"The armor is strong, and our tanks are fast …" - these words of the march of Soviet tankers, of course, are true. Armor protection, maneuverability and speed are indeed very important for any combat vehicle. But for a tank, they alone are not enough. Obviously, he cannot do without artillery weapons. On domestic tank guns designed by V. G. Grabin and will be discussed today.
ON THE EVE OF THE WAR
In general, the assessment of the effectiveness of a tank boils down to the question of how its three most important general characteristics relate to each other: speed and maneuverability, the power of armor protection, and the strength of weapons. In each historical period, and different armies have placed accents here in their own way. In the 30s of the last century in the leadership of the Red Army, priorities were set precisely in the order named above. The backbone of the Soviet armored forces was made up of light tanks T-26 and vehicles of the BT family. The two-turret versions of the T-26 were armed only with DT machine guns or a 37-mm cannon and a machine gun, and the single-turret BT-5 and BT-7 were equipped with a 45-mm 20-K tank gun with a barrel length of 46 calibers. The same guns were in two towers of the heavy five-tower T-35 tank. It should be noted that at that time the 20-K was quite a worthy weapon in its field, surpassing many foreign guns of light and medium tanks.
The three-turret T-28 was considered the main medium tank. One of its turrets was armed with a 76-mm KT-28 cannon, the same guns were installed in the main turret of a heavy T-35. 76 mm is a very large caliber for tank guns of those years. Only now the barrel length of the KT-28 was only 16, 5 calibers … The language does not turn now to call an effective cannon that releases a 6, 23-kg projectile with a speed of about 260 m / s. Despite the prevalence of this weapon, it cannot be said that it fully satisfied the experts.
In 1936, the design bureau of the Kirovsky plant designed a 76-mm L-10 tank gun with a length of 26 calibers. Supervised the design of I. A. Makhanov. The muzzle velocity of the projectile was already about 550 m / s. This was definitely a step forward. But the main requirements of the leadership of the armored forces for the gunsmiths were the small size and weight of the gun. How not to mention the strange misconception that a long cannon will get clogged with earth when overcoming ditches? The whole idea of Soviet tank building in the 1930s. lies in the decoding of the abbreviation of BT tanks - "Fast Tanks". The BT-7 tank on wheels could reach speeds of up to 72 km / h on the highway! At the same time, he had a booking of 15 mm. On such machines, they began to practice "jumping" over small obstacles. Amphibious tanks were created, and there were even projects for flying ones.
Naturally, not only Soviet tank troops before the war followed this "evolutionary" path. The German Pz.l and the English Vickers (the prototype of our first T-26) had no cannon armament at all and only had bulletproof armor. But they did not require high speeds either: about 35 km / h. Yet their main goal was to support the infantry. The speed of the BT could not keep up with the American "Stuart" and the German Pz. III, although they developed about 60 km / h. With their 37mm cannons, they were even slightly inferior in armament. Only now their armor was twice as thick …
Of course, among the reasons for the defeats of the armored forces of the Red Army in 1941 was insufficient training of personnel, and the very unsatisfactory technical condition of the park, and the almost complete absence of radio communications in the troops. What a sin to conceal: when designing, in striving for manufacturability, the convenience of operation was sometimes ignored. But another significant mistake was the irrepressible striving for speed and mass. The "shapkozakidatelstva" policy negatively influenced the strategy of tank warfare. Tanks were presented to some commanders as nothing more than "mechanized cavalry": to slip through (who is lucky) the line of anti-tank defense and roll out enemy ranks with tracks.
In the Red Army, by the beginning of the Second World War, there were practically no medium tanks, and there was no need to talk about heavy ones: only 500 T-28 "medium" tanks were produced, and 60 heavy T-35s. At the same time, only light tanks of the BT-7 model were produced over 5,000, T-26 of various modifications and more than 10,000 at all. The very tactics of using tanks were incorrect - such a concept as "shooting from a place" was simply absent. And in motion, without proper stabilization systems, accurate firing is almost impossible.
"Prayer for the dead" for our tank vehicles of the 30s. read the war itself. It also showed the promise of some of our pre-war developments - KV-1 and T-34. They were both in terms of booking and reliability, and the thirty-four and in terms of speed characteristics significantly outperformed any foreign counterparts. Gaps in the field of medium and heavy tanks began to be gradually closed by excellent modern technology. Of course, the armament on these machines was already of a different level …
FIRST GRABIN TANK GUNS
But the fate of the weapons of the KV-1 and T-34 could have turned out completely differently, if at one time there had not been one, seemingly unremarkable meeting. In the summer of 1937, two artillery specialists met in one of the Sochi sanatoriums. The first was a young military engineer, an employee of the artillery committee of the GAU, Ruvim Evelyevich Sorkin. The second was the chief designer of the design bureau of the Volga plant number 92 Vasily Gavrilovich Grabin. By that time, the 76-mm divisional gun F-22, the first brainchild of a young team led by Grabin, had been adopted by the Red Army. He had to defend this weapon in the highest instances, thanks to which he earned the recognition of I. V. Stalin. And not just like that, because the F-22 had outstanding characteristics by that time. Sorkin, on the other hand, was extremely worried about the arming of tanks with low-power artillery, about which he talked with Grabin. The last meeting at the sanatorium ended with Sorkin's request that Grabin and his design bureau should undertake to compete with Makhanov's team, who was working on the creation of the 76-mm L-11 gun, intended for arming a new heavy tank. The opinions on the need to create powerful tank cannons from Ruvim Yevlyevich and Vasily Gavrilovich completely coincided.
