If the engineers of the USSR, during the Russian-German confrontation with the past world conflict, pointed their German colleagues on the path to the design of main battle tanks with their great T-34, this is no less true than their time. You could learn from them too. In fact, the Russians were uncomfortably surprised by the excellent properties of the self-propelled gun or self-propelled gun.
These tanks mounted a cannon in a fixed casemate and were ideal as an anti-tank weapon, especially when used from cloaked or out of line positions. In addition, since they did not have a rotating tower, they simplified the production process and reduced costs. Of course, the Russians soon crystallized their idea for an assault weapon. The first tank of this class, manufactured in the USSR, was a self-propelled part, equipped with a 122-mm howitzer, mounted on a suitably modified T-34 chassis. This was named SU-122. The first two initials were short for Samokhodnaya Ustanovka, which meant self-propelled gun, a name that all tanks without a turret would receive in the future.
The SU-122 was designed by engineer EW Silniszczkov with the assistance of FF Pietrov, the epitome of the Soviet weapon designers who designed the 122 howitzer. This was an excellent weapon officially known as the M-30S. It had a range of 11,800 m and an initial projectile speed of 515 m / s. With a rate of fire of 5-6 rounds per minute.
This machine made its operational debut during the Battle of Kursk as part of the Soviet artillery units. The outstanding action they took part in is the recapture of OreI north of Kursk during the post-battle pursuit. While this was happening at the front, a team of engineers led by LS Troyanov and SN Machonin designed a new self-propelled weapon that it was supposed to be at a factory complex near the Urals called Tankograd, where Soviet tanks were mass-produced Mounted on the weapon. Same chassis from T-34 a new piece of long barrel (51.5 caliber) of 85 mm instead of the piece of 122. This weapon of 85 mm. It was an anti-tank cannon that was converted from an anti-aircraft gun, also designed by Pietrov in 1939. A section should be created here to indicate the parallelism of this piece with the famous 88mm. German, which equipped the Tiger tanks and which was also adopted by an anti-aircraft device. The conversion of this cannon was personally led by Pietrov and was given the designation D-5S.85A. It could fire a 9.02 kg armor projectile. Weight with an initial speed of 792 m / s. And that allowed him to drill 100 mm. of armor in a vertical position at 1,000 m. Once installed on the tank, it had an arc of fire of 20 ° in azimuth and 5 ° to + 25 ° in height. The rate of fire was 8-10 dpm.
The crew consisted of four men. The head of the tank, which was on the right, had a fairly prominent dome, which was replaced in the last series of vehicles with one similar to that of the T-34/76, M-43 vehicles with an improved view-block system were never a large one anyway Thing. The gunner sat to the left of the gun and the loader behind the tank chief. The driver was also to the left of the car and was in the uncomfortable situation of being surrounded by projectiles. Due to the isolation between the tank commander and the driver, the Su-85 is equipped with radios and intercoms as standard. on the contrary, they carried no secondary weapons.
As we have already seen, this vehicle was not available for the Battle of Kursk, but was put into action immediately afterwards, in December of the same year. In the fighting in Ukraine and the Dnieper in 1944, he quickly gained the respect of his Germanic opponents. In the same year, with the introduction of the T-34/85 tanks, the SU-85 became obsolete for what they were converted with, more powerful weapons that were of the same caliber but had greater range and penetration. In this way, they were handed over to the armed forces of satellite countries such as Poland and Czechoslovakia, who used them as anti-tank equipment to replace the less developed SU-76s that were relegated to provide artillery support to infantry units after the SU-85 was commissioned .
The Soviet Army built 21 vehicles into the self-propelled artillery battalions. One acted as the head of the unit, subordinated to four batteries, each equipped with five tanks, one of which belonged to the head of the unit. The tank armies assembled 31 machines in their self-propelled regiments so that the commanders could use them at will. As for the mechanics and power plant, it should be added that they were identical to those of the T-34.
When production stopped in late 1944 to make way for the SU-100 assembly lines, 2,050 units were produced.
A good proof of the quality of this tank destroyer can be the attached sheet. It shows an example that was captured in perfect condition by soldiers of the German division Gross Deustchland in mid-1944 and immediately put into service against its original owner. This unit had entire companies equipped with captured Soviet material. In order to clearly identify it, black crosses of considerable size were placed on the sides of the casemate, which seriously spoiled the mimicry of the car.
1. White ribbon worn by the SU-85 during the Battle of Berlin.
2. The SU-85 of the Polish Army carried their national emblem.
3 and 4. Tactical symbols on two SU-85s from different artillery regiments.
5. Emblem worn by guard units’ cars.
Text and panel: Rafael Treviño Martínez
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