The Largest Security-Cleared Career Network for Defense and Intelligence Jobs - JOIN NOW


VSP-203 / W90 203mm self-propelled gun

W90 203mm howitzer, China 203mm howitzer is a good weapon to deal with point targets and surface targets. It can fight enemy artillery at a long distance, suppress and attack a variety of targets, and can also be used as a coastal gun to hit the surface. If equipped with special bombs, the combat mission is more flexible, such as equipped with a nuclear bomb and has a deterrent capability. Its front and back width is about 50 kilometers, and the fire coverage of a single shot reaches 1,243 square kilometers, which is five times that of the US M110203mm howitzer and 2.7 times that of the Soviet 2S7 203mm howitzer.

The M110 self-propelled howitzer has a diameter of 203 mm and is the largest of the US military's own artillery. It was developed in 1956. In 1961, it was officially put into mass production. The main types of missiles are M106 grenade, M650 rocket propulsion grenade, M422 tactical nuclear projectile, M426 submunition and M753 tactical nuclear projectile with a maximum range of 29 kilometers. Not long after, with the advancement of propellant technology and atomic artillery projectiles, the technology of 155mm artillery surpassed the bulky 203mm artillery, and the rate of fire is much faster.

Meanwhile, China's Type-83 design 273mm rocket launchers had also been improved and matured. Later, longer range up to 200 km Type WS-2 300-mm rocket launchers are developed. Their shooting accuracy was relatively high, superior firepower continuity, density and other aspects are more obvious. Plus ground missile levels and increase the number and improve the information battlefield System level leads to enhance long-range precision-guided weapons to combat the effect of air-to-ground firepower.

In the test firing of the domestic 203 mm artillery system, not only the power was tested, but various problems were gradually discovered. It is not terrible to find the problem. As long as the time and sufficient funds are given, the problems will be solved one by one. It is a pity that the funding has become the biggest constraint when the domestic 203mm artillery has reached a critical time. In desperation, the Academy of Military Sciences finally decided to conclude the development of the 203mm artillery at the end of 1991. Of course, with the continuous improvement of China's national economy, it is not difficult for China's 203mm artillery to be re-launched.

However, at this time, the PLAs demand for artillery also changed, especially because of the disintegration of the Soviet Union. The rapid rise of Sino-Russian relations made China not have to worry about the strong neighbors who once oppressed us in the north. The artillery system of the People's Liberation Army also formed a complete long-range fire suppression mode. The fire control range of the military-level unit equipped with 155mm self-propelled with a howitzer was increased to 30 km - 50 km, and the range of the remote rocket launcher reached 50-300 km. At the same time, the rapid development of tactical missile units and the air force gradually cooled down Chinas artillery. Therefore, the 203 mm artillery system had no use.

It was reported in 1995 that a program to develop 203mm self-propelled howitzer had been in progress for several years, with a prototype tested in 1995. The system is based on a Chinese copy of the M107/M110 chassis with a domestic 203mm gun and lifting mechanism. The weapon can fire standard NATO 203mm ammunition types, along with an extended range full-bore base-hollow high-explosive (ERFBHB HE) projectile with a range of 24 miles, and a base-bleed (ERFBBB HE) projectile with a range of over 30 miles. It was claimed to be compatible with submunition projectiles, such as anti-tank mines and terminally guided, biological, chemical or nuclear warheads.

Chinese accounts of the provenance of this system are rather jumbled. It is generally agreed that this super cannon was the work of the inevitable Gerald Bull, who turns up whenever big guns are mentioned. Bull was a Canadian national, whose SRC buiness entity was based in Belgium. Many Chinese accounts incorrectly identify Bull as British. Chinese accounts are in disagreement over the origins of the project, with some suggesting that the gun was intended for foreign sales, while other claim it was for Chinese army requirements.

By some accounts, the gun was not designed for the equipment of the PLA, but rather aimed at the international market. Not many countries in the world were equipped with a 203mm howitzer, only the United States, Japan and a few other countries, but most of them are now retired. One sources relates that during the Iran-Iraq war, China developed the gun for export to [both!] Iran and Iraq, to make up for the lack of missile fire. But by the time China had successfully developed the gun, the war had ended.