Grabin, later describing these events in his memoirs, admitted that, despite the mutual understanding reached between them, at that moment he did not believe in the success of this enterprise. And the point is not that his design bureau had not yet had to deal with tank guns - he was not afraid of difficulties and was completely confident in his team. He just perfectly understood the trends then prevailing in the armored vehicle management. The hope was very shaky that the leadership would drastically change its policy of creating high-speed light tanks and issue an assignment for the design of a powerful, and therefore obviously heavier and larger gun. But Vasily Gavrilovich clearly underestimated the purposeful and proactive Sorkin, who soon arrived at the plant quite officially with an order for a new gun. In the design bureau, a unit was immediately created to develop tank guns, and Grabin's associate, Pyotr Fedorovich Muravyov, was appointed head. It should be noted that the chief designer continued to take an active part in the design of tank guns.
But the path to creating powerful tank artillery was not as short as we would like. After all, the designer, first of all, must satisfy the tactical and technical requirements presented by the customer. And the first order for Grabin was the creation of a ballistic gun, similar to the universal Kirov L-11. The desire to equip different types of tanks with one gun was in itself far from the best idea, although this was already implemented with the KT-28 and 20-K. But first, the design bureau had to fulfill these requirements, although Grabin considered them too low. GAU, apparently, considered this work so unpromising that it did not even determine the type of tank and, accordingly, the dimensions of the gun. A way out of this situation was found by the same indefatigable Sorkin, who, together with the military engineer V. I. Gorokhov was able to convince his superiors and deliver a light tank BT-7 in 1935 to the plant.
Muravyov's group got down to business. The new gun was indexed F-32, based on the design of the divisional F-22. The ballistics of the gun was completely determined by the TTT: 76 mm caliber, a projectile from a divisional gun, barrel length 31.5 calibers. As Pyotr Fedorovich recalled: “The main difficulty was that it was necessary to ensure the minimum transverse dimension of the tool and the smallest distance from the axle of the trunnions to the inner contour of the sleeve trap. In addition, the cannon must be absolutely balanced with respect to the axle of the pins. It was also necessary to strive to reduce the dimensions of the tower to a minimum and avoid going beyond the front of the cradle. The distance from the breech to the inner contour of the sleeve catcher determines the length of the recoil of the implement, which should also be as short as possible. This, in turn, created additional difficulty in ensuring the normal operation of the semi-automatic for opening and closing the gate wedge. In some ways, the design was facilitated: it was necessary to create only the swinging part and the lifting mechanism. The turret of the tank should serve as the upper machine and gun carriage."
About a month later, a preliminary design was ready, later approved by the GAU. The trunk of the F-32 consisted of a free tube and a casing. The shutter is vertical wedge-shaped, its design was distinguished by ease of use and manufacture. Semi-automatic copy type. The recoil brake is hydraulic, the reel is hydropneumatic. The muzzle velocity of a projectile weighing 6, 23 kg was 612 m / s.
In March-May 1939, the L-11 and F-32 were tested at the artillery research experimental range of the Red Army. The tests were carried out on T-28 and BT-7 tanks. The problems with copper plating of the barrel of the F-32 were quickly resolved, but the shortcomings of the recoil devices in the L-11 were, as they say, "innate." With a certain firing mode, the gun was guaranteed to fail, as Grabin had already pointed out more than once. According to the results of the tests, in particular, a number of advantages of the Grabin gun over the Makhanovsky one were established: “The F-32 system has the following advantages over the L-11 system for arming tanks: and for tanks of the BT-7 type. F-32 is more convenient to handle, operate, assemble and disassemble, simpler and more reliable. The F-32 does not require a special cylinder or a 100 atm pressure gauge. Anti-rollback devices are more reliable than in L-11, have less force of resistance to rollback and a shorter length of maximum rollback. The F-32 has a much thicker tube (6 mm in the muzzle), which is more advantageous for protecting it from fragments. The very layout of the F-32 system and its dimensions (especially the transverse ones) are more advantageous than in the L-11 system”.
It is easy to estimate that all the difficulties overcome by the design bureau of plant # 92 were only beneficial to the new weapon. As a result of the tests, both guns were put into service: the F-32 as the main one, and the L-11 as the reserve one. The fact is that the L-11 was a modified and lengthened L-10, which was already at the stage of gross production, and the F-32 had only to begin to be mastered. Therefore, the L-11 was also installed on the first KV-1 and T-34 models.
