Picture Post > Armour

1:72 ZSU-62 SPAAG, Soviet Army, Afghanistan, 1980

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Dizzyfugu:
The first of a series of tank/armoured vehicles whif that are abouit to materialize. Things start with a Soviet 2nd generation SPAAG, the stillborn and rather unheard of ZSU-62.


1:72 ZSU-62 „Kama“ (Object 503); vehicle „185“ of the Soviet Army’s 1008th Anti-Aircraft Artillery Regiment, 5th Guards Motor Rifle Zimovniki Division; Kushka (Balkh Province, northern Afghanistan), 1980 (What-if/kitbashing) by Dizzyfugu, on Flickr


Some background:
The ZSU-62 (Zenitnaya Samokhodnaya Ustanovka = anti-aircraft self-propelled mount) was a potential successor for the Soviet ZSU-57-2 SPAAG, developed in parallel with the ZSU-23-4. But unlike its brethren, the ZSU-62 was only produced in limited numbers, but it received limited fame during its late operational second-line career when it was successfully deployed to Afghanistan.

The ZSU’62’s roots were laid down just after WWII with the ZSU-57-2. The first prototype (Objekt 500) was completed in the summer of 1950, production began in 1955. The vehicle was built using a modified chassis of the new T-54 tank and was armed with two S-68 57 mm cannons – at the time the most powerful guns mounted in an anti-aircraft system. The modification of the chassis included reducing the road wheels per side to four and using lighter armor. The ZSU-57-2 was powered by a V-54 12-cylinder diesel engine providing 520 hp. Despite the weight of 28 tons, thanks to the strong engine, the maximum speed was 50 km/h. With a fuel load of 850 liters, the operational range was 420 km.

Each cannon had a (theoretical) rate of fire of 240 rounds per minute with a muzzle velocity of 1,000 m/s. Maximum horizontal range was 12 km (with an effective range against ground targets of up to 4 km / 2.5 miles), maximum vertical range was 8.8 km (with a maximum effective vertical range of 4.5 km / 14,750 ft). The effective range, when used against flying targets, was 6 km. Armor-piercing rounds were able to penetrate 110 mm armor at 500 m or 70 mm armor at 2,000 m (at 90° impact angle).
Rate of fire was 120 RPM, but this was only a theoretical number, because each gun was fed with separate four-shot magazines so that only bursts and no continuous fire was possible. Both fragmentation and armor-piercing ammunition were available. The ZSU-57-2’s total ammunition load was 300 rounds, with 176 rounds being stored inside the turret and the remaining in the hull. To efficiently operate the vehicle, six crew members were needed: commander, gunner, loader, driver, and two sight adjusters.


1:72 ZSU-62 „Kama“ (Object 503); vehicle „185“ of the Soviet Army’s 1008th Anti-Aircraft Artillery Regiment, 5th Guards Motor Rifle Zimovniki Division; Kushka (Balkh Province, northern Afghanistan), 1980 (What-if/kitbashing) by Dizzyfugu, on Flickr


1:72 ZSU-62 „Kama“ (Object 503); vehicle „185“ of the Soviet Army’s 1008th Anti-Aircraft Artillery Regiment, 5th Guards Motor Rifle Zimovniki Division; Kushka (Balkh Province, northern Afghanistan), 1980 (What-if/kitbashing) by Dizzyfugu, on Flickr


1:72 ZSU-62 „Kama“ (Object 503); vehicle „185“ of the Soviet Army’s 1008th Anti-Aircraft Artillery Regiment, 5th Guards Motor Rifle Zimovniki Division; Kushka (Balkh Province, northern Afghanistan), 1980 (What-if/kitbashing) by Dizzyfugu, on Flickr


The ZSU-57-2 had serious firepower that could easily destroy any aerial target but had many issues. The greatest weaknesses were the lack of modern range-finding and radar equipment, the impossibility of engaging targets at night or while on the move, the lack of protection for its crew (being open-topped), and low ammunition count. Nevertheless, more than 2.000 ZSU-57-2s were eventually built. While many would be sold to other Warsaw Pact countries, like East Germany, Romania, and Poland, its service within the Soviet Army was limited, because of its many operational deficiencies.

