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Tracked Self-Propelled 25 pounder, Sexton

Tracked Self-Propelled 25 pounder, Sexton


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Tracked Self-Propelled 25 pounder, Sexton

The Tracked Self-Propelled 25 pounder, Sexton, was a self propelled artillery gun based on the Canadian Ram medium tank.

The Ram was a medium tank loosely based on the American Medium Tank M3, but with a new upper body and that carried its main gun in a turret. Fifty Ram Is, armed with a 2-pounder gun, and 1,899 Ram IIs, with a 6-pounder gun, were built, but the type was never used in combat.

In 1942 work began on mounting a 25-pounder artillery gun on the chassis of the Ram tank. The normal superstructure and turret was removed, and a boxlike superstructure made out of 0.5-0.75in thick armour replaced it. The 25 pounder was carried just to the left of centre in this open topped structure, with the drive to the front right.

The pilot was completed in late 1942, as the 25 pounder Ram Carrier. It went into production at the Montreal Locomotive Works early in 1943. The name was later changed to the tracked self-propelled 25 pounder, Sexton, following on from the earlier Bishop and the M7 'Priest'.

Early Sextons used the three-piece differential and final drive housing seen on the Medium Tank M3 and early Medium Tank M4s, and the M3 style of Vertical Volute Spring Suspension. During the production run the heavy duty bogies developed for the M3 and the single piece nose introduced on the M4 were used.

The 25 pounder could move 25 degrees left, 15 degrees right, 40 degrees up and 9 degrees down. 112 shells were carried. The Sexton needed a crew of six.

A total of 2,150 Sextons were produced, made up of 124 Sexton Is and 2,026 Sexton IIs, which had a battery and auxiliary generator on the rear deck

The Sexton replaced the M7 Priest in British use, and saw widespread service in Italy and North-Western Europe.


World War II Database


ww2dbase Although the M7 Priest vehicles were considered effective by the British and Commonwealth forces, they used American 105-millimeter howitzer ammunition rather than one of British design, thus complicating logistics. To alleviate this issue, the Canadian Department of Munitions and Supply's Army Engineering Design Branch completed "The 25pdr SP, tracked" design with the British QF 25-pounder guns to resolve the logistics issue. The prototype, built on the Canadian Ram cruiser tank chassis which in turn was an adaptation of the American M3 medium tank chassis, was completed on 23 Jun 1942. Following trials, an order for 124 vehicles was placed by the Canadian government. In May 1943, they officially received the Sexton designation. In the summer of 1943, the British government placed an order for 300 vehicles with the specification that these Sexton vehicles to be built on M4 Sherman chassis, known as Grizzly tanks in Canada, thus creating the Sexton II variant design. The Sexton vehicles first entered combat in Sep 1943 in Italy. During the Normandy invasion in Jun 1944, a number of these vehicles were stabilized in their landing craft and fired from the sea to provide artillery support for the landing troops, but it was not effective. They remained in service during the drive toward Germany.

ww2dbase Between 1943 and 1945, the Montreal Locomotive Works in Canada manufactured a total of 2,150 Sexton self-propelled artillery vehicles for the Canadian and British armies. After the war, they remained in service until 1956.

ww2dbase Source: Wikipedia.

Last Major Revision: Jan 2009

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Sexton (artillery)

The 25pdr SP, tracked, Sexton was a self-propelled artillery vehicle of World War II, based on an American tank hull design, built by Canada for the British Army, and associated Commonwealth forces, and some of the other Allies.

It was developed to give the British Army a mobile artillery gun using their Ordnance QF 25 pounder gun-howitzer. From 1943 it replaced the US built M7 Priest (US 105 mm guns on a M3 Lee tank chassis) these had replaced the British Bishop (25 pdr on Valentine tank chassis) which had been improvised in 1942.

Read more about Sexton (artillery): History, Variants

Famous quotes containing the word sexton :

&ldquo True. There is
a beautiful Jesus.
He is frozen to his bones like a chunk of beef.
How desperately he wanted to pull his arms in!
How desperately I touch his vertical and horizontal axes!
But I can’t. Need is not quite belief. &rdquo
&mdashAnne Sexton (1928�)


World War II Database

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The World War II Database is founded and managed by C. Peter Chen of Lava Development, LLC. The goal of this site is two fold. First, it is aiming to offer interesting and useful information about WW2. Second, it is to showcase Lava's technical capabilities.


Mobility

The southern African battle space favors a wheeled configuration, due to low force density and large distances that need to be traveled. The Bateleur is a six-wheel configuration offered more reliability and required less maintenance than a tracked vehicle. The Bateleur makes use of a ZF 56-65 synchromesh gearbox with a gear selection range of eight forward and one reverse. The engine is a type FIOL 413 V10 air-cooled 4-stroke Deutz diesel with direct injection which produces 268 hp at 2650 rpm. This provides a 12.5 hp/t power to weight ratio which is more than adequate for its role as an MRL operating behind forward elements.
The Bateleur can achieve a maximum road speed of 90 km/h ( 56 mph ), and 30 km/h ( 18.6 mph ) off-road. It can ford 1.2 m of water without preparation and can cross a 0.5 m ditch at a crawl. The driver’s task is made easier by a power steering system while acceleration and braking are done via foot pedals. The vehicle makes use of a WITHINGS suspension and has 355 mm of ground clearance.


Development history

In 1942, the US supplied enough M7 Priest self-propelled howitzers to equip a number of British Army artillery units in fighting in North Africa. The British found the Priest to be an excellent weapon, which gave artillery the same mobility as tank units. However, the Priest used the American 105 mm howitzer rather than the British equivalent, the QF 25 ponder gun-howitzer. Having to supply different ammunition for a few units complicated supply for the British Army. The US attempted to fit a 25 ponder to the M7 Priest - producing the T51 in mid 1942 - but the program suffered delays including the destruction of the gun mount on the prototype during the first live-firing exercises. US resources were not available for a vehicle solely for British use so Britain turned to Canada. The Canadian Army Engineering Design Branch through the Canadian government's Department of Munitions and Supply were asked to build a vehicle similar to the M7 on the Ram tank chassis. The Ram tank was a Canadian tank design that used the chassis of the American Medium Tank M3 as did the Priest. The Ram had been sidelined by a decision to standardize on the Sherman tank for British and Canadian units. A prototype was completed on 23 June 1942. Following trials in Canada, the Canadian government ordered 124 vehicles in three batches. The prototype was shipped to the United Kingdom in early 1943, where it underwent further trials the vehicle was found to be highly satisfactory and was given the designation "Sexton" (after the religious custodian) in May 1943. The British government ordered 300 Sextons in the summer of 1943 however, these Sextons were to be built on Grizzly tank hulls (Canadian-built M4A1 Sherman tanks) instead of Ram tank hulls. The Ram-based Sexton was designated as the Sexton Mark I and the Grizzly-based Sexton was designated the Sexton Mark II. British orders for the Sexton II eventually totaled 2,026 vehicles.

