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Category: Self-Propelled Gun

North Korean Koksan M-1978 170 mm self-propelled artillery piece. Iraq, 2008

North Korean Koksan M-1978 170 mm Self-Propelled Artillery Piece

The Koksan M-1978, or simply M-1978, is a North Korean self-propelled gun (SPG) featuring a 170 mm gun. It must be noted before moving forward that as with all North Korean military discussions, concrete information is limited; this includes the M-1978 SPG. The main gun in the M-1978 is mounted in an open mount on what is suspected to be Chinese Type 59 chasis a platform and two retractable spades located on the rear of the vehicle. When the vehicle is in a firing position the spades are lowered. The M1978 employs a large muzzle brake. The designation for this SPG is not native; but rather assigned by the US Department of Defense. The reference Koksan M-1978 is to the year and the location in North Korean in which the vehicle was first noted by western analysts; specifically, in 1978 in Koksan county, North Hwanghae Province. The vehicle was first seen in a public display in a parade in 1985 in North Korea. The M-1978 does not carry any ammunition; this would need to be delivered by support vehicles. It is believed that the M-1978 has a range of 40 km; and 60 km when shells are used with a booster (rocket assisted).

The M1978 appears to be crewed by between 6 and 8 personnel; this is reinforced by a photo of an Iranian M1978 with it’s crew. However it must be noted that the Type 59 is manned by a crew of 4. If the Type 59 is the chasis for the M1978 (or a comparable vehicle) then it likely has limits for onboard personnel transport to at most 4 people. We can speculate then that the remaining crew would travel in support vehicles such as the munitions transport vehicle(s).

Export operators include Iran; which used this weapon system during the Iran-Iraq war of 1980-1988. Iraq captured at least one Koksan M-1978 during the Iran-Iraq war; which would end up on display at the University of Anbar, only to be taken by US forces in 2008 (in relation to the US led invasion of Iraq in 2003).

The Koksan M-1978 is believed to still be in active use. A 2013 inspection of Korean People’s Army (KPA) unit 641 by Kim Jong Un showed the unit’s M-1978’s on display for review. Unit 641 is believed to target the South Korean held island of Baengnyeong; off South Korea’s north-west coast. Unit 641 is on the south-west border in close striking distance to Baengnyeong.

The deployment of the M1978 is not known with precision; various attempts describe it as deployed at the regiment or battalion level. Possibly a regiment of 36 units, made up in turn of 3 battalions of 12 units. This along with supporting equipment (vehicles and the like) and personnel. Such attempts at determining the deployment of the M1978 are speculative to be sure; however satellite photos of Unit 641 shows two distinct storage facilities close to each other with each facility housing 4 M1978 SPGs.

Many artillery pieces including the M1978 are stationed near the Korean Demilitarized Zone with South Korea as a part of a broader strategy of the North Korean Military.

SPG: Koksan M-1978
Main Armament: 170 mm gun
Secondary Armament: N/A
Weight: Unknown
Speed: Unknown
Crew: 6 to 8

Works Cited

  1. “Koksan (Artillery).” Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia, Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., 15 Aug. 2017, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Koksan_(artillery). Accessed 15 Aug. 2017.
  2. Pike, John. “Military.” M-1978 / M1989 (KOKSAN) 170mm self propelled (SP) gun, www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/dprk/m-1978-170.htm. Accessed 15 Aug. 2017.
  3. “M1978 Koksan 170-Mm self-Propelled gun.” Military-Today.com , www.military-today.com/artillery/m1978_koksan.htm.
  4. “KPA Unit 641.” Satellite Analysis of DPRK, WordPress.com, 20 Aug. 2015, nkbypanda.wordpress.com/2015/08/18/kpa-unit-641/. Accessed 16 Aug. 2017.
  5. Mansourov , Alexandre Y. “North Korea coming to Assad’s rescue.” The Korea Times, 13 June 2013, www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/news/nation/2013/06/197_137440.html. Accessed 21 Aug. 2017.
  6. “North Korea (1978) Self Propelled Gun .” Tank Encyclopedia, 14 Apr. 2015, www.tanks-encyclopedia.com/coldwar/North_Korea/Koksan-M1978.php. Accessed 21 Aug. 2017.
Mal Walden on a knocked out Panzer IV in the aftermath of the 6 Day War

