202nd Field Artillery Battalion
United States Army  World War II

United States Army World War II

Battalion Profile

United States Army 202nd Field Artillery Battalion:
Composition, Equipment, and Operating Procedures
 



Table of Contents

Organizational Structure
Description of 155mm Howitzer M1
Personnel of a Howitzer Section
Loading and Firing Procedures
Ammunition
Prime Movers of the 155mm Howitzer M1
Other Trucks and Trailers
Small Arms
Aircraft
Combat Deployment and Tactics

                                                  Selected Bibliography


__________________________________________________________________


                                   ORGANIZATIONAL STRUCTURE


The 202nd Field Artillery was an independent battalion (i.e., not permanently assigned to a specific division, corps, or army). Thus as a "non-organic" unit throughout World War II, the 202nd was commonly assigned to a division or corps that needed additional support. They could quickly be detached, redeployed, and attached to units spearheading the Allied advance during important campaigns in the European Theatre of Operations (ETO).

The 202nd Field Artillery Battalion was composed of three firing batteries: "A" Battery, "B" Battery, and "C" Battery. The howitzer (gun) battery was the basic field artillery unit; it was the smallest unit containing the personnel and equipment necessary for maneuver, maintenance, and administration. 
Each firing battery had four 155mm howitzers and an authorized strength of 106 men. Additionally, the battalion had one Service Battery with 76 men, a Medical Detachment of 12, and a Headquarters and Headquarters Battery with 109 men. An authorized total of 515 men.

The Headquarters and HQ Battery were responsible for the command and administration of the battalion personnel, intelligence, operational planning and training, supply, munitions, liaison, communications, and reconnaissance.

The Service Battery provided food, supplies (ammunition, equipment, clothing, fuel, etc.), and equipment repairs.

Medical and dental needs of the battalion were handled by the Medical Detachment.

The role of field artillery in combat (as defined in War Dept. Field Manual FM 6-20 dated 5 February 1944) is to support the entire fighting force by giving close and continuous fire support to infantry, cavalry, or armored units and by giving depth to combat by counterbattery fire, fire on hostile reserves, fire to restrict movements in rear areas, and fire to disrupt command agencies.

FM 6-20 describes the characteristics of field artillery: It is an arm for relatively long range combat. Massed artillery fire possesses great power of destruction and neutralization. Artillery fire can be shifted rapidly in width and depth without changing positions. Artillery positions can be changed quickly during combat, and units can be regrouped to bring greater fire power to bear on important sectors. This flexibility gives the commander a powerful means of influencing the course of combat. The efficiency with which artillery fires are maneuvered depends upon adequate control, close liaison with supported troops, and efficient communications and observation. 
 
The U.S. Army’s field artillery made a tremendous contribution to the Allied victory in World War II. Its weapons, ammunition, fire control and direction, and communications network were all superior, and the most advanced of their time. One key element of the U.S. Army’s World War II field artillery was the “field artillery system,” a family of towed field artillery cannon able to perform all fire missions.


The U.S. Army field artillery system was developed after World War I and classified cannon into light, medium, heavy and super heavy types. Each of these included a long barreled gun and a short barreled howitzer mounted on the same basic carriage in each class. The howitzer normally fires with a high trajectory and has a shorter range than a gun of the same caliber. A number of basic features for all the towed field guns in this system were established in the early 1920’s. They were all to have split trail carriages to give them wide fields of fire. All were to have their barrels trunioned near their breeches and counterbalanced by “equilibrator” springs; however this system was not used on the super heavy cannon. This allowed them to fire at high elevations without the need of excavating pits for their barrels to recoil into. And they were all to use very efficient hydraulic energy-absorber pneumatic spring recoil systems.

 

Guns and howitzers in each of these classes were used by the U.S. Army Field Artillery in World War II:

Light – 3 inch Gun M5 and 105mm Howitzer M2
Medium – 4.5 in. Gun M1 and 155mm Howitzer M1
Heavy – 155mm Gun M1 and 8 in. Howitzer M1
Super Heavy – 8 in. Gun M1 and 240mm Howitzer M1

The 155mm howitzer had a lower rate of fire but greater power than the light artillery. Its weight of projectile and range made it preferable to light artillery for counterbattery. Its mobility over difficult terrain was appreciably less than that of light artillery.  




