Photo Information

Family members of 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment cheer as a convoy of buses brings four busloads of Marines and Sailors back to the Combat Center to reunite with their family March 29.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Michael S. Cifuentes

3/12 Lima Battery tests supercharged Howitzers at Combat Center

4 Apr 2006 | Lance Cpl. Michael S. Cifuentes

The earth trembled deep in the valley of the Combat Center’s Quackenbush training area Tuesday as cannoneers with Lima Battery, 3rd Battalion, 12th Marine Regiment, mixed up with a Howitzer evaluation team from Marine Corps Logistics Base Barstow, Calif., and caused a deafening ruckus in the desolate Mojave terrain with 10, M198 Howitzers and more than 75, 155 mm rounds.The purpose of the shoot was to provide MCLB Barstow personnel the opportunity to exercise and evaluate the big guns stored at their facility.“The Barstow evaluation team requires necessary tests after making repairs on their howitzers,” said Capt. David L. Padilla, the commanding officer of Lima Battery. “It’s a requirement coming out of their base. “Since the test date fit our schedule, our battery was able to fulfill their needs and evaluate their 10 weapons systems,” said Padilla. “It saves the Marine Corps a lot of money because otherwise, their team would have to hire contractors to do the job, which would take them two days. We managed to complete the weapon evaluation in half a day.”The evaluation consisted of howitzers lined up side by side, roughly 20 meters apart. For testing purposes, there were no direct targets. The weapons were aimed straight forward, directed at a mountainside. The howitzer’s recoil system was the main issue in the evaluations, said Padilla. Normally, the cannoneers would use a small charge, enough to reach the target. During the firing this time, the maximum charge allowed to shoot on an M198 Howitzer was used, commonly known to artillerymen as a super-eight charge. It was in the form of a 6.25-inch by 30-inch tube, filled with roughly 30 pounds of propellant and igniter base.Also included with that powerfully charged shots were rocket-assisted projectile rounds, a combination that demolished the solid desert terrain and whose report rumbled through the High Desert like thunder.“This is the first time this howitzer made me jump a bit,” said Lance Cpl. Keith R. Bednar, a cannoneer with Lima Battery. “After seeing the long tube of gunpowder inserted behind that RAP round, I knew it was going to be trouble. “After being behind the howitzer after it’s been shooting that for a while, you become a bit dizzy,” he added as his equilibrium was distorted from multiple howitzer blasts. “The Howitzers moved back about four feet every time it was fired with these charges.”The charge and capabilities of the weapons system to fire off the round caused the trails of each Howitzer to drive back through the dirt 17 to 19 feet by the end of the day, after being dug in approximately one foot. “It was definitely a first time for most cannoneers with this battery seeing such firepower,” said Padilla. “It was a great experience for the Marines and a good day for the Barstow personnel, because eight out of the 10 weapons had no problems.” To see and feel the power and effects of our maximum charge is a good experience for us too, he added. “We are preparing to deploy to Iraq as a firing battery in support of Regimental Combat Team 7,” said Padilla.Lima Battery picked up training at the Combat Center again after returning from a six-month deployment to Okinawa in February. They have been training with the M777 Lightweight Howitzer, but are prepared to pick back up with the M198 as, said Padilla as Tuesday’s shoot demonstrated. Just like in Operation Iraqi Freedom I, the battery will bring their destruction capabilities with them for their next OIF deployment in the fall.
Headquarters Marine Corps