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The Howitzer


HISTORY
of
THE 306th Field Artillery

The "HOWITZER"


THE Camp Upton weekly, Trench and Camp, was dazed to find a competitor and contemporary bursting in on its field of vision late in November, 19 17. After giving the newcomer the double 00 and up and down, it made the following comment: " The Howitzer has sent its first boom reverberating over the camouflaged area occupied by Upton's artillerymen. It claims the honor, which it undoubtedly deserves, of being the first regimental journal to appear in camp-a well-arranged assortment for news, stories, regimental and personal, poems, roster of officers, and editorial utterances comprises the first issue."

Similar words of commendation soon came from scores of other sources and a large mailing list became a necessity to meet the requests for sample copies from other military organizations, welfare organizations, libraries, etc.

Since that time The Howitzer has steadily improved its range and extended its field of fire. Ammunition has been regularly furnished by an able staff of news correspondents who have worked hard to make the paper worth while. It has been the only regular regimental paper in the division and one of a very few in the A. E. F.

Five sparkling issues saw the light of day at Camp Upton and just as Volume 1, Number 6, was being finished by the printer, we -were hustled on board the Leviathan and sent overseas without having a chance to read it in America.

It followed us across, however, and gave us pleas-ant recollections when we were just beginning to get homesick at Camp de Souge, France.

Meanwhile the editorial staff had issued Volume 1, Number 7, entitled The Howitzer of the Rolling Sea, while we were on board the transport. It was a mimeographed sheet prepared on a machine obtained through the courtesy of the naval executive office of the Leviathan. Although small in size, it contained "Shell Fire" from each battery and was quickly sold out. Extra copies were made at Bordeaux which served as souvenirs to be sent back home.

A French printer in Bordeaux managed to decipher our copy for Volume 1, Number 8, and gave us a fine overseas edition in June, 1918.

Then for the next five months printing facilities were hard to find, but the news correspondents continued to scribble even while the shells were whistling with the result that by the end of October copy was ready for an edition with the heading " Published on the Front Line of the Battlefield, France."

A printer was finally located in Paris who had the issue ready for publication in December. We called it the "Victory, Anniversary, Thanksgiving, and Christmas Number," it being the first anniversary of The Howitzer's birth at Camp Upton, as well as of other important world-renowned events.

This eight-page edition was an elaborate one, containing a partial list of the complements in all three sectors. Our "Roll of Honor" was accompanied by Fisk's effective sketch of "The Lone Sentinel." The " Shell Fire" section was more complete than ever before.

The next task for Editor-in-Chief Lozier and the editorial staff was the preparation of the "Welcome Home " edition, copy for which was mailed to the States in advance of our home-going, and aided materially in the celebration of our welcome. Volume 2, Number 2, came out just before that, while we were on board the homeward bound good ship Agamemnon.

So long as our regimental spirit exists, which we believe will be till the end of our lives, just so long will there be the need of The Howitzer to appear at least once in a while to inform us of each other's welfare, location, business, changes, etc. The Howitzer will meet that need.

The 155 Schneider Howitzer, 1917

The 155 millimeter Schneider Howitzer is a short -barreled gun, which may be used for direct fire, but is especially designed for indirect, high-angled-plunging fire. On account of its high trajectory, it can be used to drop shell into deep ravines and well -defiladed positions, which a rifle with a flat trajectory could not reach. Because of the same advantages, the Howitzer itself can be hidden in deep valleys and behind steep slopes. By varying the powder charges the projectile may be caused to strike at varying angles at any given range. The maximum range of 11. 2 kilometers is obtained with a " 00 " charge, a 4 'shot fuse," and a " semi-steel shell."

The gun carriage and its limber (a limber serves the same purpose that a front axle and wheels serve on a wagon) are drawn by eight horses. The gun usually goes forward at a walk, except with the best roads, or in great emergencies, when a trot is sometimes taken up, but only for a short distance. Hurrying the guns out of a shelled road-area is an example. The gun and caisson are supposed to cross any country suitable for other field artillery. A maximum rate of fire of four to five rounds per minute may be attained, but the heating of the gun, and the difficulty of preparing and transporting the ammunition by the -regular gun-crew of eight men, render such a rate impossible for more than a few minutes. The normal rate for rapid fire is two shots per minute. The gun is fired resting on its wheels. The recoil and the recuperator mechanism consist of an arrangement of cylinders containing nitrogen or air, water, and glycerine. When the gun is fired this mixture is squeezed from one set of cylinders into another, providing a cushion to take up the shock of fire. Were this not scientifically calculated, the gun would wreck itself with the first shot. The gun may be elevated from 0 to 42 degrees, and may be swung in a horizontal plane three degrees to-the right and left of center,