__________________________________________________________________________



                          DESCRIPTION OF 155MM HOWITZER M1

In 1941, the new 155mm Howitzer M1 went into production. It would later prove to be one of the best field artillery weapons of its class in World War II. The 202nd Field Artillery Battalion was equipped with 155mm howitzers.

The 155mm Howitzer M1 first saw action in North Africa in 1942. Over 4,000 of these guns were produced. A second version issued in 1944 and designated the M1A1, was made with strengthened steel and the operation of the brakes was changed from electrical to air.




155mm Howitzer M1 on 155mm Carriage in Firing Position



U.S. War Department Technical Manual 9-331 for the 155mm Howitzer M1 and 155mm Howitzer Carriage M1 contains technical information for the identification, operation, inspection, and care of the equipment. It was the cannoneer’s Bible.

TM 9-331 described the 155mm Howitzer M1 as a short-barreled weapon using separate-loading ammunition. It throws projectiles of approximately 95 pounds at a muzzle velocity of 1,850 feet per second to a maximum range of approximately 16,500 yards. The rate of fire in rapid bursts is 3 rounds per howitzer per minute; for prolonged firing, 1 round per howitzer per minute. The howitzer is equipped with a manually operated breech mechanism and a percussion type firing mechanism.

The 155mm Howitzer Carriage M1 is of the single axle, 2-wheel, split-trail type. In traveling position the trails are locked together by a toggle type clamping mechanism and are limbered directly to the prime mover. The wheels are equipped with large pneumatic tires for high-speed transport. When limbered to a prime mover, the materiel can be drawn at speeds at up to 30 miles per hour on improved roads. The relatively moderate weight of the materiel adds to its maneuverability and its ease of transport.
 

 

 

 

In Traveling Position Limbered to a 4-Ton 6x6 Diamond T Truck

The howitzer is fired from 3-point suspension, with the trails spread and the carriage resting upon an integral firing jack, the wheels being clear of the ground. In firing position, the howitzer has a range movement in elevation of 1,156 mils (65 degrees), and a traverse range of 942 mils (53 degrees), or 471 mils (26 ½ degrees), to the right and left of mid-position.



 




Principal Characteristics of the 155mm Howitzer M1 and Carriage M1

Weight of 155mm Howitzer, complete................................3,825 lb.
Caliber..............................................................155mm or 6.102 in.
Length (muzzle to rear face of breech ring)........149.2 in. (12.43 ft.)
Type of breechlock.....................Stepped-thread, interrupted screw
Chamber capacity...........................................................725 cu. in.
Muzzle velocity......................................................1,850 ft. per sec.
Muzzle energy...............................................................2,260 ft-ton
Maximum powder pressure..............................32,000 lb. per sq. in.
Rifling:

Length..............................................................................113.10 in.
Number of grooves......................................................................48
Twist...........................Uniform, right-hand, one turn in 25 calibers
Weight of projectile.................................................................95 lb.
Weight of powder charge.........................................5.94 to 13.86 lb.
Maximum range with supercharge...............16,500 yd. (9.375 miles)
Rate of fire:
Rapid bursts................................3 rounds per howitzer per minute
Prolonged firing............................1 round per howitzer per minute


General Data Pertaining to the 155mm Howitzer Carriage M1
Weights:
Carriage, complete with weapon (without Howitzer
cover and Accessories)......................................................11,966 lb.
Weapon..............................................................................3,825 lb.
Recoil Mechanism M6........................................................1,582 lb.
Spade....................................................................................184 lb.
Firing jack float......................................................................80 lb.
Wheel, complete with tire and tube........................................409 lb.
Right shield.............................................................................79 lb.
Left Shield..............................................................................86 lb.

