Definitions

General Avia F 22

76 mm divisional gun M1936 (F-22)

76-mm divisional gun M1936 (F-22) was a Soviet divisional semi-universal gun, adopted for the Red Army service in 1936. This gun was used in conflicts between USSR and Japan on the Far East, in the Winter War and in the Great Patriotic War. Many F-22s were captured by Wehrmacht, modernized by Germans and used against Soviet forces.

Description

F-22 was a semi-universal gun which combined capabilities of a divisional gun and - to some extent - of an anti-aircraft gun. It had split-trail carriage with suspension and steel wheels with rubber tires. The gun was equipped with semi-automatic vertical sliding breech block; recoil mechanism consisted of hydraulic recoil buffer and hydropneumatic recuperator. Sights and elevation controls were located on different sides of the barrel. The chamber fitted the standard model 1900 cartridge, which meant that the gun could use ammunition of older 76.2-mm divisional and regimental guns.

Development and production history

In early 1930s the RKKA command considered the idea of universal guns - i.e. guns which could be used both as field and anti-aircraft weapons. Mikhail Tukhachevsky, a head of the ordnance department between 1931 and 1934, ordered development of universal (with 360° traverse) and semi-universal divisional pieces.

Among other artillery design bureaus joining the program were the design bureau of the "Krasniy Putilovets" plant (L-1 and L-2 universal guns), the design bureau of no. 8 plant (semi-universal guns 25K, 31K and 32K) and GKB-38 (universal A-52 and semi-universal A-51). The GKB-38 was closed in 1933, and V. G. Grabin, the leading developer of the team that was working on the A-51 project - became the head of a design bureau of the new Novoye Sormovo (no. 92) plant in Gorky. In 1934 the A-51 - redesignated F-20 - was finished, but Grabin wasn't satisfied with the result and started to work on a new gun, F-22.

In April 1935 three prototypes of the F-22 were ready, two of them with split-trail carriage. All prototypes had muzzle brake and lengthened chamber for a new experimental shell (7.1 kg, muzzle velocity 710 m/s, range up to 14,060 m). Factory trials started on 8 May; on 9 June prototypes were brought to the Sofrinsky firing ground near Moscow. On 14 June the gun, along with other artillery pieces, was demonstrated to the country leaders including Joseph Stalin. The F-22 made good impression and was sent for ground testing, which was finished on 16 December. In July 1935 the plant was required to produce 10 pieces. In March 1936 four guns were given to the RKKA for testing, which continued until 22 April. Despite some shortcomings, on 11 May 1936 the gun was adopted as 76 mm divisional gun model 1936 (F-22) (76-мм дивизионная пушка образца 1936 года (Ф-22)). The final model lacked muzzle brake (which - the army said - raised too much dust, revealing the position of the gun) and was rechambered for model 1900 cartridge to allow use of old 76.2 mm ammunition.

F-22 was produced by two plants, no. 92 and Kirov Plant, possibly also by "UZTM" (Ural Heavy Machinery Building Plant). The production rate was slow because of more sophisticated construction compared to older guns and because of constant need to fix faults of the design. In 1936 only 10 pieces were produced, in 1937 - 417, in 1938 - 1,002, in 1939 - 1,503. The production was stopped due to adoption of a new gun, the 76 mm divisional gun model 1939 (USV).

Organization and service

RKKA

According to the organization of 1939, each rifle division had two artillery regiments - light regiment (a battalion of 76 mm guns in three batteries of four guns; two mixed battalions with one battery of 76 mm guns and two batteries of 122 mm howitzers) and howitzer regiment, totaling 20 76 mm guns per division. In June 1940 a battalion of 76 mm guns was removed, only 8 guns remained. In March 1942 a third mixed battalion (a battery of 76 mm and a battery of 122 mm) was added, which brought the number of 76 mm guns to 12.

Motorized divisions had two mixed battalions (battery of 76 mm guns, two batteries of 122 mm howitzers), totaling 8 76 mm guns. Cavalry divisions until August 1941 also had 8 76 mm guns, then the divisional artillery was removed.

The F-22 was also used by anti-tank artillery brigades (24 pieces), from 1942 - tank destroyer brigades with 16 pieces, and by light artillery brigades (60-72 pieces).

The F-22 saw combat for the first time in the Battle of Lake Khasan in 1938. The gun was also used in the Winter War. On 1 June 1941 RKKA possessed 2,844 F-22s. Many were lost, but a limited number remained in service until the end of the war. For example, two artillery regiment (40 pieces) took part in the Battle of Kursk. It was mostly employed as a field gun, sometimes as anti-tank gun and was apparently never used as anti-aircraft weapon.

Other operators

In 1941-42 Wehrmacht captured hundreds of the F-22s. Initially they were adopted as field guns, designated FK 296(r). In late 1941 it was decided to rebuild the gun as an anti-tank weapon, 7.62 cm PaK 36(r). The modifications included rechambering for bigger cartridge, modified recoil system, elevation controls were moved to the left side of the barrel where the sights resided, the elevation was limited, most of the guns received muzzle break. New ammunition was produced for the gun. The PaK 36(r) reached a battlefield in the spring of 1942. 560 pieces were converted, some of them were used to arm Marder II and Marder III tank destroyers. Nine F-22s in the original configuration were mounted on SdKfz 6 halftrack tractors, resulting in SdKfz 6 mit 7.62 cm FK 36(r).

In Romania, some captured F-22s were mounted on a T-60 light tank chassis to create a TACAM self-propelled gun. 30 units were built.

The Finnish Army captured 29 guns and bought an additional 47 from German surplus stocks during World War 2. The gun was called 76 K 36 in Finnish service. The gun was in active service until the 1960s and was stored until the 1990s.

