1/83rd Fuses on 8-inch and 175mm

 
 
 
Dan O'Brien (69-70)
"A" Battery

Dan got this dialog going with the following question he posed to Neal Schwartz(68-69).

"Hi Neal,
Do you know anything about the VT fuse on the 8 or 175? Looking for shortest and longest time setting in SECONDS. Just for my own knowledge."

Neal Schwartz (68-69)
"B" & "C" Battery

"Hi Dan,

The VT was the Proximity Fuse, The only setting would be the proximity to the ground in meters (above the target) ??? I think ??? The time fuse, I don’t even have a clue anymore, apparently those brain cells have already died.

You might contact Johnnie Pearson, he stayed in for a full career. Last time I talked with him I told him I have an 8-inch Slide Rule for calculating elevation. He said he still knew how to use it. Perhaps he will know about fuses too."

Dan O'Brien (69-70)
"A" Battery

"We fired a charge 7 into the hill on the other side of Cannon where the gooks kept shining a flash light. With a VT fuse, we buried the round into the mountain and then after a time it blew and shredded the hillside. So much for proximity. Hope to find out more. Your contact may have the answer."

Neal Schwartz (68-69)
"B" & "C" Battery

"Like I said I don’t remember much, but would guess that would have been a Time Fuse. Then again maybe VT was “Variable Time”? Somehow though I remember VT meaning the Radio Proximity Fuse. I’ll check with some other cannon cockers at my VFW Post when I see them. Now I’m confused and need to know."

Dan O'Brien (69-70)
"A" Battery

"Looked up GOOGLE and it says you are right on with PROXIMITY FUSE. Look at this link. Don't know how our FDC figured out to tell us what number to use with the spanner wrench but it worked perfect. Maybe the quickest number of the VT fuse. Shooting direct fire charge 7, the only thing quicker would have been QUICKFUSE. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proximity_fuze

Neal Schwartz (68-69)
"B" & "C" Battery

"Oh, that was very interesting, thanks again for Wikipedia. That article states that it was “codenamed the VT fuze, an acronym of "Variable Time fuze", as deliberate camouflage for its operating principle” which just happens to be proximity. The funny thing about it is the “VT” confused not only the enemy but me as well today. I always thought I knew VT (Variable Time) meant Proximity (Radio) but I didn’t know it was an deliberate disguise. Now, does anyone remember the name of the adjustable time fuse also set with the spanner wrench, or should I say fuze as in the article? We did have a fuse where you just set the time, didn’t we?

Okay, I found it, here it is: There were three types of fuzes, Adjustable Time Fuze, Point Detonating Fuze, and VT Fuze (Proximity Fuze codenamed “Variable Time” to confuse everyone).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Artillery_fuze#Time_fuzes

You must have used an Adjustable Time Fuse for the delayed burst, as a VT would have gone off in some proximity to the ground, not beneath it.

I recall firing Time Fuzes on rare occasion, usually we fired Point Detonating against hard targets, and VT against troops. Seldom did we get actual results of our missions, unless they were from the Air Force, Navy, or the Marines, or if we had visual confirmation like direct fire. I had the opportunity to get out a couple of times to be an FO. One I recall, we shot at a large concentrations of troops, and I remember a couple of times as cover for our own grunts. I think Hill 937 was the most number of rounds we ever shot in a day and night in May of 1969. I also filled in about, maybe 10 days with “C” Btry as an FDO. At least I think it was “C” Btry. It was when we lost Fred Paddleford and the Battalion Surgeon Captain Joe Babb came out and helped load him on the chopper. I remember how bad it looked, he was really hurt bad.

The image is mostly gone now but I still remember his face. And I got assisted about a week at Camp Carroll up on Hwy 9 for a 175mm unit. I didn’t realize it at their reunions at the time but it must have been the 2/94th., a sister unit of ours. My VFW Post has a Marine that was there at the same time. We talked a lot about the 40mm Dusters they used on the perimeter and up and down the roads. That place was total hell on earth, incoming and attacks practically every day. I found a book on it (and same time period) and had the author autograph a copy for him. He’s got ALS, supposed to be dead now, was doing real bad for a while, then all of a sudden now he’s doing great. He bought an older Corvette which helped him about a year ago, and just recently he bought another one, a 2008. I understand he’s had a couple before but these two recent ones I think saved his life.

