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Self-Propelled Artillery Mount - Inter-War Period 1920s
[Samokhodnye Artilleriya Ustanovka]

A self-propelled artillery mount [Samokhodnye Artilleriya Ustanovka] is a military machine that is an artillery gun mounted on a self-propelled chassis designed for immediate fire support of tanks and infantry in combat. Self-propelled artillery units in the USSR were divided into the following groups:

  • anti-tank ACS (tank destroyers) - were intended to fight enemy tanks and their anti-tank weapons when escorting their troops.
  • assault self-propelled guns (DOT fighters) - were used to destroy direct long-distance installations at the front line of enemy defenses (for example, Soviet SU-152 / ISU-152 were often used as anti-combat weapons)
  • Self-propelled artillery escort units (self-propelled howitzers) - accompanied by fire, infantry and motorized units and formations, performing the tasks of defeating the enemy's manpower and weapons, as well as fighting medium and light tanks. (SU-122 and SU-152 / ISU-152 were just designed for such combat use, but they were also effective against heavy tanks.) So, the SU-152 / ISU-152 destroyed Tiger tanks and high-explosive shells.)
  • anti-aircraft self-propelled units - served to cover troops from attacks from the air on the march and during the offensive.
  • special self-propelled plants - mortars and rocket launchers, as well as field rocket launchers on a self-propelled base.

As is known, in 1918 the Civil War began in Russia, which lasted for almost four years. This war is strikingly different from the just-concluded World War, not only in scale. It was different in strategy and tactics of the troops. Most of the military theorists of that time agreed that the Civil War in Russia was a vivid example of a maneuvering war without stable, pronounced echelon defensive lines, similar to those built in the period 1914-1918.

It was the Civil War, where the battles were fought mainly along major highways, became a real forge of armored vehicles and armored trains. Here units of armored vehicles and cavalry units successfully showed themselves. It is quite clear that such a nature of war demanded a general increase in the mobility of all troops, and first of all artillery.

There was clearly an urgent need to provide the Red Army with self-propelled guns. The units still retained a number of combat-ready vehicles of pre-revolutionary buildings, located on the chassis of Russo-Balt Garford-Putilov (Rousseau-Balt-T) and armed with anti-aircraft guns of the Lender design (caliber 76.2 mm in the sample of 1914). But the plants had ceased production of spare parts for them. The remaining machines were worn out enough, and the chassis to replace them in the USSR was missing, and the weapons were already morally and technically obsolete.

The study of the "legacy" of the Civil War in 1921 showed that none of the existing combat self-propelled units could not be considered modern and suitable for practical use in war and combat training. Therefore, a special commission of special artillery experiments (KOSARTOP), formed the end of 1920, raised the question of the advisability of conducting further experimental work on self-propelled guns. In 1922 the self-propelled and mechanized artillery design bureaus were created at the Krasny Arsenal plant in Petrograd, which, however, was initially engaged not so much in artillery projects as in everyday life projects. The conceptual design of new vehicles had begun. But the country did not have its own automobile industry at that time, so early proposals were noticed, but not implemented.

All of the above motivated the country's leadership, with the active lobbying of this topic by the high command of the Red Army, at the first opportunity to return to the theme of developing a self-propelled gun. For example, in 1924, the former General of the Tsarist Army Filatov Nikolai Mikhailovich, a developer of Russian cannon armored cars (including Garford-Putilov), who at that time held the post of chairman of the Red Army Committee of the Red Army, proposed a self-propelled gun project on the chassis of the Italian Fiat truck. According to his note, the machine was to be armed with 76.2 mm (sample 1913) field gun, which has a truncated trunk. But the offer of support was not received. First of all, due to the lack of the necessary number of chassis and the inability to purchase the latter.

The first systematic work on self-propelled artillery in the USSR began in 1927 in pursuance of the GAU decree "On the mechanization of artillery." According to the decree, it was planned to create a regiment of self-propelled artillery mounts 76.2-mm guns for the needs of the Red Army within 3 years.

The hostile environment and the paranoid passion of the leadership of the country and the party to initiate a "world revolution" required a powerful and well-equipped army. Therefore, the issues of defense capability were constantly at the center of attention of the Central Committee of the CPSU (B) and the USSR Sovnarkom.

