OTO Melara Mod 56
Overview
 
The OTO-Melara Mod 56 is an Italian
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

-made 105 mm pack howitzer
Mountain gun
Mountain guns are artillery pieces designed for use in mountain warfare and areas where usual wheeled transport is not possible. They are similar to infantry support guns, and are generally capable of being broken down into smaller loads .Due to their ability to be broken down into smaller...

 built and developed by OTO-Melara. It fires the standard US type M1 ammunition.
The OTO Melara 105 mm Mod 56 began life in the 1950s to meet the requirement for a modern light-weight howitzer that could be used by the mountain warfare
Mountain warfare
Mountain warfare refers to warfare in the mountains or similarly rough terrain. This type of warfare is also called Alpine warfare, named after the Alps mountains...

 formation/unit of the Italian army
Italian Army
The Italian Army is the ground defence force of the Italian Armed Forces. It is all-volunteer force of active-duty personnel, numbering 108,355 in 2010. Its best-known combat vehicles are the Dardo infantry fighting vehicle, the Centauro tank destroyer and the Ariete tank, and among its aircraft...

 (Julia Alpine Brigade & Taurinense Alpine Brigade). The fact that it remained in service with those same units a full half century after the howitzer's introduction is testament to the gun's quality.
Encyclopedia
The OTO-Melara Mod 56 is an Italian
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

-made 105 mm pack howitzer
Mountain gun
Mountain guns are artillery pieces designed for use in mountain warfare and areas where usual wheeled transport is not possible. They are similar to infantry support guns, and are generally capable of being broken down into smaller loads .Due to their ability to be broken down into smaller...

 built and developed by OTO-Melara. It fires the standard US type M1 ammunition.

History

The OTO Melara 105 mm Mod 56 began life in the 1950s to meet the requirement for a modern light-weight howitzer that could be used by the mountain warfare
Mountain warfare
Mountain warfare refers to warfare in the mountains or similarly rough terrain. This type of warfare is also called Alpine warfare, named after the Alps mountains...

 formation/unit of the Italian army
Italian Army
The Italian Army is the ground defence force of the Italian Armed Forces. It is all-volunteer force of active-duty personnel, numbering 108,355 in 2010. Its best-known combat vehicles are the Dardo infantry fighting vehicle, the Centauro tank destroyer and the Ariete tank, and among its aircraft...

 (Julia Alpine Brigade & Taurinense Alpine Brigade). The fact that it remained in service with those same units a full half century after the howitzer's introduction is testament to the gun's quality. The Mod 56 has a number of unique characteristics for a weapon of its caliber, including the ability for its crew to manhandle the gun (due to its light weight), and the capability of being able to be used in the direct fire role. Being a pack howitzer, it is designed to be broken down into 12 parts, each of which can be easily transported.

The capability of this weapon to be "knocked-down" allows the sections to be transported a number of ways although the original design was for mule-pack using special pack saddles. More usually it is towed by a light vehicle such as a jeep or Land Rover, and with the shield removed it can be carried inside a M113 APC. However, its particular attraction to Western Armies in the 1960s was its light weight meant it could be lifted in one piece by helicopter. This made the gun popular with light artillery units in many countries as well as the more specialised Mountain
Mountain warfare
Mountain warfare refers to warfare in the mountains or similarly rough terrain. This type of warfare is also called Alpine warfare, named after the Alps mountains...

 and Airborne
Airborne forces
Airborne forces are military units, usually light infantry, set up to be moved by aircraft and 'dropped' into battle. Thus they can be placed behind enemy lines, and have an ability to deploy almost anywhere with little warning...

 troops. Over all, the Mod 56 has served in more than 30 countries worldwide, of which a partial listing of the major operators is listed below.

As an added refinement to the gun's mass, the Mod 56 is built to be an artillery piece with a reputation of ease with which it can be assembled and then disassembled into twelve components within minutes. The gun's light weight did have a drawback, however. It lacked robustness necessary for sustained operations, Australian and New Zealand Gunners in Vietnam found the weapon unsuitable for continuous operations. The guns in Vietnam were replaced by the sturdy US-made M101A1
M101 howitzer
The 105 mm M2A1 howitzer was the standard light field howitzer for the United States in World War II, seeing action in both European and Pacific theaters. Entering production in 1941, it quickly entered the war against the Imperial Japanese Army in the Pacific, where it gained a reputation...

 after some 2 years. This lack of durability also led to their being carried on trucks for longer distances outside the combat zone. What's more was that fact that the Mod 56 offered limited protection to its crew.

