Over the course of military history many field artillery pieces have been named "Long Tom". However the one most often associated with the name is the long-barrel towed 155mm field gun used by corps level artillery in World War II and Korea.
155mm Long Tom at Artillery Park, Camp Mabry, TX, 30 January 2006. Photo: Courtesy of Bob Pettit
Today in WW II: 2 Aug 1939 Albert Einstein writes to Pres. Roosevelt about the potential for a uniquely powerful uranium weapon and indications of German interest in it, the inspiration for the Manhattan Project. More↓
The 155mm Long Tom was originally designed by the French during World War I, designated the M1917, M1917A1 or M1918 GPF (Grande Puissance, Filloux). The U.S. modification was the M1 155mm Field Gun, followed by the M1A1 employed by coast defense and corps artillery battalions. In 1940 the gun was redesigned with the pheumatic tire carriage and other improvements, redesignated the M2 155 mm Field Gun. The M2 was the backbone of heavy artillery with thousands serving in both Europe and Pacific Theaters of Operation. It was later redesignated as the M59 155mm Towed Gun.
The standard prime mover for the M2 "Long Tom" 155mm gun was a heavy truck (See Mack NO) or, later in WW II, the tracked M4 or M5 prime mover (see M4 High Speed Tractor), which was also an ammunition carrier. When the standard prime mover was not available, a "Long Tom" could be pulled by any heavy truck. A two wheel limber mounted under the trail ends and connected to the standard military pintle hook. Approximately 30 minutes was required to emplace a "Long Tom" upon arrival at a firing position.
The "Long Tom" weighed 30,600 pounds, had a split trail and eight pneumatic tires on two axles, was moved by a tractor, and was served by a combined crew of 14 or 15 men.
The 155mm "Long Tom" fired the same 95 to 100-pound HE, smoke, and gas projectile ammunition as the 155mm Howitzer, but with greater range and accuracy. Although designed for indirect fire at ranges of 10-14 miles, "Long Toms" have been used for direct aimed fire under extraordinary circumstances, such as reduction of Japanese cave fortifications on Peleliu during WW II.
During World War II, the gun was featured on a war production poster, "Defense Needs Rubber" due to its use of ten tires. The 155mm "Long Tom" has been utilized by U.S. allies around the world and remains in service in the 21st Century.
Specifications of the 155mm Gun 'Long Tom' M1, M2, M59
30,600 lbs. with limber
Max rate of fire
Sustained rate of fire
14 miles (22000 m)
TM 9-1345, TM 9-1350
Early in WW II during the 1942 Second Army maneuvers in middle Tennessee, a 155mm Long Tom crew sets up in a camouflaged position.
155mm Long Tom artillery units train in England during WW II.
155mm "Long Tom" arriving by rail at Hampton Roads Port of Embarkation, Newport News, VA, 6 August 1943.