Unlike the Ram, which was inferior operationally to the Sherman and never saw combat as a gun tank, the Sexton was successful. Between 1943 and 1945, the Montreal Locomotive Works manufactured a total of 2,150 Sextons for the use of both Canadian and British forces. The vehicle entered service in September 1943. The vehicles were first used in combat in Italy by the British Eighth Army. Later Sextons took part in the invasion of France and subsequent Battle of Normandy and the campaign in north-western Europe. During the D-day landings a number of Sextons were ordered to fire from their landing craft as they approached the beaches although the fire did not prove to be very accurate. In spite of its confused origins, the Sexton was a combination of proven parts and proved to be a successful design and remained in British service until 1956. In oppose to Germany, which often used its self-propelled guns (assault guns) in a front line direct fire role, Britain and Canada only used the Sexton for indirect supporting fire. They kept the Sextons well back from the front line and used forward observers to direct overwhelming fire on a target.


US 105 vs British 25 pounder?

I know that the British replaced the US M7 Priest firing the 105 mm howitzer with the "Sexton" which was the same tracked base with the British 25 pounder in NW Europe.

I know less than nothing about the ins and outs of artillery but I would be interested in reading any thoughts about the respective merits and disadvantages of each weapon from those who do. My understanding was that the British have always been simply superb in the design, construction, and tactical uses of artillery from before the First World War. Indeed, in the history of the War in italy, the authors of "Uncertain Trumpets" speak of the utter domination of the battlefield by British RA and RHA batteries.

Exactly how much better were the British in this area than the other combatants in the Second World War?

Although as a Brit I hate to say it

Jun 27, 2010 #2 2010-06-27T18:58

Speaking as another Brit.

Jun 27, 2010 #3 2010-06-27T21:27

and an infantryman not a gunner, while the 105 certainly had more bang, the 25 pounder could (safely) drop shells a good deal closer to the infantry positions than other guns having more bang (which makes it good news for me). I also seem to remember Ian Hogg (a died in the wool gunner if ever there was one, and author of numerous books) commenting that he knew very well which of those two guns he would prefer to manhandle in the mud!

There's more to an artillery piece than just bang!

A 5 mile sniper.

Jun 27, 2010 #4 2010-06-27T21:48

I know that the British replaced the US M7 Priest firing the 105 mm howitzer with the "Sexton" which was the same tracked base with the British 25 pounder in NW Europe.

I know less than nothing about the ins and outs of artillery but I would be interested in reading any thoughts about the respective merits and disadvantages of each weapon from those who do. My understanding was that the British have always been simply superb in the design, construction, and tactical uses of artillery from before the First World War. Indeed, in the history of the War in italy, the authors of "Uncertain Trumpets" speak of the utter domination of the battlefield by British RA and RHA batteries.

Exactly how much better were the British in this area than the other combatants in the Second World War?

As my late Father used to say.

I'm sorry but this escapes me?

Jun 27, 2010 #5 2010-06-27T22:05

British Artillery

Jun 27, 2010 #6 2010-06-27T23:48

I know that the British replaced the US M7 Priest firing the 105 mm howitzer with the "Sexton" which was the same tracked base with the British 25 pounder in NW Europe.

I know less than nothing about the ins and outs of artillery but I would be interested in reading any thoughts about the respective merits and disadvantages of each weapon from those who do. My understanding was that the British have always been simply superb in the design, construction, and tactical uses of artillery from before the First World War. Indeed, in the history of the War in italy, the authors of "Uncertain Trumpets" speak of the utter domination of the battlefield by British RA and RHA batteries.

Exactly how much better were the British in this area than the other combatants in the Second World War?

Previous posts seem to be referring to control of guns.

I believe that British FOO's "order" gunfire onto a target whereas American FOO's "request" said gunfire. The difference being speed. I'm told that gunners using British practice (New Zealand, Australia) in Vietnam could be hitting the target within 90 seconds (mostly waiting for air clearances) while American gunners could take up to 5 minutes.

One of my ex-bosses (a Vietnam gunner) told me that British guns are calibrated for range (as opposed to elevation) which also makes them quicker to lay.

Corrections and comments welcome.

The real reason for the change wasn't the quality. IMHO

Jun 28, 2010 #7 2010-06-28T00:28

I know that the British replaced the US M7 Priest firing the 105 mm howitzer with the "Sexton" which was the same tracked base with the British 25 pounder in NW Europe.

I know less than nothing about the ins and outs of artillery but I would be interested in reading any thoughts about the respective merits and disadvantages of each weapon from those who do. My understanding was that the British have always been simply superb in the design, construction, and tactical uses of artillery from before the First World War. Indeed, in the history of the War in italy, the authors of "Uncertain Trumpets" speak of the utter domination of the battlefield by British RA and RHA batteries.

Exactly how much better were the British in this area than the other combatants in the Second World War?

First off, the command post are a team of highly skilled technicians who have been training for years on tabular firing tables and graphs for. exclusively. British ammunition and guns.
Secondly, it appears that 105's were an "assault only" asset, as well.
And ,as mentioned above, the level of accuracy had long established itself as gold standard.

I don't think it was a question of "which was the better gun".
I think it was a question of "which gun were we better shooting with".


British service


The 25-pounder was the main field artillery weapon used by British Commonwealth and colonial infantry and armoured divisions of all types during the Second World War. Throughout the war each British-pattern infantry division was established with 72 25-pounders, in three field artillery regiments. Armoured divisions eventually were standardised with two field artillery regiments, one of which was self-propelled (see below). Before mid-1940 each regiment had two batteries of twelve guns after that date regiments changed to batteries of eight guns and added a third battery, a process that was not completed until early 1943. In the late 1950s, the British Army reverted to batteries of six guns. Field artillery regiments had two batteries of 25-pounders and one of 5.5 inch guns .

The early 18- and 25-pounders had been towed in the field by the Light Dragon , a tracked vehicle derived from a light tank, and the Morris CDSW . Throughout most of the Second World War the 25-pounder was normally towed, with its limber, behind a 4x4 Field Artillery Tractor called a "Quad". These were manufactured by Morris, Guy and Karrier in England, and, in greater numbers, by Ford and Chevrolet in Canada. In the 1950s, the British Army replaced the various "Quads" with a new Bedford 3-ton gun tower fitted with a specialist body.

In 1941, the British Army improvised a self-propelled 25-pounder named the Bishop, on the chassis of the Valentine tank. This mount was unsatisfactory and was replaced in 1942 by the American M7 Priest. However, this complicated the supply of ammunition in the field, and was replaced in 1944 by the Sexton, which was designed and mostly manufactured in Canada (some 2/3 of ordnances and mountings were imported from the UK due to limited Canadian production capacity) and mounted the 25-pounder on a Ram or Grizzly tank chassis.


By World War II standards, the 25-pounder had a smaller calibre and lower shell-weight than many other field-artillery weapons, although it had longer range than most. (Most forces had entered the war with even smaller 75 mm (3.0 in) designs but had quickly moved to 105 mm (4.1 in) and larger weapons.) It was designed for the British practice of suppressive (neutralising) fire, not destructive fire that had proved illusory in the early years of World War I. Nevertheless the 25-pounder was considered by all to be one of the best artillery pieces in use. The effects caused by the gun (and the speed at which the British artillery control system could respond) in the North-West Europe Campaign of 1944–1945 made many German soldiers believe that the British had secretly deployed an automatic 25-pounder. [ 5 ]

In UK service most guns were replaced by the 105mm Abbot and some by the Oto Melara 105mm Pack Howitzer and the remainder by the 105mm L118 Light Gun. The last British military unit to fire the 25-pounder in its field role (as opposed to ceremonial use) was the Gun Troop of the Honourable Artillery Company on Salisbury Plain in 1992.