But Grabin did not stop there and almost immediately got involved in the design of a new, more powerful weapon for a promising medium tank. Upon learning of the GAU's desire to equip a new vehicle with a 76-mm gun, he did not offer his F-32, but decided to start work on a more powerful and promising gun. And again, Sorkin and Gorokhov warmly supported him. The new gun received the F-34 index and, basically, was an F-32 gun extended by 10 calibers. Ballistics coincided with the F-22USV divisional gun. Thus, the muzzle velocity reached 662 m / s.
In October 1939, the first tests of the new gun took place. There is an opinion that the F-34 was originally intended for the rearmament of the T-28 and T-35 tanks, but later this idea was abandoned. Grabin was given the go-ahead to link the gun with a new tank, developed under the leadership of A. A. Morozov. According to the recollections of Vasily Gavrilovich himself, the designers really liked the new gun, and the two design bureaus reached complete mutual understanding. But adjustments to the timing of the adoption of the F-34 were made by the Winter War of 1939-40, and the gun on the BT-7 tank was sent to the front. In November 1940, the gun was tested on the T-34 tank, and Grabin's design bureau received official TTTs for the gun, which were nothing more than a copy of the requirements developed and already implemented by the Grabinites.
The F-34 tank gun became one of the most massive guns of the Red Army, according to some sources, 38,580 guns were manufactured. It was also installed on armored trains, motorized armored cars, and armored boats of Project 1124 were also armed with it. You can talk for a long time about the tests and the struggle of designers for their offspring, give statistics, figures. But it is more important to note the achieved result. The Grabin cannon was assessed by the war. And here, as you know, there is no better praise than the admission of the enemy. Here is what the German general B. Müller-Hillebrand wrote about the impression that the new Soviet tanks made on the German troops: appropriate defensive means. The appearance of the T-34 tank was an unpleasant surprise, because, thanks to its speed, high maneuverability, enhanced armor protection, armament and, mainly, the presence of an elongated 76-mm cannon with increased firing accuracy and penetration of shells at a long, still unattainable distance, was a completely new type of tank weapon. The question was only in the number of cars, and the number of T-34s, like the KV-1 itself, only grew during the war, despite the evacuation of factories and people, huge losses and military failures in 1941.
Of course, the situation, when the heavy KV-1 is armed weaker than a medium tank, did not like Grabin very much. And to begin with, he decided to at least equalize them in power, starting the alteration of the F-34 under the KV-1. The new gun received the ZiS-5 index and differed from the F-34 in the cradle design, blocking device and fastening, as well as in a number of small parts. Despite the further efforts of the designer, it is the ZiS-5 that will be “registered” in the KV-1 and its modifications KV-1 until the very end of the production of these tanks. Approximately 3,500 ZiS-5 cannons were manufactured.
And the efforts, it should be noted, were. Back in 1939, Vasily Gavrilovich's team began, on an initiative basis, the design of an 85-mm F-30 tank gun with an initial velocity of a projectile weighing 9.2 kg at 900 m / s. In the summer of 1940, the gun was tested on the T-28 tank, but it did not go further than the prototype KV-220 tank. But in the middle of the war, they will return to the rearmament of KB 85-mm cannons with a competition between Grabin and F. F. Petrov, and D-5T Petrova will win. But by that time the KV-85 will be an outdated solution. In parallel with the F-30, Grabin was working on the creation of an 85-mm F-39 tank gun, but after successful factory tests, work on it stopped. In 1940, Vasily Gavrilovich proposed a project for the 107-mm F-42 tank gun, which had many units from the F-39. In March 1941 g. The F-42 in the KV-2 tank successfully passed factory tests, which was reported to GAU and GBTU, but absolutely no reaction followed. All these weapons were made on an initiative basis. What does it mean? This means that the designers did not receive an order, and therefore no money for the development of these weapons. And after all, many Grabin guns, which have become legendary, were initially proactive and "illegitimate".
But very soon the initiative came from “above”. In early 1941, the leadership of our country received intelligence about the creation of heavy and well-armored tanks in Germany. As it turns out later, it was a well-organized disinformation aimed at weakening our field artillery. The Nazis counted on a blitzkrieg and did not think that the Soviet industry would have time to recover and reorganize itself. Nevertheless, now Stalin himself raised the question of arming a heavy tank with a powerful 107-mm cannon before the tankers. And no matter how paradoxical it may sound, he received a categorical refusal from them. With one voice, they were proving to him that such a powerful, large and heavy weapon simply could not be put into a tank. After that, Stalin calls directly to Grabin by phone, asking if it is possible to put a powerful 107-mm cannon on the tank. Vasily Gavrilovich, referring to the experience with the F-42, answered in the affirmative.
