Artillery guns in Syria

El mismo artículo en español

In this article I will make a compilation of all the towed artillery guns, mainly designed for making parabolic shot that entered into combat or could do so in the future in Syria.

The main mission of the artillery is to damage enemy morale, destroy specific targets from the security provided by the distance, keeping enemy spooding while the own forces advance or cause a shock effect prior to the attack. Reached the point almost all the parabolic artillery can be used for direct fire which is especially typical form in Syria and in the Soviet doctrine.

In principle when making parabolic shot their objectives are unprotected targets like infantry, unarmored vehicles in the open field and static positions such as bunkers or pillboxes.

The far more common ammunition in this type of artillery is the HE (High Explosive) specially designed to cause a huge explosion and scatter shrapnel in all directions.

But since the Soviet experience during World War II all Soviet/Russian artillery guns have a percentage of armor-piercing shells that at some point can be used to destroy armored vehicles.

In this article I will not include completly homemade (DIY) artillery.

If you are interested here you have other articles about artillery in Syria:

Sin título 2
D-32 total pieces is a mere estimation ** The D-74 is a Chinese Type 59 with 130 mm caliber

S-23 

This is a Soviet heavy gun designed in the early 50s with a huge caliber of 180 mm and a fire range that can reach 30 kmtrs.

This type of weapon was normally located in heavy artillery units specially constituted to operate this type of mastodons, those units were normally in the reserve above the division level.

In the case of Syria according to SIPRI 25 second hand pieces were supplied during 1974 but this data must be wrong because these pieces participated in the Yom Kippur War of 1973. However it seems plausible that actually arrived on early 1973 because in that year according to SIPRI agreement for delivery was signed.

In turn in Syria we have just found photographs of one or two that do seem to be in perfect condition.

By its very nature it is a much more complex weapon and requires plausibly bigger logistical effort  than any other piece of towed artillery today in Syria, this is because of its size and weight requiring special means of transport, additional vehicles to carry the heavy ammunition and troops specially trained in the use of the gun.

All the above defects linked to a war in Syria where the only possible regular operator of this weapon must be the Assad regime whose army is very worn with a likely increasingly weakened and decadent structure make the S-23 to be only used in very specific situations, especially in siege operations.

S-28
S-23 in Syria

ML-20

This is a Soviet gun designed before the 2nd World War characterized by its caliber of 152 mm and with a fire range of about 17 kmtrs.

In 1966 the USSR and Syria signed the agreement to supply 200 second-hand pieces, the contract made over during 1967 and 1968.

It was already old in the sixties when they were sold as second hand pieces, because of that it has been probably keept stored in the reserve, possibely that is why it is not normal find it in Syria.

ML 20 152.png
ML-20 in Syria

D-1

The D-1 was a gun designed in the mid-40s during the Second World War in the USSR.

It was characterized by a large caliber of 152 mm and a relatively small range of about 12 kmtrs. because of the short barrel.

According to SIPRI 200 of these guns were supplied by the USSR to Syria between 1974 and 1976.

The truth is that until today no one has been identified in Syria where it probably remains stored in the reserve.

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D-1 exposed in a museum

2A65 “MSTA-B”

We are facing a gun produced in the former Soviet Union and Russia since the mid-80s and with a 152 mm caliber, the Russian counterpart to the typical 155 mm NATO. Its range is about 25 kmtrs. approximately.

Somehow he came to replace the old by then but effective D-20 whose caliber shares.

The MSTA-B has reached Syria since mid-2015 with his appearances climbing as they are supplied by Russia.

It is unknown the total number in Syria but nevertheless the number of images thereof is clear that there are not just a few individual pieces and that we should find several dozens of 2A65.

2A65
2A65 MSTA-B in Syria

D-20

It is a Soviet gun designed in the mid-40s and that in turn was created to replace older guns like the ML-20 or the D-1 between others. It has a caliber of 152 mm relatively common in the world in general and in Syria particularly.

Like the 2A65 the D-20 has reached Syria since mid-2015 with the growing number of military equipment shipments  going from Russia to Syria.

D-20 afganos.jpg
Afghan combatants on a D-20 in Syria (source)

M-46

We are facing a 130 mm caliber gun designed in the USSR in the late 40s and widely supplied to allied nations of the Soviet Union throughout the Cold War.

It is with the D-30 the most common artillery gun today in Syria it is typical to find it on the hands of all kind of groups all across the country.

It has a range of about 28 kmtrs. but because of the lack of training many groups use them to make direct fire on to enemy positions.

