MANUFACTURER(S): Rock Island Arsenal, USA
OPERATORS: Brazil, El Salvador; Guatemala; Honduras; Jordan; Lebanon; Philippines; Saudi Arabia; Thailand; Uruguay; United States
NBC PROTECTION: Not Available.
NIGHTVISION: Not Available.
Detailing the development and operational history of the Rock Island Arsenal M102 Towed 105mm Medium Howitzer.
Entry last updated on 8/17/2017.
Authored by JR Potts, AUS 173d AB. Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com.
In 1955 the US Army issued a requirement for a new towed light howitzer to replace the M101 which was the same basic design developed in 1940 as the M2. The need was for a lighter model having a greater traverse capability. The prototype was tested in 1962 and was designated XM102, after the trials the unit was released as standardized in 1963 as the M102.
By June 1964 the weapon was deployed to South Vietnam. The US military found operating problems with many weapon systems like the M16 jamming due to the rainy climate. Likewise the M102 experienced reliability problems with non weather protected parts of the range finding system and the fire control system. After minor adjustments the issues were soon rectified.
Leaving the M114 the 155 mm gun to do the heavy lifting fire missions the M102 fit the missions of the airborne and airmobile units along with USMC units in country. Being lighter than the M101 however having a longer barrel allowed the M102 using the same ammo to have greater range. A battery was issued 6 howitzers and 3 batteries combined made a battalion. A crew of 8 serviced the weapon.
The M102 is comprised of 4 main components. The M137 cannon, the M37 recoil system, the M31 carriage and the fire-control system. A crew of 8 was needed to operate and fire the weapon. A major weapon upgrade was a roller located at the base of the tail allowing the gun to be traversed 360 degrees. In Vietnam it was necessary to engage targets in all directions with short notice as fire bases were attacked from many sides simultaneously. The US Army and USMC transported the howitzer by helicopter or parachute drop to support all types of air assault operations for US forces and the Army of South Vietnam (ARVN) military units.
The M102 is retired from front line duty however the USMC uses the gun for firing salutes. The USAF uses some models in the AC-130 Gunship.
Reported ranges for ammunition types is 12,575 yards for the M1 projectile and 16,515 for the M548 projectile. A rate-of-fire of 10 rounds-per-minute can be achieved, 3 rounds-per-minute in the sustained firing role. Traverse is 360 degrees with elevations of -5 degrees to +75 degrees.