Great Guns!


Western Front, France, 1918: Soldiers of the American Expeditionary Force fire a French M-1897 75mm field gun, a revolutionary, highly accurate rapid-fire weapon with an effective range of nearly 7,000 meters. (U.S. Army/National Archives)

JOSEPH STALIN CALLED ARTILLERY the &ldquogod of war.&rdquo Marshal Henri Petain is frequently quoted as having said, &ldquoThe artillery conquers, the infantry occupies.&rdquo Louis XIV ordered Ultima ratio regum (the final argument of kings) inscribed on all French cannons, while a medieval pope reportedly issued a blanket excommunication for all gunners as servants of the devil. Anyone who has ever been subjected to sustained artillery fire would most likely concur.

At its most basic level, an artillery piece is a crew-served weapon that throws a relatively large projectile great distances. All modern artillery is directly descended from the ancient engines of war, described in such Bible passages as 2 Chronicles 26:15: &ldquodevices invented for use on the towers and on the corner defenses so that soldiers could shoot arrows and hurl large stones from the walls.&rdquo Artillery pieces of the pre-­gunpowder era included the ballista, essentially a huge crossbow that threw its projectile in a relatively flat trajectory, and the catapult and the trebuchet, which flung missiles in a more arched trajectory, making it possible to engage targets behind walls and hills.

These older weapons used mechanical force as a means of launching solid, deadweight projectiles. Modern artillery uses explosive chemical power and launches rounds that can carry explosive, smoke, and illumination charges antitank mines radar-jamming devices and laser- and satellite-controlled terminal guidance systems.

One of the earliest descriptions of gunpowder in the West was written by Roger Bacon in 1245. Sometime shortly thereafter, weapons began to appear that used the explosive power of gunpowder to expel a projectile from a tube of some sort (the word cannon derives from the Latin canna, meaning a reed or hollow tube). Early cannons were made from either cast metal or wooden staves. Until well into the 17th century, artillery seldom played any battlefield role apart from siege operations.

For the past 400 years there have been three basic categories of tube artillery. Guns, much like the ancient ballista, are artillery pieces that fire projectiles at a very high velocity and a relatively flat trajectory. Mortars deliver relatively light exploding projectiles at short ranges, and only at high angles of fire&mdashthat is, the angle of elevation of their tubes is always more than 45 degrees. Howitzers are extremely versatile weapons capable of firing at low angles, like a gun, or at high angles, like the mortar and the earlier catapult and trebuchet. The howitzer&rsquos muzzle velocity and range are less than those of a gun of comparable size, but its accuracy is greater. The early howitzers of the 17th through mid-19th centuries were capable of firing either solid shot or exploding shell.

Most field artillery pieces in use since the end of World War II are howitzers, although some field guns do exist. All tanks are armed with guns, and their crews use the direct-fire technique, aiming straight at a target. Although technically artillery pieces, modern mortars are classified as infantry weapons in most of today&rsquos armies.

The following are among the most technologically and tactically significant artillery pieces of the last 550 years.

The main problem with early cannons was the procurement of ammunition. Cannonballs were carved out of solid stone and were difficult to size correctly. The solution to that problem was the bombard. Introduced in China about the 13th century, the weapon had a slightly conical bore, narrower at the rear and widening toward the muzzle. Balls of varying sizes could be put into the bore, and at some point along its length the projectile would seat snugly. Of course, the widening of the bore allowed much of the expanding gas from the ignited powder in the breech to escape as the ball traveled, which reduced the power behind the projectile.

Gun makers compensated by building ever larger and more powerful bombards. By the late 15th century some bombards weighed as much as 20 tons and fired a 25-inch ball weighing some 800 pounds, making them history&rsquos first super-guns. They were castle killers, and their appearance marked the beginning of the end of the castle as a militarily significant fortification&mdashand the demise of the entire feudal system.

Ottoman sultan Mehmet II was history&rsquos first great gunner. In 1453 he used some of the largest bombards ever constructed to batter down the defenses of Constantinople, bringing the Byzantine Empire to an end. One of Mehmet&rsquos greatest innovations was the casting of bombards in two pieces that screwed together. That made them easier to transport and quicker and easier to load and fire.

Gustavus Adolphus&rsquos Leather Field Gun

King Gustavus II Adolphus of Sweden (1594&ndash1632) was the first military commander to organize his artillery into two distinct branches&mdashfield and siege. Now for the first time artillery accompanied forces maneuvering on an open battlefield. But weight and mobility were still a problem. The typical regimental support gun of the early 17th century was a relatively small 4-pounder (that is, it fired a solid shot weighing four pounds), but its cast-iron tube alone could weigh as much as 1,500 pounds.

The so-called leather gun, a 2.6-pounder introduced by Gustavus during the Polish-Swedish War of 1626&ndash1629, was the world&rsquos first light and highly mobile field gun. The tube was made of cast copper, reinforced with iron bands and tightly wrapped rope bindings covered in leather. It weighed only about 90 pounds. Mounted on a two-wheeled carriage, the gun could be moved by one horse and positioned by just two men. Of course, the leather gun had shorter range and was less accurate or powerful than conventional cast-iron guns, but its ability to be moved quickly to critical points on the battlefield made up for its shortcomings. Its greatest drawback was sensitivity to the heat from firing after only 10 to 12 rounds the tube had to be removed from the carriage to cool. Though technologically a dead end, the leather gun facilitated tactical innovations that were the first steps toward the modern concept of combined arms.

Frederick the Great&rsquos Horse Artillery

Like Gustavus, King Friedrich II of Prussia (1712&ndash1786)&mdashFrederick the Great&mdashassigned guns to accompany his infantry regiments, usually two 3-pounders or occasionally 6-pounders to each battalion. But his introduction of horse artillery in 1759 was a quantum leap in firepower mobility, and for the next 30 years Prussia had Europe&rsquos only horse artillery.

Frederick mounted all his gunners, either on the leaders of the four-horse teams or on the gun carriages. For the first time artillery was mobile enough to accompany the cavalry. The improved speed introduced another tactical problem: getting the gun, the gunners, and the ammunition to the same place at the same time. That problem was solved by the limber, a two-wheeled wagon mounting a chest that carried the section&rsquos ready ammunition. The horses were hitched directly to the limber, and the gun hitched onto a towing hook at the back of the limber. The top of the ammunition chest also provided a place for two gunners to ride. The caisson came next. Something like a double limber, it had two ammunition chests mounted on a two-wheeled carriage.

In 1853 France under Napoleon III introduced to the battlefield the Canon-obusier de 12, a smoothbore, muzzle-loading 12-pounder capable of firing both shot and shell. The U.S. Army adopted the Napoleon 12-pounder in 1857, and it was the standard field gun for both sides during the Civil War. It remained in service until nearly the end of the 19th century, when the advent of rifling and breech-loading technologies brought the muzzle-loading era to a close.

