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Artillery Discussion Thread

The Military Issues & History Forum is a venue to discuss issues relating to the military aspects of the Indian Armed Forces, whether the past, present or future. We request members to kindly stay within the mandate of this forum and keep their exchanges of views, on a civilised level, however vehemently any disagreement may be felt. All feedback regarding forum usage may be sent to the moderators using the Feedback Form or by clicking the Report Post Icon in any objectionable post for proper action. Please note that the views expressed by the Members and Moderators on these discussion boards are that of the individuals only and do not reflect the official policy or view of the Bharat-Rakshak.com Website. Copyright Violation is strictly prohibited and may result in revocation of your posting rights - please read the FAQ for full details. Users must also abide by the Forum Guidelines at all times.
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Re: Artillery Discussion Thread

Postby JayS » 25 Jul 2017 12:45

I found this interesting and very detailed write up on fuses and arming mechanisms for artillery shells.

http://www.passioncompassion1418.com/de ... Centrifuge

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Re: Artillery Discussion Thread

Postby Manish_P » 25 Jul 2017 12:58

Ramana sir, Sorry couldn't locate the specific details for 2016...nor for 2005 (12 years ago)

Here is link of the CAG report for year 2014 - link

On page 6 you can see the topmost entry mention (for 155 mm)

Shortage in base bleed (propellant) grains from Ordnance Factory at Itarsi

Manufacturing defects in empty shells from Ordnance Factory at Ambajhari


Here is CAG report for 2004-2005. Link

The only mention of 155 mm ammunition i could find was on page 33 under the pending reports section

Will try to locate more but looks a bit difficult.

ramana wrote:These are like Mughal cannons.

Thankfully IA guns are much superior.

Anyone know who makes the OFB shells? Which factory?

Manish_P

Not only did the OFBs fail to produce critical ammunition for the Indian Army, but produced poor quality ammunition, the CAG has observed.
Of the ammunition found to be faulty, the majority were 81 mm and 155 mm ammunition, the CAG observes. The 81 mm ammunition that the CAG mentions are mortars which are used respond to ceasefire violations by Pakistan. The 155 mm ammunitions are artillery shells - those used by the Bofor's Field Guns. These two alone accounted for about 59 per cent of ammunition returned.


The CAG report says 81mm and 155mm shells (~50% of the returns) were returned for cause by the IA to the OFB. Do we know what was the defects that were found?

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Re: Artillery Discussion Thread

Postby JayS » 25 Jul 2017 14:42

ramana wrote:We need to understand better the dynamics inside the tube. Everyone is confident that they arm 200 feet away from the muzzle. So what other feature is needed?


I was thinking the latency of the arming mechanism itself provides the delay to clear the gun barrel and some safety distance beyond that. Because even a split second latency is enough to give 200mtr distance. So I searched along the lines and sure enough I found a patent saying the exact same thing:

http://www.google.com/patents/US4026216
This bore safety of the detonator must exist not only prior to firing the projectile, but also for a brief time after it is fired, as the projectile must not explode as soon as it leaves the muzzle of the gun or even be able to explode immediately as it leaves the muzzle. To this end a relatively long spring is wound around the ball-type detent so that a certain period of time is necessary in order for the entire length of spring to unwind and allow the pin to move into the armed position. As a result of this multiturn construction there is considerable friction force so that it is almost impossible to calculate just when the projectile will be armed after it is fired. Furthermore the balls of the detent are themselves urged centrifugally outwardly with considerable force, and frequently press on and deform the inner turns of the spring. This deformation again increases the arming time so that it is not rare in such arrangements that a projectile strikes a given target before it is armed.


So the arming is triggered inside the barrel itself but the arming mechanism is designed in a way that it takes a certain time to fully arm the fuse. By this time the shell has cleared the gun and moved away safely. Issue with this mechanism could easily make premature arming or no arming at all.
Last edited by ramana on 25 Jul 2017 20:27, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: Added underline and more bold to show sources of delay. ramana

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Re: Artillery Discussion Thread

Postby ramana » 25 Jul 2017 20:27

I ignored the wound spring in the fuze as that adds the necessary delay element.

So even if the Fuze had the necessary rpm to enable the arming mechanism it has sufficient delay to get armed outside the barrel.

Then why did the shell burst in the development trials and right outside the muzzle in the May User Exploitation Trials (UET)?

The arming spring broke or malfunctioned?

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Re: Artillery Discussion Thread

Postby ramana » 26 Jul 2017 02:43

KaranM, JayS,

Do you have any artillery officer contacts? I would like to know about the phenomena of fall-back in separate charge shells. E.g.. large bore 155mm and bagged or disc charges. Minimum qty charge and high angle fire.

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Re: Artillery Discussion Thread

Postby negi » 26 Jul 2017 22:09

^ But we do not know if the delay mechanism was set right ? Isn't that set on conventional arty fuses by rotating or winding it ? What if it was not done ? In that case only safety is that it won't get armed until threshold RPM is reached .

Also the online literature on fuze which OFB makes for 155 mm as per the linked article states

" It is not watertight and is not drop safe. Prematures have occurred when the weapon is fired at high muzzle velocities from longer-barrelled weapons."

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Re: Artillery Discussion Thread

Postby abhik » 26 Jul 2017 22:26

x post
jamwal wrote:https://www.facebook.com/ajaybaru.1976/videos/1439465329476261/

Looks like some live fire exercise. They are firing all types of mortar rounds, smoke, HE and illuminating. Machine gun and perhaps some heavy gun fire is audible too.

