United States
Wars World War II
Korean War
First Indochina War
Vietnam War
Insurgency in the Philippines
Production history
Manufacturer Rock Island Arsenal
Produced 1941–1953
Weight 2,260 kg (4,980 lb)
Length 5.94 m (19 ft 6 in)
Barrel length 2.31 m (7 ft 7 in) L/22
Width 2.21 m (7 ft 3 in)
Height 1.73 m (5 ft 8 in)

Shell 105x372R
Caliber 105 mm (4.1 in)
Breech horizontal block
Recoil hydropneumatic, constant, 42 in (110 cm)
Carriage split trail
Elevation -5° to +66°
Traverse 46°
Muzzle velocity 472 m/s (1,550 ft/s)
Maximum firing range 11,270 m (7.00 mi)

The 105 mm M2A1 (M101A1) howitzer was a howitzer developed and used by the United States. It was the standard U.S. light field howitzer in World War II and saw action in both the European and Pacific theaters. Entering production in 1941, it quickly gained a reputation for accuracy and a powerful punch. The M101A1 fired 105 mm high explosive (HE) semi-fixed ammunition and had a range of 11,270 meters, or 12,325 yards, making it suitable for supporting infantry.

All of these qualities of the weapon, along with its widespread production, led to its adoption by many countries after the war. Its ammunition type also became the standard for many foreign countries' later models.


  • History 1
  • Operators 2
  • Variants 3
  • Self-propelled mounts 4
  • Ammunition 5
  • See also 6
  • Notes 7
  • References 8
  • External links 9


The U.S. military artillery designation system was changed in 1962, redesignating the 105mm M2A1 howitzer the M101A1. The gun continued to see service in the Korean and Vietnam Wars. Though a similar model, the M102 howitzer, shared the same roles in battle, it never fully replaced the M101A1. Today, the M101A1 has been retired by the U.S. military, though it continues to see service with many other countries.

By the end of the Second World War, 8,536 105 mm towed howitzers had been built and post-war production continued at Rock Island Arsenal until 1953, by which time 10,202 had been built.

The Canadian Forces continued to use the M2A1 as the C2 Howitzer until 1997, when a modification was made to extend its service life; it is now designated the C3. The changes include a longer barrel, a muzzle brake, reinforced trails and the removal of shield flaps. It remains the standard light howitzer of Canadian Forces Reserve units. The C3 is used by Reserve units in Glacier National Park in British Columbia as a means of avalanche control. In addition, the M101 has found a second use in the U.S. as an avalanche control gun, supervised by the US Forest Service.

France and the State of Vietnam used it during the First Indochina War, as did the People's Army of Vietnam, who were supplied with this weapon by China PR along with other captured Kuomintang artillery pieces. Today upgraded M2A1s are still being used by the People's Army of Vietnam. It remains as the primary tactical field howitzer of the VPA.[1][2]

A number of M2/M101 howitzers were used by the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and approximately 50 were inherited by Croatia, of which 4 are still in use for training with the Croatian army.

M2 Howitzers are still in limited service in the Australian Army Reserve, but are being replaced with 81mm mortars with an emphasis on the retention of indirect fire support skills.[3] In regular service they were replaced by the 105mm L119 Hamel gun and the 155mm M198 howitzers.

Two M2 howitzers (1942) are still employed in providing the gun salute at Kristiansten Fortress, in Trondheim, Norway. M101/M2 is one of three approved salute guns in the Norwegian armed forces, and have been reduced to a caliber of 75 mm for this purpose. They are used for gun salute also at Rena and Setermoen.



Canadian soldiers fire a high explosive round with a C3 howitzer in 2009
XM124E2 Light Auxiliary-Propelled 105mm Howitzer at the Rock Island Arsenal museum

Gun variants:

  • M1920 - prototype.[6]
  • M1925E - prototype.[6]
  • T2, standardized as M1.[6]
  • M2 (1934) - minor changes to the chamber to allow use of fixed ammunition.[6]
  • M2A1 (1940) - modified breech ring.[7]
  • M3 - lightweight howitzer, with barrel shortened by 27 inches.
  • T8, standardized as M4 - vehicle-mounted variant with modified breech and with cylindrical recoil surface.[8]:210
  • M101 - post-war designation of M2A1 on carriage M2A1
  • M101A1 - post-war designation of M2A1 on carriage M2A2
  • C3 - Canadian C1 (M2A1) with lengthened, 33-caliber barrel

Carriage variants:

  • M1920E - prototype, split trail.[6]
  • M1921E - prototype, box trail.[6]
  • M1925E - prototype, box trail.[6]
  • T2, standardized as M1 - split trail, wooden wheels.[6]
  • M1A1 - M1 carriages rebuilt with new wheels, brakes and other parts.[7]
  • T3 - prototype.[6]
  • T4 - prototype.[6]
  • T5, standardized as M2 (1940) - split trail, steel wheels with pneumatic tires.[6]
  • M2A1 - electric brakes removed.[9]
  • M2A2 - modified shield.[9]
  • XM124 & XM124E1 Light Auxiliary Propelled Howitzer - prototype (1962-1965) - produced by Sundstrand Aviation Corporation, who added an auxiliary drive system for local maneuverability (See also similar XM123 Medium Auxiliary Propelled 155mm Howitzer with similar configuration). The base XM124 provided two 20 horsepower, air-cooled engines, while the XM124E1 provided a single 20 horsepower engine and electric steering.
  • M2A2 Terra Star Auxiliary Propelled Howitzer - prototype (1969-1977) - Lockheed Aircraft Service Company added an auxiliary drive system and a tri-star wheel system to the carriage of an M2A2 105mm Light Howitzer to provide local maneuverability. The last surviving example is at the Rock Island Arsenal Museum.
The only surviving prototype M2A2 Terra Star Auxiliary Propelled Howitzer at the Rock Island Arsenal Museum. Note the tri-star wheel system and auxiliary drive system on the right trail leg.

