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Howitzer Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons

The Howitzer, in case you didn’t know, is a piece of field artillery that fires projectiles with a high trajectory and steep downward descent. In other words, it’s a pretty beastly weapon of war and has been used by the United States by the U.S. Army and Marine Corps since the Civil War.

In celebration of such a badass weapon, we’re bringing you a five of the most interesting Howitzer facts out there. How many of these do you know?

1. The Howitzer, Translated.

The word “howitzer” comes to English via the Czech word for “a crowd,” which is an apparent reference to the artillery barrages ability to devastate large groups of enemies.

2. The Modern Howitzer Was Originally a Siege Weapon

Originally, the Howitzer, as we now think of it, wasn’t actually used for crowd control but for siege warfare. Like many forms of artillery, such as the cannon, trebuchet, or catapult, it was used to bust down buildings and lower enemy morale. The Howitzer, however, had a much longer maximum range and rate of fire, which caused it to catch on for many other combat scenarios as well.

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3. The Howitzer Has Origins in the 1400s

Long before the invention of high-muzzle velocity — extended-range cannon artillery pieces like the M777 Howitzer or 155mm Howitzer — more antiquated Howitzers were used in the fields during the Bohemian War.

4. Trenches Popularized the Howitzer

You might already know that the Howitzer became much more popular during WWI, but do you know why? Historians say that trenches provided excellent defense against field gun-style artillery, which fired at a much lower and less steep trajectory. The high-angle descent allowed the Howitzer to penetrate trench thresholds.

5. Howitzers Were the Blitzkrieg Counter

While WWII Germany focused on its aggressive Blitzkrieg strategy, the Soviets had a different plan. The Soviet Deep Battle military doctrine was the Russian counter to Germany’s plan of attack, and it relied heavily on Howitzer artillery.

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