152 mm towed gun-howitzer M1955 (D-20)

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TypeTowed howitzer
Place of originSoviet Union
Service history
Used bySoviet Union, many others
Production history
DesignerPetrov Artillery Design Bureau
DesignedCirca 1947
ManufacturerArtillery Plant Number 9, Yekaterinburg
Mass5,700 kg (12,600 lb)
Length8.69 m (28 ft 6 in)
Barrel length5.195 m (20 ft) L/34 (with muzzle brake)
Width2.35 m (7 ft 9 in)
Height1.93 m (6 ft 4 in)

Shell152 mm × 547.5 mm (5.98 in × 21.56 in) .R
Separate loading charge and projectile[1]
Caliber152.4 mm (6.00 in)
BreechVertical semi-automatic sliding-wedge
Recoilhydraulic buffer and hydro-pneumatic recuperator
CarriageSplit trail
Elevation-5° to 45°
Rate of fireBurst: 5–6 rpm
Sustained: 1 rpm
Muzzle velocity650 m/s (2,100 ft/s) (typical)
Effective firing range17.4 km (10.8 mi)
Maximum firing range24 km (15 mi)
(rocket assisted projectile)
SightsPG1M indirect sight and OP4M direct fire sight

The 152 mm gun-howitzer M1955, also known as the D-20, (Russian: 152-мм пушка-гаубица Д-20 обр. 1955 г.) is a manually loaded, towed 152 mm gun-howitzer artillery piece, manufactured in the Soviet Union during the 1950s. It was first observed by the west in 1955, at which time it was designated the M1955. Its GRAU index is 52-P-546.[2]


152 mm has been a Russian caliber since World War I, when Britain supplied 6 inch Howitzers and Russia purchased 152 mm guns from Schneider (probably derived from the 155 mm Gun Mle 1877/16) for the Imperial Army. The new gun-howitzer, was a replacement of the pre-war ML-20 gun-howitzer (the 152 mm howitzer M1937) and various World War II era 152 mm field howitzers, Model 09/30, Model 1910/30, Model 1938 M10 and Model 1943 D-1.

By Soviet definition, a 152 mm howitzer is 'medium'-caliber artillery. It was designated a 'gun-howitzer' because its muzzle velocity exceeded 600 m/s, and its barrel length exceeded 30 calibers. It equipped battalions in the motor rifle division artillery regiment and army level artillery brigades.

The design, which was probably initiated in the late 1940s, was first seen in public in 1955. It was designed by the well established design bureau at Artillery Plant No 9 in Sverdlovsk, now Motovilikha Plants in Yekaterinburg, led by the eminent artillery designer Fyodor Fyodorovich Petrov, who was responsible for several World War II pieces. The gun's factory designation was "D-20".

The carriage is the same one used for the D-74 122 mm field gun. The barrel assembly is the basis for the D-22 (GRAU index: 2A33), which is used for the self-propelled 2S3 Akatsiya ("Acacia").


A M1955 as a monument in Chornomorsk, Ukraine

The D-20 has a 26 caliber (3.962 m) barrel, with a double baffle muzzle brake and a semi-automatic vertical sliding-block breech, with a tied jaw and the block moving down to open. The barrel is mounted in a long ring cradle with the trunnions just forward of the breech. The recoil system (buffer and recuperator) is mounted on the cradle above the barrel. Compression balancing gear is attached behind the saddle support, passing through the complex shaped saddle to connect to the cradle just forward of the trunnions. This can be manually re-pressured by a pump below the breech. The breech has a projectile retaining catch to prevent the shell sliding out at higher elevations before it is rammed with a manual rammer.

Top traverse totals 58° and the vertical elevation range is −5° to 45°.

Box girder section split trail legs are hinged to the cradle support, with bolts to lock them into either the open or closed position. The cradle support has a bolt for locking the barrel in the centre for traverse before towing the gun. Large spades are permanently fixed close to the end of each trail. These are hinged and it appears that the gun can be fired with them up or down depending on the terrain. They are always up when the gun is towed.

To assist with all-round carriage traverse, there is a pivot jack mounted at the front of the cradle support. The pivot jack is not a sole plate and the gun fires with its foam filled rubber tyred wheels supporting the gun on the ground. When the gun is brought into action, the pivot jack is folded down and adjusted to be on the ground. If a large traverse is required, small jacks on each trail leg are rotated downwards, and the trails jacked up until the main wheels are lifted clear of the ground and the bogey wheels mounted on each trail leg swung downwards and the trail jacks raised. The carriage is then traversed, and the trail jacks re-used to lift the bogey wheels and then place the piece back on its main wheels.