By another Chinese account, the background to the development of this artillery was the background of the crisis of the Chinese army against the obsolescence of artillery strength. What the Chinese military of the 1980s recognized as the biggest virtual enemy was the Soviet army of the army power that borders on a long borders, among which the armored troops and artillery troops were particularly threatened. For the Soviet troops, which traditionally emphasized artillery strength, the Chinese military artillery unit of that time was inferior to most of the points such as the number of guns and rocket gates to be equipped, the amount of projection shots, shooting accuracy, range and so on. All the various field guns and rockets operated by the Chinese army were equipment of the Soviet Union introduced in the 1950s and 1960s, and as of the 1980s it was undeniable to obsolete. Furthermore, it was predicted that at the time the state of the art technology of China, it was difficult to develop a field gun with the ability to oppose Soviet artillery on its own.

In order to solve this situation, China chose to introduce technology from the West where relationships were improved since the late 1970s. As a result of the investigation team being dispatched to each country and examination, China was requested to cooperate with the development of new field gun was Space Research Corporation (hereinafter referred to as SRC company) headquartered in Brussels, Belgium. SRC was a weapon design consultancy company established by Dr. Gerald Vincent Bull who was the authority of global trajectory studies and is known for the longest-range range gun and innovative long-range artillery technology. SRC had developed a GC-45 155 mm howitzer with a maximum range of 30 km that overturned conventional wisdom at the time in the 1970's, developed FRFB (Extend Range Full Bore) bullets and base bleed bullets that secured high hit accuracy while extending the range Technologies, including Austria, Republic of South Africa, Spain, Thailand, Yugoslavia, Iraq, etc, were introducing technology of SRC company.

In response to technical cooperation from SRC, China developed a 155 mm cannon howitzer (later PLL - 01 155 mm howitzer (WA - 021) ), and based on its technology, 203 mm cannon of large caliber and long range. China decided to develop the project in August 1986, and Northern China Industry Association (NORINCO) and SRC Company, and ERT / EDB in Spain signed a "Discussion on Research and Development of Artillery Weapons System" and the scope of the collaboration of the three companies. The financial burden and other details were confirmed. In September the Communist Party Central Military Commission officially approved the development of a 203mm cannon howitzer. SRC company designed a 203mm cannon howitzer, ERT / EDB company manufactured and tested the first two trial guns (SRC is a consulting company and ERT / EDB acts on behalf of not having its own manufacturing capacity) ), NORINCO was to be responsible for the manufacture of two prototype guns and the examination in a wider field. As an incidental condition of the contract, SRC Included providing design materials of FGH-155 towed artillery, FGT-203 203 mm towed artillery, VSP-203 203 mm self-propelled artillery as reference materials for research and development in China.

According to Chinese sources that Chinese 8in howitzer was a joint project betwen Norinco, SRC company and Spanish ERT/EDB company. SRC came up with the design drawings, Spanish SITECSA company had produce two prototypes and Norinco produced two more prototypes. SRC was Canadian Gerald Bull's, of GC45, G5 and Iraqi Super Gun (in)fame, company not British. He worked for the Chinese during the 1980s (based in Belgium) supplying them with the 155mm ERFB technology and a design for a medium gun. It shouldnt be a surprise that he also provided a design for his heavy gun. However this gun was a 210mm gun that he also supplied to Iraq. A 210mm gun looks very much like a 203mm (8 inch) gun from the outside and without close inspection. Bull was a big fan of L45 barrels. So if it was a 210mm L45 barrel it would be 9.5 meters long. The muzzle brakes of the Iranian piece and the Chinese gun seem to be identical. Both guns are derivatives of a Gerald Bull/SRC design.

By yet another account, the Chinese W90 type 203mm howitzer was derived from the Soviet 2S7 type 203mm gun Pomegranate. This seems implausible, given the state of relation between China and Russia in the 1970s and 1980s. It is plausible, however, that the Chinese 203mm W90 gun was developed in response to the Soviet 203mm Pomegranate.

