The M198 155mm Medium Howitzer, Towed

What is it?

The M198 is a field artillery gun used for long-range fire support. One would use artillery to deny enemy access to a given area, and to make sure allies can travel freely in said area.

Who makes it?

The M198 is made by Rock Island for the United States Marine Corps.

What are the statistics?

  • Length in tow: 40 feet, 6 inches (12.30 meters)
  • Length when firing: 36 feet, 2 inches (11.01 meters)
  • Width in tow: 9 feet, 2 inches (2.79 meters)
  • Height in Tow: 9 feet, 6 inches (2.89 meters)
  • Weight: 16,000 pounds
  • Caliber: 155mm
  • Maximum rate of fire: 4 rounds per minute
  • Sustained rate of fire: 2 rounds per minute

Putting it together...

  • How is the M198 carried? You can use a five-ton truck, a CH53E Super Stallion Helicopter, and any airplane that can carry this baby.
  • How many people does it take to use this? 9 enlisted crew members, most of them to carry the ammunition, propellant, and primer in one package on a stretcher and have it pushed in the gun.
  • Time to emplace: 4 minutes

What kinds of ammunition does it use?

Well, as long as the right primer and propellant combination is provided (for the proper range and bursting of the projecting), you can use a lot of projectiles for this howitzer.

  1. High Explosive Shell, Point Detonating fuse (HE, Q) -- I guess it's the run-of-the mill "fire and explode" kind of round. It's best be used on even ground without opposing forces in trenches. This kind of projectile works better with the lowest charge so it doesn't explode too early, or in clear weather without rain or hail to detonate it.
  2. High Explosive Shell, Delay fuse (HE Delay) -- Let's see... set the fuse to .05 of a second after impact, hit target and see it explode. Sounds perfect for breaking through smaller buildings, eh? However, this wouldn't work on concrete.
  3. High Explosive, Proximity fuse (HE, VT) -- The fuse has a radio transmitter and receiver. If the transmitted signal is revceived by the fuse in 7 meters above the target, then the projectile will burst.
  4. High Explosive, Mechanical Time Superquick fuse (HE, MTSQ) -- Sounds like it uses an adjustable time delay for a fuse. If you're going to fire at uncovered opposing ground troops or vehicles, you can use this kind of ammunition. The MTSQ is adjustable to burst on impact or from 20 meters away from target.
  5. High Explosive, Concrete Piercing fuse (HE, CP) -- Unlike the HE Delay combination, this projectine is made of heavy metal and two fuses to attack concrete structures. The first fuse is nondelay to clear away the rubble and shatter effects, and the second one is a .025 second delay to blast from within.
  6. White Phosphorus Shell (WP) -- (White phosphorus will ignite spontaneously in air and is highly toxic -- Whort's writeup in Phosphorus.) It sounds just right to set stuff on fire or to mark places. If a time-delayed fuse is used, one can use this shell for air-burst and see the fireworks!
  7. Smoke Shells -- What else is it but smoke? The old model of this shell (M116) expells three canisters of Hexacholoroethane-Zinc to cover an area with smoke. You can cover your tracks and make sure nobody else can see you to attack. This will last for 60 to 90 seconds. The improved M825 smoke round uses felt wedges with white phosphorus for five to ten minutes of smoke. The MT fuse will release the felt wedges to cover more of an area with smoke. Just be careful for the fact that the phosphorus is still toxic to the buddies out there!
  8. Illuminating shell (illum) -- Using an MT fuse, the illuminating shell will open up with a can of illuminant and parachute, brightening up the place for a change. The power of this light is 1,000,000 candle power.
  9. Improved Conventional Munitions -- ICMs are cluster munitions -- the projectile releases 60 grenades, detonates and scatters over the target area. Dual-purpose ICMs (DPICMs) contain 88 grenades made to hit personnel and vehicles.
  10. Rocket-assisted Projectiles (RAP) -- They are explosive shells, but they have a rocket motor to go far and to burst far.
  11. Cannon Launched Guided Projectiles (CLGP or "Copperhead") -- The CLGP is an anti-tank projectile that homes in on the target after it is fired. The CLGP uses a laser designator to home in on the target, be it painted by an airplane or from the ground.
  12. Family of Scatterable Mines (FASCAM) -- Two projectiles exist for scattering landmines. The Area Denial Artillery Munitions (ADAM) release 36 anti-personnel landmines with tripwires to explode near any passers-by that steps on the tripwires. Such mines can self-destruct from 4 hours (short) to 48 hours (long). The Remote Antiarmor Mine System (RAAMS) releases nine mines that explode if any large metallic object passes by.

Where have I seen the M198? Well, I have seen one in New York City during Military Salute Week in the beginning of July. The folks from the USS John F. Kennedy (CV67) visited New York and gave a tour for civilians of the carrier. The United States Marine Corps also showed the various kinds of equipment for the civilians, ranging from the Humvee to the M40A1 Sniper Rifle. In the USMC tour, I have seen one big howitzer just like this one with the words "Game Over" on the barrel. The chief of the artillery crew told me it was his idea. Pretty cool, eh?

Sources:

  • Marine Corps Warfighting Publication: Marine Artillery Operations (MCWP 3-16.1) (Coordinating Draft) Marine Corps Combat Development Command -- Doctrine Division. http://www.doctrine.quantico.usmc.mil/mcwp/htm/mcwp3161.htm
  • M198 155mm Medium Howitzer, Towed Marine Corps Fact File. http://www.hqmc.usmc.mil/factfile.nsf/AVE?openview&count=3000

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