Voennoye Obozreniye readers are already aware of the existence of VHS and VHS-2 assault rifles from the Croatian HS Produkt campaign.
But this is not the only weapon that has been developed and produced in Croatia.
Among others, the Croatian military export agency Agencije ALAN d.o.o. also offers an anti-material rifle RT-20 chambered for 20 × 110 mm Hispano.
The use of such a powerful ammunition makes the RT-20 more effective than other models of similar rifles, for example, the APH-20 (Finland) or NTW-20 (South Africa).
During the civil war in the territory of the former Yugoslavia, a small batch of American large-caliber Barret M82 sniper rifles chambered for.50 BMG (12, 7x99 mm) entered service with Croatia.
The experience of their combat use turned out to be positive, and the command of the Croatian army instructed RH-Alan to develop a similar sniper rifle and set up its production.
The first large-caliber rifle from RH-Alan had the designation MACS-M2A and was a simple to primitive single-shot weapon of a traditional layout with a sliding bolt.
Some Croatian sources write that the MACS-M2A used a bolt action that was very similar to the Mark V developed by Roy E. Weatherby.
Shooting was carried out with.50 BMG cartridges using the Austrian Kahles ZF 84 optical sight with a magnification of 6x42.
Soon, gunsmiths created and offered the military a shortened modification: the MACS-M3, built on a bullpup layout.
The internal structure of the rifle is generally similar to the MACS-M2A, with the exception of solutions arising from the layout used.
Thanks to the applied layout, the gunsmiths managed to reduce the overall length of the MACS-M3 by 360 mm compared to the MACS-M2A and reduce the weight by 3.6 kg, and the barrel length was reduced by only 3 cm (see below the comparative table with the performance characteristics of both rifles).
The estimated cost of the MACS-M2A rifle was $ 4,690, and a shortened version of the MACS-M3 is still being produced and costs a little less than its progenitor: $ 4,641.
Despite the fact that large-caliber MACS-M3 rifles have never been very popular, according to unverified data, they were purchased in small quantities by countries such as Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Slovenia, Romania and Italy.
There are also rumors that these rifles were sold by bad guys around the world: they were “spotted” not only in the territory of the former Yugoslavia, but also in Africa, Afghanistan, and Southeast Asia.
Rifles MACS-M3 are still in production and can be equipped at the request of the customer with both the traditionally installed Kahles ZF sights with a magnification of 6x42 and the more powerful Kahles K 312 3-12x50.
By the way, not everyone was satisfied with the single-shot rifle in the bullpup layout, and therefore, a few years later, the MACS M4 magazine rifle with a traditional layout with a 5-round magazine was born, but it has nothing to do with the history of the RT-20.
In 1994, gunsmiths offered the Croatian army command the development of Ratko Jankovic: the Rucni Top-20 sniper rifle chambered for 20mm Hispano.
Rucni Top translates as “hand cannon”, and the number “20” means the caliber of the used ammunition, but this rifle is better known by the abbreviation RT-20.
The RT-20 rifle was adopted by the Croatian army, it was used in hostilities in the territory of the former Yugoslavia, and is in service with the Croatian army to this day.
The RT-20 rifle (the full name is Anti Material Sniper Rifle Type RT-20, cal. 20x110mm) was created for a very specific task: breaking through the armor protection of infrared sights installed on the towers of Serbian M-84 tanks (analogs of the domestic T-72).
During the initial stage of the conflict in the Balkans, the use of tanks with infrared sights created significant difficulties for the movement of Croatian units at night, since the fighters were at constant risk of being noticed and destroyed, which happened more than once.
After the creation and practical application of the RT-20, the problem with the destruction of infrared sights of tanks was solved so successfully that the scope of tactical use of this weapon was expanded: with its help, machine-gun and artillery firing points of the enemy were suppressed.
First of all, it is worth noting that the 20x110mm Hispano projectile with a total length of almost 18 cm, created more than 60 years ago for the Hispano-Suiza HS.404 anti-aircraft gun, was chosen as the ammunition for this weapon.
The first tests found that when fired from this weapon, the recoil force is four times higher than the recoil force when fired from a 12.7 mm sniper weapon using a.50 BMG (12.7x99 NATO) cartridge.
This fact required the creation of a well-thought-out recoil damping scheme, which was developed on the principle of a reactive recoil compensation system similar to that used in recoilless guns.
In addition to the three-chamber muzzle brake, in the middle of the barrel there is a series of holes through which part of the powder gases are diverted from the barrel into the pipe located above it and through the nozzle of which the gases are removed back, creating a reactive force opposing the recoil forces when fired.
Such a scheme was used for the first time in the practice of mass-produced small arms.
The barrel with the receiver and the branch pipe are connected to the stock with two screws, the stock itself is made of an aluminum alloy by casting, in its front part there are two-support bipods.
The principle of operation of the weapon is based on the scheme of a carbine with a longitudinally sliding bolt with a turn when locking the barrel.
Structurally, the locking unit is rather complicated: the barrel bore is locked in three rows of symmetrically located lugs, three in a row, nine in total.
A spring reflector and a spring-loaded ejector are mounted in the valve cup.
In the stem of the bolt, there are three compensation holes for bleeding off powder gases when the projectile igniter is pierced through and small longitudinal valleys for collecting dust and dirt.
Adjustment of the output of the striker is carried out by screwing it in or out of the trigger.