Good rate of fire, glad to see all that ammo expended in these times of doom and gloom.

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Re: Artillery Discussion Thread

Postby JayS » 26 Jul 2017 23:09

ramana wrote:KaranM, JayS,

Do you have any artillery officer contacts? I would like to know about the phenomena of fall-back in separate charge shells. E.g.. large bore 155mm and bagged or disc charges. Minimum qty charge and high angle fire.


Can't help there.

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Re: Artillery Discussion Thread

Postby JayS » 26 Jul 2017 23:13

negi wrote:^ But we do not know if the delay mechanism was set right ? Isn't that set on conventional arty fuses by rotating or winding it ? What if it was not done ? In that case only safety is that it won't get armed until threshold RPM is reached .

Also the online literature on fuze which OFB makes for 155 mm as per the linked article states

" It is not watertight and is not drop safe. Prematures have occurred when the weapon is fired at high muzzle velocities from longer-barrelled weapons."


Even if the time fuse was not set correct it should not have triggered explosion before the shell cleared the safety distance, because the fuse itself was not supposed to have armed until then. Time fuse will come into picture after its armed. Here we are talking of failure of arming mechanism. If this is happening systematically under some conditions then its a design flaw.

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Re: Artillery Discussion Thread

Postby ramana » 27 Jul 2017 02:19

All right here goes:

Facts we know about Dhanush trials:
1) During development a shell burst in the barrel. It was attributed to old ammunition being about 12 years old and possibly air bubbles in the shell that could have reacted to the shock. However shelf life of M107 shell is 15 years(OFB page on M 107 http://ofbindia.gov.in/products/data/am ... /lc/29.htm ) so should not be an issue. Air bubble could be but how did it pass the many QA steps? Not plausible.
2) During User Exploitation Trials (UET) in May 2017, a shell burst soon after exit from the muzzle.
3) During UET in July 2017, the shell struck the muzzle brake
4) Muzzle strike was encountered early on the SOLTAM upgrade of the 130mm barrel with 155 mm 45 caliber barrel. Dhanush barrel muzzle is larger in diameter than the SOLTAM upgrade barrel. Yet muzzle strike occurred.

Additional facts that could have bearing on the issue:
5) The shell is M107 type which is quite common. Made by OFB
6) The fuze is assumed to be M572 which is also quite common. Made by OFB
7) We do not know the charge that was used nor the range. Was it maximum or minimum range?
8 ) We do not know the debris field. Were the fuzes recovered? What was their condition? Expended or intact? And the barrel condition or borescope measurements?

Any common cause/phenomenon has to explain all these three instances or most of them.

Over the last two weeks I read many reports online and have three theories to postulate that can explain what happened. I will start with the most complex to the simplest.

I) Balloting of shell in gun tube

Initially the shell contacts the tube along the driving band and is held in place. The shell c.g. is forward of the driving band. About 40% as its a conical structure with a weighted nose. There is clearance between the shell and the tube or else it won’t be launched and get stuck. When the charge gets fired there is sudden force behind the driving band which makes the shell hit the sides of the tube. However there is another phenomenon. The shell is spinning along its axis which may be close to the tube axis but is not the same. The hitting the tube sides is due to yaw of the spinning projectile. However it becomes unstable if the shell center of gravity (c.g.) is off center due to manufacturing issues. Even a small offset could grow the instability in the roll axis. Becomes a major concern in heavy projectile with largest charge as that induces most forces. To put thing is simple terms, think of the spinning shell as a spinning top (lattoo). The top spins true at the right velocity. When speed is slow it tilts. And if the top nail is off center also it tilts. Now image the spinning top in a tube. The spinning top will hit the tube sides. That’s what is happening here. And the top is moving along the tube. The forces induced are such that the shell breaks up and could exceed the detonation shock limits of the explosive. This has happened many times in the Great Britain, US and we don’t know who else. When the energy is low it could hit the muzzle brake as it exits. So this phenomenon explains all three instances. So it has to be high charge with an off-set in c.g. of the shell to explode or low charge with offset in c.g. of the shell. Either case off-set shell will cause this problem of muzzle strike or shell burst. For those interested they can google for “yaw motion in projectiles in gun tubes”. Plenty of literature is available.

Side-slap is more prevalent in worn out guns when the clearances are more due to wear. All the above events 1), 2), and 3) have occurred in new barrels and hence side-slap is ruled out.


II Shell Fall Back

Shell fall back is the phenomenon where the shell driving band is not engaged in the tube inner diameter for whatever reason and after the charge is placed behind it falls into the chamber when the gun is elevated. The worst case is minimum charge with gun elevated for high angle fire to reach nearby targets. In case of fall back three things could happen: a) projectile leaves the bore but falls short b) projectile breaks up as it leaves the muzzle, and c) projectile detonates in the bore as it comes in violent contact with the area round the commencement of rifling. So here the phenomenon is for smallest charge and high angle fire. Again explains most of the events 1, 2, & 3. Shell fall –back is cautioned in many artillery manuals. So Indian Artillery and GCF would be aware and so this is less likely.

