antiaircraft gun

57 mm anti-tank gun M1943 (ZiS-2)

The ZiS-2 (Russian: ЗиС-2) was a Soviet 57-mm anti-tank gun used during World War II. The ZiS-4 was a version of the gun meant to be installed in tanks. ZiS stands for Zavod imeni Stalina (Russian Завод имени Сталина, 'plant named after Stalin'), the official title of Artillery Factory No. 92, which constructed this gun first.


The 57-mm anti-tank gun model 1943 (ZiS-2) is a semi-automatic gun with vertical block breech. When firing the block opens and closes automatically, leaving to the loader only to put a round into the receiver. Due to this feature the rate of fire can reach 25 rounds per minute. The split-trail carriage with gunshield was inherited from the ZiS-3 divisional gun. The carriage has coil spring suspension, which allows towing with a speed of up to 50 km/h on highways, 30 km/h on unpaved roads and 10 km/h off-road. The gun can also be attached to a limber and towed by six horses. ZiS-2s are equipped with PP1-2 panoramic sight.


In the beginning of 1940 of design office of V. G. Grabin has received from the Artillery Department the task to develop a powerful anti-tank gun. The head of this department Marshal Kulik and its subordinates estimated that use of heavily armored tanks by the USSR in the Winter War didn't remain unnoticed in the Nazi Germany and will lead to development of similar fighting machines there. There is also a chance that the department was influenced by the German propaganda about the experimental multiturreted "supertank" NbFz. To this vehicle heavier armor was attributed than it actually had. Therefore Grabin and its office were guided by characteristics of domestic heavy tank KV-1 with 40-75 mm armor. In opinion of developers, the optimal calibre in this case was 57 mm. The speed and weight of an armor piercing 57 mm projectile allowed to reach sufficient kinetic energy for penetrating armor up to 90 mm thick while keeping the gun sufficiently light, mobile and easy to conceal. However the decision also had a downside: this caliber was new to the Red Army, so the manufacturing of the projectiles had to be started from scratch.

Development started in May 1940 and in the beginning of 1941 the gun was adopted as 57-mm anti-tank gun model 1941 (ZiS-2) (Russian: 57-мм противотанковая пушка образца 1941 года (ЗиС-2)). Production began on June 1, 1941 but on December 1st, 1941 it was stopped by marshals N. N. Voronov and G. L. Govorov, their explanation being that ZiS-2 shells go right through weakly armored German tanks without doing much harm inside. Other possible reasons for the decision were high cost of the gun and problems with shells production. By then, 371 pieces were built.

The production lines were switched to manufacturing of the ZiS-3 76.2 mm divisional gun, while Soviet anti-tank artillery received cheaper 45 mm guns. Some anti-tank regiments also received the ZiS-3, which was able to defeat any German vehicle until late 1942.

Appearance of the heavy Tiger I and then the Panther changed the balance in favor of Germans. 45 mm guns model 1942 could only pierce the side armor of the Panther, while the ZiS-3 only managed to penetrate the sides and the gun mantlet. Against the Tiger, the ZiS-3 was effective only from the side at close range (up to 300 m), and 45 mm pieces were nearly helpless. A more powerful gun was needed and on June 15, 1943 the ZiS-2 once again entered service as 57-mm anti-tank gun model 1943. Until 1945 9,645 units were produced.


ZiS-2s were employed by anti-tank artillery platoons of infantry units and by anti-tank artillery units of the Reserve of High Command, the most numerous of these being anti-tank artillery regiments (Russian Истребительный Противотанковый Артиллерийский Полк, abbreviated ИПТАП).

Self-propelled mounts

The ZiS-2 was also mounted on a few vehicles. In 1941 about a hundred ZiS-2 guns were mounted on Komsomolets armored tractor chassis to create the ZiS-30 tank destroyer.

The ZiS-2 gun was also mounted in at least three different prototypes based on the SU-76 assault gun (SU-74, SU-76D, and SU-57B). None were accepted for production.

There was also a tank gun version of ZiS-2, called ZiS-4. In 1941, trying to improve the anti-tank performance of the T-34 tank, members of the Morozov Design Bureau experimentally equipped it with the ZiS-4. Only a small number of these T-34-57 tanks were built and used as tank hunters. The idea resurfaced in 1943, after Germany fielded heavily-armoured Tiger and Panther tanks. Again only a limited number was produced, equipped with a slightly modified version of the gun, the ZiS-4M. Although the high-velocity gun had superior armour penetration to the F-34, the small weight of its shell meant that it could not fire an adequate high explosive round for general use. The ultimate solution for the tank was to design a new turret allowing the use of an 85-mm gun; the new model was called the T-34-85.

A modernized version of the ZiS-2 was used in the ASU-57, a post-war self-propelled antiaircraft gun.

Post-war history

Due to fast improvement of tank armour protection ZiS-2 quickly lost its anti-tank value. In Soviet anti-tank artillery by mid-1950s ZiS-2 was replaced by more powerful 100 mm guns. However, its small size and weight kept it in active service with Soviet airborne troops for much longer. It was fast improvement of rocket-based anti-tank weapons that eventually phased ZiS-2 out of use. All surviving ZiS-2s are memorial pieces or museum exhibits.


Available ammunition
Type Model Weight, kg HE weight, g
Armour-piercing projectiles (muzzle velocity up to 990 m/s)
APHE BR-271K 3.16 18
APCBC BR-271 3.16 14
APCBC (improved penetration) BR-271M 2.80 13
AP (solid) BR-271SP 3.16 N/A
Composite Armour-piercing projectiles (muzzle velocity up to 1250 m/s)
APCR "Reel" type BR-271P 1.79 N/A
APCR "Smooth" type BR-271N 2.4 N/A
Other projectiles (muzzle velocity up to 700 m/s)
Fragmentation O-271U (O-271G) 3.75 204 or 220
Canister Shch-271 3.66 N/A


Armour penetration table
APHE projectile BR-271K
Distance, m Meet angle 60°, mm Meet angle 90°, mm
100 91 112
300 84 103
500 76 94
1000 60 74
1500 46 57
2000 35 44
APCBC projectile BR-271
Distance, m Meet angle 60°, mm Meet angle 90°, mm
100 93 114
300 89 109
500 84 103
1000 74 91
1500 64 79
2000 56 69
APCR projectile BR-271P
Distance, m Meet angle 60°, mm Meet angle 90°, mm
100 155 190
300 137 168
500 120 147
1000 83 101
These data was obtained by Soviet methodics of armour penetration measurement (penetration probability equals 75%).
They are not directly comparable with western data of similar type


  • Shunkov V. N. - The Weapons of the Red Army, Mn. Harvest, 1999 (Шунков В. Н. - Оружие Красной Армии. — Мн.: Харвест, 1999.) ISBN 985-433-469-4
  • Zaloga, Steven J., James Grandsen (1984). Soviet Tanks and Combat Vehicles of World War Two, pp. 164-5, 180. London: Arms and Armour Press. ISBN 0-85368-606-8.

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