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Additional remarks

August 14 2011 at 3:15 PM
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Alice W.  (no login)

Response to What "How...employed against 'enemy batteries'?" means

Hello Gordon,

It was my decided impression that you thought the 155mm pieces in the hands of F Battery, 3rd Battalion, 244th Coast Artillery Regiment, were specifically designed for the coast artillery and issued uniquely to that arm. Thus your question of how to use seacoast ordnance in a field artillery role. Your reply to mine, in which you identify the 155mm pieces in question as howitzers supports, more or less, my original impression, but that's fine, I'm willing to expand on my own original response. Some of this information has appeared in this forum in months or years past, so I'll brush over it briefly.

The 155mm pieces under discussion were not howitzers, but guns, which came in two distinct types, the old and the new. The old ones were the 155mm GPF or Grande Puissance Filloux (literally, Filloux's great explosive power or energy, from Captain {later Colonel} L. Filloux, a noted designer of French artillery pieces), adopted by the U.S. Army in WWI, and used throughout WWII, as a mobile field and coast artillery piece, a semi-static coast artillery piece emplaced on the well known Panama mount, and gun only, as the M12 gun motor carriage (mounted on the old M3 medium tank chasis), known casually as the King Kong. On its original wheeled carriage, the gun had a maximum elevation of 35 degrees and was highly accurate up to 10 miles (though it could hit at 12 miles). It was well liked by American artillerymen, and also saw service with the French, then the German, armies, the last also in a coast defense role.

The new 155mm gun was the M1, mounted on the M1 eight-wheeled carriage, which by design could also mount the new 8-inch howitzer. This gun elevated to 65 degrees and had a range in excess of 14 miles. Issued to American forces and its chief allies, the gun was used in both a field artillery and a coast artillery role. In the latter mode, it was emplaced on the Kelly/Kelley mount, particularly in the Pacific Theater. A caution: though artillerymen meticulously restricted the nickname, Long Tom, to the M1 gun, to differentiate it from the shorter GPF, other soldiers were less discriminating, with the same nickname often applied to the GPF when mounted as the M12 gun motor carriage, perhaps in the mistaken impression this self-propelled piece was the M1.

A few more thoughts: combat footage on Guadalcanal shows a variety of older equipment in use by the marines there, including the M1903 infantry rifle, the M2A4 light tank, and the M1918 155mm howitzer. Only the tank's combat service is unique to the island, as previously covered in this forum. The Springfield rifle was used by the marines because there had been an initial lack of interest in the Garand M1 by the Corps (which soon changed its mind); nonetheless, production of the M1 lagged behind demand as the war wore on, so the bolt action rifle saw ample use until war's end. The M1918 155mm howitzer also continued in service until late in the war. The point I wish to make is that this howitzer was in use by field artillerymen of the 11th Marine Regiment on Guadalcanal, not by F Battery, 244th Coast Artillery, which was equipped with guns of the same bore. At the range cited in John Miller's Guadalcanal: The First Offensive, either model gun could have been in use (again, I don't know which).

Although Mr. Broshot has quoted the most relevant pages in Miller's book describing this artillery action, the basic problem existing in mid-October 1942 is laid out on pages 148-49:

"After the last bomber had retired, the long-range 150-mm howitzers which the Japanese had been landing opened fire on the airfield and Kukum Beach from positions near Kokumbona. They first made Kukum Beach untenable. The 1st Marine Division had no sound-and-flash units to locate the enemy howitzers, or suitable counterbattery artillery with which to reply to 'Pistol Pete,' as the troops called the enemy artillery. The field artillery units were armed with 75-mm pack and 105-mm howitzers, and the 3d Defense Battalion had emplaced its 5-inch gun batteries on the beach. On 13 October and the days that followed, the 5-inch guns and the 105-mm howitzers attempted to silence Pistol Pete. But the trajectory of the 5-inch guns was too flat for effective counterbattery fire. Some of the 105's were moved up to the Matanikau River, but they were too light for effective counterbattery fire. Aircraft also attempted to silence the Japanese artillery, but were no more successful than the artillery." [There is no mention of the M1918 155mm howitzers that the 11th Marine Regiment had, so they must have arrived later.]

When F Battery, 244th CA, and the marine defense battalion's 155mm battery fired their guns as field artillery pieces, the familar modes of firing would have obtained, using such paraphenalia as the panoramic sight, aiming circle, external aiming point, etc., and with direction (and correction) either from a forward observer or off map coordinates. Coast artillery fire control is generally more precise than field artillery fire, shooting as it usually does against moving and maneuvering naval targets, so the seacoast gunners were already well schooled in the necessary math, and could have accomodated quickly to land firing.

I trust this additional information helps.


This message has been edited by nuyt on Aug 14, 2011 4:51 PM

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  • Re: Additional remarks - Jim Broshot on Aug 14, 2011, 5:37 PM
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