2S3 M-1973 Akatsiya (Acacia)
152-mm Self-Propelled Gun-Howitzer
The 2S3 comprises a modified version of the 152-mm towed howitzer D-20 and a chassis similar to the SA-4/GANEF launch vehicle. The thick tube extends beyond the front of the hull by the length of the double-baffle muzzle brake. It differs from the D-20 by the addition of a bore evacuator just behind the muzzle brake and, in travel position, it is supported by a brace attached just behind the bore evacuator. The running gear differs from that of the SA-4 in that it has only six road wheels (with spaces between the three front wheels only) and different spacing between the four support rollers.
The driver sits in the left front of the vehicle, with the engine located on the right side. The commander sits at the left center of the turret, with the gunner in front of him. The loader is at the right side of the turret. A hatch in the rear of the hull is used for loading ammunition. There is also a large hatch on the right side of the turret for loading ammunition and discarding expended brass. A 7.62-mm machine gun is located on the commander's cupola.
The 2S3 provides highly mobile, all-terrain fire support for motorized rifle and tank divisions. Its maximum range with a normal round is the same as that of the 152-mm towed howitzer D-20 (17,230 meters), and it probably fires a RAP round, increasing its range to about 30,000 meters. The 2S3 has a speed of up to 50 km/hr; but, unlike the 122-mm self-propelled howitzer 2S1, it is not amphibious.
Because of the twin recuperators above the tube, the elevation is restricted to +63 degrees. Armor is thin-skinned, providing only a minimum of protection for the four-man crew.
The 2S3 was first introduced into the Soviet inventory in 1973 and also has been known under the provisional designation M1973. It is also known simply as the SP-73 or SAU-152 (and erroneously as the M1975 or M-75). It somewhat resembles the US 155-mm self-propelled howitzer M-109.
By the mid-1980s the 2S3 had begun to replace the D-20 in the howitzer battalions of artillery regiments and brigades at front and army level. Since its introduction, the 2S3 gradually replaced the towed 152-mm howitzer D-1 (M1943) in the artillery regiment of motorized rifle divisions and one battalion of the towed 122-mm howitzer D-30 in the artillery regiment of tank divisions. Also, the 2S3 replaced some towed 152-mm artillery in the front-level artillery division and in the army-level artillery regiment/brigade.
The 2S3M is an upgrade version of the 2S3. The 2S3M turret contains the 2A33 cannon, fire-control equipment, ammunition storage space, and work positions for commander, gunner, and loader. The cannon extends beyond the vehicle front and has an electrical loader/rammer attached to the cradle. Ammunition is stored in the rear of the chassis and can be replenished through a hatch in the rear panel.
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