Soviet 122-mm Gun-Howitzer D-30


Pravda Report


Published on Apr 6, 2013

The 122-mm howitzer D-30 (GRAU index 2A18), is a Soviet howitzer that first entered service in the 1960s. It is a robust piece that focuses on the essential features of a towed field gun suitable for all conditions. The D-30 has a maximum range of 15.4 kilometers, or over 21 km using RAP ammunition.

With its striking three-leg mounting the D-30 can be rapidly traversed through 360 degrees. Although no longer manufactured in FSU nations the D-30 is still manufactured internationally and is in service in more than 60 countries' armed forces.

The barrel assembly of the 2A18 gun is used by the 2S1 self-propelled howitzer. There are also Egyptian, Chinese, and Syrian self-propelled variants and conversions. The Syrian conversion utilizes the hull of a T-34 tank.

The 122 mm (originally 48 lines) calibre was adopted by Russia in the early 20th century, becoming very important to Soviet artillery during the Second World War. Development of the D-30 began in the 1950s, as a replacement for the M-30 howitzer, widely used in divisional and regimental artilleries. The D-30 also replaced remaining 76 mm M1942 guns in motor rifle regiments.

Military requirements that led to the D-30 can only be deduced. Its role supporting tank and motor rifle regiments, and Soviet doctrine from the Great Patriotic War, suggest that while indirect fire was the primary role, direct fire anti-tank was very important. The latter is evidenced by the very effective HEAT shell, the low silhouette of the piece, its wide and rapid top-traverse and its shield.

The D-30 was designed by the well established design bureau at Artillery Plant No 9 in Sverdlovsk (now Motovilikha Plants in Yekaterinburg), at the time led by the eminent artillery designer Fëdor Fëdorovich Petrov (1902-1978). This team was responsible for designing the earlier M-30, the post-war 152 mm D-20 Gun-Howitzer, and other guns.

Soviet divisional artillery was assigned to manoeuvre regiments (in Regimental Artillery Groups - RAGs) and as divisional troops (in Divisional Artillery Groups - DAGs). A RAG was normally three batteries, each of six pieces, to each motor rifle and tank regiment. DAGs were mostly equipped with 152 mm pieces, but the DAG of a motor rifle division included a D-30 battalion. The role of a RAG was a normal field artillery role to support manoeuvre forces with indirect, semi direct and direct fire.

The D-30 entered Soviet service in 1963 and is sometimes referred to as the M1963. In 1967 widespread introduction of self-propelled guns was authorised and the D-30's barrel and ammunition was used for the new 2S1. When the 2S1 entered service it was usually assigned to tank regiments and motor rifle regiments equipped with BMP Infantry Fighting Vehicles (IFVs). D-30s were retained in motor rifle regiments equipped with BTR IFVs.

The D-30 has been widely exported and used in wars around the world, notably in the Middle East, and particularly in the Iran-Iraq War - a long-lasting war of attrition similar to World War I.

The gun remains a mainstay of artillery forces in developing countries and is deployed in the War in Afghanistan. Soldiers from several western armies have been trained on D-30 by various user nations in order to be able to train Afghan soldiers on it.

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