III Fuze design features

M572 is a long in production fuze and has been in service for a long time. It has two features that are pertinent. The M572 safing mechanism unsafes when the shell spin rate is minimum 2000 rpm and up to 25,000 rpm. The Dhanush muzzle velocity of 885m/sec ensures the M572 safing mechanism un-safes at muzzle exit. It has a wound spring that also has to unwind to arm it. So it is very remote that the M572 can arm the shell in the muzzle. However Janes Ammunition handbook reports that South Africa found M572 some case arms in long tubes like the GC-45 which is the precursor to the 45 caliber genre. If the charge is sufficient to give the shell enough rotation to spin and meet the safing requirement of >2000 rpm and the travel is the tube is long enough to unwind the spring, the shell would become live. This would explain only the 2) where the shell burst soon after muzzle exit. Again it is likely for 2 but will not cause muzzle strikes not shell burst in the barrel.

IV Conclusion
We looked at unusual phenomenon of balloting and shell fall back and the M572 fuze design. In all cases it is the shell and not the gun that could be at fault. And between the shell and the fuze, its more likely it is the shell and the charge being used in the gun. We don’t know what the QA at the shell factory is regarding center of gravity offset measurements but that is a place for improvement for safety of the operators. A further look at the operating procedures with respect to ramming could be useful. ARDE Pune has the capability to perform balloting analysis of the shell and tube systems as evidenced by many papers from them in Defence Science Journal. It would be useful to have them conduct an analysis to confirm the phenomenon. Also would recommend not use the M572 in long guns (>45 caliber) and confine usage to the 39 caliber guns till inventory is over.

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Re: Artillery Discussion Thread

Postby negi » 27 Jul 2017 14:57

JayS wrote:
negi wrote:^ But we do not know if the delay mechanism was set right ? Isn't that set on conventional arty fuses by rotating or winding it ? What if it was not done ? In that case only safety is that it won't get armed until threshold RPM is reached .

Also the online literature on fuze which OFB makes for 155 mm as per the linked article states

" It is not watertight and is not drop safe. Prematures have occurred when the weapon is fired at high muzzle velocities from longer-barrelled weapons."


Even if the time fuse was not set correct it should not have triggered explosion before the shell cleared the safety distance, because the fuse itself was not supposed to have armed until then. Time fuse will come into picture after its armed. Here we are talking of failure of arming mechanism. If this is happening systematically under some conditions then its a design flaw.

Article clearly states

1. Not drop safe.
2. Prematures have occured when fired at high MV from large cailbre guns

even other wise safety distance is based on a default time offset issue is the distance in meters now is completely dependent on muzzle velocity in a longer calibre gun with high MV the fuse can get armed a lot earlier in flight so the distance from firing is not a constant it is actually a function of offset time and MV.

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Re: Artillery Discussion Thread

Postby deejay » 27 Jul 2017 15:46

ramana wrote:All right here goes:

...

IV Conclusion
We looked at unusual phenomenon of balloting and shell fall back and the M572 fuze design. In all cases it is the shell and not the gun that could be at fault. And between the shell and the fuze, its more likely it is the shell and the charge being used in the gun. We don’t know what the QA at the shell factory is regarding center of gravity offset measurements but that is a place for improvement for safety of the operators. A further look at the operating procedures with respect to ramming could be useful. ARDE Pune has the capability to perform balloting analysis of the shell and tube systems as evidenced by many papers from them in Defence Science Journal. It would be useful to have them conduct an analysis to confirm the phenomenon. Also would recommend not use the M572 in long guns (>45 caliber) and confine usage to the 39 caliber guns till inventory is over.


Wow! Very impressive analysis Ramana Sir. Makes every moment on BRF worthwhile reading this kind off analysis. Thank You!

Since I am not technically into Arty, I cannot offer much here except sharing the feeling that the gun is good and this view is strong in IA (concerned people). I for one will wait on the final decision but will not rule out issues due to operating environment / procedures etc though your analysis leaves noobs in this field absolutely convinced.

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Re: Artillery Discussion Thread

Postby JayS » 27 Jul 2017 15:52

negi wrote:
JayS wrote:
Even if the time fuse was not set correct it should not have triggered explosion before the shell cleared the safety distance, because the fuse itself was not supposed to have armed until then. Time fuse will come into picture after its armed. Here we are talking of failure of arming mechanism. If this is happening systematically under some conditions then its a design flaw.

Article clearly states

1. Not drop safe.
2. Prematures have occured when fired at high MV from large cailbre guns

even other wise safety distance is based on a default time offset issue is the distance in meters now is completely dependent on muzzle velocity in a longer calibre gun with high MV the fuse can get armed a lot earlier in flight so the distance from firing is not a constant it is actually a function of offset time and MV.


By "this" in the last sentence I meant by the two things you mentioned and that this would be design fault in the fuse if its happening in systematic manner. Initially the discussion was focused on failure in arming mechanism itself. But I guess if the fuse is setting off for some reason even without the arming mechanism coming into the picture then we have two things to look at. Whether its failure in the arming mechanism, or in the fuse, or both..?

But its surprizing that they use a fuse which is not drop safe. I wonder why.

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Re: Artillery Discussion Thread

Postby SaiK » 27 Jul 2017 22:25

It is a pleasure reading you conclusion ramana ji. Great insight into the gun issues and most likely analysis scientifically done using op-ed resources.

It doesnt hurt for IA to follow your advice on shell usage. I hope they are reading you.

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Re: Artillery Discussion Thread

Postby ramana » 27 Jul 2017 23:36

If they fix the problem with the Dhanush using these grains of sand, this squirrel will be happy.

