SU-26 (SAU) - light Soviet self-propelled artillery mount: design description, combat characteristics

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SU-26 (SAU) - light Soviet self-propelled artillery mount: design description, combat characteristics
SU-26 (SAU) - light Soviet self-propelled artillery mount: design description, combat characteristics
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The famous self-propelled guns SU-26 played a key role in the initial stage of the war, at the same time becoming the prototype for all subsequent models of the family of self-propelled guns. Appearing on the battlefields almost immediately after the start of the war, the self-propelled gun helped stop the actively advancing enemy troops in many strategically important sectors of the front, turning the outcome of military operations in favor of the Soviet Union.

Gun model

Installation

The SU-26 self-propelled artillery mount is one of the brightest representatives of the Soviet light armored vehicles of the early forties. Having managed to enter the initial phase of the Great Patriotic War, it has already shown the full power of the sharply advancing Nazi Germany. Wehrmacht soldiers actively expanded the front lines, increasingly breaking through the weak defenses of Soviet soldiers, poorly supplied with ammunition, SS tank divisions easily destroyed domestic light and medium tanks.

Sovietdesigners had to urgently invent an alternative to German tracked vehicles. Moreover, in the absence of a new type of tank, all the drawings of the self-propelled unit were made on the basis of the schemes of the light Soviet T-26 tank. For the design of the "domestic response to fascism" was responsible for the legendary Leningrad plant named after. Kirov, famous for the quality and innovation of its equipment.

Designers were waiting for a long and hard work of fitting, fitting and testing a large number of prototypes assembled from different parts of damaged tanks. Also, Soviet scientists conducted experiments with various sets of weapons, alternately installing different types of small guns on a tracked chassis.

Ultimately, the first experimental artillery installation of the Soviet Union saw the light, which became the basis for all subsequent developments in the field of this class of military equipment.

Backstory

As mentioned above, the Soviet army suffered huge losses. First of all, due to the lack of equipment that can quickly move from one place to another and destroy enemy tanks, supporting the infantry. Ordinary cannons were ill-suited for such a task, since a five-man artillery crew could only turn the gun, but not carry it over long distances. Of course, a standard regimental gun could penetrate the armor of the first models of the famous "Tiger" or "Panther" from the first shot, but a completely different type of equipment was required - something like a "gun on a tank chassis" so that it could keep up with the infantry, maneuver and holdblow.

The fact is that German tanks could crush or destroy an ordinary cannon with an aimed shot, as it simply stood still, and the difference in the distance that the crew could move it was insignificant for German tankers.

Su-26 assembly

An armor-protected gun on a caterpillar chassis changed the situation radically. Now it was much more difficult for the enemy to both hit a moving cannon and destroy it the first time with a projectile.

History

Almost throughout the summer of 1941, broken T-26 tanks were brought from all sectors of the front to the Kirov Plant, with various damages of varying severity. The light Soviet vehicle simply could not withstand the onslaught of German medium tanks. The weight category of enemy vehicles, the power of the guns, the rate of fire and the speed of movement did not leave the Soviet tank a chance to survive in a field battle.

At first, members of the design bureau suggested installing various light and medium-type artillery guns on Soviet vehicles, but this attempt was unsuccessful, since light guns could not penetrate the armor of enemy tanks, and medium guns created a roll of the machine's turret or deformed her.

By order of the Military Council of the Leningrad Front, another attempt was made to modernize the long-suffering Soviet light tank T-26, only this time a different type of armored tank, the BT, was paired with the vehicle. Various artillery pieces were installed in turn on government-selected models, including the famousgun KT with a barrel diameter of 76.2 mm. All these manipulations were unsuccessful, since the guns chosen for installation were either too light or very large, and simply did not leave room in the conning tower of the vehicle for the tank crew.

Prototype

Creation

Realizing that experiments on combining regimental guns and tracked chassis from different weight categories are hardly worth continuing, the commission of the design bureau of the plant decided to develop a separate self-propelled unit, the main task of which would be quick, but short-term direct support of infantry, as well as the destruction enemy light and medium vehicles.

In August 1941, two months after the start of the war, the world-famous plant of lifting and transport facilities named after. Kirov in the city on the Neva presented a project for a self-propelled gun self-propelled gun SU-26, which later received a slightly different designation - SU-76. The vehicle was created on the basis of a light tank of domestic production. The designers nevertheless decided to give the T-26 another chance, but this time they did not just insert a cannon into the turret of the vehicle, but completely removed all combat equipment from the vehicle, leaving only the chassis and upper frontal armor plates. Side protective sheets changed to thicker ones. The cabin has acquired a more elongated rectangular shape, and its front side has become a kind of shield, like the shield of a field artillery gun.

