240-mm Howitzer M1
The Westervelt Board of 1919 made many recommendations as to the future state of American artillery, too many in fact for the military funds available at the time. Thus some parts of the re-equipment programme had to be postponed following some preliminary design investigations that lasted until 1921. One part of these postponed projects concerned a common carriage that could mount either a 203-mm (8in) gun or a 240-mm (9.45-in) howitzer. At that time the 240-mm howitzer project could be dropped because the US Army was still trying to develop a 240mm howitzer based on a French Schneider design, but that project was beset with problems and eventually came to nothing, only a few equipments being produced for training purposes.
But in 1939 things looked different, and the 203-mm gun/240-mm howitzer project was resurrected. The 203-mm gun took far longer to get into service than was at first envisaged, and it was not until 1944 that the first equipments were issued. But the 240-mm howitzer project was less problematical and was ready by May 1943. This 240-mm Howitzer M1 turned out to be a fairly massive piece of artillery using what was virtually an enlarged Ml carnage as used on the 155-mm (6.1-in) Gun M1. But the 240-mm howitzer carnage did not travel with the barrel fitted. Instead it travelled on a six-wheeled carriage and once on site its wheels were removed. The barrel was towed on a form of semi-trailer. At the chosen site the carriage had to be carefully emplaced and a pit was dug to permit barrel recoil at full 65° elevation. The barrel was then lifted into position, usually by a mobile crane that was also used to place the carriage into position and spread the trails. Emplacement of the 240-mm howitzer was thus no easy task, and sometimes took up to eight hours of arduous labour.
But once in place the howitzer proved to be a powerful weapon. It was first used extensively during the Italian campaign and afterwards in North West Europe whenever the fighting settled down behind static lines for any time. There was little call for the type to be employed whenevei fighting was fluid as it took too long tc emplace the weapons or get them oui of action, but when they were used the heavy 163,3-kg (360-lb) high explosive shells were devastating weapons. The 240-mm howitzers were used by both the US and British armies, and they served on for many years after the war A few attempts were made to place the 240-mm howitzer onto some form o: self-propelled chassis but none o: these projects got very far despite the advantages that self-propulsion would have given this heavy weapon. Insteac attempts were made to simplify the assembly procedure or even allow the piece to travel in one load. Nothing came of these ideas and the 240-mm howitzer was gradually withdrawn from use during the late 1950s.
Today the only 240-mm Howitzer Mis still in use are those emplaced on the Chinese Nationalist-held islandsoff the coast of mainland China. There they act as heavy coast-defence weapons and are kept fully serviceable.
Specification 240-mm Howitzer M1
Calibre: 240 mm (9,45 in)
Length of piece: 8.407 m (27 ft 7 in)
Weight: complete 29268 kg (64,525 lb) Elevation: +15° to +65° Traverse: 45°
Muzzle velocity: 701 m (2,300 ft) per second
Maximum range: 23093 m (25,255 yards)
Shell weight: 163.3 kg (360 lb)