Tuesday 24 December 2019

Suggestion for Stalin

"To the Chairman of the Committee of Defense, comrade I.V. Stalin

In June of 1941 the 23 mm aircraft gun designed by us passed trials in an airplane, showing good results firing both on the ground and in the air. In addition to the good performance, NKV experts remarked that the gun is 50-60% simpler to produce than the VYa gun that is currently in production. Half as much time, tools, plants, workers, etc. will be required to make our gun, which is important at this time to ensure defeat of fascism.

Despite the obvious advantage of our gun, the issue of putting it into production is not yet solved and production has not started.

In September we also designed a 7.92 mm anti-tank rifle for the German cartridge. Our rifle is simple to produce and has only 50 parts, while the German rifle has 209 parts. Despite the massive difference, factory #65 continues to produce the German type rifle, disregarding the domestic design.

Having informed you of the above, we deem it necessary to:
  1. Put the 23 mm aircraft gun into production as the technologically superior variant.
  2. Build at least a large batch of our anti-tank rifle for the 7.92 mm German cartridge.
TsKB-14 designers

December 15th, 1941


  1. Was a 7.92mm anti-tank cartridge much use by this stage?
    Were they anticipating using captured German ammunition?

    1. The 7.92 mm armour piercing cartridge would be produced domestically, except there were certain issue with the powder giving a much higher pressure than the German variant. Pursuing domestic 14.5 mm rifles proved to be a superior approach.

  2. Could you write some context on the answer, I'd like to know the gun they are talking about, and if it went into production.

    1. The gun was TKB-198, it was never put into production.

  3. What I don't understand why they gave the 23mm cannon such poor armor piercing performance. It's not much better than a 12.7mm AP round.
    For some reason the AP shell only has 15mm 68g steel penetrator while the complete shell weighs almost 200g.

    Using that shell the gun has worse AP performance than a 14.5mm MG firing plain AP rounds.

    They could have easily improved the armor piercing capabilities, if the just designed a proper AP shell instead of that AP-I with mediocre penetration abilities.

    1. There's not that much use for good AP performance on an aircraft gun. Having excellent damage is a lot more important since there's a much higher chance you'll be shooting at other aircraft and "soft" ground targets which have practically no armor to begin with.

    2. But thats the whole point of the gun. Why increase the the caliber to 23mm instead of the default 20mm and increase the muzzle velocity to a whooping 905m/s, if you are not making use of the increased armor penetration. The only plane that used the 23mm cannon in large numbers were the IL-2 attack planes which mostly used them against ground targets, in which case 20mm cannons would have done the same to light armored targets.

      From 1944 onwards the Soviets built 23mm aircraft cannons with greatly reduced muzzle velocity, since the increased velocity was not worth the slightly increased armor penetration, even though the poor penetreation is only related to the absence of a proper AP round.

      I guess you could argue that at that point there was no need for a good AP round since the PTAB bombs were incredible effective against both tanks and soft targets.