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When the American military went to Europe in World War 1 in 1917 they were in short supply of just about any war-making implements including that of heavy artillery. One of the best pieces of artillery at the time was the French-made Canon de 155mm GPF heavy gun. At the end of the war, General Pershing had a number of the GFP's brought back stateside to be reviewed and improved upon for use in the United States Army. American Army engineers worked on modifying the existing French-based system and, by 1926, a number of prototypes had been revealed. Work continued off and on, fluctuating because of a lack of funding, into the 1930's and ultimately produced a mating of the original French GFP with a new British breach system - the Asbury. The T4 gun prototype was fitted onto the T2 carriage prototype and entered service as the 155mm Gun M1 on Carriage M1. When the new gun was introduced to American troops they bestowed her with the affectionate name of "Long Tom".
The Army placed an initial quantitative order for 20 Long Toms and several arsenals began production. The main improvements to the original French design were the L/45 modified barrel mounted on the new M1 heavy-split tail carriage using the Asbury breach. The carriage had four double-tired road wheels mounted at the front end of the carriage, two sets to either carriage side. This placement acted as the stability point between the weight of the gun and the carriage and made the firing gun more accurate. Additional upgrades to the gun required the model designation to be changed to the "M1A1" (modified breech ring) in 1941 and, by 1944, continuing production changes ultimately birthed the "M2" designation (again, modified breech ring).
The M1/M2 shell used was a 43.1 kg (95lb. ) projectile and, when fired at a 45-degree angle, it would send a High Explosive (HE) round some 25,395 yards out - up to 15 miles away - with a high rate of accuracy. A qualified crew of 15 men could fire more than 40 rounds per hour consisting of high-explosive, chemical, smoke, or illuminating shell types. The gun elevation, up to 63-degrees, gave the crew a wide arc of fire.
The gun proved reliable in practice and became the standard heavy gun in the US Army arsenal. Its success was further driven home by its sales to allied nations around the globe. The weapon was used in large numbers during World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam conflict. Many nations continued to use the gun well into the 1980's. After World War II, the US Army bestowed upon the M1/M1A1/M2 the new designation of "M59" during a reorganization period.
Sourcespotts, JR. M59 (M2 Long Tom) 155mm Towed Field Gun. May 10, 2017. Accessed November 26, 2017. https://www.militaryfactory.com/armor/detail.asp?armor_id=318.
Fischer, William. M2/ M59 Howitzer. Historical Marker Database. February 02, 2017. Accessed November 26, 2017. https://www.hmdb.org/marker.asp?marker=101211.
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