See you soon, in a couple months,
Neal"

Dan O'Brien (69-70)
"A" Battery

"WOW, I thought I remembered everything but I failed on the NOMENCLATURE of the piece 20 feet in front of me. I humped projo's for the whole tour and NOW I do remember FUSE QUICK, FUSE VT and FUSE TIME. We used all three on the 8 inch We did have a fuse but we did not set a time but set a NUMBER given by FDC. If we passed the number when setting with the spanner wrench, we kept going around to the right until we found that number again and then took the spanner off.

There was also a plastic BAND around both 8 in and 175 JOES that was removed after it was fused. The underneath of that looked like bronze on the projo and it was the part of the projo that met the lands and grooves.

Good info on your Marine friend. JJ CARROLL and the ROCKPILE was made for MARINES as was Khe Sahn. C-130 LAPSE at Khe Sahn proved to make them targets and many a C-130 crashed to form a graveyard of aircraft.

C U SOON, Dan"

Neal Schwartz (68-69)
"B" & "C" Battery

"Okay, thank you, FUSE QUICK, FUSE VT and FUSE TIME, those are the exact words I was trying to think of, those specific designations. Most of my time was spent laying the battery, in the FDC double checking all the data, or just watching the action. We were more than fortunate being one of the only batteries that never “shot out”. If your battery “shot out” usually the XO, and the FDO’s were relieved and given battalion ammo duty or motor officer duty, or in charge of the shit burning details. There were few second chances. If you shot the wrong azimuth grossly like 1600 mills out you were in double trouble. I believe “A” or maybe “C” Btry once adjusted azimuth off the taillight of a jeep instead of the aiming post flashlight.

Damn, I sure miss 1Lt (Captain) Savage. I sure wish someone could talk him into coming to a reunion. It’s so sad how they treated him after his third tour at FSB Mary Ann."

Dan O'Brien (69-70)
"A" Battery

"It was our howitzer at ARROW and LT LLOYD laid the battery off the tail light of an M-548 [track] cargo carrier. Lloyd called rear of the piece fall in to our section.

I was a joe humper so it didn't pertain to me if the bubbles were off. But they weren't off so I believe it was CPT Savage who walked to the aiming stake with the XO and found the flash light in the off position and the 548 with a stuck brake light ON. Lloyd was finally removed before he might have been done in. He was one of many for the new ruling that no 2nd LT's would come into country until they made 0-2.

Never saw another butterbar after that. Speaking of SHOT OUT, that term was used on the crank field phone to confirm the round was on its way. After the lanyard was pulled, the gunner reported to FDC, SHOT, OVER FDC replied SHOT, OUT, meaning no reply needed. Not the meaning of SHOT OUT that you gave but we were using PROWORDS.

Incidentally, the laying of Lloyds 548 had our guns shoot down a clothesline of clothes as reported by the FO. No damage done and no one killed. Just one pissed off mama sahn. I would also like to see Virtis at our reunion. He was the best of the best. He put the whole battery in for a bronze star after our almost over run in January and they literally told him to stick it."

Neal Schwartz (68-69)
"B" & "C" Battery

"I refer to “shot out” (lower case) as shooting somewhere else other than the designated target area. Whereas, I would refer to “Shot, Out” as the radio response to shooting a round. At the reunion we need to test Johnnie Pearson to see if he can still convey a full scenario of commands to fire a mission. He was my FDC RTO, he communicated with the observers calling in for support and usually sent the phone commands to the guns. I’ll still be able to identify him by his voice. He had a voice that should have been on commercial FM radio, reminding me of a voice perhaps like a Tom Brokaw.

Is that why I made 1LT on the flight over to Vietnam, because they didn’t want butter bars? I arrived about October 10th, 1968. When did the Jeep Aiming Post incident take place? It seems it was when I was there, but I might have only heard about it.

