Field Artillery and Firepower

Field Artillery and Firepower

Field Artillery and Firepower

Field Artillery and Firepower


This definitive overview of the development and use of artillery makes the complex artillery systems of today understandable, while at the same time showing how they have evolved and how they are likely to change in the future. The author, until recently chief of artillery for the British Army, is considered one of the world's foremost experts on the subject. Unlike other books that either describe the technical aspects of present-day firepower or outline its history during specific wars, this work provides both a detailed explanation of the modern artillery system and a history of its development over the past six hundred fifty years, identifying its enduring principles and changing practices against an ever-changing background of technology, tactics, and strategy. When an earlier version of this book was published in 1989, it became known as the best single source on field artillery in the English language. This new edition has been fully updated and substantially expanded to cover a wide range of contemporary military debates and the role of firepower, and is certain to be regarded as the ultimate work on the subject for years to come.

J. B. A. Bailey assesses major developments over the past decade, analyzing artillery operations in airborne, urban, littoral, desert, jungle, mountain, artic, and nocturnal environments. He examines direct fire, counterfire, the suppression of enemy air defenses, and force protection methods. He explains field artillery from its primitive beginnings to its dominance as an art in World War II and its potent utility in operations since 1945 and into the future. The book will be of particular interest to military historians and those engaged in debating firepower's future. Published in cooperation with the Association of the United States Army. 15 photographs. 8 line drawings. Appendixes. Notes. Bibliography. Index. 7 x 10 inches.


Many books have been published on military subjects, and demand for them shows little sign of abating despite the times of relative peace in which we live. Yet little of this literature is concerned with field artillery which, this book will argue, has been the primary means of combat over the last hundred years.

There are, it is true, a number of historical works which offer a “snap-shot” of artillery over a limited period; there are histories tracing the development of a particular nation's artillery over the centuries; and there are also technical reference books which catalogue equipments and their capabilities. It is, however, hard to find a book which presents the principles of field artillery tactics, how these have developed with experience against a background of changing strategy and technology, and what the future may hold as a consequence. This book attempts to provide such an analysis.

Its purpose is to explain why artillery is the most important branch of a field army and why it will remain so for the foreseeable future. As procurement “lead times” for funding and technical development grow longer, it becomes even more important that the roles of different arms and technologies are seen in a substantiated perspective. Without this, the case for commensurate manning and equipment may be lost by default.

This book is directed at the military and civilian reader alike; and therefore treads the narrow path between an explanation of the commonplace and an assumption of prior knowledge. It is intended both to inform and, through its extensive footnotes and bibliography, to aid in further research.


Part One will outline the development of equipment and munitions, the nature of firepower and deployment on the battlefield in different theatres. Part Two deals with what have loosely been termed “ancillary services”, comprising command, control and communications (C3), logistics and training. Part Three studies the specialized artillery missions and operations in special environments. Finally, Part Four traces the development of artillery support over the last hundred years and into the 21st century.

This study is concerned with modern field artillery practice, based on the principles and experience of the past and the opportunities of the future. It examines the many functions of gunnery which have changed in fashion as politics, strategy and tactics have jerked in and out of step with the burgeoning of technology and the ability to exploit it. It is a large field and the study must be focused at the expense of a number of important subjects.

Some omissions may seem severe. Although the term artillery is often taken to include air defence (AD), the latter is not considered here in its own right. In some armies, such as the British Army, air defence units form an integral part of the artillery organization. In most other armies of note this is not the case. Air

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