Khrushchev's Tsar Cannon. 406-mm gun "Condenser"

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406-mm artillery mounts "Condenser 2P" at the parade in Moscow

The biggest guns in stories... The 406-mm self-propelled artillery unit of special power "Condenser 2P" (index GRAU 2A3) can be safely called the "Tsar Cannon" of its time. Like the Oka mortar, which had a monstrous barrel length, the Condenser had a minimum of real benefit, but the effect of regular participation in parades exceeded all expectations. Soviet artillery monsters invariably made an indelible impression on foreign attaches and journalists.

True, it is worth noting that the self-propelled 420-mm mortar frightened the foreign guests of the USSR more. Although even one glance at this installation with a barrel length of 20 meters was enough to make the beholder feel a healthy skepticism about whether this artillery system could shoot at all and whether it would not fall apart at the first shot. The 406-mm 2A3 self-propelled gun was a little more modest, so it did not hit the pages of Life magazine, unlike the 2B1 Oka mortar.



Show Kuzkin's mother


"Show Kuzkin's mother" is a stable idiomatic expression familiar to any inhabitant of our country. It is believed that Nikita Sergeyevich Khrushchev introduced the phrase into a wide circulation, using it during political meetings with the American leadership in 1959. So the phrase also received international fame and recognition.

This phrase is best suited to describe the Soviet nuclear artillery program. The program was launched in response to American developments. In the United States, in May 1953, they successfully tested an experimental 280-mm artillery installation, which fired a nuclear weapon at a test site in Nevada. This was the first ever test of nuclear artillery with a real round of ammunition with a 15 kt nuclear warhead.


ACS "Condenser 2P" in the Central Armed Forces Museum in Moscow

The tests did not go unnoticed and provoked a fair response from the USSR. Already in November 1955, the USSR Council of Ministers issued a decree on the creation of nuclear artillery. The decree freed the hands of Soviet designers and engineers. The work was entrusted to the design bureau of the Leningrad Kirov plant, which was responsible for the chassis for unusual self-propelled guns, and the Kolomna special design bureau of mechanical engineering, where they began to develop an artillery unit.

Soon, real artillery monsters were born, which they managed to place on a modified chassis of a serial heavy tank T-10M (IS-8). The chassis has grown slightly, increasing by one track roller and one carrier roller for each side. At the same time, the chosen caliber was most striking: 420 mm for an atomic mortar and 406 mm for an artillery installation.

With such a caliber, the artillery systems could show Kuzkin's mother to anyone if the ammunition they fired flew to the target. Fortunately, they did not have to participate in any hostilities. At the same time, it should be said that the country already had the experience of creating 406-mm guns at that time.

Even before the outbreak of World War II in the USSR, as part of the program for the creation of a large ocean fleet it was planned to build a series of super-battleships. It was planned to arm them with 406-mm artillery of the main caliber. The 406-mm naval gun B-37, as part of the MP-10 experimental single-barreled polygon installation, even took part in the defense of Leningrad. Tests and real combat experience of using this weapon allowed Soviet designers to work in this direction after the war.

What do we know about the installation "Condenser 2P"


Today it is very difficult to find reliable technical information about the Condenser 2P artillery installation. Moreover, some of this information is poorly consistent with the appearance of the installations. Fortunately, a large number of photographs have survived to this day, as well as a preserved copy, which is kept in the open air in Moscow in the Central Museum of the Armed Forces.


Almost all sources indicate that the mass of the 2A3 "Condenser 2P" unit is 64 tons. At the same time, the weight of the Oka mortar is indicated at the level of 54-55 tons. Outwardly, the 420-mm self-propelled mortar looks much larger, primarily due to the longer barrel. There are practically no other significant differences in the installations.

Both were built on chassis elements of the T-10M heavy tank, which was originally called the IS-8. The chassis was increased by adding one track and carrier rollers (8 + 4) to each side, respectively. At the same time, the body has been significantly redesigned. The chassis for a self-propelled artillery unit of special power "Condenser 2P" received the designation object 271.