The pivot jack is used to secure the barrel against vertical movement when the gun is being towed. The barrel is locked in the centre for traverse with a bolt on the cradle support. The jack is folded upwards, lugs on the ring cradle engage the jack base and two tensioners fixed to the saddle support are hooked to the cradle. These are tightened to lock the cradle onto the jack base.

As was normal for the period, the gun has a shield, including a folding piece below the cradle support. The centre section of the upper shield slides both up and down, and folds to accommodate the barrel at higher elevation angles of fire. The shield may offer some protection against muzzle blast to the sights and layer, although it is usually shown being fired with a long lanyard, but is probably mostly for defence against machine gun fire.

The non-reciprocating sights are standard Soviet pattern, designed for one-man laying. Included are a direct fire anti-tank telescope (OP4M), a panoramic periscopic indirect-fire sight, a dial sight, (PG1M) in a mounting, an angle of sight scale, and a range drum for each charge engraved with the range (distance) scale, coupled to an elevation leveling bubble mounted on dial sight mount. The range drum enables the standard Soviet technique of semi-direct fire when the piece is laid visually on the target, and the range set on the range drum.

Like most Soviet artillery, the gun fires separate ammunition using metal cartridge cases that also provide obturation. The ammunition is interchangeable with that used with other 152 mm guns, although the more modern ones have a third, much larger cartridge. The D-20 uses two types of cartridge. One has a base charge and up to five increments, the other is a single 'super' charge cartridge.

The standard shell weight is 44 kg with a muzzle velocity of 655 m/s, but some projectiles are more or less than this. The basic shell is high explosive (HE) and Fragmentation (HE-Frag). Other projectiles include smoke, illuminating, chemical and probably incendiary.

Later projectiles include bomblet, anti-personnel land mine, flechette, Krasnopol precision-guided munition (PGM), communication jammer, and extended range HE using rocket assistance (RAP). The normal maximum range is 17.4 km, RAP being farther. Two direct-fire anti-tank projectiles have been used, high-explosive anti-tank (HEAT) and armour-piercing ammunition (APHE), the latter being 5.2 kg heavier and with a lower muzzle velocity.

The maximum rate of fire is usually stated as five rounds/minute, and 65 rounds/hour sustained. In Soviet service, the unit of fire was 60 rounds.

The detachment was either 8 or 10 men, probably differing between armies and the time period. In Soviet service, the 5,700 kg gun was usually towed by a URAL-375 6×6 truck or, in some regions, an AT-S or AT-L medium tractor.

Operational history[edit]

During the 2022 Invasion of Ukraine both sides have relied on the D-20.[3][4] Russian forces have started deploying the weapons from storage.[3] There are reports of at least one Russian D-20 being destroyed due to poor ammunition. This weapon was in the service of the Luhansk People’s Republic.[5]


Russian Federation[edit]

  • The Khitin is an improved version with an automatic rammer for an increased firing rate of 7-8 rds/min.

People's Republic of China[edit]

  • Type 66 – Licensed version of D-20. An improved version is known as the Type 66-1[6]
  • Type 83 – Towed self-propelled version of Type 66, very similar layout to the 2S3

Democratic People’s Republic of Korea[edit]

The US Defense Intelligence Agency has reported the existence of several self-propelled artillery systems, mating existing cannon systems with a locally designed chassis. The SPH 152mm M1974 appears to be a D-20 or Type 66 mounted on a tracked chassis Tokchon.[6]

Similar weapons[edit]

Socialist Republic of Romania - totay Romania[edit]

  • A411 – System designed by Arsenalul Armatei. Very similar to D-20, but has different 152 mm ordnance, 25 calibers long, range of 17.2 km (24 km with OF-550 projectile); in Romanian Army; known as 152 mm towed gun-howitzer M1981 (Romanian: Tun/Obuzier calibrul 152-mm tractat M1981)[6]
  • A412 – License-built Chinese Type 59-1 with a D-20 carriage. In Romanian Army, is known as 130 mm towed gun M1982 (Romanian: Tun calibrul 130-mm tractat M1982)[6]
  • A425 – Variant using D-20 carriage. Designed in Romania using Chinese technology, 152 mm ordnance, 34 calibers long, performs similar to 152 mm howitzer 2A65 "Msta-B"; maximum range is 22–24 km; in Romanian Army, is known as 152 mm towed gun-howitzer M1985 (Romanian: Tun/Obuzier calibrul 152-mm tractat M1985); offered for export as Model 1984[6]

