ALC M-7 Priest

     Notes:  Though this vehicle was officially named the Sherman Fire Support Vehicle, the name “Priest” was given to it by British crews who looked at its pulpit-like commander’s station, and after similar commander’s stations on their Bishop and Deacon SP Artillery.  Based on the chassis of the M-4 Sherman series, the M-7 has no turret, an open top, and mounts a 105mm howitzer instead of more normal Sherman armament.  It is, however, a sort of a kludge, mounted on a chassis not meant to be carrying such a weapon to give it a measure of mobility in a war that was becoming more and more mobile. It was sort of a “Let’s start with a Sherman, than add a howitzer, lop off the top, leave it open…” and such.  Such a design genesis had worked with British guns and some Canadian gun, based on M-3 Lee and Grant chassis.  And the Americans needed that more mobile was discovered to be needed yesterday, in the Sicilian campaign, and they didn’t need SPHs armed with and firing British ordnance, i.e., not in the US supply chain.  With no dedicated SPH design available that could be put into action almost immediately, the Priest was settled upon for US units.  While the first Priests were sent to US Army units in North Africa, they were based on M-3 Lee main battle tanks, supply was soon diverted to the Lend-Lease program and to Britain.  They had their own teething problems with them, and ended up replacing their guns with British-made ordnance. Two iterations of these early Priests went through in less than three months, and then the base hull was changed to the M-4 Sherman tank.

     The Priest was, like the Sherman, widely exported, but by 2000, remained in service only by Yugoslavia, Israel (in a reserve role), and some South American and Southeast Asian countries.

     The M-7 Priest proved to be so ubiquitous that most US Army posts have one parked in front of their museums, or at their parks of main gates.

 

The M-7 – the Original Priest

     The US Army needed mobile heavy artillery and it needed it yesterday, As the M-3 Lee was being quickly supplanted with the M-4 Sherman, this was seen as a vehicle which could be modified and altered (in and off the production line) to produce a semi-ad hoc self-propelled howitzer.  In order to maintain a low silhouette, the gun’s elevation was limited to 35 degrees, which effectively gave the gun less than 75% of the range that the howitzer was actually capable of delivering.  Some 800 of these versions were produced, though many were built for the British under the Lend-Lease program.  As construction and modification work went on, the M-7 acquired more and more M-4 components, starting with the suspension, to the primary fighting compartment incorporating more and more cast steel.  The British made an ad hoc FDC version of the M-7, in which 24 rounds for the main gun were replaced with radio equipment and a radio operator.  An early modification to the M-7 allowed the M-7 to greatly-modify it’s ammunition storage, increasing main gun round carriage dramatically. The engine is the Wright R975 EC2 developing 340 horsepower and with manual transmission. The driver was on a front right sponson, looking through the face of the sponson with one vision block.

 

The Sherman-Based Priests

     The introduction of the M-7B1 completed the move to the Sherman chassis, specifically the M-4A3.  The engine was replaced with a higher-producing one of the same type, developing 400 horsepower. The turret was removed and the gun installed into this space, with the pulpit-like commander’s station next to the gun installation on the right.  Continual unsolved problems with the limited elevation (and lack of depression) of the main gun reared its head.  These Priests began delivery in Sep 1943.

     In the Korean War, the lack of elevation and deflection flexibility finally became a serious issue in North Korea’s rough terrain and deep valleys.  The poor depression (roughly +5 degrees) could not be fixed, but the maximum elevation was increased dramatically to +65 degrees.  In addition, the commander’s station was increased in height to the point that it has a 360-degree field of fire, and could fire almost straight up.  This was the M-7B2.

 

The “Defrocked Priest”

     During the Allied effort to capture Caen and during the breakout from the Normandy beaches, moving troops under protection became for a short time more important than moving howitzers.  To this end, the howitzer, ammo racks, fuze storage…essentially everything that made the Priest an SPH, was removed and troops piled into the rear.  The fronts were fitted with Cullen devices and they were used as assault personnel carriers.  No additional vision blocks, firing ports, or doors were installed, just climb on the thing and go. They were later converted back to their SP howitzer configurations.  They never received an official US Army designation.

     The Canadians saw this modification and ran with it, producing the Kangaroo APC. (This will be found in Canadian APCs.)

 

Vehicle

Price

Fuel Type

Load

Veh Wt

Crew

Mnt

Night Vision

Radiological

M-7 (Early)

$109,254

G, A

500 kg

22.67 tons

5

16

Headlights

Open

M-7 (Late)

$229,254

G, A

425 kg

22.97 tons

6

16

Headlights

Open

M-7 FDC

$165,804

G, A

468 kg

22.8 tons

7

17

Headlights

Open

M-7B1

$229,574

G, A

425 kg

22.97 tons

6

16

Headlights

Open

M-7B2

$231,574

G, A

425 kg

22.98 tons

6

16

Headlights

Open

“Defrocked Priest”

$21,779

G, A

1.76 tons

21.64 tons

2+8

15

Headlights

Open

 

Vehicle

Tr Mov

Com Mov

Fuel Cap

Fuel Cons

Config

Susp

Armor

M-7 (Early)

123/86

31/22

662

181

Stnd

T4

HF8  HS5  HR4

M-7 (Late)