Here is how, according to the recollections of Grabin himself, Joseph Vissarionovich commented on this issue: “This is very important, comrade Grabin. Until we equip a heavy tank with such a cannon, we will not be able to feel at ease. This problem must be solved as quickly as possible. You can see for yourself what an international situation …"
The next day, Grabin was on the commission for the creation of new heavy tanks, chaired by A. A. Zhdanov. Here the indefatigable artilleryman again had to clash with representatives of the armored directorate and tank designers, in particular with J. Ya. Kotin. Of course, there was a sense in their arguments: the tankers did not want an increase in mass and dimensions, an increase in complexity. But there were also old prejudices. Again they stubbornly insisted that the long cannon would bury itself in the ground when overcoming obstacles. It was said about Grabin that he was ready to drag any cannon into a tank, but in the heat of controversy it was then that he said that “a tank is a cannon cart”. One way or another, the work of the commission nevertheless moved into a rational channel, and most of the issues were settled. It only remained to clarify the timing. Here Vasily Gavrilovich stunned everyone with his statement that he would make a cannon in 45 days!
What prompted the outstanding artillery designer to set himself such a short deadline? Probably, this is Stalin's telephone parting words and the desire to set new rhythms in the creation of weapon systems for everyone else and, above all, for himself and his design bureau. It was also a test of strength of the progressive, unparalleled Grabin method of “high-speed design”. Close interweaving of the work of designers and technologists, maximum unification of parts and assemblies, continuous improvement of the design and technological process - these are the cornerstones of this method. Now any engineer will tell you that the manufacturability of the design and the maximum use of standardized parts is the law for any designer. But this was not always the case, once these principles, not in word, but in deed were proved to the whole world only by a group of designers of one design bureau and technologists of the plant. In April 1941, not all of them believed in the success of their cause. But their leader believed in them, and he was able to convey his confidence to everyone.
The order to create the 107-mm ZiS-6 tank gun was issued on April 6, but tests of the prototype on the KV-2 tank began 38 days after the start of work! This turned out to be a world record that has not been broken to this day. On May 19, 1941, Grabin already reported on the successful results of factory tests to Zhdanov. The F-42 cannon scheme was used as a typical one for the new gun. The same caliber made it possible to unify many parts and assemblies. Changes and processing were required only in connection with a significant increase in the power of the new product - the initial speed of the 16.6 kg projectile was 800 m / s. In connection with the significant weighting of the projectile, Grabin decided to introduce a "mechanical loader" device into the design, which greatly simplifies the work of the crew. Even in such a tight time frame, Grabin did not forget to think about the convenience of using his product. The staff of the plant №92 completely coped with such a difficult test. The gun, even with such terms of design and manufacture, turned out to be successful, reliable and convenient. But the unprecedented development of a new weapon had to first be suspended, and then completely curtailed. The "tankers" were never able to create the KV-3 and KV-5 tanks in time, and during the war work on them was stopped. KV-4 initially remained on paper.
A weapon ahead of its time
In 1941, Vasily Gavrilovich completed work on the creation of his legendary "three-inch" 76-mm divisional gun ZiS-3. It was the first artillery gun in the world to be assembled on a conveyor belt, and the most massive weapon of the Second World War. Simple, reliable, lightweight and powerful enough divisional weapon has won respect even among the best gunsmiths in the Wehrmacht. Here is how Professor V. Wolf, the then head of the artillery department of the Krupp firm, said: “German guns were generally superior to guns of other states, with the exception of the Soviet Union. During World War II, I tested captured French and British cannons. These tests clearly demonstrated the superiority of the German systems. Therefore, the opinion that the ZiS-3 was the best gun of the 2nd World War is absolutely true. Without any exaggeration, it can be argued that this is one of the most ingenious designs in the history of barrel artillery."
During the war years, the ZiS-3 was installed on several self-propelled guns. They tried to put the ZiS-3 on the base of the T-60 tank, but after the production of the prototype OSU-76, the work was curtailed. The self-propelled gun based on the T-70 tank received the designation SU-12, which became SU-76 after revision. The greatest contribution to its creation and modernization was made by S. A. Ginzburg. The ZiS-3 was installed there almost unchanged, with cut frames. The SU-76 had a number of shortcomings, in particular the unreliability of the gearbox and main shaft. An ill-conceived layout and a closed wheelhouse without exhaust ventilation turned the fighting compartment into a living hell for self-propelled guns. “Mass grave for four” - this is how the crews called it in their hearts. In July 1943, the SU-76 was replaced by the SU-76M, with a modified gun mount, a modified transmission and an open top and rear wheelhouse. By 1943, the tactics of using light self-propelled guns had changed - earlier they were used as an unequal replacement for tanks. The attitude of the soldiers to the modified vehicle has also changed. The light and maneuverable SU-76M self-propelled gun has become a versatile vehicle for counter-battery combat, tank destruction and infantry support. In total, about 14,000 SU-76M self-propelled guns were produced.