Practically unchanged ACS "Condenser 2P" got the power plant of the heavy T-10M tank. This self-propelled gun was equipped with a 12-cylinder liquid-cooled diesel engine V-12-6B. The engine with a displacement of 38,8 liters developed a maximum power of 750 hp.

Especially for the "Condenser" engineers of TsKB-34 developed a 406-mm cannon, designated SM-54. The maximum firing range was estimated at 25,6 kilometers. A total of four such guns were fired, according to the number of self-propelled artillery units released then. Some sources indicate that the barrel length of this gun was 30 calibers (12,18 meters). This seems to be true, considering that the barrel of the installation is visually significantly shorter than that of the Oka (almost 20 meters).


ACS "Condenser 2P" in the Central Armed Forces Museum in Moscow

In the upright position, the gun was guided using hydraulic drives, the guidance in the horizontal plane was carried out only due to the rotation of the entire installation. For more accurate aiming, the gun mount rotation mechanism was associated with a special electric motor. To load the gun with ammunition, special equipment was used. Loading was carried out only with the horizontal position of the barrel.

Specialists from the closed city of Sarov in the Nizhny Novgorod region developed unique ammunition especially for Soviet nuclear artillery. In 2015, as part of the exhibition dedicated to the 70th anniversary of the nuclear industry, visitors were shown a 406-mm nuclear projectile for the ACS 2A3 "Condenser 2P".

A self-propelled artillery unit of special power was intended to disable important targets: airfields, large industrial facilities, transport infrastructure, headquarters and concentrations of enemy troops. For these purposes, Sarov developed the RDS-41 nuclear charge for a 406-mm artillery projectile. On March 18, 1956, this charge was successfully tested at the Semipalatinsk test site. Moreover, the 406-mm atomic projectile was not officially accepted for service.

The fate of the project


Like the 2B1 Oka atomic mortar, the Condenser did not have a successful and long military career. Created in the amount of four copies, the installation regularly, since 1957, appeared in parades. In fact, the role of the "Tsar Cannon" during the reign of Nikita Sergeevich Khrushchev was limited to this. The secretary general relied on missile technology, therefore, with the first successes in the field of creating tactical missile systems, the Soviet Union safely forgot about super-large-caliber nuclear artillery.


ACS "Condenser 2P" in the Central Armed Forces Museum in Moscow

Despite this, the unusual artillery systems performed their task. As Yuri Mikhailovich Mironenko, an expert in the field of creating various types of armored vehicles and special equipment at a tank base, who took part in the tests of the "Condenser", wrote, he had very specific impressions of the unusual ACS.

According to Mironenko, the developers did not fully take into account the length and the very large dynamic recoil force that acted on the tracked chassis at the moment a 406-mm rifled gun was fired. According to him, the first shot from the installation was fired in Leningrad at the Rzhevsky artillery range a couple of kilometers from the tram line No. 10. According to the engineer, when testing large caliber installations, citizens were forcibly driven from the street into special shelters.

At the moment of firing from a 406-mm gun, everything that covered the ground within a radius of 50 meters was in the air, visibility was zero for some time. There was nothing to be seen, including the multi-ton artillery installation that had just sent a 570 kg projectile into the air. The specialists rushed to the self-propelled gun and slowed down as they approached, being in deep thought. The sight of what was left of the formidable machine did not inspire people present at the tests.

As a result of the tests carried out with firing a simulator of a nuclear weapon, the following were noted: disruption from the gearbox mountings, destruction of equipment, damage to sloths, rollback of the combat vehicle by several meters. Constructive errors that were made during the development were corrected, but it was hardly possible to significantly improve the situation. The work was largely reduced to fine-tuning the finished samples to a state that allows them to participate in parades.

Khrushchev's Tsar Cannon. 406-mm gun "Condenser"
406-mm projectile for self-propelled guns "Condenser 2P", exhibition "70 years of the nuclear industry. Chain reaction of success ", photo: bastion-karpenko.ru

At the same time, even in this state of "parade equipment" the effect of the installations "Condenser 2P" and "Oka" was. During the Cold War, both warring countries often misinformed each other and made a lot of efforts for this. The likely enemy was nervous at the thought that the Soviet Union possessed super-powerful nuclear artillery. The situation was aggravated by photographs in the American press, which showed the Soviet artillery monsters in all their glory.

