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2S4 M-1975 Tyulpan [Tulip Tree] (object 305)
240-mm self-propelled mortar

The 240-mm self-propelled mortar known to the West as the M-1975 is known as the SM-240 (2S4) by the former Soviet Army, although its more common name is the Tyulpan, or Tulip Tree. The M-1975 consists of a much modified GMZ tracked minelaying vehicle carrying a 240-mm M-240 breech-loading mortar on the hull rear.

During the Great Patriotic War (World War II), the Red Army fielded 160mm and 240mm large-caliber mortars. Their OB-29 240mm mortar weighed 3,500 kilograms (7,718 pounds) and fired a 125 kilogram (276 pound) round out to 7,000 meters. After the war, the Soviets developed the M-240 240mm mortar and fielded it in 1953. This breach-loading mortar fired a 100 kilogram (221 pound) high explosive round out to 9,650 meters. At that time, its intended role was to smash through heavily-fortified regions and prepared defensive positions.

In 1960, the Soviets mounted the M-240 mortar on a tracked, self-propelled chassis. A hydraulic system raises and lowers the tube from the carrying position to the firing position. As was customary, the self-propelled artillery system was christened with an alpha-numeric designator (the 2S4) and the name of a flower (the Tulip).

On the eve of the Day of Missile Forces and Artillery, a "gift" was made by the military: the Uraltransmash plant (part of the Uralvagonzavod corporation) sent the first batch of modernized self-propelled mortars 2C4 Tulip to the troops. A machine with a gun of the caliber of 240 mm is the largest in the "flower" series of artillery systems such as "Carnation", "Acacia", "Hyacinth" and "Peony". All of them are in service with the Missile Forces and artillery of the Russian Ground Forces.

In itself, the weapon refers to weapons systems of high power, but has a nuclear munition. The structure and chassis of the mortar is quite simple, therefore it is not difficult to bring them into an absolutely working condition. The question is that modern automated guidance systems and fire control now allow to accurately take into account both meteorological conditions of shooting and ballistic characteristics of ammunition.

There are no analog to the Russian "Tulip": it significantly exceeds conventional artillery with its caliber from 100 mm and, in fact, is the record holder. At a firing range of up to 20 km, its high-explosive mines (with a projectile mass of up to 240 kg) are capable of destroying fortified buildings, live force and armored vehicles of the enemy.

The 2S4 machine is designed to destroy fortified buildings, fortifications, manpower and enemy armored vehicles, as well as destroy objects and targets, the defeat of which is not available to other artillery guns.

A 240-mm mortar shell is loaded from the breech block, the trunk is installed parallel to the ground. From mechanized ammunition, the mine is fed to the rails, the operator equips it with the necessary fuse, and then the automatic transfer to the barrel channel occurs. The gun is controlled by a gunner from a remote control. In addition, the self-propelled mortar is equipped with a 7.62-mm PKT machine gun, which is mounted on the commander's rotating turret.

The Tulip has a variety of rounds. The 130 kilogram (287 pound) fragmentation-blast round fires out to a range of 9650 meters. The 228 kilogram (503 pound) rocket-assisted projectile fires out to a range of 18,000 meters. In addition, it has special munitions (concrete-piercing, chemical and nuclear). Due to its nuclear capability, the 2S4 was assigned to the nuclear-capable High-Powered Artillery Brigades.

Along with the Krasnopol laser-guided projectile which the Soviets designed for their 152mm family of guns and howitzers, the Soviets developed a laser-guided projectile for their 240mm mortar. They christened this precision-guided munition the Smel’chak (daredevil). It weighs a hefty 125 kilograms (276 pounds) and is breach-loaded like all other 240mm rounds. The “Daredevil” has a maximum range of 9,200 meters.

Ammunition for "Tulip" is 20 high-explosive mines weighing 130 kg or 10 active-reactive 230-kilogram. There is a winch for loading from the ground. The firing range is 7-9 km with conventional mines and 17-19 with active-reactive mines. The arsenal of the mortar includes cluster and high-explosive ammunition, including a guided shell "Smelchak." With him, in the opinion of the military expert, "virtually any armored vehicles, however protected it is, as well as engineering structures, are being destroyed."

