SU-122 Assault Gun

The SU-122 was a self-propelled 122mm gun produced on the chassis of the T-34 Medium Tank, and was similar in concept to the early versions of the German StuG, designed to provide close support for the infantry. It was produced to satisfy a April 1942 requirement issued by the Main Artillery Directorate, calling for a fully armoured self propelled mount for a gun capable of firing more powerful high explosive shells than the current generation of Soviet tanks.

The successful design was produced by a team led by L. Gorlitskiy and E. Silnishchikov and based at the Uralmash plant (UZTM) at Sverdlovsk (now Yekaterinburg), with the aid of a team from the NKPT (Commissariat for Tank Production). They mounted the M-30 Model 1938 122mm howitzer in a fully enclosed casemate built on the front of a T-34 medium tank. The rear half of the SU-122 remained very similar to that of the standard T-34, and contained the engine, final drive, gearbox and fuel. The fighting compartment at the front was produced by extending the sloped armour of the T-34 upwards while also reducing the angle of the slope to increase the available space. The gun was mounted at the front of the fighting compartment. The mounting allowed it to move vertically from -3 to +26 degrees and ten degrees to either side. After field trials in December 1942 the SU-122 was ordered into production, and the first 25 of over 1,000 vehicles was produced that month.

The first SU-122s were used to form mixed assault gun regiments, with seventeen SU-76s in four batteries and eight SU-122s in two batteries. The first two of these regiments entered combat on the Volkov Front near Leningrad in January 1943. While the SU-122 itself was a great success the mixed regiments were not. Having two different vehicles in the same unit complicated maintenance, while the two vehicles could not be used in the same way – the fully enclosed SU-122 could be used to destroy German strong points at close range while the vulnerable SU-76 had to be used at a longer range. In May 1943 the mixed regiments were dissolved, and the SU-122s were then used in medium self-propelled regiments, equipped with sixteen SU-122s and one T-34 command tank.

The SU-122 became a popular infantry support weapon, providing mobile heavy firepower. It was less effective against tanks, even after the introduction of a shaped-charge anti-tank round, but was used as the basis of the SU-85 tank destroyer. The SU-85 was also the source of the ball mounting used on late production SU-122s. Production ended during 1944 after the appearance of the SU-100 tank destroyer and the heavy ISU-152 made the SU-122 unnecessary. 

Stats
Number produced:  December 1942-Summer 1944
Produced: 1,100
Length: 6.95m
Hull Width: 3.00m
Height: 2.32m
Crew: 5
Weight: 30.9 tons
Engine: 500hp V-2 Diesel
Max Speed: 55 km/hr
Max Range:  300km road, 150km off-road
Armament: M-30S 122mm howitzer

Armour

 

Front

Side

Rear

Top/ Bottom

Hull

45mm

45mm

45mm

20mm

T-34 Overview - T-34 Variants - T-34 Production - OT-34 Flamethrower Tank - SU-85 tank destroyer - SU-100 assault gun - SU-122 tank destroyer

Russian Tanks of World War II, Stalin's Armoured Might, Tim Bean and Will Fowler. A good overview of the development of Soviet Tanks from the early models based on British and American originals to the excellent Russian designed T-34 and the heavy IS tanks. Bean and Fowler also look at the development of Soviet tank doctrine, the impact of Stalin's purges on the tank forces, and their use in combat from the small-scale clashes in the Far East to the apocalyptic fighting on the Eastern Front between 1941-45. A little lacking on precise details of the sub-variants of some of the tanks, but otherwise very good.
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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (16 September 2008), SU-122 Assault Gun , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_SU-122_assault_gun.html

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