This led in 1957 to a new SPAAG program for the Soviet Army and initiated the development of the ZSU-23-4 "Shilka", the ZSU-37-2 "Yenisei" and a new ZSU-57-2 “Kama” (all baptized after Russian rivers) with the outlook to replace the original ZSU-57-2 by the mid to late Sixties. These vehicles were intended for AA defense of military facilities, troops, and mechanized columns on the march. “Shilka” was intended for close range defense (esp. against low-flying attack helicopters) while the more powerful guns of "Yenisei" and “Kama” were judged to be effective at covering the inner dead-zone of Soviet surface-to-air missile systems between 1.000 and 6.000 m altitude, with a focus on attack aircraft and  more heavily armored targets.

All designs were based on existing tracked chassis’ and featured completely enclosed turrets as well as a proven radar system, the RPK-2 "Tobol" radar (NATO designator: "Gun Dish"). The ZSU-37-2 was soon dropped in favor of the higher firepower and range of the 57mm guns, so that both “Shilka” and “Kama” entered the hardware stage at Omsk Works No. 174.

However, “Kama” lagged behind the “Shilka” development because several technical and conceptual problems had to be solved. For instance, even though the armament still consisted of two proven S-68 cannon, the weapons’ mount had to be developed new to fit into the enclosed cast turret. To save space, both weapons were now mounted directly side-by-side. Their feeding system was furthermore changed from magazines to belts, what considerably improved the SPAAG’s firepower and now allowed continuous fire at a higher rate of fire of 150 RPM per gun. For sufficient flexibility, a belt-switching mechanism allowed to choose between two different ammunition supplies: each gun had supplies of 220 and 35 rounds, normally occupied with HE fragmentation and armor-piercing tracer (AP-T) shells, respectively, against aerial and armored ground targets. Changing between the two feeds just took a couple of seconds.
The twin S-68s were recoil-operated and the whole mount (without feeding mechanism) weighed 4,500 kg. The guns had a recoil of between 325 and 370 mm, and each air-cooled gun barrel, fitted with a muzzle brake, was 4365 mm long (76.6 calibers). The weapons could be elevated or depressed between −5° and +80° at a speed of between 0.3° and 32° per second, while the turret could traverse 360° at a speed of between 0.2° and 52° per second. Drive was from a direct current electric motor and universal hydraulic speed gears.


1:72 ZSU-62 „Kama“ (Object 503); vehicle „185“ of the Soviet Army’s 1008th Anti-Aircraft Artillery Regiment, 5th Guards Motor Rifle Zimovniki Division; Kushka (Balkh Province, northern Afghanistan), 1980 (What-if/kitbashing) by Dizzyfugu, on Flickr


1:72 ZSU-62 „Kama“ (Object 503); vehicle „185“ of the Soviet Army’s 1008th Anti-Aircraft Artillery Regiment, 5th Guards Motor Rifle Zimovniki Division; Kushka (Balkh Province, northern Afghanistan), 1980 (What-if/kitbashing) by Dizzyfugu, on Flickr


1:72 ZSU-62 „Kama“ (Object 503); vehicle „185“ of the Soviet Army’s 1008th Anti-Aircraft Artillery Regiment, 5th Guards Motor Rifle Zimovniki Division; Kushka (Balkh Province, northern Afghanistan), 1980 (What-if/kitbashing) by Dizzyfugu, on Flickr


The “Kama” crew numbered four: driver (in the hull), commander, gunner and radar operator (all in the turret). The heavy guns, their ammunition supply and the radar system had to be housed in a turret, together with decent armor, and this resulted in a considerable volume and weight (a single 57 mm projectile alone already weighed 2.8 kg). Several layouts were tested, but weight and volume of the systems made it impossible to mate the “Kama” turret on the T-54/55 chassis, which was available in ample numbers for conversions. The limiting factor was the T-54/55’s relatively small turret bearing diameter.
To solve this problem, the “Kama” designers chose the more modern T-62 as chassis basis. It was outwardly very similar to the former T-54/55, but it featured a 2245 mm turret ring (250 mm more than the T-54/55’s bearing) that was able to take a much bigger/wider/heavier turret than its predecessor. Furthermore, the T-62 represented the Soviet Army’s “state of the art”. The choice of the T-62 ensured many component and maintenance communalities with the operational MBT and it also meant that the “Kama” SPAAG could operate in the same environment and the same pace as the T-62. In order to save costs and development time, the T-62 chassis was taken “as is”, with the same engine and armor level as the MBT. There were only minor changes in the electric components, e. g. a more powerful generator for the radar system.

