zondag 31 juli 2011

The Big Picture - King of Battle

From the U.S. Army's "The Big Picture" television series, 1950-1975.

HISTORY OF FIREPOWER FROM CANNON TO ATOMIC MISSILE TOLD ON "THE BIG PICTURE" -- The thing you remember about the Field Artillery is the tremendous noise that a fire mission creates. "King of Battle," the newest release in the Army's TV series THE BIG PICTURE, portrays dramatically the development of artillery in the Army from 1776 to 1957. Viewers will see the cannon that fought with Washington, a primitive weapon but good enough to pound the British at Bunker Hill, support the successful attack at Trenton, and aid in the defeat of Cornwallis at Yorktown. They will learn how artillery played a decisive part in winning the Battle of Gettysburg. Crammed into 28 minutes are stock shots of the allied Meuse-Argonne offensive that finally broke the back of the German Army in 1918; the Pacific campaign of World War II where artillery became the most effective weapon against the Banzai charge of the Japanese; and finally, Korea -- where American commanders traded manpower for firepower and once again artillery came to dominate the battlefield. Since artillery can never rest on past performances, THE BIG PICTURE examines pictorially the new concept of today for American artillery -- mobility. The camera lens follows a battery commander and his unit as they move from one position to another by means of helicopter, ready for action again 20 miles away in a matter of minutes.

MP4 - 107MB - 27m01s - Youtube rip


Field artillery is a category of mobile artillery used to support armies in the field. These weapons are specialized for mobility, tactical proficiency, long range, short range and extremely long range target engagement.

Until the early 20th century, field artillery were also known as foot artillery, for while the guns were pulled by beasts of burden (often horses), the gun crews would usually march on foot, thus providing fire support mainly to the infantry. This was in contrast to horse artillery, whose emphasis on speed while supporting cavalry units necessitated lighter guns and crews riding on horseback.

Whereas horse artillery has been superseded by self-propelled artillery, field artillery has survived to this day both in name and mission, albeit with motor vehicles towing the guns, carrying the crews and transporting the ammunition. Modern artillery has also advanced to rapidly deployable wheeled and tracked vehicles and precision delivered munitions capable of striking tarkets at ranges between 15 and 300 kilometers. There exists to date no other singularly effective all weather fires delivery system which rivals the modern field artillery.

Types * Field guns - capable of long range fire * Gun howitzers - capable of high or low angle fire with a long barrel * Howitzers - capable of high angle fire * Infantry support guns - directly support infantry units (mostly obsolete) * Mortars - lightweight weapons that fire projectiles at an angle of over 45 degrees to the horizontal * Mountain guns - lightweight weapons that can be moved through difficult terrain * Multiple rocket launchers - Mobile rocket artillery Launchers

Early artillery was unsuited to the battlefield, as the extremely massive pieces could not be moved except in areas that were already controlled by the combatant. Thus, their role was limited to such functions as breaking sieges. Later, the first field artilleries came into function as metallurgy allowed thinner barrels to withstand the explosive forces without bursting. However, there was still a serious risk of the constant changes of the battlefield conspriring to leave behind slow-moving artillery units - either on the advance, or more dangerously, in retreat. In fact, many cavalry units became tasked with destroying artillery units as one of their main functions.

Only with a number of further inventions (such as the limber, hitched to the trail of a wheeled artillery piece equipped with trunnions), did the concept of field artillery really take off.

Before the first World War, field artillery batteries generally fired directly at visible targets measured in distances of meters and yards. Today, modern field batteries measure targets in kilometers and miles and often do not directly engage the enemy with observed direct fire. This hundredfold increase in the range of artillery guns in the 20th century has been the result of development of rifled cannons, improvements in propellants, better communications between observer and gunner and technical improvements in gunnery computational abilities.

Most field artillery situations require indirect fire due to weather, terrain, night-time conditions, distance or other obstacles. These gunners can also rely upon a trained artillery observer, also called a forward observer who sees the target, relays the coordinates of the target to their fire direction center which, in turn translates those coordinates into: a left-right aiming direction; an elevation angle; a calculated number of bags of propellant and finally a fuze with a determined waiting time before exploding, (if necessary) to be set, which is then mated to the artillery projectile now ready to be fired.

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