Self-propelled L119 105 mm light gun?

cluttonfred

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The Royal Ordnance Factory L118 (semi-fixed ammunition) and L119 (fixed ammunition) 105mm light gun (howitzer) has been a great success. It is in use in at least 20 countries including the UK, Australia and the USA (as the M119A1), which all build them. I have not heard of any self-propelled versions, though, which seems strange. (I did find a mention of an M113 APC modified to carry a 105 mm howitzer, though I am not sure if that's the same gun.)

With the modern emphasis on rapid deployment and mobility, this seems like the perfect gun for an air-tranportable self-propelled howitzer or even an assault gun. At only two tons, including the carriage, it could even equip an air-droppable vehicle. Does anyone know of any production models, prototypes or projects to put the L119 or a derivative on a self-propelled carriage?

Cheers,

Matthew
 

smurf

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It's the other way round, isn't it?
The Abbot 105mm spg came first; then a lot of hard work to produce a lightweight, air-portable, manhandleinto awkward spots gun, by which time SPG's had gone to 155mm.
 

Abraham Gubler

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smurf said:
It's the other way round, isn't it?
The Abbot 105mm spg came first; then a lot of hard work to produce a lightweight, air-portable, manhandleinto awkward spots gun, by which time SPG's had gone to 155mm.

Yeah spot on. The L118 was developed from the L13 ordnance developed for the L109 Abbot SPG. The L118 entered service in 1976, some 11 years after Abbot. Why the L118's separately loaded ammunition is called "Abbot" ammunition (at least in the Australian Army to differentiate between the semi fixed M1 ammunition used by the L119). The Mk 8 4.5" gun was also based on the Abbot gun technology but of course scaled up to the bigger naval round.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FV433_Abbot_SPG
 

acorning

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Some very suspect assertions above.

Light Gun was a project initiated in 1964, just before Abbot entered service. It uses the same ammo as Abbot, correctly called 105mm Field, the 105mm M1 being called 105mm Howitzer in UK service. There were two Mks of 105 Fd ammo. Mk 2 was the real thing, Mk 1 was used when Abbot first entered service and stocks of Mk 2 ammo were being built. Mk 1 used the 105mm How shell and a reduced 105 mm Fd cartridge (the ordnance has an electric primer so cannot fire carts with percussion primers). Originally L118 was to use the Mk 1 ammo for training, but during development the requirement was changed to permit a separate ordnance firing 105mm How ammo, because this ammo was no longer needed in war stocks and therefore all existing stocks were available for training, this version of the gun was called L119, UK only purchased 14 of them to equip two batteries for the School of Artillery, they disposed of them about 10 years ago when the ammo ran out.

The ordnance of L118 and Abbot were somewhat different, slightly different in length, self-generating electricity for the firing mech instead of using the vehicle power supply and L118 uses an autofrettaged barrel which was unnecessary in Abbot because barrel weight was not an issue. Obviously the recoil systems were very different. There is a lot of nill-informed twaddle on this subject.

Oh yes, 105 Fd ammo is separate loading, 105mm How is semi-fixed. It is impossible to have 105mm Fd semi-fixed because both charge 5 and charge super protrude beyond the cartridge case mouth. Bit of a duh is that.

Several years ago a new HE shell entered service, L50, the shell is longer than the old L31, which in turn was longer than the M1. The new shell has a usefully higher percentage of HE fill, than L31 which had more than M1. A new RP smoke entered service at about the same time this is of course a base ejection smoke not bursting like WP.
 

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Slight tangent but forgive me. Would it have been feasible to mount a turreted L118 on a CVRT chassis? Or am I totally insane to suggest it?
cheers
H
 

Abraham Gubler

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acorning said:
Originally L118 was to use the Mk 1 ammo for training, but during development the requirement was changed to permit a separate ordnance firing 105mm How ammo, because this ammo was no longer needed in war stocks and therefore all existing stocks were available for training, this version of the gun was called L119, UK only purchased 14 of them to equip two batteries for the School of Artillery, they disposed of them about 10 years ago when the ammo ran out.