Self-propelled mounts


The gun fired semi-fixed ammunition, with 105mm Cartridge Case M14. The propelling charge consisted of a base charge and six increments, forming seven charges from 1 (the smallest) to 7 (the largest). Use of M1 HE rounds prepared for the 105mm howitzer M3 (same projectile and cartridge, but different propelling charge) was authorized.[14]

HEAT M67 Shell was originally designed as fixed round, with Cartridge Case M14 type II. It was later changed to semi-fixed type with the standard cartridge, but with non-adjustable propelling charge. For blank ammunition, a shorter Cartridge Case M15 with black powder charge was used.[14]

Available ammunition[12]:236[14][15]
Type Model Weight, kg (round/projectile) Filler Muzzle velocity, m/s Range, m
HE HE M1 Shell 19.08 / 14.97 TNT or 50/50 amatol, 2.18 kg 472 11,160
HEAT-T HEAT M67 Shell 16.71 / 13.25 Pentolite, 1.33 kg 381 7,854
Smoke HC BE M84 Shell 19.02 / 14.91 Zinc chloride (HC) 472 11,160
Smoke, colored BE M84 Shell 17.86-18.04 / Smoke mixture
Smoke WP M60 Shell 19.85 / 15.56 White Phosphorus (WP), 1.84 kg 472 11,110
Smoke FS M60 Shell 20.09 / Sulfur trioxide in Chlorosulfonic acid, 2.09 kg
Chemical H M60 Shell 19.43 / Mustard gas, 1.44 kg
Practice Empty M1 Shell 472 11,160
Drill Drill Cartridge M14 - -
Blank - -
Armor penetration, mm[12]:236
Ammunition \ Distance, m 0 457 914 1,828
HEAT M67 Shell (meet angle 0°) 102
Concrete penetration, mm[12]:236
HE M1 Shell (meet angle 0°) 457 427 396 335
Different methods of measurement were used in different countries / periods. Therefore, direct comparison is often impossible.

See also


  1. ^ a b "M2A1 105mm light field howitzer on the way to base, after a live firing exercise.". March 31, 2014. 
  2. ^ a b "M2A1 howitzer on the way to firing ground". March 25, 2014. 
  3. ^ Toohill, MAJ Ian (August 2009). "Mortars for Reserve Gunners" (PDF). 2nd Division, Army Reserves Public Affairs. The Bayonet. p. 10. Retrieved 6 January 2012. 
  4. ^ John Keegan, page 589 World Armies, ISBN 0-333-17236-1
  5. ^ G6 L45 self-propelled towed gun-howitzer
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Hogg - Allied Artillery of World War Two, p 42-49.
  7. ^ a b Technical Manual TM 9-2005 volume 3, Infantry and Cavalry Accompanying Weapons.
  8. ^ a b c d Hunnicutt - Sherman: A History of the American Medium Tank
  9. ^ a b Technical Manual TM 9-1325, 105mm Howitzers M2 and M2A1; Carriages M2A1 and M2A2; and Combat Vehicle Mounts M3 and M4.
  10. ^ Hunnicutt - Pershing: A History of the Medium Tank T20 Series
  11. ^ a b c d e Hunnicutt - Stuart: A History of the American Light Tank
  12. ^ a b c d Hunnicutt - Half-Track: A History of American Semi-Tracked Vehicles
  13. ^ Vietnam Has Developed a 105mm Self-Propelled Howitzer on a Ural-375D Chassis
  14. ^ a b c Technical Manual TM 9-1901, Artillery Ammunition, p 167-178.
  15. ^ Technical Manual TM 9-1904, Ammunition Inspection Guide, p 471-484.


  • Hunnicutt, R. P. (1971). Pershing: A History of the Medium Tank T20 Series. Feist Publications. 
  • Hunnicutt, R. P. (1992). Stuart: A History of the American Light Tank. Presidio Press.  
  • Hunnicutt, R. P. (1994). Sherman: A History of the American Medium Tank. Presidio Press.  
  • Hunnicutt, R. P. (2001). Half-Track: A History of American Semi-Tracked Vehicles. Presidio Press.  
  • Technical Manual TM 9-1325, 105mm Howitzers M2 and M2A1; Carriages M2A1 and M2A2; and Combat Vehicle Mounts M3 and M4. War Department, 1944. 
  • Technical Manual TM 9-1901, Artillery Ammunition. War Department, 1944. 
  • Technical Manual TM 9-1904, Ammunition Inspection Guide. War Department, 1944. 
  • Technical Manual TM 9-2005 volume 3, Infantry and Cavalry Accompanying Weapons. War Department, 1942. 

External links

  • , November 1942, Popular ScienceTwo Guns For One one of the earliest detailed public article published on the M101 Howitzer
  • FAS Military Analysis Network
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