Book Review: ?Weapons of War? Series; 155mm Howitzers in Canadian Servi
ce by John Davidson; Service Publications, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, 2012; 2
4 pp. with B&W photos and 1/35 scale plans; price CDN $9.95; ISBN 978-1-894
Advantages: provides the background and details of Canadian artillery evolu
tion after WWII
Disadvantages: probably not enough photos or details for modelers
Rating: Highly Recommended
Recommendation: for ?Redlegs? and Cold War period fans
After WWII the Canadian army began to ?spool down? quite rapidly and r
etire or scrap many of the Commonwealth weapons systems it had used during
that conflict. While they kept the field artillery regiments with 25-pdr gu
ns, the medium artillery with 4.5" and 5.5" weapons were packed in.
While Canada did not need a wealth of weaponry during peacetime, it was de
cided early on that it must be able to deploy with its own weapons and also
it must soon meet NATO requirements. The decision was made to lean towards
American made weapons for the standardization approach, and for medium art
illery the winner was the American 155mm caliber. Thus in 1951 the Canadian
Army replaced the older British weapons with the American M1 (later M114)
155mm towed howitzer. This was chosen over the bigger M1 155mm gun as that
was considered heavy artillery, and at the time every American division had
one battalion of 155mm howitzers. So in the mid-1950s the Canadians adopte
d the M1A1 version of the howitzer. They modified it slightly to become the
M114Cdn as of 1962. Each regiment of the Royal Canadian Horse Artillery (R
CHA) had one six or eight gun battery of M114Cdn guns and three 105mm ones.
The M114Cdn was a popular weapon, but as everyone else switched to modern
SP weapons the Canadian Army followed suit in 1966 and purchased 50 M109 ho
witzers. These were followed later on by 26 guns for 4th CMBG in Lahr and w
ere fielded with the 1st RCHA. I personally met one of their batteries in 1
975 when my platoon was collocated with them during REFORGER 1975; the guns
were clean, well-serviced and popular with the gunners. At that time they
were some variation of the M109A1 or A1B with the 39 caliber long barrel.
While Canada did not opt for the ?high tech? US M109A6 Paladin version
, they did continually upgrade their guns to M109A4 or A4+ levels.
But with the end of the Cold War and changing requirements, many armies no
w turned to high mobility weapons and the US and Canada were no exception.
The US needed a high mobility gun for areas such as Afghanistan and the 30,
000 pound towed M198 was not the answer. After much testing of various prot
otypes, the answer turned out to be the British Vickers M777 lightweight 15
5mm howitzer at 9,200 pounds, which meant it could be moved by either a Chi
nook or Super Sea Stallion helicopter. In 2005-2006 the Canadian Army also
obtained M777s for use in Afghanistan and also used RCAF Chinooks for deplo
yment of the guns. Today this howitzer is the standard Canadian piece.
Overall this is a nice book and also explains artillery terms (?Gun 101"
) for those not familiar with them.
Thanks to Clive Law of Service Publications for the review copy.
9 years ago