76.2-mm Field Gun Model 1942
With much of their artillery production facilities lost to the advancing German forces during 1941, the Soviet staff planners had some difficult decisions to make. Vast stockpiles of weapons of all kinds had been lost to the Germans and in order to make new weapons production capacity had to be hurriedly improvised in outlying areas where factories did not even exist. One factor in the Soviet's favour was that their weapon design bureaux were inherently conservative and made few innovations, depending rather on the gradual evolution of design and on the practice of using a new gun or carriage in conjunction with an existing carriage or gun.
This practice served the Soviets well after 1941, for in 1939 they had introduced a new gun known as the 76.2-mm Field Gun Model 1939, or 7639. This was introduced mainly because it was realized that good as the 76-36 was, it was really too bulky and a smaller design was thus desirable. The 76-39 used a shorter barrel on the carriage derived from that of the 76-36. When the Germans struck in 1941 they did not capture the main plant for 76-39 barrels, though they did take the carriage plant for the 76-36. Thus it was possible to use the barrel and recoil mechanism of the 76-39 on a new carriage to allow production to once more get under way. The result was the 76.2mm Field Gun Model 1942, later known as the 76-42 or Zis-3.
The 76-42 was to achieve fame by being produced in greater numbers than any other gun during World War II. It was produced in its thousands, and if this had not been enough it turned out to be an excellent all-round weapon capable of being used not only as a field gun but an anti-tank gun, a form of tank gun and a self-propelled gun. The new carriage was a very simple but sturdy affair using split pole trails and a simple flat shield. The gun assembly was modified to take a muzzle brake to reduce firing stresses and keep the carriage as light as possible and throughout the design process emphasis was given to ease of mass production. Once in action the 76-42 proved light and easy to handle, and it also had excellent range. To simplify the Red Army's logistic load the ammunition was ruthlessly standardized to the point where the 76-42 used the same types of ammunition as the 76.2-mm (3-in) guns carried by the T34 tanks and many other similar guns. Only two basic types of projectile were used in World War II, namely HE and AP (though smoke was fired on occasion).
The 76-42 was produced in such large numbers that it remains in service with some nations to this day. Examples were encounterd in Korea and Indo-China, and the gun is still widely used in Africa and the Far East. The 76-42 has been widely issued to various guerrilla groups such as the PLO and SWAPO in South West Africa, and there seems to be no time limit on its active life.
Numerous attempts were made to mount the 76-42 on various selfpropelled carriages but only one was ever produced in any quantity. This was the SU-76, another ex-Soviet weapon that is still in widespread service.
Specification Field Gun Model 1942
Calibre: 76.2 mm (3 in)
Length of piece: 3.246 m (127.8 in)
Weight: travelling and in action 1120 kg (2,470 lb)
Elevation: -5° to +37°
Traverse: 54° Muzzle velocity: 680 m (2,230 ft) per second
Range: 13215 m (14,450 yards)
Shell weight: 6.21 kg (13.7 lb)