122/85

31/22

662

181

Stnd

T4

HF8  HS5  HR4

M-7 FDC

119/83

30/21

662

181

Stnd

T4

HF8  HS5  HR4

M-7B1/M-7B2

136/95

34/24

677

214

Stnd

T4

HF8  HS5  HR4

“Defrocked Priest”

129/90

32/23

662

173

Stnd

T4

HF8  HS5  HR4

 

Vehicle

Fire Control

Stabilization

Armament

Ammunition

M-7 (Early)

Nil

None

105mm M-1 L/22 Howitzer, M-2HB (C)

24x105mm, 1000x .50

M-7 (Late)/M-7B1

Nil

None

105mm M-1 L/22 Howitzer, M-2HB (C)

69x105mm, 1000x .50

M-7 FDC

Nil

None

105mm M-1 L/22 Howitzer, M-2HB (C)

45x105mm, 1000x .50

M-7B2

Nil

None

105mm M-2 L/22 Howitzer, M-2HB (C)

45x105mm, 1000x .50

“Defrocked Priest”

Nil

None

M-2HB (C)

1000x.50

 

Cadillac M-44

     Notes:  This elderly self-propelled howitzer dates from US use in the early 1950s.  It went out of US service in 1962, but as of 2000 was still being used by Greece, Jordan, Spain, and Taiwan.  Turkey also used them, but these were upgraded in the 1980s to the M-44T standard (see Turkish Self-Propelled Artillery).  Many were also used by Italy, but most of these ended up as range targets after their service was complete. They were widely disseminated, and can be found in a number of museum and private collections. The chassis is that of the M-41 Walker Bulldog light tank; instead of a turret, the M-44 was fitted with a large open-topped superstructure which allowed the designers to simplify the design as well as lower the silhouette and reduce the costs of the vehicle. The M-44 replaced the World War Two M-41 155mm Howitzer Motor Carriage.

     The M-45 L/23 gun has much shorter range than normal NATO standard 155mm howitzers but can fire all 155mm rounds.  Again, the short gun was used to lighten the vehicle and simplify the design. The driver was in the front of the superstructure; indeed, all crewmembers were in the superstructure. The M-45 was a variant of the M-114 used on the M-41 HMC, modified to dramatically reduce recoil forces of the gun. To aid in reloading, the rear had a round lifter, which took the round from the ground to the reloading door in the rear.  The commander’s position was on the front right superstructure corner, and he has a pintle-mounted weapon mounted on a manually-rotating cupola.  The rest of the crew was deeper in the superstructure with vision blocks and sights for both direct and indirect fire; the gunner is on the front right, while the loaders are in the left rear.  Traverse within the superstructure was very narrow; and 30 degrees to the left or right.  Elevation, on the other hand, was from -5 to +65 degrees.

     The M-44’s binary powerpack was in the front of the vehicle.  The engine was a gasoline-fueled AOSI-895-3 engine, developing 500 horsepower, and hooked to a manual transmission.  The engine and transmission were also capable of exceptional torque, improving off-road performance.  Steering is by a simple T-bar, with a gas, brake, and clutch pedal. The M-44A1 used a variant of this engine, the AOSI-895-5, which used fuel injection and increased fuel efficiency.

Vehicle

Price

Fuel Type

Load

Veh Wt

Crew

Mnt

Night Vision

Radiological

M-44

$262,100

G, A

750 kg

28.35 tons

5

20

Headlights

Open

M-44A1

$262,722

G, A

750 kg

28.05 tons

5

21

Headlights

Open

 

Vehicle

Tr Mov

Com Mov

Fuel Cap

Fuel Cons

Config

Susp

Armor

M-44

135/105

34/26

568

262

Stnd

T4

HF9  HS4  HR2

M-44A1

135/105

34/26

568

210

Stnd

T4

HF9  HS4  HR2

 

Vehicle

Fire Control

Stabilization

Armament

Ammunition

M-44 (Both)

None

Basic

155mm L/23 Howitzer, M-2HB (C)

24x155mm, 900x.50

 

Cadillac M-52

     Notes:  These ancient self-propelled howitzers were still being used by Greece, South Korea, and Spain at the turn of the century.  Turkey upgraded their M-52s to the M-52T standard in the late 1980s and early 1990s (see Turkish Self-Propelled Artillery).  Their original purpose in the US Army was to replace the M-7 Priest and M-37 105mm HMC.  The M-52 saw extensive use by the US and ARVN during the American involvement in the Vietnam War. Though development began in 1951, there were repeated developmental problems and delays and first issue did not take place until 1955.

     The M-52 was based on components of the M-41 Walker Bulldog light tank, though it does not use the full chassis. The M-52 has a large turret at the rear of the chassis, with a non-rotating cupola at the front left of the turret for the driver.  He has all-around vision blocks and a hatch with an adjustable-height seat.  He also has a two-piece hatch to his left. The gunner is on the right side of the turret and has a hatch to his right with a vision block in it.  The hatchway is small and the hatch is more to receive instructions than for anything else.  The gunner’s primary sights are indirect fire sights and a x4 telescopic sight with a 10-degree field of view. At the rear of the turret to the right is the commander’s cupola.  The cupola has all-around vision blocks and a sight allowing him to look for air threats while the vehicle is buttoned up.  He has a pintle-mounted machinegun. At the rear of the turret are a two-piece circular hatchway and a rectangular two-piece hatch below it; these are for crew entry and ammunition resupply.

