The widely used M109 carries a 155-mm howitzer and is the principal self-propelled artillery support for U.S. Army divisions. It is a large tracked vehicle with a fully traversable turret and prominent bustle. Early variants had a short, 23-caliber barrel. Later versions, including the M109A6 Paladin, have a 39-caliber barrel.
The M109 has a crew of six: commander, gunner, driver and three ammunition members. The hull is made of all-welded aluminum armor, which protects against small-arms fire and shell splinters.
The driver is seated at the front left of the hull, with the powerpack to the right and the turret at the rear. The driver is provided with a single-piece hatch cover that opens to the left, with three M45 day periscopes in front. These can be covered with small metal flaps to prevent damage. One of the day periscopes can be replaced by a passive night-vision periscope.
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