Needing a useful howitzer system for supporting Army actions during World War 2 (1939-1945), the Australians moved on adopting the excellent British Ordnance QF-25-pounder in 1940 to shore up limitations in the current stock of mountain guns and other howitzers. The guns were exceptional field pieces that saw extended service lives across a plethora of conflicts witnessed after the war. Design work on the type was during 1930 in the lead-up to World War 2 and manufacture was through the Royal Ordnance establishment.
Appreciating the type's capabilities in open-field warfare, the Australian government arranged to have the guns built through local industry. A state factory was arranged at Maribyrnong, Melbourne and deliveries of the newly-minted guns came during May of 1941 to which total production eventually netted some 1,527 guns into 1944.
The guns proved their value in the fighting that followed. However, they were better suited to the open battlefields of the North African campaign and Europe than the confines of jungle warfare in the Pacific Theater. Nevertheless, their potency at range was second-to-none and the guns were fielded wherever and whenever possible in support of Allied ground actions.
In-the-field practice eventually was to spur development of a lighter ordnance piece in the mold of the 25-pounder and this led to work on such a type beginning in September of 1942. Various measures were enacted to reduce the overall weight of the weapon system, including a shortening of the gun tube and, later, removing the standard gunnery shield. Logistics were kept as friendly as possible by reutilization of many 25-pdr components. The weapon retained virtually all of the inherent capabilities of the original gun including its ammunition options (87.6mm caliber). The breech used a vertically-sliding wedge design with recoil managed by a hydropneumatic system. An all-new two-wheeled box trail carriage was also developed - the gun mounting hardware given an elevation span of -5 to +40 and a traversal of 4-degrees to either side. The gun was accepted as the "Ordnance QF 25-pounder Short (Aust) Mark I".
The Australian Short model provided Australian troops with a portable artillery piece that could be air dropped in unassembled components or relatively easily towed by mover vehicle on roads. It was specifically designed with a quick take-down capability which made for lighter individual loads for cross-country travel. Evaluations of the gun system were conducted during December of 1942 with early, limited service occurring in New Guinea at the start of 1943. After some revisions brought about by this exposure, the gun was slated for serial production from 1943 onwards. The Australian Army placed two procurement batches: 112 and 100 - the latter using the slightly improved Mk II carriage unit instead.
Despite their limited production, the guns were in constant use up until the last fighting days. They continued in service a short time longer as they were not officially retired until 1946.
Australian gunnery teams affectionately knew their 25-pdr Shorts as "Snorts".
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