     The M-52 was originally supposed to have an “ultimate” fire control, but funding was cut and this was replaced in development with a more basic fire control system.   The fancy fire control system was also seen as contrary to the spirit of the program, which led to several vehicles being built on the same basic chassis.  The hull is in fact quite similar to the M-44’s hull, though the M-52 has a fully-enclosed turret instead of an open superstructure.  The M-52 uses the same supercharged gasoline engine that the M-44 uses; this was also updated to the fuel-injection system of the M-44A1 during development. The M-52 also has a 1kW APU, powered by gasoline. An M-52A1 variant improved the fuel injection and performance of the engine.

     Twilight 2000 Notes: Greek M-52s were given a unit award in 2001 during the Twilight War for their dogged defense of the 2-9 Salient near Sparta.

Vehicle

Price

Fuel Type

Load

Veh Wt

Crew

Mnt

Night Vision

Radiological

M-52

$351,231

G, A

750 kg

24.04 tons

5

20

Headlights

Enclosed

M-52A1

$351,853

G, A

750 kg

24.74 tons

5

21

Headlights

Enclosed

 

Vehicle

Tr Mov

Com Mov

Fuel Cap

Fuel Cons

Config

Susp

Armor

M-52

152/107

38/27

678

262

Stnd

T4

TF5  TS3  TR3  HF6  HS2  HR2

M-52A1

160/113

40/29

678

210

Stnd

T4

TF5  TS3  TR3  HF6  HS2  HR2

 

Vehicle

Fire Control

Stabilization

Armament

Ammunition

M-52 (Both)

None

Basic

105mm M-49 L/30 Howitzer, M-2HB (C)

102x105mm, 900x.50

 

FMC M-107

     Notes:  This self-propelled howitzer was developed in the 1950s at the same time as the M-110 203mm SP howitzer.  It has been long phased out of service in most armies that once used them, including the US, but in 2000 was still being used by Greece (converted to M-110A2), Iran, Israel, and South Korea.  They were used by a dozen countries, including both the US Army and Marines. (Vietnam does not actively use the M-107, but keeps some captured during the Vietnam was in working order.) The vehicle is normally accompanied by a drove of M-548 tracked load carriers or M-992 FAASVs, carrying the ammunition and 8 members of the gun crew.  The M-108 had one of the longest effective ranges of all Cold War howitzers. Combat use was limited to US forces in Vietnam and the IDF. (The IDF calls the M-107 the Romach.) The M-578 is also based on the M-107 and M-110 chassis.

     The chassis is the same as used on the M-110, but like the rest of the vehicle, the gun hasn’t been produced since 1980, and parts for it are getting hard to find except in countries actively using them.  The gun is carried on top of the chassis of the vehicle; it’s 175mm L/60 gun is hard-hitting and satisfyingly long-ranged.. The mounting unfortunately gives no protection to the crew from small arms fire or artillery splinters; to remedy this, a tubular framework was issued with the vehicle that could be erected around the firing position; over which Kevlar shields are placed.  Most of the time, these were considered too cumbersome and difficult to use, and they were typically left strapped to the side of the vehicle or abandoned in the rear areas.  Without these shields, the turret armor value from all directions is 0 for the crew or 1 for the gun.

     The M-107 is powered by a 450-horsepower supercharged General Motors 8V71T diesel, with a semi-automatic transmission.  The M-107 was not heavy for SP artillery of the time, and it won speed records at the time of it’s introduction. The engine is on the right front, and the driver is on the front right deck; he is the only crewmember under armor.  The commander’s position is opposite the driver on the front right deck.  Behind them are seats for three members of the crew.

     The gun and only armament is an L/60 175mm M-113.  The gun tube is so long that the gun is mounted at the very rear of the hull to counterbalance it.  At the rear are two elevators for the shells and charges; the same charges are used for the M-107 as for the M-110.  The elevators include a device to insert the chell and charges in line with the breech, where a power rammer takes over. When US and some other countries’ M-107s reached their service lives, most were turned into M-110A2s; this was an easy conversion.  The M-113 gun had a long range, but is notoriously inaccurate at ranges longer than Long range (to put it in game terms).  If an M-113 gun fires at longer ranges, triple scatter ranges.  It is also notoriously difficult to load quickly, with 1 rpm being the maximum burst rate.  The M-113 gun has a minimum depression of -2 degrees, and a maximum elevation of +65 degrees.  The crew includes three gunners, but the 8 loaders are carried in the accompanying vehicles. Special steel alloy is used to lighten the gun barrel without sacrificing strength.  However, it was not as strong as advertised; in Vietnam, barrels with supposed design lifetimes of 1000 rounds tended to last a maximum of 428 rounds. The M-107A1 was therefore designed, with a new M-113A1 gun that corrected the early-wear problem.

     The M-107 was poorly-protected, and took heavy losses in Vietnam from suicide raids by infantry, Viet Cong, and combat engineers.  The IDF has considerable success, however, at destroying SA-2 SAM sites from long range. IDF experience, and the effect of being outranged by artillery rockets, led to a new family of base-bleed and ERFB ammunition for the M-107.