The Napoleon fired three basic variations of solid shot. The 12-pound solid iron ball was deadly out to 1,500 meters against the tightly packed infantry formations of the day. A canister round was essentially a tin can packed with musket balls, turning the gun into a huge shotgun. The gun crews switched to canister as the attacking enemy infantry closed to within 300 meters. Grape shot was a variation on canister, with usually a dozen 1.5-inch iron balls. Grape was especially effective against cavalry out to ranges of 600 meters.

A later variation, spherical case shot, was a cross between a canister round and an explosive shell: A hollow sphere packed with musketlike balls and an explosive charge triggered by a powder-burning time fuze, spherical case exploded in the air over the heads of exposed troops out to 1,000 meters. It was invented in the 1780s by Royal Artillery officer Henry Shrapnel, whose name became synonymous with fragmented shell shot.

In the early 1860s U.S. Army Captain Thomas J. Rodman developed the gun that would become the high point of smoothbore, muzzle-loading artillery. By that time bronze had replaced cast iron in gun bores because the latter was too brittle to withstand the shock produced by the more rapidly burning black powders that had been developed. In the usual methods of casting, an iron barrel cooled from the outside in, shrinking unevenly and producing flaws and cavities that caused structural weakness. Rodman devised a method to make stronger tubes by casting iron around a water-cooled core, so that the barrel cooled from the inside out, making the inside material more dense and the tube much stronger overall. The standard Rodman calibers were 8, 10, 15, and 20 inches, the last being the largest caliber gun ever cast in the United States. Although the Rodman guns were generally too heavy for fieldpieces, they were widely used as siege, garrison, and seacoast guns by both sides in the Civil War and remained in service until the end of the century.

Just a few years before Rodman started casting his stronger iron guns, British engineer Sir William Armstrong developed the world&rsquos first practical breech-loading cannon, manufactured in Britain from 1855. The barrel of the Armstrong gun was constructed from wrought iron, built up by shrinking successive layers of metal on top of each other. The result was a stronger and more reliable tube than one of conventional cast iron, and being harder than bronze, it made rifling more practical. Rifled artillery, introduced several years earlier, improved range and accuracy.

Armstrong&rsquos breech-loading system consisted of a vent piece held tightly in position by a hollow screw mechanism at the breech end of the barrel. The vent piece was the forerunner of the modern sliding-wedge breechblock. The British used Armstrong guns until 1920.

French M-1897 75mm Field Gun

By the middle of the 19th century European gun makers were experimenting with steel, though it was a difficult material to manufacture in uniform quantities. In 1856 German industrialist Alfred Krupp introduced the first reliable steel gun, and by the 1890s all cannon tubes were being made of steel.

The steel Canon de 75 modèle 1897, universally known as the French 75, was the world&rsquos first modern artillery piece. Developed and manufactured at French government arsenals, it instantly made every other gun in the world obsolete, and all modern field artillery is descended directly from it. Weighing only 2,700 pounds in action, it was towed by a team of six horses and fired a 75mm round weighing 15.8 pounds out to a range of 6,850 meters. Its seven-man gun crew could fire six to 15 rounds per minute.

The gun&rsquos most important innovation was its revolutionary hydro-pneumatic recoil system that allowed the tube of a firing gun to move to the rear while the carriage remained firmly in position on the ground. After the tube recoiled, the system then returned it forward. The great tactical advantage of this system was that the gun did not have to be re-aimed every time it fired.

Other innovations introduced with the French 75 included a rapid-acting, screw-type breech mechanism a fixed round of ammunition (projectile, propellant charge, and fuze all in one prepackaged unit) that could be loaded in a single movement an optical line-of-sight, gun-laying system and steel shields to protect the gun crews from enemy small arms fire.

With World War I, machine gun fire forced all artillery to move back off the front lines. The French 75, like all light artillery, lacked the higher trajectory necessary for indirect fire, especially in rougher terrain.

Big Bertha 420mm Siege Howitzer

Officially designated the 42cm Mörser L/14, the heavy siege howitzer better known by its nickname Dicke Bertha (Big Bertha) was designed by Krupp&rsquos managing director, the brilliant ordnance engineer Professor Fritz Rausenberger. Introduced in 1914, Big Bertha weighed 93,720 pounds in action. It was transported in five pieces and assembled on site using a crane carried by a prime-mover tractor. It was capable of firing a 420mm round weighing 1,719 pounds out to a range of 9,500 meters with a high degree of accuracy. Its projectile had a hardened conical nose with the fuze at the base of the round, making it particularly effective for penetrating reinforced ferro-concrete fortifications.

About 10 Big Berthas were fielded by the German army in World War I. Contrary to popular belief, they were not the guns that shelled Paris from a distance of 75 miles in 1918.

Also designed by Krupp&rsquos Rausenberger, the officially designated Wilhelmgeschütz (Kaiser Wilhelm Gun) was one of the most remarkable artillery pieces ever built. Its maximum range of 126,000 meters far exceeded that of any gun built before. Or since. The Germans used three of them against Paris between March and July 1918, earning them the name Paris Guns. Very few conventional artillery pieces fired in war have been able to achieve even half their range.

The Paris Gun was constructed by inserting a 210mm liner tube into a bored-out 380mm naval gun barrel. The liner ex­tended some 39 feet beyond the muzzle of the base barrel. A 19-foot smoothbore extension was then added to the front of the extended liner, giving the composite barrel a length of 130 feet. The entire composite barrel required an external truss system to keep it straight.

Virtually all artillery pieces achieve their maximum range when the barrel is elevated to an angle of 45 degrees. Anything over 45 degrees is classified as high-angle fire, and as the elevation increases the range decreases. The Paris Gun, however, appeared to defy the normal laws of ballistics by achieving its maximum range at an elevation of 50 degrees. The reason was that at 50 degrees the round from the Paris Gun went significantly higher into the stratosphere than at a 45-degree elevation. The reduced air density at the higher altitudes caused far less drag on the body of the projectile, which resulted in the greater horizontal range.

By the end of the 19th century most of the world&rsquos armies considered the mortar obsolete. Capable of firing only at high angles and relatively short ranges, the mortar had always been a heavy and immobile weapon, ill suited for maneuver warfare. During the First and Second Balkan Wars of 1912 and 1912&ndash1913, however, German military observers realized that the mortar was still tactically useful in static situations and in compartmentalized terrain. The Germans, therefore, started World War I with far more mortars than any other army. With the advent of trench warfare, the mortar proved to be the ideal close-support weapon. Firing at high angles, it did not need a recoil system because the impact of firing was directed straight into the ground. Since it was compact, it could be emplaced in forward trenches. But German mortars were still heavy, complex weapons that bore little resemblance to today&rsquos modern mortars.

In early 1915 British engineer Sir Wilfred Stokes invented the forerunner to today&rsquos &ldquostovepipe&rdquo mortar. Stokes&rsquos simple 3-inch smoothbore steel tube weighed only 100 pounds and had a fixed firing pin at the bottom. It fired a gravity-fed shell that had a primer in its base and a propellant charge packed in bags around its rear stabilizing fins. The round had a range of 700 meters, a bursting radius of five to 10 meters, and an impressive maximum rate of fire of 25 rounds per minute.

