M41 155mm Howitzer Motor Carriage

The M41 155mm Howitzer Motor Carriage was based on the M24 Chaffee light tank. It entered service too late to see combat in the Second World War, but was used in the Korean War.

In December 1942 work began on the T64 155mm Howitzer Mortar Carriage. This was based on a modified M5A1 chassis, with a centrally mounted engine and the gun carried in a fighting compartment at the rear of the vehicle (a similar layout to the M12 155mm Gun Motor Carriage). There was a recoil spade at the rear.

A single prototype of the T64 was built, with work starting in December 1942. This prototype underwent trials in 1943, but by then the M5 light tank was obsolete and work was well advanced on the T24, which would enter service as the M24 Chaffee light tank.

In August 1943 the Ordnance Board began work on the T64E1. This was a version of the T64 based on the chassis of the M24. A similar move had already been made with the T65 Multiple Gun Motor Carriage, which had evolved into the T65E1 in May 1943 and would be standardized as the M19 40mm Gun Motor Carriage.

The T64E1 has the same basic layout as the T64, with the engine in the middle and the gun platform at the rear. It was armed with a forward firing 155mm M1 howitzer that could be traversed 20.5 degrees to the right and 17 degrees to the left and with a range of elevation from -5 to +45 degrees. Twenty two 155m rounds could be carried internally (in horizontal racks under and to the side of the gun mount), with extra ammunition in armoured trailers or M39 armoured utility vehicles.

The pilot vehicle was ready for trials in December 1944 and went to the Aberdeen Proving Ground and then to the Field Artillery Board at Fort Bragg. Some minor changes were made and the T64E1 entered production at Massey-Harris in May 1945. It was standardised as the M41 155mm Howitzer Motor Carriage on 28 June 1945.

The original order was for 250 vehicles. Sixty had been completed by the end of the Second World War in September 1945, and 85 by the end of 1945. The M41 appeared too late to see service in the Second World War, but it was issued to self-propelled artillery units after the war, where it gained the nickname 'Gorilla'.

The M41 was used in combat during the Korean War. In the early mobile phase of the war the M41 provided much needed support to the infantry. Once the war entered its more static phase the M41s were used as conventional artillery, although their mobility still came in handy, allowing them to get out of the way of Communist counter-battery fire. The scale of the artillery fire during the Korean War is illustrated by the M41-equipped 92nd Field Artillery Battalion, which fired the 150,000th and 300,000th artillery rounds of the conflict.

The M41 was withdrawn from the US Army in the mid 1950s. A number of M41s went to France in the late 1950s, but were soon replaced by French-designed vehicles.

Stats
Production: 85
Hull Length: 19ft 2in
Hull Width: 9ft 4in
Height: 7ft 10in
Crew: 5
Weight: 41,000lb
Engine: Two Cadillac V8 petrol engines
Max Speed: 35mph road speed
Max Range: 150 miles road radius
Armament: One 155mm howitzer

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (7 April 2014), M41 155mm Howitzer Motor Carriage , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_M41_155mm_HMC.html

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