Author Topic: UK 105mm Gun Explodes in Afghanistan  (Read 20839 times)

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Offline tomahawk6

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UK 105mm Gun Explodes in Afghanistan
« on: December 01, 2007, 00:09:22 »
HE charge deflagrated I suspect. Round didnt detonate fortunately.



http://www.modoracle.com/news/Squaddies-Survive-Fireball_14666.html

Squaddies Survive Fireball


Friday, November 30, 2007

Source: The Sun Online
   
FIVE British soldiers in Afghanistan are engulfed in a massive fireball as a 105mm field gun explodes.

The frontline gunners had turned their backs as the order to “fire” rang out as they targeted the Taliban seven miles away.

But a flaw in the recoil system meant the breech holding a high-explosive 15kg shell exploded – shooting a ball of flame 25ft into the air.

Incredibly, the men from 4th Regiment Royal Artillery emerged with just minor burns after the horror in the southern town of Garmsir.

The gunners, based in Osnabruck, Germany, were supporting colleagues under rocket fire from Taliban fighters.

A colleague was taking souvenir photos of them at the time.

A Royal Artillery source said: “The immediate reaction was the battery had taken a Taliban direct hit.

“The noise of the explosion and fireball was awesome. The gun crew disappeared . . . I thought a mortar shell had blown them to kingdom come.

“I was amazed to see the crew running out of the gun pit. Parts of their uniforms were on fire but the flames were quickly extinguished. They were incredibly lucky.”

Offline JBoyd

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Re: UK 105mm Gun Explodes in Afghanistan
« Reply #1 on: December 01, 2007, 01:04:35 »
I am glad to hear that they were not seriously injured.
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Offline Nerf herder

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Re: UK 105mm Gun Explodes in Afghanistan
« Reply #2 on: December 01, 2007, 11:51:43 »
Wow....they should get in on a lottery post haste!

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Offline Old Sweat

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Re: UK 105mm Gun Explodes in Afghanistan
« Reply #3 on: December 01, 2007, 12:07:01 »
It is far too early to establish a cause. It looks like the round exploded in the chamber from the location of the 'fireball' in relation to the gun wheel and the soldier standing by the trail. I recall that the 175mm was prone to rounds falling back into the chamber because of rammer malfunctions; this seems to be a possibility even though the projectile is rammed by hand on the light gun. Frankly I am flummoxed.

This link has the series of pictures showing the detachment in the act of loading the round. Note that the projectile is loaded separately from the cartridge case and the fathest right gun number is holding the rammer prior to driving the round home to seat the driving band in the rifling.

http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/news/article525627.ece


Offline geo

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Re: UK 105mm Gun Explodes in Afghanistan
« Reply #4 on: December 01, 2007, 15:08:47 »
Eggads....
If anyone is looking for the horse's Horseshoe, I think I know where to find it.
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Offline tomahawk6

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Re: UK 105mm Gun Explodes in Afghanistan
« Reply #5 on: December 01, 2007, 15:19:00 »
If the round had exploded in the tube no one would have survived correct ?

Offline Petard

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Re: UK 105mm Gun Explodes in Afghanistan
« Reply #6 on: December 01, 2007, 16:07:14 »
Actually there was an accident about 5 years ago when a premature in bore did happen in the barrel of a British Light Gun, I think it was in Australia, and it blew the breech off. I recall seeing pictures of the incident that showed the breech ring and block sitting in the ammo hootch area. IIRC the gun det survived although there were serious injuries. I don't recall the cause but it is troubling to see some similarities with this incident. I can't find anything on the net about it, so Tues when I get back to work (after St Barbara activities) I'll look up who might have kept the info, there's got to be bigger e-mail pack rats than me.

Offline Old Sweat

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Re: UK 105mm Gun Explodes in Afghanistan
« Reply #7 on: December 01, 2007, 16:29:06 »
There can only be a very few possible causes - the round dropped back into the chamber, a cracked round and an obstruction in the barrel are the major ones I can think of at this time. All should be very rare events.

Circa 1972 5 RALC while firing at Petawawa had a round stick in the tube of a 105mm C1. The fuze and a bit of the projectile emerged from the barrel; there were lots of theories as to what happened, although I am not sure if it was ever decided conclusively. Fortunately the detachment noticed that the gun made a funny sort of bang when it fired. The detachment commander looked up the bore and saw black. That was the end of that gun's operational service for quite a while.

If you can imagine a small pointy bit sticking out of a larger round long object and you have a dirty mind, sexual imagery may come to mind. Not that I would expect that from anyone here.

