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When howitzers are since the 19th century guns of the artillery referred to in both the upper and the lower angle group can shoot and thereby from the field guns and mortars differ. As with cannons, howitzers can be used to fight targets with direct aiming ( flat fire ).

Video of a M777 howitzer in action in Afghanistan
Heavy field howitzer 18 , caliber 15 cm, German standard gun up to 1945 (here without protective shield)
Soviet ISU-152

Possible uses

Since howitzers fire with a separate charge ( grenade and propellant charge , for example 1st to 6th charge), the required range can be achieved by raising the barrel and selecting the propellant charge accordingly. When fighting hard targets such as bunkers with direct aiming, the largest propellant charge is selected. Because the stronger the propellant charge, the longer the projectile trajectory and the higher the muzzle velocity ( ) and the target ballistic effect or penetration power .

As part of the further development of the guns, field guns were also developed that can fire in the lower and upper angle group (e.g. M107 cannon ).

For indirect fire , a forward observer (VB) or artillery observer is required to observe the target area and direct the artillery fire .

Name development

  • Originally a stone rifle for bombarding living forces in the field (used as early as 1410 in the Battle of Tannenberg by the army of the Teutonic Order ).
  • First as "auf (e) niz", Czech. "Houfnice", (from "houf" = slaughterhouse for the goal), in German it was first Hauffnitz , Italian obice . First mentioned in a document in the 15th century, it was used in the Hussite Wars (1419–1436) as a (field) protection from the wagon castle against the tactical formation "heaps" (see, for example, heap of violence ); rather through their acoustic effect on the horses than through their accuracy and projectile effect to "break up" the orderly battle formation.
  • It was assigned to the main rifles .
  • In the 18th century, the howitzer was not only used to describe the gun, but also its projectile. Howitzers were "thrown" into a city.
  • The designation howitzer was then applied to the multi-purpose guns that were created in the 19th century.

In Europe, the first so-called howitzers (with a smooth barrel of medium length) appeared in Germany and Italy in the 15th century. They were used to fire stone cartridges and , from the second half of the 17th century, grenades filled with explosives. Howitzers existed in Russia from the middle of the 17th century, they were called Gakownizy , Gaufnizy (Gafunizy) .

Special designs

Screw cap of the self-propelled howitzer M 109 (US version)
French howitzer system CAESAR

Field howitzers are mounted on carriages that are pulled by tractors and are part of the field artillery . Not much has changed here since the introduction of this type of gun; The principle is still the same. There are special versions such as collapsible mountain howitzers and light guns that can be air-loaded . Some guns such as the FH 155-1 have an auxiliary motor in order to be able to change position independently.

Armored howitzers, such as the M7 Priest or the German self-propelled howitzer Wespe, were used as early as the Second World War . This type of gun is now known by the Bundeswehr as a self-propelled howitzer and belongs to the armored artillery . In the Soviet Union and among its allies, as well as in their successor states, the term self-propelled gun is used for this . Are called in the English language, self-propelled howitzers self propelled howitzer . The turret into which the gun is integrated protects the crew and the gun from the elements and from shrapnel. The advantage over towed howitzers is the ability to change positions quickly, which is particularly important when the armed forces are advancing rapidly.

Since these guns are expensive, many countries also use towed howitzers or construct howitzers with wheeled chassis. For example, France developed an unarmored self-propelled howitzer, CAESAR , on a truck chassis.


Field artillery, self-propelled gun (SF) chain

Field artillery, rifled guns

Self-propelled howitzers

Web links

Commons : Howitzers  - Collection of Images
Wiktionary: Howitzer  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Howitzer (lexicon entry). In: Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon. 6th edition, Bibliographisches Institut, Leipzig / Vienna 1905–1909. 1909, Retrieved August 8, 2018 .
  2. Hauffnitz (dictionary entry). In: Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon. 6th edition, Bibliographisches Institut, Leipzig / Vienna 1905–1909. 1909, Retrieved August 8, 2018 .