DriveTanks.com Part 2— The Big Boys Of The Battlefield, Artillery And Anti-Tank Guns

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In this part 2 of the series of articles on DriveTanks.com I want to introduce you to the M2A1 105mm howitzer that was so widely used in WWII. This is an original fully functioning 105mm howitzer that makes up part of DriveTanks.com collection. Yes indeed folks you can indeed fire this howitzer across a valley between two mountains and watch your fired round impact the mountain.

It was late afternoon when we rolled the M2A1 out of it’s storage building, set it up for firing and loaded it up with a live round. The video shows me firing the 105 and if you look closely on the right side of the screen you’ll see the round impact after a few seconds.It’s easier to view in full size. Before you ask yes the breech block was a bit sticky but I got it open.

The M2 Howitzer was developed between WWI and WWII. This versatile piece of artillery went into service in 1940. Since that time the 105 howitzer has been in service for many decades with few changes. In fact a re-engineered version is still in service today. Even the original M2 still serves in many small countries military inventory.

WWII gun crew with the M2A1 howitzer.

WWII gun crew with the M2A1 howitzer.

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The M2A1 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. Production continued without design changes until 1953.

A 105mm Howitzer round in the original shipping crate. The type of round is stamped on the upper portion in yellow letters.

A 105mm Howitzer round in the original shipping crate. The type of round is stamped on the upper portion in yellow letters.

Stats:

Country of origin United States
Entered service 1940-1941
Crew 8 men
Armament
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
Mobility
Towing vehicle 6×6 truck

During the Vietnam war the 105mm howitzer was especially useful since it could be carried by helicopter. A daisy cutter bomb could be dropped by aircraft on a mountain top with the resulting detonation clearing a spot large enough to allow the 105mm laden helicopters to set them down on the newly created open ground. Several could be brought in and you had an instant firebase to support our ground forces.

Vietnam firebase central highlands.

Vietnam firebase central highlands.

Another big gun is the WWII German PAK 40 anti-tank gun. With the comp on the barrel this boy has some blowback! The PAK is a high velocity gun in 75mm. It was used on all fronts with the largest number on the eastern front against Russian T-34 tanks. If you watched the movie Fury you saw a battle with the Sherman tanks going after a group of PAK 40 guns. This video will give you some idea of how it feels to fire the PAK40!

DriveTanks.Com part 3 will be one you will enjoy. This one will highlight the M4A2E8 “Easy Eight” Sherman tank. We drive the tank, fire the 76mm main gun as well as the M2 50 caliber mounted on the tank. I hope you are enjoying these post!

Drive Tanks. Com



Phil White

Retired police officer with 30 years of service. Firearms instructor and SRU team member. I still instruct with local agencies. My daily carry pistol is the tried and true 1911. I’m the Associate Editor and moderator at TFB. I really enjoy answering readers questions and comments. We can all learn from each other about our favorite hobby!


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  • TheNotoriousIUD

    Another gun I cant afford to feed.

    • Tom Currie

      Especially when each round is a “destructive device” all by itself.

      • The cost is listed on the packages on the website.

      • Glenn J Fleming

        Actually they are only DD’s if they are loaded with HE

        • phuzz

          I dunno, it looks like it would do some damage if you dropped it on your foot.

        • They actually CNC machine the solid rounds which weigh about the same as an HE round.

        • Phil Hsueh

          I wonder if you could hollow out the back of one of these solid shells and put some fireworks in it to simulate an explosion when it impacts. I suspect that it would still be considered a DD even though the round itself doesn’t explode, just some fireworks in the back.

      • SGT Fish

        not true.

  • James

    It’s so cute. I prefer to slap shoot a 155. Shot a 105 a few times in artillery school, but a 155 with 5H is so much more fun.

    • OBlamo Binlyen

      Yeah, as long as WE are paying the bill…grumble…grumble….grumble

    • RON

      Slap shoot? I remember slap shooting the M114 at Sill years and years ago, and on that it actually involved slapping the fire mech to get the hammer to fall. But on the M198, M109 or M777 how did you slap shoot?

  • Don Ward

    Nice write up again. It’s good to know some of these beasts are allowed to roam in their natural habitat!

  • Ric Bravo

    The M2A1 was still in service with Australian Army Reserve units until roughly 2 years ago. Still very effective little pieces.

  • Ron

    The M2A1, renamed the M101 howitzer in the 1960s, remained in the US service until the mid 90s.

    • Used in Gulf War one——

      • Ron

        They MEBs artillerymen would take the ballistic shields off the gun and load them into the back of CH53s and conduct artillery helicopter raids into Kuwait with them.

        • Thomas WeiƟhuhn

          deploy them by helicopter and conduct a strike or shot out of the helicopter?

  • Yep and the Alaska Railroad has one they use also. It works:-)

  • Guy St-Pierre

    breech block is not sticky at all, you just need to push down first before pulling.