Saturday, April 18, 2015

Soviet airborne assault guns!!

In addition to my ever-expanding masses of East Germans, I'm trying to get small units of supporting Poles and Soviets done and toward that end, I'm planning a VDV battalion (Soviet airborne and air-assault troops). 

Prior to the end of the 1960s, Soviet airborne units had been mounted in trucks; generally the air-droppable version of the GAZ-66. In order to give these troops some fire support, self-propelled assault gun units were added to the VDV TO&E. By the mid-1950s, the ASU-57:
was recognized as having too little punch. The days of the 57mm gun being effective were already long over. So a new, up-gunned vehicle entered service in 1959, the ASU-85:
its 85mm main armament having been derived from the D-48 antitank gun:

Like its predecessor, the ASU-85 could be palletized and airdropped:
or it could be loaded into the Mi-6 Hook heavy lift helicopter. The ASU-85 filled the role of light infantry support gun and was also capable of a limited antitank role. 

Beginning in 1969, the BMD-1:
began entering service, filling the triple roles of IFV, infantry support artillery, and antitank vehicle. However, it proved to be complicated and slow to build, as well as quite expensive, so in 1974 a simpler and cheaper APC was introduced, the BTR-D:
The BTR-D had no offensive weapon, so the planned retirement of all ASU-85's was scaled back, its firepower still being required for those units equipped with the new APC. 

Those ASU-85's that were retired found a new lease on life as city buses:
and several were entered into local demolition derbies, where they performed quite admirably:

The Poles and East Germans also operated the ASU-85 from the mid-60s through the mid-70s, but all of theirs had been retired by 1976.

And here is my ASU-85 assault gun company which will operate in support of my VDV battalion:
I just can't resist those blue berets. Even though the smallest maneuver element in Soviet doctrine was the battalion, on rare occasions, a company could operate independently. 

That's it for this weekend. More next time. 

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