The history of the creation of recoilless, or, as they said, dynamos - rocket cannons (DRP) began in the USSR in the mid-1920s, in the workshop - an auto laboratory under the Committee for Inventions, which was led by Leonid Vasilyevich Kurchevsky, who graduated from two courses of the Faculty of Physics and Mathematics.
Here, under the leadership of this extraordinary personality, among other things, work was going on on a variety of projects, such as: a silent cannon, an air jet torpedo, an electric machine - a perpetual motion machine using the energy of atmospheric electricity, etc. Among other things, L. V. Kurchevsky also wrote science fiction novels.
Leonid Vasilievich Kurchevsky
In 1923 L. V. Kurchevsky, apparently after getting acquainted with the pre-revolutionary works of the designer D. P. Ryabushinsky, applied for the invention of a dynamo - a rocket cannon.
Kurchevsky proposed cutting off the breech of a conventional gun in the area of the bolt and inserting a Laval nozzle into the cut. The rest of the gun, including the rifled barrel, remained unchanged. The projectile was placed in an ordinary brass sleeve, in the bottom of which holes were drilled for the outlet of powder gases. The shutter was connected to the nozzle and moved when loading. The gun had practically no recoil, and was much lighter than similar systems of this caliber.
But then the designer did not succeed in taking up the DRP closely. Soon he was arrested and sentenced to 10 years for embezzlement of state money. While imprisoned in Solovki, Kurchevsky managed to prove himself well to the administration of the camp, at the beginning of 1929 he was released ahead of schedule.
Returning to Moscow, Kurchevsky launched a vigorous activity, he literally bombarded the authorities, offering dozens of types of DRP that, in his opinion, could replace all existing types of weapons.
This found a warm response from many high-ranking civil and military leaders, and the most ardent supporter of the DRP was M. N. Tukhachevsky.
It was assumed that Kurchevsky's cannons, in addition to field artillery, would replace conventional guns with a loaded barrel in anti-aircraft artillery, turret guns of tanks, anti-tank guns, and even casemate guns in fortified areas. True, it was not clear what to do with the emission of powder gases when firing through the nozzle in the breech of the DRP, which is a great danger to the servants, especially in confined spaces.
In a short time, many guns of all possible calibers were created.
DRP Kurchevsky were intended for all branches of the military and were of two types: breech-loading with manual loading and automatic with burning liners made of nitro-fabric. Enormous resources were spent on the development and launch into production of the DRP. In the early to mid-30s, Kurchevsky's cannons accounted for 30 to 50% of orders from artillery factories. DRP began to be massively supplied to the army.
37-mm cannon RK
For the infantry, the following were intended: an anti-tank portable 37-mm cannon of the Republic of Kazakhstan and a 76-mm battalion BOD. Mountain divisions received a 76-mm GPK cannon.
76-mm battalion BOD
For cavalry and motorized units, the following were intended: a 76-mm MPK cannon on the chassis of a Harley-Davitson motorcycle and a 76-mm SPK on the chassis of a Ford-A passenger car.
76-mm MPK cannon on the chassis of the Harley-Davitson motorcycle
76-mm SPK on the chassis of the "Ford-A"
Divisions and corps received 152 and 305-mm DRP on the chassis of three-axle trucks
In total, the artillery factories produced about 5000 DRP. Of these, only about 2,000 were accepted for military acceptance, and about 1,000 were sent to the troops. The situation was aggravated by the fact that Kurchevsky was constantly changing the drawings of the systems put into production, the share of production defects was high.
Soon the "soap bubble" of the dynamo - jet guns burst. It turned out that the armor-piercing shells of anti-tank DRPs, even when fired at point-blank range, are not able to penetrate armor thicker than 30-mm. The accuracy and range of field artillery guns are completely inadequate. At the same time, the guns themselves are unreliable and unsafe during operation; numerous cases of barrel rupture during firing were observed.