For the Australian Army's Project Hamel which saw over 100 Light Guns built in Australia at the Bendigo factory of ADI (aka Department of Supply) each gun was supplied to the unit with two interchangeable ordnances. One, the L119, to fire the semi-fixed 105mm M1 ammunition and the other, the L118, to fire the "Abbot" ammunition (as it was called in Australia). The highly suspect idea was that the Army would use the L119 in peacetime firing the cheaper M1 ammunition and come a conflict change over to the L118 and fire the longer ranged Abbot ammunition. However the money was never allocated to produce the Abbot ammunition in Australia or buy a large enough to be usable stock from the UK. So each artillery unit maintained a stack of wooden crates loaded with spare L118 ordnances in the back of the park that could be switched out for the L119 ordnance when needed. They have hardly been used and represent another of many wastes of defence dollars by the Australian DoD.
 

acorning

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Actually 15,000 rds of 105mm Fd were purchased from UK. Australian production costs wouldn't have been greatly different between How and Fd, a bit more HE and higher grade steel offset by slightly less steel. Of course the sensible option if shell cost was a problem would have been to adopt 105mm Fd Mk 1 and Mk 2, as UK did for bringing Abbot into service. Incidentally Australia used the UK FTs and these referred to 105mm Fd, so it was only the un-informed who talked about Abbot ammo.
 

Abraham Gubler

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acorning said:
Actually 15,000 rds of 105mm Fd were purchased from UK.

Not even a years’ worth of ammunition for peacetime training.

acorning said:
Australian production costs wouldn't have been greatly different between How and Fd, a bit more HE and higher grade steel offset by slightly less steel.

No Australian production of ammunition for the L118 would have been far higher than continuing production of 105mm M1 ammunition. Because of the cost of converting the plants to the new ammunition type. Whereas the non-recurring costs of M1 production had been spent in the 1960s.

acorning said:
Incidentally Australia used the UK FTs and these referred to 105mm Fd, so it was only the un-informed who talked about Abbot ammo.

Yes and I did the fire missions for a few of those as well. But what name is printed on the firing table is not necessarily what is printed in local training documents and used all the time in the vernacular. The L118 ammunition was ALWAYS referred to as the “Abbot” ammunition in the Australian Army. Perhaps because calling it 105mm Field would be awfully confusing considering that was also the name of the class of gun that fired it (105mm field gun).
 

Abraham Gubler

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acorning said:
so it was only the un-informed who talked about Abbot ammo.

I don’t like being called “un-informed” by someone who clearly wasn’t there. So a quick search of Google should put this issue to bed. Plenty of other Aussie Gunners referring to “Abbot ammo” when using the L19 ordnance on our Hamel guns. And these are only from page 1 of results.

dont know but imagine the concusion from that! When we fire the Abbot ammo (electrically fired) out of the L118 ordnance, on the Hamel at 'charge super', only about 10rds in a 24hr period can be fired as the body can suffer from the overpressures.

BTW thats only peace time. With the L119 ordnance on the Hamel using the 105mm M1 ammo we can fire to our hearts content

On 'charge super', the trails on the Hamel kiss the ground! its impressive and a 105mm Abbot projectile gets punched out to +17 km in range.
https://army.ca/forums/index.php?topic=17001.5;wap2

Range 11,400 mtrs and
17,200 mtrs with Abbot Ammo
http://7fd-regt-raa-association.com/History/Guns%20of%20the%20Regiment.htm

The gun packs more punch than what a pack howitzer would however, there is a flaw.

Deployment times for crews are slower as it is necessary to remove a wheel in order to fold the gun back up right (not kidding) and if one chooses to use the US barrel for M1 ammunition as oppsed to British Abbot ammunition, the gun lacks 6km's worth of range.

Since a light gun's purpose is to be portable I like it.
http://forums.spacebattles.com/threads/best-artillery-in-the-world.43815/
 

acorning

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So there were lots of under-informed people who hadn't bothered to looked at the FTs or other official documentation (eg the ammo section of the UHB). There is never an excuse for ignorance, certainly not 'other people were using it', all sounds like poor quality training to me.

Not sure that tooling costs were that great, in the mid-60s UK seems to have been producing 105mm Fd and 105mm How in the same factories.

