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artillery, originally meant any large weaponry (including such ancient engines of war as catapults and battering rams) or war material, but later applied only to heavy firearms as opposed to small arms. Types of artillery include antiaircraft and antitank guns (which fire at high muzzle velocity through long barrels at flat trajectories) and howitzers (with shorter barrels, lower velocities, and parabolic trajectories). The term cannon can apply to almost all heavy artillery, especially howitzers, and even to automatic guns on aircraft. Mortars and batteries of small tactical rockets are usually used as artillery. Modern artillery came into use in the mid-14th cent. with the introduction of gunpowder in the West. At first, the new cannon were used mainly against fortifications. Its impact was demonstrated by the Ottoman Turks, who used giant guns cast on the battlefield to breach the walls of Constantinople and capture it in 1453. Cannon also revolutionized war at sea (see navy). Artillery was first extensively employed in the field during the Thirty Years War (1618–48); thereafter it played an increasingly important role until the advent of aircraft. Now that few pieces of fixed artillery (e.g., coastal defense guns) still survive, artillery is generally classified as either towed or self-propelled. Artillery was characteristically smoothbore and muzzle-loaded, firing solid, round shot, until the latter part of the 19th cent., when breech-loaded, rifled, and shell-firing artillery became standard.


See I. Hogg, Illustrated Encyclopedia of Artillery (1989).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



(I) A combat arm of ground forces. (2) An aggregate of weapons. (3) A science that studies the structure, characteristics, and methods of utilization of artillery armament.

As a combat arm of ground forces, artillery is organized into large units, units, and subunits, which are armed with artillery guns, infantry mortars, rocket launchers, and antitank guided missiles. Artillery has at its disposal means of reconnaissance, communication, transportation, and towing, as well as fire-control devices. It possesses great power and accuracy of fire; ranges of up to 30–35 km are attained; it is capable of large-scale maneuvering and rapid concentration of fire upon the most important objectives (targets). The purpose of artillery is to destroy (neutralize, knock out) fire weapons, combat matériel, personnel, defense installations, and other objectives (targets), as well as to provide fire support and accompany combined arms units and large units in battle.

Artillery that is organic to large units, units, and subunits forms troop (in foreign armies, field) artillery, which is divided into corps, divisional, regimental, and battalion artillery. Artillery that is not included in troop artillery forms the artillery reserve of the Supreme Command. Artillery is further subdivided according to combat purpose and type of gun into howitzer, cannon, rocket, antiaircraft artillery, and infantry mortars. Antitank, mountain, and casemate artillery refer to special types of artillery.

In the navy, artillery is divided into naval ordnance, which includes antiaircraft artillery, and coast artillery, which may be either fixed or mobile. In the air force, gun armament formerly was used on combat aircraft; today it has been replaced by rocket weapons.

According to the capability of the guns, mortars, and rocket launchers, all artillery is classified as light, medium, or heavy as well as heavy caliber and superdestructive. According to their ballistic properties, weapons are distinguished by flat trajectories (cannon) and plunging trajectories (howitzers, artillery and infantry mortars).

Artillery as an aggregate of weapons refers to cannon, howitzers, artillery mortars, self-propelled gun mounts and rocket launchers, recoilless guns, and infantry mortars; all kinds of small arms, such as rifles, carbines, submachine guns, pistols, machine guns, and grenade launchers; all types of ammunition, such as cartridges, shells, and mortar shells; equipment for movement, such as self-propelled motorized carriages, wheeled and tracklaying prime movers, railroad flatcars that are used as carriages for especially heavy systems, and horse transport (still retained in certain countries); various fire-control devices and sighting equipment for terrestrial and antiaircraft artillery; means of reconnaissance and ensuring accuracy of fire, such as binoculars, stereoscopic telescopes, range finders, radar stations, computers, gyroscopic topographical surveying equipment, meteorological stations, sound-ranging observation posts, photogrammetric instruments, artillery gyrocompasses, and so on.

Artillery as a science is concerned with problems of the design and operation of artillery armament and artillery combat matériel, methods of applying them in combat, and the theory of gunnery. The principal divisions of artillery science are internal and external ballistics, the fundamentals of the construction of artillery matériel, small arms and ammunition, explosives and gunpowder, the technology of artillery production, combat application of artillery, theory of gunnery, artillery fire control, and others.

