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American Military Museum - Artillery, Naval, Misc. 

Visited 7-28-13

Tank/ vehicle displays »

WWII Artillery, Naval, & Miscellaneous Displays

Photos taken by WW2HQ staff. Only displays from the World War II period are covered in this article.

This museum has a very good selection of both army and navy artillery. Examples of guns performing one or more tasks within the entire range of artillery missions include: anti-tank, anti-aircraft, destruction of fortifications, anti-personnel, anti-submarine and anti-ship applications.

A smaller collection of amphibious equipment is also represented. The eight inch howitzer and the rare M-23 motor carriage are particularly impressive artillery pieces.

General Discussion of Artillery pieces

An artillery piece can be used in one of two methods: direct or indirect fire. With direct fire, the gunner can see the target he is aiming at and fires directly at it. With Indirect fire, the gunner shoots with an arching pattern into the sky so that the round drops down upon the target. This enables the cannon to shoot at targets which are hidden behind hills or trees or are just too far away to be seen directly. Most artillery pieces have enough elevation to do some indirect fire, but Howitzers excel in this role and mortars exhibit the maximum indirect fire capability.

A Howitzer is a shorter lighter gun than a normal artillery piece. It is typically used to fire high explosives, phosphorous or smoke rounds, but not armor piercing rounds, which normally are higher velocity projectiles that requires a heavier and longer gun barrel. The Pack Howitzer could be used where weight was restricted such as with airborne operations or travel over mountainous or difficult terrain.

Even though Howitzers were not intended to be used to destroy enemy tanks, a high explosive round could still be effective in a direct fire shot if the round exploded near the base of the turret, thus damaging the upper deck of the tank which was normally lightly armored. A high explosive round could also be effect against armor with indirect fire again, if the round exploded against the upper deck of the tank. The indirect method normally required large numbers of guns to saturate the target area, or lots of luck.

As for characteristics of an artillery gun, there are three that most strongly effect the power of the gun. 1) The diameter of the bore (the hollow space in the gun barrel) is the most common designation for the size of the weapon. 2) The caliber is the ratio of the the length of the barrel to the diameter of the bore. The longer the gun barrel, the more time that the explosive propellant has to act upon the projectile. 3) The size of the gun's chamber determines length of the cartridge that can be fired by the gun. It is possible to have two guns with the same length and diameter of barrel and one still be more powerful because it has a larger chamber. However, the chamber designation is not typically listed. Most artillery guns are labeled by the diameter of the bore and the caliber of the barrel.

In regards to naval hitting power, World War Two saw a tremendous shift from the use of big guns, to the use of aircraft. Consequently the number of anti-aircraft guns on naval vessels rose dramatically during the war. This museum has a very nice selection of naval guns that were used in the anti-aircraft role.

Comparison of US Naval Anti-aircraft Guns


 50 caliber machine gun      
  20 mm gun      
    40 mm gun    
      3" gun  
        5" duel purpose cannon

Development of Sherman Tank Suspension


In addition to the array of artillery on display, the development of the Sherman tank suspension can be traced through vehicles exhibited at this museum.

On display are: an early production M7 Priest which has the return roller centered on the vertical volute springs; a mid-production Priest and Sherman tank, which have the return roller mounted on the trailing edge of the volute springs; and additional Sherman tanks which show the later horizontal volute spring suspension with the wider tank tread.