Designed and built at the Royal Arsenal, Woolwich, in 1925, the Birch gun was the world&rsquos first practical self-propelled artillery piece. It was named for General Sir Noel Birch, one of the most distinguished British gunners of World War I and Master-General of Ordnance after the war.

The Birch gun was a standard British 18-pounder (83.8mm) field gun mounted on the modified chassis of a Vickers medium tank. It had an open firing platform and a seven-man crew. All modern self-propelled artillery is descended directly from the Birch gun.

The most famous gun of World War II, the German 88mm manufactured by Krupp, was actually a family of devastatingly effective guns that included an antiaircraft gun, a tank gun, an antitank gun, and in a pinch a field artillery piece. Mounted on a wide variety of towed and self-propelled carriages, the 88 required different ammunition and different fire-control equipment for its various missions. It was upgraded throughout the war as the Flak 36, Flak 37, and Flak 41.

A true gun rather than a howitzer, the 88 had the flat trajectory and very high muzzle velocity that made it an effective and much feared antiaircraft and antitank gun.

American Towed M-2A1/M-101A1 105mm

The M-2A1 towed 105mm howitzer and its slightly updated variant, the M-101A1, were the mainstays of American divisional direct-support artillery from World War II through the Vietnam War. In service with more than 50 different armies, they were the most widely used field artillery pieces in history.

The towed M-2A1 was a GI&rsquos dream. Everyone who ever served on it fell in love with it. It was simple to operate, easy to maintain, and almost indestructible. It fired a 33-pound high­explosive projectile to a maximum range of 11,270 meters, and its eight-man crew could pump out a maximum of 10 rounds per minute and three rounds per minute of sustained fire. In 1962 it was upgraded slightly and redesignated the M-101A1. While the last M-101A1 was withdrawn from American service in the 1990s, it still remains in service in many other parts of the world, and American arsenals continue to manufacture repair parts for foreign sale.

After the first atomic bomb was detonated in 1945, development work started almost immediately on nuclear artillery projectiles and guns capable of firing them. Designed late in World War II, the super-heavy American 280mm M-65 cannon was never put into production as originally inten­ded. In 1953 it entered service, redesigned specifically to fire the 803-pound T-124 projectile with a W-9 nuclear warhead. Nicknamed Atomic Annie, the M-65 also could fire a conventional 598-pound high-explosive round out to a range of 28,700 meters. Transported by two specially designed tractors, the gun weighed 93,800 pounds in battery and fired from a box-trail carriage.

The first and only actual cannon firing of a nuclear round occurred on May 25, 1953, at Frenchman&rsquos Flats, Nevada. Fired to a range of 10,000 meters and detonated 160 meters above the ground, the exploded round produced a yield of 15 kilotons. The M-65 remained in service only a little more than 10 years, but it proved the technical feasibility&mdashalthough not necessarily the basic common sense&mdashof tactical nuclear weapons.

American M-1/M-110 8-inch Howitzer

The American 8-inch howitzer has the reputation of being history&rsquos most accurate artillery piece. First in service in 1940 as the M-1 towed howitzer, it fired a 200-pound high-explosive projectile to a maximum range of 16,800 meters. Its extremely small circular probable error made it an ideal weapon for destructive fire against hardened targets. It was also capable of firing a chemical projectile that carried Sarin nerve gas and a nuclear projectile with a W-33 warhead and a yield of 40 kilotons. In 1963 the gun and its carriage were mounted on a tracked chassis and designated the M-110 self-propelled howitzer.

In the 1970s the 8-inch was upgraded with a longer barrel and redesignated the M-110A1 it was further modernized a few years later as the M-110A2. The M-110 was phased out of U.S. Army service immediately following the First Gulf War, a move many artillerymen still consider a serious mistake. It was used by more than 20 armies and remains in service with a few to this day.

American Self-Propelled M-109 Howitzers

The M-109s, a family of 155mm howitzers, are the most widely used self-propelled artillery pieces in history. Since they were first introduced in 1963, they have been in service with 33 armies and remain so with most of them today. Unlike the M-110 8-inch, the M-109 has a lightly armored, enclosed turret around its firing platform, providing greater protection for the gun crew. Its appearance causes many people to mistake it for a light tank, albeit one with a very large gun.

The original model had a relatively short barrel, which fired a 97-pound high-explosive projectile to a maximum range of 14,600 meters. All M-109s were capable of firing chemical and nuclear projectiles, though both projectiles were eliminated from the U.S. arsenal during the 1990s. At that same time, the current version, the M-109A6 Paladin, was introduced. With its automated loading system, the Paladin requires a crew of only four, and its sophisticated navigational and automatic fire-control systems give it the ability to halt and fire within 30 seconds.

Canadian GC-45/South African G-5

The Canadian GC-45 155mm towed howitzer and its South African G-5 variant signaled a radical advance in artillery ballistics technology. The GC-45 was designed in the 1970s by the brilliant but controversial Canadian ordnance engineer Dr. Gerald Bull. An admirer and serious student of the work of Krupp&rsquos Rausenberger, Bull was recruited by Saddam Hussein with the lure of almost unlimited funding to design and build Project Babylon, a 350mm supergun with a range of 1,000 kilometers. Bull was assassinated in a Brussels hotel room in March 1990 Israel&rsquos Mossad remains the prime suspect.

Bull&rsquos great innovation was the development of the extended­range, full-bore projectile and the accompanying cannon-bore technology capable of firing such ammunition. The GC-45 howitzer reversed the normal rifling concept by firing a shell with small fins that rode in the grooves in the bore, as opposed to using a slightly oversize projectile that was forced into the lands between the grooves. The result was a significant increase in muzzle velocity and range. Variations based on the GC-45 were used by the Iraqis in the First and Second Gulf Wars, and they outranged all guns in the Allied coalition arsenal.

Entering service in 1998, Germany&rsquos 155mm armored howitzer, the PzH 2000, is the most technologically advanced tube artillery piece in service today. A tracked self-propelled system with a fully enclosed armored turret, the PzH 2000 has replaced the M-109A6 Paladin in some of the world&rsquos armies. With an automated ammunition feed and loading system and state-of-the-art GPS onboard fire control, the PzH 2000 has a high rate of fire, capable of firing a burst mode of three rounds in nine seconds and 10 rounds in 56 seconds. It has a sustained rate of fire of 10 to 13 rounds per minute. The maximum range is 30,000 meters for conventional high-explosive rounds, and 40,000 for ­rocket­-assisted-projectile rounds.

The PzH 2000 was first fired in combat by the Dutch army in August 2006, against Taliban targets in Kandahar Province, Afghanistan.


Tracked Self-Propelled 25 pounder, Sexton - History

The Ordnance QF 25-pounder, or more simply 25-pounder or 25-pdr, was the major British field gun and howitzer during the Second World War, possessing a 3.45-inch (87.6 mm) calibre. It was introduced into service just before the war started, combining both high-angle and direct-fire abilities, a relatively high rate of fire, and a reasonably lethal shell in a highly mobile piece. It remained the British Army's primary artillery field piece well into the 1960s, with smaller numbers serving in training units until the 1980s. Many Commonwealth of Nations countries used theirs in active or reserve service until about the 1970s and ammunition for the weapon is currently being produced by Pakistan Ordnance Factories. Initial production was slow, but by 1945, over 12,000 had been manufactured. The 25-pounder was probably the most outstanding field artillery piece used by British and Commonwealth forces in the Second World War, being durable, easy to operate and versatile.

