The multi-barreled small-caliber automatic guns designed by Vasily Gryazev and Arkady Shipunov have for many years protected Soviet and Russian ships from airborne threats.
“When this gun fires, it has a special, unique sound. Personally, it reminds me of a growl, ”says an officer of the North fleet on shooting from the AK-630 ship’s anti-aircraft artillery mount.
The Tula Instrument Engineering Design Bureau, which is part of the holding of NPO High-Precision Complexes, celebrated a memorable date this summer: exactly 35 years ago, 23 June 1980, the 30-mm anti-aircraft gun GSH-6-30L was adopted by the Soviet Navy as part of the AK-306 anti-aircraft artillery system developed for small displacement ships, including the Buyan-X project 21630 small artillery ships replenished the Caspian flotilla of small artillery ships (not to be confused with small rocket ships of the 21631 "Buyan-M" project).
Adoption of the GS-6-30L was a peculiar outcome of the difficult work of creating a series of naval rapid-fire small-caliber anti-aircraft guns, launched by the outstanding weapons designers Vasily Gryazev and Arkady Shipunov in the 60-s. Based on them, unique AK-630, AK-630М gun mounts, and then light AK-306, were developed.
The modern path of development of naval small-caliber automatic guns was laid quite peculiarly. On the one hand, even in the mid-70s and early 80s, leading arms developers in the USA, Switzerland, Great Britain and other countries were largely guided by the experience of the Second World War, when ships needed to repulse massive aviation raids. However, in modern times, anti-ship missiles became the main danger to the navy, and it was extremely difficult to combat them, especially in the vicinity.
At the end of the 40-x - the beginning of the 50-x in the USSR, the USA, France and even in Sweden, the development of new weapons systems began - anti-ship missiles (RCC), which soon filled up the arsenals of naval fleets. Initially, it was decided to fight anti-ship missiles with missiles installed on anti-aircraft missile systems that could shoot down subsonic ones that could not maneuver, which were quite large in terms of anti-ship missiles.
But at the beginning of the 60-x PKR not only began to actively maneuver, but also mastered flying at low altitudes, which greatly complicated the tasks of the ship's air defense systems.
Conducted at the end of 50-x research in the US and the USSR have proved: the likelihood that the anti-ship missiles will overcome the fire of the ship's air defense system and hit the protected object is very high. But the biggest problem was that if the air defense system covered the long and medium approaches, then at short distances the ship was completely defenseless. Armament systems were required that were able to hit the low-level, high-speed missiles, guaranteed to hit. Such a tool could be anti-aircraft artillery.
In 50-x there were two directions in the development of naval anti-aircraft artillery systems: large and small caliber. The adherents of the first believed that in order to destroy a broken PKR, it was necessary to fire at it with projectiles of a larger caliber (from 57-mm to 130-mm), which, due to a powerful warhead, even when they exploded nearby, would hit the target with shrapnel. The artillery systems of such a caliber can fire at a sufficiently long range, and, if necessary, are used both on land and on surface objects.
At the same time, the work carried out and tests showed that for dealing with maneuvering air targets, the rate of fire is important, which large-caliber systems could not provide. The first developers who were able to bring their product to mass production were the gunsmiths of the Italian company “Breda”, which launched the 60-76-mm L62 cannon with the rate of 60 shots per minute in the beginning (in the “Compact” version - 85-rds / min) .
True, their competitors from Oto Melara, whose 76-mm gun (rate of shooting 85 rds / min) was installed on ships in more than 60 countries of the world and several states under license, achieved much more success. But still, despite the stated possibility of hitting air targets, the Italian cannon is more likely a means to combat surface and surface targets. True, at the beginning of 80's, Oto Melara developed a version of Super Rapid with a rate of 120 rounds per minute, designed to combat anti-ship missiles at a range of from one to six thousand meters. In the 2000-x in the version of "Strales" appeared modern controls, as well as tracking air targets.
But be that as it may, large-caliber anti-aircraft gun mounts still remain exotic, and in the product lines of the overwhelming majority armory firms feature various small-caliber ship guns. They cannot hit targets at long ranges, but due to their high rate of fire, they are able to shoot down an anti-ship missile that goes not only at high speed, but actually at the very edge of the water.
Abroad, the leading position in this segment of ship-based weapons systems is from the American company General Electric, whose multi-barreled guns are the basis of such widely used art installations in the world as Vulcan Falans and Goalkeeper. The choice of developers in favor of multi-barrel systems is understandable - only they can provide the maximum rate of fire with high barrel survivability, which is especially important, since, unlike aircraft artillery systems with ammunition, several hundred rounds of ship-borne small-caliber guns can reach several thousand. And the automation, and the barrels of artillery installations must be relived, since it is almost impossible to replace them on a long hike.
