152mm 2S3 AKATSIYA
A new 155mm M109
self-propelled howitzer was introduced into the US inventory in January 1963. Later on, it
constituted the backbone of field artillery in leading foreign countries. This event
boosted development of modern domestic self-propelled artillery.
Modern battle is characterized by potential use of mass
destruction weapons, high mobility of troops, enhanced firepower and better protection for
personnel and war materiel. Therefore, the need arose to equip motorized rifle and tank
forces with powerful and highly mobile weapons of artillery augmentation. This problem
could only be solved by creating a new type of artillery weapons - field self-propelled
Self-propelled artillery, compared with towed pieces, possess a
number of significant advantages, including the following:
-protection from mass
destruction weapons and armor protection from hostile fire, determining in combination
with good maneuverability a higher survivability of the vehicle on the battlefield;
-high tactical and operational mobility, sufficient fuel distance and good cross-country
ability ensure continuous support of tanks and motorized rifle units at all stages of
-shorter time required to place self-propelled gun mounts into action sharply increases
fire capabilities of self-propelled artillery in the conditions of modern hit-and-run
-sufficiently large onboard ammunition load can in some cases determine relative
independence of selfropelled artillery.
July 1967 a decision was taken to develop a self-propelled howitzer, designated the 2S3
Akatsiya and intended to replace the 152mm ML-20 howitzer-gun, D-20 gun-howitzer, D-1
howitzer and attain the development levels of foreign self-propelled artillery.
The Central Design Bureau Transmash of the State Association
Uraltransmash was instructed to develop the howitzer. Work on the Akatsiya howitzer was
preceded by comparative analytical treatment of gun mounts created during the war (SU-100,
SU-152) and post-war artillery systems.
As a result, a concept of advanced self-propelled artillery
development was worked out. Various approaches to the layout of self-propelled mounts
(traversing and fixed turret versions) as well as base chassis were considThe chassis of
the 2S3 selfpropelled howitzer was based on the chassis of the Krug SAM launcher, which
had embodied the latest engineering achievements of the time: unique layout with forward
arrangement of the power plant compartment, twostage final drive and steering mechanism
made as one unit, etc.
However, the base chassis was upgraded to improve vehicle
performance. It was outfitted with a multifuel highemperature diesel engine developing 520
hp instead of 400 hp. Consequently, the engine accessories and power transmission assembly
were also modernized. The installation of a more powerful engine increased the
power-to-weight ratio to 19 hp/t, which ensured good agility and the high thrust response
characteristics of the vehicle. The track and suspension system was also upgraded: the
design of road wheels was improved, the shock absorber capacity was heightened, and the
load characteristic of the torsion bars was increased. The vehicle rubber-bushed tracks
that had been introduced by the Central Design Bureau Transmash for domestic tracked
vehicles as far back as 1947.
The Akatsiya self-propelled mount is armed with the 2A33 howitzer
provided with a rammer to chamber projectiles and charges and a hinged tray to catch fired
cases. In the basic mode of firing ammunition is fed from the ground. The process of
feeding projectiles and charges to the vehicle is mechanized and effected with the aid of a conveyor
through the loading hatch in the hull rear plate. The round components are manually loaded
on the conveyor that brings them on a special tray in the fighting compartment. From this
tray the projectile and charge are transferred to the tray of the howitzer ramming
mechanism and successively chambered by the rammer chain boss. The conveyor facilitates
the howitzer crew's work, while the mechanized ramming process facilitates the loader's
activity and ensures a stable rate of projectile and charge chambering at any position of
the barrel, increasing the fire rate of the howitzer.
The mechanized stowage racks for projectiles are installed in the
turret and hull rear. A projectile is brought to the place convenient for the loader from
where he places it on the howitzer tray. The stowage racks accommodate an ammunition load
of 46 rounds.
The designers successfully resolved the problem of howitzer
stability in firing without using recoil spades, which are provided on the American M109
howitzer. This allowed the crew to shorten the time for howitzer emplacement and fire
mission accomplishment during deployment on the run and when firing with large training
To lock the weapon for travel, a special traveling lock is
provided on the front portion of the hull roof. This device permits the driver to lock and
unlock the barrel without leaving the vehicle, thereby ensuring his safety in NBC
environment and under enemy fire.
The self-propelled howitzer is outfitted with organic dozer
entrenching equipment which allows one to dig a pit within a short span of time (20 to 40
min depending on the soil) thereby materially increasing its survivability in combat,
especially in a nuclear environment. The crew and interior equipment are protected against
the effects of nuclear weapons by the hull armor, its hermetic sealing and pressurization
of the personnel compartments with air purified by filtering-ventilating
As well as their main functions, these units successfully resolve
the problem of reducing fumes in the fighting compartment during firing.
To warm the fighting compartment during winter, the Akatsiya
howitzer is provided with an OV-65G heating unit, which operates independently of the
vehicle engine and can consequently be used for heating on the move and at halts.
The commander's cupola is located on the left side of the turret
roof. Its race mounts a 7.62mm PKT machine gun and TKN-3A vision device, allowing the
commander to fire the machine gun from inside the turret. The rotation of the commander's
cupola ensures allound fire of the machine gun.
The turret roof mounts a device which allows orientation and
fixation of the weapon at a fire position both day and night, with the crew seated in the
In December 1971 the 2S3 self-propelled howitzer was adopted for
service and series production.
The renowned Akatsiya howitzer was produced over two decades.
During this time it was modernized twice. For example, the ammunition stowage rack was
upgraded for the 2S3M version, thereby improving reliability and increasing the ammunition
load by 15 percent. A new IP-5 sight and new 1V116 intervene were installed in the 2S3M1
version. The latter was also outfitted with equipment to receive commands from the battery
executive officer's vehicle and transmit back IP-5 sight settings. The creation of the
Akatsiya self-propelled howitzer implied an end to the monopoly of the American M109
As the family of the 155mm M109 self-propelled howitzer
constitutes the backbone of field artillery in the army of the U.S.A. and many other
countries, steps were taken in the 1970s and 1980s to upgrade this weapon system. The
replacement of the barrel, 23 calibers long, with a new 39-caliber barrel increased the
range of M107 high-explosive fragmentation projectiles fired from M109A1 and M109A2/A3
howitzers from 14.6 to 18.1 km. Foreign experts expect these howitzers to be operational
until the years 2005-2010.
The 152mm Akatsiya selfpropelled howitzer was produced in large
numbers and is in service with Russia and abroad. Naturally, questions have been raised
about its future. The Central Design Bureau Transmash carried out a detailed investigation
into potential modernization. The enterprise is ready at the customer's will to upgrade
the weapons and bring their performance characteristics to modern level.
This modernization will determine the design features and combat
effectiveness of the Akatsiya self-propelled howitzer which is not inferior to its foreign
counterparts M109A1, M109A2/A3 and M109G and surpasses them in firing range, ammunition
load, sustained fire, endurance distance, power-toweight ratio and some other
Compared Characteristics of
|Combat weight, t
|HEF projectile weight, kg
|Max firing range, m
|Max rate of fire, rds/min
|Max road speed, km/h
|Max engine power, hp
|Nominal ground pressure, kg/cm2
|Road range, km