The design was the result of extended studies looking to replace the 18-pounder ( bore) field gun and the 4.5-inch howitzer (114.3 mm bore), which had been the main field artillery equipments during the First World War. The basic idea was to build one weapon with the high velocity of the 18-pounder and the variable propelling charges of the howitzer, firing a shell about halfway between the two in size, around of about . Development during the inter-war period was severely hampered by a lack of money and it was eventually decided to build a new design from existing 18-pounders by converting barrels but designing a new barrel and carriage for production when funds were available. The result was a weapon firing a shell weighing . It was mounted on late model 18-pounder carriages. One of these used a circular firing platform and this was adopted for the new guns. The firing platform was attached to the gun and when lowered the gun was pulled onto it. This platform transferred most of the recoil forces to the ground, instead of using the spade at the end of the trail, making the gun very stable when firing. It also provided a smooth flat surface for the carriage to rotate on using the road wheels, this enabled the gunners to traverse the carriage quickly in any direction. Unlike the 18-pounder, the 25-pounder used howitzer-type variable-charge ammunition. The 25-pounder was separate-loading the shell was loaded and rammed, then the cartridge in its brass case was loaded and the breech closed. In British terminology, the 25-pounder was called "quick firing" (QF), originally because the cartridge case provided rapid loading compared with bag charges, and was automatically released when the breech was opened. The use of separate shell and cartridge allowed the charge to be changed for different ranges. For the Mk 1 Ordnance on an 18-pounder carriage there were three "charges", charges one, two and three, all of which could be used in the common cartridge design. The Mk 2 Ordnance on Mk 1 carriage added a "super" charge in a different cartridge. In 1943 a separately bagged "increment" charge was added used with the Super it provided higher velocity for anti-tank use. The introduction of the increment to super was only possible following the addition of the muzzle-brake in the previous year. Subsequently, another type of increment was introduced to be added to charges one and two to provide additional combinations for use in high angle fire. However, this fire required a dial sight adaptor, removal of the platform and some excavation of the ground. In common with all British guns of the period the indirect fire sight was "calibrating". This meant that the range, not elevation angle, was set on the sight. The sight compensated for the difference in the gun's muzzle velocities from standard. The gun was also fitted with a direct-fire telescope for use with armour-piercing shot. It also used "one-man laying" in accordance with normal British practice. An important part of the gun was the ammunition trailer ("trailer, artillery, No 27"). The gun was hooked to it and the trailer hooked to the tractor for towing. The gun did not need a limber and could be hooked directly to a tractor. The trailer provided the brakes as only a hand-brake was fitted to the gun carriage. The trailer carried ammunition thirty-two rounds in trays (two rounds per tray) in the trailer protected by two doors. Ammunition was also carried in the gun tractor with the detachment and various gun stores. Some stores, such as sights, were carried cased on the gun. Each section (two guns) had a third tractor that carried ammunition and towed two ammunition trailers. The gun detachment comprised the following: No 1 – detachment commander (a sergeant) No 2 – operated the breech and rammed the shell No 3 – layer No 4 – loader No 5 – ammunition No 6 – ammunition, normally the "coverer" – second in command and responsible for ammunition preparation and operating the fuze indicator The official "reduced detachment" was four men. Many different companies manufactured the guns and component parts in the UK. Vickers Armstrong in Scotswood, Baker Perkins in Peterborough and Weirs in Glasgow were some of the most significant. The various Royal Ordnance factories produced most of the ordnance components. In Canada, Sorel Industries built complete guns and provided the ordnance for fitting to the Sexton. Australia also built complete guns, choosing to weld the carriages rather than rivet, as was the practice in the UK and Canada. In all, over 13,000 were made worldwide.

The 25-pounder fired "separate" or two-part ammunition – the projectile was loaded separately from the propelling charge in its (usually brass) cartridge case with its integral primer. Typically for a quick-firing gun, the cartridge case provided obturation. There were two types of cartridge. The normal cartridge contained three cloth charge bags (coloured red, white and blue). White or blue bags would be removed from the cartridge to give "charge one" or "charge two", leaving all three bags in the cartridge case gave "charge three". The cartridge case was closed at the top with a leatherboard cup. The second type of cartridge was "super", which provided one charge only. The cup could not be removed from the cartridge case. In 1943, an incremental charge of of cordite ("super-plus") was introduced to raise the muzzle velocity when firing armour-piercing shot with charge super this required a muzzle brake to be fitted. Adoption of "upper-register" (high-angle) fire needed more charges to improve the range overlap. This led to the development of the "intermediate increment" of 4oz cordite, which was introduced in 1944. The bags were striped red and white to indicate that they should only be used with charges one and two. When one bag was used with charge 1 it provided charge 1/2. When one was added to charge 2 it provided charge 2 1/3, and two bags, charge 2 2/3. This allowed a range of seven different charges instead of four. thumb|right| Royal Artillery gunners fill 25-pounder shells with propaganda leaflets. [[Roermond, The Netherlands, January 1945.]] There were many marks of cartridge, mostly differentiated by propellant type. Double-base propellant ([[nitrocellulose]]/[[nitroglycerine]]) was the UK standard but one mark used US single-base (nitrocellulose only). However, triple-base nitrocellulose/nitroglycerine/picrite was used throughout the war and eventually replaced all others. The 25-pounder's main ammunition was the high-explosive (HE) streamlined shell with a 5/10 CRH ogive and boat tail. The explosive filling varied between 450-900g of TNT (854-1708 kilojoules of explosive energy). It was also provided with base ejection smoke (white and coloured), star shells, and chemical shells. Incendiary and coloured flare shells were developed but not introduced into service, and smoke shells were sometimes reloaded with propaganda leaflets or metal foil "window". The UK did not develop a WP smoke shell for the 25-pounder. For anti-tank use, the 25-pounder was also supplied with a limited amount of solid armour-piercing (AP) shot, later replaced with a more potent version with a ballistic cap (APBC). The AP shot was fired with maximum charge, charge No. 3, super, or super with Super increment depending on the ordnance mark, as muzzle velocity was critical in direct fire for penetration and a flat trajectory. A shaped charge anti-tank shell was under development in Canada, but the introduction of the three-inch (76.2 mm) calibre QF 17-pounder, an anti-tank gun, in 1944 ended its development. After the Second World War, the UK replaced AP shot with a HESH shell. Coloured marker shells (dye and PETN) were also developed but not introduced. The standard fuze was No 117 direct action (DA). No 119 (DA and graze) was also used. Combustion or mechanical time fuzes were used with base ejection shells and mechanical time with graze were used with HE. Proximity fuzes were used from the end of 1944 and subsequently replaced by CVT fuzes.

