Excerpted from The Field Artillery Journal, May–June 1939, Michael V. Gannon, Captain, Field Artillery, Editor
Over the past few years our consciousness has been thoroughly awakened to the import of “blind flying,” but during the same period little or nothing has been said or done about “blind firing” in Field Artillery.
Parenthetically, it should be stated that the Field Artillery has no complaint whatsoever to make of the Air Corps. In every instance where the two arms have worked together, cooperation has been cordial, sincere, and conscientious. The only fly in the ointment is that we are getting nowhere; progress is not being made.
With suitable observation, the Field Artillery can obtain a certain effect, in so many minutes, with so many rounds, carried in so many trucks, requiring so much road space, and the labor of so many men.
Without observation, and by adopting expedients in diminishing order of their effectiveness, based on their availability, the same results can be obtained, if at all, only with greatly increased expenditures of time and ammunition.
Since the mission of the Field Artillery is to support the Infantry and the Cavalry by fire, artillerymen have long desired the liberty of placing their OP’s either on the ground or in the air where they could most efficiently do that very thing. In the meantime they have trained and practiced sporadically with observers detailed through the courtesy of the Air Corps. It has not worked.
There are good reasons why it shouldn’t work, and these reasons get better every day. Airmen have too much to do, too much to learn, do not live and work with the guns and the gunners, and do not stay long enough at the detail to learn the field artillery technique. They are constantly increasing the speed of their machines, and their principal mission demands that they do so. The field artilleryman, on the other hand, is not so concerned with traveling through the air as he is with coming as near as possible to a full halt while he observes the effect of his fire.
There is plenty of money and ingenuity being expended on fast planes. Who is interested in the slow ones?
It is doubtful if anyone but a trained field artilleryman can adjust fire which is not observable from the gun position. Granted that certain air-corps personnel deserve praise for a considerable degree of success in becoming technical field artilleryman in addition to their other duties, where are they now, and where will they be on M-day [Mobilization Day]?
The trend in foreign armies is toward giving field artillery battalions their own air OP’s in the form of small, inexpensive, slow-flying, and fool-proof airplanes. This matter is a field artillery problem, and the Field Artillery, with such help as the Air Corps may be able to give it, must solve the problem of “blind firing” itself.