“It is considered to be that if a ship is large, then there are no such severe restrictions for the naval armament in terms of weight and dimensions as for aviation. And there are no problems with the power supply on the hardware (the ship. - A. R.) - the power plant will cope with everything. In fact, such an opinion is deeply mistaken. Restrictions are quite tough. Especially when it comes to ships of small displacement such as the IPC, RTOs, etc., ”the shipbuilding engineer explained to the Military Industrial Courier.
According to the interlocutor, one of the main problems of the ship system is its placement, including ammunition and power consumption.
“If the artillery system is large enough, then it must be placed so that the superstructures and antenna facilities do not interfere. If the system has a large ammunition, it should be hidden under the deck. The most ideal option is when the installation does not require cutting the deck, that is, the artillery system is quite compact and can be installed so that there is a large attack area with the simplest refinement of the superstructure and minimal transfer of the antenna farm, ”the engineer concluded.
Hot barrel and cold heads
Since the beginning of the 50's, the command of the Soviet Navy has paid quite a lot of attention not only to the development of anti-ship missiles, which were to become the main weapons of the Navy, but also to the creation of means to combat this serious threat.
After conducting theoretical studies, as well as various tests and experimental exercises, it was found that with a massive salvo of anti-ship missiles, depending on the conditions, the ship’s anti-aircraft missiles can destroy no more than 70 percent - the rest will break through into the ship’s near defense zone (two to three kilometers) .
It should be noted that the research institutes of the Soviet Navy did not make an unequivocal conclusion in favor of small-caliber or large-caliber ship-based anti-aircraft artillery systems. In particular, for a long time the threat of a massive raid of carrier-based aviation was considered with the same probability as a volley of enemy anti-ship missiles. And in the opinion of the leadership of the Soviet Navy, it was preferable to fight large-caliber airplanes with a relatively high rate of fire.
The first small-caliber gun (MP), the construction of which began in the late 40-s, was the 291P, developed by two outstanding gunsmiths from the OKB-16 Alexander Nudelman and Vyacheslav Nemenov. The basis of the new MP took automatic machine revolver type HH-30. True, in order for the new gun to comply with the tactical and technical requirements, Nudelman and Nemenov had to use a new 30-mm ammunition. In order for 291P to fire at a high rate for quite a long time, the designers had to create a cooling system - a special pipe was put on the barrel, inside which water circulated, also injected into the barrel bore and chamber.
The new gun as part of the KL-302 artillery system in May 1958 was presented for testing, during which it turned out that, due to the internal revolving type of internal contradictions inherent in all artillery systems (for more information, “Born by the Revolution”), at a rate of fire, two thousand gun shots per minute she managed to release all 100 shells, after which she needed to cool 15 – 20 minutes.
It is clear that under the conditions of a massive strike by anti-ship missiles and 15 – 20 airstrike minutes for cooling the barrel is an unaffordable luxury. In this case, for 291P, the shooting mode for 500 shells was introduced, when after every hundred guns the 15 – 20 seconds were cooled. True, after such a race, a complete deterioration of the barrel bore occurred and a replacement was required. However, 24 August 1962, the new gun mount under the designation AK-230 was adopted by the Navy of the USSR.
The fact that the new machine did not fully meet the requirements of the military sailors became clear immediately, and they turned to Arkady Shipunov and Vasily Gryazev, who was then working on developing a unique six-barreled 30-mm machine gun that worked with the energy of powder gases (for more details see “ Worse than "Vulcan", "MIC", № 28, 2015). After a preliminary study of the 22 issue of February 1962, the Main Board of the Navy issued a tactical and technical task for a new 30-mm six-barreled artillery unit, and on July 15 a resolution of the Central Committee of the CPSU and the Council of Ministers of the USSR was issued.
Having just started work, Shipunov and Gryazev immediately faced a rather complex technical problem that required many years of hard work, dozens of experiments, and working out various technical solutions. At the request of the military, a promising gun mount was supposed to shoot two thousand shells at a maximum rate of five thousand rounds per minute without a single delay and interruption to cooling.
To ensure a given survivability and rate of fire, legendary gunsmith designers needed not only to develop an efficient cooling system, but also to ensure uninterrupted supply of ammunition at a speed of 100 units per second.
As Vasiliy Gryazev later recalled, when five volleys of 400 shots each are fired, a real fountain of fire is formed with an enormous heat load. Several cooling schemes were worked out, including such exotic ones as the use of special cartridges filled with coolant. But in the final version, Gryazev and Shipunov still stopped at the run of fresh water under a special casing, which was closed the block of trunks. True, for a long time the headache of the designers was fluid leakage that occurred during the shooting.
No less difficult was the problem of supplying ammunition - because of the high rate of fire, the ribbon was torn. As in the case of the cooling system, Gryazev and Shipunov had to work out the design and production technology of the links, as well as the tape-pull. In the final version, gunsmiths stopped on steel uncoupling links and pneumatic underpinning of the tape. To ensure uninterrupted supply of ammunition, it was decided to place ammunition of two thousand cartridges not in one, but in two so-called flat stores, which provided the possibility of using various types of ammunition.