Virtis used to come out to “B” Btry and help us dig in when we moved to new locations. He was not adverse to shoveling sand bags, which no one else would do that from HQ. That was before he got “A” Btry. In fact I think he got it about the time I left for home late August 1969."

Dan O'Brien (69-70)
"A" Battery

 

"Maybe Johnnie Pearson was a witness to hearing the NJ firing into Laos. We need to ask him that. It was sometime around April or May 69 when we heard a few rounds over our head that sounded like a train. FDC confirmed it was the NJ on the radio. I checked their records and it says the NJ was not in country at that time but before and after, it was. Being farther out to sea may have been the definition of IN COUNTRY."

Johnnie Pearson (68-69)
"B" Battery

"I remember hearing about the NJ, but I've since lost the details.

"Shot over" and "Shot out" were used back and forth as Neal says. When someone "SHOT OUT," that was a really bad thing. I remember one incident where a brand new 2LT came in-country. I tried my best to explain the difference between determining a deflection using true azimuth as we did in 'Nam versus using azimuth indices as was taught in school.

One evening I had computed all of the firing data for a TOT and went off shift. He decided to recompute the data using his method and we ended up shooting out. The problem was the TOT was observed by radar and tracked to us.

Next day the battalion commander came out and relieved him and chewed me out, because "I should have known better than to let a 2LT run that mission." Hindsight being what it is, he was correct. The fact that the 2LT recomputed the data and didn't have to, didn't matter :-).


Regarding fuzes, there are Timed Fuzes, Point Detonating Fuzes, and Variable Time Fuzes. The PD fuze had a "delay" switch allowing the fuze to delay by 0.5 seconds (I believe) the explosion after impact. That's the only way that I can think of where a fuze would go into a hill before exploding. I think any other fuze would explode on impact."

Dan O'Brien (69-70)
"A" Battery

"Thanks for definitions on fuse difference. I screwed on what was called for and used the spanner wrench for a set number. Some FDC guys relied on the FADAC or FREDDY but many still used the slide rule to be sure. After we fired that round in to the hill, about 200 feet from us, there was a delay of more than 10 seconds. How did that occur with the fuses we had? The M-60 tanks had fired numerous rounds into that area and the light still came on to show us they were there. After we sank our 8 inch round, there was no more activity and the tankers were impressed."

Johnnie Pearson (68-69)
"B" Battery

"I don't know of any 8" shell/fuze combination that could be set for a 10 second delay. If I recall, any fuze except PD delay would explode on impact, even the VT fuze if the proximity function failed. In fact, I remember shooting time fuzes at times much greater than time-of-flight to turn them into PD fuzes. We didn't do that often because time fuzes cost a lot more, but at the same time we rarely shot time fuzes.

I can image how impressed the tank guys would be with an 8" shooting direct fire. The 8" was/is one mean weapon system.

I spent a lot of my career as the FDC chief in 8" battalions and 155mm battalions, before I went to drill sergeant school and became an instructor and NCOIC on the TACFIRE new equipment training team (NETT).

We used the FADAC (Field Artillery Digital Automatic Computer) and a number of manual graphic tools to compute firing data. Our primary method was the manual tools because the FADAC was not 100% trusted. If you have an interest in what the FDC really did, I have an article posted on the 1/83 Website that explains a lot of that."

Dan O'Brien (69-70)
"A" Battery

"I also served in B/3 76th Arty 3 INF DIV at Kitzingen Germany in 1971. It was also an 8 inch battery. 2nd of the 83rd was in Germany also. I am just learning now what the different fuses did. I know the quickfuse and the others weren't as quick. One of those fuses popped the back off an 8 inch round in flight and 102 grenades fell out of it. Were these rounds also called DAISYCUTTERS? FDC had to compute so the empty shell did not land in friendly territory. That is what we were told."

Johnnie Pearson (68-69)
"B" Battery

"The "Daisycutters" were called firecracker rounds or COROFRAM or COROFORM rounds, can't remember which. We were one of the first units to fire them in Vietnam after we went north in 1968. You are correct that they dropped 102 bomblets each with "wings" that opened to stabilize them in flight until they impacted with something. The grenade would them "jump up" about 6 feet and explode. Really nasty stuff.

