M102 howitzer

First introduced during the Vietnam War, the M102 was the light-towed 105 mm howitzer used by the United States Army in the Vietnam War, the First Gulf War, and most recently in the Iraq War.

M102 howitzer
Class Vehicle
Type Towed Artillery
Manufacturer Rock Island Arsenal
Origin United States of America
Country Name Origin Year
United States of America 1964
Country Name Operational Year Retirement Year
Belgium View
Brazil View
Cambodia (Kampuchea) View
Philippines View
Saudi Arabia View
South Korea View
Turkey (Ottoman Empire) View
United States of America 1964 View
Vietnam View
ManufacturerName Production From Production To Quantity
Rock Island Arsenal View

An air-mobile howitzer for the Vietnam War

The M102 105?mm howitzer is used in air mobile (helicopter) and light infantry operations. The weapon carriage is lightweight welded aluminum, mounted on a variable recoil mechanism. The weapon is manually loaded and positioned, and can be towed by a 2 ton truck or High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle (HMMWV), can be transported by UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters, or can be dropped by parachute with airborne units. When emplaced, the howitzer's high volume of fire compensates in large measure for the lower explosive weight of the projectile compared to the Army's 155?mm and 8-inch howitzers. Since 1964, the Army has acquired 1,150 M102 towed howitzers. This weapon is being replaced by the M119-series 105?mm howitzer.

Current usage

102 Howitzer belonging to Battery A, 1st Battalion, 206th Field Artillery, 39th Brigade Combat Team, in position at Camp Taji, Iraq 29 May 2004

While the M102 is no longer in active use by the United States Army, having been replaced by the M119, it is still in use by the National Guard. The M102 was last deployed to combat in 2004 by the 1st Battalion, 206th Field Artillery, Arkansas Army National Guard. Seventeen M102 howitzers were deployed to Camp Taji, Iraq. The 1-206th FA provided fire and conducted counter-fire missions in support of 39th BCT operations, an element of the 1st Cavalry Division. The 1-206th scavenged spare parts from nine M102 howitzers that were located in the Camp Taji Boneyard. These howitzers were allegedly captured by the Iraqi Army during the Iran-Iraq War in the 1980s.

The M102 is also used on the USAF's Lockheed AC-130 gunship. The M102 105?mm cannon was modified to be fired from the left rear side door of the AC-130 gunship aircraft. To accommodate this cannon, the rear side-firing 40?mm guns was replaced by the radome that formerly had been installed in the door cavity. That change provided enough space for the 105?mm gun to be mounted in the doorway in place of the radome. The gun was first used in the later stages of the Vietnam War and is still used in the AC-130U gunship. The latest AC-130J Ghostrider gunship was not originally planned to include the 105?mm, but designed with enough spare power and room to mount it at some later point. The Air Force decided to include it in January 2015, starting installation on the third aircraft, then having the first two be retrofitted when guns become available; M102s will be pulled off retiring AC-130Us and put into the AC-130Js.

The M102 is used in extremely limited roles by the United States Marine Corps, primarily for firing salutes.

The Malaysian Army used the M102 in the 2nd Emergency (1968–1988) to bombard CPM positions on the Malaysian Thai border. The guns were transported by helicopter to remote firing positions. Now the guns have been decommissioned and are only used for firing salute.

Type Howitzer
Place of origin United States
Service history
In service 1964–present
Used by  USA
 Brazil
 Turkey
 Philippines
 Cambodia
 Saudi Arabia
 South Korea
 South Vietnam
 Belgium
Wars Vietnam War, Invasion of Grenada, Gulf War, Iraq War
Production history
Designed 1962
Manufacturer Rock Island Arsenal
Specifications
Weight 1,496 kg (3,298 lb)
Length Travel: 5.18 m (20 ft)
Width Travel: 1.96 m (6 ft 5 in)
Height Travel: 1.59 m (5 ft 3 in)
Crew 8
Shell 105×372R
Caliber 105 mm (4.1 in)
Action vertical sliding-wedge
Recoil hydropnuematic
Carriage box-trail
Elevation -5° to +75°
Traverse 360°
Rate of fire Maximum: 10 rpm
Normal: 3 rpm
Effective firing range 11.5 km (7.1 miles)
Maximum firing range 15.1 km (9.4 miles) withrocket-assisted projectile

End notes