The OTO Melara 105 mm Mod 56 began life in the 1950s to meet the requirement for a modern light-weight howitzer that could be used by Italian Alpini Brigades. The fact that it remained in service with those same units a full half century after the howitzer's introduction is testament to the gun's quality. The Mod 56 has a number of unique characteristics for a weapon of its caliber, including the ability for its crew to manhandle the gun (due to its light weight), and the capability of being able to be used in the direct fire role. Being a pack howitzer, it is designed to be broken down into 12 parts, each of which can be easily transported. The capability of this weapon to be "knocked-down" allows the sections to be transported a number of ways although the original design was for mule-pack using special pack saddles. More usually it is towed by a light vehicle such as a jeep or Land Rover, and with the shield removed it can be carried inside a M113 APC. However, its particular attraction to Western Armies in the 1960s was its light weight meant it could be lifted in one piece by helicopter. This made the gun popular with light artillery units in many countries as well as the more specialised Mountain and Airborne troops. Over all, the Mod 56 has served in more than 30 countries worldwide.
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