Fighter I-Z with 76-mm DRP APC
Aviation and naval automatic cannons of the Kurchevsky caliber from 37 to 152 mm gave constant failures and delays in firing due to incomplete combustion of nitro-cloth liners and unreliable operation of the pneumatic reloading mechanism, which made this weapon absolutely incapable of combat.
Soon all the DRPs were withdrawn from the troops and destroyed. By June 22, 1941, not a single Kurchevsky gun was in service with the Red Army. Kurchevsky himself was convicted and shot in 1937, according to the verdict of the Military Collegium of the Supreme Court of the USSR.
The adventurism of Kurchevsky and his high-ranking patrons cost our armed forces dearly, in addition to significant material losses for the production of deliberately defective guns, the very idea of recoillessness was discredited for many years. These guns could take their niche as light anti-tank and infantry fire support. Recoilless guns in combination with HEAT shells proved their viability during the Second World War, being in service with the armies of the United States and Germany.
German anti-tank recoilless gun LG-40
American 75-mm recoilless gun M-20
In the USSR, during the war years, work was carried out to create such systems, but they entered service only in the post-war period. The first was the 82-mm SPG-82 anti-tank grenade launcher.
In 1950, a complex consisting of an 82-mm mounted anti-tank grenade launcher SPG-82 and a caliber reactive anti-tank cumulative grenade PG-82 was adopted by the Soviet army.
The SPG-82 had a smooth, thin-walled barrel, without grooves, which consisted of two parts: muzzle and breech, which were connected by a coupling. The barrel was mounted on a wheel-driven machine, which made it possible to transport the grenade launcher on the battlefield and set the barrel to a combat or stowed position.
To protect the calculation from the action of powder gases, the grenade launcher had a light folding shield and a protective apron under it. In addition, a special bell - a gas catcher - was attached to the muzzle of the barrel. Glazed viewing windows in the shield were automatically covered by protective metal shutters when fired.
The grenade launcher was serviced by a crew of three people: a gunner, a loader and a grenade carrier.
Subsequently, an OG-82 fragmentation grenade was added to the ammunition load and the grenade launcher was modernized. In the process of modernization, the firing mechanism became with a self-cocking trigger, the fixed shoulder rest was replaced with a retractable one, a sight for firing fragmentation grenades was installed. The new grenade launcher, using cumulative grenades PG-82 and fragmentation OG-82, received the designation SG-82
The mass of the SPG-82 grenade launcher with the machine was 38 kg, which was many times less than the mass of conventional artillery pieces of this caliber. The direct firing range of the easel grenade launcher significantly exceeded the direct firing range of the RPG-2 hand-held anti-tank grenade launcher and was 200 m. The maximum range: 1500 m. The PG-82 grenade had a mass of 4.5 kg and provided 175 mm armor penetration. Rate of fire: 6 rounds per minute.
In the early 50s of the last century, the Ministry of Defense of the USSR, represented by the Main Artillery Directorate (GAU), announced a competition to create an 82 mm recoilless gun with an improved production technology compared to the SG-82, weighing no more than 100 kg, armor penetration 200-250 mm, the ability to defeat manpower and light fortifications of the enemy field type at a distance of at least 4000 m.
The winner of the competition was the Special Design Bureau (SKB-4), now the Mechanical Engineering Design Bureau (KBM, Kolomna) under the leadership of B. I. Shavyrina.
The SKB-4 development tool presented to the competition committee was a dynamo-reactive design with a loaded barrel and a widened chamber and nozzle. The barrel was connected by means of a hinge to a rather simple tripod-carriage, which had a removable wheel drive, with the help of which the gun was moved by the forces of calculation over short distances. Lifting and turning mechanisms are of screw type. The sighting devices provided firing both direct and semi-direct fire and from a closed firing position.
Recoilless 82-mm gun B-10
In 1954, the 82-mm B-10 recoilless gun was put into service, its production continued until 1964. With a mass of 85 kg, the gun could fire at targets at a distance of up to 4500 m, firing up to 7 shells per minute. Effective firing range at armored targets up to 400 m, armor penetration up to 200 mm.
