Soviet 152-mm guns
When considering Soviet artillery development it is as well to remember that the Soviet artillery design teams rarely produced anything innovative. Instead they placed great emphasis upon a steady programme of development in which a new piece of ordnance was placed on an existing carriage, or in which a new carriage was allied to an existing gun or howitzer. Their continual aim was to produce an artillery piece that was as light as possible but firing as heavy a projectile as possible to as great a range as possible.
This was particularly true of the Soviet 152-mm (6-in) heavy guns. There were three main types of these, although others existed and the earliest of them could trace its origins back to 1910, Despite its age this weapon, designated the 152-mm Pushka obr. 1910g was updated in 1930 to become the 152-mm Field Gun Model 1910/30. In this form it was still in service when the Germans invaded in 1941. The Model 1910/30 was an unremarkable piece of artillery, so heavy that it had to be carried in two loads. This was considered to be too much of a disadvantage for modern use, and by 1941 the Model 1910/30 was being phased out of use. The Germans designated captured equipments 15.2-cm K 438(r).
In 1937 the Soviet design teams came up with a replacement. This was the 152-mm Gaubitsa-Pushka obr. 1937g (152-mm Gun-Howitzer Model 1937) which emerged as a new and rather long gun barrel mounted on the carriage of an existing piece, the 122mm (4.8-in) Field Gun Model 1931/37 (A-19). This combination was a gunhowitzer rather than a gun, and turned out to be a very versatile and powerful weapon, known to the Germans as the 15.2-cm K 433/l(r) in captured service. The Soviets wanted vast numbers, but the Artillery Plant Number 172 at Perm could not produce enough so another source of these gun-howitzers was sought. This turned out to be the same barrel as the Model 1937 but mounted on the carriage of an earlier 122-mm (4.8-in) field gun, the Model 1931. This combination was known for some reason as the 152-mm Gun-Howitzer Model 1910/34, to the Soviets and as the 15.2-cm K 433/2(r) to the Germans.
There was also one other Soviet 152mm (6-in) field gun about which little is now known. This was apparently a long 152-mm naval barrel placed on the carriage of the 203-mm (8in) howitzers produced as a form of emergency design in 1941-2. Few details now exist.
These two major field guns designs, the Model 1937 and the Model 1910/34, formed the mainstay of the heavy field gun batteries of the Red Army throughout the war. Later development tended to concentrate on howitzers, but the field guns proved to be very useful weapons. They were often able to outrange their German counterparts and so impressed the German gunners that they used as many captured Soviet 152-mm guns as they could lay their hands on. Many of these captured weapons were used against their former owners and as many again were diverted to the Atlantic Wall defences.
Perhaps the best indication of how good the Model 1937 gun-howitzer was at the time it was introduced can be seen by the fact that it is still in widespread service to this day. Now known as the ML-20, it remains in service with many Soviet-influenced armies throughout the world, from Cuba to China.
Specification Model 1937
Calibre: 152.4 mm (6 in)
Length of piece: 4.925 m (16 ft 1,9 in)
Weight: travelling 7930 kg (17,483 lb) andinaction 7128 kg (15,7151b)
Elevation: -2° to +65°
Muzzle velocity: 655 m (2,149 ft) per second
Maximum range: 17265 m (18,880 yards)
Shell weight: 43.5 kg (95.9 lb)