On Heavy Artillery: American Experience in Four Wars
ARMY WAR COLL CARLISLE BARRACKS PA
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This article is adapted from a study written by the late General Marshall in 1976 for the US Army Materiel Systems Analysis Agency, Aberdeen Proving Ground, MD. When the United States declared war on Germany in the spring of 1917, its Army possessed literally no artillery. Regiments in the field that had recently come out of Mexico were armed with the 3-inch gun and the 4.7, both of which were on their way out and were not rated suitable for operations on the Western Front. By that time, the battle lines in Northern France had become relatively stabilized. For approximately 29 months, the mode of warfare had been engagement out of opposing fortified zones extending from the North Sea to the Swiss border. The transition from mobile warfare, in which the front hardened, had occurred in November and December 1914 with the onset of winter weather. From that season forward, heavy artillery became the preponderant weapon begetting deadlock in fighting operations, whereas before, when mass maneuver was possible, the machine gun had shared authority with the heavy weapons. However, though the Army lacked artillery, the nation itself possessed some facility for the production of big guns and ammunition. That was because American industry was already producing war materiel for sale to the French and British. Here, indeed, was the basic situation that, more than all other influences together, was to fix the future of US Army heavy artillery for the next 60 years. The lack of any feasible alternative in 1917 foreshadowed developments in Korea and Southeast Asia much later.