OTO Melara Mod 56

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OTO Melara Model 56/14 pack howitzer
Spanish marines with OTO Melara Model 56/14 pack howitzer in 1981.
Type Pack howitzer
Place of origin Italy
Service history
Used by See Operators
Production history
Designer OTO-Melara
Weight 1,290 kg (2,840 lb)
Length 3.65 m (12 ft 0 in)
Barrel length 1.47 m (4 ft 9.9 in) L/14
Width 1.5 m (4 ft 11.1 in)
Height 1.9 m (6 ft 2.8 in)[1]
Crew 7

Shell Semi-fixed 105 x 372mm R
Shell weight 14.9 kg (33 lb)[2]
Calibre 105 mm (4.13 in)
Breech Vertical sliding-block
Recoil Hydro-pneumatic
Carriage Split trail
Elevation -7° to +65°
Traverse 56°[1]
Rate of fire 10 rounds/min
Muzzle velocity 416.0 m/s (1,360 ft/s)
Maximum firing range 10,000 m (10,900 yd)[1]

The OTO-Melara Mod 56 is an Italian-made 105 mm pack howitzer built and developed by OTO-Melara. It fires the standard US type M1 ammunition.


The OTO Melara 105 mm Mod 56 began life in the 1950s to meet the requirement for a modern light-weight howitzer that could be used by the Italian Army's Alpini brigades mountain artillery regiments. That it remained in service with those same units a full half century after the howitzer's introduction is a testament to the gun's quality. The Mod 56 has a number of unique characteristics for a weapon of its caliber, including the ability for its crew to manhandle the gun (due to its light weight), and the capability of being able to be used in the direct fire role. Being a pack howitzer, it is designed to be broken down into 12 parts, each of which can be easily transported.[3]

The capability of this weapon to be "knocked-down" allows the sections to be transported a number of ways although the original design was for mule-pack using special pack saddles. More often it is towed by a light vehicle such as a jeep or Land Rover, and with the shield removed it can be carried inside an M113 APC. However, its particular attraction to Western armies in the 1960s was that its light weight meant it could be lifted in one piece by helicopter, which made the gun popular with light artillery units in many countries as well as the more specialized mountain and airborne troops. Overall, the Mod 56 has served in more than 30 countries worldwide, of which a partial listing of the major operators is listed below.

As an added refinement to the gun's mass, the Mod 56 is built to be an artillery piece with a reputation of ease with which it can be assembled and then disassembled into twelve components within minutes. The gun's light weight did have a drawback, however: it lacked the robustness necessary for sustained operations, Australian and New Zealand gunners in Vietnam found the weapon unsuitable for continuous operations. The guns in Vietnam were replaced by the sturdy US-made M101A1 after some two years. This lack of durability also led to their being carried on trucks for longer distances outside the combat zone. The Mod 56 offered limited protection to its crew.

The Chinese manufacturer NORINCO offers a version of the Model 56 pack howitzer and its associated ammunition.[4]

In Commonwealth service, the gun was known simply as the "L5 pack howitzer" with L10 ordnance. However, its lack of range and the indifferent lethality of its ammunition led the UK to start development of its replacement, the L118 light gun, only two years after the pack howitzer entering service.

The gun also became the standard equipment of the Allied Command Europe Mobile Force (AMF ACE Mobile Force (Land) artillery, equipping the batteries provided by Canada, Belgium, Germany, Italy and the UK (until 1975).

Combat service[edit]

Identified combat use includes:


Operators of the Mod 56 (current in blue – former in red)

Current operators[edit]

Former operators[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Hogg, Ian (2000). Twentieth-century artillery. New York: Barnes & Noble Books. ISBN 0760719942. OCLC 44779672. 
  2. ^ "101". www.quarryhs.co.uk. Retrieved 2017-09-06. 
  3. ^ Twentieth Century Artillery by Ian HoggISBN 1-84013-315-5
  4. ^ China expands tube artillery capability by Christopher F. Foss in International Defence Review, Vol 42 May 2009
  5. ^ Jowett, Philip (2016). Modern African Wars (5): The Nigerian-Biafran War 1967-70. Oxford: Osprey Publishing Press. p. 20. ISBN 978-1472816092. 
  6. ^ Jowett 2016, p. 24.
  7. ^ SIPRI Arms Transfers Database
  8. ^ "Former Equipment of Iraqi Army". Archive.org. Retrieved 17 July 2018. 

External links[edit]