Elements of 1/15IN, part of the 3rd ID were deployed to Kuwait in 2012. In addition to showing the flag, they took advantage of the large Udari range complex to hold a Combined Arms Live Fire Exercise (CALFEX) simulating a breaching operation. Breaching operations always make good CALFEX’s both because they’re a high payoff mission, which are very complex and very hard to train to do well, and because they naturally involve almost all the assets organically available to the ground forces.
Category Archives: 120mm
Alte kamerad LTCOL P, Marine artilleryman extraordinaire, has a great piece about a great piece. He points out some pretty sobering stats from the continuing effort to make ground combat a co-ed sport.
In the 155 mm Artillery Lift and Carry, a test simulating ordnance stowing, volunteers had to pick up a 95 lb. artillery round and carry it 50 meters in under 2 minutes. Noted the report, “Less than 1% of men, compared to 28.2% of women, could not complete the 155 mm artillery round lift and carry in the allotted time.” If trainees had to “shoulder the round and/or carry multiple rounds, the 28.2% failure rate would increase.”
As LTCOL P points out, such a test is in no way, shape, or form anywhere near realistic. The HE M107 projectile is 95 pounds, a tad heavier with lifting eyebolt. I would posit that making the test the moving of ten or twenty of those projectiles over, say, 100 meters, BEGINS to get to what kind of heavy manual labor is involved in being a field artilleryman. I would doubt severely that any female tested could get anywhere close to passing that particular test. And that is simply a beginning test. Try it after several days of 3 hours’ sleep in the snow or in yesterday’s rainwater, or in the 115 degree heat, after displacing twice in four hours and digging in spades each time.
You can be guaranteed the feminists and their spineless apologists in uniform will continue to find ways to obfuscate and slant results such as these and continue to scream for she-warriors who are the physical equivalent of men, when they are not being helpless victims, of course. Our present and future enemies must be awfully impressed.
When you mention a 120mm gun today, virtually everyone thinks of the main gun of the M1 Abrams family of tanks. And rightly so. It’s an impressive weapon. But did you know that from the mid-1940s to the early 1950s there were more than a few 120mm guns guarding the US?
The US Army began World War II with the M3 3” gun as its primary heavy antiaircraft gun. The M3 was itself a slightly improved version of the M1918 fielded for World War II, and was clearly facing obsolescence. It lacked the ability to reach the high altitudes routinely used by enemy bombers, and didn’t throw a very powerful shell.
Soon the excellent M1 90mm anti-aircraft gun replaced it.
But as good as the M1 90mm gun was, it still lacked the range and altitude needed. Toward the end of the war, the Army finally fielded the massive M1 120mm heavy anti-aircraft gun. While a few batteries were sent to the Pacific before the war ended, it doesn’t appear any actually engaged Japanese aircraft.
The beginning of the Cold War raised the spectre of Soviet bombers laying waste to American cities with nuclear weapons. Accordingly, a very high priority was given to air defense of the continental US. The Air Force fielded many squadrons of fighters. And pending the development of guided missiles, the Army placed batteries of 90mm and 12omm guns to protect our cities.
A typical 120mm battery had four guns. The guns were automatically directed by the M10 director system, which in turn used information from the SCR-584 radar, or a similar gun laying radar and the M4 gun computer.
Batteries also protected sensitive sites such as the Panama Canal.
By the mid-1950s, the M1’s ability to destroy high speed bomber targets was marginal. As rapidly as possible, gun batteries were replaced by Nike Ajax guided missile batteries. Today, the M1 is but a faint memory.
So, 5/20IN hosted the Japanese Ground Self Defense Force to a mortar live fire at Yakima Firing Center recently. Lots of 120mm goodness going on.
Here’s the short PAO take.
And here’s the extended version. I love that piiiiiing! that 120mm mortars make when firing. Gives me a warm fuzzy.
This week marks VE Day, commemorating the Victory in Europe over Hitler’s Third Reich. The last and perhaps the most savage battle was for the German capital of Berlin. This from the Battlefield series, which was aired weekly on Far East Network (“Forced Entertainment Network”) when I had an artillery battery in Okinawa in 1996. The entire series is superb, and if you look, you can find most of them on line. They are also available on DVD. They contain a pretty good description of the higher tactical through the strategic picture, and have enough detail and technical stuff, but not too much.
Since the series was made, Russian archives have been explored more completely, and the number of Soviet casualties have been scaled up more than two-fold, from the 305,000 quoted in this episode, to nearly 700,000. Note the ever-present use of artillery and mortars, rockets, and field guns, even in an urban environment. The episode is 116 minutes, roughly the time one spends clicking on all of Mav’s aviation links and cool pictures and videos and stuff. So get your Eastern Front geek on, and watch it. You know you wanna.
We’ve written before about mortars being the infantry commander’s “hip pocket artillery.”* And in our Army, mortars are infantry weapons, separate from the Field Artillery. Currently, our Army fields 60mm, 81mm, and 120mm mortars.
But that doesn’t mean there aren’t larger mortars. Israel and several other countries use 160mm mortars. And the current largest mortar in service is the Russian 240mm mortar.
That’s a pretty hefty tube.
It’s odd to see a weapon that has a rotary magazine and power loading and yet the each round has to have its primary and booster charges hand applied. I mean, really? Tying the “cheeses” on with string?
Looks like some guided and rocket assisted shells in there too.
*well, Infantry, Armor and Cavalry- basically each ground maneuver battalion has its own mortars.
Normally, I like to make fun of Marines. And I like to make fun of
Artillerymen. I especially like making fun of Marine Artillerymen.
But if I pick on URR too much, he pouts and doesn’t post much. Which means, I would have to, and what’s the point of having co-authors, but to pick up my slack?
And Roamy, bless her, likes some splodey/shooty. It’s not like I pay them for content, so once in a while, I have to be nice to URR and Roamy. Here, I’mma kill two birds with one stone.
The Marines will never have anything approaching the numbers of guns Army artillery has. Yes, in Iraq and Afghanistan, the need for tube artillery has been fairly sparse. But in a near-peer conflict, a war of maneuver, artillery will be as key as it always has been. One of the linchpins of a strategy of maneuver is denying that very maneuver to your enemy. And artillery fire is a key component of that. The old definition of maneuver was “fire and movement” and artillery provides the “fire” while infantry/armor provides the movement.
It’s not so much that the Marines are dim and not smart enough to buy a lot of artillery. They are. But they face two important constraints on the amount of artillery they can field. First, all their artillery pretty much has to be air transportable by helicopter. And given the very limited number of CH-53E’s available, if at all possible, they want systems that can be lifted by the smaller, more numerous MV-22B. Second, the Marines are an amphibious force, which means they have to travel on the amphibious shipping provided to them by the Navy. As big as those ships are, there aren’t a lot of them, and further, there is a fixed, finite space available for equipment. Finding a balance between tanks, artillery, amphibious assault vehicles, logistical trucks, Humvees and all the other stuff a Marine Expeditionary Unit needs to take along is one of the headaches Marine planners face on a regular basis. So finding an artillery system that uses less space, and weighs less and, in a perfect world, takes a smaller crew, is a key priority. So the Marines are buying the EFSS 120mm mortar system, in lieu of the traditional 105mm gun howitzer.
In the Army, all mortars, even the 120mm, are Infantry weapons, organic to Infantry and Armor/Cav organizations. But for the Marines, if you’re going to use a mortar as your primary direct support system, having the artillery man it makes sense.