The 25-pounder was the main field artillery weapon used by British Commonwealth and colonial infantry and armoured divisions of all types during the Second World War. It was also used by the RAF Regiment in North Africa. Throughout the war, each British-pattern infantry division was established with 72 25-pounders, in three field artillery regiments. Armoured divisions were eventually standardised with two field artillery regiments, one of which was self-propelled (see below). Before mid-1940, each regiment had two batteries of twelve guns after that date, regiments changed to batteries of eight guns and added a third battery, a process that was not completed until early 1943. In the late 1950s, the British Army reverted to batteries of six guns. Field artillery regiments had two batteries of 25-pounders and one of 5.5 inch guns. The early 18- and 25-pounders had been towed in the field by the Morris CDSW or the Dragon, a tracked vehicle derived from a light tank. Throughout most of the Second World War, the 25-pounder was normally towed, with its limber, behind a 4×4 field artillery tractor called a "quad". These were manufactured by Morris, Guy and Karrier in England, and, in greater numbers, as the Canadian Military Pattern field artillery tractor by Ford and Chevrolet in Canada. In the 1950s, the British Army replaced the various "quads" with a new Bedford three-ton gun tower fitted with a specialist body. In 1941, the British Army improvised a self-propelled 25-pounder named the Bishop, on the chassis of the Valentine tank. This mount proved unsatisfactory and the Bishops were replaced in 1942 by the American M7 Priest, which did not use the 25-Pounder complicating the supply of ammunition in the field. The Priests were replaced in 1944 by the Sexton, which used the 25-Pounder. The Sexton was designed, and mostly manufactured, in Canada (some two thirds of the ordnance and mountings were imported from the UK due to limited Canadian production capacity) and was the result of mounting a 25-pounder on a Ram or Grizzly tank chassis. By Second World War standards, the 25-pounder had a smaller calibre and lower shell-weight than many other field-artillery weapons, although it had longer range than most. (Most forces had entered the war with even smaller designs but had quickly moved to and larger weapons.) It was designed for the British practice of suppressive (neutralising) fire, not destructive fire that had proved illusory in the early years of the First World War. Nevertheless, the 25-pounder was considered by all to be one of the best artillery pieces in use. The effects caused by the gun (and the speed at which the British artillery control system could respond) in the North-West Europe Campaign of 1944–1945 made many German soldiers believe that the British had secretly deployed an automatic 25-pounder. In UK service, during the 1960s, most 25-pounders were replaced by the 105mm Abbot SPG, some by the Oto Melara 105mm pack howitzer, and the remainder by the 105mm L118 light gun. The last British military unit to fire the 25-pounder in its field role (as opposed to ceremonial use) was the Gun Troop of the Honourable Artillery Company on Salisbury Plain in 1992.

Service with other nations

In addition to Commonwealth and colonial forces, other Second World War users included the free forces of France, Greece, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg. The first shot fired by US artillery against the German army in the war was from a 25-pounder of the 34th Infantry Division. After the Second World War, 25-pounders remained in service with many Commonwealth armies into the 1960s. They were used in Korea by British, Canadian and New Zealand regiments and in Malaya by British and Australian batteries. They also featured in wars on the Indian sub-continent and in the service of Israeli and other Middle Eastern armies.

Australia was an extensive user of the 25-pounder, with them seeing service with their military in WW2, Korea and the Malayan Emergency. They were kept in use by reserve units up until 1970s. Individual guns are now often seen as fixed memorials in memorial parks and Returned Servicemen's clubs. Because of the rough terrain involved in the New Guinea campaign, the heavy nature of the weapon made it difficult to use. The gun was manufactured in Australia, which also made it available for use in Australian developed vehicles, including a light tank, the Chassis 160, the Thunderbolt tank, and the self-propelled gun, the Yeramba. This led to Australian development of a short barreled lighter version, which was lighter and more suitable for off-road deployment.

The gun was called G1 by the South African Defence Force. It was extensively used in the early stages of the South African Border War, including Operation Savannah. The G1 is still used in the ceremonial role.

The Rhodesian Army used the weapon during the Bush War but by this stage the round could not penetrate enemy bunkers.

The Ordnance QF 25 pounder Mark III was added to the Sri Lankan Army inventory in 1985 supplied by Pakistan at the early stages of the Sri Lankan civil war and was fielded by the 6th Field Regiment, Sri Lanka Artillery which was raised in September 1985. It still remains in service with the Ceremonial Saluting Battery of the 6th Field Regiment.

In 1949, 48 ex-British-Army Mark III 25-pounders were acquired by the Irish Defence Forces and were in service with the reserves until 2009, having been replaced in the army by the 105 mm Light Gun in 1981. The Irish Army maintains a six-gun ceremonial 25-pounder battery for use on state occasions.

The Indian Army employed the 25-pounder into the late 1970s. They used them against Pakistan during the Indo-Pakistani War of 1947, the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965 and the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971 and against China during the Sino-Indian War in 1962.

The Jordanian Arab Legion deployed eight 25-pounder field guns during the fighting in 1948. Later, the Royal Jordanian Army deployed several batteries of 25-pounders during the Six-Day War.

The Lebanese Army aligned twenty-one QF Mk III 25-Pounders on its inventory in 1975, with most of them being subsequently seized by the Tigers Militia and the Kataeb Regulatory Forces (KRF) militia in February 1976 and passed on to its successor, the Lebanese Forces in 1980, who employed them during the Lebanese Civil War.

During World War II, the Free Luxembourgish Forces fielded four 25-pounders, which were named after the four daughters of Grand Duchess Charlotte: Princesses Elisabeth, Marie Adelaide, Marie Gabriele and Alix. Post-war, the Luxembourg Army used a number of 25-pounder guns. In 1955–1957, they were rebarrelled to and fitted with new sights. The First Artillery Battalion with 18 guns was placed at the disposal of the 8th Infantry Division of the United States from 1963 to 1967. The last shots fired by the First Luxembourg Artillery Battalion left the tubes on May 31, 1967. Some are maintained for gun salutes.

The 25-pounder first entered service with Greek forces in North Africa during WWII. Three (numbered I, II and III) field artillery regiments of 24 pieces each were raised as part of the Greek infantry brigades raised by the Greek government in exile. Their only significant actions were at El Alamein in 1942 and Rimini in 1944. After the end of the Second World War, the 25-pounder served as part of the Greek Army during the Greek Civil War. A total of 125 25-pounder guns were used by the Greek artillery during the civil war of 1946–1949, in various organizational schemes. After the civil war, they were organized into seven independent regiments of 18 guns each. Following Greece's entry into NATO in 1952 and the standardization on American calibres in 1953, the 25-pounders, unlike other models, were not retired but reorganised into 13 battalions of eight guns each, as part of divisional artillery formations. In 1957, the influx of American artillery pieces permitted an increase from 8 to 12 guns per battalion. In 1964, 54 25-pdr guns were handed over from Greece to Cyprus, where they entered service with the Cyprus National Guard organized into four battalions of 12 guns each ( numbered 181, 182, 183 and 185) and one independent battery of six guns (184). They saw action during the Turkish invasion of the island in 1974. The 25-pounders remained in Greek Army service until 1992, when they were retired as part of the CFE agreement. The guns of the Cyprus National Guard remain in storage.

The Nigerian Federal Army used 25-pdr guns during the Biafran War. The Nigerian Army still fielded them in 2002.

A 2015 news report shows at least one 25-pounder in service with Kurdish Peshmerga forces, employed against ISIS positions in Mosul, Iraq.

In 1953, Vietnamese National Army was equipped with 122 QF 25 pounders.

