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Kodiak Alaska Military History

The official web site of the Kodiak Military History Museum

155mm guns

From Kodiak Harbor Defense ANNEX: SNL Piece Total Project No. Mark Article Requirements Carriage * * 155mm., GPF, M1918A1 8 * * 155mm., GPF, M3 3 * * 155mm., GPF, M2 1 Gun D-11 53-24 155mm., M1918, M1 8 D-11 53-24 155mm., M1917, M1 4
The messages below here have been edited.
From Robert D Zink: An undated WW II ammunition list for Kodiak shows 4 - M1917A1 guns on 3 M3 mounts and 1 M2 mount on Fort Greely and 4 M1918A1 guns on M1918A1 mounts on Fort J.H.Smith. This might be a clue to the photo.
From Bolling Smith: TM 9-345, "155-mm Gun Materiel, M1917, M1918 and Modifications," (1942) says: The M1917 was the original French-manufactured gun. It was termed "Grande Puissance Filloux" (GPF), for "Great Power" and the name of the designer, Filloux. The M1918MI was the American-made gun, which differed in some respects, especially the breech and firing mechanism. Most M1917s had their breech and firing mechanisms replaced by the breech and firing mechanisms of the M1918MI. These modified M1917s were designated M1917A1s. The original carriages, M1917 and M1918, were intended for very slow speeds, with two steel-bodied wheels carried on bronze hub liners. Each wheel had two solid rubber tires. The carriages were modified for high-speed transport, with electric brakes and antifriction roller bearings for the wheels, and designated M1917A1 and M1918A1. Later, most carriages were further modified with steel disk wheels, heavy-duty pneumatic tires, and airbrakes. The original semi-elliptic spring, on which the gun axle was suspended in the traveling position, was eliminated. These carriages were designated M2 and M3. The GPF guns were superseded, but not entirely replaced, by 155 mm M1 and M2 guns, the "Long Toms." While production of the improved guns during the war was sufficient to replace all the GPFs, the new guns could not use the older ammunition, and shortages of projectiles for the Long Toms kept the GPFs in service until the end of the war. It should be noted that the nomenclature in different official manuals varies considerably, but this manual is probably reliable.
From Jay Stribling: It was my understanding that the "Long Tom" M2 155mm gun would not fit on a Panama mount. A different and more portable steel bolt-together 360 degree mounting was designed for the newer, more powerful guns and these were referred to as "Erector Set" mounts. I believe that there was no concrete component to these mounts so most, if not all were salvaged for scrap after the war. The "Panama mount" with its large concrete cylinder with the rail along the top was always used with the GPF, or so I had believed.
From Bolling Smith: I have been told that a few Panama mounts were modified for use by M1A1 guns. A swiveling plate was placed on the center hub, and the carriage was bolted to this. An example is (or at least was) in western Washington, near Westport, used for M1A1 guns by the 56th CA (relieved by the 249th CA). I don't know how satisfactory this was. The numbers, in any event, were very small. M1 and M2 guns (I think the M1A1, rather than the M2, was mainly used for coast defense during WW2) used T6E1 (subsequently designated M1) "Kelly" mounts. These were essentially a stop-gap measure, pending production of T6E2 pedestal mounts, with 360 degree traverse. 155 mm guns on pedestal mounts were envisioned as one of the principal coast defense weapons for the post-war army, but were never procured in any quantity. A similar pedestal mount for 8-inch guns was proposed, but not approved.
From Tony Feredo: GPFs were sometimes called "Long Toms". However, the Long Tom was comonly referred to the 155mm Gun 1 M1. The term"Long Tom" was associated with 155mm guns be it the GPF or the M1. In the Philippines during WWII, a lot of these guns saw action as Corps Artillery for the USAFFE and the Harbor Defenses of Manila and Subic Bays. Units equiped with with the 155mms were 301st FA (Philippine Army), 86th FA (Philippine Scouts), the 91st Coast Artillery (Philippine Scouts) and the 92nd CA (Philippine Scouts). These 155mms were the most effective artillery used for long range and counter battery fire during the Bataan and the siege of Corregidor in 1942. There were two types of the GPFs, the French made 1917 and the M1918 license to built in the US. Most of the ones used int he Philippines were of the M1918 model from Bullard. There is one remaining GPF found at Mt. Samat in Bataan with it's barrel blown off and carriage stripped of the movable parts. There is also a self propelled variant of the GPF, the M12 , a 155mm M1917/18 on an M3 chassis, nicknamed "King Kong". Here is a photo of Philippine Scout soldiers on a firing practice with a 155mm.
From Robert D Zink: I have been a coast defense hobbyist for about 30 years. One of the things I find most irritating is when someone redefines a term so that it no longer means what it meant to the Army. A "Panama Mount" was a family of fixed mounts (first used in Panama, apparently) for the French designed 155mm artillery pieces. The "family" had three models - so that, depending on situation, the arc of fire of the gun could cover 180, 270 or 360 degrees. The Panama mount basically had a steel rail (looks like railroad rail) in an arc or circle. set into a concrete foundation (again. 3 different arcs), with a concrete column in the center (supported the weight of the gun & carriage), and several concrete beams connecting the outer "ring" to the column, to hold everything in alignment. The trail of the 155's carriage was slid (using prybar) along the rail to traverse the gun (the basic mount had very limited traverse) - I was told by a retired Colonel, CA, that the gear rack (and accessories) mentioned by "fortnerd" replaced the prybar and allowed azimuth change that was faster and required 1 or 2 less men. The only one I have seen was in Bermuda. The "erector set" mount mentioned was called a "Kelly Mount" in one of the manuals. I do not know, but I think it was an official label.
From Alec Beanse: According to I.V.Hogg a Kelly Mount was "A form of ground platform based on the Panama Mount and developed by the US Army to mount the 155mm Gun M1 in the coast defence role. He claims it was know as Mount T6E1 and was designed by Col P E Kelly.
From Bolling Smith: The "Kelly" mount was invented by Col. "Pete" Kelly, CAC, while he was the assistant harbor defense executive, HD San Francisco. "The pilot mount was constructed at Fort Scott and the guns were fired at Fort Funston (both on a wooden spider mount and on an existing Panama Mount for the 155mm G.P.F. guns) and at Fort Chronkhite on a small concrete block." This wooden spider mount was taken by the Ordnance Dept, who "complicated it considerably with fancy hand-holds, etc., and have now issued it as the Firing Platform M1. Basically not much more than a fancy Kelly Mount." - Col. William F. Lafrenz, CAC, in CAJ, Vol. 87, No. 4 (July-August 1944), pp. 62-63.