Dimensions: Width of track, center to center of wheels............82 in.
Maximum width, traveling position (outside walls of tires) 97 3/8 in.
Maximum height, traveling position (top of right shield).........71 in.
Length of howitzer and carriage, limbered.............................26.5 ft.
Road clearance (bottom of front trail stop)..............................14 in.



__________________________________________________________________________



PERSONNEL OF A HOWITZER SECTION

The howitzer section consists of the following personnel:

1. Driver
2. Chief of Section
3. Ammunition Corporal
4. Gunner
5. Cannoneer #1
6. Cannoneer #2
7. Cannoneer #3
8. Cannoneer #4
9. Cannoneer #5
10. Cannoneer #6
11. Cannoneer #7
12. Cannoneer #8



Post of section, in rear of piece, piece prepared for action.


__________________________________________________________________


LOADING AND FIRING PROCEDURES

Loading is accomplished in three operations: inserting the projectile in the weapon, inserting the propellant, and inserting the primer in the breech mechanism. The Chief of Section supervises the work of the cannoneers. Aiming the weapon is the duty of the Gunner. The Ammunition Corporal is responsible for acquiring the ammunition, proper handling and storage, and supervising the preparation of the ammunition for firing.

In preparation for firing, the breech is opened by cannoneer #1, and the powder chamber and breech recess are swabbed by #2 with an oiled cloth to remove any powder residue. In night firing, the bore is swabbed with water. The projectile is inspected by #8 for any defects or dirt on its surface, and the designated fuze is screwed into the projectile by #3. It is then placed on the loading tray which is held by #4 and #7 of the howitzer crew. The loading tray lip is placed in the breech recess and the projectile is rammed into the chamber with a rammer staff by #2 and #5.

The proper propelling charge is prepared by #6 and is placed in the chamber by #4 and #7 and pushed in flush with the rear end of the chamber. The breech is then closed by #1. (Propelling charges were never stored near the weapon.)

A percussion type primer is then inserted in the firing mechanism by #1. The firing mechanism is seated into its housing by turning the handle until it engages the latch. The percussion hammer latch pin is then drawn and turned to the locked-out position. A lanyard is attached by #1 and the weapon is fired by a quick strong pull on the lanyard handle.


__________________________________________________________________________



AMMUNITION

Separate loading ammunition was used in all howitzers of 155mm and larger. It consisted of a separate projectile, a separate propellant charge, and a separate primer.

There were five general types of ammunition used in the 155mm howitzers:

1. High-explosive (HE) projectiles were the type most often used during World War II. A 155mm howitzer typically fired 80% or more HE projectiles.
2. Armor-piercing (AP)
3. Chemical, which included three types of smoke; (FM) titanium tetrachloride which was used for smoke screen barrages; (HC) a hexachlorethane-zinc mixture used for target designation; and (WP) white phosphorus which was the most useful chemical smoke type. The WP shell would detonate upon impact and produce a great deal of smoke and burning fragments of white phosphorus.
4. Target-practice
5. Drill projectiles


The propelling charges for the 155mm Howitzer M1, are divided into a base section and unequally sized increments, to provide for zone firing. There are two types of service charge. One consists of a base section and 4 increments comprising charges
1 to 5 inclusive, contained in cartridge bags of green cloth. It is commonly referred to as the “green bag” charge, to distinguish it from the “white bag” charge which consists of a base section and 2 increments, assembled in cartridge bags of white cloth. The “white bag” charge comprises charges 5 to 7 inclusive.

 

 

 

 

 __________________________________________________________________



PRIME MOVERS OF THE 155 MM HOWITZER M1





4–Ton, 6x6, Truck

The 4–Ton, 6x6, Truck was manufactured by the Diamond T Motor Car Company. It was the standard prime mover for the 202nd’s 155mm Howitzer M1, until shortly before the Normandy Invasion. It was powered by a Hercules RXC 6-cylinder gasoline engine. The vehicles were capable of operation over unimproved roads and cross country with a towed load. The maximum speed at gross weight with a towed load on a smooth concrete roadway was 40 miles per hour. The fuel capacity was 60 gallons with an approximate cruising range with a towed load of 150 miles.