Of course UK has moved on, BAe recently completed type testing of a new 105mm shell filled with ROWANEX PBX, these are longer shells and I think they may have been using one model for a few years, along with the new RP smoke shells in Afg. Some years ago BAe claimed that the new longer thin wall 105mm was as effective as 155mm M107, although I'd assume 'it all depends on the target type'. Of course Australia has been using 155mm for 30 years and sticks with the antique ammo for that as well. Bit of a pattern emerging here.
 

Abraham Gubler

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acorning said:
So there were lots of under-informed people who hadn't bothered to looked at the FTs or other official documentation (eg the ammo section of the UHB). There is never an excuse for ignorance, certainly not 'other people were using it', all sounds like poor quality training to me.

Either that or people on the other side of the world do things a little bit differently.

acorning said:
Not sure that tooling costs were that great, in the mid-60s UK seems to have been producing 105mm Fd and 105mm How in the same factories.

So? ADI would have done the same if ever funded to build Abbot ammunition in Oz. The floor space required is hardly the issue its everything else from different presses to different materials and so on that add up to non-recurring costs

acorning said:
Of course UK has moved on, BAe recently completed type testing of a new 105mm shell filled with ROWANEX PBX, these are longer shells and I think they may have been using one model for a few years, along with the new RP smoke shells in Afg. Some years ago BAe claimed that the new longer thin wall 105mm was as effective as 155mm M107, although I'd assume 'it all depends on the target type'. Of course Australia has been using 155mm for 30 years and sticks with the antique ammo for that as well. Bit of a pattern emerging here.

Nice one. More ignorance from the other side of the world. Australia chose to move to all 155mm for one big reason: smart ammo. How is that 105mm Excalibur project or that 105mm SFM project or that 105mm PGK project going? Ohh there is none. And you talk about "antique ammo"?
 

Hot Breath

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How many and what types of 155mm "Smart" rounds has the ADF bought?

105mm should be able to use a "smart" round. A modified Strix would work well. Pity Merlin was discontinued. It would have been perfect for adapting to 105mm calibre rounds.
 

TomS

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Australia bought Copperhead quite some time ago, and ordered both SMArt and Excalibur around 2007-08.


http://www.defence.gov.au/media/departmentaltpl.cfm?CurrentId=7131
http://www.defence.gov.au/budget/07-08/dar/vol2/ch3_01_o11_04_top30_5.htm

Note that these are all off the shelf buys where someone else paid the development costs. A 105mm guided round would likely be a new start as no one else appears to have ordered such a round.
 

Abraham Gubler

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Hot Breath said:
How many and what types of 155mm "Smart" rounds has the ADF bought?

155 SMArt is actually a product name. It is a German made sensor fused munition (SFM) in which a 155mm carrier shell pops out two self guided anti tank munitions which parachute down to above an enemy tank and blow them up with EFPs against the roof.

The Australian Army has brought a few hundred or thousand (you search online to find the actual number) of these rounds to replace the laser guided Copperhead as the artillery anti tank weapon. SMArt is a far, far more effective anti tank round than Copperhead. Which is called a smart or precision guided weapon more as a courtesy.

Hot Breath said:
105mm should be able to use a "smart" round. A modified Strix would work well. Pity Merlin was discontinued. It would have been perfect for adapting to 105mm calibre rounds.

Sure and you could probably repackage a lot of PGM tech to fit 105mm shells. Also there are other good reasons to keep 105mm as an expitionary weapon like the logistics demand vs artillery frontage which is better than 155mm and new preformed fragment 105mm shells having near and better than 155mm performance (Denel 105mm LEO). But someone’s got to actually do it and pay for it. However as Australia is only a medium power with a track record of very bad defence tech management (despite some excellent ideas and implementation) it’s not going to be us!
 

acorning

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L118 will remain in UK service well into the 2030s, it will achieve at least 60 yrs. The main users are the light forces, ie airborne and cdo. Note that the US abn continues to use M119. Budgets permitting I'd expect course correcting fzes to be adopted. Its also used for training including the UK university units. UK evaluated both Ceasar and portee M777 some years ago. I suspect they will buy the former for the non-armoured, non-light bdes. M777 is a bit of a dog, it has a heap of issues starting with very limited top traverse, basically 155mm is too big a calibre for an effective towed gun, but its great for a proper SP like AS90 and PzH2000. The sensible solution for a towed gun above 105mm is 122mm. If BAe had an sense they develop something capable of firing the old Sov std ammo and a new upgraded round like their new 105 and 155 (replacing L15 which is already far outperforms M107). Remember, the primary role of field artillery in suppression and casualties against opportunity targets.

