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Howitzer question.


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#1 FramerT

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Posted 11 July 2004 - 10:40 PM

What makes a Howitzer a Howitzer?? Example;what's the differance of a 75mm cannon[ie.tank]vs a 75mm howitzer? The rifling in the barrel maybe? Just curious. :confused:
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#2 T. A. Gardner

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Posted 12 July 2004 - 02:01 AM

Two things differentiate a howitzer from a gun / cannon. The first is that the howitzer can fire in both low and high registers (a fancy term for it having more than 45 degrees of elevation).
The Second difference is that a howitzer usually has a shorter barrel and uses a smaller charge resulting in much lower velocities on rounds fired.

#3 drache

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Posted 12 July 2004 - 01:50 PM

There is a simple distinction - A howitzer is a indirect fire weapon (artilery) used to lob shells at short range onto hidden targets - for instance, over fortification walls or over hills onto the enemy. Canons are direct fire weapons - destroying targets with precise aiming with little or no arc.
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#4 FramerT

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Posted 13 July 2004 - 09:17 AM

I don't know about that Drache, can't the German 88 shoot down planes,lob shells and shoot up tanks too? Anyway,I picked up the book 'German Artillery of WWII' so more reading to do. :D Guess I need an American version too.
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#5 Martin Bull

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Posted 13 July 2004 - 11:57 AM

You're right about the 88 being multi-purpose, framert, but it's not a howitzer. Due to very high muzzle-velocity, it couldn't lob shells - the trajectory was too flat.
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#6 FLOZi

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Posted 13 July 2004 - 12:37 PM

"The terms 'gun' and 'howitzer' often confuse. Technically:

Guns have a single propellant charge and long range, and cannot fire in the 'upper register' - an elevation angle greater than 45 degrees;
Howitzers have multiple charges and can fire in both upper and lower registers.
Traditionally UK designated guns by shell weight, eg '18-pdr Gun' and howitzers by calibre, eg '6-inch How'. In WW2 there were few modern true 'guns' in field artillery (none used by UK apart from residual 18-pdr) and the term 'gun-howitzer' was sometimes used for those with multiple charges but firing only in the lower register."

http://members.tripo...ef/glossary.htm

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#7 drache

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Posted 13 July 2004 - 12:55 PM

Thanks Martin - I knew I wasn't crazy ... the 88 was not a howitzer - it's a gun - and a damn good one! smile.gif
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#8 drache

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Posted 13 July 2004 - 12:58 PM

Anyone know where the "howitzer" got its name?
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#9 FramerT

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Posted 13 July 2004 - 09:57 PM

It was'nt my intention to say the "88" was an howitzer,just trying to figure out when a gun becomes a howitzer.Another example;what about railway guns?? I know the had BIG seige mortars.More reading to do. :rolleyes:
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#10 Martin Bull

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Posted 14 July 2004 - 06:07 AM

Actually, there's another question - when does a mortar become a howitzer ? ;)
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#11 Tony Williams

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Posted 14 July 2004 - 06:39 AM

Originally posted by drache:
Anyone know where the "howitzer" got its name?

I think its an anglicised version of a German name - something like 'Haubitze' - but I don't know where that came from.

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#12 Tony Williams

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Posted 14 July 2004 - 06:41 AM

Originally posted by Martin Bull:
Actually, there's another question - when does a mortar become a howitzer ? ;)

Well the obvious answer is that nearly all mortars are muzzle loading and have smooth barrels. But there are some breech-loaders, and some with rifled barrels...

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#13 FramerT

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Posted 14 July 2004 - 09:14 AM

Confusing,is'nt it?? graemlins/no.gif
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#14 T. A. Gardner

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Posted 14 July 2004 - 05:39 PM

Originally posted by Martin Bull:
Actually, there's another question - when does a mortar become a howitzer ? ;)

Actually a mortar is a weapon that can only fire in the upper regesters (that is greater than 45 degrees). So, a gun fires flat trajectory, a howitzer either flat or in a high arc, and a mortar only in a high arc.
Guns like the 88 are specialized for use against aircraft and are in that sense still guns (flat trajectory high velocity fire) but set up to shoot up (at aircraft) rather than at ground targets. That these guns could and did shoot at ground targets was not the primary purpose behind their design but rather something they could still do anyway.

#15 Za Rodinu

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Posted 14 July 2004 - 09:11 PM

And the mortar's propelling charge is directly attached to the projectile fins, whereas in the howitzer the charge is normally separate, and in the gun it is normally contained in a case.

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#16 Martin Bull

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Posted 15 July 2004 - 05:56 AM

But Morser Karl didn't ( I think ) have any fins or propellant attached to its shells.... :confused:
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#17 Tony Williams

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Posted 15 July 2004 - 06:40 AM

Some mortars can also be used in direct fire, in the lower register.

Some modern breech-loading mortars have been developed for fitting to AFV turrets. Like this 120mm model:

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#18 Za Rodinu

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Posted 15 July 2004 - 11:40 AM

Originally posted by Martin Bull:
But Morser Karl didn't ( I think ) have any fins or propellant attached to its shells.... :confused:

Every exception has a rule :D

From Webster Online:
[Middle French mortier] a : a muzzle-loading cannon having a tube short in relation to its caliber that is used to throw projectiles at high angles b : any of several similar firing devices

Etymology: Dutch houwitser, ultimately from Czech houfnice ballista : a short cannon used to fire projectiles at medium muzzle velocities and with relatively high trajectories

cannon a : a large heavy gun usually mounted on a carriage
b : a heavy-caliber automatic aircraft gun firing explosive shells


Not very helpful, is it?

In any case, why the heck was Karl called a mortar and not a howitzer? :confused: Tradition also may play a part in designations.

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#19 Martin Bull

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Posted 15 July 2004 - 05:08 PM

This is a total off-the-top-of-my-head guess, but is it anything to do with the aiming ?

( ie howitzers can be aimed accurately, mortars are just pointed in the approximate direction ? )
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#20 T. A. Gardner

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Posted 15 July 2004 - 05:34 PM

Aiming has nothing to do with it. The descriptions I gave earlier are the "book" answers. The problem is that with modern weapons that these lines become blurred almost to the point of meaninglessness.
Aiming in all cases is usually either by telescopic, dial or collumator type sights.

#21 Za Rodinu

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Posted 16 July 2004 - 09:20 AM

Originally posted by Martin Bull:
This is a total off-the-top-of-my-head guess, but is it anything to do with the aiming ?

Eeek, Martin, where did you geet that idea? Of course mortars can be aimed and be very accurate indeed, "dropping shells in a chimney"-quality :D

Guns are very accurate against vertical targets (tanks, bunker walls) but lousy against horizontal ones, like entrechments. High-register weapons - mortars and howitzers - are the converse.

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#22 Martin Bull

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Posted 16 July 2004 - 04:58 PM

'A Mortar is a piece of ordnance which fires projectiles at an angle of elevation between 45 and 90 degrees, a gun fires between zero and 45, a howitzer between zero and 90.' From Ian V. Hoog, 'Encyclopedia Of Infantry Weapons Of WWII' ( A&aP, 1977 ).

I very much doubt that any mortar used in WWII could achieve accuracy sufficient to target a chimney-pot. Larger mortars were used for fortress reduction, infantry mortars usually for generalized attack suppression.
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