German AFVs of WW2 in Use by the Syrian Military in the Post War Era

After the Second World War, German AFVs would bolster armored units from around the world; this would include those of the Military of Syria. German Armour would be used by the Syrians during the Water War of 1964 to 1967 and the Six Day War of 1967.

The Syrian Military procured German tanks, assault guns, and self-propelled guns:

  • Tanks: Panzer IV, over 100, specifically the Panzer IV ausf. H & G. 60 were received after refit in France (1950-1952). 50 more were received from Czechoslovakia in 1954. The Soviet DShK machine gun was mounted for an anti-aircraft role, being retrofitted on the cupola.  Additionally 17 Panzer IV ausf. H were received from Spain.
  • Assault guns:  Jagdpanzer IV x6, both L/48 and L/70; Stug III x28
  • Self-propelled guns: Hummel x5

These Syrian AFVs came from the USSR, France, Spain and Czechoslovakia. It must be stressed that specifics on numbers and sources is difficult to verify; actual figures in particularly. The Water War occurred during 1964 to 1967 and the Six Day War occurred during June of 1967; by the 1960s the German AFVs used by Syria where easily obsolete. After the Six Day War, numerous Panzer IV tanks, and even some Stug III and Jagdpanzer IV assault guns littered the battlefield; including the Golan Heights where Panzer IVs were used in fixed positions to fire on the Valley below. It has been noted that the Panzer IV was also used in a fixed fired position from the Golan Heights during the Water War. One Jagpanzer IV L/48 was knocked out near Mount Hermon on the Golan Heights during the Six Day War.

On July 12 of 2014, a Panzer IV ausf. H, chassis number 89457, was auctioned; this vehicle had been originally bought by Syria in the 1950s before being captured by the Isrealis during the Six Day War. This vehicle was used as a training vehicle; before being shipped to the museum at Yad La-Shiryon. This vehicle was purchased by the Military Vehicle Technology Foundation in California. This Panzer IV included changes such as the mounting for the DShK machine gun.

Panzer IVs

Jagdpanzer IVs

Stug IIIs


Unlike the tanks and assault guns acquired by Syria, the self-propelled guns is a uncertain subject; these pictures below possibly confirm the acquisition of Hummel(s) by the Syrians however some doubt remains.

Syrian Panzer IVs and a Stug III on Display

Isreali has a captured Panzer IV ausf. G and a Stug III on display at Yad La-Shiryon, which contains an impressive collection of tanks; most of the pictures below are of these two AFVs.