Vehicle

Price

Fuel Type

Load

Veh Wt

Crew

Mnt

Night Vision

Radiological

M-107

$206,164

D, A

800 kg

28.17 tons

5 (+8)

24

Headlights

Enclosed

M-107A1

$207,922

D, A

1.6 tons

24.74 tons

5 (+8)

19

Headlights

Enclosed

 

Vehicle

Tr Mov

Com Mov

Fuel Cap

Fuel Cons

Config

Susp

Armor*

M-107

132/93

33/24

1137

168

Stnd

T4

TF1  TS1  TR1  HF4  HS2  HR2

M-107A1

145/101

36/26

1137

167

Stnd

T4

TF1  TS1  TR1  HF4  HS2  HR2

 

Vehicle

Fire Control

Stabilization

Armament

Ammunition

M-107 (Both)

None

Basic

175mm M-113 L/60 Howitzer

2x175mm

 

Cadillac M-108

     Notes:  This elderly self-propelled howitzer is still being used by Brazil, Spain, Taiwan, and Turkey. The only combat service seen by the M-108 is in the Vietnam War, where it was used by the US.  Though it had an excellent combat record, after the Vietnam War, NATO felt that the M-109 was better for employment with NATO forces.

     The M-108 uses components also used by several armored vehicles, including the turret of the M-109 and some of the suspension of the M-113 APC. Components from the M-107 comprise the primary chassis. It uses the M-103 L/30 105mm howitzer; the M-108 was meant to be the light component of the US’s SP howitzer fleet, and at the time, bridged the gap between 120/4.2” mortars and the 155mm howitzer. Nonetheless, the warhead of a 120/4.2” mortar is comparable to a 105mm round, and they became superfluous with the introduction of the M-109.  The gun is capable of extreme elevation and depression, with a depression of -6 degrees and an elevation of an astounding +75 degrees. (HEAT rounds were devised to take advantage of the low depression, making direct fire effective.)  The chemical rounds present a special problem; their range is short enough that firing into a headwind could contaminate friendly positions, and the M-108 has no NBC protection.  It’s aluminum armor is decent for such a vehicle, but there are no anti-spall liners. On the whole, the M-108 looks a bit lumpish, being flat on all sides of the chassis and a squat turret mounted at the rear of the chassis.

     The driver has a hatch on the front left deck, the commander and gunner have hatches on the turret roof, and there are large doors on either side of the turret and in the rear of the turret for ammunition loading.  It is amphibious with preparation (takes 9 minutes) through inflatable bags that attach to the hull above the tracks.  Power is provided by a Detroit Diesel 8V71T supercharged diesel, derated to 426 horsepower due to the lighter weight than the M-107 and to help conserve fuel.

Price

Fuel Type

Load

Veh Wt

Crew

Mnt

Night Vision

Radiological

$311,547

D, A

500 kg

22.45 tons

5

13

Passive IR (D, G)

Enclosed

 

Tr Mov

Com Mov

Fuel Cap

Fuel Cons

Config

Susp

Armor

149/104

38/26/8

511

160

Trtd

T4

TF8  TS4  TR4  HF10  HS3  HR3

 

Fire Control

Stabilization

Armament

Ammunition

+1

Basic

105mm L/30 Howitzer, M-2HB (C)

87x105mm, 600x.50

 

BMY M-109

     Notes: The M-109 is, essentially, a progressive upgrade of the M-108.  The M-109 was used, in its various iterations, by nearly 50 countries; most of these have been upgraded to various degrees, especially in the gun length.  Most countries which originally used the M-1209 are still using them, The M-109A6 Paladin is a highly-modified version which will be covered in the next entry. With the cancellation of the XM-2001 Crusader program, the M-109A6 and other marks of the M-109 remains the primary SP howitzer of some 25 of those 50 countries. Many have license agreements to allow them to produce M-109s at home and modify them as needed; perhaps the greatest upgrades have been done by the South Koreans. Several European countries are either going their own way with a variety of SP howitzers, especially the AS-90.

 

M-109: The Original

    The original M-109 was essentially a straightforward gun upgrade of the M-108.  It began deployment in 1963.  It has a short L/23 M-284 155mm howitzer, though it can fire basic NATO rounds (though not the more advanced rounds such as BB, RAP, Smart, and suchlike).The driver is, as on the M-108, The turret has two large doors, one on each side; large ammunition loading doors in the rear (which allow replenishment from a ground pile via conveyor belts, from a resupply vehicle via conveyor belts, or by hand via conveyor belt.  The M-109, as all members of the series, can feed from the M-992 FAASV resupply vehicle.  M-109 is able to fire while being resupplied, and also normally carries one conveyor belt, while the support vehicle carry one or two apiece.  An additional, small ramp is found below the ammunition resupply doors, for crew ingress and egress.

     The gun of the M-109 has two telescopic sights, an indirect fire telescope and gear, and night vision in case direct fire is necessary. Like the M-108, the M-109 is capable of extreme elevation and deflection.  The commander has a cupola with all-around vision blocks and is manually-rotating.  The commander is equipped with a heavy machinegun on a pintle, but as this is considered defensive armament, little ammunition is provided for it. Power is produced by a derated 8V71T developing 405 horsepower, which makes the M-109 slightly underpowered.

 

M-109A1/M-109A1B

     The M-109s were quickly upgraded to use an L/30 howitzer; these were designated M-109A1.  New production M-109A1 were designated M-109A1B.  The M-109A1B was intended as a kit for countries using the M-109, and not for domestic use. The M-109A1B also had several electrical and mechanical upgrades, and improved the night vision situation.