In this combination, “Kama” eventually entered tests and state acceptance trials as “Object 503”. During these tests, some final changes to layout and equipment were made; for instance, the RPK-2’s dish-shaped radome received a retractable mount that allowed the antenna to be raised higher above the turret in order to avoid clutter and to protect the antenna when the vehicle was on the move.
The tests lasted until 1963 and were successful, so that an initial batch of 100 serial production tanks was ordered the same year. In order to avoid confusion with the old ZSU-57-2 from 1955, the new tank with the same armament was pragmatically designated ZSU-62.

Alas, while production of the “Kama” turrets ran up to be mated with T-62 hulls at the Uralvagonzavod factory in Nizhny Tagil, the ZSU-62’s future had already been sealed by the fast pace of technical developments: in the meantime MANPADS (Man Portable Air Defense System) had taken the medium-range SPAAG’s place and a foot soldier could now fulfill the same mission as an expensive and bulky 40 ton tank, so that the medium range/altitude gap between the ZSU-23-4 (which had already entered service) and heavier surface-to-air missile systems would not be filled with a dedicated vehicle anymore. The ZSU-62 had become superfluous the moment it had reached the first frontline units, and large-scale production was immediately stopped.
However, the initial production run was nevertheless completed until 1967, and the ZSU-62s were primarily sent to training units, where the vehicles were – due to their turrets’ shape – nicknamed “черепаха“ (turtle).


1:72 ZSU-62 „Kama“ (Object 503); vehicle „185“ of the Soviet Army’s 1008th Anti-Aircraft Artillery Regiment, 5th Guards Motor Rifle Zimovniki Division; Kushka (Balkh Province, northern Afghanistan), 1980 (What-if/kitbashing) by Dizzyfugu, on Flickr


1:72 ZSU-62 „Kama“ (Object 503); vehicle „185“ of the Soviet Army’s 1008th Anti-Aircraft Artillery Regiment, 5th Guards Motor Rifle Zimovniki Division; Kushka (Balkh Province, northern Afghanistan), 1980 (What-if/kitbashing) by Dizzyfugu, on Flickr


1:72 ZSU-62 „Kama“ (Object 503); vehicle „185“ of the Soviet Army’s 1008th Anti-Aircraft Artillery Regiment, 5th Guards Motor Rifle Zimovniki Division; Kushka (Balkh Province, northern Afghanistan), 1980 (What-if/kitbashing) by Dizzyfugu, on Flickr


This could have been the ZSU-62’s fate, but the Soviet Union’s intervention in Afghanistan brought it back into frontline service. Since December 1978, the Afghan government called on Soviet forces, which were introduced in the spring and summer of 1979 to provide security and to assist in the fight against the mujaheddin rebels. After the killing of Soviet technicians in Herat by rioting mobs, the Soviet government sold several Mi-24 helicopters to the Afghan military and increased the number of military advisers in the country to 3,000. In April 1979, the Afghan government requested that the USSR send 15 to 20 helicopters with their crews to Afghanistan, and on June 16, the Soviet government responded and sent a detachment of tanks, BMPs, and crews to guard the government in Kabul and to secure the Bagram and Shindand airfields. In response to this request, an airborne battalion arrived at the Bagram Air Base on July 7, and ground forces were deployed from Turkmenistan territory into northern Afghanistan, securing the supply lines.

Experience in the mountainous Afghan landscape soon made the shortcomings of standard MBTs apparent, namely their lack of gun elevation, esp. when attacking hideouts and posts in high locations. While the ZSU-23-4 “Shilka” was readily available and used against such targets, it lacked range and firepower to take out protected posts at distances more than 2.000 m away. This led to the decision to send roundabout 40 ZSU-62s to the Afghan theatre of operations, where they were primarily used against ground targets – both fortifications as well as armored and unarmored vehicles. The weapons’ precision and range proved to be valuable assets, with devastating effect, and the vehicles remained in active service until 1985 when their role was more and more taken over by helicopters and aircraft like the new Su-25. The ZSU-62 were, nevertheless, still employed for aerial airfield defense and as a deterrent against ground attacks.