In 1944, in the design bureau of the Gorky Automobile Plant under the leadership of V. A. Grachev, the original wheeled self-propelled gun KSP-76 was created. A GAZ-63 all-wheel drive truck was used as a chassis. The armored corps was open at the top. The self-propelled gun had a very low silhouette, but also insufficient maneuverability. The KSP-76 never entered service with the Red Army.
By 1943, the advantage of our thirty-fours was nullified. German tanks Pz. VI "Tiger" and Pz. V "Panther" appeared on the battlefields. The fears of Vasily Gavrilovich and some other enthusiasts were justified: the Germans, despite the fact that they did not have such well-armored and armed vehicles at the beginning of the war, very soon managed to create them. The Pz. V had 75 mm frontal armor and a 70-caliber 75-mm cannon, while the Tiger had 100-mm frontal armor and a powerful 88-mm 56-caliber cannon. The T-34, armed with the powerful F-34 for 1941, sometimes did not penetrate the 80-mm side armor of the Pz VI even from 200 meters. And the "Tiger" confidently knocked out thirty-fours at ranges up to 1500 m.
According to the results of the shelling of the captured Pz. VI at the Kubinka training ground on April 25-30, 1943, it turned out that the 85-mm 52-K anti-aircraft gun developed in 1939 by M. N. Loginov. In this regard, it was decided to arm the T-34 with a gun with similar ballistics. At first, the choice fell on the D-5T cannon, which had previously shown better test results than the Grabin S-31. The proposed by F. F. Petrov, the D-5T gun had very good weight and size characteristics, but it was very complex structurally, while the layout of the tower, due to the design features of the D-5T, made it extremely difficult for the crew to load the gun. There were also frequent breakdowns of the lifting mechanism. As a result, the creation of the gun was entrusted to the Central Artillery Design Bureau (TsAKB) under the leadership of the then Lieutenant General of the technical troops Grabin, which was formed on November 5, 1942. In October - November 1943, the TsAKB team proposed two experimental S-50 and S-53 guns, which were jointly tested with the LB-1 gun. For its simplicity and reliability, the S-53 cannon was adopted, after revision it received the ZiS-S-53 index. Once again, the Grabinites were able to surprise: the cost of the new 85-mm gun was lower than the 76-mm F-34 cannon! It was the ZiS-S-53 that gave the T-34 the new power it needed, making the Nazis a thunderstorm until the very end of the war. In total, about 26,000 S-53 and ZiS-S-53 guns were produced in 1944-45.
In the fall of 1943, Grabin proposed a new 76 mm cannon to replace the F-34. A gun with a barrel length of 58 calibers accelerated a projectile weighing 6.5 kg to a speed of 816 m / s. A gun with the C-54 index was recommended for adoption, but after the manufacture of 62 guns, production was curtailed. In addition, Vasily Gavrilovich proposed his own version of the gun for arming the SU-85 self-propelled gun, but for one reason or another, the D-5S gun was preferred (modernization of the D-5T). As a result, the Grabin version for arming the SU-100 was also rejected - the Petrov D-10T cannon did not require a rearrangement of the SU-85 hull.
Even before the release of the official decree, the TsAKB designed the 122-mm C-34-II with the ballistics of the A-19 corps gun. For armament of tanks IS KB Petrova created its own version with the index D-25T. The Grabin cannon had better accuracy, it lacked a muzzle brake to unmask firing, which is very important for a tank. In addition, the gases from the shot can hit your own infantry on the armor and next to the tank. But the tank builders did not want to alter the turret of the IS-2 tank, where the D-25T already fit.
Among other things, during the war years, the TsAKB designed for tanks and self-propelled guns a powerful 122-mm C-26-I gun with improved ballistics and a 130-mm C-26 cannon. The C-26-I cannon accelerated a 25-kg projectile to a speed of 1000 m / s, and the C-26 33, a 5-kg projectile up to a speed of 900 m / s. On August 4, 1945, Grabin's cannons successfully passed tests, but were not adopted for service. As it happened more than once, the power of the Grabin guns was considered excessive.
In 1945, the team of J. Ya. Kotina began designing the IS-7 heavy tank. The tank had hull armor in front and on the sides of 150 mm, and the front wall of the turret had a thickness of 210 mm. In the same 1945, the Grabin Design Bureau began to develop the 130-mm S-70 tank gun. The gun had a mechanized loading and, for the first time in a domestic tank artillery, a mechanized ammunition rack. A projectile weighing 33.4 kg reached a speed of 900 m / s, and a direct shot range was 1100 m. An armor-piercing projectile at an angle of meeting of 30 degrees was capable of penetrating 140-mm armor at a distance of two kilometers. In 1948, on tests of the IS-7 tank, the S-70 gun showed good results. In 1949, an order was issued for the production of a batch of 50 tanks, but in the same year a decree was issued to stop work on all tanks weighing more than 50 tons.
