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M53/59 twin 30-mm self-propelled AA gun

It is widely believed that the Soviet Union forces its Warsaw Pact countries either to purchase Soviet equipment or manufacture it under license. In fact some of the Warsaw Pact countries have their own flourishing defense industries, one such being Czechoslovakia, which has recently developed a 1S2-mm (6-in) self-propelled gun on an 8x8 Tatra truck chassis. In the 1950s Czechoslovakia developed and placed in production the M53159 twin 30-mm self-propelled anti-aircraft gun system, and this is known to be in service with Libya and Yugoslavia in addition to the Czech army itself. In some Czech units, however, the M53/ 59 has already been replaced by the ZSU-23-4 SPAAG which is a much more effective system.

The M53/S9 was used by the Czech army in place of the Soviet ZSU-5~-2 SPAAG, and consists essentially of the Praga V3S (6x6) 3-tone truck chassis fitted with an armored cab and a twin M53 30-mm anti-aircraft gun system at the rear.

The engine is at the front of the vehicle and provided with full armor protection from shell splinters and small arms fire. The cab is to the immediate rear of the engine, with the driver seated on the left and the commander on the right; the latter has a hemispherical Plexiglas cupola in the cab roof for all-round observation. Both crew members are provided with side door and vision slits while to their immediate front is a windscreen covered by an armored shutter in combat. To the rear of the commander and driver are the two ammunition members, who sit facing the rear.

The twin 30-mm mount has hydraulic power traverse through 360 the weapons elevate from - 10 to +85. Cyclic rate of fire is 450 to 500 rounds per gun per minute, while the practical rate of fire (conditioned by ammunition resupply) is 150 rounds per minute per gun. The basic towed 30-mm M53 is fed with clips of 10 rounds whereas the M53/59 has a 50-round vertical magazine for each gas-operated cannon. It is estimated that between 600 and 800 rounds of 30-mm ammunition of two types (API and HEI) are carried. The API (armor-piercing incendiary) projectile will penetrate 55 mm (2. 16 in) of armor at a range of 500 m (546 yards) and is used mainly against vehicles, while the HEI (high explosive incendiary) round is used against aerial targets. Both have a muzzle velocity of 1000 m (3,280 ft) per second. Effective anti-aircraft range of the system is estimated to be 3000 m (3,280 yards) and maximum vertical range is 6300 m (20 6~0 ft).

Apart from its obvious drawback of being a clear-weather anti-aircraft system, the M53/59 also lacks cross-country mobility when operating with full-tracked vehicles such as tanks and armored personal carriers, and has neither NBC protection nor infra-red night-vision lights. An unusual feature of the M53/59 is that the complete mount can be removed from the chassis and placed on the ground.

The age of the MS3/S9 is displayed by the lack of protection tor the gunners, and its lackof crosscountrymobility would hamper operations with tracked vehicles.

Specification M53/59

Crew: 6
Weight: 10300 kg (22,'10~ lb)

Dimensions: length 6.92 m (22 ft 8 in); width 2.35 m (7 ft 9 in); height (without magazines) 2.585 m (8 ft 6 in)
Powerplant: one Tatra T 912-26-cylinder diesel developing 110 hp (82 kW)
Performance: maximum road speed 60 krn/h (3'1 mph); maximum range 500 km (311 miles); gradient 60 per cent; vertical obstacle 0.46 m ( 1 ft 6 in); trench 0.69 m (2 ft 3 in)

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