In the 1969, at the Lviv training ground near Podolsky, a new gun, which received the AO-18 index, was able to work two thousand rounds of ammunition in five bursts for the first time. As Mikhail Oskerko, Chief Engineer of TsNIITM, subsequently wrote to Vasily Gryazev in his congratulations, “to celebrate this victory, drink the same amount with the same regimen and without loss of tightness”.
18 in May 1971, an A-213 artillery unit with an 30-mm multi-barrel automatic machine, AO-18, placed on an experimental boat of the 205PE project, entered the state tests. Almost nine years have passed since the start of work. One of the first goals for the new art installation on state tests was the cruise anti-ship missile P-5.
At a distance of five kilometers from the target, the gunfire fired at the missile at a low rate. At a distance of three kilometers, it increased, and when the P-5 approached the boat by two kilometers, the machine switched to continuous shooting at a maximum rate. In 800 meters from the boat rocket exploded. It took all 600 shells to destroy.
6 January 1976, the new gun mount with the 30-mm small-caliber machine gun GSH-6-30K (AO-18) under the designation AK-630 was adopted for service. And the test of the mode of destruction of the anti-ship missiles became basic. The ammunition of the art installation provided for two types of ammunition: high-explosive fragmentation, equipped with a fuse, and fragmentation tracer. For the GSH-6-30K, experimental 30-mm sub-caliber hard-core ammunition was also developed, which, however, was not put into service.
Under the designation AK-630М after 1979 of 26-th state tests carried out in 1980 year of August, the new artillery system with the modified GSH-6-30К was put into service.
Task: make it easier
Despite the high rate of fire, unique accuracy and small size, according to customers, the AK-630 and AK-630M artillery mounts were not suitable for placement on hovercrafts, as well as ground-effect vehicles, the first work on which began in 60-e.
Here, the military needed a light artillery installation with a relatively low rate of fire, since the main enemies of the new types of naval equipment, according to forecasts of naval specialists, would not be anti-ship missiles, but small surface ships, coastal emplacements, helicopters. In addition, the low rate of fire allowed much more economical to spend ammunition.
According to the tactical and technical assignment issued by the Navy of the USSR in a small-caliber machine gun, which is installed on a promising light artillery unit, the rate of fire should not exceed a thousand rounds per minute with 1971 rounds of ammunition.
Arkady Shipunov and Vasily Gryazev were confronted with a paradoxical situation: in AO-18 everything was aimed at achieving a high rate of fire, whereas now the opposite was needed - to reduce the rate of fire. Analysis has shown that slowing the pace of the 30-mm multi-barrel machine will require long-term testing of a new gas engine.
Here, the legendary gunsmiths abandoned a powerful gas engine in favor of a less powerful electric engine powered by an onboard AC network. The new low-temperature automatic, which received the AO-18L index, managed to get rid of the water cooling system. Here trunks compared with AO-18 lengthened.
In 1974, the new gun as part of the art installation A-219 was put to the test, which ended with the adoption of the AK-306 with the 30-mm multi-barrel automatic machine GSH-6-30Л, where the last letter means light.
GSH-6-30K and GSH-6-30L remain the main 30-mm small-caliber machine guns in service with the Russian Navy. Artworks with Tula multilanes are regular for ships and vessels of more than 40 projects. If to compare with 20-mm gun М61 "Volcano" of the company "General Electric", then the advantages of Tula automata are obvious.
The M61 uses 20-mm sub-caliber ammunition, designed not to destroy the missile itself, but for the so-called initiation (detonation as a result of hitting) in its warhead. The experience with the use of high-explosive fragmentation ammunition with non-contact undermining was unsuccessful due to the small size of the projectile. The Vulkan-Falanx can hit targets at a distance of up to 1,5 kilometers, but in fact the most effective distance for it is 600 – 700 meters. Despite the developers' advertising claims that the rate of firing of the M61 - 6000 shots per minute, the real figure is much less: 3 – 4,5 thousands per minute.
30-high-explosive fragmentation ammunition used in the GSH-6-30K and GSH-6-30L, hit not the warhead, but cause serious damage to the missile itself, which leads to the fact that the anti-ship missile is falling apart and falling into the sea, but to hit targets AK-630 (M) starts at a distance of five kilometers (against 1,5 at Falans). Experiments with sub-caliber ammunition showed not only their dubious effectiveness compared with standard ones, but also their high cost.
Faced with low-performance American cannon exercises, purchased immediately after the Falklands war, the British Navy ordered the Netherlands to install the Goalkeeper with the 30-mm GAU-8 / A gun, similar to the one equipped with the A-10 attack aircraft. Despite the fact that the Goalkeeper needs more space than the Phalanx, and its firing rate does not exceed 3000 rounds per minute, British naval sailors consider it much more efficient not only because of the firing range (three kilometers), but also due to more powerful ammunition.
So the unique ship 30-mm six-barreled guns created by Arkady Shipunov and Vasily Gryazev remain the best in their class in the world.