I would like to cite the opinion of the famous military historian A. B. Shirokorada: “The termination of work on the IS-7 was a gross mistake of our leadership, moreover, not only military-technical, but also political. Even a small (for the USSR) series of 500-2000 IS-7 tanks would have a great psychological impact on a potential enemy and would force him to spend many times large sums to create funds to fight them. The use of the IS-7 in Korea, during the blockade of West Berlin and in other local conflicts would have a great military and political effect. Rejecting the S-70 cannon was generally an unforgivable mistake …"
In 1949 Grabin presented a project of a 100-mm tank gun with the index "0963" for armament of the T-54 tank, which had stabilization in two planes. But for unclear reasons, the gun "0963" was not accepted for service. It should be noted that in 1951 TsNII-173 (now TsNII AG) developed the Horizont device to stabilize the D-10T gun only in the vertical plane. The production of a gun with this device began in 1955, although Grabin had proposed a gun stabilized in both planes 6 years earlier.
Having highlighted the contribution that V. G. Grabin and his team contributed to the development of domestic tank technology, attention should also be paid to the anti-tank weapons developed by him.
Back in 1940, Vasily Gavrilovich, on his own initiative, put the 85-mm barrel of the already mentioned Loginov anti-aircraft gun on the carriage of the F-28 cannon. The new gun with the index F-30 successfully passed factory tests at the beginning of 1941, but with the beginning of the war, work was curtailed.
Work on anti-tank guns with the ballistics of the 52-K anti-aircraft gun was resumed by the Grabin team at the end of 1942. In 1943, the TsAKB developed a project for the S-8 anti-tank gun; From the manufacturer, the gun received an addition to the index and was called ZiS-S-8. During the tests, a number of disadvantages were revealed, in particular, the low strength of the muzzle brake, poor extraction of the liner and unsatisfactory operation of the recoil devices. These were not too serious shortcomings for the experimental system - they were always eliminated in the process of revision. But the ZiS-S-8 had two competitors: the BL-25 and D-44 cannon with the same ballistics. And they had similar shortcomings. Here is what A. B. Shirokorad: “Test data for all guns were approximately the same. At the same time, one should not forget that the Grabin cannon was ahead of its competitors by a year and a half. And during the tests, both competitors showed the same diseases as the ZiS-S-8 … The thought itself suggests that the troubles of the ZiS-S-8 cannon are explained not by technical, but by subjective reasons, including Ustinov's dislike for TsAKB and Grabin personally. After a long refinement in 1946, the 85-mm D-44 divisional gun was adopted.
In the pre-war period, the main anti-tank gun of the Red Army was the 45-mm anti-tank gun 53-K, developed by Loginov in 1937 by placing a 45-mm barrel on the carriage of a German 37-mm anti-tank gun. 53-K was fully consistent with the concept of the pre-war armored forces: small and light, it perfectly hit tanks with bulletproof armor. After all, the main requirement in conditions when the level of the enemy is not sufficiently unknown is the ability to hit your tanks. Of course, this is a very simplified idea: reconnaissance is being conducted, an assessment of the enemy's industry is being carried out, and much more. The basis of the Soviet tank forces, as already mentioned, were light and maneuverable tanks. Therefore, the 53-K coped well with enemy light tanks. But with the same Pz. IIIs, the situation was different. The forty-five, although it was capable of hitting these vehicles, but with great difficulty: at a distance of 1 km, the gun's armor penetration was 28 mm at a meeting angle of 30 degrees to the normal. Therefore, our artillerymen had to admit the German tanks to the distance of "dagger" fire - in order to confidently hit the enemy tank. Another acute problem in the fight against the Nazi Panzerwaffe was the lack of armor-piercing shells, and the quality of the available ones left much to be desired. In some games, every second projectile, when hitting the target, did not pierce it, but split. More effective armor-piercing sub-caliber projectiles appeared in the Soviet Union only in 1942.
In the Finnish campaign, we demonstrated our latest KB tanks, and it was naive to believe that our likely opponents would ignore the appearance of such vehicles. By the beginning of the war, the Germans already had both sub-caliber and cumulative shells, but until urgent need they kept them secret.
But we ourselves had to support the concept of matching our anti-tank weapons to our tank weapons. This opinion was held by Grabin. At the beginning of 1940, Vasily Gavrilovich set himself the goal of creating the first domestic anti-tank gun capable of penetrating 50–70 mm armor. At first, he and his team engaged in research in the field of cannons with a tapered barrel, because such a solution made it possible to obtain more power with a relatively short barrel length. However, the manufacture of such barrels turned out to be an extremely difficult task, as did the design of the shells used. Therefore, in 1940, Vasily Gavrilovich limited himself only to research work and experiments with one barrel. In parallel with these studies, Grabin was working on the creation of an anti-tank gun with a conventional, cylindrical barrel. The designer enlisted the support of the People's Commissar of Arms B. L. Vannikov and got the go-ahead to design a powerful anti-tank gun according to his own requirements. After research and meetings with the Artillery Committee of the GAU and the Artillery Academy. The Dzerzhinsky Design Bureau chose the most advantageous caliber for a relatively light anti-tank gun - 57 mm. The new gun received the F-31 index. Grabin approved his TTT in September 1940, when the work was already in full swing. The gun was based on the design of the 76-mm F-24 regimental cannon. In addition to the imposition of a 57-mm barrel with a length of 73 caliber, it was necessary to rework only the reel and some other units. For the gun, a new armor-piercing projectile weighing 3, 14 kg was adopted, the initial speed was 990 m / s. At the beginning of 1941, this Grabin gun received the ZiS-2 index.