Modification of the original machine

Damaged copy

The process of changing the original version of the T-26 was quite painstaking.Firstly, the turret was completely removed from the tank, as well as the turret box. The uneven edges of the cuts were cleaned clean so that the hole was flush with the rear upper armor plate of the vehicle. This was done so that one of the crew members, namely the loader, could stand at full height without experiencing difficulties when placing a heavy projectile into the gun barrel.

Secondly, a special swivel structure was placed in place of the felling, thanks to which the gun mounted on a self-propelled machine could rotate in all directions. Special shock absorbers were placed under the bearing edges of the structure, designed to smooth out the recoil from the shots.

A 76-mm regimental gun of the 1927 model was installed on the above-described rotary structure. Of course, in the conditions of modern warfare, this weapon was not very effective, but even such a weapon could provide very worthy resistance in close combat with German tanks. The gun was shielded by a special shield cover, partially redesigned from the cannon's settlement shield.

old photo

Under this whole system, two wide hatches were cut out, which opened access to the charging storage, from where the loader and his assistant took ammunition.

In general, the appearance of the SU-26 self-propelled guns was dictated not so much by the need for hasty progress in domestic tank building, but by the urgent need for the appearance of this type of military equipment at the front. The soldiers desperately needed fire support and the means to destroy enemy tanks. However, despitecatastrophic losses of the Soviet army in the first months of the war, by August 1941 only three prototypes of the installation had been manufactured, one of which was named SU-76P, and was equipped with a 37-mm 61-K anti-aircraft gun.

Later, in 1942, five more prototypes of the self-propelled machine were built.

Tests

By the way, the first polygon reviews of the newly created installation took place only a few months later. In them, the SU-26 tank proved to be an excellent combat vehicle. At first, the designers were worried about whether the car, assembled from spare parts of other armored vehicles, crumpled parts of tanks, would be able to function properly. However, it soon became clear that even with previously used and repaired parts, the installation brilliantly coped with all types of tests.

October 1941 turned out to be successful for the new machine, because after the field inspections at the secret "Plant No. 174", the Military Council of the Leningrad Front instructed the representatives of the concern to urgently launch the SU-26 self-propelled guns into mass production.

Use

The tank building concern managed to produce a considerable number of vehicles by the end of 1941. And all of them were immediately sent to the front after short preliminary tests. Of course, not all military units had enough self-propelled guns. But those brigades that were in the first echelon of the front received four vehicles for each. Basically, these were divisions that held the defense in different sectors of the Leningrad Front.

After all produced carsonce again ended up in the repair shops of the plant, they, like the T-26 tank in their time, themselves became spare parts and consumables. By that time, the government had already realized the inefficiency of this type of equipment and instructed members of the design bureau to develop a radically new type of self-propelled machine.

Winter camouflage

Subsequent modifications

Despite the rather high efficiency that the machine demonstrated in battles, its production was nevertheless curtailed, like the entire line of SUs as a whole. Later, this designation will again be used by design bureaus, however, it will carry information about a radically new type of military equipment.

Parameters

The combat characteristics of the SU-26 were very, very impressive, given the state of domestic military equipment at the very beginning of the war. The self-propelled gun provided successful resistance to tanks of light and medium categories, had a unique system for aiming the gun at the target without turning the entire turret and with the engine turned off. Due to its relatively small size, the machine could fit even in small groves, which gave it an additional advantage on the battlefield.

However, the self-propelled gun was not deprived of its shortcomings. The description of the design of the SU-26 contains a lot of information about the shortcomings of the machine. The low speed of movement was the main reason why the production of the model was nevertheless curtailed and they switched to the development of a self-propelled gun from scratch, without using the chassis of any tank as the basis.

Engine

As the driving force of the self-propelledThe installation used a motor from the original T-26, which was replaced a year later with a more advanced T-26F. An interesting fact was that both engines were copied from the English Armstrong-Sidley engine. It was heavy, bulky and had a power of only 91 hp. with. Even the installation for the installation of a forced version of the motor did not change the situation. This did not add power to the engine, but the weight of the overall design of the self-propelled gun increased significantly, which negatively affected its already low maneuverability.

rare photo

Tower

The cabin for the crew of the self-propelled unit had a special shield shape and was located on a special design that allowed it to rotate 360 ​​degrees. Similar projects already existed in the UK. France and the Axis countries, however, for a number of reasons, did not receive further development and remained only in the design drawings.

A 76-mm cannon was installed as the main armament in the wheelhouse of the Soviet self-propelled artillery mount SU-26, which was usually used as a separate type of firearm and was produced for firing from a regimental gun carriage.

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