James A. Landau JJJRLandau at AOL.COM
Wed Apr 3 21:51:21 UTC 2002

In a message dated Wed, 3 Apr 2002  3:42:56 PM Eastern Standard Time, dave at WILTON.NET writes:

> Does anyone know any official sources for definitions of US Army/military
> terms?
> I know of the following which are good for many terms, but they omit really
> basic ones like "rifle," "cannon," "machinegun," "pistol," and "tank."
> AR 310-25, Dictionary of United States Army Terms
> AR 310-50, Authorized Abbreviations, Brevity Codes, and Acronyms
> FM 101-5-1, Operational Terms and Graphics
> JP 1-02, DoD Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms
> This last does have a definition for "gun," which is:
> 1. A cannon with relatively long barrel, operating with relatively low angle
> of fire, and having a high muzzle velocity.
> 2. A cannon with tube length 30 calibers or more.
> A gun is also distinct from a "howitzer," which is:
> 1. A cannon that combines certain characteristics of guns and mortars. The
> howitzer delivers projectiles with medium velocities, either by low or high
> trajectories.
> 2. Normally a cannon with a tube length of 20 to 30 calibers; however, the
> tube length can exceed 30 calibers and still be considered a howitzer when
> the high angle fire zoning solution permits range overlap between charges.
I was quoting from my own experience in Basic Training (1969) plus some assorted reading.  What I was illustrating was the in-group jargon/taboos of the US Army, and apparently such taboos do not make the official glossaries.  I am told that combat soldiers have their own slang and jargon (are you surprised?), e.g. "put your juke-box on rock-n-roll" means to fire your M-16 on full automatic.

"Caliber" as used in your quotes means not the diameter of the barrel but the ratio of the length of the barrel to its diameter.

Your definition 2. of a howitzer has jargon I have never before met.

     Jim Landau

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