Artillery tractor in France Vosges Spring 1915

Artillery tractors (here a Holt tractor) were in use in the French Army in 1914-1915. Here, in the Vosges, Spring 1915.

Komsom 05

Komsomolets tractor

Artillery tractor is a kind of tractor, also referred to as a gun tractor, a vehicle used to tow artillery pieces of varying weights.


There are two main types of artillery tractors, depending on the type of traction. Wheeled tractors are usually variations of lorries adapted for military service. Tracked tractors run on caterpillar track, and in some cases are built on a modified tank chassis with the superstructure replaced with a compartment for the gun crew or ammunition. The idea of half-track tractors was mostly discontinued after the World War II.

World War IEdit

The first such devices were designed prior to the outbreak of World War I, often based on agricultural machines such as the Holt tractor. Such tractors allowed the tactical use of heavier guns to supplement the light horse drawn field guns. For example in the British Army it allowed the heavy guns of the Royal Garrison Artillery to be used flexibly on the battlefield.

World War II Edit

In World War II the horse was still the most common source of motive power in many armies. Most nations were economically and industrially unable to fully motorise their forces. One compromise was to produce general purpose vehicles which could be used in the troop transport, logistics and prime mover roles, with heavy artillery tractors to move the heaviest guns. The Royal Artillery however, persisted with specialist artillery tractors (known as Field Artillery Tractors or 'FAT's) such as the Morris "Quad" throughout World War II, rather than adopt a general purpose vehicle. This was in order to prevent their vehicles being taken from them for other tasks.

Modern warfareEdit

In modern warfare towed artillery has given way in part to self-propelled artillery, it is also common to find auxiliary power units built into the gun carriage to provide limited battlefield mobility. Traditional towed artillery can still be found in units where complexity and weight are liabilities: e.g. airmobile, amphibious and other light units. In such units, where organic transport is usually limited, any available transport can double as artillery tractors in order to reposition guns when needed. For example engineer vehicles of a different primary purpose such as the U.S. Marines' Light Capacity Rough Terrain Forklift (LCRTF), a versatile telehandler forklift capable of towing gear from either end.

List of artillery tractorsEdit

Tank chassisEdit

  • Dragon, Medium Mark IV' – British army, 1928; developed from the Vickers 6-Ton mark E.
  • T-24 chassis
    • Komintern
    • Voroshilovets
  • M3 Lee chassis
    • M33 Prime Mover - converted by removing turret and recovery gear from M31 TRV. 109 converted in 1943-44.
  • M4 Sherman chassis
    • M34 Prime Mover - converted by removing recovery gear from M32B1 TRV (M4A1 Sherman tank chassis built as an Armoured recovery vehicle) and adding air brakes to tow heavy artillery. 24 converted by Chester Tank Depot in 1944.
    • M35 Prime Mover - converted by removing turret from M10A1 tank destroyer (M4A3 Sherman tank chassis) and adding air brakes to tow 155 mm and 240 mm artillery.
    • Sherman Gun Tower - British field conversion in Italy by removing turrets from old M4A2 Sherman tanks to tow 17 pdr AT gun and carry crew with ammunition
    • Wolverine Gun Tower - British M10 (M4A2 chassis) or M10A1 (M4A3 chassis) converted by removing turret, 1944–45
  • Crusader II, Gun Tractor Mk I – British army, variant of the Crusader tank

Other full-trackEdit


Wheeled Edit

See also Edit

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References Edit

  • TM 9-2800 military vehicles

External links Edit

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