While this tank might not be implemented into the game, it has seen combat into the 1990s (despite it being the Iraqis during the Gulf War) and you never know, they might have got hold of them somehow. In any case, it is too awesome of a tank to not mention
When I ask you which tank destroyer had the largest gun of the second world war, most people would shout out “Jagdtiger!”. You wouldn’t be totally wrong, but you kind of are. True, it had the most powerful gun mounted by any tank of the Second World War, but it didn’t have the largest bore. That crown goes to the SU and ISU-152 series of tanks. The name 152 is no coincidence. The Jagdtiger had the 128 mm Pak 44 L/55, but the ISU-152 had the ML-20S 152 mm.
Now THIS is a gun
It was literally a point and kill tank, along with just about every single German heavy tank and tank destroyer of the period, but that is for another time. This is because Russia is insane and thinks that bigger is better, and I am also one of those people. If it is huge, no-one’s going to mess with you. They were also both named “Zveroboy” or Beast Killer. It is called that for a reason, as just about any tank Germany fielded would be nothing more than a pile of junk after just even the HE shell hit it. You know how fearsome the Tiger was? Dead. The Ferdinand? Dead. Even the famous Jagdtiger? Dead. Late in the war, German steel was pretty shoddy quality, so spalling* was a massive issue. This is how crews usually were killed, or the Turret was blown 50 metres away.
Mr Ferdinand did not have a very nice day
*Spalling: When parts of the inside armour of the tank splinter off at massive speed and anything in its path is shredded. It is not a pretty sight.
Now then, let’s begin with the article, under the request of GenErick64.
As the 152 mm gun in the howitzer carriage became more and more unconventional because of the way war as now waged, a design for the gun was called to be mounted into an armoured vehicle. The problem with the howitzer was that, even if it was pulled by motorized vehicles, it would get stuck in the mud and still lacked mobility. The crews were unprotected and when the heavy German fortifications had to be faced, it was simple out of the question.
"Can we mount this in a tank?" "Sure we can, we're Russian"
A vehicle which mounted a 152 mm gun already existed. The KV-2 mounted the M-10 and despite being powerful, it wasn’t much of a success and tended to flip over when going over a hill sideways because of its horrific centre of gravity. Its turret traverse and mobility was absolutely unacceptable and its reload rate was even worse. It was also not possible to mount the chosen ML-20 into its turret because of its ferocious recoil, making the KV-2 immediately obsolete.
It had its uses, but it overall it was pretty useless
A new design was called for which was far more mobile and far more reliable with the ML-20 to be used as its main gun. It should have more armour and be cost effective. Because of the recoil, the decision was made to mount the gun in a conventional tank destroyer like design, with no turret and the gun mounted in the hull.
Overall 3 different designs were brought up, all in the KV-1s chassis. Joseph Yakovlevich Kotins design was eventually chosen as it was simple and was cheap. The project was called KV-14 the prototype starting on the 31st of December under the name Object 236. The prototype was finished very quickly in only 25 days and was considered a complete success. The design was accepted for mass production in February and was hereby called the SU-152. The gun itself was slightly modified to fit inside the vehicle better and was designated the ML-20S, but had the same ballistics as the original gun and well as the anti-German firepower.
"See that German Aleksei? He bet you couldn't hit him"
Despite the vehicle being designed as strictly a support weapon with no mind for tackling tanks, it was surprisingly good at it. Testing showed that it could kill a Tiger tank with a single well placed hit and a close miss would still most likely blow off its tracks. This was just with the HE shell, as it had no AP round to speak off, as it was not designed to take on tanks. After this founding, SU-152 production increased dramatically and because of this reason the vehicle was slightly modified to increase reliability. Heavy tank destroyer battalions were formed and was quickly learned to be feared by German tank commanders. Because of the lack of a machine gun, an AA DShK 12.7 mm HMG was installed during the summer of 1943 during modifications and sometimes during maintenance and repair.
The SU-152 had 2 compartments, the crew compartment and the engine compartment. The crew compartment was where the crew was situated, using the main gun to kill stuff such as overly cocky Tiger tanks, and probably launch its turret like a rocket. The engine compartment is, obviously, at the back where the engine was situated. The frontal armour was 75 mm at a 30° angle, taking lessons from the T-34. The sides were 60 mm with a 25° angle and the rear just 60 mm. The gun was placed slightly to the right with 12° traverse either side. Overall 5 crew manned the vehicle with the driver, the gunner and the loader to the left of the gun, with the commander and the breach operator to the right.
