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Subject: Maximum Range for Artillery
Roman    9/11/2004 8:07:38 AM
What is the maximum range for artillery, when it is using 'conventional' ammunition (that means NOT using base-bleed or rocket assisted ammunition)?
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doggtag    RE:Maximum Range for Artillery   9/11/2004 5:24:59 PM
What specific caliber? The 3" naval guns can reach about 16km (extended range to 20km.) 105mm howitzers can get to about 15km (extended range to just about 18km.) Russian and chinese 122mm can reach about 16km (21km assisted.) 127mm naval guns can get to about 24km unassisted (very few extended range shells have been developed for these naval guns, but PGMs reach well beyond 30km.) Russian-type 130mm naval guns can reach just over 27km (only known extended range range ammo is used in coastal mounts, not on ships, and can hit just shy of 35km.) 152mm and 155mm guns, depending on whether they are 39, 45, or 52 caliber pieces, get anywhere between 24-36km unassisted (reaching 30-50km with extended range ammo.) (I got most of this from a few Jane's Armour and Artillery encycs.) Barrel length and propellant charge (and resulting velocity), and shell dynamics (shape, weight, balance, aerodynamics), as well as gun elevation, will determine how far the shell will carry. The 2 range extenders are base bleed elements and rocket assistance. Base bleed elements are slow-burning material that eliminates or greatly reduces the drag on the tail end of a projectile (the base), allowing an improved range. But rocket assistance is just that: a faster burning and higher specific thrust solid propellant "chunk" that exerts considerable extra push to get the shell further away, but often at the expense of accuracy..
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Roman    RE:Maximum Range for Artillery   9/11/2004 5:47:26 PM
Hmm, very interesting - I do not have access to Janes so many thanks for these figures. How about the larger artillery pieces - what is the maximum range of guns/howitzers/mortars of the 175mm, 203mm, 280mm, 406mm and other such calibers? What is the relationship between muzzle velocity and maximum range? It cannot be linear due to air resistance...
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neutralizer    RE:Maximum Range for Artillery   9/12/2004 4:04:42 AM
For any gun max range is something theoretical. The firing table max range is usually quoted, this means the gun achieves the muzzle velocity stated in the FT and that environmental conditions (ie air temp, wind, etc) are also as per FT. Of course in reality it's never like this, guns can shoot further (if conditions are running in their favour) or less far. The difference in height above sea level between gun and target is another factor that affects range. Sensible armies work with 'max planning range', typically max FT range less 10%. Incidentally the max range of a 105mm with unassisted standard shells is well beyond 15 km, this is merely the max range that's possible with a US type howitzer and an increment of the type used by France (in LG1) or Germany from about 1960 when they improved their M2 into FH105. Mostly the longer range 105mm were WW2 vintage guns, eg German or Swedish (used by Swiss), latter had max range 21 km, MV and barrel length both almost twice that of a M2, these were guns that couldn't fire in high elevation angle. The L118 (which does fire in high angle) is used by Brits and others since about 1975 has max rg 17.2 km.
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doggtag    RE:Maximum Range for Artillery   9/12/2004 7:54:30 AM
China has a big 203mm towed gun, and its M110-copy SP model, that can hit about 40km with the Extended Range Full Bore shells, and about 50km with a base bleed round. The US hasn't used a towed 8" gun for decades, but the M110 SP gun can range to about 23km, or 30km with HERA (High Explosive Rocket Assist.) The big Russian 2S7 203mm SP gun (SO-203 or M-1975 designation) has a longer barrel than the US SP gun, and a much larger chassis. It fires HE-FRAG to 37.5km, and RAP to 47.5km. The US-designed 175mm M107 SP gun can, at charge 3, reach about 32.7km. But Israel has used an ERSC Mk7 MOD 7 projectile which can reach 40km. The bigh Russian 240mm mortars, towed and SP, can reach about 12.7km unassisted, or 18km with a RAP. There was the big, limited production 210mm Al Fao that Iraq had at the onset of Desert Storm. It was another Bull-type gun built on an articulated chassis (basically, like a "hinged" G6, or some of the big Volvo articulated rough-terrain trucks.) The gun had the prodigious range of 57.4km (just over 62,700 yards) firing Extended Range Full Bore, Base Bleed shells. The 16inch guns (406mm) of the Iowa class battleships could fire their 2700lb high capacity ammunition to about 24 miles. (I've got the series "Illustrated Encyclopedia of 20th Century Weapons and Warfare", a 24 volume compendium of the majority of weapons systems from the late 1880s up through the early 1970s. So I can access anything from pre-dreadnought battleships to German railway guns, AFVs, rifles and pistols. Ask,and I'll see what I can dig up for you.) Velocity along with barrel elevation dictates the range. Many artillery guns get the longer ranges by firing at the high angles: this enables the shell to enter higher into the thinner atmosphere, and arc down out of a wider trajectory (but not at angles like 75 or 80 degrees elevation: these would be used for high-arc fire to perhaps reach the back slope of a hill, much like a mortar can do.) The latest Jane's Armour and Artillery books cost too much even for me ($630 for the 2003-2004 hardbound yearbook at, but I've picked up the 1997-1998 and 2000-2001 editions and the Armour and Artillery Upgrades supplement of Amazon and Barnes & Noble websites for about $100 each (got them on special.) They were listed as used, but they were used very little and were like new far as I'm concerned. Jane's pretty much covers anything and everything worldwide, but comes at a corresponding price to match. Certainly there are a score of cheaper books available, such as the Greenhill Military Manual series (these run about $20 a piece, depending where you find them. Their "Artillery, Guns & Rocket Systems" (it's blue) is a 160 page "flyweight" book, but covers many of the larger known systems in very good detail (if you know anyone near a US military base, Clothing Sales carries a lot of this series of books.) Or try Ray Riling Arms Books out of Philadeplhia: (that's the link for the Artillery book, at $20.) .