Works Cited

  1. “Pz. IV in the Arad-Israeli War 1967.” Axis History Forum. Axis History, 29 June 2010. Web. 27 July 2016. <http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic.php?t=20417&start=15>
  2. “StuG III/StuH 42 a StuG IV v Službách Cudzích Armád.” Úvodní Stránka. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 July 2016.<http://forum.valka.cz/topic/view/79297#285006>
  3. “Pz.Kpfw. IV – v Službách Cudzích Armád.” Úvodní Stránka. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 July 2016. <http://forum.valka.cz/topic/view/59715#118126>
  4. “Post War Use of Axis AFVs and Vehicles. – Weapons & Technology in WWII.”WWII Forums. N.p., 5 Dec. 2008. Web. 27 July 2016. <http://www.ww2f.com/topic/16506-post-war-use-of-axis-afvs-and-vehicles/>
  5. “Jagdpanzer IV Sd. Kfz. 162 – 75mm L/48 (1944).” Achtung Panzer: The History of Tanks and People of the Panzertruppe. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 July 2016. <http://www.achtungpanzer.com/jagdpanzer-iv-sd-kfz-162-75mm-l48-1944.htm>
  6. “Hummel Sd. Kfz. 165.” Achtung Panzer: The History of Tanks and People of the Panzertruppe. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 July 2016.<http://www.achtungpanzer.com/hummel.htm>
  7. “Panzerkampfwagen IV.” Achtung Panzer: The History of Tanks and People of the Panzertruppe. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 July 2016. <http://www.achtungpanzer.com/panzerkampfwagen-iv.htm>
  8. Surviving Pz. IV Variants. N.p.: Shadock’s Website, 25 July 2016. PDF. <http://the.shadock.free.fr/Surviving_Panzer_IV_variants.pdf>
  9. “Panzer IV.” Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., 22 July 2016. Web. 29 July 2016.<https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Panzer_IV>
  10. “Panzerkampfwagen IV Ausf. H (Sd.Kfz. 161/2).” Auctions America. RM, 12 July 2014. Web. 29 July 2016. <http://www.auctionsamerica.com/events/feature-lots.cfm?SaleCode=LC14&ID=r0126%20>

Armoured Units of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant

As the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS or ISIL depending on the context) has coalesced into a nation state, it has acquired a diverse selection of military hardware. This includes armoured units.  Among the various pieces of equipment deployed by ISIS are the Badger MRAP, Humvees, T-54/55, T-62, and T-72 main battle tanks (MBT), as well as M1117 armoured cars, MT-LB, BMP-1, and M113 APCs. The tanks, MT-LB and BMP-1 are Soviet Stock, and the Humvee, M1117, and M113 are all native to the United States. Depending on the sophistication of ISIS armoured vehicle recovery and repair, possible additions include the US native M1 Abrams MBT. ISIS armoured stock are spoils of war; possibly captured from a variety of places including the Iraqi Military, the Military of Syria, and other militant groups, as well as Iran. On the ground ISIS is currently fighting against a multitude of opponents; this could include any of the following,

  • Other militant groups
  • Kurdish forces
  • The Military of Syria
  • The Military of Iraq
  • The Military of Iran

Given the nature of the acquisition of ISIS’s military equipment and the highly fluid nature of the conflict in which she is fighting, her inventory of Armoured Fighting Vehicles has the potential to change rapidly. Future acquisitions could easily include more of the above as well as: M1 Abrams MBT, BMP-2, et al..

The actual size of ISIS’s armoured units is difficult to estimate given ongoing acquisitions and attrition; although it had been noted as being approximately 40 strong for two of the MBTs: 30 T-54/55 and roughly 10 T-72 tanks. Although these estimates were from earlier in the year regarding the T-54/55 and T-72. ISIS employs a strong collection of Technicals; pick-up Trucks with mounted weapons (and possibly armour as well); ISIS’s limit for these vehicles realistically is limited to her desire as pick-up trucks and supporting mountable weapons should be in ample supply. In a recent Wall Street Journal (WSJ) article it was estimated that ISIS employs approximately 30 M1 Abrams already. Given the state of the war, it is not a question of if, but rather when ISIS will expand it’s inventory of US military hardware. However despite this fact the M1 Abrams is an iconic weapon system; given ISIS’s documented interest in lauding its perceived attacks on the West, including the murder recently of US journalists, it would seem logical that an M1 Abrams would prove an excellent backdrop for an ISIS propaganda video.  As such I do not believe ISIS currently has any M1 Abrams.

