155 mm Long Tom

Not to be confused with the French-built 155 mm Creusot Long Tom, a Boer War artillery piece.
M1 155 mm Long Tom

Long Tom in travelling position, US Army Ordnance Museum.
Type Towed field artillery
Place of origin United States
Service history
Used by United States
South Korea
Republic of China
South Africa
United Kingdom
Wars World War II, Korean war, Croatian War of Independence
Production history
Designed 1930s
Weight Travel: 13,880 kg (30,600 lb)
Barrel length 6.97 m (22 ft 10 in) L/45
Crew 14

Caliber 155 mm (6.10 in)
Breech Asbury mechanism
Carriage M1 Carriage
Elevation −2°/+65°
Traverse 60°
Rate of fire 40 rounds per hour
Muzzle velocity 853 m/s (2,799 ft/s)
Maximum firing range 23.7 km (14.7 mi)

The 155 mm Long Tom was a 155 millimeter caliber field gun developed and used by the United States mililtary. It was produced in M1 and M2 variants (later known as the M59). Developed to replace the Canon de 155mm GPF, the gun was deployed as a heavy field weapon during World War II and the Korean War, and also classed as secondary armament for seacoast defense. The gun could fire a 45.36 kg (100 lb) shell to a maximum range of 22 km (13.7 mi), with an estimated accuracy life of 1,500 rounds.

The Long Tom was also adopted by a number of other nations, including the United Kingdom, Austria, Israel, and the Netherlands.


Before entering World War I, the United States was poorly equipped with heavy artillery. To address this problem a number of foreign heavy artillery guns were adopted, including the Canon de 155 mm GPF. After the end of the war development work began in the United States on a design to improve upon the existing models of heavy gun and carriage. A number of prototypes were produced in the 1920s and 1930s, but the projects were put on hold due to lack of funds. In 1938 the 155 mm Gun T4 on Carriage T2 was finally adopted as 155 mm gun M1 on Carriage M1.[1]

155 mm gun M1

The new gun design used a barrel similar to the earlier 155 mm GPF, but with an Asbury mechanism that incorporated a vertically-hinged breech plug support. This type of breech used an interrupted-thread breech plug with a lock that opened and closed the breech by moving a single lever.[2] The ammunition for the 155 mm gun was "separate-loading", that is with the shell and the powder charge are packaged, shipped and stored separately. The shell is lifted into position behind the breach and then rammed into the chamber to engage the shell's rotating band into the barrel rifling.[3]

Ramming the shell home is followed by loading a number of powder bags, as required for the desired range.[4] The powder charge could be loaded in up to seven charge settings. Once the powder is loaded, the breech plug is closed and locked, and a primer is placed in the breech plug's firing mechanism. After setting the elevation and azimuth, the gun is ready to fire. The firing mechanism is a device for initiating the ammunition primer. The primer then sets off the igniter which ignites the propelling charge of the ammunition. A continuous-pull lanyard first cocks the firing pin, then fires the primer when pulled.[5]

The gun was developed into M1A1 and M2 variants. After World War II, the United States Army re-organized, and the gun was re-designated as the M59.

Carriage M1

The gun carriage provides a stable, yet mobile, base for the gun. The new split-trail carriage featured an eight-wheel integral two-axle bogie and a two-wheel limber that supported the trails for transport. The carriage was a two-piece design. The upper carriage included the side frames with trunnion bearings that supported the recoil mechanism that carried the gun cradle, slide and gun tube. The upper carriage also incorporated the elevating and azimuth gearing. The upper carriage pivoted in azimuth on the lower carriage. The lower carriage included the transport suspension and the split-trail that stabilized and absorbed recoil when the gun was fired.[6]

The carriage consists of a combination of the following major components:[7]
Bottom carriage Top carriage
Firing support base Elevating mechanism
Trails Traversing mechanism
Retractable suspension system Gun support components
Axle Equilibrator[8]
Brakes Cradle (Connects gun assembly to the top carriage)
Wheels Recoil mechanism
Sleigh (Sliding support for the gun tube)
Gun tube

After the gun was placed in a firing position with the gun pointing in the desired direction, the trails were lowered to the ground and the limber was removed. The carriage wheels would then be raised using built-in ratcheting screw-jacks, lowering the gun carriage to the ground. Once on the ground, the limber-end of the trail legs were separated to form a wide "vee" with its apex at the center of the carriage pivot point. A recoil spade at the limber-end of each trail leg required a correctly positioned hole to be dug for the spade, which was attached to the trail end, to transmit the recoil from gun carriage through the trails and into the earth. This made the gun very stable and assisted its accuracy. The removable spades were transported in brackets on the trail legs.[9]

The carriage M1 and M2 were shared with the 8 inch Howitzer M1, differing only in the gun tube, sleigh, cradle, recoil and equilibrators, weight due to the heavier barrel.[10]