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neutralizer    RE:Maximum Range for Artillery   9/13/2004 6:24:10 AM
Interestingly Janes were wrong for years about M110 range performance. M110A1 enabled charge 8 IIRC and A2 (ie A1 plus muzzlebrake) enabled charge 9, which kicked unassisted max range out to 29km or so.
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doggtag    RE:Maximum Range for Artillery   9/13/2004 7:21:18 AM
nobody's perfect, eh? .
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Heorot    RE:Maximum Range for Artillery   9/13/2004 8:07:27 AM
Where does South African artillery figure in this. I understood that their stuff has very long range.
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Roman    RE:Maximum Range for Artillery   9/13/2004 8:26:35 AM
Hmm, very interesting - so why hasn't the West also accepted the 'Bull designs' for guns/howitzers if they are so long range? Also, I read somewhere that navy was designing 5" guns with a range in excess of 100-110 nautical miles - that is 190 or maybe even 200 kilometers! How the hell did they achieve such spectacular increase in range over everything else that is currently in use? What do you think is the maximum theoretical range for 'conventional' artillery (by conventional I mean tube artillery - no rockets or other such devices) of the future? Hmm, and that is not even talking about the proposed naval electromagnetic guns which supposedly could have range in excess of 300 nautical miles...
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PuckaMan    RE:Maximum Range for Artillery   9/13/2004 8:29:01 AM
The South African stuff (specifically the G5 and G6) are quoted as have a very long Range (67km for the G6 with Base Bleed), but if this has been verified, I don't know. It's good stuff, but I always take claims like that with a sizeable quantity of salt.......... Have to wonder about accuracy, terminal effects, etc. Pucka
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doggtag    RE:Maximum Range for Artillery   9/13/2004 8:42:14 AM
South Africa was one of the first nations to exploit the "Bull type" guns (designed by Gerald Bull, an eccentric ballistics expert who used to work on the US HARP high-altitude research artillery projects, but was supposedly eliminated by Israeli Intelligence, the Moussad, for helping the Iraqis on their Project Babylon Supergun, a long range 1000mm gun capable of firing from a hillside in Iraq into Israeli terrirtory.) They (South Africa) modified the SRC (Space Research Corporation, a company which helped fund Bull's research: he planned on using artillery guns to launch satellites) GC45 gun to suit their operational requirements, and were the first nation to field, in numbers, a gun system capable of reaching beyond 38km fairly accurately (these guns were 45 caliber.) Their latest 52 caliber guns can reach about 42km, and the VLAP (Velocity Enhanced Long Range Artillery Projectile) will reach 50km from 45 caliber barrels. They anticipate almost 70km in later developments. They also have the LEO 105 (Lightweight Expiremental Ordnance) which offers the range of 30km with 105mm ammo, and a handful of nations are watching this program closely, including United Defense and General Dynamics Land Systems in the US, and Royal Ordnance in the UK. Certainly, South Africa is not a nation to be trifled with in their ground forces capabilities. Years of embargoes and sanctions imposed on them by the UN and other countries due to the racial tensions and apartheid, has made them mostly self-reliant (but certainly there were questionable business associates in other countries who aided with the locally built Cheetah fighter, a Mirage knock-off along the lines of the Israeli Kfir.) South African artillery was purchased by Iraq (towed 155mm guns), and the Iraqis also produced the Manjoon 155mm SP gun (38km), and the bigger 210mm Al Fao (57km) I have mentioned before. These weapons caused much concern among US planners going into Desert Storm, because no Coalition artillery could match that range (>38km). The early MLRS rockets could only get out to about 32km with the Phase 1 rocket armed with M26 cluster warhead. Even currently, with many nations opting for 45 and 52 caliber ordnances which can reach beyond 40km, the US continues to "be content" with the shorter ranged 39 caliber barrels on our 155mm guns. Instead, we opt to pin all our faith on the latest longer-range MLRS rockets, and air power. The Crusader would have given us the 40+km ranges, but thankfully our always-looking-out-for-America's-best-interests politicians realized we are in a much better position always relying on American airpower to perfom the roles of long range artillery!.
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