With the USSR’s withdrawal from Afghanistan in 1988 and 1989, the last operational ZSU-62s were retired. In the training units, the vehicles had already been replaced by ZSU-23-4s by 1984.


Specifications:
    Crew: Four (commander, gunner, radar operator, driver)
    Weight: 37 t (41 short tons; 36 long tons)
    Length: 6.63 m (21 ft 9 in) hull only
                  9.22 m (30 ft 3½ in) with barrel in forward position
    Width: 3.30 m (10 ft 10 in)
    Height: 3.88 m (12 ft 9 in) with search radar fully extended,
                  2.84 m (9 ft 3¾ in) with search radar stowed
    Suspension: Torsion bar
    Ground clearance: 425 mm (16.7 in)
    Fuel capacity: 960 l

Armor:
    20 mm (hull bottom) – 102 mm (hull front)

Performance:
    Speed: 50 km/h (31 mph) on roads,
                 40 km/h (25 mph) cross country)
    Range: 450 km (280 mi) on road;
                 650 km (400 mi) with two 200 l (53 US gal; 44 imp gal) extra fuel tanks;
                 320 km (200 mi) cross-country
                 450 km (280 mi) with two 200-liter extra fuel tanks
    Climbing ability: 0.7 m (2.3')
    Maximum climb gradient: 30°
    Trench crossing ability: 2.5 m (8.2')
    Fording depth: 1.0 m (3.3')
    Operational range: 500 km (310 mi)
    Power/weight: 14.5 hp/tonne (10.8 kW/tonne)

Engine:
    1x V-55 12-cylinder 4-stroke one-chamber 38.88 liter water-cooled diesel engine
         with 581 hp (433 kW) at 2,000 rpm

Transmission:
    Hydromechanical

Armament:
    2× S-68 57mm (1.5 in) cannon with 255 rounds each


The kit and its assembly:
This fictional tank model came to be as a classic what-if, based on the question “what could have been a successor of the Soviet ZSU-57-2 SPAAG?”. Not an existential question that comes to your mind frequently, but it made me wonder – also because the real-world successor, the ZSU-23-4 “Shilka”, lacked the ZSU-57-2’s range and large-caliber firepower.

From this conceptual basis I decided to retain the 57mm twin guns, add an RPK-2 radar and mount these into a fully enclosed turret. The latter became a leftover M48 turret, which was suitably bulky, and the gun mount was taken from a Modelcollect E-75 SPAAG. However, both were heavily modified: the gun mount lost its boxy armor protection, just the brass barrels and the joint at the base were retained, the rest was scratched from styrene bits and wire. To accept the much taller weapon mount, the turret front had to be re-sculpted with putty, resulting in a boxier shape with steeper side walls – but the whole affair looks very organic. A simpler commander cupola was used and the whole radar dish arrangement on the rear roof was scratched, too.


1:72 ZSU-62 „Kama“ (Object 503); vehicle „185“ of the Soviet Army’s 1008th Anti-Aircraft Artillery Regiment, 5th Guards Motor Rifle Zimovniki Division; Kushka (Balkh Province, northern Afghanistan), 1980 (What-if/kitbashing) - WiP by Dizzyfugu, on Flickr


1:72 ZSU-62 „Kama“ (Object 503); vehicle „185“ of the Soviet Army’s 1008th Anti-Aircraft Artillery Regiment, 5th Guards Motor Rifle Zimovniki Division; Kushka (Balkh Province, northern Afghanistan), 1980 (What-if/kitbashing) - WiP by Dizzyfugu, on Flickr


1:72 ZSU-62 „Kama“ (Object 503); vehicle „185“ of the Soviet Army’s 1008th Anti-Aircraft Artillery Regiment, 5th Guards Motor Rifle Zimovniki Division; Kushka (Balkh Province, northern Afghanistan), 1980 (What-if/kitbashing) - WiP by Dizzyfugu, on Flickr