In firing, the propelling charge and the projectile are inserted into the breech of the gun separately. The powder comes in bags, each containing the maximum charge, the reduced charges being made by opening the bag and removing a specified number of marked packets of explosive. Thus, from "BG5" a green bag, charges 00, 0, and 1 are made. From " BSP," a white bag, charges 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 are obtained. 00 is the strongest charge, and 5 is the weakest.

In loading, the fused shell, greased to facilitate passage through the bore, is rammed into the breech. The powder bag, properly prepared, is placed into the breech-recess at the base of the shell. The breech is closed, and the primer is set into a device called the "primer-leaf." When the piece is fired, the primer ignites the powder charge, which expels the projectile. Into the nose of the projectile, a fuse has been screwed. When the shell strikes its target, the concussion releases a catch in the fuse which fires the powder in the projectile, causing it to burst into fragments, some large enough to batter down walls, some as small as rifle bullets.

The fuses are made for various purposes. Some allow the shell to penetrate its target several feet before exploding; others cause it to explode instantaneously on contact. The former are effective for the work of demolition-the blowing up of dugouts and fortifications; while the latter are used against open and wooded positions, where shell fragments are counted upon to damage personnel. In conjunction with a long, or instantaneous, fuse, a cast -iron shell, cheaper to make than a steel shell, is used; while where the object is demolition, a steel shell is used with the delayed fuse.

To most people, the firing of a gun consists of pointing it in the general direction of the enemy, and letting loose. But the demand for accuracy, and the grave consequences following lack of it, have elevated artillery-firing to a science that embodies nearly all the natural phenomena.

Wind will blow the shell out of its course. So then, the wind for the particular time that the shell is fired must be taken into consideration, and a calculation of its effect must be set down in terms of range and deflection. Shells travel at various speeds through various air pressures, with consequent effect on the range. The temperature of the air, the temperature of the powder used, the weight of that particular lot of shell to be fired, the variation of the lot of powder from the normal, inaccuracies due to the constant wear of the gun, the effect of all these must be calculated before the first shot is fired. Fortunately, a set of tables perfected for use with the howitzer simplifies all the operations to the work of a few minutes.

The gun is directed on the target by a process called "laving." This is done with specially designed instruments. In working with a map, the gun is usually first laid in a known direction, and from there is directed upon its target by a system of angular calculations. While the gun itself is placed out of view of the target, in order not to betray its position, an " Observation Post" from which the target is visible is established as close as practicable to the target. The position of the observation post may be in a front-line, support, or reserve-line trench, or on any promontory that affords good observation of enemy territory. From this vantage-point, the effect of fire is noted, and corrections are made.

The howitzer is most often used as part of the make-up of divisional artillery. It not only participates in the barrages fired by the 75's and in harassing roads and areas, but it demolishes designated strong-points which stand in the way of the infantry's progress. These points are often too well-fortified to yield to the firing Of 75's. In stationary warfare, the average position of the 155 howitzer is about three miles behind the front-line, but in the open warfare of the latter war days, howitzers were used much closer and sometimes immediately behind the infantry.

THE HOWITZER

Data

Length of Barrel, inside 2.332 meters
Width-Distance between Wheels 1.520 meters

Diameter of Wheels 1 -330 meters
Width of Iron Tires 150 millimeters
Total Length between Pole-end
and Rear-end of Carriage 10.05 meters
Minimum Turning Room 11. 238 meters
Weight of Gun, Ready to Fire 3300 kilograms
Weight of Gun, Carriage, and
Limber 3715 kilograms
Weight of a Wheel 134 kilograms
Weight of Limber 415 kilograms

Weight of Caisson, empty 800 kilograms
Weight of Caisson-limber, empty 700 kilograms
Weight of Caisson, loaded with
Long Steel Shell 1815 kilograms
Weight of Caisson-Limber,
loaded with Long Steel Shell 1265 kilograms
Average Weight of Projectile 43 kilograms

Note: One Meter is equal to 39-37 inches
One Kilogram is equal to 2.2 pounds.
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