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155mm Howitzers

During the last two years of the Korean War, the bloody infantry on all sides suffered under artillery barrages as devasting or worse than any in WWI. Among our own weapons in these gun battles was the 155mm.

FM-6-135 (html): Adjustment of Artillery Fire (Forward Observer), 7/57

TM9-3305 (html): Principles of Artillery Weapons

240mm Howitzer: The Kiss Of Death

155mm Howitzers in Battery

155mm Howitzers in Battery

Korea was an Infantry war but the role of artillery in helping the Infantry control the hills and valleys and mountains etc cannot be minimized. Over sixty arty battalions saw duty in the Korean War, each divided into three firing batteries: six guns per battery for the 105mm and 155mm, and four per battery with the 8-inchers. Late in the war twelve 240mm Howitzer batteries were added, two per battery.

Firing missions and control were directed by Forward Observers (FOs). Some FOs served within forward infantry units, some in spotter aircraft. Infantry Divisions deployed Observation Posts (OPs) for the main batteries (DivArty).

Including ROK and other UN forces, over eighty arty battalions, about 400 men each, were deployed across the 155-mile MLR by the time a Cease-fire agreement was reached. Together, they deployed over 500 - 155mm Hows, over 800 - 105mm Hows, 36 - 8in Hows, and finally the 12 - 240mm brutes.

One excellent reference on the critical role of fire mission direction is:
The Role of the Forward Observer and Artillery during the Korean War, by Anthony J. Sobieski.

My records say the above photo is of 155mm hows in battery, part of 503rd FABn. This is sometimes challenged on the bulletin board

To me, the easiest way to be sure is to compare photos of the two guns.

155mm Howitzers 196FAB
155mm 196FAB
Link to the above thumbnails for 196FAB, 155mm, supplied by Jim Nix.

Of course, old gunners used technical differences to make their points. Appended is one site visitor's response.

RE: 155mm in battery
Posted by Richard G. Vissers
Friday, June 30, 19100 at 07:36:44

I am pretty sure (the original caption is)correct. I think it is the gun configuration that makes it look like a 105mm. The recent versions of the towed 155mm gun have a much longer barrel, so that is probably why the person thought it looked like a 105mm.

One way to tell is the breach of the gun. All the 105mm guns used a semi-fixed round (it has a shell casing) so they had sliding breaches because they didn't have to form a tight seal (the shell did that). Where with the 155mm, the round and powder is jammed into the breach (expansion chamber) and the breach block typically closes with a breach block that screws in and out (That isn't the correct term...but you get the idea). When the breach block is screwed out it is hinged and flips away to make room to load the round. This is what I see in the picture so it must be a 155mm howitzer.

One item of interest, the battery is deployed in a 'lazy w' formation. That is the offical military term for this type of emplacement pattern.

Leadership failure, Intelligence failure, Unsound preparation ... Root causes of the Korean tragedy.

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