After the defeat in World War II, Japan was banned from the creation of the armed forces. The Japanese Constitution, adopted in 1947, legally enshrines the refusal to participate in military conflicts. In particular, in the second chapter, which is called "Renouncing War", it says:
Sincerely striving for international peace based on justice and order, the Japanese people forever reject war as the sovereign right of the nation, as well as the threat or use of armed force as a means of resolving international disputes. To achieve the goal indicated in the previous paragraph, land, sea and air forces, as well as other means of war, will never be created in the future. The right to a state of war is not recognized.
However, already in 1952, the National Security Forces were formed, and in 1954, the Japan Self-Defense Forces began to be created on their basis. Formally, this organization is not the armed forces and in Japan itself is considered a civilian agency. The Prime Minister of Japan is in charge of the Self-Defense Forces.
Although the number of the Japanese Self-Defense Forces is relatively small and now stands at approximately 247 people, they are sufficiently combat-ready and equipped with modern equipment and weapons.
After the formation of the Self-Defense Forces, they were mainly equipped with weapons American production. Until the second half of the 1960s, the main means of air defense for Japanese ground units were 12,7-mm anti-aircraft machine guns and anti-aircraft guns of 40-75 mm caliber.
However, relatively easy-to-use anti-aircraft guns made up the backbone of the air defense systems of the ground forces for a long time. So, as of 1979, the Japan Self-Defense Forces, consisting of 5 armies, 12 infantry divisions, 1 mechanized division and 5 brigades, numbered 180 ground troops. In service there were more than 000 tanks, over 800 armored personnel carriers, 1 artillery pieces and over 300 anti-aircraft guns of 300–35 mm caliber.
12,7 mm anti-aircraft machine gun mounts
During the Second World War, 12,7 mm Browning M2 machine guns were actively used, which were also supplied to the Japanese Self-Defense Forces in the post-war period. The quad 12,7-mm anti-aircraft machine gun M45 Quadmount, in a towed version and mounted on half-track armored transporters M2, M3 and M5, has become widespread.
Towed quad mounts were mainly used for air defense of stationary objects, and half-tracked ZSU could be used to escort transport convoys and mobile units. Quadruple 12,7 mm mounts have proven to be a powerful means of fighting air targets, manpower and lightly armored vehicles.
12,7-mm ZPU M45 Quadmount on the unified M20 trailer
In 1947, for the towed version of the M45 Quadmount anti-aircraft gun, a compact unified M20 trailer was created, in which the wheel drive was separated at the firing position, and it was hung out on jacks.
The weight of the ZPU M45 Quadmount in the firing position was 1087 kg. The effective firing range at air targets is about 1000 m. The rate of fire is 2300 rounds per minute. The capacity of the cartridge boxes on the installation is 800 rounds. Targeting was carried out by electric drives at a speed of up to 60 deg / s. The electric current came from a gasoline generator. Two lead-acid batteries served as a backup power source.
The M45 Quadmount anti-aircraft guns were widely supplied to the allies as part of military assistance. A number of quadruple ZPUs on a unified M20 trailer entered the anti-aircraft units of the Self-Defense Forces, where they were operated until the mid-1970s.
Sumitomo M2 heavy machine gun on Mitsubishi Type 73
The 12,7 mm Sumitomo M2 heavy machine gun, which is a licensed copy of the American Browning M2 machine gun, became more widespread in the Japanese ground units.
This weapon on a tripod machine is still actively used for firing at ground and air targets, and is also installed on various armored vehicles.
20-mm anti-aircraft gun VADS
By the early 1970s, the quad 12,7-mm was obsolete, and in this connection, in 1979, the Air Self-Defense Forces adopted the American 20-mm M167 Vulcan anti-aircraft gun mount. This towed unit, created on the basis of aviation cannon M61 Vulcan, has an electric drive, and is capable of firing at a rate of fire of 1000 and 3000 rds / min. Effective firing range at fast moving air targets - up to 1500 m. Weight - 1800 kg. Calculation - 2 people.
In the early 1980s, Sumitomo Heavy Industries, Ltd (artillery unit) and Toshiba Corporation (electronic equipment) began licensed production of the M167. In Japan, this installation was designated VADS-1 (Vulcan Air Defense System).
20-mm anti-aircraft gun VADS-1kai
Japanese-made 20-mm anti-aircraft guns received improved radar rangefinders. At present, about three dozen 20-mm Japanese anti-aircraft "Volcanoes" used to guard air bases have been upgraded to the VADS-1kai level. A sighting and search television camera with a night channel and a laser rangefinder have been introduced into the hardware of the installations.
