TechRussia's retro artillery: M-46 field guns with North Korean ammo

Russia's retro artillery: M‑46 field guns with North Korean ammo

A Russian loading a North Korean missile into an M-46 cannon.
A Russian loading a North Korean missile into an M-46 cannon.
Images source: © X (dawniej Twitter) | War Noir
Przemysław Juraszek

27 June 2024 13:11

For months, the Russians have been pulling equipment from the depths of warehouses, even devices withdrawn from service during the USSR era. After the T-54/55 tanks, the time has come for M-46 field guns powered by North Korean ammunition. We present what this intriguing combination can do.

Exciting photos of Russian artillerymen firing M-46 field guns with shells produced in North Korea with the note "for Sevastopol" have appeared online. This is another instance of Russians retreating in time after assaults using not only T-62 tanks but even T-54 tanks.

M-46 field gun - a relic from Stalin's era plus ammunition from Kim Jong Un

The roots of the field gun trace back to the first years after the end of World War II when the USSR was searching for a replacement for the A-19 guns. The solution was the M-36 naval gun, which was mounted on a wheeled carriage. This solution was limited because the new weapon could not fire at an angle greater than 45 degrees. Still, its barrel length of 55 calibres (about 7 metres in this case) resulted in high projectile muzzle velocity and good range.

3OF33 fragmentation shells containing 3.6 kilogrammes of TNT have a range of up to approximately 27 kilometres, and in the case of Chinese ERFB (NUBB) shells with a gas generator, the range increases to 38 kilometres. These shells contain a slightly smaller payload of 3.2 kilogrammes of TNT and are most likely produced in North Korea. If they work, these are better values than 122 mm guns and even some 152 mm parts, which is not given in the case of North Korean ammunition.

M-46 field guns allow the Russians to somewhat bridge the range gap of their towed artillery compared to the 155 mm gun-howitzers and howitzers used by Ukrainians. This allows Ukrainian forces to strike targets over 24 kilometres away using the cheapest available artillery shells.

The M-46 guns were withdrawn from Soviet armament in the 1970s in favour of 2A36 Hyacinth-B gun-howitzers. Another primary user of M-46 guns was China, where they were also produced under license as Type 59. This variant also eventually made its way to North Korea, where it remains one of the main barrel artillery strike tools. Other significant users of the 130 mm artillery guns include Iraq.

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