The 130 mm towed field gun M-46 (Russian: 130-мм пушка M-46) is a manually loaded, towed 130 mm artillery piece, manufactured in the Soviet Union in the 1950s. It was first observed by the west in 1954. There is also a Chinese copy, called the Type 59.
For many years, the M-46 was one of the longest range artillery systems around, with a range of more than 27 km.
The order to design a "duplex" artillery system to replace the obsolete 122 mm gun M1931/37 (A-19), 152 mm howitzer-gun M1937 (ML-20) and other World War II era field guns, such as 122 mm Model 1931, 152 mm Model 1910/30, 152 mm Model 1935 (BR-2), was given in April 1946. The new systems, designed by the factory No 172 (MOTZ), shared the same carriage and were given the designators M-46 (130 mm) and M-47 (152 mm). The respective GRAU designators are 52-P-482 and 52-P-547. The development phase was finished in 1950 and one year later series production started. Many M-46s were exported.
A second "duplex" artillery system was subsequently designed by FF Petrov's design bureau at Artillery Factory No 9. This comprised a 122 mm Gun and a 152 mm Howitzer. The 122 mm Gun D-74 was a competitor to the M-46; and while many were produced, the M-46 became the only long range Gun in Soviet service until new 152 mm Guns in the 1970s.
The M-46 was developed from the M-36 130 mm naval gun used on ships and for coast defence. It is a true gun, being unable to fire much above 45° and having a long barrel and a single propelling charge.
It has a 52 calibre barrel with a tied jaw horizontal sliding block breach and ‘pepperpot’ muzzle brake. The latter is not notably efficient, but subjective reports suggest that it is quite effective in reducing muzzle flash. The hydro-pneumatic recoil system comprises a buffer below the barrel and a recuperator above the barrel. The long barrel enables a substantial propelling charge by providing more length in which to achieve ‘all-burnt’ and hence projectile acceleration space and thus achieve its 930 m/s muzzle velocity.
The barrel is mounted on a split-trail carriage, with deep box section trails and foam filled road wheels on the ground when firing and 50° of top traverse. The small shield protects little more than the sights, possible including from the effects of muzzle blast, and some protection from machine gun fire in anti-tank engagements. The gun has long and robust trails to provide stability when firing, a large detachable spade is fitted to the end of each when the gun is brought into action.
Non-reciprocating sights are standard Soviet pattern, designed for one-man laying. Included are a direct fire anti-tank telescope, a panoramic periscopic indirect-fire sight (a dial sight) in a reciprocating mounting, an angle of sight scale, and a range drum engraved with the range (distance) scale, coupled to a mounted elevation levelling bubble. 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. An APN-3 was later provided for direct fire at night in place of the day telescope.
For travel, the gun is towed via a two-wheeled limber fitted to the end of the closed trails, with the spades removed and carried on each trail. Simple jacks on the trails just behind the main wheels are used to lift and support the closed trails so that the limber can be connected. The barrel and recuperator are pulled back between the closed trails and locked in a travelling position. There is a large bicycle chain arrangement on the right trail for this, and a compressed air cylinder, charged by the gun firing, is used to bring the barrel forward when the gun is brought back into action. It takes about four minutes to bring the gun into action, the normal detachment is eight strong.
Propelling charges are in metal cartridge cases and loaded separately from the projectile. Projectiles originally included HE fragmentation, Armour Piercing solid shot, smoke, illuminating and chemical. HE shells weigh some 33 kg. Illuminating shells have a substantially lower muzzle velocity. APHE and extended range shells were introduced later. Maximum rate of fire is probably 6-7 rounds/minute, and about 70 rounds/hour. The standard Soviet unit of fire was 80 rounds.
The M-46 was first seen openly at the 1954 May Day Parade in Moscow. It initially replaced the 100 mm BS-3 field and anti-tank gun. However, its long range made it well suited for counter-battery actions - some western troops on its receiving end have reported poor fragmentation, and large fragments would be consistent with the counter-battery purpose. Its Soviet use with an integrated fire control system including SNAR-2 radars has also been reported. In Soviet service, M-46 battalions were in Army and Front artillery brigades.
It is or has been in service with at least 25 countries and has been license manufactured in China as the Type 59. It was replaced in Soviet/Russian inventory by the 2A36 Giatsint-B and the self-propelled 2S5 Giatsint-S. Several companies, like Soltam and RDM Technology BV, have presented upgrade packages for the gun. These include, for instance, an upgrade to a 45 caliber 155 mm gun.
The M-46 saw extensive use by the NVA in Vietnam War, especially at the siege of Khe Sanh. It was regarded by both sides as the best all-round field artillery of the Vietnam War.
A version of this gun, possibly the Chinese-manufactured Type 59-1, is suspected to have been used by North Korea for shelling the South Korean island of Yeonpyeong in the Yellow Sea on 23 November 2010.M-47 - This is a 152 mm field gun (Russian: 152-мм пушка M-47 обр. 1953 г.) that was developed alongside the M-46. The M-47 had a range of 20,470 m and was far less successful than its 130 mm counterpart. Only a small number was built between 1954 and 1957. Externally, the M-46 and M-47 are virtually identical, except for the calibre.
Type 59 - This is a licensed version of the M-46.
Type 59-1 - This is a combination of the 130mm ordnance of the Type 59 with the carriage of the Type 60 (D-74 copy). The result is a gun with the same range as the M-46, but with a much lower weight of 6.3 t. The M59-1M is the Egyptian licence version. For the export market, a version with APU and redesigned carriage was developed. Also for the export market, a self-propelled variant, based on the Type 83 SPH was designed.