40-mm towed anti-aircraft guns and self-propelled anti-aircraft guns
The 40-mm Bofors L60 automatic anti-aircraft gun was one of the best types of anti-aircraft weapons used in World War II. Due to its high combat and service and operational characteristics, it was used by the armed forces of many states.
40-mm anti-aircraft machine Bofors L60 in the stowed position
In the USA, this anti-aircraft gun was produced under license under the designation 40 mm Automatic Gun. In order to simplify and reduce the cost of production, a number of changes were made to the design of the anti-aircraft machine gun.
The gun is mounted on a four-wheeled towed wagon. In case of urgent need, the shooting could be carried out "from the wheels" without additional procedures, but with less accuracy. In the normal mode, the carriage frame was lowered to the ground for greater stability. The transition from the traveling position to the combat position took about 1 minute. With a mass of an anti-aircraft gun of about 2000 kg, towing was carried out by a truck. The calculation and ammunition were located in the back.
The rate of fire reached 120 rds / min. Loading - clips for 4 shots, which were inserted manually. The gun had a practical ceiling of about 3800 m with a range of 7000 m. A fragmentation projectile weighing 0,9 kg left the barrel at a speed of 850 m / s. In most cases, one hit of a 40-mm fragmentation projectile on an enemy attack aircraft or dive bomber was enough to defeat it. Armor-piercing shells capable of penetrating 58 mm of homogeneous steel armor at a distance of 500 meters could be used against lightly armored ground targets.
Usually 40-mm "Bofors" were reduced to anti-aircraft batteries of 4-6 guns guided by PUAZO. But if necessary, the calculation of each anti-aircraft gun could act individually.
In the second half of the 1950s - early 1960s, the United States transferred to Japan approximately two hundred 40-mm towed anti-aircraft guns. The rapid increase in the characteristics of jet combat aircraft quickly became obsolete. But in the Japanese Self-Defense Forces "Bofors" (L60) were used until the early 1980s.
In parallel with towed 40-mm anti-aircraft guns, Japan received 35 ZSU M19. This vehicle, armed with two 40-mm machine guns mounted in an open-top turret, was created in 1944 on the chassis of the M24 Chaffee light tank. Guidance in the horizontal and vertical planes - using an electrohydraulic drive. Ammunition - 352 rounds. Combat rate of fire when firing bursts reached 120 rounds per minute with a range of fire at air targets up to 5000 m.
By the standards of World War II, the anti-aircraft self-propelled gun had good data. The vehicle weighing 18 tons was covered with 13 mm armor, which provided protection against bullets and light fragments. On the M19 highway, it accelerated to 56 km / h, the speed over rough terrain did not exceed 20 km / h.
Before the surrender of Germany, a small number of self-propelled anti-aircraft guns were supplied to the troops. And these machines were not used against the German aviation. In connection with the end of hostilities, not many ZSU M19 were released - 285 vehicles.
Self-propelled anti-aircraft guns, armed with 40-mm sparks, were actively used in Korea for firing at ground targets. Since the ammunition was consumed very quickly when firing in bursts, about 300 more shells in cassettes were transported in special trailers. All M19s were decommissioned shortly after the end of the Korean War. The least worn-out vehicles were handed over to the Allies, and the rest were written off for scrap.
The main reason for the short service of the ZSU M19 was the refusal of the American army from the light M24 tanks, which were unable to fight the Soviet T-34-85. Instead of the M19, the ZSU M42 Duster was adopted. This self-propelled gun with anti-aircraft weapons, similar to the M19, was created on the basis of the M41 light tank in 1951. With a combat weight of 22,6 tons, the car could accelerate on the highway to 72 km / h. Compared to the previous model, the thickness of the frontal armor increased by 12 mm, and now the forehead of the hull could confidently hold 14,5 mm armor-piercing bullets and 23 mm shells fired from a distance of 300 m.
Guidance is carried out using an electric drive, the tower is capable of rotating 360 ° at a speed of 40 ° per second, the vertical guidance angle of the gun is from -3 to + 85 ° at a speed of 25 ° per second. The fire control system included a mirror sight and a calculating device, the data into which were entered manually. Compared to the M19, the ammunition load was increased and amounted to 480 shells. For self-defense, there was a 7,62 mm machine gun.