The guided bomb can aim directly at the target, providing a direct hit. To do this, you need a laser target designator-range finder or a ground artillery scout, or installed on a drone. All the same, what: if he ensures the illumination of the target not continuously, namely at the moment when the mine is already "seeing" such a ray, then a direct hit is ensured. "Tulip" also uses incendiary mines "Saida" with napalm, neutron ammunition "Resin" and "Fata". It is possible to fire active-rocket shells equipped with a nuclear charge of up to two kilotons in TNT.

In the transport position, a five-meter mortar barrel is laid on the armor of the running gear. For shooting, the gun leans back and is mounted on a steel plate, resting on the ground. Self-propelled 2S4 weight of 27 tons is equipped with a diesel engine with a capacity of more than 500 hp. It can overcome small irregularities, and along the highway it is able to move at speeds up to 60 km / h. One of the main features of the mortar is the possibility of firing from the "maximum elevation angle". When using special mines, the trajectory of the munitions flight is given a practically vertical character. Such unique characteristics except the Russian army, no one has used and does not apply until now.

The first batch of large-caliber "flowers" was made in 1969. Two years later, the mortar was adopted by the army under the 2C4 index. Serial production started in 1972 at the Ural Transport Engineering Plant (Uraltransmash). Until 1988 the company produced about 580 mortars.

In comparison with its predecessor (the Soviet mortar M-240), in its mechanization part there were serious technical implementations, which allow artillery calculation to quickly prepare the self-propelled gun for combat and to fold it after firing. The mortar's hydraulic system made it possible to change the operating modes from marching to combat and vice versa, to carry out vertical guidance, to supply ammunition to the rails.

In an interview with the newspaper Krasnaya Zvezda, one of the developers of this mortar, Hero of Socialist Labor Yuri Tomashov, admitted that the project "Tulip" was coming into life not without problems, because in world practice tgere was not then and still is not the analog of this product. "To literally sustain a shot, the design of the product required the introduction of dozens of innovative ideas," he recalled.

During the test at the Rzhev landfill, the first experimental sample produced only two shots from the planned series. After that, the combat vehicle "for the uselessness of the proposed constructive solution" was sent for revision - the fastening of the barrel rigidly connected to the body shell could not withstand the physical magnitude of the acceleration from the shot, which reached 60 g. Yes, that the fastening - at that time the developed dynamic wave turned out to be crumpled "into an accordion" fuel tanks of a combat vehicle.

After that, it was proposed an absolutely extraordinary variant of the rotary mechanism for loading 240-kilogram mines through the breech block of the trunk. At the same time, an unprecedented rate of gun fire was achieved. Tulip received more serious weapons in the mid-1980s when a special corrected 1K113 mine was used for shooting, jokingly called the military "Smelchak". When firing this ammunition, a spotter with a laser target designator is used. He highlights the target, and the mine lies down where the ray is shining. The work of such a designator occurs only on the final part of the flight in seconds before it hits.

This method of targeting allows reducing the consumption of ammunition to defeat the target to one or three pieces. The aiming time is from 0.1 to 0.3 seconds. For the characteristic roar and noise of this corrected mine in the Soviet years, "Smelchak" was given one more playful nickname - "Bes".

The baptism of fire "Tulip" took place during the war in Afghanistan. They were destroyed by fire points in stone obstructions and caves, strong points on roads and mountain passes. According to open sources, in total, about 120 mortars were involved in the fighting. It was used in Afghanistan combat starting in 1985. Once the Soviet leadership introduced the laser-guided "Smel'chak" [dare-devil] mortar round into Afghanistan, the massive 2S4 self-propelled 240mm mortar proved effective in destroying Mujahideen strongpoints and fortifications located in caves and terrain folds that howitzers could not hit. In June 1985, Senior Lieutenant A. Beletskiy employed his 2S4 battery against a Mujahideen stronghold that artillery could not engage. The stronghold was located near the Pandshir valley and garrisoned by Mujahideen of Ahmed Shah Masood. Lt. Beletskiy used a laser range finder to determine that the distance from the target was 2350 meters. He then fired a conventional HE round spotting round--evidently to establish the PGM footprint. He adjusted his firing data and then fired a ground laser-guided "Smel'chak" round. It hit the target exactly. The 2S4 battery destroyed the Mujahideen stronghold with just twelve rounds.

