Russian Army is using old soviet-era 57mm anti-aircraft cannons for attacking ground targets

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The 57 mm S-60 anti-aircraft guns has been retired from service since the soviet-era, but during the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, this “old man” S-60 reappeared, but in the role of self-propelled artillery, on duty. It is now being used to provide ground fire support to russian army troops. Although russian army has much better and advanced anti-aircraft weapons but due to low production numbers, they are forced to use these old weapons.

The 57mm S-60 anti-aircraft gun was developed by the Soviet Union at the end of World War 2, but was removed from the Soviet Army’s combat service in the early 1970s, when the soviet army begin to use man-portable air defense missiles in large numbers.

Imagine these “grandfathers” of the Cold War era military equipments, which were exported by the Soviet Union, supplied to its allied countries or simply “settled” in sealed warehouses from half a decade ago; but after the outbreak of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict in 2014, 57mm S-60 anti-aircraft guns mounted on Ural trucks appeared in the Donbass region.

Such self-propelled guns, made in handmade conditions by both the pro-Russian Donbass militia and the Ukrainian army. In either case, this was a workaround due to the lack of fire support.

During the battle, the Donbass militia gained experience and optimal technical solutions to bring the “old man” S-60 to continue to participate in combat.

The 57mm cannon proved to be an effective weapon against all light armored fighting vehicles and some wooden fortifications. At the same time, the self-propelled chassis makes it possible to quickly leave the battlefield, to avoid counterattacks.

After the outbreak of the Russia-Ukraine conflict, the “old man” S-60 continued to be trusted. Presumably, these “reluctant” self-propelled guns were used to compensate for losses and strengthen artillery units. The use of 57mm cannon was once again recognized as having many outstanding advantages.

The latest information about the participation of the “old men” S-60 has appeared on the social networks of both sides of the war; Especially during the campaign in the city of Lisichansk, the S-60 anti-aircraft guns helped the pro-Russian militia, defeat many Ukrainian targets.

In addition, in recent times, information has appeared about the “old men” of Russia S-60, being taken out of storage in large numbers and sent to the Ukrainian battlefield.

Analysts say that these anti-aircraft guns will be installed on trucks and the Donbass militia units, will receive more numbers of these self-propelled anti-aircraft guns.

The 57 mm anti-aircraft gun S-60 is a model of weapons designer VG Grabin at the NII-58 Research Institute; Drawings were completed in 1944. During the first years after the end of World War II, the S-60 along with all other equipment were put to the test. In 1950, the S-60 anti-aircraft artillery complex was accepted into service by the Soviet army.

S-60 was considered as one of the main Soviet army air defense weapons and was mass-produced with tens of thousands of guns already produced, to equip infantry and motorized infantry units of the Soviet Union Army. In addition, they are also aided to the close countries of the Soviet Union, the most of guns were supplied to Vietnam.

After the introduction of anti-aircraft missiles into common use, the S-60 was dropped from service in the Soviet army in the early 1970s. But now, such weapons are being taken out of stock and they have taken a new role as direct fire support weapons on the ground.

S-60 is an anti-aircraft artillery system, using AZP-57 automatic cannon firing 57 mm bullets on a trailer chassis. Its mission is to fight air and ground targets at a range of up to 6 km and an altitude of 5 km, with different types of ammunition. S-60 cannon battery is operated by 8 people.

The basis of the complex is the single-barreled AZP-57 automatic cannon, which is equipped with a recoil-reducing system and a reverse-propulsion device. The barrel is relatively long, giving a muzzle velocity of up to 1,000 m/s and a very large straight firing range.

The S-60 cannons reloads semi-automatically, the barrel is opened and reloads by taking advantage of the recoil when firing. The cannon uses 57×348 mm SR explosive shells; In addition, there are incendiary bullets, armor-piercing bullets and some other types of ammunition.

The cannon is loaded using a 4-round clamp and is loaded manually; theoretical rate of fire is 120 rounds/min; but in reality the fire rate does not exceed 70-75 rounds/minute.

The control of the range and direction of the cannon is done manually or electrically; In air defense combat, the S-60 can be connected to a system and control automatic fire at several targets.

Regarding the direction of gunnery, when using the trailer version is 360°, the range is from -4° to + 85°. The marching weight of the artillery is 4.8 tons. When mounted on a truck, the number of gunners is reduced, but the gunnery is only 180°; however maneuverability and combat transformation, much faster than the trailer version.

The S-60 anti-aircraft gun was improved into a “self-propelled gun” to participate in combat, as a temporary solution. The “self-propelled” S-60s are made in manual conditions, lacking factory-manufactured components and spare parts.

However, the “self-propelled” solutions of the S-60 from the trailer have brought new faces; has some characteristic tactical features and can be an advantage.

First of all, it’s the improved maneuverability, as the S-60 uses military off-road truck chassis. In addition, the cannon does not need to take time to change into combat like the trailer version, but is ready to fight as soon as the vehicle stops.

The AZP-57 cannon, although more than 70 years old, still shows high combat performance. The cannon is capable of hitting targets at a distance of up to 6 km.

In addition, the S-60 is also a relatively effective means of anti-mechanization; with conventional explosive shells, using slow detonators, at a distance of 1km, the bullet can penetrate a uniform steel plate, 95-100 mm thick.

With such armor penetration, the S-60 is capable of defeating any modern armored vehicle on the Ukrainian battlefield, except for tanks and heavily armored combat vehicles using tank chassis.

It should be noted that 57 mm cannon is superior to the popular 30 mm cannon installed on armored vehicles in terms of basic tactical performance. This means that the homemade S-60 self-propelled howitzer can provide powerful fire support to armored vehicles and infantry fighting vehicles from longer distances.

In addition, the homemade S-60 self-propelled anti-aircraft gun also has a disadvantage, which is the lack of protection for the crew. Normally, the S-60 anti-aircraft gun has only one protective element, the cannon shield; The addition of protective armor around is absolutely necessary.

Besides, the S-60 only has an old-fashioned optical sighting system, so accuracy is limited; however, the installation of new control devices is, in most cases, not possible.

The improved S-60 self-propelled howitzer uses a truck chassis, first as a temporary solution, with all its limitations and objective problems; however, such a technical improvement helped to improve the firepower of the pro-Russian Donbass militia, in common with other fire systems.

In addition, combat reality has once again shown that the S-60 anti-aircraft gun and the 57 mm caliber in general, have high combat performance and great potential. Most likely, the current battles and the use of the “manual” self-propelled gun S-60, will contribute to the further development of the 57mm guns in the future.

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