Offline geo

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Re: UK 105mm Gun Explodes in Afghanistan
« Reply #8 on: December 01, 2007, 17:22:49 »
Old Sweat... weren't 5 RALC equipped with the Italian L5 pack guns back then?.. the source of their "light" designation
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Offline Old Sweat

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Re: UK 105mm Gun Explodes in Afghanistan
« Reply #9 on: December 01, 2007, 17:28:46 »
Cracks had been detected in some of the L5 barrels, and the guns were 'grounded' and replaced with C1s. This gave rise to the first law of purchasing artillery equipment: never buy anything from an European country with a name that ends in a vowel. This law was ignored when we bought the LG1 with predictable results.

Offline geo

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Re: UK 105mm Gun Explodes in Afghanistan
« Reply #10 on: December 01, 2007, 17:34:09 »
Heh... I knew they were trouble when I saw that A frame with winch cable strung through the Cab - to haul the L5s into the back....  predictable results when one gun jammed up and the cable parted - darned near took the driver's head off.

Nevertheless - I thought the L5s were taken away in 73 ... but, what do I know - dog tired old sapper
Chimo!

Offline eurowing

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Re: UK 105mm Gun Explodes in Afghanistan
« Reply #11 on: December 01, 2007, 18:23:57 »
We had L5s in 3 RCHA in 76.  Not sure which Bty had them. I know it was not U Bty.  There must be a few old farts here that will remember when they were retired.
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Offline geo

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Re: UK 105mm Gun Explodes in Afghanistan
« Reply #12 on: December 01, 2007, 18:35:04 »
Quote
Le 5e Régiment d’artillerie légère du Canada (5 RALC), the first Regular Force French-speaking
regiment, was formed around a nucleus of Gunners from X Battery, 3 RCHA. Initially equipped with towed 105mm
howitzers, it took on its new colours, 105mm L5 pack howitzers, in 1969. Over the next few years, the L5 would
also see service in the airborne role and with ACE Mobile Force Batteries in 2 and 3 RCHA.

On completion of its Germany tour in 1967, 2 RCHA moved to Gagetown. The following year, F Battery was
reduced to nil strength as part of a general force reduction; the remaining D and E Batteries converted to the 155mm
SP M109. In July 1970, RHQ and D Battery moved to Petawawa and converted to the 105mm L5. E Battery
remained in Gagetown and finally joined the Regiment at Petawawa in 1975. In 1977, E Battery was redesignated E
Battery (Para), and a Blowpipe AD Troop was added to the regiment.
Chimo!

Offline Old Sweat

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Re: UK 105mm Gun Explodes in Afghanistan
« Reply #13 on: December 01, 2007, 18:43:46 »
We (the Canadian based regiments) officially had the L5 in service, although the barrels had all been turned in to stores. I had six of the guns sitting in the gun park looking pretty pathetic without barrels. To replace these operationally, we drew 105mm C1s. I believe they were taken from the reserves, but I'm not sure after 30 odd years.

The airborne battery still retained the L5 and had them on an exercise with 2 RCHA in Petawawa in 1974. I recall we fired smoke to screen the DZ as the Hercs flew in from Edmonton and dropped the airborne gunners. They put their guns in action, came up on our regimental net and began to engage targets. My, we were inventive then, if not all that realistic. (Don't get me on moving guns by helicopter at night in the pre-night vision devices days.)

Offline eurowing

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Re: UK 105mm Gun Explodes in Afghanistan
« Reply #14 on: December 01, 2007, 18:47:35 »
or practice night moves in the daytime.  I remember getting chewed out for not having my flashlight in my hand and operating.  And they wondered why people remustered. ;D
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Offline Bruce Monkhouse

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Re: UK 105mm Gun Explodes in Afghanistan
« Reply #15 on: December 01, 2007, 18:48:13 »
The airborne battery still retained the L5 and had them on an exercise with 2 RCHA in Petawawa in 1974.

...and both Bty's had them in 1978 and for a few years onward.
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Offline Bruce Monkhouse

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Re: UK 105mm Gun Explodes in Afghanistan
« Reply #16 on: December 01, 2007, 18:50:27 »
or practice night moves in the daytime.  I remember getting chewed out for not having my flashlight in my hand and operating.  And they wondered why people remustered. ;D

Yup, but lets save that for another topic,....something like 'Does it really make a difference if the spacing between shovel and pick is 2 inches or 1.5 inches?"
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Offline geo

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Re: UK 105mm Gun Explodes in Afghanistan
« Reply #17 on: December 02, 2007, 12:43:48 »
Guys, I can just imagine how hard it was for gunners to keep motivated as the Peacekeeper years progressed.
Then they closed up Germany, then they pulled the M109s out of service and gave you some 81mm mortar tubes in exchange... times certainly looked grim to e a gunner.

Now, with the arrival of the M777s , the TUAVs and a place alongside all the other combat arms in Afghanistan, there new significant meaning to being called a gunner nowdays.