In October 1940, factory tests began, as a result of which an error in the choice of the steepness of the barrel cutting was revealed. But Stalin trusted Grabin very much and gave permission to launch the gun into production. The designer did not disappoint - with the new rifling, the accuracy of the gun became brilliant, like the rest of its characteristics. At the same time, Vasily Gavrilovich was working on other barrel lengths, but all of them were soon discontinued. At the beginning of 1941, the ZiS-2 cannon was officially put into service. But already during the war, in December 1941, the production of the gun was suspended. Such a long barrel was extremely difficult to manufacture, and the first months of hostilities showed the excessive power of the gun - the ZiS-2 "pierced" enemy tanks through and through. This was perhaps the first time that a gun was rejected due to excessive power! The armor penetration of the ZiS-2 at a distance of 1 km at a meeting angle of 30 degrees to the normal was 85 mm, and when streamlined sub-caliber projectiles were used, this figure increased by one and a half times.
The appearance of "Tigers" forced the military to place accents in a new way, on June 15, 1943, the ZiS-2 cannon was again put into service. However, a small number of these excellent weapons shifted the main burden of fighting the German "menagerie" to the same ZiS-3 division, which was clearly not intended for this. The armor penetration of the ZiS-3 under similar conditions was only 50 mm.
With its outstanding power, the ZiS-2 was a very light weapon - just over 1000 kg. For example, the German 75-mm Cancer 40, close in power, turned out to be one and a half times heavier, and the Cancer 38, close in weight, was almost half as powerful. In 1943, the allies asked the leadership of the USSR to provide them with the ZiS-2 cannon for research. For all the time, about 13,500 ZiS-2 guns were manufactured. To this day, modified ZiS-2 are in service with a number of countries around the world.
At the end of 1940, Grabin proposed to create self-propelled guns with the ZiS-2. Light installations based on the ZiS-22M half-track all-terrain vehicle and the Komsomolets tracked tractor together with the ZiS-3 cannon were presented to Marshal Kulik on July 22, 1941, from which the designer was categorically refused. This time it seems that this refusal was for the better, because the ZiS-30 (based on Komsomolets) turned out to be very unstable due to the high height of the line of fire with low weight and dimensions of the installation. However, an experimental batch of 104 self-propelled guns was made. The second self-propelled gun was not even launched into series. But Grabin's next idea turned out to be much more promising. In the fall of 1940, the designer suggested inserting the ZiS-2 barrel into the swinging part of the F-34 tank gun. Just 15 days later, the ZiS-4 gun was already in metal. After processing, according to the test results, the plant received an order for manufacturing, and in September 1941 its serial production began. But only 42 guns were made for the T-34 tank - the same fate awaited the ZiS-4 as the ZiS-2. In 1943, Grabin will try to revive the project, but only a small series of ZiS-4 will be produced. It would be somewhat pompous to say that the mass production of T-34-57 tanks would completely change the entire course of the war. But, of course, even relatively small batches of these fighter tanks could have consolidated the superiority of our armored forces back in 1942-43, "breaking off the fangs" of the Panzerwaffe.
The appearance of "Tigers", "Panthers" and "Elephants" (originally called "Ferdinand") led not only to the rearmament of the T-34 and the resumption of production of the ZiS-2. The SU-122 and SU-152 self-propelled guns, although they successfully fought with heavy tanks, were corps assault artillery - the destruction of tanks was not part of its immediate tasks. In 1943, Grabin began to create an anti-tank gun based on the 100-mm B-34 naval gun. On September 14, a prototype gun with the C-3 index was sent to the Sofrinsky training ground. This was followed by improvements at the Bolshevik plant. The gun received the BS-3 index. A 100-mm gun with a barrel length of 59 calibers gave the 15.6-kg projectile an initial velocity of 900 m / s. The muzzle brake absorbed 60% of the recoil energy.
On April 15, 1944, captured Tiger and Ferdinand were fired on at the Gorokhovets training range. From a distance of 1.5 km, the tank confidently made its way, the SPG's armor did not break through, but the Elephant was guaranteed to be out of order due to the spalling of the armor from the inside. In relation to BS-3 to Hitler's "menagerie" it would be quite appropriate to say: "What I don't eat, I will bite." That is why BS-3 was nicknamed "Grabin St. John's wort". From a distance of 3 km at a meeting angle of 30 degrees to the normal, the armor penetration of the new field gun was 100 mm. Until the very end of the war, the enemy could not oppose the BS-3 with any tank, except for the Pz. VIII "Maus", but even with its new cumulative projectile it could easily hit. However, taking the "Mouse" into account is a tribute to formalities: only two of these 200-ton monsters were made.