Other 1944 articles in the CAJ include a description of a "Portable Panama Mount," (Nov-Dec), and a reference to an un-named HD (pictures look North Pacific to me), describing the use of a crowbar on "the steel teeth imbedded in the inner rim of the outer circle to traverse the GPF," (May-June).

In the May-June 1944 issue, "Employment of SCA in Island Warfare," by LTC H.G. Fowler, describes the standard concrete Panama mount as "virtually worthless due to construction time, but "A 180 degree mount has been developed which can be emplaced within from twenty-four to forty-eight hours. With the exception of the standard rail, most of the required materials will be found available in Engineer dumps." Interestingly, Fowler cites the advantages of the GPF over the M1: traversing softer ground, simpler and more rugged, and consequently less vulnerable, and at least as accurate. The M1, in contrast, had longer range and could be more quickly emplaced in a "normal position."

In additional tribute to the GPF, it should be noted that between the wars, at least, the GPF had the smallest probable error of any coast artillery gun.

Kelly mount from TM 9-2300 (1949).

From a document on 155mm Gun, G.P.F. and Panama Mounts by the late Jim Loop courtesy of Robert D Zink: "The 'Kelly Mount' was the equivalent of a transportable Panama Mount but made for the dimensions of the 155-mm Gun Carriage,M1 - The Long Tom. It was designed in 1943 by Colonel Peter K. Kelly, then Regimental Executive Officer, Harbor Defenses of San Francisco, to enable the Long Tom to be used against moving seaborne targets. ... The Kelly Mount was officially designated as 155-mm Firing Platform, T6E1. By the summer of 1944, the 155mm guns on the "Kelly Mount" were in action in the Pacific Theater of Operations by both US Army Coast Artillery units and US Marine Corps Defense Batalions. The mount was officially adopted byy the Coast Artillery and Ordnance Corps as the 155-mm Gun Platform, M1, with a unit cost of $4,964.00"
From Fortnerd: Per discussions of the 155mm M1 gun on "portable Panama mount" I do not recall seeing any reference to a manual covering the subject. [forgive me if I overlooked it] In any case, readers may refer to TM 9-2300 ARTILLERY MATERIEL AND ASSOCIATED EQUIPMENT for minimum details. A picture appears on page 136 of the 1944 edition where the firing platform is referred to as the T6E1 and on page 98 of the 1949 edition where standardization has changed platform nomenclature to M1. Unfortunately, neither edition lists any weights, dimensions, or sizes of structural members of the platform.
Conclusions: 4 guns at Ft. Smith (Chiniak) [4 Panama mounts exist] Carriages 155mm., GPF, M1918A1 4ea Guns D-11 53-24 155mm M1918M1 (A1?) 4ea 4 guns at Ft. Greely [4 Panama mounts exist] Carriages 155mm GPF, M3 3ea 155mm GPF, M2 1ea Guns D-11 53-24 155mm M1917, M1 (A1?)4ea 4 guns (Ft. Tidball, Long Island?) [4 Panama mounts exist] Carriages 155mm GPF, M1918A1 4ea Guns D-11 53-24 155mm M1918, M1 (A1?)4ea Guns were at unknown locations before the Panama mounts were built. One location known to have 155mm guns was Spruce Cape, Ft. Abercrombie, where no Panama mounts exist. There is also possibility that all guns were not actually emplaced but kept at the artillery maintenance shop. Panama mounts were started on Pillar Mt. but not completed. Some material such as railroad rail is still on site near three half-finished mounts.

Two 155mm guns probably on Long Island. (From the Carlson photos.)

Pete Payette's page has a photo of a 155mm gun

(Note: If largest photo version doesn't load, it may be only available on our CD-ROM of the website.)

Panama Mount page

Main index Created 2001 August 21, Updated 2001 August 23