It is also important that the not entirely successful experience with the creation of super-powerful self-propelled artillery was still useful. Thanks to these developments in the USSR, the same enterprises and design bureaus in a short time were able to create the installation, which was put into service. We are talking about a unique 203-mm self-propelled gun "Pion" (2S7), which was actively used for a long time in the army of the USSR, and then Russia.
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  1. +15
    July 3 2021
    During the period under review, nuclear weapons and systems for their delivery developed rapidly.
    The potential enemy had an artillery system with a firing range of shells with a nuclear projectile up to 25-29 km.
    Naturally, they tried to create something similar here. We decided to make a self-propelled gun, as opposed to a potential enemy. But at that time we failed to create a special charge for equipping a projectile of a smaller caliber. It was possible to keep within only the indicated large calibers.
    Later, special charges of a smaller diameter appeared, which made it possible to place it on front-line aircraft and in smaller-caliber shells.

    It's like a tsar bomb weighing over 25 tons. After a certain time, it was possible to create it in much smaller overall and mass characteristics, but this was no longer relevant. Everything flows, everything changes ... The views of the military-political leadership on the use of special weapons also changed. For example, after the collapse of a great country, it never occurs to anyone to have special ammunition for barreled artillery. The potential adversary had the same vision.
    Therefore, the 420-mm and 406-mm artillery systems indicated in the article are one of the initial steps in the development of nuclear weapons delivery systems. There were also other dead-end steps in aviation and in the navy ...
  2. +13
    July 3 2021
    Recently, people have zealously commented on the US abandonment of the railgun.
    The positive side of the failed project was marked by a lot of innovations that can be applied in other areas of science and technology, including the military. An example of the development of Soviet super-heavy artillery systems of the same "opera".
  3. +8
    July 3 2021
    And they also say that, they say, the Tsar Cannon did not shoot. It turns out that she shot, even though the transmission was torn by a rollback. And the tsar bomb exploded. Here is the tsar bell, that one, yes, did not ring. However, with the American Liberty Bell it turned out not much better ...
    1. +13
      July 3 2021
      Why didn't they shoot, they shot. And the M65 (eng. 280mm Gun, Heavy, Motorized, 280mm, M65) not only one, the same famous shot was
      Here in Holland they fired at the exercises
      an ordinary projectile, of course.
  4. +8
    July 3 2021
    Hmmm ... how many riddles, how many questions! Why were you engaged in "high ballistics" guns when there were developments and projects of "gun-launchers" of the D-80 and RAK (E) types? (The "progenitor" of such installations can be called the 380rd Reich's 3-mm naval bomb launcher, mounted on a tank chassis ("Yagdsturm") ... Actually, a 406-mm "capacitor" could be created "in 2 persons"! 1. In the form of a "recoilless gun" on a "self-propelled" ... 2. In the second case, remove the barrel with a crane ... change the "nozzle" to a piston bolt, and then .... * Read the description of the installation in position and preparation for the shot bombards of the fifteenth century!
    1. +7
      July 3 2021
      The "progenitor" of such installations can be called the 380-mm 3 Reich naval bomb launcher, mounted on a tank chassis ("Yagdsturm")


      ??
      You probably meant "SturmTiger" (38 cm RW61 auf Sturm (panzer) mörser Tiger, Sturmmörser Tiger)

      Armed with a 38cm 61mm StuM RW5.4 L / 380 rocket launcher, this weapon was actually borrowed from depth charge throwers used on warships.
      1. +3
        July 3 2021
        Quote: Constanty
        You probably meant "SturmTiger"

        Well, of course, him, the damned one! Yo-mine! Come on! belay Reached the handle! fool I can't tell what I'm writing anymore! Everything! I'm tying it up until Monday! Until Tuesday! Yes
        1. Alf
          +7
          July 3 2021
          Quote: Nikolaevich I
          I'm tying it up until Monday!