Our biggest issue wasn't the empty shell, it was when the bomblets would catch in overhead cover and not detonate or impact and not detonate because of the risk of friendly's walking through the area and they trigger them. We didn't fire a lot of them though, not exactly sure why."

Dan O'Brien (69-70)
"A" Battery

"Johnnie Pearson is considered the guru on nomenclature. I have an attachment on the COFRAM round . It was only used when an FO called in DANGER.
The message is downgraded from TOP SECRET to Confidential or General. A good read for all of you who were covered by Arty at one time or another.

DANO

Roger Koopman (68-69)
"HQ" & "A" Battery

"I KNOW YOU ALL KNOW THIS AND MAYBE THIS IS MORE FOR MY MEMORY THEN YOURS?

1. great discussion...on the VT fuze...wasn't the time setting on the VT fuze so it would not arm for proximity till it was near the target... the fuze VT, fuze TIME and fuze Quick terms sometimes used at guns for grabbing the called for fuze and then with settings from the FDC. Time fuses were used for specific purposes but VT for personnel and point for ground or delay detonating for equipment/ground damage. One thing I don't remember clearly is the use of a delay settings on ground blasts with PD fuzes. If I remember right, both VT and Time fuzes would detonate on impact period if it occurred whenever if before time timed out on time fuzes and if VT fuzes failed or hit something before armed for proximity and the setting for delay was as you described it but I could be wrong...getting old.

2. shot out and splash were (was often) used by FDC to let who ever was calling for the fire to know that round were on the way and a heads up (just before impact) to duck especially if shots were coming dangerously close or so they would know when they were about to hit to know what was what or by guns to let FDC know called for rounds were fired. BUT this should NOT TO BE CONFUSED with the shooting out TERMINOLOGY which could occur by wrong data sent to the guns as calculated wrong and signed off on by some FDO (officer) in FDC as cleared to fire.
Calculated wrongly the obvious danger was putting killing fire on friendlies or even the possibility. It was a major error which could take lives wrongly thus, the officer was generally relieved as the one responsible to ensure correct data was released to the guns. On occasion and varying circumstances, that officer might get a second chance as all FDO's are seriously trained to take this responsibility as their primary function. Also, as mentioned another way is possible, can occur by improperly laying of the guns which can cause similar consequences, thus relief can occur.
Many officers (and I say many I knew in our battalion) either let it occur under their watch once or twice whether anyone was killed or not and thus were never allowed to work in the FDC again or other calculating type duties. Bad FO'ing had it's own consequences either getting one self killed or having major problems with not getting critical fire where needed for the soldiers that were with counting on them for accurate fire, maybe more than just enemy fire or relief of duty could be a problem then. Obviously these were high pressure positions, very fast decisions were required to deliver timely fire.

3. I left Vietnam before Savage apparently had any brass troubles. I think he extended, he was the A battery commander when I was with them (I believe) when they moved from Blaze out Arrow and then Cannon. Company commands were normally limited to 6 months before rotation occurred, too many CPT's were in our unit then?
I was 1LT before I came to Vietnam and Savage was one when I first arrived. I believe he became the youngest promoted CPT in artillery up to that time in Vietnam. He often worked as sort of a LO (liaison officer with a team) at times with whoever we were supporting more aggressively or reinforcing with big guns as needed, like Marines, ARVN and others like at first the 1st CAV and later 101st units. Excellent man and the best as far as I am concerned. I let him down once and I still feel badly about it and I didn't know why or how exactly till an early discussion by others today, not a shooting out issue but a disagreement on how to do something in which I should have submitted to his way. We remained good friends then as I remember and later when he returned after command to more out in the field stuff. He was the unit best warrior of my era with the 83rd, respected by all.

PS: just read Johnnie's last response before I forwarded this (thus not included in this forward) and it answered some things I was adding to from my memory. Does anyone remember what killer junior was exactly for 105 guns? Was used before bee-hive and was used when I was in Ashu by some 102/105 batteries there effectively? Some more personal comments on specific persons I will reserve for verbal conversations...looking forward to the reunion. KOOP"


 

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