M101 howitzer

The 105 mm M2A1 (M101A1) howitzer was a howitzer developed and used by the United States. It was the standard U.S. light field howitzer in World War II and saw action in both the European and Pacific theaters. Entering production in 1941, it quickly gained a reputation for accuracy and a powerful punch. The M101A1 fired 105 mm high explosive (HE) semi-fixed ammunition and had a range of 11,270 meters, or 12,325 yards, making it suitable for supporting infantry.

All of these qualities of the weapon, along with its widespread production, led to its adoption by many countries after the war. Its ammunition type also became the standard for many foreign countries' later models.

M101 howitzer
Class Vehicle
Type Towed Artillery
Manufacturer Rock Island Arsenal
Production Period 1941 - 1953
Origin United States of America
Country Name Origin Year
United States of America 1941
Country Name Operational Year Retirement Year
United States of America View
ManufacturerName Production From Production To Quantity
Rock Island Arsenal 1941 1953 View

The U.S. military artillery designation system was changed in 1962, redesignating the 105mm M2A1 howitzer the M101A1. The gun continued to see service in the Korean and Vietnam Wars. Though a similar model, the M102 howitzer, shared the same roles in battle, it never fully replaced the M101A1. Today, the M101A1 has been retired by the U.S. military, though it continues to see service with many other countries.

By the end of the Second World War, 8,536 105 mm towed howitzers had been built and post-war production continued at Rock Island Arsenal until 1953, by which time 10,202 had been built.

The Canadian Forces continued to use the M2A1 as the C2 Howitzer until 1997, when a modification was made to extend its service life; it is now designated the C3. The changes include a longer barrel, a muzzle brake, reinforced trails and the removal of shield flaps. It remains the standard light howitzer of Canadian Forces Reserve units. The C3 is used by Reserve units in Glacier National Park in British Columbia as a means of avalanche control. In addition, the M101 has found a second use in the U.S. as an avalanche control gun, supervised by the US Forest Service.

France and the State of Vietnam used it during the First Indochina War, as did the People's Army of Vietnam, who were supplied with this weapon by China PR along with other captured Kuomintang artillery pieces. Today upgraded M2A1s are still being used by the People's Army of Vietnam. It remains as the primary tactical field howitzer of the VPA.

A number of M2/M101 howitzers were used by the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and approximately 50 were inherited by Croatia, of which 4 are still in use for training with the Croatian army.

M2 Howitzers are still in limited service in the Australian Army Reserve, but are being replaced with 81mm mortars with an emphasis on the retention of indirect fire support skills. In regular service they were replaced by the 105mm L119 Hamel gun and the 155mm M198 howitzers.

Two M2 howitzers (1942) are still employed in providing the gun salute at Kristiansten Fortress, in Trondheim, Norway. M101/M2 is one of three approved salute guns in the Norwegian armed forces, and have been reduced to a caliber of 75 mm for this purpose. They are used for gun salute also at Rena and Setermoen.

Type Howitzer
Place of origin United States
Service history
Used by  United States
Wars World War II
Korean War
First Indochina War
Vietnam War
Insurgency in the Philippines
Production history
Manufacturer Rock Island Arsenal
Produced 1941–1953
Specifications
Weight 2,260 kg (4,980 lb)
Length 5.94 m (19 ft 6 in)
Barrel length 2.31 m (7 ft 7 in) L/22
Width 2.21 m (7 ft 3 in)
Height 1.73 m (5 ft 8 in)
Shell 105x372R
Caliber 105 mm (4.1 in)
Breech horizontal block
Recoil hydropneumatic, constant, 42 in (110 cm)
Carriage split trail
Elevation -5° to +66°
Traverse 46°
Muzzle velocity 472 m/s (1,550 ft/s)
Maximum firing range 11,270 m (7.00 mi)

End notes