          Before this or until the next? laughing
          1. +3
            July 3 2021
            Quote: Alf
            Before this or until the next?

            Until next? Well, you, my friend, are too much! No.
            1. Alf
              +1
              July 3 2021
              Quote: Nikolaevich I
              Quote: Alf
              Before this or until the next?

              Until next? Well, you, my friend, are too much! No.

              Are you worried about your liver? Or for the budget? laughing
              1. +1
                July 4 2021
                Quote: Alf
                Are you worried about your liver? Or for the budget?

                No ... just for a boring week! wink
  5. +10
    July 3 2021
    The caliber of 406 mm with the mass of the entire gun mount of only 65 tons is obviously unsuitable for shooting. Even the 305-mm naval guns of the Russian battleships of the "Sevastopol" class alone weighed 50 tons. Without any calculations, you can see how monstrous the recoil impulse will be, and what will happen to the chassis and all other equipment.
    1. +6
      July 3 2021
      Actually 47,3 tons.
      However, it must be remembered that the 305mm gun of the 1907 model had a barrel length of 52 caliber. and the muzzle velocity was much higher (and therefore the recoil force).
      Another thing is that something was really missing in the form of resistance (ploughshare) as in 2C7 to unload the chassis when fired
      1. Alf
        0
        July 3 2021
        Quote: Constanty
        Another thing is that something was really missing in the form of resistance (ploughshare) as in 2C7 to unload the chassis when fired

        Yeah, with such and such a projectile, a share would have dug a trench. Compared, damn it, 203 and 406 .. No offense.
    2. +1
      July 4 2021
      It is understandable that such a development had no prospects. In fact, the gun is more suitable for the battleship, put on a flimsy tracked platform. Surely, even the developers understood how it would all end.
  6. +5
    July 3 2021
    Thanks to these developments in the USSR, the same enterprises and design bureaus in a short time were able to create the installation, which was put into service. We are talking about a unique 203-mm self-propelled gun "Pion" (2S7), which was actively used for a long time in the army of the USSR, and then Russia.


    And as I wrote in an earlier article about the Oka mortar, in the commentary that the 2S7 "Peony" became in some way a continuation of work on nuclear artillery, there were disadvantages recourse .
    1. +2
      July 3 2021
      Quote: Constanty
      in the USSR, the same enterprises and design bureaus in a short time were able to create an installation, which was put into service. We are talking about a unique 203-mm self-propelled gun "Pion" (2S7)

      Actually, "Peony" could be even more "unique"! After all, they began to develop it in the 210 mm caliber! But "thanks" to some difficulties, they accepted the proposal to use the existing 203-mm barrels! So much for the "short time"! recourse
      1. +3
        July 3 2021
        Quote: Nikolaevich I
        accepted the offer to use the existing 203-mm barrels

        Which ones? If you are talking about the B-4, then there is only a caliber ... At least the difference between full charges is about THREE TIMES says that these are completely different barrels ... Here the production technology can probably be used somewhere, but ... "monoblock, and the B-4 has a liner ... But the shells fit ...
        1. +4
          July 3 2021
          When the military ordered a "big gun" for themselves, several projects were proposed: For example, the Leningrad Artillery Academy proposed to make a cannon caliber of 210 mm, calculating that it would be the most optimal for a new installation. But the Volgograd plant insisted on 203 mm to ensure the continuity of the guns from the B-4 and B-4M guns.
          I also read a slightly different story ...! It's just that the Volgograd plant already had the development of a 203-mm gun (or a new 203-mm barrel? I don't remember exactly ...) ... To re-develop a 210-mm gun (a new barrel) is to create significant problems for oneself and, possibly , for a substantial period! So the Volgograd plant insisted .... Thus, the Pion art installation acquired a 203-mm cannon ... although it could have had a 210-mm one ....
          1. +3
            July 3 2021
            Quote: Nikolaevich I
            It's just that the Volgograd plant already had the development of a 203-mm gun (or a new 203-mm barrel? I don't remember exactly ...) ...

