Monster Guns Of The Atomic Age
In the mid 1950s the Soviet government ordered large-caliber self-propelled guns to fire nuclear rounds. In 1957 the first test example of the 406mm SM-34 was produced by the Kirov plant in Leningrad with the designation 2A3 Kondensator-2P.
It was based on a T-10 heavy tank, could fire 570kg rounds at 25km and weighted 64 tons. 4 guns were produced and shown during the parade on the Red Square in 1957.
During the testing several major problems have been revealed – due to the huge size it could not be transported by regular train or ship platforms, it can hardly use existing roads and bridges. But the most killing one was the tremendous fire recoil that threw the gun away for several meters and after a couple of shots cracked the structural components.
In the same 1957 another monster creature appeared from the same Kirov plant – 420mm self-propelled mortar 2B1 Oka also known as Transformator based on the same T-10 tank.
The creature had a 20m barrel, weighed 55 tons and could fire a 670kg nuclear feathered mine at 25km and jet-propelled mine at 50km. 4 test systems have been produced and shown on the Red Square parade together with 2A3. In general Oka suffered the same problems as Kondensaror and in 1960 all the works on both giants were suspended.
In order to tackle the problems with recoil issues a well-known designer General Grabin proposed a C-103 recoilless gun that started testing by 1956. The system was very complex and after making its 100 test firings it blew up and was destroyed. By then the project had been closed.
The 535mm D-80 was the last ambitious attempt to introduce a monster gun that started in 1963 and in 1965 has been considered as the Luna-M (FROG-7) alternative. There were 3 variants but neither reached the testbed stage and in 1968 all the activities were suspended in favor of rockets.
In conclusion, there is one more gun that probably should be mentioned although it had nothing to do with the nuclear age but by all means can be considered as a monster.
The 406mm B-37 naval gun and MP-10 artillery test system were designed in 1937 and produced in 1940. MP-10 was used in Leningrad during the war and fired 81 1108kg rounds. Lastly, after the war it was used for testing parts of large-caliber artillery systems including SM-36.