 

M-109A2/M-109A3/M-109A4

     The primary modification in the M-109A2 was the installation of an L/39 M-186 cannon.  The sights and night vision heads are now armor protected. Some 27 Reliability, and Maintainability (RAM) mid-life improvements were applied to the engine, transmission, suspension, and electrical system.  The travel lock is counterbalanced to account for the weight of the longer gun. Stowage of rounds was increased.  The M-109A2 is an M-109A1 upgraded to M-109A2 standards; the M-109A3B is an M-109A1B upgraded to the same standard. A 10kW APU was added for power when the engine is switched off.

 

M-109A4

     The M-109A2s and A3s were further upgraded in the early 1980s to give them NBC resistance, including anti-radiation cladding and an NBC overpressure system with a vehicular NBC backup. A heater was also added, as well as an engine preheater for starting in cold climate.  The clutch for turret rotation was changed to hydraulic, though overall operation was still electrical.  An additional hydraulic filter was added.  The night vision suite was also strengthened. A mechanical loader was added, along with a manual rammer, easing somewhat reloading.

 

M-109A5/M-109A5+

     The main gun was replaced by an improved, longer-lasting M-195 howitzer in an M-182 mount.  This new gun allowed the M-109A5 to fire any sort of 155mm in the Western or Chinese arsenals.  Some 30 kilometers can be achieved with RAP munitions.  Another major modification was the upgrade of the engine to a 440-horspower 8V71T supercharged diesel engine; this is an uprated version of the engines of previous M-109s.M-109A5s are often seen with appliqué of ERA on the front hull, glacis, vehicle sides, turret sides and front, and about the forward one third of the turret.  They also often have a solid steel plate for mine protection. Eight smoke grenade launchers have been added, a cluster on each turret corner.

     Various manufacturers, most notably IWI and BAe, have applied further upgrades to the M-109A5; these are sometimes known as “M-109A5.5s.”  Upgrades include a power rammer, an autoloader, improved direct-fire sights, and computers that allow the M-109A5+ to more fully integrate with the FDC.  One computer is connected to the radio, allowing fire coordinates to be inputted directly into the gun, giving it a rough set of coordinates which are to be sharpened by the crew.  Equipment includes appropriate earlier upgrades as well as a 30-liter tank of drinking water, an air conditioner, and a 3kW APU. Storage space for personal items is…well not ample, but more than the M-109A5, with any sort of empty space being used for crew and personal gear.  Thusfar, the M-109A5+ has been exported only to Chile, but IWI and BAe continue to market these upgrades, and claim that they can update an original M-109 into an M-109A5+.

 

Foreign Modifications to the M-109

     Various countries have made modifications to their M-109. For the most part, this was limited to changes in label languages. Some, however, were much larger and comprehensive upgrades.  These are listed below,

 

Ruag M-109 KAWEST

     This Swiss version of the M-109 uses howitzers taken from a new design for a land-based gun, the Bison Fortress gun.  The gun is L/47, and the KAWEST includes ECCM, vertically-firing flares and chaff in addition to normal smoke grenades. The KAWEST has more ammunition storage than most M-109s. The KAWEST is equipped with ECCM and radio jamming capability, as well as integral navigation and an interface system for the commander and driver. The proper Swiss Army designation is PzHb-79/95 and PzHb 88/95, depending what variant of the M-109 they were upgraded from.  The KAWEST has a similar computer suite similar to the M-109A5+.

 

RDM/Rheinmetall M-109L52

     This is essentially an M-109A4 fitted with the gun of the PzH-2000, along with mechanical and electrical components to mate the new gun with the M-109 chassis.  A few things, like GPS, an artillery fire direction (AFD) computer, and a few gee-whizzes that allow the crew to keep track of the state of their vehicle, as was an autoloader.

 

Daewoo K-55

     Notes: The first K-55s (also known as M-109A2Ks) were virtually stock M-109A2s supplied and later license-produced in South Korea.  Thus, the K-55 was primarily an M-109A1B with 27 improvements to Reliability, Availability, and Maintainability (RAM) mid-life improvements (MLUs). The gun is a 39-caliber 155mm howitzer, capable of firing all 155mm howitzer rounds available by the mid-1980s.  The K-55 has traded shots across the DMZ on occasion.  The K-55 is powered by a Detroit Diesel 8V71T 450 horsepower turbocharged diesel, with a semiautomatic transmission and mostly conventional driver’s controls.  The driver is on the front right side, while the rest of the crew is in the turret or directly behind it (one loader). The commander has a manually-operated cupola with all-around vision blocks and a weapons mount.  The primarily loader has a hatch on the left of the turret, but no vision blocks or weapon mount (though it was a common modification).  The K-55 can produce a fire rate of 6 rounds per minute for 5 minutes, or a sustained fire rate of 3 rounds per minute; a raised fire rate is hard work, while a normal rate of bombardment is normal work.  Like the M-109A2, the K-55 has a 10kW APU.