On 15 June 1929, another Politburo resolution appeared, with an exhaustively truthful title - "On the State of Defense of the USSR". In pursuance of this theme, the Revolutionary Military Council [RVS] of the USSR adopted a decision, which in fact determined the direction of development of the army for many years. Specifying this decision, the relevant ministries and departments of the USSR developed and adopted appropriate programs, one of which directly concerned the development of Soviet armored vehicles and initiated the creation of specialized tank design bureaus.

On November 22, 1929, by order of the Revolutionary Military Council (hereinafter - RVS) of the USSR, the Directorate for Motorization and Mechanization (hereinafter - UMM) of the Red Army was created. The first head of UMM was commander I. A. Khalepsky. The newly established department was entrusted with the organization of work on the creation of armored vehicles for all branches of the military.

Soon after its inception, UMM began work. Among the design bureaus (both the Commissariat and those existing at various factories), orders were placed for the creation of various types of armored vehicles, from tanks to armored trains. Particular attention was paid to the creation of self-propelled artillery installations designed to support the advancing infantry and breakthrough tanks.

According to the then Soviet classification, SAU of two types was distinguished: the first line (predecessors of the future SU-122, SU-152 and IS-152), which moved directly behind the advancing troops, could be visually detected and fired by the enemy, and therefore had to be fully armored ; and the second line, which were supposed to support the advanced units from the depths of the order, and therefore they did not envisage a hundred percent reservation with them. An alternative to self-propelled guns of the first line could be artillery tanks, that is, tanks in which not anti-tank guns were installed, but guns with a mounted trajectory of the projectile - mortars and howitzers.

They appeared on the basis of factories that had, at that time, the most modern equipment and trained personnel. So on the basis of the department of the plant "Bolshevik", which produced aircraft engines, there appeared the experimental design and engineering (OKMO) department, which is being introduced to the designers of the MTB (Moscow technical bureau) by the GUVP. This department became the main design bureau, engaged in the development of (or supervising) those of almost all armored vehicles. At the head of the new design bureau was Nikolai Vsevolodovich Barykov, who previously worked as the head of the aircraft engine department at Bolshevik Zavod, and, in combination, acting as deputy head of the machine-building (in fact - tank) department of this plant was put up. Somewhat later, this Leningrad plant was renamed into Plant No. 174 with the assignment of KE Voroshilov to it.

In the spring of 1930, at the GAU board meeting, the issue of creating self-propelled artillery units was raised again, and on October 2, the RVS of the USSR adopted the “Resolution of the RVS on an experimental armored armament system in terms of self-propelled artillery systems”. The essence of the decree was that the plants and design bureaus had to complete the design and manufacture of a large number of different types of armored vehicles, and in particular, six basic SAUs by October 1, 1931.

In the late 20s and early 30s, the USSR actively cooperated with German, American and British companies in the acquisition and joint development of new types of armored vehicles - despite the difference in ideologies of the Land of Soviets and capitalist countries. Apparently, both sides reasoned : "Ideology is ideology, but business is business."

In order to attract foreign specialists and study best practices, the Chairman of the Scientific and Technological Committee UMM Lebedev put forward similar TTTs for consideration by the special Soviet-German Technical Commission (TEKO). On the German side, the Daimler-Benz designers worked on the assignment. But the German company did not meet the deadlines and offered its project only in the middle of 1932, when the tests of the domestic version of this SAU were already over.

The fact that the development of such equipment was considered important in the USSR is evidenced by the fact that initially in the period from 1930 to 1934 the development of armored vehicles was directly handled by an autotank tractor design bureau created under the economic management of the OGPU. It was from here that many leading designers of Soviet armored vehicles came out: Astrov Nikolai Alexandrovich, since 1937 he was the chief designer of the plant No. 37 (1929-1930 was in the prison in the prison as "the enemy of the people"), Firsov Afanasy Osipovich, who led the secret tank KB at the KhPZ (which he took, leaving the prison, which was concluded in 1930 "for sabotage") and a special design bureau of machine building. After the disbandment of this design bureau, all of its developments were transferred to OKMO.