Full precision isn't really needed if you have GMLRS - bigger bang to far greater range. UK ordered Smart 155 but cancelled. Copperhead was a device that did not withstand careful analysis, Martin-Marietta were flogging it hard in the 1980s, with a marked lack of success - sensible armies did some arithmetic and thought hard about how to use it.
 

Hot Breath

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acorning said:
basically 155mm is too big a calibre for an effective towed gun

I think you mean "is too big a calibre for an effective light towed gun". There are plenty of examples of 155mm or larger calibre towed guns which were/are effective weapons. Perhaps the point is that mass is needed to absorb recoil and while designers can cleverly replace it with recoil systems using hydraulics and inclined ramps and so on, there is still a minimum mass you really can't go below?
 

acorning

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No I meant what I said. Towed 155mm was useful in WW2, mainly because the battle space was compact so top traverse of 60/70 degrees was acceptable, but the maximum rate of fire left a lot to be desired. Top traverse remains a problem, but has far greater significance as the battle space has grown and the guns are still heavy, this means switching between wide separated targets is too slow. Rate of fire remains abysmal in all too many cases. One of the few towed 155mm that overcame these deficiencies was FH70, but is was big and heavy and complicated. There's also the whole ammunition handling issue. 155mm is a fine calibre, but only for use on SPs.
 

Matt R.

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cluttonfred said:
Does anyone know of any production models, prototypes or projects to put the L119 or a derivative on a self-propelled carriage?

OFB India displayed this prototype during Defexpo 2010.
 

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miker

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What the 155mm isn't a good towed gun!

The SA G5 is an excellent towed piece, it's a bit dodgy "bundu Bashing" but it goes well enough & I've watched them engage targets at 50km range, I was half way between the target & guns, I could see the BB burn then burn out. No problem with top register" there I think.
 

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That should be top traverse. The G5 has it's trunnion point close to the breech & doesn't have any problem traversing quickly. Shell handling is heavy work but I was able to handle the projectiles easily enough at Army Battle School on a course.
 

Abraham Gubler

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miker said:
What the 155mm isn't a good towed gun!

The SA G5 is an excellent towed piece, it's a bit dodgy "bundu Bashing" but it goes well enough & I've watched them engage targets at 50km range, I was half way between the target & guns, I could see the BB burn then burn out. No problem with top register" there I think.

But you need a bloody big helo to lift the G5 to make it air mobile. If you are using your gun as an exclusively land mobile piece you're much better off with a SP piece. But towed guns have the advantage of just being able to be slung under a chopper or dropped out the back of a Herc.

The M777 is perbaps the best artillery piece ever built for towing. It is balanced on its wheels and can be towed by a quad bike. And its power to weight ratio is astounding. But if you have to fly in every shell you shoot as in the case of an airmobile assault or amphib landing then a 105mm gun will out shoot it.

The weapon of artillery is the shell not the gun. Why you manage arty by units of fire not numbers of tubes.
 

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Interesting topic and interesting hearing forum members personal experiences on the gun line!!

I read somewhere, so don't know where, that at the end of WWII there was a preference for developing and making 110mm the standard light artillery calibre of NATO, but for reasons I can't remember, the standard became 105mm.

Abraham Gubler, I can't argue with your sentiment - "However as Australia is only a medium power with a track record of very bad defence tech management (despite some excellent ideas and implementation) it’s not going to be us!"

As for your comment "The M777 is perhaps the best artillery piece ever built for towing.", as an Infantryman, Assault Pioneer Mortarman and DFSW operator for 27-years, I'm respectfully not qualified to argue mate, but I've always thought highly of the Soviet 2A18 (D-30) 122mm howitzer as an excellent design, bar none.

Regards
Pioneer
 

Pioneer

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Here I go again, what is DFSW?

Regards.

Direct Fire Support Weapon (aka Carl Gustav 84mm recoilless rifle).
Sorry for my vagueness and assumption JohnR

Thanks for the elaboration TomS.
May I also add direct and indirect Sustained Fire Machine Guns (7.62mm and 12.7mm)

Regards
Pioneer
 
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