     The K-55A1 improvement installed a number of improvements, from the ability to fire all Western and Chinese 155mm rounds, further automotive improvements, installation of a fully automatic transmission, an automatic loader with power rammer, a 50-liter water tank, a crew ration heater/water heater, an integrated power pack, and improved gearing allowing for higher speeds despite the actual engine not having been changed.  The K-55 typically carries ERA on its glacis, sides, turret sides, and the front one-third of the turret front.  It can directly interface with the K-10 FAASV.  GPS, a ballistic computer for both indirect and direct fire (though HEAT rounds are rarely carried, and then only two or three). and a ruggedized laptop with a mapping module linked to the GPS and secondary inertial navigation.  The commander has an LCD telling him the vehicle and ammunition state.  The commander has a full panoramic sight, with another vision block having a mil-ring for the artillery placement and pointing.  The gunner has the same sort of ring.  These were only partially effective and were not included on the K-9.  The K-44A1 is fitted with NBC Overpressure with a vehicular NBC system backup.  In extremis, the K-55A1 can come up with its own fire solutions, but accuracy will suffer; double scatter ranges.

 

Vehicle

Price

Fuel Type

Load

Veh Wt

Crew

Mnt

Night Vision

Radiological

M-109

$136,927

D, A

500 kg

24.95 tons

6

24

Passive IR (D, C, G)

Enclosed

M-109A1

$194,099

D, A

474 kg

24.74 tons

6

19

Passive IR (D, C, G)

Enclosed

M-109B1

$205,099

D, A

474 kg

24.74 tons

6

19

Passive IR (D, C, G), Image Intensification (G)

Enclosed

M-109A2/A3

$192,429

D, A

374 kg

25.54 tons

6

17

Passive IR (D, C, G)

Enclosed

M-109A3B

$341,529

D, A

374 kg

25.54 tons

6

17

Passive IR (D, C, G), Image Intensification (G)

Enclosed

M-109A4

$341,046

D, A

374 kg

25.54 tons

6

19

Passive IR (D, C, G), Image Intensification (G)

Shielded

M-105A5

$368,827

D, A

336 kg

25.76 tons

6

17

Passive IR (D, C, G), Image Intensification (G)

Shielded

M-109A5+

$699,027

D, A

318 kg

25.87 tons

6

19

Passive IR (D, C, G), Image Intensification (G)

Shielded

M-109 KAWEST

$991,106

D, A

312 kg

26.91 tons

6

19

Passive IR (D, C, G), Image Intensification (G)

Shielded

M-109L52

$770,858

D. A

332 kg

26.51 tons

6

19

Passive IR (D, C, G), Image Intensification (G)

Shielded

K-55

$970,825

D, A

500 kg

27.5 tons

6

20

Passive IR (D, G), Image Intensification (G)

Shielded

K-55A1

$1,369,621

D, A

505 kg

28.5 tons

5

22

Passive IR (D, G), Image Intensification (G, C)

Shielded

 

Vehicle

Tr Mov

Com Mov

Fuel Cap

Fuel Cons

Config

Susp

Armor

M-109

132/93

33/24/3

511

168

Stnd

T4

TF8  TS4  TR4  HF10  HS3  HR3

M-109A1/M-109B1

149/104

37/27/4

511

159

Stnd

T4

TF8  TS4  TR4  HF10  HS3  HR3

M-109A2/A3/A3B/A4

136/95

34/24/4

511

172

Stnd

T4

TF8  TS4  TR4  HF10  HS3  HR3

M-109A5/ A5+ /KAWEST/L52

126/88

32/22/3

511

163

Stnd

T4

TF10S6Sp  TS4  TR4  HF12Sp  HS5  HR3

K-55

122/85

24/17/2

511

166

Trtd

T4

TF8  TS4  TR4  HF10  HS3  HR3

K-55A1

134/94

27/19/3

511

166

Trtd

T4

TF8  TS4  TR4  HF10  HS3  HR3

 

Vehicle

Fire Control

Stabilization

Armament

Ammunition

M-109

None

Basic

155mm M-126 L/23 Howitzer, M-2HB (C)

22x155mm, 600x50

M-109A1/A1B

None

Basic

155mm M-126A1 L/30 Howitzer, M-2HB (C)

22x155mm, 600x50

M-109A2/A3/A3B/A4

None

Basic

155mm M-185 L/39 Howitzer, M-2HB (C)

36x155mm, 600x.50

M-109A5

+1

Basic

155mm M-294 Howitzer, M-2HB (C)

36x155mm, 600x.50

M-109A5+

+2

Fair

155mm M-294 Howitzer, M-2HB (C)

36x155mm, 600x.50

M-109 KAWEST

+2

Fair

155mm Bison Fortress L/47 Howitzer, M-2HB (C)

40x155mm, 600x.50

M-109L52

None

Basic

155mm L/52 Rheinmetall Howitzer, M-2HB (C)

35x155mm, 600x.50

K-55 (Both)

+2

Fair

155mm L/39 Howitzer, M-2HB (C), M-60 (L)

48x155mm, 1000x.50, 1000x7.62mm

 

BAe M-109A6/A7 Paladin

     Notes: In the mid-to-late 1990s, development was begun on this radical upgrade of the M-109 SP howitzer.  The Army had been floundering out there, going through one abortive MRL, SP mortar, and SP Howitzer program, only to cancel them as soon as they could not meet the design roles, or killed in the budgetary arena.  Two noted members of these casualties, the XM-2002 Crusader and the NLOS Cannon, essentially led nowhere on the development track (though the NLOS Cannon is still officially in development.  Basically, the designers of the Paladin put every equipment they could into the M-109A6, along with improvements originally belonging to teat programs and vehicles. Delivery of these vehicles began by October 1998 and was largely completed by 2002. The Paladins have been about a 50/50 mix of upgraded vehicles and new-build M-109A6s.  Some 25 were built after the initial 960-vehicle block, and delivered by early 2002; these were largely test and experimentation vehicles for the upcoming M-109A7 Paladin.  The M-109A2 is just now in 2014 being to be delivered to Active US Army units. The M-109A7 is already in LRIP, but operational testing will not occur until September of 2014. Areas will be swathed in Kevlar antispall liners internally wherever possible.