1:72 ZSU-62 „Kama“ (Object 503); vehicle „185“ of the Soviet Army’s 1008th Anti-Aircraft Artillery Regiment, 5th Guards Motor Rifle Zimovniki Division; Kushka (Balkh Province, northern Afghanistan), 1980 (What-if/kitbashing) - WiP by Dizzyfugu, on Flickr


The hull came from a Trumpeter T-62, just for the reasons explained in the background: the T-54/55 had a relatively small turret ring, and this caused severe development problems, because the MBT could not take a bigger turret and with it a more powerful cannon. Since this SPAAG would have been developed a couple of years later than the T-54/55, its successor, the T-62, appeared logical, and the “marriage” with the M48 turret worked like a charm. Even the turret’s adapter had the same diameter as the hull opening, I just had to modify the notches that hold it in place! The hull itself remained unmodified.


Painting and markings:
I wanted to place this SPAAG into the Afghanistan theatre of operations, and this was historically not very easy since I had to bridge some fifteen years of service to make this idea work. However, I found a story for the background, and the model received an appropriate paint scheme, based on real world vehicles around 1980 (actually from a BMP-1 operated in northern Afghanistan).


1:72 ZSU-62 „Kama“ (Object 503); vehicle „185“ of the Soviet Army’s 1008th Anti-Aircraft Artillery Regiment, 5th Guards Motor Rifle Zimovniki Division; Kushka (Balkh Province, northern Afghanistan), 1980 (What-if/kitbashing) - WiP by Dizzyfugu, on Flickr


The camouflage consists of three tones, a pale/greyish sand, an olive drab tone and some contrasts in a dark, dull brown – it reminds of the US Army’s more complex MERDC scheme. The paints became Humbrol 167 (Hemp), Tamiya XF-62 (Olive Drab) and Humbrol 98 (Chocolate), even though the green appears darker than expected due to the high contrast with the sand tone.

The model received an overall washing with dark brown, highly thinned acrylic paint, and some dry-brushing with cream, faded olive drab and light grey. The few markings/decals were taken from the T-62 kit, and everything was sealed with matt acrylic varnish before the lower areas were finally dusted with a greyish-sand brown mix of artist pigments, simulating dust.



1:72 ZSU-62 „Kama“ (Object 503); vehicle „185“ of the Soviet Army’s 1008th Anti-Aircraft Artillery Regiment, 5th Guards Motor Rifle Zimovniki Division; Kushka (Balkh Province, northern Afghanistan), 1980 (What-if/kitbashing) by Dizzyfugu, on Flickr


1:72 ZSU-62 „Kama“ (Object 503); vehicle „185“ of the Soviet Army’s 1008th Anti-Aircraft Artillery Regiment, 5th Guards Motor Rifle Zimovniki Division; Kushka (Balkh Province, northern Afghanistan), 1980 (What-if/kitbashing) by Dizzyfugu, on Flickr


1:72 ZSU-62 „Kama“ (Object 503); vehicle „185“ of the Soviet Army’s 1008th Anti-Aircraft Artillery Regiment, 5th Guards Motor Rifle Zimovniki Division; Kushka (Balkh Province, northern Afghanistan), 1980 (What-if/kitbashing) by Dizzyfugu, on Flickr


1:72 ZSU-62 „Kama“ (Object 503); vehicle „185“ of the Soviet Army’s 1008th Anti-Aircraft Artillery Regiment, 5th Guards Motor Rifle Zimovniki Division; Kushka (Balkh Province, northern Afghanistan), 1980 (What-if/kitbashing) by Dizzyfugu, on Flickr


A plausible result, even though a cast turret might not appear to be a natural choice for a SPAAG? But the AMX-30 SPAAG from 1969 had a very similar design and there was a German prototype called “MATADOR” (a Gepard forerunner from 1968) that had a turret of similar shape, too. However, the kitbashed/scratched turret looks really good and convincing, and the T-62 hull is a great match for it in shape, size and timeframe. The ZSU-62 turned out way better than hoped for! :D

rickshaw:
Interesting.   :thumbsup:

NARSES2:
Very neat Dizzy  :thumbsup:

Pellson:
Great stuff!  :wub:

Old Wombat:
Great idea & build, Dizzy! :thumbsup:

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