History. Artillery has a history that goes back many centuries. It came to replace wall-battering and stone-hurling techniques, which originated in the countries of the ancient East—that is, in Egypt, the states of Mesopotamia, China, India, Iran, and others. The first reliable information concerning the appearance of firearms dates back to the end of the 13th and the beginning of the 14th century among the Arabs. From them firearms were adopted by all the advanced countries in Western Europe. F. Engels wrote: “in that same 14th century the Arabs introduced into Europe by way of Spain the use of gunpowder and artillery” (Marx, K., and F. Engels. Soch., 2nd ed., vol. 21, p. 415). During the period from 1320 to 1350 the first models of firearms appeared in Italy, France, Germany, and England. The earliest known mention of the use of artillery in Russia dates from 1382, during the defense of Moscow from the hordes of Khan Tokhtamysh.

The first artillery pieces using gunpowder were primitive in construction. They were forged iron smooth-bore tubes with a closed breech, in which there was a priming aperture for igniting the charge; they were loaded from the muzzle end. The barrel of the gun was anchored to a wooden block. The shot consisted of stone, lead, or iron balls and pellets. These guns were operated by the same craftsmen who made them. Among the first cannon masters in Russia the most famous name is that of Mikula Krechetnikov (middle of the 15th century).

During the 14th and 15th centuries, when casting was mastered in Europe, guns began to be cast from copper and bronze. The widespread manufacture of cast cannon in Russia dates from the end of the 15th and the beginning of the 16th century and is connected with the construction in Moscow of the Cannon “Shed” (foundry and arsenal) in 1475 (later, during the 1520’s and 1530’s, known as the Cannon “Yard”), where many famous craftsmen worked from the middle of the 16th to the beginning of the 17th century, such as Ignatii, Stepan Petrov, Bogdan, Piatoi, Andrei Chokhov, Pervoi Kuz’min, and Semenka Dubinin.

The casting of guns from bronze considerably speeded up and facilitated the manufacturing process and improved the construction of the guns. Trunnions made their appearance, as did “dolphins” (clamps on the barrel of the gun), “grape clusters” (a protruding part on the breech of muzzle-loading guns), and the simplest sighting equipment (front sights and notches). Balls, canisters, and shells were used as projectiles. In the 15th century there appeared in the artillery of all the advanced armies the first wheeled mounts, thus marking the transition from stationary wooden blocks to mobile carriages.

The first artillery pieces located in the batteries of fortified cities formed city artillery (in Russia, called a city detachment) . Then guns appeared that were designed for the capture (or siege) of fortresses; they formed siege artillery. At the turn of the 15th century some of the guns of the city artillery began to be singled out for participation in field battles (Vorskla, 1399, and Grunwald, 1410). This marked the birth of field artillery (in Russia, a small detachment). In the countries of Western Europe, artillery as an independent class of weaponry developed during the second half of the 14th century, whereas in Russia this occurred at the end of the 14th and the beginning of the 15th century. During the 15th and 16th centuries states became economically stronger, there was further development in the armament of their forces, and combat experience was gained in the use of artillery. All this led to the transformation of artillery from a kind of weaponry into a combat arm (along with the infantry and the cavalry). By this time the Eastern countries (India, China, Iran, etc.) had fallen considerably behind other countries in the development of artillery. In the 16th century the two-wheel carriage was in wide use. In the Russian state equipping the regiments of the streltsy (semiprofessional musketeers) with artillery pieces marked the start of regimental artillery as such.

During the 16th and 17th centuries artillery science was born. The first works on artillery appeared, written by the Italian N. Tartaglia, On the New Science (1534), the Spaniard D. Uffano, Treatise on Artillery (1613), and O. Mikhailov, Regulations Concerning Combat Artillery and Other Matters Which Relate to Military Science (1621).

In the 17th century further development of artillery took place in all the economically advanced countries. The cast iron founding of guns and shells received widespread acceptance; standardization in their manufacture was mapped out, and the role of artillery in wars increased. Thus, in the war of liberation of the Russian people from the Polish and Swedish interventionists, especially at the Battle of Dobrynichi (1605), artillery played an important role in the success of the Russian forces. During the wars of this period there arose elements utilizing artillery in the battle formation lines of troops.

During the 1660’s in Russia rifled guns were manufactured with a “grape cluster” (a metallic threaded cylinder) which was screwed into the bore, as well as smooth-bore guns with a mechanical wedge breech block. The creation of these weapons by Russian cannon masters (Ermola Fedorov, Andrei Neidgart, and others) was an outstanding contribution to the improvement of artillery. In the Western European countries the first information about the existence of rifled guns dates from 1676 (The Hague) and 1691 (Nuremberg).

