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antiaircraft artillery[′an·tē′er‚kraft är′til·ə·rē]
a type of artillery designed to destroy air targets. Organizationally it is included in the composition of units of the ground forces and of the National Air Defense Forces.
Antiaircraft artillery has developed along with the development of air power; these weapons first appeared before World War I. In Russia the first antiaircraft artillery battery was formed and sent to the front in 1915. After the October Revolution, the formation of small antiaircraft artillery units began in 1918, and antiaircraft artillery regiments began to form in 1924. During the 1930’s and 1940’s, 25-mm, 37-mm, 76-mm, and 85-mm antiaircraft guns were adopted. A standard organizational structure was established in antiaircraft units: battery, battalion, regiment (brigade). In World War II antiaircraft artillery became an important means of air defense and was also used against tanks and other targets. Together with fighter aviation it was used for air defense of troops and of vital government centers.
In many countries antiaircraft artillery adopted large-caliber (more than 100 mm), medium-caliber (from 60 to 100 mm), and small-caliber (from 20 to 60 mm) guns, shells with mechanical and radio fuses, antiaircraft directors, reconnaissance and target-indication radar stations, and also gunlaying stations. In the Great Patriotic War (1941–45) the USSR formed antiaircraft artillery divisions at the end of 1942.
In the postwar period the modernization of antiaircraft artillery permitted significant increases in the effectiveness of fire and automation of fire. In the late 1940’s, 57-mm, 100-mm, and 130-mm antiaircraft guns were adopted in the USSR (these guns, antiaircraft directors, and gunlaying stations together made up antiaircraft artillery complexes), and in the 1950’s antiaircraft missile complexes were adopted. The ground forces began to use rapid-firing multibarrel antiaircraft artillery gun installations, primarily on self-propelled chassis, equipped with autonomous radar sets and computers. This made it possible to conduct effective fire under any weather conditions, both in place and on the move.
A. I. CHERVONOOKII