A significant drawback of the "Duster" was the lack of a radar sight and a centralized anti-aircraft battery fire control system. All this significantly reduced the effectiveness of anti-aircraft fire. In this regard, in 1956, a modification of the M42A1 was created, on which the mirror sight was replaced with a radar one. ZSU M42 was built in a fairly large series, from 1951 to 1959, General Motors Corporation produced approximately 3700 units.
ZSU M42, belonging to the Self-Defense Forces of Japan
In 1960, Japan purchased 22 ZSU M42. These cars, due to their simplicity and unpretentiousness, were liked by the crews. "Dasters" were operated until March 1994. And the ZSU Type 87 was replaced.
75-mm anti-aircraft gun M51 Skysweeper
The heaviest anti-aircraft gun used in the post-war period by Japanese air defense units was the American-made 75-mm M51 Skysweeper automatic cannon.
The appearance of the 75-mm automatic anti-aircraft gun was due to the fact that during the Second World War there was a "difficult" for anti-aircraft artillery range of altitudes from 1500 to 3000 m. small. In order to solve the problem, it seemed natural to create anti-aircraft guns of some intermediate caliber.
Jet combat aircraft in the post-war period developed at a very rapid pace, and the command of the US Army put forward a requirement that the new anti-aircraft gun mount should be able to deal with aircraft flying at speeds up to 1600 km / h at an altitude of 6 km. However, subsequently, the maximum flight speed of the targets being fired was limited to 1100 km / h.
Due to the high speed of flight of targets and the need to ensure an acceptable probability of destruction at a long firing range, the 75-mm anti-aircraft artillery system, which was put into service in 1953, contained a number of advanced technical solutions at that time.
When the flight speed of the fired aircraft is close to the sound one, manually entering data on the target parameters would be absolutely ineffective. Therefore, in the new anti-aircraft installation, a combination of search and guidance radar with an analog computer was used. The rather bulky equipment was combined with the artillery unit of the 75-mm M35 revolving cannon.
A radar with a parabolic antenna was mounted in the upper left of the gun mount. Provided the detection and tracking of air targets at a distance of up to 30 km. Guidance was carried out by electric drives. The gun had an automatic remote fuse installer, which significantly increased the effectiveness of firing. Effective firing range at high-speed air targets - up to 6300 m. Vertical aiming angles: from -6 ° to + 85 °. The gun ammunition during firing was automatically replenished using a special loader. The practical rate of fire was 45 rds / min, which is an excellent indicator for a towed anti-aircraft gun of this caliber.
At the time of the appearance of the 75-mm M51 anti-aircraft gun in its class, it had no equal in range, rate of fire and firing accuracy. At the same time, the complex and expensive hardware required qualified maintenance and was quite sensitive to mechanical stress and meteorological factors.
The mobility of the gun left much to be desired. The transfer to a combat position was quite troublesome. In the stowed position, the anti-aircraft gun was transported on a four-wheeled cart, upon arrival at the firing position, it was lowered to the ground and rested on four cruciform supports. To achieve combat readiness, it was required to connect the power cables and warm up the guidance equipment. The power supply was carried out from a gasoline power generator.
75-mm anti-aircraft guns, possessing high combat characteristics, created many problems for their calculations. Delicate radar equipment on electrovacuum devices at the first stage of operation often did not withstand the powerful recoil and went out of order after a dozen shots. Subsequently, the reliability of the electronics was brought to an acceptable level, but the installation of the M51 was never popular in the American army.
Problems with the reliability and mobility of 75-mm automatic anti-aircraft guns were partially solved by placing them in fixed capital positions, together with 90 and 120-mm anti-aircraft guns. However, the M51 Skysweeper service in the US was short-lived. After the appearance of the MIM-23 Hawk air defense system, the American army abandoned the 75-mm anti-aircraft installations.
75-mm anti-aircraft gun M51 Skysweeper, installed as a monument near the entrance to the Japanese military base Shimoshizu (Camp Shimoshizu)
After 1959, American troops stationed in Japan transferred their 75-mm anti-aircraft guns, which were used to cover air bases, to the Self-Defense Forces. The Japanese highly appreciated the M51 installations. Approximately two and a half dozen of these guns were on alert around important facilities until the second half of the 1970s.