Diamond T Motor Car Company of Chicago, Illinois produced nearly 50,000 thousand prime movers, half-tracks, army wreckers, tank tractors, and tank movers in World War II.

 

 

Tractor, High Speed, 13-Ton, M5 Towing a 155mm Howitzer

The M5 (Medium) 13-Ton High Speed Tractor was developed by the Ordnance Department and standardized in October 1942. It was designed to replace the
4-Ton 6x6 Truck as the prime mover of the 105mm and 155mm Howitzers and
the 4.5in.Gun.

It used the M3 Light Tank tracks with a modified suspension. The vehicle could transport eight artillery section members, in addition to the driver, 24 rounds of 155mm ammunition, and accessories pertaining to the section.

The tractor was manufactured by the International Harvester Company. It was powered by a 6 cylinder, gasoline, Continental R6572 engine. The maximum speed while towing a 155mm Howitzer carriage on level ground was 35 mph. The 100
gallon fuel capacity gave it a cruising range of approximately 150 miles. The fuel consumption averaged between 1½ and 2 miles per gallon. The vehicle was almost
16 ft. long and just over 8 ft. wide.

The M5 High Speed Tractor was steered by operating the two steering levers located in front of the driver. To turn right, the driver would pull back on the right lever.
To turn left, he would pull back on the left lever.

The 202nd received 18 M5 13-Ton High Speed Tractors to replace their 4-Ton 6x6 Trucks in June 1944 while in England prior to the Normandy Invasion.

 

 

  ______________________________________________________________________________________________



OTHER TRUCKS AND TRAILERS


4–Ton, 6x6, Wrecker Truck


The Service Battery was assigned one 4–Ton, 6x6, Wrecker Truck which was used primarily for light recovery operations of wheeled vehicles. It was provided with bows and paulins for camouflage, to give it the appearance of a regular cargo truck, and hopefully present a less conspicuous target from the air.



The 2 ½-Ton, 6x6, Truck had the standard U.S Army cargo body, with troop seats with lazy backs. The seats could be folded up to provide additional cargo space. The detachable canvas top was supported by five bows. The trucks were made by General Motors.

The battalion used the 2½-Ton, 6x6, Truck to haul cargo and troops. It had a payload of 5,000 pounds. They were authorized (16) of the standard model and (6) with the Short Wheel Base.

The 2 ½-Ton, 6x6, Truck was similar in appearance to the 4-Ton, 6x6, Diamond T Truck pictured in the Prime Mover section.




¾-Ton, 4x4, Survey Truck of the 202nd Field Artillery Battalion circa April 1945.


The ¾-Ton, 4x4, Weapons Carrier Truck was manufactured by the Fargo Motor Corporation (a subsidiary of Chrysler). It was powered by a Dodge 6-cylinder gasoline engine. The vehicles were capable of operation over unimproved roads and cross country with towed loads. It had a top governed speed of 54 miles per hour and an approximate cruising range with a towed load of 210 miles.

The battalion had 27 of these trucks which were used to transport weapons, tools, and equipment.  


 

 

¼-Ton, 4x4, Truck–Standard
This jeep of the 202nd is driven by T/5 David L. Mudge, Jr. of HQ Battery. His passenger is believed to be 1st Lt. Lester A. U’Ren, Executive Officer of “B” Battery. The markings on the rear bumper indicate that it is vehicle #6 of HQ Battery, 202nd Field Artillery Battalion, 7th Army.


The ¼-Ton, 4x4, Truck, popularly known as the “jeep”, was developed by the Quartermaster Corps and was one of the outstanding automotive developments of World War II. It was produced, to identical specifications, by Willys-Overland Motors, Inc. and the Ford Motor Company.

A couple of generally accepted theories of how the jeep received its name were from Ford’s model designation of “GP”, G=government and P=80” wheel base; and an acronym for the government’s designation of “general purpose”, GP or “jeep”.

The vehicle was capable of operation over unimproved roads and cross country. The engine was 4 cylinder gasoline powered. The approximate cruising range was 300 miles on 15 gallons of fuel. It could climb a 60% grade and operate at 65 miles per hour on level improved highways. The vehicle was equipped with a tandem hitch which made it possible to use two of these vehicles for emergency towing of a 155mm howitzer.