At the beginning of the 18th century, Peter I utilized the achievements in the development of artillery of European armies to radically transform Russian artillery. A strict procedure was instituted in the manufacture of matériel in accordance with detailed drawings; a standardized artillery scale was introduced together with weight specifications for guns; charges were placed in canvas bags to increase both the rate and accuracy of fire. Artillery was classified as regimental, field, siege, and fortress artillery. In order to support the cavalry, special horse and mountain horse (mainly pack-horse) artilleries were created. All these changes brought Russian artillery up to the level of the artillery of the most developed armies of Europe.

The subsequent development of artillery in Russia in the middle of the 18th century is connected with the activity of P. I. Shuvalov, master general of ordnance; new weapon systems were introduced, such as the “secret howitzers” in 1753 and the “unicorns” in 1757, which remained in the armament of the Russian artillery for more than 100 years; their design was copied by many European armies. Owing to the high combat characteristics of the newly created guns, Russian artillerymen for the first time used the method of firing over the heads of their own troops during the Seven Years’ War in an engagement at Palzig (1759) and laid the foundation for a new and extremely advanced principle of the tactical application of artillery. P. A. Rumiantsev, A. V. Suvorov, and M. I. Kutuzov—some of Russia’s greatest generals—exercised a great influence on the development of advanced methods in the application of artillery in battle and especially in the organization of artillery-infantry cooperation.

The middle of the 18th century was a period of significant changes in artillery in all the advanced armies of Europe. In Prussia several changes in artillery were carried out by Frederick II. In the 1740’s he divided artillery into regimental, field, siege, and fortress artillery; guns of all calibers were made considerably lighter, but in so doing, their firepower was decreased. In Austria the changes in artillery were effected by MasterGeneral of Field Ordnance Lichtenstein, as a result of which the Austrians improved the organization of their artillery and made it lighter and more mobile. In France the mobility of artillery was increased by decreasing the bulk of the guns.

Before the beginning of the 19th century the development of artillery consisted basically of lightening and standardizing guns, considerably simplifying their production, and introducing new sighting equipment. The new guns (in France, J. B. de Gribeauval’s gun; in Russia, the 1805 model gun) possessed great mobility because the carriages were lightened and a large amount of various decorations was removed from the barrels. The Markevich screw-on sights and subsequently the Kabanov suspension sights were attached to the 1805 model gun. On the whole the Russian artillery met its requirements in securing the battlefield for the troops, and it was successfully employed in the defeat of Napoleon’s army in 1812.

During the wars of the middle of the 19th century, rifled hand weapons appeared on battlefields in the possession of all armies. Smooth-bore artillery, which had a shorter range of fire than a carbine, turned out to be unsuitable in combat with infantry and cavalry. The crisis of smooth-bore artillery became imminent. During the years 1855–60 in France and Prussia, 1860–67 in Russia and Britain, and in the 1870’s in the USA and other countries it was replaced by the more effective rifled artillery. The rearming of the artillery of advanced armies with rifled breech-loading guns marked a fundamental revolution in the development of artillery. It increased the range (from 1,500 to 4,000 m), the accuracy of aim, and the rate of fire.

During the second half of the 19th century there was an extensive development of artillery science, great credit for which is due to many Russian scientific artillery experts, such as N. V. Maievskii, A. V. Gadolin, D. K. Chernov, N. V. Kalakutskii, A. S. Lavrov, and N. A. Zabudskii. Their works on internal and external ballistics, gunnery, the theory of the fundamentals of the construction of artillery materiel, explosives, gunpowder, and other problems of artillery science were widely recognized and earned world fame.

In the 1880’s mastery of the methods of casting steel in the manufacture of gun barrels as well as the development of a theory for reinforcing them made it possible for the armies of all states to rearm themselves with long-range steel artillery. In 1877 steel guns with reinforced barrels and mounted on rigid carriages were adopted in Russia as artillery armament.

A special place in the history of artillery belongs to the talented Russian inventor, V. S. Baranovskii, who was the first to develop a number of models of rapid-fire guns during the years 1872–77. Because of the inertness and bureaucratic nature of the tsarist officials, however, these guns did not come into the service of the army. With the invention of smokeless powder in the 1880’s, Baranovskii’s principles for the construction of rapid-fire cannon were adopted by all countries. In 1900 at the Putilov Plant in Petersburg with the participation of N. A. Zabudskii and A. P. Engel’gardt, a 3-inch (76-mm) rapid-fire field gun was completed. This was the 1900 model, which was improved in 1902 and adopted by the Russian Army as a field artillery piece.

