Thursday 9 January 2014

World of Tanks: Today in History: Vasiliy Gavrilovich Grabin

One of the best known Soviet artillery engineers was born on January 9th, 1900 (December 18th, 1899 in the old calendar) in the Kuban region. In 1923, he graduated from the Petrograd heavy field artillery command school, and served in Karelia until 1926. In 1926 he became a student at the mechanical engineering faculty of the Technical Military Academy of the Red Army.

In November of 1932, Grabin was appointed the deputy chief of the Main Design Bureau #38, which developed barrelled artillery systems. In 1933, the bureau was disbanded due to Tukhachevskiy's fondness for recoilless guns. Grabin did not want to participate in projects that he thought had no future, so he was reassigned to Gorkiy (Nizhniy Novgorod today) in 1933, to the "Novoye Sormovo" artillery factory #92.

First, factory #92 only built cannons. It was in need of a design bureau. Grabin created such bureau, and became its chief. The design bureau of factory #92 produced many high quality artillery designs.

In 1942, Grabin, already a Lieutenant-General, became the chief of the Main Artillery Design Bureau, in Kaliningrad (Korolev today). He worked here for many years.

The sheer amount of material prevents us from talking about all of Grabin's guns, but we will examine several of them.

The gun of the famous T-34 was born in the design bureau of the Gorkiy factory: the 76 mm F-34. It was accepted in 1941 under the name "76 mm tank gun model 1940". Over 38 000 F-34 guns were produced before 1944.

The ZiS-4 was another one of Grabin's creations that was installed on the T-34. It was based on the 57 mm ZiS-2 gun, and started production in July of 1941, but was only produced in very limited numbers. Tanks armed with this gun fought in defense of Moscow in the 21st Tank Brigade.

In 1941, based on the F-32 and F-34 tank guns, Grabin's bureau designed a gun for heavy tanks, initially indexed F-27. This gun was renamed to ZiS-5, and adopted by the army under the name "76 mm tank gun model 1941". It was installed on KV-1 and KV-1S tanks.

In May of 1941, Grabin, under his own initiative, began development of the 76 mm ZiS-3 divisional gun. It consisted of a 76 mm gun barrel on the ZiS-2 gun mount. In June of 1941, the prototype was ready, entered trials in July, and was demonstrated to Marshal Kulik on July 22nd. Despite the gun's excellent performance, Kulik opposed its adoption. Grabin, due to his stubborn personality, decided to produce the gun anyway. The engineer's work did not go to waste, and the gun was adopted by the Red Army in February of 1942. This gun became not only the most numerous gun in the Red Army, but in the world. Over 100 000 barrels (including the ones installed on the SU-76 SPG) were produced. This gun was the first in the world that was assembled on a conveyor belt. From 1943, this gun became the main gun of divisional artillery, as well as anti-tank regiments.

We will cover one more of Grabin's guns, the 130 mm S-70. This was the first domestic gun with an automatic loading mechanism. The mechanized ammo rack held both shells and propellant. The gun was loaded with mobile carriages and a mechanical rammer. The S-70 reached a rate of fire of 5.5 RPM with the automatic loader and 1.1 RPM without. A small batch of guns was produced in 1948.

Original article available here.


  1. What artillery pieces did Grabin work on that entered service postwar?

    1. The S-60 AA gun. I don't think there were any more, since rockets were the new hotness and everybody wanted to build more of those.

  2. 180mm S-23 also saw limited service and was exported to Syria