The Chinese manufacturer NORINCO offers a version of the Model 56 Pack Howitzer and its associated ammunition.

In Commonwealth service, the gun was known simply as the L5 Pack Howitzer with L10 ordnance. However, its lack of range and the indifferent lethality of its ammunition led UK to start development of its replacement, the L118 Light Gun
L118 Light Gun
The L118 Light Gun is a 105 mm towed howitzer, originally produced for the British Army in the 1970s and widely exported since, including to the United States, where a modified version is known as the M119A1...

, only two years after the Pack Howitzer entering service.

The gun also became the standard equipment of the Allied Command Europe Mobile Force (AMF) artillery, equipping the batteries provided by Canada, Belgium, German, Italy and UK (until 1975).

Combat Service

Identified combat use includes:
  • Argentine Army
    Argentine Army
    The Argentine Army is the land armed force branch of the Armed Forces of the Argentine Republic and the senior military service of the country.- History :...

    3rd and 4th Artillery Groups during the 1982 Falklands War
    Falklands War
    The Falklands War , also called the Falklands Conflict or Falklands Crisis, was fought in 1982 between Argentina and the United Kingdom over the disputed Falkland Islands and South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands...

    .
  • British Army
    British Army
    The British Army is the land warfare branch of Her Majesty's Armed Forces in the United Kingdom. It came into being with the unification of the Kingdom of England and Scotland into the Kingdom of Great Britain in 1707. The new British Army incorporated Regiments that had already existed in England...

    during the Aden Emergency
    Aden Emergency
    The Aden Emergency was an insurgency against the British crown forces in the British controlled territories of South Arabia which now form part of the Yemen. Partly inspired by Nasser's pan Arab nationalism, it began on 10 December 1963 with the throwing of a grenade at a gathering of British...

     in South Yemen (1 RHA and 19 Light Regiments) and Borneo
    Borneo
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     (4, 6, 29 Cdo, 40, 45 and 95 Cdo Light Regiments).
  • Australian Army
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    The Australian Army is Australia's military land force. It is part of the Australian Defence Force along with the Royal Australian Navy and the Royal Australian Air Force. While the Chief of Defence commands the Australian Defence Force , the Army is commanded by the Chief of Army...

    during the Malayan Emergency
    Malayan Emergency
    The Malayan Emergency was a guerrilla war fought between Commonwealth armed forces and the Malayan National Liberation Army , the military arm of the Malayan Communist Party, from 1948 to 1960....

     in Borneo and Malaya (102 Field Battery) and during the Vietnam War
    Vietnam War
    The Vietnam War was a Cold War-era military conflict that occurred in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from 1 November 1955 to the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975. This war followed the First Indochina War and was fought between North Vietnam, supported by its communist allies, and the government of...

     from 1965-67 (and very limited use thereafter) by (101, 103, 105, 106 and 108 Field Batteries).
  • Malaysian Army
    Malaysian Army
    The Malaysian Army is the land component of the Malaysian Armed Forces. Steeped in British Army traditions, the Malaysian Army does not carry the title ‘royal’ as do the Royal Malaysian Air Force and the Royal Malaysian Navy...

    in Borneo and Malaysian Peninsular during the Second Malayan Emergency
    Communist Insurgency War
    The Communist Insurgency War, or Second Malaysian Emergency was an insurgency and guerrilla war, conducted by the Malayan Communist Party against Malaysian armed forces from 1968 to 1989.-Origins:...

     (1968-1989).
  • New Zealand Army
    New Zealand Army
    The New Zealand Army , is the land component of the New Zealand Defence Force and comprises around 4,500 Regular Force personnel, 2,000 Territorial Force personnel and 500 civilians. Formerly the New Zealand Military Forces, the current name was adopted around 1946...

    during the Vietnam War
    Vietnam War
    The Vietnam War was a Cold War-era military conflict that occurred in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from 1 November 1955 to the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975. This war followed the First Indochina War and was fought between North Vietnam, supported by its communist allies, and the government of...

     (161 Battery).

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