Type GM-45 - For the export market, NORINCO (China North Industries Corporation) developed this upgrade package where the original barrel of the Type 59 is replaced by the 155/45 mm ordnance of the WA 021. The Type GM-45 has a maximum range of 39 km when ERFB-BB ammunition is used.
The Cuban army operates two different, locally designed self-propelled versions of the M-46. One is based on the tracked chassis of the T-34-85 tank, while the other is based on a heavily modified KrAZ 6x6 truck. These and other modifications were shown for the first time during the 2006 military parade.
The Egyptian army operates a locally assembled variant of the M-46
SP-130 "Catapult" - Indian-designed self-propelled version, mounted on the hull of the Vijayanta tank.
Metamorphosis IOB M46 FG - Another 155 mm upgrade of the M-46, this one designed by Ordnance Factory Board (OFB). The upgraded M-46 has a range of 39 km
M-46S - This is an upgrade of an existing M-46 or Type 59, carried out by Soltam Systems Ltd. The original barrel is replaced by a new model of 155/45mm (western ammunition) for a range of 25.8 (HE) to 39 km (ERFB-BB). A 39-calibre barrel is optional. In March 2000, Soltam won a contract worth $47,524,137 for upgrading 180 M-46s to M-46S standard (Indian designator: 155/45mm (E1) Soltam). A follow-on deal for 250 retrofit kits was optioned for. In 2005, after only 40 howitzers were modified, the M-46S programme was terminated due to a fatal barrel explosion.
The US Defense Intelligence Agency has reported the existence of a number of locally designed self-propelled artillery systems, including the SPG 130mm M1975, the SPG 130mm M1981 and the SPG 130mm M1991. Details are not available, but they appear to be M-46/Type 59s mounted on a tracked chassis “Tokchon”.M46/84 - This is a conversion that involved replacing the original 130 mm barrel with a new 155/45 mm barrel or 152mm barrel. With ERFB-BB ammunition, this version has a range of 38,600 m and with M05 152mm range exceeds 40 km.
RDM Technology BV is yet another company that offers an upgrade of the M-46/Type 59 that involves fitting a new 155/45mm barrel.
A412 - License-built Chinese Type 59-1 with D-20 carriage. In Romanian Army service, the A412 is known as the 130 mm towed gun M1982 (Romanian: Tun calibrul 130-mm tractat M1982). The A412 was also exported.
Frag-HE, OF-43 - range: 27,490 meters
Frag-HE, OF-44 - range: 22,490 meters
Frag-HE, ERFB-BB - Extended Range Full Bore - Base Bleed, range: 38,000 meters
APCBC-HE-T, BR-482 and BR-482B - range: 1,140 meters
Indo-Pakistani War of 1965
South African Border War
Sino-Soviet border conflict
Cambodian Civil War
Yom Kippur War
Lebanese Civil War
Angolan Civil War
Soviet war in Afghanistan
Sri Lankan civil war
2003 invasion of Iraq
2011 Libyan civil war
Syrian civil war
Unless stated, figures are sourced from Jane's Armour and Artillery Algeria - 10 M-46
Angola - 48 M-46
Azerbaijan - 36
Bangladesh - 72 Type 59-1.
Bosnia and Herzegovina - 61 M-46, Type 59-1 and A412
Cambodia - Type 59-1
Cameroon - 112 Type 59-1
Croatia - 36 A412 known as Top 130mm M46H1 kept operational for the reserve forces.
Democratic Republic of the Congo - 8 Type 59
Egypt - 420 M-46 locally produced under license, 150 Chinese copy Type 59-1
Eritrea - 9 M-46 (via Bulgaria)
Finland - Army: 72 units, Navy: 72 units, known as 130 K 54. Now being phased out of service. Also used for coastal defence
Guyana - 6 M-46
India - 550 M-46 including self-propelled guns Catapult
Iran - 1,100 units M-46 and Type 59-1
Libya - 330 M-46
Laos - 10 M-46
Lebanon - 25 M-46
Mongolia - unknown number M-46
Morocco - 18 M-46
Mozambique - 20 M-46
Myanmar - 80 from DPRK
Nigeria - 7 M-46
Oman - 12 M-46 and 12 Type 59-1
North Korea - M-46, Type 59 and Type 59-1, some self-propelled
Pakistan - 410 Type 59-1 in service with the Pakistan Army.
People's Republic of China - Type 59-1
Peru - 30 M-46
Russia - reserve
Republic of the Congo - 5 Type 59
Serbia - two battalions
Sri Lanka - 12 Type 59-1
Sudan - M-46
Syria - 800 M-46 and Type 59-1
Tanzania - 30 M-46
Thailand - 18 Type 59-1
Vietnam - M-46 and Type 59-1
Yemen - 70 M-46
Zambia - 18 Type 59-1
Afghanistan - Status unknown
Albania - 100 Type 59 (known as M59) and Type 59-1 (known as M59/1)
Bulgaria - Phased out
Czechoslovakia - Phased out in the early 1990s
Ethiopia - Status unknown
Iraq - Status unknown of its M-46 and Type 59-1
Israel - 100 captured
Lebanese Forces - Unknown number of M-46 and Type 59-1 guns in service during the 1980s
Romania - 75 M1982 in reserve
South Africa - 6 on loan from Israel
Somalia - Status unknown
United Arab Emirates - Reserve
Soviet Union - Passed on to successor states
Yugoslavia - passed on to successor states