The 155mm Gun M1 ‘Long Tom’ and closely related 8in Howitzer were two key pieces of American heavy artillery during the Second World War and in Korea, being used on just about every front where US forces were engaged. The Americans ended the Second World War equipped with French 155mm GPF and an American produced version of the same gun, the M1919M1. However these guns were already outranged by German 150mm guns of the First World War, so during the interwar period a series of attempts were made to produce a replacement gun. However the resulting 155mm Gun wasn’t accepted as standard until 1938 and the 8in Howitzer until 1940 (and didn’t enter production until 1942).
Chapter one starts with a brief history of the development of these guns, and then focuses on providing detailed photographs from every angle. Chapter two looks at the various vehicles used to tow the guns and to carry supplies of ammo etc. These two chapters are roughly equal in length. Chapter three focuses on their use in combat and is the largest chapter, taking up about half of the book.
I would have liked more technical information about these two guns. We do get a lot of pictures of a surviving example at the Alabama Battleship Memorial Park, which will certainly satisfy the modeller, and do give good views of the gun from just about every angle.
Chapter two is more interesting than one might think. The vehicles used to tow these guns had a big impact on how rapidly they could be deployed in combat, while the supply vehicles were essential for keeping them in action, and both went through several different versions during the war. We get a good explanation of what made each vehicle significant – this is very useful as otherwise things like the Mack NO truck just look like any other heavy truck, but it turns out it was designed specifically to tow these guns. We also get a good mix of pictures of ammo wagons empty and full, giving some idea of how they were used.
Chapter three is a mix of photographs from training in the States and active service overseas. The US based photos include a number of sequences which show the process of using the gun. The pictures from active service tend to be more varied, and include some unusual shots. These give a good idea of how these two weapons were used in combat, how they were transported, and their scale compared to other weapons of the period.
The pictures are generally of a very high quality and supported by useful captions, so this is a good visual guide to these two important artillery pieces.
1 – The New Generation of Guns
2 – Towing and Supplying the Cannons
3 – Field Service
Author: David Doyle