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M101A1 105 mm Howitzer
Marines from 11th Marines, 1st Marine Division fire a 105mm M101A1 howitzer during the playing of taps at the Iwo Jima 60th Anniversary Commemorative on 26 March 2005
Place of origin United States
Used by United States
Wars World War II
First Indochina War
Insurgency in the Philippines
Manufacturer Rock Island Arsenal
Weight 2,260 kg (5,000 lb)
Length 5.94 m (19 ft 6 in)
Barrel length 2.31 m (7 ft 7 in) L/22
Width 2.21 m (7 ft 3 in)
Height 1.73 m (5 ft 8 in)
Caliber 105 mm (4.1 in)
Breech horizontal block
Recoil hydropneumatic, constant, 42 in (110 cm)
Carriage split trail
Elevation -5° to +66°
Muzzle velocity 472 m/s (1,550 ft/s)
Maximum range 11,270 m (7.00 mi)
The 105 mm M2A1 (M101A1) howitzer was the standard light field howitzer for the United States in World War II, seeing action in both the European and Pacific theaters. Entering production in 1941, it quickly entered the war against the Imperial Japanese Army in the Pacific, where it gained a reputation for its accuracy and powerful punch. The M101A1 fired 105 mm high explosive (HE) semi-fixed ammunition and had a range of 11,200 metres (12,200 yd), making it suitable for supporting infantry.
All of these qualities of the weapon, along with its widespread production, led to its adoption by many countries after the war. Its ammunition type also became the standard for many foreign countries' later models. In 1962, the artillery designation system was changed and the 105mm M2A1 howitzer became the M101A1. It continued to see service in the Korean and Vietnam Wars. Though a similar model, the M102 howitzer, shared the same roles in battle, it never fully replaced the M101A1. Today, the M101A1 has been retired by the U.S. military, though it continues to see service with many other countries.
The Canadian Forces continued to use the M2A1 as the C1 Howitzer until 1997, when a modification was made to extend its service life; it is now designated the C3. Those improvements include a longer barrel, a muzzle brake, reinforced trails and the removal of shield flaps. It remains the standard light howitzer of Canadian Forces Reserve units. The C3 is used by Reserve units in Glacier National Park in British Columbia as a means of avalanche control. In addition, the M101 has found a second use in the U.S. as an avalanche control gun, supervised by the US Forest Service.
France and the State of Vietnam used it during the First Indochina War.
A number of M2/M101 howitzers were used by the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and approximately 50 were inherited by Croatia, of which 4 are still in use for training with the Croatian army.
M2 Howitzers are still in limited service in the Australian Army Reserve, but are being replaced with 81mm mortars with an emphasis on the retention of indirect fire support skills. In regular service they were replaced by the 105mm L119 Hamel gun and the 155mm M198 howitzers.