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105mm Howitzer M3

105mm Howitzer M3 and crew, Liberty Magazine, 18 December 1943
105mm Howitzer M3 and crew, Liberty Magazine, 18 December 1943.

The M3 105mm Howitzer is a lighter, smaller version of the M2 Howitzer (later called the M101), originally intended for use by Airborne units. It is designed to provide for direct or indirect fire. The tube of the 105mm Howitzer M3 is the same as the tube of the 105mm Howitzer M2 or M2A1, but has been shortened by 27 inches. The differences from the M2A1 model used in the infantry division artillery led to artillerymen calling the M3 Howitzer the "snub-nosed" or "sawed-off" 105.

The M3 howitzer fires three types of projectiles:

  • SHELL, H.E.A.T.,M67
  • SHELL, H.E., M1
  • SHELL, Smoke, H.C., B.E., M84

Ammunition for the M3 Howitzer is loaded with "quick" powder, which burns more rapidly than that used with the 105mm Howitzer M2 and M2A1. This is necessary due to the shortened barrel of the M3 Howitzer.

The 105mm Howitzer M3 is mounted on the Carriages M3 and M3A1, split-trail, high-speed type fitted with automobile disk and rim wheels mounted on wheel carriers, derived from the M3A1 Carriage used with the 75mm field howitzer. Hand brakes are provided for use when parking. The spades at the ends of the trails and the firing base at the front of the carriage allow a 3-point ground contact in firing position. The Carriages M3 and M3A1 differ in the trails which are heavier in the M3A1, along with other small differences. A later M3A2 carriage was fitted with a shield to protect the crew.

During development, starting in 1941, the M3 Howitzer was known as the T7. A prototype was delivered to Aberdeen Proving Ground, MD, in March 1942. Approximately 2580 M3 Howitzers were produced in 1943 and 1944, during World War II, used by Airborne and Infantry units in the ETO. After 1943, the 105mm M3 Howitzer often replaced the 75mm Pack Howitzer in cannon companies of the infantry division.

The manuals for the M3 Howitzer include:

  • TM 9-326 Operators Manual (Jan 1943) Later: FM 23-105
  • TM 9-1326 Ordnance Maintenance (Jan 1944)
  • SNL C-50 Parts

Characteristics of the M3 105mm Howitzer

Length12 ft 11 in (3.94m)
Width5 ft 7 in (1.70m)
Height4 ft 2 in (1.27m)
Weight2,495 lb (1,130 kg)
Bore diameter105mm
Elevation-9 to +30 degrees
Range (Maximum)8,300 yards (7,590m)
Rate of fire (Maximum)4 rds per minute
Rate of fire (Sustained)2 rds per minute

105mm Howitzer M3 with Carriage M3A1, left side, travelling position. From TM 9-1326 (January 1944), Figure 1
105mm Howitzer M3 with Carriage M3A1, left side, travelling position. From TM 9-1326 (January 1944), Figure 1.

US Army M3 105mm Howitzer fires a round against German positions near Carentan, France, 11 Jul 1944
US Army M3 105mm Howitzer fires a round against German positions near Carentan, France, 11 Jul 1944.

105mm Howitzer M3 shelling enemy positions in the vicinity of the German border, circa November 1944
105mm Howitzer M3 shelling enemy positions in the vicinity of the German border, circa November 1944.

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