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Re: Artillery Discussion Thread

Postby raghava » 27 Jul 2017 23:58

ramana wrote:If they fix the problem with the Dhanush using these grains of sand, this squirrel will be happy.


"Katrathu Kai Mann Alavu, Kallathathu Ulagalavu"

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Re: Artillery Discussion Thread

Postby raghava » 28 Jul 2017 00:00

Really detailed analysis, ramana garu - pranams...

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Re: Artillery Discussion Thread

Postby Bala Vignesh » 28 Jul 2017 00:02

OT
Ramana sir, can i get your email id?? Hoping to get your help with something.
Thanks.

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Re: Artillery Discussion Thread

Postby schinnas » 28 Jul 2017 00:27

Hats off, Ramana garu. Impressive for a civilian with a different day job to be able to do such a deep analysis. Such efforts of people like you, Shiv, SSridhar inspire lazy goons like me to contribute something down the line.

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Re: Artillery Discussion Thread

Postby fanne » 28 Jul 2017 01:12

Nice Work!! Hope it is useful where it is needed

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Re: Artillery Discussion Thread

Postby ramana » 28 Jul 2017 02:12

Thanks to Akshay Kapoor

Confirms shell balloting

http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/n ... 603192.ece

The Dhanush prototype suffered a barrel burst during firing trials at Pokhran in August last year, which has since been resolved.

An official with knowledge of the matter said. “It's true that the trial at Pokhran didn't go well. There was a barrel burst. However, it was later confirmed that the burst was not due to a defective barrel, rather the ammunition wobbled out-of-axis to exert additional pressure on the barrel, causing the accident”.

The official added that “the raw barrel was sent from the Metal & Steel factory, Ishapore, which is known amongst the ordnance factories for its quality barrel work”.


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Re: Artillery Discussion Thread

Postby ks_sachin » 28 Jul 2017 04:15

ramana wrote:Thanks to Akshay

Confirms shell balloting

http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/n ... 603192.ece


Ramana that was a sweet analysis.

However does balloting explain all failures? The article talks about test in August last year.

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Re: Artillery Discussion Thread

Postby ramana » 28 Jul 2017 04:45

Yes please read my explanation again. It can explode inside or outside barrel and wobble to hit muzzle brake.

What it means is shell factory had to make very precise shells. 52 calibre will be even more important. A bad shell can wreck your expensive Titanium gun.

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Re: Artillery Discussion Thread

Postby ramana » 28 Jul 2017 04:46

Where are these shells made by OFB?

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Re: Artillery Discussion Thread

Postby ks_sachin » 28 Jul 2017 05:47

ramana wrote:Yes please read my explanation again. It can explode inside or outside barrel and wobble to hit muzzle brake.

What it means is shell factory had to make very precise shells. 52 calibre will be even more important. A bad shell can wreck your expensive Titanium gun.


Thanks Ramana. Much appreciated.

Did not want to make assumptions so best to ask and be clear.

Regards

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Re: Artillery Discussion Thread

Postby Rakesh » 28 Jul 2017 06:13

Ramana, your post is amazing. It needs to be preserved in the following;

viewtopic.php?f=24&t=5556

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Re: Artillery Discussion Thread

Postby ramana » 28 Jul 2017 06:59

Thanks all.

I want to study artillery as a system of war.
here is one comparison of US and German artillery in WWII

https://armyhistory.org/u-s-and-german- ... omparison/

Nevertheless, evaluating an army’s artillery requires a good deal more than looking at the standard guns that it deploys. To be fully effective, an artillery arm must be well supplied with suitable ammunition. There must be a sufficient supply of standard guns so that the units being supported can know what fires they can expect. It must have a good means of identifying and accurately locating a target and needs well-schooled forward observers who are in close contact not only with the batteries, but with the troops they are working with. Effective artillery requires fire direction centers that can accurately place fires and rapidly shift them from one target to another. Those fire direction centers must be able to co-ordinate with other artillery units to mass fires as needed. The guns must have effective prime movers or be mounted on tracked vehicles. There must be a sufficient supply of all of the above to meet the needs of the maneuver units or other forces the batteries are supporting. Finally, the guns must be protected from counter-battery fire or other interdiction.

In other words, artillery is a system with a number of interacting components. The gun is the most visible part, but the whole system must work well to make the gun effective. Any analysis that does not examine all components of the system, and acknowledge that interference with any part of it can sharply reduce its effectiveness, is incomplete.


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Re: Artillery Discussion Thread

Postby ramana » 28 Jul 2017 07:15

Link: https://owlcation.com/humanities/ArtilleryBattalions

US Artillery in WWII

Lots of great pictures. Wish we could write simialr stuff on Indian Army now

Artillery Battalions in World War II
Updated on April 13, 2017
lions44 profile image
CJ Kelly more

Author of Red Legs of the Bulge: Artillerymen in the Battle of the Bulge. Always looking for great stories from any conflict.

Unparallelled Development


The use of artillery reached its zenith in World War II. The technical development between the world wars, particularly in the United States, created a system that was second to none. Time and time again in postwar interviews, German soldiers mentioned the fear that American artillery engendered along the front lines. They knew that as soon as an American spotter plane appeared over their positions, it would only take minutes before a massive barrage rained down death and destruction. There was no place to hide. The multitude of different caliber weapons combined with pre-configured firing tables meant no escape from its power. No matter how deep you tried to dig or how far you tried to run.

