M101 105mm Howitzer

The M101 and M101A1 105mm Light Howitzer, Towed is a general purpose, light field artillery weapon used by U.S. ground forces. The M101 was developed in 1928 and saw extensive use in World War II, Korea and Vietnam. It is manufactured at Rock Island Arsenal with over 10,000 produced including all variants.

Until a renumbering of artillery in 1962, this howitzer was known as the M2 or M2A1. With the 1962 change, it became the M101.

Artillerymen with 105mm M101 howitzer, Korea, August 1950
Artillerymen with 105mm M101 howitzer, Korea, August 1950.

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Howitzer, Light, Towed: 105 mm, M-101 and M-101A1

The M101A1 howitzer consists of a cannon (105mm howitzer M2A2), recoil mechanism (M2 series), and carriage (105mm Howitzer, M2A2). The cannon itself is comprised of the tube assembly, breech ring, and locking ring. The cannon is mounted on the recoil sleigh assembly. The firing mechanism is a continuous pull (self cocking) type activated by pulling a lanyard.

The cannon is single-loaded, air-cooled and uses semi-fixed ammunition. The howitzer fires a 105mm (4.2-inch diameter) projectile which can be adjusted for distance and target. The M101 can be used for direct or indirect fire.

The carriage is of the single axle and split trail type. The trails are divided at emplacement, but are drawn together and locked during travel. A drawbar is provided for securing to a prime mover. The carriage consists of an equilibrator, shield, elevating mechanism, cradle, gear, elevating arcs, traversing mechanism, top carriage, wheels, and trails.

The recoil mechanism is a constant hydropneumatic type shock absorber that decreases the energy of the recoil gradually and so avoids violent movement of the cannon or carriage. It is installed in the cradle of the carriage.

The M102 105mm howitzer began replacing the M101A1 105mm Howitzer starting in 1964.

Specifications of the M101 or M101A1 Howitzer

Length 19.5 feet (5.94 meters)
Width 7.25 feet (2.21 meters)
Height 5.66 feet (1.73 meters)
Weight 4,980 pounds (2,260 kilograms)
Bore diameter 105 mm
Maximum effective range 6.99 miles (11.27 kilometers)
Rate of fire: Maximum 10 rounds per minute
Rate of fire: Sustained 3 rounds per minute

Two-and-a-half ton truck (deuce and a half) towing an M101 105 mm howitzer along the Algerian beach with troop ships in the background.
Two-and-a-half ton truck (deuce and a half) towing an M101 105 mm howitzer along the Algerian beach with troop ships in the background. World War II, North Africa, 1942-1943.

CH-21C Shawnee transporting M101 105mm howitzer, 1960s
CH-21C Shawnee transporting M101 105mm howitzer, 1960s

M101 105mm howitzer in Vietnam.
M101 105mm howitzer in Vietnam.

U.S. troops firing M101 105mm howitzer, Grenada, 1983.
U.S. troops firing M101 105mm howitzer, Grenada, 1983.

Marines from 11th Marines, 1st Marine Division fire a M101 105mm Howitzer during the playing of taps at the Iwo Jima 60th Anniversary Commemorative on 26 March 2005. Camp Pendleton, CA.
Marines from 11th Marines, 1st Marine Division fire a M101 105mm Howitzer during the playing of taps at the Iwo Jima 60th Anniversary Commemorative on 26 March 2005. Camp Pendleton, CA.

M101A1 105mm Howitzer at 1st Cavalry Museum, Ft. Hood, TX, 31 March 2006. Photo: Courtesy of Bob Pettit
M101A1 105mm Howitzer at 1st Cavalry Museum, Ft. Hood, TX, 31 March 2006. Photo: Courtesy of Bob Pettit.

M101A1 105mm Howitzer at 1st Cavalry Museum, Ft. Hood, TX, 31 March 2006. Photo: Courtesy of Bob Pettit
M101A1 105mm Howitzer at 1st Cavalry Museum, Ft. Hood, TX, 31 March 2006. Photo: Courtesy of Bob Pettit.

M101A1 105mm Howitzer at 1st Cavalry Museum, Ft. Hood, TX, 31 March 2006. Photo: Courtesy of Bob Pettit
M101A1 105mm Howitzer at 1st Cavalry Museum, Ft. Hood, TX, 31 March 2006. Photo: Courtesy of Bob Pettit.