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Howitzer 8in MI

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

  1. Jim

    Jim Active Member

    Sep 1, 2006
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    via War44
    After the United States entered World War I in 1917, among the various types of heavy artillery its army received once US troops arrived in France was the British 8-in Howitzer Mks VII and VIII, which were incidentally being produced in the United States to a British order. The Americans took to this howitzer with a will, for they soon discovered that it was a very accurate weapon and in the years after 1918 set about producing their own version. This was under the aegis of an advisory body known as the Westervelt Board, which also recommended the introduction of the 155mm Gun MI. The board also recommended that the 155mm (51-in) gun and the 203mm (8-in) howitzer should share the same carriage and thus the new howitzer used the same MI carriage as the 155mm Gun MI.

    A good view of the interrupted-screw stepped-thread breech mechanism of an 8in howitzer in action. Four crew members prepare to lift the 9lkg (200lb) shell, the size of which gives some clue as to why the maximum rate of fire was one round per minute.


    Despite the recommendations of the Westervelt Board, however, the development of the new howitzer was slow and erratic, and at times ceased altogether for years on end. Thus it was not until 1940 that the howitzer was standardized as the 8in Howitzer MI. The MI owed much to its British origins but was longer, and as it used the MI carriage it was even more accurate than its predecessor. However, it should not be thought that because the 8in Howitzer MI and the 155mm Gun MI shared the same carriage the two barrels were interchangeable. They were not, for to exchange the two barrels involved a great deal of workshop time and a great deal of trouble.
    Once the Howitzer MI had been introduced into service it soon became a very popular and powerful weapon. Because of its accuracy it could be used to bring down heavy fire on spot targets quite close to friendly troops and was frequently used thus in the elimination of enemy strongpoint’s and bunkers. The shell fired by the MI was initially a 907-kg (200-lb) high explosive shell also used by 203mm (8in) coast guns, but this was later replaced by a special high explosive shell known as the M106 which had the same weight as the earlier shell but which could be fired to a range of 16596m (18,150 yards).

    The blast effect of an 8in howitzer hits not just the ears but the whole body as the shock wave passes outwards. This is the first 8in howitzer in action in Normandy, 1944, firing during the barrage the Americans organized to celebrate the Fourth of July.


    The M106 is still in service with the 8-in Howitzer MI, which in a post-war designation reshuffle was re-designated M1l5.
    Like the 155mm Gun MI the 203mm howitzer also went self-propelled, although the first version did not appear until 1946. This was the M46 which used a much modified M25 tank chassis as the carrier Subsequent development along these lines has now led to the M110 series which originally used the 203mm howitzer in a form virtually unchanged from its towed version but which has now been developed to the M110A2 which uses a much lengthened 203mm howitzer barrel.

    Driving through the bitter December weather of 1944, these 8in howitzers are travelling through Belgium to join the US First Army. Artillery was particularly effective in areas like the Ardennes, where roads were few and choke points obvious.


    The towed 8in Howitzer M115 is still in widespread service all over the world, and there are few signs that it is likely to be replaced in the near future. Thus the 203mm howitzer can lay claim to being one of the longest-lived of all modern heavy artillery pieces: It can trace back its origins to World War I and is still in service.

    Specification: 8in Howitzer MI [​IMG]
    Calibre: 203mm (8in)
    Length of piece: 5.324m (17ft 5.59in)
    Weight: travelling 14515 kg (32,000Ib) and in action 13471 kg (29,6981b)
    Elevation: - 2° to + 65°
    Traverse: 60°
    Muzzle velocity: 5.94m (1,950ft) per second
    Maximum range: 16596 m (18,150 yards)
    Shell weight: 90.7 kg (200Ib)

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