The “Tulip” is clearly very-heavy artillery useful for leveling stubborn field fortifications and strong points. The Russians used these in the Second Chechen Campaign to help level Grozny. The Russian battle for Grozny was very different in the Second Chechen Campaign. In the first campaign, armored columns pushed inside the city in an attempt to seize critical sites and buildings and capture the city in a coup de main.

The self-propelled mortars were used in the second Chechen campaign in the capture of Grozny in late 1999 and early 2000. During the second campaign, the Russian forces surrounded the city but did not enter it in force. Tanks and artillery ringed the city while dismounted infantry and special forces personnel, accompanied by artillery forward observers and snipers, slowly crept into the city searching for Chechen strong points. When they found them, artillery and long-range tank fire was directed to eliminate the strong point and crush the building. Large segments of the city were flattened before ground forces moved into the city. "Tulip" was used to destroy concrete structures in mountainous settlements, the destruction of which was impossible with conventional artillery caliber 152 mm. The damage to Grozny was much more severe during the second campaign.

Ukrainian mass media has repeatedly touched upon the subject of the possible possession of 2S4 “Tyulpan” 240 mm self-propelled mortars in Donbas by the “separatists” (or, more properly, Russian military and their accomplices); however, so far there have been no visual confirmations of this. The media wrote about the use of Tyulpans during the assault of the Luhansk airport and later Donetsk airport.

This mortar is itself a formidable weapon, but now it is added to the reconnaissance and fire contours that are already available in the Ground Forces and have already been tested in practice. For example, in Syria they showed their high efficiency. Thus, the combined arms commander receives a powerful instrument of fire impact on the enemy.

Within the framework of the state defense order-2017, repairs were made to the technical condition in the volume of medium-sized repairs of machines with modernization. As noted in the military department, in the course of such modernization, modern means of control and communication were installed on the Tulips, allowing the gun to operate in a unified tactical link system. "Before sending the troops, all samples have been tested under the supervision of officers of the military representation at the test facility of the manufacturer," - said in a statement the Department of Information and Mass Communications of the Russian Defense Ministry.

It is expected that by 2020 all the 2S4 mortars in service with Russian troops will be modernized. At present, there are about 500 such weapons on storage bases and directly in the troops.

According to the editor-in-chief of the journal Arsenal of the Fatherland, Victor Murakhovsky, despite the fact that Tulip was created long ago (in the 60s of the last century - TASS comment), "with the advent of new opportunities, the mortar becomes, in fact, precision weapons."

The Tulip mortar was developed around the same year as the Peony. It is one of the largest mortars in the Russian army - 240 mm caliber. But unlike Peony, the the military expert of the magazine "Arsenal of the Fatherland" Alexei Leonkov believes, Tulip was not subjected to upgrades, practically everything is the same from the moment it was produced.

"It has a high-explosive shell, as well as incendiary and correctable mines (controlled shell "Smelchak"), and also provided for nuclear ammunition with a capacity of up to 2 kilotons in trotyl equivalent," says Leonkov.

However, the nuclear artillery is removed, and they remained conventional ammunition. "It's clear that our foreign opponents think that we will start making nuclear ammunition on them now, no one is going to do it, because there is a more effective other weapon, missile," says the military expert, explaining why it makes sense to use them a short range, when other explosives appeared and other tasks were faced.

"But the technique itself is effective, it's clear that artillery, mortar ammunition is considered one of the cheapest compared to the same missiles and bombs, and if there is such a technique that delivers such a munition and the resource of the gun barrel is large enough, why not not to use, "- says Leonkov. According to the expert, despite the fact that such artillery exists long enough and continues to be modernized, "it would be wrong to write it off". "It was found out in Syria that the barrel artillery proved to be the most effective in destroying these long-term defense points or defense areas where insurgents with all underground tunnels were sitting, etc. Artillery made a significant contribution to this," he said.

"It is clear that in some places more powerful artillery was required there, and we have it, why not put it in order, and it is understandable that it will be in the reserve of the General Staff of the RF Armed Forces and, in the event that problems arise it will be used, and besides this artillery will work from closed positions, and, as they say, it must be detected, so we will only increase the effectiveness of fire," Leonkov concluded.



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