Saturday June 10, 2006
M101A1 105mm How = 6 per battery (artillery
company), four batteries to one FABN. Standard field artillery piece of
the Philippine Marine Corps. Serves in both the indirect fire or direct
fire roles. Compared to 155mm guns like the M114 or the M68, the M101 is
relatively light, easy to move and has a high rate of fire when operated by
experienced crews. It is also a simple weapon which Philippine armorers
have a lot of experience in maintaining.
Picture below. Marine Field Artillery Battalion
engaged in fire support operations, 2001 Clearing operations against the MILF.
The howitzer in the foreground, like a lot of Marine
equipment, has the latin phrase "Nunquam Iterum" painted on the side of the side
of its split trailing arm – "Never Again". Notice too how the equipment is clean
and well maintained. On the bottom picture, the scene is a bit different. Notice
how both spades of each trailing arm of each howitzer has already dug itself
into the ground. Obviously, some firing has already taken place and the troops
are waiting for a new set of firing orders.
Pause. Marines resting and preparing their
ammunition for the next round of firing. Note how the trailing arm spades are
already embedded in the ground by the recoil of previous firing.
Marine Battery rendering honors. In celebration of the Philippine Marine Corps’
birthday 2001. Note the LVT5’s and 6’s in the background.
2 LVT6HA1s are still operational. 32 LVTH5s are also stored but no
M56 105mm Oto-Melara
Italian pack howitzer – six
upgraded units, extra one upgraded by Floro International (rapid fire mod).
Italian howitzer that can fire the same ammunition as the M101 in Philippine
service. Maximum range of 10.22 kms. Rate of fire is 4 rounds per
minute for 30 minutes. 3 rounds/min for 1 hour. 8 rounds per minute in the
anti-tank role. It can be dismantled into 11 sub-assemblies in 3 minutes
and reassembled in 4 minutes by a well trained crew. The 11 subassemblies
can be lifted inside a PAF UH-1. In the anti-tank role firing HEAT
ammunition, it can penetrate 102mm of conventional rolled steel armor. It
is however less effective against modern composite armor.
These two types of mortars are used by both the
Philippine Marines and the much larger Philippine Army. Ammunition for
both types is either acquired from the US and other sources including local
suppliers. These poor mans artillery pieces provide the bulk of fire support for
deployed Philippine Units. Ammunition is relatively cheap as far as
artillery goes so PMC and Philippine Army Units have been able to stock up and
fire large numbers of mortar ammunition to support local operations (i.e.
"large" numbers as in hundreds of rounds within the span of a few days in some
recent operations. The larger artillery pieces seldom fire this many in one
81mm M29a1 Mortars – Weight in at approximately 122 lbs. This
mortar can fire mortar shells out to a maximum range of 4,737 meters (a little
over 4 kilometers). Maximum rate of fire for a good crew is around 12
rounds per minute for 2 minutes. Sustained rate of fire of 3 – 5 rounds per
minute can be maintained indefinitely without damaging the barrel. PMC
battalions are equipped with 4 of these medium mortars per battalion.
60mm Mk19 mortars.
Can reach out and touch someone up to 2000 meters (2 km) away. PMC
battalions are equipped with six (6) mortars each (2 per company [3 companies]
per battalion). While these weapons are long in the tooth now, the barrels
are still in good shape and far from worn. As with the ammunition, repairs
to the weapons can also be undertaken locally though some of the ammunition is
bought from foreign as well as local sources.
To improve it’s conventional warfare capabilities
further, the Marines are hoping to have an air defense
battalion (part of the HSSB) formed by the middle of 2006. These will be
equipped with the 40mm Bofors guns as well as twin 50 cal machine gun turrets
mounted on trucks.
40mm Bofors Mk3
Carriages built locally from guns taken from decommissioned PN
ships. The guns themselves were refurbished prior to mounting onto the gun
carriages. A further number of guns are planned on lighter and more mobile
Displaying their ability to adapt existing
weapons systems, the Marines are taking gun mounts from decommissioned
Philippine Navy Swift boats and refurbishing them. The intent is to mount
these gun turrets on Marine trucks to provide a mobile low level anti-aircraft
capability. They also have a secondary fire support function. Note
that these mounts are exactly the same mounts used by
US Navy PBRs.
The first refurbished mount is undergoing it’s
test fit in the pictures below. The .50 caliber machine guns have also been refurbished and
received new wiring and trigger mechanisms. Traverse and elevation are
manual but firing the guns requires a 24 volt battery. The mount itself is
balanced and spring loaded so the guns are easy to train and elevate onto their
(Note from ed: A lead computing gunsight
fitted onto these guns would markedly improve their effectiveness in the AA
role. For the ground support role, fitting night sights and/or some form
of modern optics would do wonders for accuracy as well but first things
Photos below shows the finished mount sporting
Belin Brigade camo colors. The unit is assigned to the
Marine Ready Force. A further number of guns and mounts are in the
The Marines have recently taken delivery of the
first 20mm mount from the Philippine Navy as part of the effort to stand up and
equip a Marine Air Defense battalion. Picture below show a marine trying it out
for size. The gun’s magazine lies at his feet.
Many thanks to John for the latest updates.