The gun is based on a 203 mm towed howitzer. The inside and outside of the artillery are the same. In the rear part of the chassis of the M107 175mm self-propelled gun, the body of the 203 traction artillery is installed to form a track-type self-propelled artillery with a powerful range. The ballistic performance of the 203mm self-propelled artillery is basically the same as that of the traction type. Its high and low shooting range is +2-+55, and the directional shooting is 30. The artillery marching transition time is 4 minutes, and the maximum driving speed is 55 km/ Hours, the maximum range is 720 kilometers, the width is 1.905 meters, and the total weight is 28.5 tons.

The gun has the characteristics of long range, high power, good ground density and wide range of firepower. It uses 45 caliber tube. The double-caliber body tube is longer than the US M110 series [its break-in type M110A1, A2 body tube is 37 times caliber] and Russia's 2S7. Therefore, the gun has a longer range and greater power, and the US M110 series is the largest. The range is only 29.1 km, [Rocket Extended Range], Russia's 2S7 has a maximum range of 47.5 km, while China's 203 mm howitzer has a maximum rate of fire [2 shots/min] and sustained rate of fire [1 shot/min]. The United States has 1.5 rounds and 0.5 rounds/minutes] which is equivalent to the Russian 2S7.

The W90 type 203 mm howitzer, which is 203.2 mm caliber gun, had a muzzle velocity of 933 m / s, rate of fire 1-2 rounds / min. The launched projectile weight and range are: "bottom concave bomb" [base bleed projectile], weighed 95.9 kg, with a maximum range of 40 kilometers; another "bottom emission" shell weighed 100.1 kg with a maximum range of 50 kilometers. Shooting ZOF-43 high explosive shells (single pieces weight 110 kg), the maximum range of 37.5 kilometers.

Its combat weight of 16,396 kg. The level of fire gun is -5~+65, the direction of fire is 25 . Traction speed on road 90 km/h, a dirt road 50 km/h. The cannon had no muzzle brake and exhaust means, spiral breech with "snatch and separate" system design. The barrel life was 450 rounds, maximum muzzle muzzle velocity of 960 m / sec. Gun elevation range of 0 degrees to 60 degrees between the positive direction of fire left and right 15 degrees, using hydraulic and electric drive systems.

The Chinese had difficulty finding a suitable chassis (such a heavy chassis was not common at that time), and the United States had installed the 203-mm self-propelled howitzer on the 175mm chassis. From caliber of the gun, it can be seen that this was not a NATO standard caliber, and it was difficult to support such large-scale equipment. There were problems during the test, because the rear was too long, more than one meter, making the whole center of gravity of the gun shift quickly after it fired. This shifted the total weight, and with no hoe, the whole gun was under the influence of the powerful recoil of the gun [along with the chassis it even turned over (over 90 degrees), but fortunately there were no casualties].

Thereafter, the chassis manufacturers added a hoe and improved recoil mechanism and recoil machine, and began range tests again, but the military and foreigners who are interested in this project lost patience, stopped the financial support, this project made nothing. As of 1999 there was no indication that this project had moved beyond the prototype stage.

From the trend of international development technical conditions of artillery, this gun does not seem that advanced. However, Chinese research on the performance of the 203mm howitzer artillery had a longer range than guns of the United States and Soviet of the same caliber. The range ofa shell with "concave bottom" [ie, base bleed] was 52-58 kilometers. When countries began to develop a new type of self-propelled 155mm howitzer, firing full bore full charge shells, it can reach 50 km. The improved Chinese designs for the PLZ-45 155mm gun-howitzer had a range from 39 km to 50 km.

The gun firing rate of only one 203mm rounds / min, (mainly due to problems caused by the automatic loading machine) can not be said to be rapid fire. So the fire density was too low, and could not effectively carry out large-scale fire suppression (which is why in recent years the army / division main level of fire suppression has changed to multi-barrel rocket launchers on their own). The gun had no sophisticated fire control system support, let alone satellite positioning, navigation and autonomous automatic fire (of course, the realization of these items, is based on a significant increase in cost). The 203mm artillery strategic and tactical mobility was not high on the basis of the cost of the gun.