            It was exactly the "Barricades" that made the B-4 and therefore convinced the military (by calculations) that there would be no difference between 203,2 and 210 with the requirements set forth in the terms of reference, and they have experience in making such a caliber, and besides, you can use shells and charges from the B-4. and, most importantly, the "atomic" projectile, although not received, was already "sawed2 for the B-4 ..
    2. +3
      July 3 2021
      Not such a short time ...
      To get to the Pion it was necessary to go through the development of another high-power weapon, to carry out work on the choice of caliber and only then to approach the preparation of the Pion.
  7. +3
    July 3 2021
    How many times did I look at it up close or through the fence from the CDSA - a terrifyingly ridiculous product, as if our engineers had been bitten by the creators of Dora or Mouse. Transporting this product in a war - oh, that would be something! Even without being a specialist, it was clear that the undercarriage was absolutely not for this product and there could be no question of any maneuverability, rate of fire and probably accuracy and speech. Like all other giant art systems, this product inflicted most of the damage on its own side - through a variety of logistics / equipment / repair / production hemorrhoids. The barrel of this product definitely has a low resource of shots, so probably a lot of barrels were also made for these 4 guns .. But what is true, for propaganda purposes, it looked very impressive, and if the real task of this product was precisely propaganda, then questions 0, hat off)
  8. Alf
    +7
    July 3 2021
    During the Cold War, both warring countries often misinformed each other and made a lot of efforts for this.

    They scared us with this

    And we answered with this

    As a result, neither one nor the other did not fly. But they fulfilled their mission - they caught up with fear.
    1. 0
      July 5 2021
      They scared us with this

      XB-70 "Valkyrie" which in the photo is the top?
      1. Alf
        0
        July 5 2021
        Quote: Terran Ghost
        They scared us with this

        XB-70 "Valkyrie" which in the photo is the top?

        She, she ...
  9. +5
    July 3 2021
    Papa Khrushchev was the Grand Master of PR and mystification of Western potential aggressors. And his myths did their job. Until the traitor Penkovsky sold the fact that the real USSR missiles were not hundreds, but dozens. Both the Yankees and NATO were afraid, and did not attack then.
    The situation repeats itself ???
  10. +4
    July 3 2021
    Quote: xomaNN
    Papa Khrushchev was the Grand Master of PR and mystification of Western potential aggressors. And his myths did their job. Until the traitor Penkovsky sold the fact that the real USSR missiles were not hundreds, but dozens. Both the Yankees and NATO were afraid, and did not attack then.
    The situation repeats itself ???

    When they found out, they still didn't attack.
    1. +1
      July 3 2021
      And when the USSR collapsed, all the allies fled en masse to ask for NATO membership, the economy exploded, the army sat and starved, military secrets were sold in wagons. Still not attacked
      1. +2
        July 4 2021
        The army was starving already in 1964. Only in mid-November and December did they start preparing normal meals.
        1. 0
          July 4 2021
          Served 70-72 years because of "malnutrition" gained 17 kg. muscles ..
        2. +1
          July 4 2021
          That year, due to a drought similar to the "Holodomor", Altai and Kazakhstan and Omsk gave a mediocre harvest, they sold bread in stores by a kilogram (one loaf) ... Then flax and Canadian flour.
      2. 0
        July 4 2021
        blaskVokona \ My brother-in-law at that time was the first lieutenant of the Strategic Missile Forces, and my son (by pull) served outside the garden (150 km from home) in the Strategic Missile Forces division ZASovets, so in spite of everything, the shield worked in full attack due to unacceptably large combat losses.
        1. 0
          July 4 2021
          Yeah worked on full program, when nuclear submarines stood in heaps in ports instead of cruises, making up an ideal target for destruction. And missiles and submarines were most actively destroyed with the money of partners. And the location of all real mines was known to the millimeter. And the generalissimo with the codes was drinking almost non-stop.
          1. 0
            July 5 2021
            In general, boats from Soviet bases took out the densely populated coast of the foe without departing from the pier. One division of the Strategic Missile Forces of that time roughly corresponds to a dozen if not more submarines. The bastard loved life very much and even more power would not have shaken his hand to send a nuclear gift ...
            1. 0
              July 5 2021
              Boats do not float in order to swim up to enemies for reference, but to make them more difficult for enemies to destroy. Your Cap wassat
          2. +1
            July 5 2021
            And missiles and submarines were most actively destroyed with the money of partners.