Summary

The very idea of 76 mm divisional gun with anti-aircraft capabilities was doomed for the following reasons:

  • Anti-aircraft gun needs powerful ballistics and 360° traverse, which makes the gun unnecessarily big and expensive for a divisional gun.
  • Tha main purpose of frontline anti-aircraft guns is protection from dive bombers and low-altitude aircraft, against which small-caliber autocannons are much more effective than a 76 mm gun.

In case of the F-22, the attempt produced a gun which was both a poor anti-aircraft weapon and a mediocre field piece. It lacked 360° traverse and its muzzle velocity fell behind that of even the old 76 mm AA gun model 1915/1928 (730 m/s). The breech automatic mechanism was failing at elevations bigger than 60°, reducing the rate of fire. After initial investigations, the RKKA apparently dropped the idea of using the F-22 as anti-aircraft gun - the gun was never equipped with AA shells and with sights suited for the role. There are no reports about actual use of the gun against aircraft. As a divisional gun, the F-22 also had significant shortcomings. It was relatively large and heavy, which limited its mobility. Employment in the anti-tank role was hindered by inconvenient placement of sights and elevation controls on different sides of the barrel. The gun was hard to produce and unreliable. It offered some advantages in range and armor-piercing capability over the 76-mm divisional gun M1902/30, but wasn't significantly better.

As a result, in 1937 requirements for a new divisional gun were issued, eventually resulting in the F-22USV.

It must be noted, however, that its German derivative, the 7.62 cm PaK 36(r), performed well in the anti-tank role.

Ammunition

Available ammunition
Type Model Weight, kg He weight, g Muzzle velocity, m/s Range, m
Armor-piercing shells
APHE-T BR-350A 6,3 155 690 7,000
APHE-T BR-350B 6,5 119 690 7,000
AP-T BR-350BSP 6,5 - 690 7,000
Subcaliber (from April 1943) BR-354P 3,02 - 500
HEAT, steely iron (from May 1943) BP-350A 5,28 623
High explosive and fragmentation shells
HE-Fragmentation, steel OF-350 6,2 710 706 13,630
Fragmentation, steely iron O-350A 6,21 540 706 13,630
HE-Fragmentation OF-350V 6,2
HE-Fragmentation, limited production OF-363 7,1 710 14,000
HE, steel, old Russian F-354 6,41 785 706 13,200
HE, steel, old Russian F-354M 6,1 815
HE, steel, old french F-354F 6,41 785
Shrapnel shells
Shrapnel with 22 sec / D tube Sh-354 6,5 85 (260 bullets) 652 6,000
Shrapnel with T-6 tube Sh-354T 6,66 85 (250 bullets) 645 9,000
Shrapnel Sh-354G 6,58 85
Shrapnel Sh-361 6,61 - 692 8,600
Canister shots
Canister shot Sh-350 549 bullets 200
Smoke shells
Smoke D-350 6,45 80 TNT + 505 yellow phosphoros
Smoke, steely iron D-350S 6,45 66 TNT + 380 yellow phosphoros
Incendiary
Incendiary, steel Z-350 6,24 240 705 9,600
Incendiary Z-354 (project 3890) 6,5 (6,66) 240
Incendiary Z-354 4,65 240
Other shells
Fragmentation-chemical OH-350 6,25 706 13,630

 
:

Armour penetration table
AP Projectile BR-350A
Distance, m Meet angle 60°, mm Meet angle 90°, mm
100 67 82
500 61 75
1000 55 67
1500 49 60
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

References

  • Shirokorad A. B. - The genius of the Soviet Artillery: The triumph and the tragedy of V. Grabin, M. AST, 2002 (А.Б.Широкорад. Гений советской артиллерии: триумф и трагедия В.Грабина. - М.,ООО Издательство АСТ, 2002., ISBN 5-17-013066-X)
  • Shirokorad A. B. - The God of War of the Third Reich - M. AST, 2002 (Широкорад А. Б. Бог войны Третьего рейха. — М.,ООО Издательство АСТ, 2002., ISBN 5-17-015302-3)
  • Ivanov A. - Artillery of the USSR in Second World War - SPb Neva, 2003 (Иванов А. Артиллерия СССР во Второй Мировой войне. — СПб., Издательский дом «Нева», 2003., ISBN 5-7654-2731-6)
  • 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)
  • Artillery - M. Voenizdat MoD USSR, 1953 (Артиллерия под общ. ред. маршала артиллерии Чистякова М. Н.- М.:Воениздат МО СССР, 1953.)
  • Yefimov M.G. - A Course of Artillery Shells - M.-L. Oborongiz PCoD USSR, 1939 (Ефимов М. Г. Курс артиллерийских снарядов. - М.-Л.: Оборонгиз НКО СССР, 1939)
  • Kozlovskiy D.E. - Artillery Equipment - M. Oborongiz PCoD USSR, 1939 (Козловский Д. Е. Материальная часть артиллерии. - М.: Оборонгиз НКО СССР, 1939)
  • Collection of the Artillery Museum Materials, No. IV - P.-L. AIM, 1959 (Сборник исследований и материалов Артиллерийского исторического музея. Выпуск IV. под ред. полк. Ермошина И. П.-Л.: АИМ, 1959)
  • Nikolaev A. B. - Battalion Artillery - M. Oborongiz PCoD USSR, 1937 (Николаев А. Б. Батальонная артиллерия. - М..: Оборонгиз НКО СССР, 1937)
  • 76-mm gun model 1942 Service Manual (Руководство службы 76-мм пушки обр. 1942 г.)

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