Based on my own research (with an emphasis on visual evidence) I estimate the following numbers for ISIS’s AFV inventory,

  • T-54/55 MBT – 10 to 20; stock from either of the Syrian or Iraqi military. Likely from the Syrian civil war including all combatants.
  • T-72 MBT – 3 to 5; stock from either of the Syrian or Iraqi military. Likely from the Syrian civil war including all combatants.
  • T-62 MBT – 20 to 30; stock from either of the Syrian or Iraqi military. A large stock of these were captured from the Iraqi military however the Syrian Civil War would have also fostered an environment to acquire these.
  • MT-LB – 3; seized from the Iraqi military; also possibly in use by Syrians.
  • M113 – 3 to 5; including two captured from the Iraqi military.
  • BMP-1 – 3 to 5; stock from the Syrian military from the Syrian civil war including all combatants.
  • M1117 – 3 to 5; several seized from the Iraqi military
  • Badger MRAP – 3 or less; seized from the Iraqi military.
  • 2S1 Gvozdika Self Propelled Artillery – 3 or less; stock from either of the Syrian or Iraqi military.
  • 2K12 Kub (SA-6 Gainful) SAM missile systems – 3 captured in Iraq from the Iraqi military.
  • Humvees – perhaps 10 to 20 acquired from the Iraqi military.

I estimate ISIS total inventory at approximately 80 vehicles at most; this does not include Technicals and related vehicles such as Humvees. Technicals by far represent the majority of AFVs employed by ISIS; with the above representing a small fraction: perhaps as little as 1 to 3% although likely 1% or less. Given ISIS’s resources, she is well equiped to use and maintain these systems; the exception being the 2K12 Kub system’s main armament. There are claims that the US weapons systems will prove difficult to maintain; with a lack of spare parts and technical expertise. This is false; ISIS’s arrary of Technicals includes many illustrating a high degree of inginuity and resourcefulness. It is hubris to think that ISIS is incapable of maintaining its inventory of AFVs; her real limits will be with missiles of any size including captured ballistic missiles and aircraft. Further, ISIS is well equipped with mobile man operated anti-aircraft systems such as shoulder fired manpad systems. These systems provide a degree of secuirty for ISIS’s AFVs; while not absolute, they are a major factor for consideration in any airstrike targeting ISIS AFVs.

A video showing captured T-62 MBTs in a field; ISIS captured these from the Iraqi Military. They sit with a few APCs, possibly Soviet MT-LB APCs. I estimate in this video 10 T-62 and 3 MT-LB AFVs along with possibly 2 more MT-LB and 3 more T-62 in the far background.

Another video showing a parade of armour including T-62 MBTs and a BMP-1.


A video showing ISIS Technicals and an M113 APC.


Works Cited

Bender, Jeremy. “As ISIS Routs The Iraqi Army, Here’s A Look At What The Jihadists Have In Their Arsenal.” Business Insider. Business Insider, Inc, 8 July 2014. Web. 3 Sept. 2014. <http://www.businessinsider.com/isis-military-equipment-breakdown-2014-7>.

Parrish, Brent. “The Growing ISIS Arsenal, Pt. 1.” The Right Planet. 29 Aug. 2014. Web. 3 Sept. 2014. <http://www.therightplanet.com/2014/08/the-growing-isis-arsenal-pt-1/>.

Firik, Mehmet Kemal. “ISIS’s Weapon Inventory Grows.” Daily Sabah. 7 Feb. 2014. Web. 4 Sept. 2014. <http://www.dailysabah.com/mideast/2014/07/03/isiss-weapon-inventory-grows>.

“ISIS Ambushes Iraqi Army in Anbar Province.” HubPages. 15 July 2014. Web. 4 Sept. 2014. <http://perrya.hubpages.com/hub/ISIS-Ambushes-Iraqi-Army-in-Anbar-Province>.

PREGENT, MICHAEL, and MICHAEL WEISS. “Exploiting the ISIS Vulnerabilities in Iraq: The Terrorists’ Heavy Military Equipment Is Hard to Maintain, Easy to Target from the Air.” The Wall Street Journal. Dow Jones & Company, 12 Aug. 2014. Web. 4 Sept. 2014. <http://online.wsj.com/articles/michael-pregent-and-michael-weiss-exploiting-the-isis-vulnerabilities-in-iraq-1407884145>.

