76 mm divisional gun M1942 (ZiS-3)

76-mm divisional gun M1942 (ZiS-3)

Type Anti-tank field gun
Place of origin Soviet Union
Production history

design bureau of No. 92 Artillery Factory

headed by V. G. Grabin

Produced 1941–?
Number built 103,000+

combat: 1,116 kg

(2,460 lbs)

travel: 2,150 kg

(4,730 lbs)[1]

Barrel length 42.6 calibers
Crew 7 artillerymen

Shell 76.2 × 385 mm. R
Caliber 76.2 mm (3 in)
Carriage split trail
Elevation -5° to 37°
Traverse 54°
Rate of fire up to 25 rounds per minute
Maximum firing range 13.29 km (8.25 mi)
ZiS-3 displayed in Hämeenlinna Artillery Museum.

The 76-mm divisional gun M1942 (ZiS-3) (Russian: 76-мм дивизионная пушка обр. 1942 г. (ЗиС-3)) was a Soviet 76.2 mm divisional field gun used during World War II. ZiS was a factory designation and stood for Zavod imeni Stalina ("factory named after Stalin"), the honorific title of Artillery Factory No. 92, which first constructed this gun.


Artillery Factory No. 92 began designing the ZiS-3 at the end of 1940. The ZiS-3 combined the light carriage from the 57 mm ZiS-2 anti-tank gun and the powerful 76.2 mm barrel from the F-22USV, the previous divisional field gun. A muzzle brake was added to reduce recoil, allowing it to be fired without damaging the lighter carriage. Production of the ZiS-3 made greater use of casting, stamping and welding than the F-22USV; compared to the F-22USV, the new weapon was produced with a third of the work, and two-thirds of the cost.

V. G. Grabin, the chief designer of Soviet medium caliber guns, ordered the gun's development on his own initiative. The state was not informed, and the first ZiS-3 was kept hidden. The state had little interest in light and medium field guns. German propaganda about the Neubaufahrzeug multi-turreted prototype tank convinced state authorities that German heavy tanks had exceptionally strong armour, which in turn reduced the value of smaller guns. Marshal Grigory Kulik, commander of Soviet artillery, ordered the production of light 45 mm anti-tank guns and 76.2 mm divisional field guns to be stopped.

The beginning of the Great Patriotic War revealed that the Soviets had overestimated German armour protection. Some were even vulnerable to large caliber DShK machine guns. Pre-war 76 mm divisional guns easily penetrated German vehicles, but nearly all of these guns were lost early in the war; some captured examples were remounted on German Panzerjäger self-propelled guns. Marshal Kulik ordered the F-22USV back into production. Artillery Factory No. 92, in cooperation with Grabin, put the ZiS-3 into mass production instead.

The Red Army initially refused to accept the ZiS-3 - the gun had not undergone the usual acceptance trials - and Artillery Factory No. 92 accumulated a stockpile of serviceable guns. Grabin convinced the army to issue the badly needed guns to units for impromptu testing at the front, where combat experience validated the gun's superiority over all other divisional field guns. Subsequently, the ZiS-3 was presented to Joseph Stalin and a small group of state authorities. Stalin was impressed by the demonstration, saying "This gun is a masterpiece of artillery systems design." The ZiS-3 underwent an official five-day acceptance trial in February 1942, and was then accepted into service as divisional field gun model 1942 (full official name).

Grabin worked to increase production at Artillery Factory No. 92. Conveyor assembly lines admitted the use of low-skilled labour without significant quality loss. Experienced laborers and engineers worked on complicated equipment and served as brigade leaders; they were replaced on the production line by young factory workers who were exempt from conscription, producing a new generation of skilled labourers and engineers. More than 103,000 ZiS-3s were produced by the end of the war, making it the most numerous Soviet field gun during the war.

The KSP-76 was a wartime light assault car mounting the ZiS-3; it did not advance beyond the prototype stage.

Mass production of the ZiS-3 ceased after the war. it was replaced by the 85 mm D-44 divisional field gun. The D-44 had better anti-armour capabilities, but inferior mobility due to its increased weight.