According to SIPRI 650 second-hand M-46s were transferred by the USSR to Syria between 1973 and 1975, since that it is obvious that the M-46 has been the backbone of the artillery units of the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) .

In addition they have been used to create domestical (DIY) self-propelled artillery pieces. (Link to self-propelled artillery pieces article)

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M-46 in Syria

Type 59-I

It is a 130 mm caliber gun dating from the mid-50s and it was designed in the Soviet Union under the name of D-74. It has a range of about 24 kmtrs.

It was born alongside the M-46 that actually looks very similar in all aspects, except in the muzzle brake conceptually very different.

The Type 59-I was supplied to Syria by China before Yom-Kippur war.

D-74 probvable
Type-59-I captured by Daesh in Khanasir, Syria

D-30

Its production began in the early 60s and from then until today remains produced and used by many armies. In addition many countries like Iraq, Iran, Serbia and China have designed and produced their own versions.

It has a caliber of 122 mm, a range of about 15 kmtrs, and has been used as a basis for the design of pieces like the self-propelled 2S1  Gvozdika.

Its main feature is a relatively lightweight design (just three tons) and a good ability to do direct and parabolic shot. Also the lightweight affects how quickly it can be positioned for firing and then repositioned or to hook it to a truck.

Overall the D-30 is without doubt one of the most successful Soviet artillery designs and that is why it is one of the most popular pieces of artillery today in Syria.

According to SIPRI 300 D-30 were supplied by the USSR to Syria between 1973 and 1976. On the other hand, in principle it is not known that other countries potential suppliers of D-30s to Syria like China, Serbia and Iran have finally delivered it but certainly it is not a throwaway option.

We found two variants:

D-30 base variant 

It was the first D-30 designed variant.

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D-30 in Syria, it was the first variant to be mass-produced

D-30A

It was the second version, which is commonly used today by the Russian army and differs from the previous one on the muzzle brake.

2A18A.png
D-30A in Syria

In addition there are some domestically created  self-propelled artillery pieces based on it. (Link to article)

D-32

The D-32 is a variant of the 122 mm D-30 designed to be mounted on the self-propelled artillery piece 2S1 Gvozdika, they have the same caliber.

It is a relatively uncommon piece as far as it is towed, there are so many D-32 as Gvozdikas are in Syria, but this local towed variant is not very common. (Article in English about this gun)

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D-32 on his modified homemade (DIY) towed variant in Syria

M-30

We are facing a Soviet 122mm gun designed in the late 30s, it has a short barrel and its range is about 11 kmtrs.

According to SIPRI between the 1955 to 1957 and 1966 to 1969 the USSR delivered 200 and 300 of these pieces respectively to Syria, they probably were second-hand because in theory at that time (1955) the M-30 was no longer manufactured.

Since then it seems that it is a weapon that was either in reserve or was being used only by a few artillery units.

It is a relatively light howitzer so it can be especially useful for mountain combat where it is difficult to deploy high artillery caliber  because of the bad weather and the nature of alpine roads. Perhaps that is why most of the pieces that we have seen were in the province of Latakia, the most mountainous of Syria.

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The fist gun in the image is an M-30 in Syria
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M-30 in Syria

A-19

Artillery piece designed in the USSR on the late 30s with a 122 mm caliber and a range of about 20 kmtrs.

300 second hand pieces were given by the USSR to Syria between 1967 and 1969. It is likely that some of those 300 had been lost during the different conflicts that Syria has suffered  also they could have been replaced by more modern pieces such as the D-30.

Although there are some images of this gun it is an extremely rare sight in Syria.

A.19
One of the few images of an A-19 in Syria

 

M-18/61 Yugoslavian copy of the Germanl leFH-18M

The M-18/61 is a Yugoslavian copy of the German leFH-18M gun that equipped the bulk of the  Wehrmacht formations, it can be distinguished of his German brother becasue of the axes of the wheels. It has a 105 mm caliber.

It is not clear when they were delivered to Syria, but probably they arrived before the Six-Day War of 1967. The fact that they have been seen being used by very old men of around sixty or seventy years old can give us a clue about this point.

In any case we have only found a few pieces (four) and most of them on hands of Ahrar al Sham. Probably the quantities of ammunition available are very limited but still high enough to see some use.

Also as a curiosity these guns as part of their system to control the recoil use nitrogen that is stored in a sort of elongated cylinders that contain it and are often found along with the gun. (If you want to know all the interesting details about this gun click here)

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M-18/61 in Syria. Note the age of the operator

 

 

If you are interested here you have other articles about artillery in Syria:

 

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