Field gun
Overview
 
A field gun is an artillery
Artillery
Originally applied to any group of infantry primarily armed with projectile weapons, artillery has over time become limited in meaning to refer only to those engines of war that operate by projection of munitions far beyond the range of effect of personal weapons...

 piece. Originally the term referred to smaller gun
Gun
A gun is a muzzle or breech-loaded projectile-firing weapon. There are various definitions depending on the nation and branch of service. A "gun" may be distinguished from other firearms in being a crew-served weapon such as a howitzer or mortar, as opposed to a small arm like a rifle or pistol,...

s that could accompany a field army on the march and when in combat could be moved about the battlefield in response to changing circumstances, as to opposed guns installed in a fort, or to siege cannon or mortars which were too large to be moved quickly, and would be used only in a prolonged siege
Siege
A siege is a military blockade of a city or fortress with the intent of conquering by attrition or assault. The term derives from sedere, Latin for "to sit". Generally speaking, siege warfare is a form of constant, low intensity conflict characterized by one party holding a strong, static...

.

Perhaps the most famous use of the field gun in terms of advanced tactics was Napoleon's use of very large wheels on the guns that allowed them to be moved quickly even during a battle.
Encyclopedia
A field gun is an artillery
Artillery
Originally applied to any group of infantry primarily armed with projectile weapons, artillery has over time become limited in meaning to refer only to those engines of war that operate by projection of munitions far beyond the range of effect of personal weapons...

 piece. Originally the term referred to smaller gun
Gun
A gun is a muzzle or breech-loaded projectile-firing weapon. There are various definitions depending on the nation and branch of service. A "gun" may be distinguished from other firearms in being a crew-served weapon such as a howitzer or mortar, as opposed to a small arm like a rifle or pistol,...

s that could accompany a field army on the march and when in combat could be moved about the battlefield in response to changing circumstances, as to opposed guns installed in a fort, or to siege cannon or mortars which were too large to be moved quickly, and would be used only in a prolonged siege
Siege
A siege is a military blockade of a city or fortress with the intent of conquering by attrition or assault. The term derives from sedere, Latin for "to sit". Generally speaking, siege warfare is a form of constant, low intensity conflict characterized by one party holding a strong, static...

.

Perhaps the most famous use of the field gun in terms of advanced tactics was Napoleon's use of very large wheels on the guns that allowed them to be moved quickly even during a battle. By moving the guns from point to point during the battle, enemy formations could be broken up to be handled by the infantry
Infantry
Infantrymen are soldiers who are specifically trained for the role of fighting on foot to engage the enemy face to face and have historically borne the brunt of the casualties of combat in wars. As the oldest branch of combat arms, they are the backbone of armies...

 wherever they were massing, dramatically increasing the overall effectiveness of the infantry.

World War I

As the evolution of artillery continued, almost all guns of any size became capable of being moved at some speed. With few exceptions, even the largest siege weapons had become mobile by road or rail by the start of World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

, and evolution after that point tended to be towards smaller weapons with increased mobility. Even the German
History of Germany during World War II
The history of Germany during World War II closely parallels that of Nazi Germany under Adolf Hitler. He came to power in Germany in 1933. From that point onward, Germany followed a policy of rearmament and confrontation with other countries...

 super-heavy guns in World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 were rail or caterpillar-track mobile.

In British use, a field gun was anything up to around 4.5 inches in calibre—larger guns were medium and the largest of all heavy. Their largest gun (as opposed to howitzer
Howitzer
A howitzer is a type of artillery piece characterized by a relatively short barrel and the use of comparatively small propellant charges to propel projectiles at relatively high trajectories, with a steep angle of descent...

) was the 5.5 inch (140 mm) Medium
BL 5.5 inch Medium Gun
The BL 5.5 inch Gun was a British artillery gun introduced during the middle of the Second World War to equip medium batteries.-History:In January 1939 a specification was issued for a gun to replace the 6 inch 26 cwt howitzers in use with most medium batteries...

, with a range of about 15,000\16,000 yards.

World War II

Since about the start of World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, the term has been applied to long-range artillery pieces that fire at a relatively low angle, as opposed to howitzer
Howitzer
A howitzer is a type of artillery piece characterized by a relatively short barrel and the use of comparatively small propellant charges to propel projectiles at relatively high trajectories, with a steep angle of descent...

s which can fire at higher angles. By the later stages of World War II the majority of artillery in use was in the form of howitzers of 105 mm to 155 mm, and the only common field gun of the era beside the British 5.5 inch was the US 155 mm Long Tom
155 mm Long Tom
The 155 mm Gun M1 and M2 , widely known as Long Tom, were 155 millimeter calibre field guns used by the United States armed forces during World War II and Korean War. The Long Tom replaced the Canon de 155 mm GPF in United States service.-Development:Before entering World War I, the United...

 (a development of a French
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 World War I weapon).

The 1960s

The US Army
United States Army
The United States Army is the main branch of the United States Armed Forces responsible for land-based military operations. It is the largest and oldest established branch of the U.S. military, and is one of seven U.S. uniformed services...

 tried the long-range gun again in the 1960s with the M107 175 mm gun
M107 Self-Propelled Gun
The M107 175 mm self-propelled gun was used by the U.S. Army from the early 1960s through to the late 1970s. It was part of a family of self-propelled artillery that also included the M110 and was intended to provide long-range fire support in an air-transportable system...

; although a high-maintenance item, which after a rash of cracked barrels was removed from service with the US, the M107 was used extensively in the Vietnam War and proved effective in artillery duels with the North Vietnamese forces. Production of the M107 continued through the 1980s, and the gun continues to be in service with the Israeli forces.

Modern times

Today the gun finds itself in an area that seems to be gone for good. The class of small and highly mobile artillery has been filled with increasing capacity by the man-portable mortar
Mortar (weapon)
A mortar is an indirect fire weapon that fires explosive projectiles known as bombs at low velocities, short ranges, and high-arcing ballistic trajectories. It is typically muzzle-loading and has a barrel length less than 15 times its caliber....

, which replaced almost every artillery piece smaller than 105 mm. Gun-howitzers fill the middle ground, with the world rapidly standardizing on the 155 mm NATO or 152 mm former USSR
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 standards. The need for a long-range weapon is filled by rocket
Rocket
A rocket is a missile, spacecraft, aircraft or other vehicle which obtains thrust from a rocket engine. In all rockets, the exhaust is formed entirely from propellants carried within the rocket before use. Rocket engines work by action and reaction...

 artillery, or aircraft
Military aircraft
A military aircraft is any fixed-wing or rotary-wing aircraft that is operated by a legal or insurrectionary armed service of any type. Military aircraft can be either combat or non-combat:...

. Modern gun-artillery such as the L118 105mm light gun is used to provide fire support for infantry and armour at ranges where mortars are impractical. Man-packed mortars lack the range or hitting power of gun-artillery. In between is the rifled towed mortar; this weapon (usually in 120mm calibre) is light enough to be towed by a Land Rover
Land Rover
Land Rover is a British car manufacturer with its headquarters in Gaydon, Warwickshire, United Kingdom which specialises in four-wheel-drive vehicles. It is owned by the Indian company Tata Motors, forming part of their Jaguar Land Rover group...

, has a range of over 6,000m and fires a bomb comparable in weight to an artillery shell.

External links

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