In the Soviet Army, the gun served as an anti-tank weapon for motorized rifle and airborne battalions.
It was exported to the countries - members of the Warsaw Pact Organization, as well as to Algeria, Angola, Afghanistan, Vietnam, Egypt, North Korea, Cambodia, China, Cuba, Mongolia, Syria.
In parallel with the 82-mm B-10 recoilless gun, SKB-4 was developing a more powerful 107-mm system. In terms of its design, it was in many respects similar to the B-10, a similar design and principle of operation was used, which greatly simplified further mass production.
Recoilless 107 mm gun B-11
The mass of the B-11 in combat position was 305 kg. Rate of fire 5 rds / min. To destroy equipment and structures, cumulative ammunition BK-883 (MK-11) is used, with an effective range of up to 1400 m, with armor penetration up to 381 mm. To defeat enemy manpower, high-explosive fragmentation ammunition O-883A (MO-11) with a maximum range of up to 6600 m is used.
The shells are drop-shaped and equipped with a GK-2 fuse, a charging system with a centered disc, a main charge, a primer and an additional charge.
When fired, powder gases are emitted back from the gun, thus creating a dangerous zone up to 40 meters long. The gun can be towed at a speed of up to 60 km / h, rolled manually or carried in the form of three main units: barrel, bed, wheels.
The B-11 was produced simultaneously with the B-10 and was in service with the motorized rifle and airborne troops of the Soviet Army. Currently, this weapon is used mainly by the armies of the states of Asia and Africa.
Unlike the DRP Kurchevsky, all post-war Soviet recoilless guns had a smooth barrel and were adapted for feathered anti-tank cumulative projectiles. Subsequently, the line between caliber recoilless anti-tank guns and anti-tank grenade launchers was erased.
This trend was reflected in the creation of the 73-mm heavy anti-tank grenade launcher SPG-9 "Kopyo". Despite the name, structurally it is fully recoilless weapon.
SPG-9 "Spear" grenade launcher
The SPG-9 "Spear" grenade launcher was adopted by the USSR Armed Forces in 1963. Its appearance led to the desire to increase the effective range of fire of anti-tank weapons of motorized rifle subunits. The initial velocity of the grenade during departure is 435 m / s. After firing, the jet engine accelerates the grenade to 700 m / s. High speed provides better flatness of the trajectory, shortens the flight time of the grenade, which makes it possible to reduce the values of corrections for crosswind and target movement.
The firing range at armored targets is up to 800 m, the maximum firing range of a fragmentation grenade is 4500 m. The rate of fire is 6 rds / min.
The SPG-9 crew consists of four people: the commander, the gunner, the loader and the carrier. The crew is able to transfer the grenade launcher in a disassembled (stowed) position over long distances, as well as move the SPG-9 in a firing position when changing firing positions. The largest mass of a grenade launcher (with a night sight) reaches 57, 6 kg.
The armor penetration of the cumulative grenade of the PG-9V shot is 300 mm, and the grenades of the modernized PG-9VS shot - 400 mm. This was quite enough to defeat tanks of all types that did not have reactive armor in the 60-70s. SPG-9 was widely exported and effectively used in many armed conflicts.
Reliability of action and high armor penetration with a small caliber grenade (only 73 mm) served as the basis for the development of the 73-mm gun 2A28 "Thunder" and the PG-15V shot, which were included in the armament complex of the BMP-1 infantry fighting vehicle.
Despite its decent age, the SPG-9 continues to remain in service with the Russian army.
At present, ATGMs and hand-held anti-tank grenade launchers (RPGs) have practically ousted recoilless guns from the armaments of the armies of the most developed countries. At the same time, many technical solutions tested in recoillessness continue to be used in ATGM launchers and in caliber anti-tank grenade launchers.