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artillery, originally meant any large weaponry (including such ancient engines of war as catapults and battering rams) or war material, but later applied only to heavy firearms as opposed to small arms. Types of artillery include antiaircraft and antitank guns (which fire at high muzzle velocity through long barrels at flat trajectories) and howitzers (with shorter barrels, lower velocities, and parabolic trajectories). The term cannon can apply to almost all heavy artillery, especially howitzers, and even to automatic guns on aircraft. Mortars and batteries of small tactical rockets are usually used as artillery. Modern artillery came into use in the mid-14th cent. with the introduction of gunpowder in the West. At first, the new cannon were used mainly against fortifications. Its impact was demonstrated by the Ottoman Turks, who used giant guns cast on the battlefield to breach the walls of Constantinople and capture it in 1453. Cannon also revolutionized war at sea (see navy). Artillery was first extensively employed in the field during the Thirty Years War (1618–48); thereafter it played an increasingly important role until the advent of aircraft. Now that few pieces of fixed artillery (e.g., coastal defense guns) still survive, artillery is generally classified as either towed or self-propelled. Artillery was characteristically smoothbore and muzzle-loaded, firing solid, round shot, until the latter part of the 19th cent., when breech-loaded, rifled, and shell-firing artillery became standard.


See I. Hogg, Illustrated Encyclopedia of Artillery (1989).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a type of artillery gun for directing plunging fire at covered targets. Howitzers are part of troop artillery (field artillery in foreign armies). They have a caliber of 100 mm or more, a relatively short barrel (from 15 to 30 calibers), a multisection charge, a range of fire of up to 17 km, and a relatively high rate of fire—a round every other minute or every minute to six rounds per minute depending on the caliber. Most modern howitzers are self-propelled; the old systems use mechanical traction.

The first howitzers were built in Europe in the 15th century (Italy and Germany) and were used for firing stone-filled canisters. In the second half of the 16th century howitzers began firing explosive shells. In Russia the first howitzers were built in the middle of the 16th century. They were called gakovnitsy, gaufnitsy, and gafunitsy. In the 1760’s Russia developed longer howitzers, which were named unicorns. The change from smoothbore to rifled guns in the 1860’s led to the building of rifled howitzers. The greater use of field fortifications in the wars in the second half of the 19th century increased the need for howitzers. They were widely used in all armies in the two world wars. During the Great Patriotic War (1941-45) the highest performance indexes were displayed by the Soviet 122-, 152-, and 203-mm howitzers.


Kirillov-Gubetskoi, I. M. Sovremennaia artilleriia, 3rd ed. Moscow, 1933.
Istoriia otechestvennoi artillerii, vol. 1, books 1-3; vol. 2, book 4; vol. 3, books 7-8. Moscow-Leningrad, 1959-66.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


A complete projectile-firing weapon with a bore diameter greater than 30 millimeters, and a length shorter than a gun of the same caliber; maximum angle of velocity is about 65°; used to deliver curved fire with projectiles of lower muzzle velocities than those from the gun.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
References in periodicals archive ?
(4.) Howitz, K.T., Bitterman, KJ, Cohen, HY, Lamming, DW, Lavu, S, Wood, JG, Zipkin, RE,Chung, P, Kisielewski, A, Zhang,L, Scherer, B, Sinclair, DA.
Resveratrol has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anticancer activities (Fremont 2000) but the recent interest in this phytochemical stems from its ability to enhance SIRT1 activity (Howitz 2003).
Moreover, the voice of soprano 'Mrs Howitz' was depicted as one that had 'faultless intonation' and gave a 'most agreeable effect in "Hear ye, Israel"'.
But, it will not be until the second quarter of next year that they will know exactly what contracts have been awarded for work on the $117 million hotel, said Stephen Howitz, President of Merchandising Associates Inc.
Howitz, "Two Ancient Shipwrecks in the Gulf of Thailand: a Report on Archaeological Investigations", Journal of the Siam Society 65, 2 (1977): 1-22.