M110 Howitzer: An American-made self-propelled artillery system

Eric Sof

Once upon a time, the M110 howitzer was the largest available self-propelled howitzer in the US Army’s inventory. The M110 is an 8-inch (203 mm) self-propelled howitzer consisting of an M115 203 mm howitzer installed on a purpose-built chassis. It was used as general support, counter-battery fire, and suppression of enemy air defense systems.

Key recognition features

  • Short stubbly barrel, no fume extractor or muzzle break
  • Howitzer is in unprotected mount towards the rear of the hull with a large spade at the far rear
  • Chassis same as M107 175 mm self-propelled gun with five large road wheels, front-drive sprocket, no-track return roller

Development

The 203 mm (8-inch) M110 howitzer was designed in the 1950s at the same time as M107 175 mm, which has an identical chassis and mount. Pacific Car and Foundry completed the first production vehicles in 1962, with later production by FMC and finally BMY. The M110 was followed in production by the improved M110A1 and M110A2, some of which were conversions of the original vehicle.

A bunch of M110 Howitzers in firing position
A bunch of M110 Howitzers in firing position (Photo: XY)

The M110 203 mm self-propelled howitzer has a total crew of 13, of whom five (commander, driver, and three gunners) are carried on the actual M110, and reminder in the M548 tracked cargo carrier or truck which also has projectiles, charges, and fuzes.

The 203 mm M110 howitzer has powered elevation from minus 2 degrees to +65 degrees, a powered traverse of 30 degrees left and right. The maximum range is 21,300 meters with standard HE projectiles, but other projectiles can be fired. When in firing position, a large hydraulically operated spade is lowered at the rear of the hull to provide a more stable firing platform. The gun crew has no protection from elements, NBC contamination, small arms fire, or shell splinters.

M110 howitzer 203 mm
M110 howitzer 203 mm (Photo: XY)

The M110 series of self-propelled howitzers is now being phased out of service in several countries, for example, the United Kingdom and the United States, and replaced by the MLRS.

Variants

  • M110A1 is an M110 howitzer with a new, much longer barrel and, therefore, a more extended range.
  • M110A2 is the same as M110A1, but the barrel has a muzzle brake.
  • M578 ARV used almost the same chassis as M107/M110.

Status

Production complete. In service with Bahrain, Belgium, Germany, Greece, Iran, Israel, Italy, Japan (built under license), Jordan, Pakistan, South Korea, Spain, Taiwan, and Turkey. In most cases, M110 howitzers have been converted to the M110A2 standard.

Today, it is still in use in those countries:

  • Bahrain: 28 M110s in service
  • Greece: 145 M110s
  • Egypt: 144 M110s
  • Iran: 30 M110s
  • Japan: 91 M110s
  • Jordan: 120 M110s
  • Morocco: 60 M110s
  • Pakistan: 60 M110s
  • Taiwan: 60 M110s

While in the United States, the M110 howitzer was retired in 1994 in favor of the M270 Multiple Launch Rocket System.

A right front view of an M110 203 mm self-propelled howitzer underway during a training exercise
A right front view of an M110 203 mm self-propelled howitzer underway during a training exercise (Photo: DoD)

Technical specifications

Country of origin:United States
Manufacturers:Pacific Car and Foundry Company, Renton, Washington; FMC Corporation, San Jose, California and BMY, York, Pennsylvania
Crew (on gun):5
Armament:1 x 203 mm howitzer
Ammunition:2 x 203 mm
Length gun forwards:7.467 meters (spade up)
Length hull:5.72 meters (without gun or spade)
Width:3.149 m
Height:2.93 m (top of barrel traveling), 2.809 m (top of mount), 1.475 m (hull top)
Ground clearance:0.44 m
Weight, combat:26,534 kg
Weight, unloaded:24,312 kg
Power-to-weight ratio:15.26 hp/tonne
Ground pressure:0.76 kg/cm2
Engine:Detroit Diesel Model 8V-71T, turbocharged, 2-stroke liquid-cooled, 8-cylinder diesel developing 405 bhp at 2,300 rpm
Maximum road speed:56 km/h
Maximum road range:725 km
Fuel capacity:1,137 lit
Fording:1.066 m
Vertical obstacle:1.066 m
Trench:2.362 m
Gradient:60%
Side slope:30%
Armor:classified
Armor type:Steel
NBC system:No
Night vision equipment:Yes (driver only)
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