The Russo-Japanese War of 1904–05 demonstrated the obvious superiority of the rapid-fire guns over previously existing systems. Owing to the invention of the artillery deflection and the panoramic sight, Russian artillerymen during this war for the first time used indirect fire, a new method of delivery of artillery fire. At the siege of Port Arthur the need arose to employ high-angle fire in order to inflict damage on Japanese personnel and fire weapons located close by in trenches, depressions, and ravines. For this purpose Ensign S. N. Vlas’ev proposed that mortar shells be shot from 47-mm naval cannon. Thus appeared the idea for creating a new kind of artillery piece, the infantry mortar. It was successfully realized in 1909by Ensign S. N. Vlas’ev and Artillery Captain L. N. Gobiato.

After the Russo-Japanese War work was conducted in all the European countries on the creation of heavy artillery, principally of howitzer systems. In Russia during the years 1909–10 several models of howitzers were adopted as armament, such as the 122-mm and 152-mm howitzers and the 107-mm heavy cannon. Russia entered World War I with these weapons as well as the 76-mm field gun and 76-mm mountain cannon. The French Army entered the war with 75-mm cannon in their divisional and corps artillery and a small number of 155-mm howitzers. The German Army entered the war with 77-mm cannon and 105-mm howitzers at the division level, in addition to powerful heavy artillery at the corps and army levels.

By the beginning of the war the principal countries involved had large numbers of artillery guns. Russia had 7,088; France, 4,300; Great Britain, 1,352; Germany, 9,388; and Austria-Hungary, 4,088. During the course of World War I the quantity of artillery increased in all armies as did the role of artillery in combat operations. In attacks designed to break through a strong enemy defense, artillery began to be employed more and more massively, concentrating in breakthrough areas up to 80–100 guns and in certain very important operations up to 120–160 guns per kilometer of front. Artillery preparation before breakthrough was, as a rule, prolonged (up to several days). By the end of the war (1918) artillery preparation had become briefer but more powerful. This was accomplished by an increase in the amount of artillery (per kilometer of front) involved in the artillery preparation.

During the course of the war together with the growth in the quantity of artillery in all armies, its quality also improved; for example, the range and power of guns were increased. Light artillery appeared as accompaniment for infantry. The Russian Army adopted the 1915 model of a 37-mm cannon. Throughout all the warring armies the amount of general headquarters reserve artillery was sharply increased, primarily at the expense of heavy artillery. In Russia the artillery reserve of the High Command was special purpose heavy artillery. By the end of the war, in the Russian Army, it had grown to six times its earlier size. With the appearance of tanks and aviation the need arose to create the special types of artillery known as antitank and antiaircraft. Light field guns were used as antitank artillery. In 1915 the first antiaircraft guns appeared in France (the 75-mm antiaircraft gun) and in Russia (the Tarnovskii-Lender 76-mm antiaircraft gun). In the German Army, antiaircraft guns began to appear in 1916–17. During the course of the war a certain part of the artillery of Germany, France, Austria, and Russia began to convert to mechanical transport, which considerably increased maneuverability. The artillery of all the warring armies made extensive use of indirect fire. New means and methods of carrying out artillery reconnaissance were created; the artillery instrumental observation service appeared. For fire correction against unobserved targets, airplanes and observation balloons began to be used. Despite a shortage of shells and of heavy artillery, the Russian artillery during World War I was a menacing force which inflicted heavy blows on the enemy; the artillerymen demonstrated a high degree of skill in gunnery and a fearlessness in combat. The Russian artillery played an important role during the offensive of the troops of the Southwestern Front during the summer of 1916.

In the period of the Civil War (1918–1920) the Soviet artillery occupied an important place in the military operations of Soviet troops. During this period a unified organizational structure of artillery units and subunits was adopted; methods derived from combat experience for the tactical employment of artillery were established; and a base was created to replenish the artillery with trained cadre and supplies. Despite the small size of the Soviet artillery and its severe shortage of ammunition, it played a definite role in the defeat of the interventionists and White Guards. The subsequent development of the Soviet artillery proceeded on the basis of advanced views on the role and importance of artillery fire in modern warfare. This had a great influence on its quantitative and qualitative growth during the years of peaceful construction.