One of the keys to the success of the artillery branch in World War II lay in the structure of the battalion and its personnel. Whether it is within a division or as part of a Corps artillery group, the battalion was the primary unit structure for the artillery branch in World War II. Within those battalions were some of the most highly skilled personnel that the U.S. Army had throughout the war. Between the wars, there were important changes to the standard practices of the branch. Unit structure was evaluated, standard operating procedures were rewritten, and new technologies came on line. Regardless of the theater in which they operated, the branch was able to put all of these innovations into use.


Variety of Weapons

The size of the battalion depended on its main weapon. The bigger the gun, the more men you needed, though the basic battalion structure for both the 105mm M2A1 and 155mm M1 units was similar regardless of the gun. Each battalion had three firing batteries (4 guns each), a Headquarters battery (the CO and his staff along with the fire direction personnel, communications center, etc.), and a Service battery (ammunition, basic supplies, mechanics, etc.). Batteries were further subdivided into sections. Battalions were usually headed by a lieutenant colonel with an executive officer who was usually a major. Batteries were headed by a captain with an exec who was a lieutenant. A 105mm battalion contained just over 500 men. Each battery had about 100 men, which broke down into five officers and 95 enlisted of various rank. A 155mm battalion had approximately 550 enlisted men with 30 officers, with each battery having around 120 men. I use the word approximately because once combat operations began, it was rare for any unit (Division, Battalion, Regimental, etc.) to have a complete table of organization. There was a replacement system, but the exigencies of combat left all units in the combat arms (infantry, armor, engineer or artillery) short of men. The Battle of the Bulge in December 1944 caused such a manpower crisis in infantry units that even some artillery units ended up sending non-essential personnel to the infantry as replacements.


Best and Brightest


Within an infantry division, there were four artillery battalions, three M2A1 105mm howitzer battalions and one 155mm battalion. The three 105mm battalion were assigned to one of the three infantry regiments to support, forming a combat team. The assignments were made back in the States and continued upon deployment. The 155mm battalion supported the units or areas most in need at the discretion of the Division artillery commander (better known as Divarty). There were also units called cannon companies that used the M3 105mm, a lightweight, short-barreled version of the gun. In the first two years of the war, the 105mm self-propelled and 75mm howitzer were their main weapons. But they were part of the infantry regiment, and used at the discretion of the regimental CO. In theory it was supposed to provide supplemental firepower for the infantry companies. However in practice, they just never seemed to fit into the basic operations of the regiment and in many cases, ended up being used as perimeter defense. Using the vernacular of today, they could be described as a heavy weapons company on steroids. After the war, they were disbanded.

Besides the four firing battalions, an infantry division’s artillery complement contained a Division Headquarters component. It consisted of a battery headquarters, operations platoon, communication platoon, an air observation section and a maintenance section. Included in the operations platoon was an instrument and survey section along with a meteorological section. The communications platoon had the wire and radio section which was provided with over 30 miles of telephone wire and 4 radio sets. The supply and cooks sections rounded out the unit.

The jobs of the enlisted members of each firing battery varied depending on their training and circumstances with many personnel being cross-trained to do a variety of work. Each gun crew was considered a section and within each section there was a sergeant (Section Chief), a gunner corporal and assistant gunner (known as the #1), two other assistant gunners and three cannoneers. A driver and assistant driver rounded out the 105mm section, making for a total of nine men. Although requiring more personnel and having some technical differences (i.e. external powder bags), the duties of the 155mm crews were essentially the same.


Behind the safety plate, on the left side of the breech, the gunner corporal worked a telescopic sight known as the gunner’s quadrant (or gunner’s scope), containing an azimuth scale that measured horizontal deflection, which he set on orders from the firing officer. Officially, it was called the M12A2 panoramic telescope. It could be rotated manually 360 degrees. The sight had an alcohol bubble which he had to level prior to firing while using number wheel to traverse the tube left or right.

Red and white aiming posts were laid to the rear of the sight, almost in a straight line. One aiming stake was approximately 30 to 40 yards back while another was placed halfway between the gun sight and the other stake. The position of aiming posts could vary depending on the unit and terrain. Upon receiving the orders from the firing officer such as Command Left 10 or Right 20, the key task for the gunner was to get the aiming stakes and the gun sight lined up on the vertical crosshair in the scope. If the command was left 10, the head of the site would then be moved off of the aiming stakes by that many degrees. Then he would use a hand wheel to traverse the gun left. Looking through the sight once again to determine that he was still lined up with the aiming stakes, his last task would be to level the bubble, and shout ‘Ready!’ This told the Section Chief that the gun was ready to fire; he then held up his right arm as a signal to the gun crew.

Keeping the gun aligned properly was a difficult task when under the pressure of multiple fire missions, so the gunners had ways of cheating a little bit. Where possible, they could set the scope on a fixed target (e.g. Church steeple) and line up the angle on that. The wide dispersal of an exploding shell, which could be more than 50 yards, gave the gunners room to be off a little bit.

While the gunner corporal worked his sight, the assistant gunner, positioned on the right side of the breech, operated a hand wheel to set the elevation. During the relay of firing commands, included were terms such as Up 15 or Down 5, from the zero. Once the orders were received, he would spin his wheel to the correct angle. But his task did not end there; he also operated the breech block, set the primer and pulled the lanyard upon the order, Fire! Both he and the gunner corporal were also responsible for keeping the crew away from the tremendous recoil of the barrel which could kill or maim, especially in the 155mm. After firing, the breech was opened by the #1 and the shell casing would drop out automatically, where it was picked up one of the loaders to be tossed aside.


