Self-propelled gun
Overview
 
A self-propelled gun is form of self-propelled artillery
Self-propelled artillery
Self-propelled artillery vehicles are combat vehicles armed with artillery. Within the term are covered self-propelled guns and rocket artillery...

, and in modern use is usually used to refer to 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...

 pieces such as 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.

Self-propelled guns are mounted on a motorized wheeled or tracked
Caterpillar track
Continuous tracks or caterpillar tracks are a system of vehicle propulsion in which modular metal plates linked into a continuous band are driven by two or more wheels...

 chassis. As such the gun can be maneuvered under its own power as opposed to a towed gun that relies upon a vehicle or other means to be moved on the battlefield. Self-propelled guns are combat support weapons; they are employed by combat support units fighting in support of, or attached to, the main combat units: 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...

 and armour.

It may be armoured
Vehicle armour
Military vehicles are commonly armoured to withstand the impact of shrapnel, bullets, missiles, or shells, protecting the personnel inside from enemy fire. Such vehicles include tanks, aircraft, and ships....

, in which case it is considered an armoured fighting vehicle
Armoured fighting vehicle
An armoured fighting vehicle is a combat vehicle, protected by strong armour and armed with weapons. AFVs can be wheeled or tracked....

 (AFV).
Discussions
Encyclopedia
A self-propelled gun is form of self-propelled artillery
Self-propelled artillery
Self-propelled artillery vehicles are combat vehicles armed with artillery. Within the term are covered self-propelled guns and rocket artillery...

, and in modern use is usually used to refer to 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...

 pieces such as 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.

Self-propelled guns are mounted on a motorized wheeled or tracked
Caterpillar track
Continuous tracks or caterpillar tracks are a system of vehicle propulsion in which modular metal plates linked into a continuous band are driven by two or more wheels...

 chassis. As such the gun can be maneuvered under its own power as opposed to a towed gun that relies upon a vehicle or other means to be moved on the battlefield. Self-propelled guns are combat support weapons; they are employed by combat support units fighting in support of, or attached to, the main combat units: 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...

 and armour.

It may be armoured
Vehicle armour
Military vehicles are commonly armoured to withstand the impact of shrapnel, bullets, missiles, or shells, protecting the personnel inside from enemy fire. Such vehicles include tanks, aircraft, and ships....

, in which case it is considered an armoured fighting vehicle
Armoured fighting vehicle
An armoured fighting vehicle is a combat vehicle, protected by strong armour and armed with weapons. AFVs can be wheeled or tracked....

 (AFV). As a rule self-propelled guns are more lightly armoured and may not have turret
Gun turret
A gun turret is a weapon mount that protects the crew or mechanism of a projectile-firing weapon and at the same time lets the weapon be aimed and fired in many directions.The turret is also a rotating weapon platform...

s and their purpose is distinct from that of tank
Tank
A tank is a tracked, armoured fighting vehicle designed for front-line combat which combines operational mobility, tactical offensive, and defensive capabilities...

s.

The greatest tactical advantage in the case of artillery guns is clearly the greater degree of mobility they have compared to towed artillery. Not only is it important in offering military forces greater flexibility, but it is critical in avoiding attack from the enemy (counter-battery fire
Counter-battery fire
Counter-battery fire is a type of mission assigned to military artillery forces, which are given the task of locating and firing upon enemy artillery.-Background:...

) by allowing the guns to change position immediately after firing one or more salvos and before their position can be located ("shoot-and-scoot
Shoot-and-scoot
The term shoot and scoot refers to an artillery tactic of firing at a target and then immediately moving away from the location where the shots were fired. The reason for this is to avoid counter-battery fire - fired by enemy artillery or delivered by attack aircraft and helicopters, in order to...

" tactics). A secondary advantage in the case of armoured – even lightly – guns is the increased protection offered to the gun crews.

History

The first attempts to give artillery a greater degree of maneuvreability was in 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...

. Although mechanical tractors had been used to tow some artillery, most were still towed by horses. The Gun Carrier Mark I
Gun Carrier Mark I
The Gun Carrier Mark I was the first piece of self-propelled artillery ever to be produced, a British development from the First World War.-Development:...

 was an artillery piece that was transported by and could be fired from a tracked chassis.

Between the wars, in the development of their armoured warfare tactics, the British put the Birch Gun
Birch gun
The Birch Gun was the world's first practical self-propelled artillery gun, built at the Royal Arsenal, Woolwich in 1925. The gun was never highly regarded by the British High Command, purely for prejudicial beliefs and political pressure rather than any real lack of ability...

 into limited use. It carried an 18 pound gun on a chassis derived from their then medium tank and as such was able to keep up and cross the same ground as the tanks it was intended to support. As well as use as a field gun, the gun could be elevated sufficiently for use against aircraft.

Self propelled guns and howitzers

Self-propelled guns and 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 are used in the same way as their towed variety, generally for long-range bombardment. Self-propelled artillery can however also include other types of weapons not considered a self-propelled gun, one example of which would be rocket artillery
Rocket artillery
Rocket artillery is a type of artillery equipped with rocket launchers instead of conventional guns or mortars.Types of rocket artillery pieces include multiple rocket launchers.-History:...

.

Assault guns

Assault guns are large-caliber artillery pieces, meant to support 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...

 by direct fire with high explosive ammunition.
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