ZSU-23-4 Shilka: lightly armored Soviet self-propelled, radar-guided anti-aircraft weapon system

ZSU-23-4 “Shilka” (2A6)

The previous Soviet self-propelled anti-aircraft gun (SPAAG), the ZSU-57-2, was armed with two 57 mm autocannons; it was aimed optically using a basic tracking and lead calculating system. The ZSU-57-2 was not particularly successful despite its very powerful autocannons; given their large caliber, it could only carry 300 rounds, was inaccurate as it lacked radar and could not fire while on the move.

The ZPU series armed with 14.5 mm heavy machine guns carried on a towed mount for stationary, point air defence had a much higher rate of fire. The 23 mm version of this weapon system was known as the ZU-23-2, a towed mount carrying two 23 mm cannons. However, these towed or improvised truck-mounted weapons had similar disadvantages.

The development of the ZSU-23-4 “Shilka” began in 1957 along with ZSU-37-2 “Yenisei”[9] and the vehicle was brought into service in 1965, replacing all ZSU-57-2s in air defense units toward the beginning of the 1970s. The ZSU-23-4 was intended for AA defense of military facilities, troops, and mechanized columns on the march; originally, the more powerful guns of “Yenisei” were judged to be effective at covering the inner dead-zone of Soviet surface-to-air missile systems despite the increased weight of the vehicle, but commonality prevailed.

Initially, tank regiments should have had the anti-aircraft artillery battalion of “Shilka” (consisting of two batteries, four ZSU-23-4s in each). At the end of the 1960s, one battery was equipped with ZSU-23-4s and the other with ZSU-57-2s.

Motorized rifle and tank regiment standard anti-aircraft batteries consisted of two platoons later (one platoon was equipped with four ZSU-23-4s and another with four mobile surface-to-air missile systems 9K31 Strela-1 or Strela-10).

Assembly: Tulamashzavod (Tula, USSR)

Years of production: 1964-1982

Production: 6500

Crew: 4

Length: 6.5 m

Width: 3.1 m

Height: 2.5 m

Armor: welded steel (9 mm)

Engine: V6-R (diesel)

Power: 280 HP

Max speed: 50 km/h

Fuel consumption: 130 l/100 km

Range: 450 km

Weight: 19 t

Armament: 4 × anti-aircaft gun AZP-23 “Amur”

Military Museum of Saumur, Artillery Museum of St. Petersburg

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