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PostPosted: Fri 29 Aug 2014 16:24 pm 
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Battery Park is a public park overlooking Lake Champlain at the western end of downtown Burlington, Vermont, USA. It offers commanding and beautiful views of the lake and New York State’s distant shore. The park includes various monuments, including a red oak sculpture of the Native-American Chief who gave his name to Gray Lock's War (a conflict that took place in what is now Northern New England and Canadian Maritimes during the 1720s between English colonists and Native-Americans allied to the French). The park itself was named for the artillery stationed there by United States forces during the War of 1812 (the year both Washington and Moscow burned). On August 13, 1813, American gunners, aided by the USS President, successfully defended their position against an attack by a British squadron led by Lt Colonel John Murray (a curious bit of sailing for a soldier).

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The US M1A1 75mm Pack Howitzer on M8 Carriage.

What might be of more immediate interest to Airfix Tribute Forum readers is that the park contains a US M1A1 75mm pack howitzer. This is, of course, the artillery subject included in the new Airfix Willys British Airborne Jeep 1:72 (A02339). I understand the model is well proportioned, but simplified. I hope these photos will help the super-detailers.

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The only part I believe is missing in this detail shot of the lefthand side of the breechblock is the sites.

The 75 mm pack howitzer was designed in the 1920s to meet a requirement for a mountain gun; a light artillery piece that could be moved across difficult terrain. It attempted to find that medium where the greatest firepower could be brought to bear for the least weight. In August 1927, the weapon was standardized as Howitzer, Pack, 75mm M1 on Carriage M1. The M1 carriage, of box trail type, does not look appreciably different from the carriage in Airfix’s kit (depicting an M8 carriage) apart from the spoked wheels instead of the pneumatic tires. Funding for military procurements was very restricted in the US between the wars and production rates began quite slow. By 1940, production had only managed to add 91 pieces to the national arsenal. In September 1940, with calamitous news coming from Europe, the howitzer was put into mass production. Mountain guns were prime candidates for airborne use and the 75 mm pack howitzer was early adopted by the developing US Airborne Divisions. By then, the M1 had been succeeded by the slightly modified M1A1 (the piece depicted in the photographs). Production finished at the end of 1944.

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Notice the axle’s relation to the box trail and the box trail's hinge arrangement.

I’ve read a lot of disparaging remarks about the value of the 75mm Pack Howitzer; a 75mm piece does not give you much punch when you are up against 105mm and 155mm pieces on the other side. It didn't have great range, neither hitting power. It wasn’t ideal, perhaps, but it provided something with which to fire back. It was altogether portable in airborne use. For most of the war, this was the field artillery piece of the US airborne. In December 1944, US airborne TO&E allowed for 105mm M3 Howitzers to be used with Glider-borne units. This may sound a little strange to readers who know a bit about WW2 British airborne thinking. US airborne doctrine was primarily oriented toward developing light infantry. British ideas reached into the heavier regions – although the US made an impressive series of airborne AFVs, they were never, to my knowledge, fitted into the tactics of US airborne units. On the other hand, the British, I’m certain, had people working industriously on how to air-land an armored division.

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The recoil system was hydro-pneumatic. Both recoil buffer and recuperator were located under the barrel. This example is at the US Airborne Museum in Sainte Mère Eglise, Normandy.

The gun bit consists of tube and breechblock, which were joined together by interrupted threads, allowing for quick assembly and disassembly (the “bayonet twist” method of fixing). One eighth of a turn was required to connect or disconnect tube and breech. The tube had constant distance, right hand rifling with one turn in 20 calibers. The breech was a sliding block type, moving in the horizontal, with a continuous-pull firing mechanism. Technical manuals are often an interesting read, and if you ever get the chance try TM-9-2005 Technical Manual, volume 3, Infantry and Cavalry Accompanying Weapons. It will make you foolish enough to go to war!

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A closer look at the wheel and tire.

The pre-airborne model’s breakdown is described in TM-9-2005. The pack howitzer carriage M1 was made to be dismantled and assembled. The carriage was of box trail type, with steel-rimmed wooden wheels. For transportation, the howitzer M1 or M1A1 on carriage M1 could be broken down into six mule loads, with payload weight between 73 and 107 kg each:
*Tube
*Breech and wheels
*Top sleigh and cradle
*Bottom sleigh and recoil mechanism
*Front trail
*Rear trail and axle

The carriage M8 (the airborne type) was identical, except for axle arms and wheels, which were metal with pneumatic tires. The howitzer on carriage M8 could be broken down into seven mule loads or into nine parachute loads (the latter arrangement included 18 rounds of ammunition). It could also be towed by vehicle such as a Jeep, or transported by plane or glider such as CG-4 Waco.

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The righthand side of the breech.

Good luck with your Airfix 75mm Pack Howitzers! Happy modeling!


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PostPosted: Fri 29 Aug 2014 19:52 pm 
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Location: Philadelphia, USA
I posted the 75mm Pack Howitzer photos and then realized I had another stash of images. These are from 3 years or so ago – Aberdeen Proving Ground, in Maryland.

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A better description of the luntte and handspike end of the trail.

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Bigger springs than you'll find in a Sten gun.

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Better detail of the (l to r) trail connecting mechanism, cradle locking pin bracket, and elevating crank.

More to ponder. Happy modelling!


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PostPosted: Mon 01 Sep 2014 14:45 pm 
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Some really useful reference pictures there James, I am just about to start detailing the Airfix kit so these should be very helpful :thumb:

Cheers

Stu


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