By U.S. ArmyApril 26, 2019
The family of 105MM light howitzers (M1, M2, M2A1, M101, M102, and M119) traces its history from 1928. The M2A1 was first produced in 1940 and was renamed the M101 after World War II. Due to its firing versatility, it was the primary field artillery weapon used by the U.S. Army during World War II. The recoil mechanism and gun carriage of this weapon were manufactured at Rock Island Arsenal.
The Acclaimed 105 MM Howitzer
Designated as the M2A1 before and during World War II, the M101 105MM howitzer is one the most exported howitzers produced by the United States. The M101 was first produced in 1940 and production continued until 1953. The howitzers were produced at Rock Island Arsenal, as were several subsequent modifications and experimental designs conducted on the carriage and barrel.
The M101 has been exported to 70 additional operators, many of which continue to use the weapon system today. The United States retired its M101s entirely by 1989 when the M119 105MM howitzer entered service. However, M101s are retained in limited service for avalanche control in some regions of the country. Shells are loaded and fired to trigger avalanches which can prevent risks to human life, agriculture and property.
The M101 howitzer has seen action on five continents and was last used in combat by the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War. The howitzer has been used widely in other more localized wars and conflicts from the 1950s through today.
Capable of deploying multiple forms of ammunition, the M101 can fire high explosive, incendiary, armor piercing, smoke and chemical shells. Most of the HE M1 shells that the M101 used were also used with the M3 howitzer of the same caliber.