By U.S. ArmyJune 12, 2019
The M115 was the standard issue howitzer during the Korean and Vietnam Wars. It was the general artillery support weapon, served by a crew of fourteen. It fired both high explosive and nuclear shells. The howitzer displayed at Memorial Field was overhauled at Rock Island Arsenal in 1977 and sold to Iran. It was captured by Iraqi troops during the Iran-Iraq War, and was later captured by U.S. forces during Operation Desert Storm.
A Survivor of the Cold War
The M115 howitzer initially saw service during World War II, when it was fielded after a lengthy research and development process. The final design was settled on in 1939, but the initial planning began just after World War I. The designation of the "8 IN" howitzer was used through the 1950s, when the U.S. adopted the international standard of measurements of artillery (203MM).
Situated on the same carriage that the U.S. used for the 155MM howitzer, the M115 was adapted to perform front line artillery support in the form of both high explosive ordnance and, later, nuclear ordnance. The W33 and the later W79 nuclear artillery shells were designated for the atomic mission. These tactical warheads were designed for use in front line support operations. However, the M115 never completed a test firing of nuclear munitions. The projected yield of the shells was approximately one kiloton, about six percent of the blast at Hiroshima. The function of handling nuclear shells was removed with the signing of the SALT treaties and the subsequent fall of the Soviet Union.
The M115 on display at Rock Island Arsenal was overhauled in 1977. It was then sent to Iran. The weapon was captured by the Iraqi Army during the Iran-Iraq War. During Operation Desert Storm, the Iraqi Army used it against coalition forces. The howitzer was captured by U.S. forces and returned to RIA in 1991. It has been here ever since.
The M115 remains in limited service with various countries around the world.