            True, at the same time, the Americans themselves were destroying their nuclear-powered submarine cruisers with strategic missiles and strategic bombers under the START-1 treaty. Truth for your own money.
            ===
            There is actually a more interesting question here. If the US government is so "repulsed" and militaristic, as some members of this site seem to quite sincerely believe, then why is it not going to war, for example, against the same North. Korea? After all, 10-20 nuclear warheads are not a problem at all for the Aegis-Standard Missl SM-3 anti-missile systems - moreover, Ticonderogs and Arleigh Burkees can be deployed right off the coast so that they hit enemy missiles at the starting points of the trajectory.
            Maybe the fact is that they “don't attack” not only because “they are afraid of unacceptable losses from a massive retaliatory strike” ..
            1. -1
              July 11 2021
              Quote: Terran Ghost
              Maybe the fact is that they “don't attack” not only because “they are afraid of unacceptable losses from a massive retaliatory strike” ..

              Firstly, even one warhead that breaks through is, at least for the current administration, a disaster. Even if this warhead hits a military target and civilians will not be hurt.
              Secondly, they zhahnut and South Korea, and this is, after all, an ally, respectively, at least image loss for the United States. And the expulsion of all the military from there.
              And third, another use of nuclear weapons by the Americans, as it were, will not be understood in the world.
              Somehow they did not bother with Iraq, why one should think that they have some other attitude towards the DPRK.
  11. 0
    July 4 2021
    What do not say, but there is something in it.
  12. +1
    July 4 2021
    Clarification to the article. The quote attributed to Mironenko:
    ... As a result of the tests carried out with firing a simulator of a nuclear weapon, the following were noted: disruption from the gearbox mountings, destruction of equipment, damage to sloths, rollback of the combat vehicle by several meters ...
    , - really belongs to the historian of armored vehicles, artillery officer Anatoly Simonyan from his interview to "Zvezda":
    ... The monstrous force of recoil was doing such terrible things that the project was almost canceled. After the shot, the gearbox broke loose from the mountings, the engine after the shot ended up not where it was located, communication equipment and hydraulics - literally everything failed. Each shot of this machine, in fact, was experimental, since after each such volley, the machine was studied for three to four hours, down to each screw, for metal weakening. This is not to mention the fact that the installation itself rolled back seven to eight meters ...

    And Yuri Mikhailovich Mironenko himself was not easy "specialist in the field of creating various samples of armored vehicles and special equipment on a tank base, who took part in the tests of the "Condenser"", but a technical opponent of the project on this topic.
  13. 0
    July 4 2021
    Wow!
    And here in the provinces I did not even suspect about such a scale!
    Here, the author is well done. Enlightens the general public. May God grant him health.
  14. 0
    August 9 2021
    Moreover, even in this state of "parade equipment" the effect of the installations "Condenser 2P" and "Oka" was

    I doubt the Americans fell for this. Even those familiar with artillery at an amateur level can see that the chassis is too flimsy for such a weapon. Rather, the effect was the opposite - seeing such an obvious swindle, the Americans began to suspect (well, or received confirmation of their suspicions, if they were) that many of our most real achievements of the defense industry were fake.
  15. 0
    14 September 2021
    Cannons and mortars of these calibers have proven themselves for hitting a specific target already in 1914-18 and further in 1942 in Sevastopol. I think that every “big! Army "could work on this caliber.
    I know that the former Czechoslovakia was in a state of conflict of forces. It was very painful. The situation has changed, I am a citizen of the Czech Republic and I don't care where the grenade falls. The Czech Republic does not deserve attention. YES, we bought heavy heavy howitzers (Francia) for eight billion kronor. Fully guano

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