The SU-76 Assault Gun was developed to replace the many armoured vehicles, especially light tanks lost to the Germany Army during Operation Barbarossa, the German invasion of Russia in 1941.
The SU-76 Assault Gun Development
The first prototype was the OSU-76 (Opytnaya Samokhodnaya Stamina “experimental gun mounting“) completed by Zavod Nr 38 design team in 1942. It used a modified T-60 Light Tank chassis. The chassis proved to small, so the design team combined forces with the Zavod Nr 92 design team on using the larger T-70 tank chassis, which resulted in the SU-76.
The SU-76M (Production Model)
Though production started in early 1943, the initially production vehicles proved troublesome as they had the T-70’s twin engine power train using two petrol GAZ-202 engines, so in the spring of 1943 they were bought inline of each other (mounted in tandem on the right hand side of the hull) and was re-designated the SU-76M. This became the main production model.
The Russian ZiS-3 towed field gun was capable of firing a variety of HE rounds including shrapnel rounds and HE/Fragmentation for attacking fortifications and enemy infantry. It was also capable of firing Armour-Piercing rounds with a muzzle velocity of 700m/s capable of defeating all German tanks and armoured vehicles at the time of development.
The SU-76M used a lengthened T-70 light tank chassis, which the open top superstructure was built on and the ZiS-3 main gun was mounted in. The lengthening of the chassis meant an additional road wheel had to be added and both the engine and fuel tanks where moved from the rear to the front of the vehicle in tandem.
SU-76 Combat History
Designed to provide both direct and indirect firepower support for Russian Infantry, it was able to provide an anti-tank capability, however this was short lived when both the German Tiger and Panther tanks arrived on the Eastern Front as the ZiS-3 main gun couldn’t penetrate their frontal armour.
Crews nick named the vehicle “The Bitch” as the driver had no bulkhead between him and the engine and the superstructure was open topped so offered little protection against close in attacks from grenades or artillery splinter shells.
After World War 2 the vehicle was exported to communist allies and WARSAW pact nations. It was used by the North Koreans in the Korean War.
SU-76 Former Operators
Nazi Germany – Captured from Russian Forces in WW2
South Korea – captured from North Korea during the Korean War
The SU-76 Assault Gun Spec’s
Armament: 76.2mm Main Gun
Armour: Frontal 35mm thick steel
Dimensions: Length 5m / Width 2.7m / Height 2.1m
Weight: 10.2 tonne
Engine: x2 GAZ 202 6 Cylinder 85bhp Petrol
Top Road Speed: 45 km/h
Operational Range: 320 km