Specifications from TM 9-350
Weight of gun (complete with breech mechanism) 9,595 lb (4,352 kg)
Weight of tube assembly (barrel) 9,190 lb (4,169 kg)
Length of tube 277.37 in (7.05 m)
Length of bore cal. 45 (274.6 in / 6.975m)
Length of rifling 230.57 in.
Powder pressure (normal pressure with maximum charge in a new gun) 40,000 psi (275,790 kPa)
Type of breechblock Interrupted screw
Weight of breech mechanism 405 lb (184 kg)
Type of firing mechanism continuous pull percussion hammer


Long Tom at crew training in England

The Long Tom saw combat for the first time in North African Campaign on December 24, 1942, with "A" Battery of the 36th Field Artillery Battalion. Eventually it equipped about 49 battalions, including 40 in the European Theater and 7 in the Pacific. The preferable prime mover was initially the Mack NO 6×6 7½ ton truck; from 1943 on it was replaced by the tracked M4 High Speed Tractor.[11]

A small number of Long Tom guns were authorised for supply via lend lease channels, to the United Kingdom (184) and France (25).[12] However, the authorised establishment of British batteries (excluding training units), including four batteries from the Dominion of Newfoundland, totalled 88 guns.


M2 during the Battle of Okinawa.

Gun variants:

Carriage variants:

Limber variants:

The gun was also mounted on a modified M4 medium tank chassis, in mount M13. The resulting vehicle was initially designated 155 mm Gun Motor Carriage T83 and eventually standardized as 155 mm Gun Motor Carriage M40.[13] 155 mm Gun Motor Carriage T79, based on T23 Medium Tank chassis, never advanced past proposal stage.[14] A portable "Panama mount" M1 was also provided.


British gunners cleaning Shells, Italy, February 1945

The gun utilized separate loading, bagged charge ammunition. The propelling charge consisted of base (9.23 kg) and increment (4.69 kg). The data in the table below is for supercharge (base and increment).

Type Model Weight Filler Muzzle velocity Range
APBC/HE AP M112 Shell 45.36 kg (100.0 lb) Explosive D 2746 ft/s (837 m/s) 24,075 yds (22,014 m)
HE HE M101 Shell 42.96 kg (94.7 lb) TNT 2800 ft/s (853 m/s) 25,714 yds (23,513 m)
Smoke WP M104 Shell 44.53 kg (98.2 lb) White phosphorus (WP) 2800 ft/s (853 m/s) 25,940 yds (23,720 m)
Smoke FS M104 Shell Sulfur trioxide in chlorosulfonic acid 2800 ft/s (853 m/s) 25,940 yds (23,720 m)
Chemical H M104 Shell Mustard gas, 5.3 kg (12 lb) 2800 ft/s (853 m/s) 25,940 yds (23,720 m)
Dummy Dummy Mk I Projectile
Dummy Dummy M7 Projectile 43.09 kg (95.0 lb)
Armor penetration, mm[13]
Ammunition / Distance, m 457 914
AP M112 Shell (homogeneous armor, meet angle 30°) 160 152
AP M112 Shell (face hardened armor, meet angle 30°) 135 130
Concrete penetration, mm[13]
Ammunition / Distance, m 914 4572
HE M101 Shell (meet angle 0°) 2,011 1,402
Different methods of measurement were used in different countries / periods. Therefore, direct comparison is often impossible.

Existing examples






United Kingdom

United States

See also


  1. TM 9-3305 p 2-8, Figure 2-12, M1 155-mm gun on M2 (Long Tom) carriage.
  2. Breachblock
  3. TM 9-3305 p 5-1, Figure 5-2, Hand loading and ramming for weapons firing separate-loading ammunition
  4. TM 9-3305 p 4-1, Figure 4-2. Lands and grooves and Figure 4-3. Projectile with rotating band.
  5. TM 9-3305 p 4-15, Figure 4-27 M13 firing mechanism.
  6. TM 9-3305 p 7-2, Figure 7-1, Top and bottom carriages.
  7. TM 9-3305 p 7-3, Figure 7-2, gun support assembly.
  8. TM 9-3305 p 7-7, Figure 7-6. Pneumatic equilibrator.
  9. Popular Science Magazine
  10. TM 9-3305 p 2-11, Figure 2-18. M1 8-inch howitzer on M1 (M1 5) carriage.
  11. Zaloga – US Field Artillery of World War II, pp. 20–22.
  12. Zaloga, US Field Artillery of World War II, p. 37.
  13. 1 2 3 4 Hunnicutt – Sherman: A History of the American Medium Tank, p 353-355, 570.
  14. Hunnicutt – Pershing, A History of the Medium Tank T20 Series, p 158.
  15. Technical Manual TM 9-1901, Ammunition, p 197-202.
  16. Technical Manual TM 9-1904, Ammunition Inspection Guide, p 490-518.
  17. http://www.bunkermuseum.at/
  18. "155mm Long Tom Gun | Fort Lytton Historic Military Precinct". fortlytton.org.au. Retrieved 13 August 2016.
  19. File:PikiWiki Israel 32427 Israel Defense Forces.JPG
  20. File:Museum Bevrijdende Vleugels 3.JPG


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