Moreover, when designing an "anti-aircraft tank" in Japan, which was supposed to replace the outdated ZSU M42 in the army, the possibility of using the 75-mm M35 automatic revolving gun with a new radar guidance system as the main weapon was considered as one of the possible options. The firepower of such an anti-aircraft self-propelled gun, if necessary, made it possible to effectively use it against enemy armored vehicles and landing craft. However, later on, preference was given to 35-mm assault rifles, which provide a high probability of destruction when firing at rapidly moving low-altitude targets.
35-mm towed and self-propelled anti-aircraft guns
By the early 1960s, it became clear that 40-mm towed and self-propelled anti-aircraft guns no longer meet modern requirements. The Japanese military was not satisfied with the rate of fire of the 40-mm "Bofors" and the low probability of hitting the target, due to primitive sighting devices.
In 1969, Japan purchased the first batch of towed twin 35-mm Oerlikon GDF-01 anti-aircraft guns. At that time, it was, perhaps, the most advanced anti-aircraft gun, which successfully combined high accuracy of fire, rate of fire, range and reach in height. The licensed production of 35-mm anti-aircraft guns was established by the Japanese engineering company Japan Steel.
The mass of the towed 35-mm anti-aircraft gun in the combat position was more than 6500 kg. Sighting range at air targets - up to 4000 m, reach in height - up to 3000 m. Rate of fire - 1100 rds / min. The capacity of the charging boxes is 124 shots.
To control the fire of the four-gun anti-aircraft battery, the Super Fledermaus FC radar system with a range of 15 km was used.
In 1981, Japanese anti-aircraft artillery units received upgraded 35-mm GDF-02 anti-aircraft guns with an improved fire control radar, which was produced in Japan by Mitsubishi Electric Corporation.
Paired 35-mm anti-aircraft guns were connected by cable lines with an anti-aircraft fire control station. All of its equipment was located in a towed van, on the roof of which there was a rotating pulse Doppler radar antenna, a radar rangefinder and a television camera. Two people serving the station could remotely direct anti-aircraft guns to the target without the participation of gun crews.
The service of 35-mm towed anti-aircraft guns in the Self-Defense Forces ended in 2010. At the time of decommissioning, there were more than 70 twin units in service.
In the second half of the 1970s, the command of the Self-Defense Forces came to the conclusion that the American-made M42 Duster ZSU was obsolete, after which the technical requirements for a promising anti-aircraft self-propelled gun were approved. By that time, Japan had decided to almost completely abandon the purchase of foreign weapons and thereby stimulate the development of its own defense industry.
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries was chosen as the contractor, which had a solid experience in the defense sector. In accordance with the terms of reference, the contractor company was supposed to build a self-propelled anti-aircraft artillery mount on a tracked chassis, with a complex of electronic means that ensure the search and firing of targets.
After going through the options, the Type 74 tank was chosen as the chassis, the production of which had been going on since the mid-1970s. The main difference between the anti-aircraft self-propelled gun and the base tank was a two-man turret of a new design with two 35-mm Oerlikon GDF assault rifles. The rotating turret allows you to fire in any direction with a vertical aiming angle of the barrels from -5 to + 85 °. Ballistic characteristics and firing range correspond to towed 35 mm GDF-02 anti-aircraft guns. Surround and target tracking radars, whose antennas are located at the rear of the tower, provide detection at a range of 18 km and target tracking from a distance of 12 km.
The mass of the ZSU in the firing position is 44 tons. Diesel with a capacity of 750 liters. from. capable of providing highway speeds up to 53 km / h. The power reserve is 300 km. The protection of the case is at the level of the base chassis. The tower has a bulletproof booking.
In 1987, the anti-aircraft self-propelled gun was put into service under the designation Type 87. Serial production was carried out jointly by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Japan Steel Works. A total of 52 vehicles were delivered to the customer. Currently, anti-aircraft units operate approximately 40 Type 87 ZSUs. The rest have been written off or transferred to storage.
ZSU Type 87 in the stowed position, radar antennas folded
In terms of firing characteristics, the Type 87 corresponds to the German ZSU Gepard, but surpasses it in terms of radar equipment.
Currently, the Type 87 ZSU no longer fully meets modern requirements, and long-term operation will inevitably lead to the decommissioning of all anti-aircraft self-propelled guns or will require major repairs. However, a radical modernization of the Type 87 in the future is not rational, since this machine was created on the basis of the outdated Type 74 tank.
Thus, we can expect the emergence of a new Japanese self-propelled anti-aircraft gun with a combined missile and cannon armament on a modern tracked chassis.
To be continued ...