The SU-100Y Tank Destroyer

This post focuses on the self-propelled guns developed from the T-100 project; with a focus on the SU-100Y.

The SU-100Y at the  Kubinka Tank Museum in Russia.

The SU-100Y at the Kubinka Tank Museum in Russia.

A profile view showing the T-100X (SU-100X), SU-100Y, and Object 103 (Obyekt 103).

A profile view showing the T-100X (SU-100X), SU-100Y, and Object 103 (Obyekt 103). This image mistakenly notes the SU-100Y as being used during the Winter War; this image courtesy of juniourgeneral.org.

Based on the T-100  (“SU-100Y Self-Propelled Gun.”), a prototype tank design which began it’s life sometime between 1938 and 1939 (“T-100 tank.”), the SU-100Y was a prototype tank destroyer. Development began in 1939 with the Winter War already being fought between the Soviet Union and Finland (“SU-100Y Self-Propelled Gun.”). The T-100 and the SU-100Y both only made it to the prototype stage; with the T-100 seeing action during the Winter War (“T-100 tank.”) and the SU-100Y serving during the defense of Moscow (“SU-100Y Self-Propelled Gun.”). Initial design requirements for the what would end up being the SU-100Y included the vehicle having qualities of a bridge laying, explosives transport, and tank recovery unit (“SU-100Y Self-Propelled Gun.”) . Although the T-100 had effectively been passed in favor of the KV given the poor performance of the T-100 and the SMK (a competitor to the T-100) during the war in Finland; work continued on existing proposals to enhance both (Zaloga and Grandsen 118). A request by Kirill Afanasievich Meretskov, commander of the Soviet 7th Army in Finland was made to use a larger gun on the heavy tanks to be used against bunkers and anti-tank obstacles among other things (Zaloga and Grandsen 118). A 152mm cannon was suggested however this was dropped in favor of using a 100mm or 130mm cannon (“SU-100Y Self-Propelled Gun.”). The initial design was given the designation T-100X and was accepted on January 8, 1940. The T-100X fielded a 130 mm Naval Gun B-13 as it’s main armament and used a torsion bar suspension. A redesign modifying the fighting compartment to reduce manufacturing times resulted in the SU-100Y (or T-100Y) (Potapov). Production of the prototype began on March 1, 1940 with the factory having received the hull (Potapov), and testing began on the 14th of the same month (“SU-100Y Self-Propelled Gun.”); this SU-100Y was actually built from a rebuilt T-100 prototype (Zaloga and Grandsen 118). In April 1940 a proposal for another T-100 based vehicle was made; this one called Object 103 (Obyekt 103) and featured a 130 mm Naval Gun B-13 as it’s main armament in a rotating turret along with three 7.62mm machine guns (“SU-100Y Self-Propelled Gun.”). Object 103 never went beyond the drawing board. Although the SU-100Y has the appearance and characteristics of a tank destroyer, it is sometimes referred to as a self-propelled gun; in fact, during the defense of Moscow it served with an Independent Artillery Division for Special Duties (“SU-100Y Self-Propelled Gun.”).

The SU-100Y is available as a premium tank (for purchase) in the Video Game World of Tanks.

The SU-100Y as seen from the tech screen in World of Tanks.

The SU-100Y as seen from the tech screen in World of Tanks.

Works Cited:

1. “SU-100Y Self-Propelled Gun.” Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., 24 Apr 2013. Web. 12 Jun 2013. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SU-100Y_Self-Propelled_Gun>.

2. “T-100 tank.” Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., 5 Jun 2013. Web. 12 Jun 2013. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/T-100_tank>.

3. “SU-100Y.” World of Tanks. Wargaming.net, 12 Jun 2013. Web. 15 Jun 2013. <http://wiki.worldoftanks.com/SU-100Y>.

