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7.2-in Howitzer Mks I-V and 6

Discussion in 'Allied Heavy Weapons' started by Jim, Dec 9, 2007.

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  1. Jim

    Jim New Member

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    Between the wars the British army tended to neglect artillery; a number of programmes were initiated but came to nothing, so when heavy artillery was required in 1940 all that there was to hand was a quantity of old World War I 203-mm (8-in) howitzer: with ranges too short for current conditions. As a stopgap it was decided to reline the existing 203-mm barrels to a new calibre of 183mm (7.2in) and to develop a new range of ammunition. The original 203mm carriages were to be retained, but the old traction engine wheels were replaced by new pneumatic balloon-tyred wheels on what became known as the 7.2-in Howitzer.

    The story of the British heavy artillery after 1918 is the familiar one of inaction and neglect. When war broke out again, heavy guns had to be improvised by re-lining the old 8in howitzers to a calibre of 7.2in to give them a respectable range.

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    The new ammunition provided the conversion with a useful increase in range, but when the weapon fired the full charge the recoil forces were too much for the carriage to absorb. Firing the 7.2in howitzer on full charge was a risky business, for the whole equipment tended to rear up and jump backwards. Before the next round could be fired the howitzer had to be manhandled back into position and re-laid. Some of this unwanted motion could be partly overcome by placing behind each wheel wedge-shaped ramps up which the howitzer and carriage could climb, only to roll down again into roughly the original position, but sometimes even these ramps were insufficient and the howitzer would jump over them. But the conversion proved to be an excellent projectile delivery system capable of good range and a high degree of accuracy, to the extent that the gunners in the field called for more. In order to provide more, the number of 8in howitzer conversions eventually ran to six marks depending on the original barrel and type of conversion; some of the 8in barrels came from the United States. The first 7.2in howitzers were used in action during the latter period of the war in North Africa (they were the howitzers mentioned in Spike Milligan’s hilarious military memoirs) and in Tunisia, went on to take part in the long slog north through Sicily and Italy, and were used following the Normandy landings.
    But by 1944 numbers of 7.2in barrels were being placed on imported American MI carriages. These excellent carriages proved to be just as suitable for the 7.2in howitzer as they were for the American 155-mm (6.1in) gun and 203-mm howitzers, and the first combination of a 7.2-in barrel with the MI carriage was the 7.2-in Howitzer Mk V. Few, if any such combinations were made as it was obvious that the MI carriage was capable of carrying more than the original conversion. Thus a much longer 1.2-in barrel was placed on the MI carriage and this was the 7.2-in Howitzer Mk 6. The longer barrel produced a considerable range increase to 17985 m (19,667 yards) and the carriage was much more stable than the old 203-mm carriage. As more MI carriages became available they were used to mount the new Mk 6 barrels, and by the end of 1944 there were few of the originals-in carriages left. With the increased stability came increased accuracy, and the Mk 6 howitzer gained an enviable reputation for good shooting, to the extent that they were retained for many years after the end of the war in 1945.

    The 7.2in howitzer could be as terrifying to its crew as to the target; seen here in action at Routot, France, in September 1944 the 10-ton gun leaps into the air after firing at full charge. Surprisingly for such a makeshift design, the 7.2-in proved fairly efficient.

    [​IMG]


    Specification 7.2-in Howitzer Mks I-V [​IMG]
    Calibre: 183 mm (7.2 in)
    Length of piece: 4.343 m (14 ft3 in)
    Weight: in action 10387 kg (22,900 ib)
    Elevation: 0° to +45°
    Traverse:
    Muzzle velocity: 518 m (1,700 ft) per second
    Maximum range: 15453 m (16,900 yards)
    Shell weight: 91. 6 kg (202 lb)

    Specification 7.2-in Howitzer Mk 6 [​IMG]
    Calibre: 183 mm (7.2 in)
    Length of piece: 6.30 m (20 ft 8 in)
    Weight: in action 13209 kg (29, 120 lb)
    Elevation: - 2° to + 65°
    Traverse: 60°
    Muzzle velocity: 497 m (1,630 ft) per second
    Maximum range: 17984 m (19,667 yards)
    Shell weight: 91.6 kg (202Ib)
     
  2. 4th wilts

    4th wilts Member

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    I presume this 7.2in Howitzers were used in heavy regts,if so, how many Howitzers were in a regt.thanks,shamus.
     
  3. 4th wilts

    4th wilts Member

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    were these howitzers used in A.G.R.A.along with 5.5in gun/howitzers.17pdr.
     

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