Bringing down the house
A WWII-era staple, the M2 105mm howitzer was a handy little popgun tipping the scales at 5,000-pounds. Over 10,000 specimens were produced by 1953 when the line ended in favor of the more advanced M102 howitzer which was adopted in the 1960s.
Still, with all those M2s out there, the gun remained in active service in Vietnam and the Cold War with Guard and reserve units, only just being put to pasture for good in the 1990s when the new fangled M119 light 105 started coming online.
However, for decades they have fought another sort of “cold war,” as they have been a standard of the U.S. Forest Service who use them in avalanche control. You see the service had started using 106mm Recoilless Rifles but had three pretty stout accidents with their finicky rounds and needed something more effective– which left the old M2 (rebranded the M101 in the 1960s) as an ideal replacement.
“Howitzers have performed very well as avalanche control weapons and their users tend to be very enthusiastic about their capabilities,” reads a history from the USDA Forest Service National Avalanche Center. “They do not have a dangerous backblast, they are much less loud, and users can fire them from beneath a covered structure, protected from harsh winter elements.”
In Canadian service, the M2/M101 is known as the C3 howitzer, and 17 of them get a workout every year keeping Rogers Pass in BC open to traffic. Not bad for 70-year-old field guns.