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M1937 (ML-20) 152 mm howitzer-gun

The Soviet Army field artillery masterpiece M-1937 was given the nickname of the `Kill` beast. The atillery regiment was deployed directly under the headquarters, and field artillery fire support masterpiece was active in the distance. A distinctive feature of the ML-20 is a unique combination of different angles of elevation and initial velocity of the projectile, which are given a choice of one of the thirteen propellants, some providing a range of over 17 kilometers. As a result of gun could be used as a howitzer, mounted on a shooting trajectory with a relatively low velocity of the projectile, and a gun - on flat trajectory at a high speed projectile.

Production of ML-20 was carried out only on the factory number 172 in Perm from 1937 to 1946. Striking power utilizing the large diameter 152mm gun been adopted as a self-propelled artillery gun as the SU-152/ISU-152. In addition to the release of towed guns were fired about 4,000 barrels ML-20S to be mounted on self-propelled gun (SPG) SU-152 and ISU-152 (a total built 3242 ISU-152 self-propelled guns and about 670 self-propelled guns SU-152, the exact number varies from various sources). Successor ML-20 was the 152-mm gun-howitzer D-20, which was in serial production since 1956. This instrument was identical with the ML-20 ballistics.

The ML-20 was, by far, the best instrument, as evidenced by the duration of its serial production and service. It was in a niche between the classical field howitzer with a short barrel and long-barreled guns special power, strongly outperforming the first in the firing range, and in the second by weight (as a consequence of this, it had better mobility and lower cost). In practice, the first advantage led to the fact that the ML-20 was able to strike at the positions of the most common enemy howitzers, firing from the reach of those distances (for example, the most common German howitzer 15 cm sFH18 had a maximum range of 13.3 km). The second advantage is the result of a much greater number of issued ML-20 compared with the number of guns produced high power, which were much more expensive.

The Germans have repeatedly tried to create an instrument with similar characteristics to the ML-20, but failed. Howitzer 15 cm sFH40 did not go into mass production because of a number of structural deficiencies; another design, 15 cm sFH42, had a maximum firing range of 15,100 meters and was released in an amount of 46 units. In 1943 and 1944 the Wehrmacht announced tenders for the creation of a new 15-cm howitzers with a range of 18 km, but German designers failed to create adesign suitable for mass production. The English 5.5-inch (140 mm caliber) field gun, which was launched into production in 1941, with a firing range of 14 km, had only a slight edge over the 15 cm sFH18 and was inferior ML-20 in this indicator.

The drawbacks of ML-20 included a large mass and limited speed of carriage, which was due to conservative design. With the experience of the ML-15, the gun could be constructed easier and more mobile. For transporting tools a powerful tractor was needed, which in the Great Patriotic War were relatively few in number. For transportation ML-20 used heavy tracked artillery tractors "Voroshilovets" and "Comintern" , which were issued by the Kharkiv Locomotive Works - designer and first manufacturer of the famous tank T-34. This shortcoming was noted, and insufficient mobility led to the conclusion of the corps artillery guns to higher organizational levels in the hierarchy - the Army artillery or artillery RVGK.

Another disadvantage was the the construction of the ML-20 muzzle brake. This caused unmasking the gun when shooting, as flowing out of the barrel after the departure of the projectile propellant gases change direction after passing through the muzzle brake and raised a cloud of dust from the ground. This fact was particularly important when shooting at small angles of elevation, to combat this undesirable phenomenon is sometimes applied wetting of the underlying surface water. On the other hand, use of a muzzle brake at the time has already become a common practice for this class of implements.




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