4. Potapov, Valeri. “SU-100Y Self-Propelled Gun.” The Russian Battlefield. N.p., 18 Sep 2011. Web. 15 Jun 2013. <http://english.battlefield.ru/su-100y.html>.

5. Zaloga , Steven J., and James Grandsen. Soviet Tanks and Combat Vehicles of World War Two. Arms and Armour Press, 1984. 118. Print.

105 mm (10.5 cm) Cannon on the Sherman and Panzer IV

An M4A3E8 Sherman Tank

An M4A3E8 Sherman Tank armed with a 76mm cannon.

In the game World of Tanks the available Sherman tanks, the M4, the M4A3E2, and the M4A3E8 as well as the Panzer (PzKpfw) IV are shown as having a 105mm cannon available. In the case of the Sherman, Gun 105 mm SPH M4 L/23; and in the case of the Panzer IV, Gun 10,5 cm KwK 42 L/28. While I’m aware of upgrade programs for the Sherman, while thinking about the Panzer IV this got me wondering about when this would have occurred and where it may have been seen.

Regarding the Sherman I have found that during the Second World War, there was a variant using a 105mm cannon: the M4 Sherman 105mm Howitzer. This variant was used in both an Artillery, and a Tank Destroyer capacity. These tanks were fitted with a modified 105mm M2 howitzer (“1944-U.S.A. M4 Medium Tank (105)”); the M1/M2 being the guns in the M7 Priest Self-Propelled Gun.

While actual Sherman’s using the 105mm cannon were produced and saw action, the Panzer IV with a 105mm (10.5cm) was a different story. The German’s appear to have experimented with a 105mm artillery gun mounted in an experimental demountable turret on a Panzer IV chassis (“Panzer IV”); this experimental design was called the Heuschrecke (“Grasshopper”), a Self-Propelled Gun. A further  experimental design, a tank destroyer nicknamed Dicker Max (Fat Max); it was called the 10.5 cm K gepanzerte Selbstfahrlafette. While the prototype for the  Heuschrecke 10 doesn’t appear to have been sent into combat; the Dicker Max prototypes, both, were sent to the Eastern Front. What is not clear is if two were built and sent to the Eastern Front, or if one was built and sent along with a prototype for the Sturer Emil (Stubborn Emil) which was a comparable vehicle. Quoting the Wikipedia page for the Sturer Emil, the name for the prototypes of the two Sturer Emil units sent to the Eastern Front where “Max and Moritz” (“Sturer Emil”).

Works Cited:

1. “M4 Sherman.” Wikipedia The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., 12 May 2013. Web. 12 May 2013. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M4_Sherman>.

2. “The History of the M4 Sherman 105mm Howitzer.” . Tamiya.com. Web. 12 May 2013. <http://www.tamiya.com/english/products/56014sherman/sherman_expl.htm>.

3. “1944-U.S.A. M4 Medium Tank (105).” Battle Tanks. N.p.. Web. 12 May 2013. <http://www.battletanks.com/m4_105mm.htm>.

4. “Panzer IV.” Wikipedia The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., 7 May 2013. Web. 12 May 2013. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Panzer_IV>.

5. “10.5 cm K (gp.Sfl.).” Wikipedia The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., 1 Mar 2013. Web. 12 May 2013. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/10.5_cm_K_(gp.Sfl.)>.

6. “Heuschrecke 10.” Wikipedia The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., 8 May 2013. Web. 12 May 2013. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heuschrecke_10>.

7.  “Sturer Emil.” Wikipedia The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., 27 Feb 2013. Web. 12 May 2013. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sturer_Emil>.

8. “Dicker Max and Sturer Emil in Combat.” Flames of War. N.p., 21 May 2010. Web. 12 May 2013. <http://www.flamesofwar.com/hobby.aspx?art_id=1936>.

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