Country of origin
Maximum range of fire
Maximum rate of fire
7 - 8 rpm
Sustained rate of fire
- 2.5 to + 45 degrees
Dimensions and weight
Length (in travelling order)
Length (in combat order)
Width (in travelling order)
Road towing speed
Cross-country towing speed
10 - 20 km/h
3 - 4 minutes
3 - 4 minutes
The M-46 is a Soviet
gun developed in the 1940s, and apparently first fielded in the
early 1950s. When first seen by the West, it was given the
provisional designation "M1954", for the year it was first
identified by NATO.
The M-46 was one of the most successful field artillery systems
developed by the Soviet Union after the World War II. Very large numbers of this artillery piece were manufactured
during the Cold War, which found their way into the armed forces of
nations and organizations across the globe. The M-46 was a mainstay in the
Warsaw Pact into the 1980s, though it was gradually
replaced in the Soviet Union by the 152 mm 2A36 Giatsint-B from 1976.
Having a longer range and a nuclear capability, the 2A36 effectively
rendered the M-46 obsolete. The M-46 was exported to more than 40
countries and is still an important weapon in the arsenals of
In a towing configuration, the M-46 is 11.73 m long, 2.45 m
wide, approximately 2 m tall, and weighs 7.7 t. It is rated as
safe to tow at speeds of 10-20 km/h cross-country, or at 50 km/h over
a paved road. In the Soviet and Russian Armies, the M-46 is normally
towed by the ATS-59 artillery tractor, or the KrAZ-255 7.5 t
truck with 6x6 configuration.
The M-46 is identifiable by its long, thin gun tube,
two-wheel carriage, and long twin towing arms. It is also sometimes
fitted with two drum-shaped fixtures on the towing arms or a
V-shaped gunshield, and both double-baffle and pepperpot muzzle
brakes have been observed on the M-46. A hydropneumatic recuperator
is fitted both above the tube, and a recoil cylinder is fitted below
As with most older towed artillery pieces, the M-46 has no power or
propulsion systems, and the weapon must be emplaced and steered
manually. The tires used on its carriage wheels are sponge-filled,
and can go flat even if perforated.
The gun tube of the M-46 has a 130 mm bore and is 58 calibers
long. It may be depressed to -2.5 degrees, or super-elevated to +45
degrees, and can traverse a total of 50 degrees. Though US Army
sources indicate a crew of 8 is used on the M-46, operating one
actually requires a gun crew of 9. The towing arms may be recessed
into the ground to compensate for the weapon's recoil.
The maximum rate of fire is 7-8 rpm, which decreases to 1 rpm when
sustained. The maximum range of the M-46 is 27.15 km with normal ammunition, though this may be
increased to 30 and even 38 km with specialized munitions (see below). As with
most towed artillery pieces, the M-46 is manually-loaded.
The M-46 fires OF-43 HE-FRAG (range: 27 490 meters), OF-44 HE-FRAG
(range: 22 490 meters), BR-482 and BR-482B APCBC-HE-T (range: 1 140
meters, direct-fire). Smoke, Chemical, and Illumination
rounds were also developed for the M-46, but no information is
available on their range. Some countries, such as China, Israel, and
South Africa, produced their own ordnance for this field gun. One of
such examples is a Chinese ERFB-BB round (Extended Range Full Bore
- Base Bleed) with a range of 38 000 meters. The baseline HE-FRAG projectile weights 33.4 kg. Though the BR-482/BR-482B is largely
ineffective against most operational main battle tanks, it can still
catastrophically destroy almost any other armored vehicle, making
the M-46 a very dangerous foe to approach even today.
Due to its
long range the M-46 was mainly used to counter enemy artillery and
to engage important hostile targets, such as railroad junctions,
command posts, concentrations of enemy forces and other targets well
behind enemy lines. Until the 1970s it was one of the longest range
artillery systems around.
The M-46 has seen combat in countless wars throughout the
Cold War, and into the present. It is known to have been used in the
Sino-Indian War (1962), the Indo-Pakistani War (1965), the South
African Border War (1966-1989), the Vietnam War (1959-1975), the Six
Day War (1967), the Sino-Soviet Border Conflict (1969), the
Cambodian Civil War (1967-1975), the Sino-Vietnamese War (1979), the
Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan (1979-1989), the Iran-Iraq War
(1980-1988), the Persian Gulf War (1990-1991), the Sri Lankan Civil
War (1983-2009), he Yugoslav Wars (1991-2001) and the Invasion of
In particular, the M-46 earned great notoriety in the West
for its extensive use in the Vietnam War, where the M-46 outranged
almost all US artillery, and pounded US firebases with impunity. The
175 mm self-propelled gun was the only land-based artillery
system, that outranged the Soviet field gun. The M-46 was regarded
by both sides as the best all-round field artillery of the Vietnam
The M-46 also earned great
notoriety during the South
African Border War (where its range surprised and overwhelmed
the South African Defense Forces, prompting the development of the G5
field gun-howitzer, the
Rhino self-propelled gun-howitzer, and the
self-propelled multi-barrel rocket launcher).
Known users of the M-46 and its variants include
Afghanistan, Algeria, Angola, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh,
Cambodia, China, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, China, Croatia,
Cuba, Congo, Egypt, Eritrea,
Ethiopia, Finland, Guyana, India, Iraq, Iran,
Libya, Laos, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Nigeria, Oman,
North Korea, Pakistan, Peru, Republic of the Congo, Russia, Serbia,
Somalia, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Syria, Tanzania, Thailand, United Arab
Emirates, Vietnam, Yemen, and Zambia. Though in some of these
countries current status of the the M-46 is unknown, while in some
of these countries this field gun is in reserve and is no longer
actively used. Possibly the largest remaining inventory of operational M-46
variants is in the Iranian Army, which is known to possess at least
1 100 units. Former operators of the M-46 and its variants are
Albania, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Israel, Lebanon, Soviet Union,
Approximately 6 500 M-46s were manufactured by the Soviet
Union, and they are no longer in production. The unit cost is
unknown, and new M-46s are no longer offered.
M-47: 152 mm
field gun based on the M-46. It was not as numerous or successful as
the smaller M-46.
Type 59: Chinese clone of the M-46. Some 3 500 of these were
Type 59-1: This Chinese howitzer is a "hybrid" weapon,
combining the ordnance of the Type 59 with the carriage of the Type
60 (a copy of the Soviet D-74). An auxiliary power unit was offered
as an option later in production.
M59-1M: Egyptian license-built Type 59-1.
Type GM-45: Chinese upgrade of the Type 59, fitted with a new
155 mm/L45 barrel.
M-46S: A variant developed for export by Soltam in Israel,
mounting a 155 mm/L45 howitzer tube atop the carriage of the M-46.
SP-130 Catapult: Indian self-propelled gun, mounting the
ordnance of the M-46 atop a Vijayanta tank chassis. There is also a
newer Indian artillery system, called
Arjun Catapult, or Catapult
Mk.2, which is based on a chassis of the
main battle tank.
M46/10: Yugoslav upgrade of the M-46, also with a 155 mm/L45
A412: Romanian license-built Type 59-1, now with the carriage
of the D-20 towed gun.
Jupiter V: Cuban self-propelled gun, consisting of a heavily
modified KrAZ 255B 6x6 truck chassis carrying the ordnance of the
self-propelled gun, consisting of a Ural 6x6 truck chassis carrying
the ordnance of the M-46.
publish your own articles? Visit our
guidelines for more information.