152mm ShKH Dana vz.77
The Delo Automobilní Nabíjené Automaticky (self-propelled auto-loading gun), also known as Samohybná Kanónová Húfnica vzor 77 (ShKH-77) (self-propelled gun howitzer model 77) was designed by Konštrukta Trencín and built by ZTS Dubnica nad Váhom for the Czechoslovak army, instead of purchasing the Soviet 2S3 Akatsiya. Unlike many other howitzers of that period the DANA is based on a wheeled chassis. It is based on the Tatra 815 (8x8) truck, the best off-road truck at the time, and was accepted for service in 1981. Introduced in the 1970s, it was the first wheeled 152 mm self-propelled artillery gun to enter service. It's production commenced in 1981 and ceased in 1994 with over 750 units built. Currently the vehicle is marketed by ZTS of the Slovak Republic. The Dana is currently in service with the Czech Republic, Libya, Poland, Russia, and Slovakia.
The 152mm self-propelled gun/howitzer (model 77) is a modern artillery weapon with automatic loading, capable of providing efficient fire support for ground forces´ activities. It is characterized by long range, high precision and high rate of fire. It is intended for fighting enemy artillery and mortars, suppression and destruction of enemy command posts, firing positions, radio equipment and manpower, destruction of both permanent defence structures and field entrenchments. It can carry out both direct (in case of need circular) and indirect fire. The howitzer is fitted with a 152mm gun, 12.7mm anti-aircraft machine-gun (model 38/46) and a RPG-7 anti-tank rocket launcher. The DANA is armed with a turret-mounted 152-mm gun-howitzer. The 152 mm SpGH DANA has a 36–caliber barrel with a breech of volume of 12.5 liters.It fires all standard Soviet and indigenous 152-mm rounds. Czech army currently uses three main types of ammunition, high-explosive rounds with a maximum range of 18 km, improved shape high-explosive with a maximum range of 20 km, and high-explosive anti-tank rounds for direct fire at armored targets. DANA carried 60 rounds, that are fed automatically. The ammunition is stored in the conveyors which are capable to keep 40 projectiles and 40 powder charges and the storage boxes have capacity of additional 20 projectiles. Loading of ammunition is fully automated.
It is worth mentioning that the DANA's autoloader was unique for it's time. It is able to load shell and cartridge in any elevation. This feature is considered as standard nowadays and DANA was one of the first artillery systems with such loader in service. Three hydraulic stabilizers are lowered into the ground before firing. The DANA has a roof-mounted crane to assist ammunition loading.
The driver and commander are seated in the front cabin. The turret consists of two halves, with the gun mounted in between. Turret traverse is limited to 225 degrees to either side, due to cables. The gun has a fully automated loading system; after firing a moving belt removes the cartridge case. All the optics are located in the left half of the turret. The gunner and loader operator are on the left, the ammo handler is on the right side, which also has a DhSK on the turret roof. There are 60 projectiles in the turret and chassis.
Chassis of the DANA SpGH has 8x8 configuration. It uses many mechanical components of the Tatra T815 Koloss heavy utility truck. Vehicle is powered by a Tatra 2-939-34 diesel engine, developing 345 hp. Wheeled vehicles have the advantage of being cheaper to build and easier to maintain with greater mobility comparing with a tracked chassis. Tire pressure can be regulated to allow good mobility off-road and there is power-assisted steering on the front four wheels. It lowers 3 hydraulic stabilizers into the ground prior to firing, and has a roof mounted crane to assist with ammunition loading.
The crew of the DANA consists of the driver (operates the hydraulic stabilizers) and commander sitting in the front cabin, the gunner (aims the gun and opens fire) and loader operator (selects the appropriate amount of powder charges) are on the left side of the turret, the ammo handler (sets the shells' primers) is on the right side turret.
The weapon passed through modernization process in 1999. The upgrade package consists of a new powerful on-board control system that enables increase of combat efficiency, simplification of control and reduction of crew from 5 to 4 members. The control system enables:
- Continuous self-positioning (x, y, z)
- Independent calculation of target coordinates
- Automatic aiming of the gun
- Diagnostics of operational status
- Increase rate of fire
- Short time needed to engage target from an unprepared firing position
- Phonic and data transmission to/from superior command level
ShKH Dana Variants
Further developments of the DANA include a 155 mm gun, and the installation of the 155 mm gun turret on a T-72 chassis.
- MODAN 152-mm improved variant of the DANA, with longer range, better accuracy and higher rate of fire. It has a crew of four. MODAN is an upgrade package for an existing aging DANA 152 mm system that, like its successor ZUZANA 155 mm system, features long range, high accuracy and rate of fire, prompt preparation for firing and high level of mobility. The upgrade package enables to bring DANA 152 mm system up to the level of ZUZANA 155 mm SpGH from the operational point of view. The package consists of a new powerful on-board control system that enables increase of combat efficiency, simplification of control and reduction of crew from 5 to 4 members.
- ONDAVA 152-mm self-propelled gun-howitzer, with longer barrel (47 calibers) and new loading mechanism. The 152 mm SpGH Ondava has a 47–caliber barrel with a breech of volume of 19.7 liters. The ammunition is stored in the conveyors which are capable to keep 40 projectiles and 40 cartridges.
- ZUZANA 155-mm NATO compatible variant of the DANA, with improved fire control system. Currently in service with Slovakia. The Zuzana 155mm Self Propelled Gun Howitzer is artillery gun for using of 155 mm ammunition, which is part of equipment of NATO states. Because of the long gun-range, cadence, accuracy fire, mechanization of service operations, system of fire control and manoeuvrability this Howitzer comes under group of the most modern guns in the world. This gun is intended for demolition of tactical, explorational and firing instruments of enemy, for destruction of constant and field defence works, tanks and another armed targets by direct fire or by blind fire. The Howitzer is equipped by system of fire control, connecting mechanism, cross-country navigation and wherewithalls for calculation of ballistics and diagnostics.
- ZUZANA 2, improved variant of the ZUZANA, with a redesigned forward control cab and a number of other improvements;
- HIMALAYA 155-mm variant turret of the ZUZANA, mounted on the T-72 main battle tank chassis. HIMALAYA is a true counterpart to the wheeled ZUZANA version except that the HIMALAYA turret was made slightly longer to enable more rounds in the ammunition magazines to fully utilize high payload of T-72 chassis. A unique design of ZUZANA 155 mm/45 caliber gun and turret makes it possible to implement the howitzer system almost on any existing MBT chassis as well as modified heavy wheeled chassis.
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