The two assistant gunners and three other cannoneers in the section were responsible for packing the shells with powder bags, setting the fuses according to the mission specifics and loading. Although the shells were shipped semi-fixed with the fuse already installed, it was the powder that provided the punch, so that had to be added to the shell. Each shell could take up to seven bags of powder, which were wrapped in silk and tied together. Maximum range for the 105mm was approximately seven miles (12,205 yds). The ammo men would disassemble the shell, pack the bags based on the firing orders, and reattach the fuse. Then the fuse had to be set using a special wrench. The majority of the shells expended during fire missions were usually high explosive (HE). There was a setting sleeve located at the base of each fuse. On an HE round, the ammunition crews could set it for either point detonating (PD) or time superquick (TSQ). This depended on how it was turned. For example, if the setting sleeve was turned parallel to the shell, it was set for superquick. Under the pressure of a fire mission, these tasks were hellish in the freezing, wet weather of Northern Europe. If your frostbitten hands were not already cut up from separating the silk powder bags with a knife, you got soaked kneeling down in the puddles and mud that formed around the gun pit.


The crews on the 155mm had different challenges. Extra men were needed just to carry the shells. The 95-pound shell required separate-loading bagged charges that were loaded with the shell according to the orders given by the firing officer. There were seven different propelling charges, with TNT being the most frequently used. It was the sheer weight and logistics involved with the operations of the 155mm ammo that was daunting. Shells were usually shipped in pallets, with eight shells per pallet. At the ammo dumps, these were broken down for shipment by truck to the batteries. A truck could carry between 50 and 60 shells per trip. The fuses were shipped in crates, about 25 per box. The shells had lifting rings attached at their nose during shipment, and they had to be removed to install the fuse. As with the 105mm, color markings were used to differentiate the type of shells. The setting sleeves also mirrored those on the 105mm ammo. Because of the separately loaded powder, it was vital that the powder chambers of the 155mm tubes be swabbed and inspected after each round was fired. If too much powder residue built up in the barrel, it could cause a catastrophic explosion when a round was fired. Amazingly, those incidents were relatively rare considering the near constant use that most of the weapons received.

Getting Technical

Other battery and battalion personnel included radiomen, wiremen, instrument operators (survey team), cooks, drivers, and mechanics. Many of the specialists were also grouped into sections and personnel from both the communications section and survey teams often were part of forward observation teams. Artillery batteries also had a fifth section, which was called the machine gun section. They were responsible for guarding the perimeter and hauling extra ammo.

One of the primary jobs of the instrument and survey section (also called the detail section) was to scout new positions for the battery, help lead the battery into and out of their firing positions, and lay in the guns. The skills of these men also translated into high quality artillery observers. They were also charged with conducting topographical surveys, which during combat operations were carried out rather infrequently. Upon arrival at a position, using such equipment as aiming circles, range finders, and other survey equipment like steel tapes and chains, the enlisted men of the section would lay in the guns to prepare them for aiming direction and elevation. Their officer would take a reading from the aiming circle so that the four guns of the battery would be aligned and shoot parallel with each other. The aiming circle was a small scope graduated with 6,400 mils as opposed to the usual 360 degrees (a mil is 1/6400 of a circle). It aids in laying in the guns by taking into account the Y Azimuth distance between true north and magnetic north. The reading was then given to each gunner while the howitzers were at zero deflection and a minimal elevation from level.


Many of the other non-firing battery assignments came with a multitude of dangers and nowhere was that more illustrated than for the men of the wire section of HQ Battery. Their job was to lay, repair and pick up telephone line. An artillery battalion communications net was its lifeline and monitoring its operation meant constant vigilance. The risk of being spotted by enemy observers was ever present. Running a spool of black telephone cord from HQ to an observation post could put one under fire from mortars, machine guns, snipers, shelling, both friendly and German, as well as enemy patrols. The black telephone cables were constantly shot up and there were up to several miles of cable laid out between an observation post and the FDC or battery. Dense woods, thick mud and snow made repairing the lines physically demanding work. Finding the break in a line required both skill and a little bit of luck. Usually, two men were sent out. They would follow a dead line some distance, usually to a place that had just been shelled. From there, they would splice into the line with their own EE8A telephone, and crank it to ring back to their starting place. If they received an answer, they had to keep moving and the procedure was repeated until they did not get an answer. This indicated that the break was somewhere between where they were and the location of the last “Okay” call.


Officer Corps

The officers’ jobs within the battery varied. Despite the copious Army manuals and regulations that defined nearly every aspect of life, the Army still encouraged low-level decision making regarding daily operations of its combat units. Junior commanders were expected to use their own initiative. Although this concept was much more limited in the artillery branch than in other branches, in practice each battery’s CO had great autonomy on officer assignments. In many cases, the executive officer ran day-to-day operations and oversaw all firing sequences and missions. Just like the enlisted, the cross training of commissioned personnel was an essential element in every battalion. The other officers could be assigned to a variety of tasks, which included motor officer, daily maintenance, firing officer or forward observer.