The Finns captured 12 units, and designated them 76 K 42.

The Romanian TACAM R-2 tank destroyer was a R-2 tank converted to mount the ZiS-3 in a three-sided fighting compartment. Also, at one point during the development of the Mareșal tank destroyer, the ZiS-3 was fitted on one of the prototypes for trials. Eventually, the Romanians chose their own, superior DT-UDR 75 mm anti-tank gun for the final Mareșal prototypes.

Ammunition data

Available ammunition
Type Model Weight, kg HE weight, g
Armour-piercing projectiles (muzzle velocity 700 m/s)
APHE BR-350A 6.3 155
AP (solid) BR-350SP 6.5 N/A
Composite Armour-piercing projectiles (muzzle velocity up to ? m/s)
  BR-350P 3.02 N/A
Developed after World War II BR-350N 3.02 N/A
High explosive and fragmentation shells (muzzle velocity 680 m/s)
HE/Fragmentation steel OF-350 6.2 710
HE/Fragmentation steely iron OF-350A 6.2 640
Fragmentation steely iron O-350A 6.21 540
HE/Fragmentation OF-350B 6.2 540
HE/Fragmentation OF-363 6.2 540
HE F-354 6.41 785
HE F-354M 6.1 815
HE developed in France F-354F 6.41 785
Other projectiles (muzzle velocity up to 680 m/s)
HEAT, developed after World War II BK-354 7 740
Shrapnel Sh-354 6.5 85
Shrapnel Sh-354T 6.66 85
Shrapnel Sh-354G 6.58 85
Shrapnel Sh-361 6.61 85
Chemical OH-350 6.25
Incendiary long-range Z-350 6.24 240
Incendiary Z-354 4.65 240
Smoke long-range D-350 6.45 N/A
Smoke steely iron D-350A 6.45 N/A
Armour penetration table
AP Projectile BR-350A
Distance, m Meet angle 60°, mm Meet angle 90°, mm
100 67 82
500 61 75
1000 55 67
1500 49 60
2000 43 53
These data were obtained by Soviet methods of armour penetration measurement (penetration probability equals 75%).
They are not directly comparable with western data of similar type.

Combat history

An abandoned Soviet-made North Korean ZiS-3 on a hill overlooking Incheon harbor after its capture by United Nations forces during the amphibious landings at Incheon in mid-September 1950.

Soviet soldiers liked the ZiS-3 for its extreme reliability, durability, and accuracy. The gun was easy to maintain and use by novice crews. The light carriage allowed the ZiS-3 to be towed by trucks, heavy jeeps (like American lend-leased Dodge 3/4), or even hauled by the crew.

ZiS-3 had good anti-armour capabilities. Its armour-piercing round could knock out any German light and medium tank. The frontal armour of later tanks, like the Tiger I and later the Panther, were immune to the ZiS-3.

A ZiS-3 battery had four guns; three batteries made a division, or battalion. Independent anti-tank regiments consisted of six batteries with no divisions. A staff battery included a fire control section.

The ZiS-3 saw combat service with North Korean forces during the Korean War (1950-1953).[2]

Post-Cold War

The ZiS-3 was exported to Soviet allies during the Cold War, who in turn exported it to Third World countries. The gun remains in service in several African and Asian countries, and continues to see action in local conflicts and border skirmishes.

The ZiS-3 was officially withdrawn from Soviet service, with many being scrapped or stored. Some were converted incorporated into Great Patriotic War memorials, as commonly found in Russia and Belarus. The Russian Ground Forces uses guns to decorate the buildings and gardens of artillery units quarters, and uses functioning guns as small saluting guns and in history-dedicated military shows.

References and external links

Wikimedia Commons has media related to ZIS-3 76 mm gun.
  1. Foedrowitz, Michael (1996). Soviet Field Artillery in World War 2. Schiffer Military History. p. 11.
  2. Utz, Curtis A., Assault From the Sea: The Amphibious Landing at Inchon, Naval Historical Center, Department of the Navy, Washington , D.C., 2000, ISBN 0-945274-27-0, p. 30.
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