57 mm Anti-Tank Gun ZiS-2
The 57 mm Anti-Tank Gun Model 1941 ZiS-2 is a Soviet anti-tank gun developed during World War II chambered in 57x480 mmR rounds. A 57 mm cannon, it is well known for its high-velocity shell able to defeat the armor of the heavy German armor during their introduction, namely the Tiger I. It's penetration value was taken into consideration and was to be mounted onto a tank, the ZiS-2 on the tank was redesignated the ZiS-4 and would be mounted on a modified T-34 as the T-34-57. The ZiS-2 was later discontinued due to its high cost and machining, but was restarted when the Battle of Kursk showed that the Red Army was lacking in adequate anti-tank weapon.
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* - Only available in the T-34-57 mod. 1943
In early 1940, Artillery Department sent a requirement for a high-velocity anti-tank gun to the design bureau under Vasiliy G. Grabin. The reason behind this was due to the Winter War against Finland, which surely gave the Soviet Union's neighbor like Germany insight on their heavy armor such as the KV-1. Suspecting that the Germans would thus develop similar vehicles, they needed a fighting chance against these possible threats. With the KV-1 as the standard, Grabin and his design bureau worked on a anti-tank gun able to defeat it, starting in May 1940. The caliber choice of 57 mm was chosen for optimized velocity and mass to be able to penetrate armor. The developed round and gun was able to penetrate 90 mm of armor, yet was still light and small for infantry use. The gun was adopted as the 57-mm anti-tank gun model 1941 (ZiS-2) in the beginning of 1941. Production started in June 1941, but due to the completely new design in gun and ammunition, mass issue of the weapon would take a while. Despite its promising attributes, the gun's production was cancelled in December 1941 by marshals N. N. Voronov and G. L. Govorov. Their belief was that the gun's high-velocity shot would not cause extensive damage in the tank interior, but other reasons for the gun's short production life could also be pointed at the gun's high cost and troubled shell production. Only 371 gun were developed in the six-month period. The production line was switched over 76.2 mm divisional gun ZiS-3.
The ZiS-2, in an attempt to improve its mobility, was also attached to various vehicles for improved efficiency. About 100 of these guns were simply attached to armored tractors and called the ZIS-30. Though crude, it allowed a crew of four to act as a tank destroyer. A more armored mount was made in a tank variant by attaching the gun onto the T-34. The guns mounted in the tanks were known as the ZiS-4, and these 57 mm equipped T-34s were designated as "tank hunters". Only a few were used in this method before the ZiS-2 gun was cancelled.
Battle of Kursk
The Battle of Kursk in the Summer of 1943 showed the Soviets that their armor and firepower were becoming inadequate against the German's heavier tanks like the Panther and Tiger I. The urgency of guns that are able to fight these tanks caused the 57 mm ZiS-2 gun to be restarted in production, to replace the weaker 45 mm 19-K anti-tank gun currently in service for the infantry. The tank also saw a rearmament with the 57 mm gun as well, but modified as the ZiS-4M to simplify construction and fix an accuracy issue with the barrel. Though this gun gave the Soviets a better penetration capability, it was only issued on a limited basis due to the small caliber and high-velocity, which made the caliber a poor choice for high-explosive usage. Thus, as a tank armament, the gun was replaced on the T-34 by the more formidable 85 mm Tank Gun D-5.