In 1931 a T-27 tank appeared, the first serial. The machine began to be produced at the Bolshevik plant and continued at the plant No. 37 (which at that time was called the Second Automobile Plant of WATO). On the new base, project works on the creation of self-propelled artillery were immediately launched. For example: OKMO ("Bolshevik") developed a small self-propelled gun armed with 37 mm guns (1 version) and 20 mm - the second option, as well as a "gun self-propelled gun" with a 45 mm cannon, etc. The production of the T-27 practically ceased in 1933. But, at the end of 1933, 3 self-propelled guns on the T-27 chassis, armed with a 76 mm regimental cannon, were presented for state testing. Work on this project was started in 1931 by the KB OAT and completed in 1933 already KB plant Krasny Putilovets.

In the same year, the design bureau of plant No. 8 (engaged in artillery systems), taking the chassis of the Ford-AAA, created on this basis an experimental 20 mm self-propelled gun. In the early 1930s, a new KB-SKB-1 was created at this plant (Moscow region), which was supposed to specialize in fundamentally new technical solutions for the creation of artillery systems (for example, using the dynamoreactive principle). The latter tried to install almost everywhere (aviation, fleet, tanks, cars and even motorcycles).

In 1932, the designers of the Artakademii create a small SU-3, armed with a 76 mm DRP type "K" on the chassis of the T-27. In the same year, a variant of the self-propelled gun offered by SKB-1 appeared. On the chassis of the GAZ-TK, they made a prototype version of the SU-4, armed with 76 mm AAV-type BDK. Their next development, which appeared a little later, was SPGK-12, a dynamoreactive self-propelled howitzer that had a caliber of 305 mm. As a chassis for it, the tractor "Comintern" was used. In parallel, the development of a similar project of a 305 mm howitzer with the use of the I-8 vehicle as a chassis was conducted. The gun itself for these chassis was really tested on one of the destroyers of the Soviet Navy. Serial release of the DRP was established at two artillery plants: "Red Arsenal" (Plant No. 7) and him. Kalinin (# 8).

UMM RKKA attracted a large number of design bureaus and institutes to the design work on the creation of automated control systems, both in the Armed Forces and in the industrial sector. For example, KB Artillery Academy developed in the early 1930s a number of experimental self-propelled artillery with traditional weapons. For example, on the chassis T-28 was created a version of self-propelled 152 mm caliber mortar.

The basic theoretical work that covered the design of self-propelled artillery was, at that time, a large research paper published in 1933 by the special commission entitled "Problems of an artillery self-propelled gun, limiting gauges". In this work, the main provisions concerning self-propelled gun are analyzed in detail, their inherent disadvantages and advantages are analyzed, the principles of their possible use and application are determined.

According to this document, the self-propelled gun was supposed to be used to support cavalry and infantry, as well as to accompany the tanks. The requirement to create, in the minimum terms, heavy self-propelled artillery and anti-aircraft self-propelled systems was recognized as necessary. Since those variants that were embodied in the metal and submitted to field tests, from 1923 to the end of 1932, they did not withstand testing and did not suit the army that acted as the customer. That is why until 1933 none of the options offered by the self-propelled gun was adopted for armament.

After the approval of the corresponding program for the development of artillery armament systems for the Red Army for the period from 1933 to 1937, which, in a separate line, provided for the creation of the self-propelled gun, a certain planning, meaningfulness and organization appeared in these works.

The fact that in 1929 these works were first accelerated sharply, but then they were stalled. The reason lay outside the technical capabilities of the country's industry. The point was in the concept of the development of armaments, which, at that time, firmly held the minds of the absolute majority of the senior command of the Red Army. In the USSR, adopted, dominant at that time in developed European countries, the concept of so-called "universal guns." That is, the new model of self-propelled gun should have been equally suitable both for fighting enemy aircraft and for destroying its equipment, manpower and fire facilities. Obsessions of "universality" for almost three years paralyzed work in this direction.

In the autumn of 1931, Spetsmashtrest was given the task of developing mechanization tools for large and special power guns. In particular, it was proposed to submit to Arthuavre the draft chassis of a “self-propelled body triplex” consisting of a 107-mm cannon, 152-mm howitzers and 203-mm mortars, as well as “special-purpose heavy artillery triplex” armed with 152-mm (or 130-mm) ) cannon, 203-mm howitzer and 305-mm mortar. Since most of the guns were not yet ready, it was decided to install an existing low-power B-4 howitzer of 203 mm caliber (with a standard-length barrel) on the chassis.

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Page last modified: 21-08-2019 18:27:36 ZULU