122-mm howitzer model 1938 (M-30)

Soviet howitzer of the Second World War period. This gun was serially produced from 1939 to 1955, was or is still in service with the armies of many countries of the world, was used in almost all significant wars and armed conflicts of the middle and late 20th century. The first Soviet large-scale self-propelled artillery units of the Great Patriotic War SU-122 were armed with this gun. According to some artillery experts, the M-30 is one of the best Soviet barrel artillery designs of the mid-20th century. The equipment of the artillery of the Workers’ and Peasants’ Red Army (RSKA) with M-30 howitzers played a major role in the defeat of Nazi Germany in the Great Patriotic War.


The field howitzers, which were in service with the RSKA in the 1920s, came to it as a legacy from the tsarist army. These were the 1909-model 122-mm howitzer and the 1910-model 122-mm howitzer, designed respectively by the German concern “Krupp” and the French firm “Schneider” for the Russian Empire. But by the 1930s, these guns were clearly outdated.
The M-30 howitzer project was submitted to the GAU (main artillery administration) on December 20, 1937. The gun borrowed a lot from other types of artillery weapons. The prototype M-30 was completed on March 31, 1938.
Although, according to the commission’s conclusion, the gun did not pass the range tests (during the tests, the frames broke twice), it was recommended to send it to military tests.
On September 29, 1939, the M-30 was adopted under the official name “122-mm divisional howitzer of the year 1938.” The M-30 was certainly a successful weapon. The group of developers under the leadership of F. F. Petrov managed to harmoniously combine in one sample of artillery weapons the reliability and simplicity characteristic of the old howitzers of the First World War era, and new constructive solutions designed to improve the mobility and firing capabilities of the gun. As a result, the Soviet divisional artillery received a modern and powerful howitzer capable of successfully operating as part of the highly mobile tank, mechanized and motorized units of the Red Army. The widespread use of the M-30 howitzer in the armies of many states of the world and excellent feedback from gunners serve as additional confirmation of this.

The absence of a muzzle brake, since the spent powder gases deflected by the muzzle brake raise clouds of dust from the surface of the ground, which unmasks the firing position. In addition to the unmasking effect, the presence of a muzzle brake leads to a higher intensity of the sound of the shot behind the weapon compared to the case when there is no muzzle brake. This somewhat worsens the working conditions of the military.
The use of a large number of used nodes in the design. In particular, the choice of a piston bolt improved reliability (at that time there were great difficulties in the production of wedge bolts for guns of a sufficiently large caliber). In anticipation of the upcoming large-scale war, the possibility of producing new howitzers using already debugged units from old guns became very important, especially considering the fact that almost all new weapons with complex mechanics created in the USSR from scratch had low reliability.
The possibility of creating more powerful artillery pieces on the M-30 carriage.


Howitzer M-30 had a fairly modern design for its time with a carriage with sliding frames and sprung wheels. The shutter has a mechanism for forced extraction of the fired casing when it is opened after a shot. The descent is carried out by pressing the trigger on the trigger cord.
The maximum permissible speed of transportation was 50 km/h on the highway and 35 km/h on cobblestones and roads. Horse-drawn howitzer was transported by six horses.
The M-30 fired a full range of 122-mm howitzer shells, including a variety of old Russian and imported grenades.
A steel high-explosive grenade, when the detonator was set to a high-explosive effect, created about 1,000 lethal fragments during the rupture, the effective radius of damage to personnel was about 30 m. When the detonator was set to the high-explosive effect, the grenade left craters up to 1 m deep and up to 3 m wide after bursting. diameter
The cumulative projectile penetrated 100-160 mm thick armor at an angle of 90°. The aiming range of firing at a moving tank is up to 400 m.

Combat use.

The M-30 was used to fire from closed positions on dug-in and exposed enemy personnel. It was also successfully used to destroy enemy field fortifications and make passages in wire fences when it was impossible to use mortars. The blocking fire of the M-30 battery with high-explosive shells posed a certain threat to the enemy’s armored vehicles. The shrapnel produced during the rupture was able to penetrate armor up to 20 mm thick, which was quite sufficient to damage armored personnel carriers and the sides of light tanks. In vehicles with thicker armor, shrapnel could disable elements of the chassis, guns, and sights.

Interesting Facts:

In Soviet training films for gunners, shot in the 1960s, the M-30 howitzer is very often shown, despite the fact that the more modern D-30 gun of the same caliber and purpose was already in service at that time. These films are still used in the training process of Russian gunners, although the M-30 howitzers have not even been used as training guns for a long time.
A small number of combat-ready M-30s are still in the warehouses of the Russian Army.
A wide variety of means were used to transport the M-30 – horse drawn, domestic trucks, heavy Dodge jeeps, light tracked artillery tractors “Stalinets” STZ-5 and Ya-12, which were supplied on a lend-lease basis. Even the facts of the rolling of M-30 howitzers only by the forces of their units are known from the memoir literature.
Due to the large number of weapons produced, M-30 howitzers are often displayed in military museums or used as memorial weapons.