     The Paladin looks sort of like an M-109 distorted by some sort of bad steroids, as doorways small and large vision blocks, clamp-down points for cargo such as for servicing the Paladin, water cans, ration boxes, and some personal gear are basically everywhere.  The turret has a large bustle (used primarily for ammunition storage), and on the sides of the bustle, bustle racks for crew equipment, ammunition, or suchlike.  And there are literally tie-down points everywhere.  The Paladin has two large ammunition-resupply doors at the rear of the bustle which open up directly into the Paladin’s ammunition racks. The commander and gunner have similar hatches to those on other M-109s, except the commander has a direct feed to night vision equipment, and also can mark targets for the gunner to deal with as the commander spots them. The gun can operate quickly from a stop, able to fire within 30 seconds of a stop is a round is already within the chamber.  After firing a quick mission (1-3 rounds), the Paladin can be gone within 15 seconds of firing the howitzer, with the travel lock being engaged on the move. The gun autoloading system is advanced enough that one loader was removed from the required crew complement.

     The M-109A6’s method of deployment is by small units; as few as four guns or less may be assigned to fire support for a mid-level attack, and times have occurred where only one or two Paladin’s have been added as support. A Paladin is able to operate without data from an FDC, getting coordinates directly from requesting units or from FIST teams. The Paladin is the type of NATO vehicle where you might find “exotic” rounds; the Paladin Program is meant to operate with CLGPs, exotic smart rounds, and even newer BB and RAP shells. The Paladin has a GPS system connected to LCD displays at the gunner’s commander’s, and driver’s stations.  The Paladin has the equivalent of a ruggedized laptop, which can reach throughout the vehicle revealing the vehicle state, as well as armament available, rations remaining, etc.  The crew has a ration heater/water boiler available to the crew, as well as a 30-liter fresh water tank.

     Perhaps the greatest deficiency in the M-109, it’s short gun, was not addressed by the Paladin upgrade, though a longer gun was experimented with.  The Paladin has the M-284 L/39 155mm cannon, and this does limit range compared to some of the new SP Howitzers coming into service or to market. The computer feeds coordinates to the fire control system, with the turret elevating, depressing, or slewing as necessary. (The Paladin’s have what is called the PFDCS – Paladin Delivery Fire and Control System,)

     Power is provided by DDEC 8V71T supercharged diesel, the same as in the M-109A5, but uprated to 450 horsepower. . The engine is coupled to an automatic transmission, with a T-bar steering yoke.  Some have said that the driver’s compartment is rather roomy. Shock absorbers and tension bar systems are described as doing an excellent job. Three grenade launchers are being contemplated – standard smoke grenade generators, chaff grenades to fire straight up, and flares to fire straight up. The armor protection has been increased; the problem that the engine power has been increased only a little, more armor is being carried – the result is a possible underpowered vehicle.

 

The M-109A7 Paladin

     This upgraded paladin is very much the same as the M-109A6; however, the M-109A7 has a self-survey capability.  The ammo racks and autoloader are finally compatible with even long and large rounds like the Excalibur.  Though initially, the M-109A7 will have the same 440-hoprsepower engine as other Paladins, there is already rumors of the engine’s being replaced by a Cummins turbocharged diesel developing 600 horsepower. The M-109A7 has new technology autoloaders and some of the Fire Control and loading equipment of the Crusader. Guns and turrets are electrically controlled, to exacting tolerances.

 

     The new cannon has an advanced bore evacuator, a new breech housing, and longer length that allows for longer range.  The armor on the turret is improved and has Kevlar ballistic lining; a new fire control system is fitted, with GPS, onboard fire control computers, inertial navigation system, and automatic fire control input; frequency-hopping radios, night vision gear, a 5kW generator, a water heater (for heating rations), and a reduction in crew required to four.  The Paladin is capable of laying and firing the howitzer without input from the FDC if the target’s location is known, via the Automatic Fire-Control System (AFCS).  The Paladin may decrease reload time to 1 for one minute. 