In order to reduce the overall length of the weapon, it was necessary to use the "bullpup" scheme, in which the trigger is connected to the trigger with a long rod-spoke, which not only excluded the possibility of adjusting the trigger along the stroke length and force, but also brought it to nothing desired information content.
The nature of the descent is unambiguously very “dry”, without warning.
Trigger pull of the RT-20 large bore sniper rifle, on the side - a bracket for a night sight.
Trigger RT-20 with thrust and nozzle.
Pistol grip, shoulder rest with recoil-absorbing rubber spongy butt pad for additional recoil damping are located under the barrel in front of the receiver.
Modern modification RT-20M1. Added a Picatinny rail and a soft cheek pad, changed the shape of the DTK.
There are no open sights, on both sides of the receiver there are two brackets: on the left - for the optical sight, on the right - for the night optical sight.
Perhaps, in modern versions, on which the Picatinny rail is installed, these brackets are not.
Nominally, the weapon is equipped with a Kahles ZF 6x42 telescopic sight, but they also offer more powerful optics: Kahles ZF 10x42.
For transportation over long distances, the rifle is disassembled into main parts and components and carried in a backpack-backpack.
It is possible to talk about any rate of fire only through tears: to reload, you need to get out of under a rather heavy weapon, move it away from you or move away, unlock the bolt with an unusual movement "away from you", and in the presence of a tight extraction (which is not uncommon) try unlock it with a heavy object.
Throw away the spent cartridge case, place the shot on the ramming line and, having sent it into the chamber, lock the bolt.
It remains to crawl under the weapon and try to find the target again.
Therefore, ensuring a relatively high rate of fire requires a second member of the crew - the loader.
And in this case, the location of the bolt handle on the left significantly complicates its action - when the loader is located to the left of the shooter, you have to act through his back, if the loader is on the right, through the gas pipe, blindly.
And when the weapon is overturned to the right on the bipod hinge, the gunner loses target, since the sight is overturned along with the weapon.
This weapon model has several disadvantages:
- The presence of a jet nozzle creates the need for a complete absence of obstacles behind the weapon and requires special care from others to avoid injury from hot powder gases flowing back.
- For the same reason, the shooter should lie at a certain angle to the weapon to the left of him, while the right shoulder should rest against the butt plate of the shoulder rest.
- Low rate of fire: to reload the weapon, you need to get out from under it, move the bolt away from you if there is a sufficiently tight extraction, throw out the spent cartridge case, put the projectile on the chambering line, send it to the chamber, lock the bolt, crawl under the weapon and try again find the target.
In view of this, the combat crew of the weapon usually consists of two people: the loader and the shooter.
- The absence of any adjustments for adjusting the weapon for the individual anthropometric data of the shooter.
- When firing at night, a shot from an RT-20 is very easy to identify by two flashes: at the muzzle brake and at the pipe nozzle, and in the afternoon - through the bluish-blue clouds of powder gases
- To avoid damage to the eardrum by the sound of the shot, the shooter must wear tight-fitting headphones before shooting.
- The extremely high mass of weapons reduces the mobility of the fire crew to almost zero, and if the enemy detects and opens targeted fire, the shooter will need remarkable strength to quickly escape from enemy fire and change position by transporting the weapon manually on himself.
But even the experience of the Second World War showed that survivability and combat effectiveness are directly related to the maneuverability of weapons.
So, a 21-kilogram 14, 5-mm anti-tank rifle PTRS was transported disassembled into 2 parts.
Initially, the weapon weighed about 30 kg, but it underwent a number of modifications, and thanks to the manufacture of some parts and components of the rifle from light and high-strength titanium alloys, it was possible to reduce its weight to 17 kg.
Despite all the disadvantages, the RT-20 is still in service with the Croatian army, as it is a serious argument on the battlefield: armor-piercing shells fired from this weapon penetrate 25 mm of homogeneous steel armor of medium hardness at an angle of 60 ° at a distance of 200 m.
The case of shots is brass with an impact cap, the mass of the propellant charge (nitrocellulose gunpowder NC-06 is 31 g.
Fragmentation-incendiary (OZ) shells are equipped with a standard fuse with a self-destruct design "Hispano-Suiza", the self-destruct provides a projectile detonation in 4, 5-9, 5 s of flight time.
Armor-piercing shells (French design) provide penetration of 20-25 mm steel armor (homogeneous, medium hardness) at an angle of 60 from a distance of 200 m.
Sniper ammo from left to right:
SP-5 (9x39), 7, 62x54R,.338 Lapua Mag.,.50 BMG (12, 7x99), 12, 7x108, 20x81 Mauser. Far right - 20x110 Hispano-Suiza.
Loading RT-20 using the second calculation number.
Even at the first acquaintance with the sample, the shooters were perplexed by the location of the rather long shutter control handle on the left (in the prone position, it rests on the right shoulder blade).
The realization of the purpose of the “additional fuse” came during introductory firing: when firing, it is better to take ready position without contact with the handle (which, at the same time, excludes the shooter's defeat by powder gases escaping backward).
Manufactured when firing from the RT-20 with a daytime telescopic sight.
Pay attention to the position of the shooter: he moved his body to the left of the weapon.
The cost of RT-20 rifles hovers around USD 10,000.
Such an unusual and powerful weapon was developed and produced by Croatian gunsmiths.
It is far from ideal, but since it has been produced for 20 years and is not going to be removed from service, therefore it suits them.