Known officially as the "Ordnance, Quick Firing 25-pounder Mark I on Carriage 18-pr Mark IV", or "Ordnance, Quick Firing 25-pounder Mark I on Carriage 18-pr Mark V" and commonly called the "18/25-pounder". The Mark I was a 25-pounder barrel and breech in the modified jacket of an 18-pounder gun, as a 'loose liner'. The jacket provided the interface to the 18-pounder carriage. The earliest versions retained 18-pounder type elevation sights but later ones had Probert pattern calibrating sights on the right side of the saddle. The Mark IV P, carriage was a box trail, Mark V P, was a split trail. These conversions of the 18-pounder first entered British service in 1937. A few were lost in the Norwegian campaign and 704 in France, leaving about the same number in UK's global stocks. They served in North Africa (until about late 1941) and India. This mark of 25-pounder was limited to charge 3 due to its 18-pounder carriage.

The Mark II, fitted to the Mark I carriage was the standard gun during the war. They were built in Australia and Canada but mostly in UK. Deliveries (from UK production) started at the beginning of 1940 and first entered service with a Canadian regiment stationed in UK during May 1940. No Ordnance 25-pr Mk 2 on Carriage 25-pr Mark 1 were lost in France. This gun fired all charges, 1 – 3 and Super. In 1942, a muzzle brake was fitted to the gun to eliminate the instability caused when firing the 20 lb AP shell with Charge Super at direct fire low elevation angles. To preserve the gun's balance on the trunnions, a counterbalance weight was also fitted, just in front of the breech ring. The designation of the modified gun was not changed. Eventually, all guns serving in Europe were so converted. The Mark II ordnance had six main marks of the barrel:

Original variant with a loose liner.

The standard design, also made in Canada as C Mk II barrel.

In 1946, a programme was introduced to modify the gun's breech ring by morticing the rear corners. A corresponding modification was made to the rear corners of the breech block. This was to reduce the instances of cracking the ring.

The Mark III barrel was a Mark II with a modified receiver to prevent the rounds from slipping back out when loading at high angles. It was introduced in January 1944.

This was a Mk III gun with the same modification to the ring and block as for the Mk II/I.

The Mark IV was identical to the Mark III/I, and featured the modified ring and a paired block from new.

The final alteration of the breech ring made in 1964.

The 25-pounder Short Mark I, or Baby 25-pr, was an Australian pack gun version of the 25-pounder, first produced in 1943. This was a shortened version of the standard 25-pounder, mounted on the ''Carriage 25-pr Light, Mark 1''. Weighing , it was around lighter than the 25-pounder Mark II. The "Baby" was intended for jungle warfare and was only used by Australian units in the South West Pacific theatre. The gun could be towed by a jeep or broken down into 13 sections and transported by air. During the New Guinea campaign the gun was manhandled up steep jungle tracks where trucks could not operate.

The Mark I carriage was the first real 25-pounder carriage. Later in the war, some guns had a double spacer-separated shield to improve protection. It had Probert-pattern calibrating sights, but with the range indicator wrapped into the distinctive cone that rotated against a fixed reader arm.

In Burma, artificers of 129 (Lowland) Jungle Field Regiment developed a local modification to use a Jeep axle and wheels to produce a 20-inch narrower axle track for easier movement along restricted jungle paths, along with some minor modifications to the gun trail it was called the Jury Axle. Tests in action showed the gun was stable, it was first reported to GHQ India in October 1943. It appears that it was also used without its shield, and the gun could be disassembled for transport in pieces by Jeep. 139th (4th London) Jungle Field Regiment used the modified guns and developed procedures for dismantling them for stowage aboard Douglas C-47 Dakota transport aircraft.

The Mark II carriage was basically the War Office-approved formalisation of the Jury Axle version of the 25-pounder. Changes included a narrower shield, a new narrower track platform (No 22), and modified Jeep wheels.

The Mark III carriage, also narrow, was a further development of the Mark II carriage to provide joints that enabled the trail to be cranked for "upper register" (high-angle) fire to avoid the need to dig a trail pit, and used with the cranked "dial sight adaptor" previously adopted for high-angle fire. It entered service soon after the war. High-angle fire had been introduced in Italy and used increments to charges 2 and 3 to give the 25-pounder seven charges.

The British did further work on the Australian-designed short 25-pounder, enabling it to fire charge Super. One or two prototypes were produced and the carriage was officially designated the Mark IV, but never went into production.

The Bishop was a British self-propelled 25-pounder using the Valentine tank chassis, soon replaced by better designs.

The Sexton was a Canadian self-propelled 25-pounder using the Ram or Grizzly tank chassis.

The Yeramba was an Australian self-propelled 25-pounder using the M3 Lee tank chassis.

* * : Used by Belgian Field Battery during WWII also in Belgian Congo post-WWII * (also used in military funerals) * * : used during WWII * * : used by Free French and then in Indochina * : 144 from Royal Netherlands East Indies Army (KNIL) Netherlands Artillery units
Onderdelen (Units), VA I – VA VI
,” ‘‘… De KNIL afdelingen VA-I t/m VA-VI waren uitgerust met van de Australiërs afkomstige 25 ponders die speciaal waren ontworpen voor oorlogvoering in de tropen (smalle spoorbreedte en knikaffuit). Bij de overdracht van de soevereiniteit aan Indonesië op 12 december 1949, werd het materieel van de afdelingen overgedragen aan het Indonesische leger . ’‘ ”(“''… The KNIL battalions VA-I to VA-VI were equipped with 25-pounders from the Australians, specially designed for warfare in the tropics (narrow wheelbase and nodded carriage trail) When the sovereignty was transferred to Indonesia on 12 December 1949, the equipment of the batalions was transferred to the Indonesian army . ''”) * : replaced by 105mm howitzers in 2014 * * * Iraq ''Rulers of Iraq and Saudi Arabia bury an old feud with big party in Baghdad''. LIFE Magazine: May 27, 1957. * (relegated to ceremonial role) * * * : Captured examples and 1943–45 co-belligerent forces * * * * (relegated to ceremonial role) * (relegated to ceremonial role) * : still in service in 2002 * -50 in service * (Captured examples) Mk I designated ''8.76 cm Feldkanone 280(e)'', MK II designated ''8.76 cm Feldkanone 281(e)''. * : Used by Royal Netherlands Motorized Infantry Brigade “Princess Irene”, Royal Netherlands East Indies Army (1945–1949), Marines Brigade (1945–1949), Royal Netherlands Army (1945–1984) * (relegated to ceremonial role) * * :

40 in 1976 * : 12 from South Africa * (Polish Armed Forces in the West) * : Registration – Obus 8,8 cm m/43 (relegated to ceremonial role) * * * (relegated to ceremonial role) * (relegated to ceremonial role) * : 122 in 1953 * (relegated to ceremonial role) * : 3 displayed during parades in 2016 * * * : during Tunisian Campaign, Battle of the Bulge and Pacific War * * (1 seen in use by Peshmerga forces in Mosul)

Notes Bibliography * Various QF 25-pr Range Tables Part 1 1939 – 1967 * Various QF 25-pr UK Gun Drill pamphlets 1939 – 1976 * Various QF 25-pr Handbooks 1940 – 1957 * British and American Artillery of WW2. Ian Hogg. * *

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