As you can guess, it was pretty cramped
It used the torsion bar system which, although made the vehicle smaller, made the inside cramped and uncomfortable which was common for all Russian tanks of the period. There were 3 internal fuel tanks with 2 in the crew compartment allowing a maximum of 615 litres of fuel to be carried, however more could be carried in the 4 other external fuel tanks that were sometimes fixed, allowing an extra 360 litres. It was unfortunately not connected to the internal fuel system so had to be manually refuelled. Due to the fuel tanks taking up space in the crew compartment, a maximum of 20 rounds could be carried, limiting its time in combat.
All of the electronics were supplied from a 1 KW GT-4562A generator with a RRA-24 voltage replay unit and four GSTE-128 accumulator batteries with a total capacity of 256 ampere-hours generating 24 volts. It powered such things as the radio and the external and internal lighting.
To be able to see outside the tank, every hatch was given a periscope and the gun was obviously given its bog standard gun sight. To communicate with each other within the tank the crew was fitted out with TPU-4-BisF intercoms and to communicate with other tanks the 9R, then the 10R and then finally the 10RK-26 radios were fitted. And then to power this beast, a V2-K engine was used with a total power of 600 horsepower.
In the case of close combat with enemy infantry and the installed heavy machine guns simply aren’t enough, 2 PPSh submachine guns as well as 25 F1 grenades were included.
Nothing a few grenades out the hatch can't solve!
However, despite its success at killing anything the Germans can throw at them, it wasn’t without its faults. For one, its armour was still very weak when faced with anything as powerful or more powerful than the weaponry the Panzer IV and StuG III’s possessed, its armour simply couldn’t hold. Not only that, the 20 rounds it held severely limited its time on the battlefield before having to re-arm, and its reload speed meant that the enemy can shoot at it quite a lot before it reloads again. Even the Tiger had a superior fire rate to many of the Russian tanks (average was about 6 to 8 seconds reload time). If every single SU-152 in the pack missed, the Tiger can simply pick them off one by one. At medium ranges and over, it was so inaccurate it might as well be called artillery. But this wasn’t surprising, as the gun used was a howitzer. But even so, it was a shoot first hit first weapon, as the Germans had superior range, accuracy and penetration on their side.
For when death and destruction must absolutely count (protection against ISU-152s not included)
Soon, the SU-152 was still too unreliable for Russian interest and the ISU-152 took over production, but not before 700 SU-152s were constructed. It was eventually dismissed from service in 1954.
The ISU-152 is pretty much the exact same as the SU-152. You can pretty much call them siblings. The only difference is pretty much the IS series of tanks that it was based on and it had thicker armour. There were very few external differences, but this vehicle was far more successful and most importantly, reliable. But this was not the only reason that the SU-152 was taken out of service. The KV tanks that it was based on was meant to be put out of the production line that year, and the effectiveness of the 152 mm was too good to be dismissed as well.
The ML-20S. So useful the Russians decided to re-use it
The first ISU-152 type was based off of the IS-1. It had thicker armour and was far more mechanically reliable, but it still used the proven ML-20S 152 mm gun. At first the prototype was called the IS-152. After testing the new vehicle problems emerged and had to be sent back to fix and improve upon them. In October a new prototype was prepared this type called the Object 241 and was found to be a massive improvement over the failed prototype. Once trials at the Gorohovetskom proved the vehicle successful, it was accepted for production and completely replaced the SU-152 on November 6 1943 under the name ISU-152. However, the ventilation problem was never fixed during the war, even under Stalin’s command. I presume he had all of the designers executed by suffocation in their own machine.
Like the SU-152, the layout was exactly the same, with the gun slightly to the right off centre with 12 degrees traverse either side with the driver, the gunner and the loader on the left of the breach with the commander and breach operator on the right. It had 6 road wheels on either side. It had the same fuel supply and electrical system as the SU as well as the intercom communication and the radios. It did have a different engine though, the V-1IS giving out 520 horse power. For self-defence it had 2 PPSh SMGs with 20 F1 grenades to deal with the Germans who thought that they had a bloody chance!
While being more heavily armoured, it was far more reliable as well. It had 90 mm of armour at the front at the same 30 degrees angle with a maximum of 90 mm on the side at the same 25 degrees with 60 at the rear.
After the war was over it went through multiple modifications before being put out of service in the 1970s. Some modifications included a co-axial DShK 12.7 mm HMG to the right of the gun for the commander to use. The internal fuel capacity would be increased and sometimes the external fuel tanks would sometimes be refitted with larger ones as well as 2 additional ones fitted to the back of the hull. Night vision sights were fitted as well as the V-54K engine that was used successfully in the T-54 medium tank and improved suspension.
However, it did have the same problem as the SU-152 in that the ventilation was Russian and worked horribly badly. After a few rounds it was difficult to breath inside the vehicle, effective just about everything about it.
"I CAN'T BREATH!" It was still reassuring to know Stalin cares