Until the early 1960s, this 100-mm field gun mod. 1944 could successfully penetrate the armor of any western tank even without HEAT shells. The production of these guns was discontinued in 1951. In total, about 3800 BS-3 guns were manufactured. Until now, these guns are in small quantities in service with a number of countries, including the Russian Federation.
On the same gun carriage as the BS-3, TsAKB simultaneously developed a powerful 85-mm S-3-1 cannon and a 122-mm S-4 cannon with the ballistics of the A-19 corps cannon. The ballistics of the S-3-1 were significantly superior to the ballistics of the 85-mm D-44 cannon. But work on both guns was stopped.
In 1946, Grabin began developing the S-6 high-power 85-mm anti-tank gun, which had the ballistics of the S-3-1 gun. In 1948, a prototype was made and field tests began. Despite the successful development, in 1950 the preference was given to the D-48 gun by F. F. Petrova with similar ballistics, but her business was by no means brilliant. The D-48 was adopted only in 1953, and only 28 of them were manufactured.
In the same 1946, Vasily Gavrilovich tried to create an even more powerful 85-mm cannon by imposing an experimental OPS-10 barrel on the carriage of the 152-mm ML-20 howitzer-gun. The barrel had a length of 85.4 caliber, that is, much longer than any anti-tank guns then available. The muzzle velocity of the 9.8-kg projectile was 1200 m / s, which was also a brilliant result. In 1948, field tests were carried out, but further work was no longer carried out - such power seemed superfluous to the military.
Grabin was ready for such a turn of events, and back in 1947 he manufactured a prototype of the 100-mm light field gun C-6-II. It weighed one and a half times less than BS-3, but at the same time it was inferior in power by only 16%. However, this weapon was also rejected without giving reasons.
In 1946 TsAKB returned to work on cannons with a tapered barrel. The reason for this was the receipt of captured German 75/55-mm conical guns RAK 41. The caliber at the chamber was 75 mm. and in the muzzle 55 mm, the barrel length was 4322 mm. In fact, the barrel was divided into three sections: a rifled cylindrical at the chamber, a smooth conical and a smooth cylindrical to the muzzle. On the basis of these trophies, Grabin began designing the 76/57 mm S-40 regimental anti-tank gun. The carriage for the new gun was taken from the ZiS-S-8 experimental cannon. The prototype S-40 passed field tests in 1947. Grabin managed to create a system that was one and a half times more powerful than the German prototype: at a distance of 500 m, armor of 285 mm was penetrated. But the system never entered service, the complexity of manufacturing and the small resource of the barrel affected.
In the second half of the 1950s. KB Grabin, from the late 40s called NII-58, led the development of a project under the affectionate name "Dolphin". And this project was, no less, a radio-controlled anti-tank missile. The designers did an excellent job with a new task for them, and in 1958, testing of the finished product began in parallel with the wire-guided ATGM A. E. Nudelman. At a distance of 3 km, the Dolphin confidently hit a 10 × 10 m shield, and its cumulative warhead confidently penetrated 500 mm armor. ATGM Grabina was inferior to the Nudelman complex only in large dimensions, and due to the presence of radio control it clearly surpassed it. But the age of the Grabin team was coming to an end, the work was interrupted and the products of Alexander Emmanuilovich were adopted in the early 1960s.
Vasily Gavrilovich Grabin was a very talented and far-sighted designer, an excellent organizer and an unsurpassed innovator. Before the war, its F-22 and F-22USV guns made up half of the divisional artillery fleet of the Red Army, the F-22 gained fame from the Germans as an excellent anti-tank gun and was serially installed on the Kunitsa self-propelled guns. His ZiS-3 division was loved by gunners for its simplicity, reliability and unpretentiousness. Tank F-34 provided our tanks with sufficient power in the first stages of the war, and anti-tank ZiS-2 and BS-3 were unmatched on the battlefield. Its 180-mm S-23 cannon successfully replaced tactical missiles in the Arab-Israeli conflicts, and the 57-mm automatic anti-aircraft S-60 became a thunderstorm for American pilots in Korea and Vietnam. His invention was the method of high-speed design, which turned all ideas about the processes of developing technical systems. Grabin's design thought was ahead of its time by years, and sometimes even decades: the device of some of his weapons was declassified only in the early 1990s.
But many of his guns were not accepted for service, among them were absolutely unique samples. Such a proactive, principled and independent designer simply could not help making influential enemies for himself, which ultimately led to the liquidation of his design bureau. Colonel General, Hero of Socialist Labor V. G. Grabin was dismissed in 1959. He could not even publish his memoirs during his lifetime. Until the very end, he honestly could console himself with the fact that with his team he served the Motherland with dignity.