Chimo!

Offline ArmyRick

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Re: UK 105mm Gun Explodes in Afghanistan
« Reply #18 on: December 05, 2007, 11:35:45 »
My father told me about an interesting story of one of the guns in his batteries blew up. It was in 2 RCHA early sixties. Next time i see the old grizzly bear, I'll hound him for details.
M'eh

Offline Old Sweat

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Re: UK 105mm Gun Explodes in Afghanistan
« Reply #19 on: December 05, 2007, 13:38:49 »
There was a string of prematures in the artillery in 1963-1964 culminating with the death of a recruit in the RCA Depot. (A premature is the detonation of a round after it leaves the muzzle and before it reaches the target.) The first one happened to C Battery 1 RCHA in Gun Area 4 in Gagetown on 17 May 1963 during a high angle mission; I was on the gun position at the time.

Without getting too fat off the track, the cause was a faulty delay pellet in the fuze which crumpled under the shock of firing and started the ignition train coupled with a booster that armed the round too early. There were at least two more over the next several months in Petawawa and Shilo before the artillery got out of denial and took the situation seriously.


Offline geo

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Re: UK 105mm Gun Explodes in Afghanistan
« Reply #20 on: December 05, 2007, 14:28:36 »
Bad lot of ammo?
Chimo!

Offline Old Sweat

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Re: UK 105mm Gun Explodes in Afghanistan
« Reply #21 on: December 05, 2007, 16:06:27 »
The ammunition was old. The black powder delay pellet crumbled and part of it was able to move, striking the fixed firing pin in the delay ignition train. At the same time the booster, which both amplified the initial explosion and acted as a safety device in that it did not arm until the round left the bore, actually armed before the delay sequence reached it. (When armed, the booster allowed a clear path for the flash sequence to detonate the explosive filler. (Geo, I know you understand the difference between an explosion and a detonation.)

The solution was to introduce a booster which completed its arming sequence after the delay train would have functioned, thus eliminating the cause of the prematures.

I assisted an ATO in his investigation, which is why I can still state the reasons. It was an excellent lesson in coupling deductive reasoning and technical knowledge for this second lieutenant. We first established the actual distance of detonation outside the muzzle. We stuck straws in the splinter holes in ammo boxes, etc on the gun line and established the distance of the burst forward of the muzzle. We then calculated the time by dividing the muzzle velocity from the gun history book by the distance to the burst. This time (.05 seconds) coincided with the time required for both the booster to arm and for the delay element to function.

Offline geo

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Re: UK 105mm Gun Explodes in Afghanistan
« Reply #22 on: December 05, 2007, 20:29:41 »
Heh... sooo... after CSI Miami, CSI Vegas & CSI NewYork we have CSI Gagetown.

Have a fairly good grasp of the dynamics leading from detonation to explosion :)

Have seen and been involved in a couple of investigations when ammunition or explosives have behaved in unexpected (though sometimes predictable) ways. 

Interesting findings - must have been a very interesting process for a young 2Lt to go through... Through lessons learned, we (should) become better soldiers


Chimo!

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Re: UK 105mm Gun Explodes in Afghanistan
« Reply #23 on: December 05, 2007, 21:05:02 »
I was with the RAA for 6 yrs in total, and knew this gun (L118/119).

From the RAEME side of things, its a maintenance nightmare, and from the GNR side of things, its fragile. However WRT this incident......

A few years back, we had the same problem, the rd cooked off 1/2 up the tube, and fragged. Blew the gun to hell, but no one was killed, although one GNR got a fractured hip out of it, and a fire was started.

Cause at the end of the investigation was ammo. A fault in the manufacture process at yes, ADI  ::)

The UK 105 is not precussuion fired, but fired electrically. The UK gun has a longer barrrel, and its called the Abbot ordnance here. A good punch at charge super, and adds km's on to the max range. If I remember right 17km vice 11km with the US M1 precussion type ammo with the 'M1' shorter ordnance.

Lucky that no one bought the farm over this one.


Cheers,


Wes

EDIT: US 105mm ammo, and UK 105mm ammo - two different kettles of fish, and DO NOT interchange.
« Last Edit: December 05, 2007, 21:07:40 by Wesley Down Under »
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Offline geo

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Re: UK 105mm Gun Explodes in Afghanistan
« Reply #24 on: December 06, 2007, 11:55:00 »
If I remember, the UK had problems with .50cal ammo last summer (?)  I believe they had bought Ammo from Pakistan... In the end, they came to the CF for replacement Ammo while their Ordonance people got their act together and found another source.  I just wonder if theis 105 problem is related to Ammo procurment again...

THAT would be upsetting, wouldn't it?
Chimo!