Like the Western M110A2, it had no fighting compartment, and the artillery gunners were exposed, causing artillery gunner casualties during the counter-battery fire of the enemy.

A prototype vehicle of the W-90 203 mm self-propelled gun was released in 1993. It used the American body M107 175 mm self-propelled grenade cannon body in the chassis. Although the source of this chassis is unknown, China seems to have used M110, M107 self-propelled gun that the United States left behind in Vietnam, and it has diverted it. A series of shooting experiments were carried out for several years after production. Although it proved the possibility of 203mm cannon self-propelled gun, it also became clear that there is still a problem in the performance of the chassis and the gun and it is difficult to operate as a completed gun system.

At the end of 1990, Weapons Industry Co., Ltd. and China Army Corp. exhibited items related to the 203 mm cannon in Beijing, succeeded in getting the attention and support of the leadership of the military committee and relevant organizations. In this seat, it was decided to revive the development of the 203mm cannon that was interrupted, to complete the 203mm self-propelled gun system, and to conduct a research on a shipboard type 203mm cannon as an evolved type. As a development procedure, it first completed research and development of a 203 mm towing artillery, and then decided to develop a 203 mm self-propelled cannon howitzer by around 2000.

Bull's SRC officially provided the first batch of 203mm artillery MKI-type engineering drawings, and soon provided the improved MKII-type engineering drawings. After research, the Chinese ordnance enterprise decided to develop the 203mm experimental gun based on the design content of the third edition of the MKII model provided by SRC. For Chinese military industrial enterprises with weak military base and backward technology, the 203mm artillery has advanced technical skills and technical difficulties. However, Chinese military workers have overcome difficulties at all levels. After more than one year of hard work of drawing conversion, all aspects have basically met the manufacturing requirements of the experimental cannon, and it is possible to start feeding and processing trial production. In the process of the development of the experimental cannon, the engineering drawings provided by the Chinese side to the British side were not complete and perfect. Through their own efforts, and combined with the construction of the US 175 mm self-propelled gun, the Chinese military workers successfully produced a prototype gun. The entire 203mm artillery system was expanded into both towed ["traction"] and self-propelled forms.

The performance of the artillery can not rely solely on paper data, it requires a long shooting test to accumulate all aspects of data. After the prototype was built, from June 1988 to October 1991, the 203 mm artillery system was tested in eight rounds in four stages, with a total of 235 actual projectiles. It is said that the number of long-range grenade fragments of the domestic 203mm artillery system is 6.6 times and 1.7 times that of the US M106 and the Belgian GC-45203 mm artillery; the remote grenade can penetrate the 2.7m tamping soil layer or 2.5m hard sandstone, and the funnel produced after the explosion The pit volume is 1.3 times and 2.38 times that of M106 and GC-45 respectively. When the exposed force is exposed, the ammunition consumption of the 203mm artillery system is 42% of M110, 28.2% of GC-45, and the shooting efficiency is 3.8 times that of the latter two. And 2.2 times; when pressing a 2.5t truck, the 203mm gun system is also much better than the M110, which is basically equivalent to the GC-45.

This 203mm large-caliber gun, which incorporates the European design of large caliber and howitzer, combined with its own research level of 203mm large-caliber guns, is also richer in 203mm artillery guns due to its larger caliber and charge. In addition to various shells, it also includes concrete destruction bombs, dual-use submunitions, incendiary bombs, flares, terminal missiles, terminal-sensitive missiles, and television reconnaissance bombs. If allowed, nuclear bombs can be assembled. Chinese sources are generally unified on the point that this gun can fire atomic projectiles.

Join the mailing list

One Billion Americans: The Case for Thinking Bigger - by Matthew Yglesias

Page last modified: 19-03-2019 09:50:56 ZULU