Soviet 152-mm howitzers
In 1941 the Red Army still had substantial numbers of short 152-mm (6-in) howitzers such as the Field Howitzer Model 1909/30 and Field Howitzer Model 1910/30, but these were long in the tooth and despite an interim updating programme carried out after 1930 they lacked range. It was realized that these howitzers would have to be replaced and in 1938 the replacement appeared. For once this weapon was an all-new design combining a long 152-mm barrel with a sturdy and steady split-trail carriage. It went into production at two artillery factories, Artillery Plant Number 172 at Perm and Artillery Plant Number 235 at Volkinsk. The Field Howitzer Model 1938, later known as the M-10, turned out to be a great success and was widely used, later becoming one of the main types in Red Army service throughout the war.
The Red Army came to value the flexibility of the howitzer over the longrange capabilities of the gun to a great extent, and found during the early days of the war with the invading German army that the heavy 51.1-kg (112.6-lb) high explosive shell was also a powerful anti-tank weapon. This derived from the Red Army practice of using every available field piece as an antitank weapon, and was so successful that a special solid-shot projectile was introduced for use by the Model 1938. This weighed 40 kg (88.2 lb) and could knock out any known tank. The Germans also prized the Model 1938 highly, using as many as they could capture under the designation 15.2-cm sFH 443(r), either in the Soviet Union or as part of the Atlantic Wall defences. More turned up in Italy and France.
In their constant striving to make their progeny as light and efficient as possible, the Soviet artillery designers later converted the Model 1938 to be mounted on the carriage of the 122-mm (4.8 in) Model 1938 howitzer. A larger muzzle brake was fitted to reduce, at least in part, the recoil forces of the heavier barrel, and the new combination became the 152-mm Field Howitzer Model 1943. As its designation implies this new howitzer/carriage combination was first produced in 1943 and soon replaced the earlier Model 1938 in production. It continued to fire the same range of ammunition as the Model 1938 and the range capabilities remained the same. By 1945 it was in service with the Red Army in huge numbers and was later designated the D-l.
Post-war the Model 1938 and Model 1943 went on to serve in many more conflicts. Gradually the Model 1938 faded from use and is now known to be used only by Romania, but the Model 1943 is still very much in evidence. It is still in Red Army service; although now mainly with reserve units. It has been bestowed the accord of being thought fit to be copied by the Chinese army, which now has its own version, known as the Type 54. The Model 43 is used by nearly every nation that has come under Soviet influence, ranging from Czechoslovakia to Iraq and from Cuba to Vietnam. It has even turned up in Ethiopia and Mozambique. There seems to be no sign of its ever passing away.
Specification Model 1943
Calibre: 152.5 mm (6 in)
Length of piece: 4.207 m (13 ft 9.6 in)
Weight: travelling 3640 kg (8,025 lb) and in action 3600 kg (7,937 lb)
Elevation: -3∞ to +63.5∞
Muzzle velocity: 508 m (1,667 ft) per second
Maximum range: 12400 m (13,560 yards)
Shell weight: HE 51.1 kg (112.6 lb)