The 202nd was authorized 18 jeeps and 13 of the ¼-ton 2-wheel cargo trailers.



 

                                   M10 Ammunition Trailer Towed by an M5 High Speed Tractor


The Trailer, Ammunition, 2-Ton, M10 had a nearly square body on a single axle equipped with 9.00X20 tires. It had a hinged tailgate and a canvas cover to help protect the ammunition from the elements. The trailer had an empty weight of 2,235 lbs and could carry a payload of 2,750 lbs. The M10 could haul about 18 rounds of 155mm projectiles and 36 powder charges.

About 7,000 M10 trailers were built in 1944 and 1945 by Fruehauf Trailer Co., Youngstown Steel Door Co., and Schlem Brothers. Each of the three firing batteries of the 202nd had one M10, and the Service Battery was assigned 9 more.

The Trailer, Ammunition, 4-Ton, M21 could carry 72 rounds of 155mm projectiles. It was only made during the last year of the war. Each firing battery had two M21 Ammunition Trailers.


 

   _________________________________________________________________________________


SMALL ARMS  





Browning M2 Heavy Barrel .50 Caliber Machine Gun

The battalion had 21 Browning Machine Guns, Heavy Barrel, Cal. .50, M2. It was the most widely used of any U.S. machine gun in World War II. This recoil-operated, belt-fed, air-cooled weapon was used principally as an anti-aircraft weapon, anti-tank weapon, or against ground targets.

The .50 caliber cartridges were fed to the gun from a disintegrating metallic-link belt loaded in increments of 110 rounds each. The rate of fire was 450 to 575 rounds per minute. Normal fire was in short bursts or single shots fired in swift succession. Care had to be taken to not overheat the barrel.

The machine gun was 65 inches in length and weighed 84 lbs. It was usually mounted on a vehicle or a tripod. About half of the Battalion’s Browning M2’s were mounted on vehicles, and the rest were used on tripods and set-up as perimeter defense around the batteries when they were in combat positions.





M9 Anti-Tank Rocket Launcher (Bazooka)


The Launcher, Rocket, Anti-Tank, 2.36 Inch, M9 (commonly referred to as a Bazooka) was the first practical development of a rocket launcher as a shoulder weapon for infantry use against tanks and other armored targets. It was first used during the North Africa campaign in 1942. The launcher was an open tube approximately 55 inches long, 2.365 inches internal diameter, and weighing 14.3 lbs. The M9 version was adopted in October 1943. It was equipped with a shoulder stock, pistol grip, electrical firing mechanism, and sights. The Rocket, M6A3, was 19.4 inches long and weighed 3.38 lbs. It carried a shaped charge of TNT capable of penetrating 5 inches of heavy armor at angles of impact up to 30°. The optimum effective range was about 200 to 300 yards.

The Germans copied the M9 from captured examples and issued their improved version known as the Panzerschreck.

Forty of the bazookas were issued to the 202nd as follows: six to Headquarters and HQ battery, ten to Service Battery, and eight to each of the three firing batteries.




 

                                                Soldier Firing Submachine Gun, Cal. .45, M3


The Submachine Gun, Cal. .45, M3, also known as the Grease gun, was developed as a cheaper war-time alternative to the famous Thompson M1 and M1928 submachine guns. The M3 submachine gun is a full-automatic only, blowback operated firearm that fired from an open bolt. The receiver was made from steel stampings. The retractable stock, made from steel wire, could be used as cleaning rod (when detached), and it also featured a magazine loading tool. The hollow grip of the gun contained a small oilier, which was necessary as the all-steel gun rusted easily in wet climate. The M3 was fed from a box magazine of 30 rounds of Cal. .45 ammunition. It had a cyclic rate of fire of 350 to 450 rounds per minute.

Each firing battery in the battalion was issued one M3 submachine gun.