Vehicle

Price

Fuel Type

Load

Veh Wt

Crew

Mnt

Night Vision

Radiological

M-109A6

$1,056,367

D, A

500 kg

27.5 tons

5

23

Passive IR (D, G, C), Image Intensification (G, C)

Shielded

M-109A7

$1,112,508

D, A

505 kg

28.5 tons

5

22

Passive IR (D, G), Image Intensification (G, C), Thermal Imager (C)

Shielded

 

Vehicle

Tr Mov

Com Mov

Fuel Cap

Fuel Cons

Config

Susp

Armor

M-109A6

122/86

31/22/3

511

167

Trtd

T4

TF11Sp  TS7Sp  TR7  HF14Sp  HS5Sp  HR5

M-109A7

162/113

41/29/4

511

223

Trtd

T4

TF11Sp  TS7Sp  TR7  HF14Sp  HS5Sp  HR5

 

Vehicle

Fire Control

Stabilization

Armament

Ammunition

M-109A6/A7

+2

Fair

155mm L/39 Howitzer, M-2HB (C), M-60 (L)

48x155mm, 1000x.50, 1000x7.62mm

 

BMY M-110

     Notes: Based upon the chassis of the M-107 and developed in tandem, the M-110 was meant to provide heavy-caliber support in situations when more mobility was required and where there was much uneven terrain, something the M-107 was not good at dealing with. The gun also had a higher throw weight and this was appreciated, as the extra range of the M-107 (in Vietnam, anyway) was not always necessary, while watching Viet Cong flop around full of shrapnel was always a treat. Some 15 countries use or used it; known current users include Greece, Turkey, Iran, Japan, Morocco, Pakistan, South Korea, and Taiwan.  As the M-110 lasted far longer than was expected, new ammunition types were being developed right up to the time of withdrawal.

     The M-201A1 L/23 203mm howitzer had decent enough range of its own to satisfy, and explosions were satisfyingly large. The M-202A1 is itself a development of the British 8-inch howitzer. Recoil spades are lowered at the rear of the vehicle before firing and preferably sunk as deep as possible into hard-packed ground.  The gun is carried on top of the chassis of the vehicle.  This gives no protection to the crew from small arms fire or artillery splinters; to remedy this, a tubular framework was issued with the vehicle that could be erected around the firing position; over which Kevlar shields are placed.  Most of the time, these were considered too cumbersome and difficult to use, and they were typically left strapped to the side of the vehicle or abandoned in the rear areas.  Without these shields, the turret armor value from all directions is 0, while the gun’s AV is 1.  The gun is carried atop the chassis, with the gun mounted at the extreme rear of the M-110.  Practical range fire on the turntable is left or right of 30 degrees of center of the front. As there is almost no room for ammunition on the vehicle, and also no room for 8 of the crew members, the M-110A2 is normally followed by a large amount of support vehicles carrying these members and the ammunition, such as the M-548, M-648, or FAASV. Contrary to the M-107, the M-110 was known to be one of the more accurate SP guns around in the world at the time.  The M-110’s barrel tube has no muzzle brake nor fume extractor.  The round is absolutely massive; the shell itself is an average of 91 kilograms, not including fuze and charges; nonetheless, the gunners often found using a manual expedient – a lounger on a long stick – worked better than the power rammer.

     Using a common chassis, the M-110 uses a slightly-more derated version of the 8V71T supercharged diesel engine developing 405 horsepower.  This was done to increase torque in both the engine and transmission.  Transmission is manual.  It was common practice in Vietnam to employ M-107 and M-110 barrel as needed, and a given carriage could literally be firing a different caliber every day of the week.  The gun could be elevated to +65 degrees and depressed -2 degrees. The gun was fed from twin loading baskets; the charges and fuzes were affixed before the round was moved up to firing position.

     Unusual rounds which could be fired from the M-110 were the 0.5, 1, 5, and 10 kt nuclear warheads.  They were never used in war, but formed a part of the nuclear triad.

     Only the driver had a full-armored position, with vision blocks.  He is the only one who had any sort of armored protection.  The two gunners and two of the loaders formed the rest of the vehicle crew, but were essentially crouching on the deck, with poorly-formed seats. There is no Overpressure, no vehicular NBC system, only the crews’ own protective masks,

     The M-110A1 and A2, other than cleaned-up electrical and hydraulic, had their barrels extended, with the M-110A1 having an L/36 barrel and the M-110A2 having an L/40 barrel.  These were far less common than the original version, however. They also were given muzzle brakes and fume extractors.

     In an unusual move, during Desert Storm, US F-111s were in need of casings for 5000-pound bunker busters.  (This was a new idea and we didn’t have any in stock at the time.) The casings were at first taken from retired M-110s and their gun barrels, and had mixed results.

 

Vehicle

Price

Fuel Type

Load

Veh Wt

Crew

Mnt

Night Vision

Radiological

M-110

$215,398

D, A

500 kg

28.35 tons

5(+8)

20

Headlights

Enclosed

M-110A1

$249,066

D, A

406 kg

28.73 tons

5(+8)

20

Headlights

Enclosed

M-110A2

$259,810

D, A

381 kg

28.83 tons

5(+8)

20

Headlights

Enclosed

 

Vehicle

Tr Mov

Com Mov

Fuel Cap

Fuel Cons

Config

Susp

Armor*

M-110

110/77

28/20

1137

149

Trtd

T4

TF1  TS1  TR1  HF4  HS2  HR2

M-110A1/A2

108/76

27/19

1137

151

Trtd

T4

TF1  TS1  TR1  HF4  HS2  HR2

 

Vehicle

Fire Control

Stabilization

Armament

Ammunition

M-110

Nil

None

203mm L/23 Howitzer

2x203mm

M-110A1

Nil

None

203mm L/36 Howitzer

2x203mm

M-110A2

Nil

None

203mm L/40 Howitzer

2x203mm