Former Yugoslavia[edit]

  • Gun-howitzer M84 NORA or NORA (Serbo-Croatian: novo oružje artiljerije) – On the basis of construction documents for the D-20 and experience with producing the M114 155 mm howitzer, this new type of weapon with greater range was developed by Military Technical Institute Belgrade. While it retains some elements of the original carriage, almost everything else is redesigned and modernized starting with the barrel, which is replaced by the new L/39.7 barrel.


  • HE-Frag, OF-32 – range 17,400 meters
  • Incendiary
  • Expendable jammer
  • Chemical
  • Flechette
  • Semi-active laser-guided "Krasnopol"



A map of D-20 operators in blue, former operators in red




See also[edit]


  1. ^ Foss, Christopher (1977). Jane's Pocket Book of Towed Artillery. New York: Collier. p. 113. ISBN 0020806000. OCLC 911907988.
  2. ^ "Пушки" [Guns]. Archived from the original on 31 March 2012. Retrieved 29 August 2011.
  3. ^ a b c "Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, June 13". understandingwar.org. 13 June 2022. Archived from the original on 14 June 2022. Retrieved 14 June 2022.
  4. ^ a b "The work of Ukrainian Howitzers D-20 and MLRS BM-21 "Hail"". understandingwar.org. Retrieved 14 June 2022.
  5. ^ "Photos: Did a Russian Howitzer Explode in Ukraine Because Of Improper Storage?". 19fortyfive.com. 11 June 2022. Retrieved 14 June 2022.
  6. ^ a b c d e Janes Armour and Artillery 2003-2004
  7. ^ Pike, John. "D-20 / M-55 152-mm Towed Gun-Howitzer Type-66 152-mm Towed Gun-Howitzer". Military Analysis Network. Bottom of Page. Retrieved 1 August 2023.
  8. ^ Ezell, Edward Clinton (1988). Personal firepower. The Illustrated history of the Vietnam War 15. Bantam Books. p. 153. ISBN 9780553345490. OCLC 1036801376.
  9. ^ Military Balance 2016, p. 429.
  10. ^ Military Balance 2016, p. 178.
  11. ^ Military Balance 2016, p. 180.
  12. ^ Military Balance 2016, p. 82.
  13. ^ International Institute for Strategic Studies (2021). The Military Balance. p. 461. ISBN 9781032012278.
  14. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Trade Registers". Armstrade.sipri.org. Retrieved 5 January 2019.
  15. ^ Military Balance 2016, p. 242.
  16. ^ Military Balance 2016, p. 438.
  17. ^ Military Balance 2016, p. 107.
  18. ^ Military Balance 2016, p. 328.
  19. ^ Binnie, Jeremy. "Iraq receives Bulgarian D-20 guns". IHS Jane's 360. IHS. Retrieved 29 July 2015.
  20. ^ Military Balance 2016, p. 491.
  21. ^ Gibson, Neil; Fediushko, Dmitry (22 January 2019). "Laotian military parades Russian- and Chinese-made equipment". Jane's 360. London, Moscow. Archived from the original on 23 January 2019. Retrieved 24 January 2019.
  22. ^ Military Balance 2016, p. 188.
  23. ^ The Military Balance 2020. Routledge. 14 February 2020. p. 296. ISBN 978-0367466398.
  24. ^ Military Balance 2016, p. 406.
  25. ^ Military Balance 2016, p. 190.
  26. ^ Military Balance 2016, p. 132.
  27. ^ Military Balance 2016, p. 289.
  28. ^ Military Balance 2016, p. 354.
  29. ^ Military Balance 2016, p. 203.
  30. ^ Military Balance 2016, p. 205.
  31. ^ Military Balance 2016, p. 297.
  32. ^ Mitzer, Stijn; Oliemans, Joost (20 September 2015). "The Oryx Handbook of Pre-war Yemeni Fighting Vehicles". Oryx.

External links[edit]