 

 

                                                                  Carbine, Cal. .30, M1


The Carbine, Cal. .30, M1 was the result of the Army’s request for a compact, lightweight, semi-automatic weapon to replace the .45 Caliber M1911 Pistol as the weapon for specialist troops and officers for which the Rifle, Cal. .30, M1 proved too heavy and cumbersome. The design by Winchester was adopted in 1941. The first M1 carbines were delivered in mid-1942, with initial priority given to troops in the European Theater of Operations.

The operation, functioning, and general design of the carbine was similar in many respects to the M1 Rifle (also referred to as the M1 Garand). The carbine was fed from a box magazine of 15 rounds of ammunition designated as Cartridge, Carbine, Cal. .30, M1. The M1 Carbine had an overall length of 35.6 ins. and weighed 5.2 lbs. The majority of M1 Carbines produced during World War II were made by the Inland Manufacturing Division of General Motors.

About 435 of the Battalion’s authorized strength of 515 men were armed with the M1 Carbine. It was also the regulation arm for all officers up to the rank of major.

The battalion was also issued 10 Grenade Launchers, M8 for use with the M1 Carbine. Each firing battery had two of the launchers and four were assigned to Headquarters and HQ Battery. The tubular device was attached to the muzzle of the M1 Carbine to permit the firing of various standard rifle grenades.



 

 

                                                       Pistol, Automatic, Cal. .45, M1911A1


The Pistol, Automatic, Cal. .45, M1911A1 was issued to officers and enlisted men who required a compact, but powerful, personal defensive weapon. The M1911A1 was a self-loading semi-automatic pistol which was fed by a 7 round magazine.

The major producers of the M1911A1 during the war were Remington Rand, Colt, and Ithaca Gun Company.

The battalion was authorized 68 of the M1911A1 Cal. .45 Pistols.


__________________________________________________________________________



 

AIRCRAFT

The battalion was assigned two L-4 "Grasshopper" observation and liaison aircraft. It was the military adaptation of the Piper J-3 Cub Tandem Trainer developed in the late 1930’s. The U.S. Army began using the aircraft in 1941. It was re-designated as the L-4 in 1942 (the “L” for liaison aircraft series).

 

The L-4 "Grasshopper" was fabric-covered with a metal tube fuselage frame and wood frame wings. It was powered by a 65-horsepower engine which used the same gasoline as other Army motor vehicles. Its operational speed was from about 40 to 80 miles per hour with a cruising range of 250 miles. The maximum operational altitude was 10,000 feet.




First Sergeant Merle Jones of HQ Battery and one of the
Deuce's L-4 "Grasshopper"circa 1944 or 1945 in the ETO.

 

 

The two aircraft were assigned to the Operations and Fire Direction Section of the 202nd’s HQ Battery. They were usually flown by a pilot of lieutenant rank, and accompanied by a sergeant, lieutenant or captain as a Forward Observer. The L-4 "Grasshopper" was used to locate enemy troops, equipment, and installations; and then direct artillery fire via their radio.

The 202nd Field Artillery Battalion lost two planes and four crew members during the War to accidents involving friendly fire.



__________________________________________________________________________



                              COMBAT DEPLOYMENT AND TACTICS

Coming Soon



__________________________________________________________________



SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY

Gabrick, Robert. Diamond T Trucks 1911-1966 Photo Archive., (Hudson, WI: Iconografix, 2007.)

Schreier, Konrad F., Jr. Standard Guide to U.S. World War II TANKS & ARTILLERY. (Iola, WI: Krause Publications, 1994.)

Hogg, Ian V. The American Arsenal: The World War II Official Standard Ordnance Catalog of Small Arms, Tanks, Armored Cars, Artillery, Antiaircraft Guns, Ammunition, Grenades, Mines, Etcetera. (Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole Books, 1996.)

War Department. Technical Manual 9-331. (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, March 1, 1943.)

United States Army Field Artillery School The Field Artillery Journal (various issues) Ft. Sill, OK

War Department. Table of Organization and Equipment No. 6-36, No. 6-335, No. 6-337, and 6-339. (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 27 September 1944.)





 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Website Builder