Self-Propelled Anti-Aircraft Guns of the Soviet Union

Published on
Published on
Published on
Review Author(s)
Book Author(s)
Mike Guardia
Other Publication Information
Illustrated by Henry Morshead, Softcover, 48 pages, black & white photos, technical illustrations, and campaign maps.
Product / Stock #
Vanguard 222
Company: Osprey Publishing - Website: Visit Site
Provided by: Osprey Publishing - Website: Visit Site
Book cover

Osprey Publishing is a publishing house that has dominated the casual military history market for years, publishing dozens of military history titles every year. Their long running New Vanguard series continues with the exploration of Soviet era armor with a volume on self-propelled anti-aircraft guns. As is typical of these volumes, it is packed with color profiles, black & white photographs and a smattering of contemporary color photographs. As the title of the book suggests, this volume provides a broad overview of basically anti-aircraft artillery on tracks.

The chapters are arranged topically, by vehicle type:

  • ZSU-37 and the early years of Soviet Air Defense
  • ZSU 57-2
  • ZSU 23-4
  • 9K22 Tunguska (SA-19 Grison)
  • Trends in Post-Soviet SPAAGS [Self Propelled Anti-Aircraft Guns]

In the years after the end of the Second World War, inspired by the various German attempts to mate anti-aircraft artillery with tracked vehicles, the Soviet Union lead the way in fielding anti-aircraft weapons that could protect armored columns from roving aircraft. Beginning first with the ZSU-37 that was fielded shortly after the end of the war, it provided the necessary inspiration to further refine the concept. Known as Zenitnaya Samokhodnaya Ustanovka (anti-aircraft, self-propelled mount or ZSU), the Soviets perfected the concept and designed vehicles that are still in service nearly fifty years after they left the factory.

The ZSU 57-2 housed two 57 mm cannons in an open turret on a modified T-55 chassis. Without the benefit of a built-in radar unit, the vehicles optical sights and slow traverse meant it could not effectively deter jet propelled aircraft. The ZSU 23-4 or Shilka is the most iconic of this class of vehicle. Armed with four 23 mm cannon and a built-in radar guided, fire control system, made this a relatively lethal vehicle when it was first fielded. Considerably more effective than the American equivalent it doubled as a fire support vehicle when the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan. As a testimony to the vehicles design, with upgrades in the fire control systems, the Shilka continues to remain in service. The fall of the Soviet Union did not stop the development of newer vehicles. Armed with guns and missiles, the Tunguska has entered service in smaller numbers. It is a capable vehicle that can fulfill a variety of missions, be they anti-air or ground support.

The New Vanguard series continues to serve the modeling community with timely volumes on subjects that do not see a great deal of press. While there has not been a new release of the Shilka in a long time, perhaps this volume will spur the development of a new line of products. My thanks to IPMS and Osprey Publishing for allowing me to review this book.


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