Duty as an observer usually occurred on a rotating basis for the officers of each battery within the battalion. A lieutenant led the small team of 3 or 4 men to a forward outpost to spend up to several days manning a front line position. There was even an instance within the 106th ID when a battery commander was actually manning an observation outpost at the time of the initial attack during the Bulge. When the situation was more fluid, as was the case in the summer and fall of 1944, the observation team may stay with a particular infantry unit for an extended time.

The majority of the officers within the artillery branch were highly skilled. If not West Pointers, many were from military schools such as the Virginia Military Institute (VMI) or the Citadel. Others were graduates of rigorous artillery ROTC programs from around the country. The Ivy League schools supplied the artillery branch with hundreds of officers throughout the war. Many others were reserve officers with established professional careers in civilian life. Later in the war, field commissions for qualified noncoms became commonplace.

The Field Artillery OCS at Fort Sill (one of three during the war) produced 25,993 second lieutenants during the war years,which included over 3500 ROTC cadets who had completed between six and eight semesters of ROTC. Many of them had graduated from college, but had not completed the summer training after their junior year required for commissioning. To be commissioned those ROTC cadets had to attend OCS after going through basic training and AIT.

Adapting to the Mission

Another key feature of American artillery during the war was the role of non-divisional artillery battalions of all calibers. These battalions were directly under the command of their respective Corps which had its own commanders and staff to coordinate all its elements. Battalions were also formed into field artillery groups of various calibers. The groups began forming in 1943. The command element of the groups was structured very similarly to that of a divisional artillery HQ with such features as fire direction center, H&H battery and service battery. A group was usually assigned from two to six battalions. One or more of the battalions of a group might be attached for direct support to an individual division. Such was the case with many African American artillery battalions. All of these units, regardless of their group or assignment, were considered Corps artillery. In a postwar study, the Army noted that the group command structure was one of the keys to success during the war because it permitted the commanders to shift artillery battalions from army to army, corps to corps or even to support individual divisions. This way the additional fire support went where it was needed quickly. During the Bulge, many of these Corps units were on the move every 12 to 24 hours. The shift of several large caliber artillery units, particularly segregated African American battalions, to Bastogne during the first 48 hours of the battle helped save the city from capture.

There were 238 separate field artillery battalions operating in the ETO by war’s end, with 36 105mm and 71 155mm battalions. This included self-propelled units such as the 275th Armored Field Artillery, who were positioned just north of the 106th. The other calibers were the 8 inch, the 240mm, and the 4.5 inch gun. For the larger caliber units and the armored field artillery, the number of guns per battalion differed from those of the standard infantry division artillery. Armored field artillery battalions had the same command structure within their organic divisions as the infantry, but contained 18 self-propelled howitzers instead of the usual 12 for the towed variety. The 8 inch gun and 240mm howitzer battalions had a total of six guns per battalion.

After the war, change came again. Guns continued to be improved while others were phased out. By the Korean War, they had added six guns to the standard battery. Self-propelled artillery took on a greater role and of course, missile and rocket technology changed the branch forever. But it was the work those battalions did in World War II that set the stage for the rest of the 20th Century and beyond.



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Re: Artillery Discussion Thread

Postby Singha » 28 Jul 2017 08:36

thats a good article. puts the whole fetish over 52cal and 25ltr chambers in perspective.

other links in the chain would be GMTI sensors and UAVs to surveil targets in all weather and do BDA, roads, hiding places, counter battery radars, MLRS to protect the tube units with counter battery fires, ample supply of shells, mobile SAMs to protect from air threats.

I dont think we are super good in any of these other line items. GMTI and MALE UAVs are a yawning gap

thats why even with non-tfta M109 SP guns the khan divisions are well set with a balanced posture. and they bring a lot of tubes into the fight.

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Re: Artillery Discussion Thread

Postby ramana » 28 Jul 2017 09:19

I want to look at Indian Artillery in 1965, 1971 and Kargil.

And modernization plans.

Can you help locate good descriptive articles on Soviets, Germans and British. Better than Wiki level.

I want some one to summarize all the fuzes available with India and comparable or better fuzes elsewhere.

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Re: Artillery Discussion Thread

Postby ramana » 28 Jul 2017 12:19

Artillery in Kargil

http://www.indiandefencereview.com/spot ... argil-war/

The Indian artillery fired over 2,50,000 shells, bombs and rockets during the Kargil conflict. Approximately 5,000 artillery shells, mortar bombs and rockets were fired daily from 300 guns, mortars and MBRLs while 9,000 shells were fired the day Tiger Hill was regained. During the peak period of assaults, on an average, each artillery battery fired over one round per minute for 17 days continuously. SSuch high rates of fire over long periods had not been witnessed anywhere in the world since the World War II. Even during the World War II, such sustained artillery firing was not common at all. The men at the guns had blisters on their hands from carrying and loading shells and cartridges. Very few of them got more than a couple of hours of sleep in every 24 hours cycle. They had no time for proper meals and were often themselves under enemy artillery fire. Yet, they carried on relentlessly ..



Read more at:
http://www.indiandefencereview.com/spot ... argil-war/


http://zeenews.india.com/news/nation/in ... 69140.html

PTI article.

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Re: Artillery Discussion Thread

Postby JayS » 28 Jul 2017 14:48

ramana wrote:Artillery in Kargil

http://www.indiandefencereview.com/spot ... argil-war/

The Indian artillery fired over 2,50,000 shells, bombs and rockets during the Kargil conflict. Approximately 5,000 artillery shells, mortar bombs and rockets were fired daily from 300 guns, mortars and MBRLs while 9,000 shells were fired the day Tiger Hill was regained. During the peak period of assaults, on an average, each artillery battery fired over one round per minute for 17 days continuously. SSuch high rates of fire over long periods had not been witnessed anywhere in the world since the World War II. Even during the World War II, such sustained artillery firing was not common at all. The men at the guns had blisters on their hands from carrying and loading shells and cartridges. Very few of them got more than a couple of hours of sleep in every 24 hours cycle. They had no time for proper meals and were often themselves under enemy artillery fire. Yet, they carried on relentlessly ..



Read more at:
http://www.indiandefencereview.com/spot ... argil-war/


http://zeenews.india.com/news/nation/in ... 69140.html

PTI article.


Very impressive. Salute to the men who toiled so hard for the Nation. Its unimaginable for the aam abduls how hard the situations can be for soldiers, even in peacetime.

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Re: Artillery Discussion Thread

Postby Yagnasri » 28 Jul 2017 15:36

One can not pity the UniJihadis and UnUniJihadis( my words. no one else can use them) who received all these gifts from our forces. But imagine what will happen to the people who are on the receiving end of such a sustained attack. If I remember well many times these were fired in direct mode at specific areas.

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Re: Artillery Discussion Thread

Postby Marten » 28 Jul 2017 15:52

Sainik Samachar: Shell shocked in Kargil
The performance of the Artillery units which fought heroically at Kargil in 1999 during operation Vijay was splendid. The Indian Artillery fired over 250,000 shells, bombs and rockets during the Kargil conflict. Approximately, 5,000 ordnance were fired daily from more then 300 guns, mortars and multi-barreled rocket launchers (MBRLs). During the peak period of assaults, on an average, each Artillery battery fired over one round per minute for 17 days continuously. Such high rate of fire over long periods had not been witnessed anywhere in the world since World War-II. The Gunners soon developed blisters on their hands from carrying and loading heavy shells and cartridges incessantly. Very few of them got more than a couple of hours� sleep in 24 hour-cycle.

After the pockets of enemy intrusion were discerned, it emerged that massive and sustained firepower would destroy the intruders� sangars (temporary fortifications made of rocks and boulders) and systematically break their will to fight through a process of attrition. Thus began a unique saga in the history of the employment of Artillery firepower in battle. Artillery fire reduced the enemy�s defences to rubble and gradually wore down the enemy�s resistance and ultimately broke his will to fight. Additional Artillery regiments were inducted into the Kargil sector to achieve a preponderance of firepower supremacy over the enemy. The Artillery units soon made and coordinated plans for high-intensity fire assaults with infantry battalion and brigade commanders. Counter bombardment (CB) and counter mortar (CM) plans were made and fine-tuned to silence the enemy�s guns. Maximum use was made of air photographs to accurately locate enemy gun positions and other key targets deep inside Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK). These were then fired upon relentlessly and damage assessment was carried out through aerial reconnaissance. Meanwhile, the Northern Light Infantry (NLI) troops holding defences on the Indian side of the Line of Control (LoC) were allowed no rest and were kept constantly on edge through continuous harassing fire.

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Re: Artillery Discussion Thread

Postby Singha » 28 Jul 2017 16:09

in wonder if arty regiments could make use of small forklift trucks that warehouses and construction sites use to move around pallets of ammo once they are dropped off by trucks. easier than doing it by hand imo and these forklifts are easily transportable incl by air and Mi17.
even construction sites have taken to using a crane fixed onto a truck to lift large pallets of the hollow cinder blocks used to make todays buildings

these puppies are cheap but useful and rugged

Image
Image

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Re: Artillery Discussion Thread

Postby Prasad » 28 Jul 2017 16:22

Forklifts work on flat ground. Artillery terrain might not be as forgiving no?

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Re: Artillery Discussion Thread

Postby Singha » 28 Jul 2017 16:33

tracked versions also exist. bigger ones seem to be into impossible places in blr into raja kaluve drains to clear debris and crawl back up again. even the wheeled ones are pretty tough cats on soft earth construction sites.

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Re: Artillery Discussion Thread

Postby Pratyush » 28 Jul 2017 16:41

The trucks have a load handling crane. So the load can be dropped exactly where required. No need to add to logistical burden by adding a forklift.

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Re: Artillery Discussion Thread

Postby nam » 28 Jul 2017 18:06

Artillery in Kargil

http://www.indiandefencereview.com/spot ... argil-war/

The Indian artillery fired over 2,50,000 shells, bombs and rockets during the Kargil conflict. Approximately 5,000 artillery shells, mortar bombs and rockets were fired daily from 300 guns, mortars and MBRLs while 9,000 shells were fired the day Tiger Hill was regained. During the peak period of assaults, on an average, each artillery battery fired over one round per minute for 17 days continuously. SSuch high rates of fire over long periods had not been witnessed anywhere in the world since the World War II. Even during the World War II, such sustained artillery firing was not common at all. The men at the guns had blisters on their hands from carrying and loading shells and cartridges. Very few of them got more than a couple of hours of sleep in every 24 hours cycle. They had no time for proper meals and were often themselves under enemy artillery fire. Yet, they carried on relentlessly ..


We need to forward this to Global times and other Chinese cronies.

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Re: Artillery Discussion Thread

Postby Gagan » 28 Jul 2017 20:00

Wonderful analysis Ramanaji.
Very deep insight!


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