During the second half of the 1920’s all countries carried out a modernization of their artillery, making possible an increase in range, rate of fire, elevation range and maximum traverse, and so forth. At the beginning of the 1930’s the seven basic models of artillery guns in the Soviet artillery underwent such modernization. However the modernization of the existing types of guns could not solve all the problems connected with the basic improvement of artillery armament. In the Soviet Union, therefore, as well as in a number of Western European countries, the USA, and Japan, a great deal of work was carried on in the creation of new guns of light and heavy artillery, antitank and antiaircraft guns, and heavy caliber guns.

The mighty socialist industry that was built up during the prewar five-year plans made it possible to reconstruct old artillery plants and to build new ones capable of producing guns and infantry mortars of all kinds and types—from light antitank guns to large and special capacity guns. By the beginning of the Great Patriotic War (1941–45) the Soviet artillery possessed 67,000 guns and infantry mortars (not counting 50-mm infantry mortars), which were mostly new models. As armament the Soviet Army adopted new 45- and 76-mm cannon, 122- and 152-mm cannon, howitzers, and gun-howitzers, 203-mm and 305-mm howitzers and 280-mm artillery mortars, 82- and 120-mm infantry mortars, and 37-, 76-, and 85-mm antiaircraft guns. Tanks, airplanes, and naval fighting ships were armed with new guns. On the eve of the war, Soviet scientists and industrial workers created the first models of field rocket artillery, which qualitatively surpassed the rocket technology of all other countries. A considerable contribution to the creation of high-quality artillery armament was made by design offices headed by V. G. Grabin, I. I. Ivanov, F. F. Petrov, B. I. Shavyrin, and others. Great attention was paid to the training of cadre. The F. E. Dzerzhinskii Artillery Academy, 28 artillery schools, and a large number of courses basically satisfied the growing needs for command and technical cadre.

The artillery of the capitalist countries that participated in World War II was inferior to Soviet artillery in both quantity and quality. Fascist Germany had the strongest artillery in comparison with the other capitalist countries, but as a result of minimizing the role of artillery during the war and exaggerating the roles played by the air force and tanks, the attention paid to the development of artillery was insufficient, and in fact it was reduced to a secondary combat arm. The first few months of war against the USSR, moreover, demonstrated to the fascist German command that underestimation of the role of artillery was its great mistake, but all efforts directed at increasing the artillery’s strength during the course of the war failed to provide the desired results. The most widespread types of artillery used by the capitalist countries during World War II were as follows: in Germany, 37-, 50-, 75-, 105-, and 150-mm cannon and 105- and 150-mm howitzers; in Great Britain, 40-, 127-, and 152-mm cannon and 94- and 152-mm howitzers; in France, 47-, 75-, 105-, and 155-mm cannon and 155-mm howitzers; in the USA, 35- and 155-mm cannon and 105- and 155-mm howitzers; in Japan, 37-, 75-, and 105-mm cannon and 105-mm howitzers. Mortar armament in these countries was basically represented by small- and medium-caliber mortars (from 47-mm to 107-mm).

The subsequent development of Soviet artillery is linked with the Great Patriotic War (1941–45), in the course of which artillery, together with infantry and tanks, was one of the main combat arms of ground forces. It was their main fire striking force, and by its combat deeds artillery earned its right to be called the “god of war.” The organizational structure of the artillery and the methods of its combat application changed according to the situation developing at the front, the missions assigned to the Soviet Army, and the material potential of the country. Already in the first few months of the war, despite heavy losses in personnel, matériel, and ammunition, the artillery inflicted significant blows on the enemy and was the most effective means to battle against tanks. During the war the amount of guns and infantry mortars increased more than fivefold; socialist industry produced more than 500,000 guns and infantry mortars. Rocket-launching, antiaircraft, antitank, self-propelled artillery, and infantry mortars developed at an especially rapid pace. This quantitative growth of Soviet artillery was accompanied by a substantial improvement of its fighting efficiency. During the course of the war there were created and adopted as armament new, more effective 45-, 57-, 76-, and 100-mm cannon, 152-mm howitzers, and 160-mm infantry mortars; new rocket launchers with a more powerful projectile, better patterning, and a greater firing range were developed and implemented in the forces. High-power self-propelled gun mounts were created; the power of artillery armament, tanks, and airplanes was considerably increased. The quantitative and qualitative growth of artillery ensured the possibility of a continuous building up of the strength and power of artillery fire. In the defense that was set up on the most important operational axes during the operations of 1941–42 there was a density of artillery per kilometer of front of no more than five to ten guns and infantry mortars; in contrast, in the defensive operation near Kursk in the summer of 1943 and in the Balaton defensive operation of 1945 it reached from 25–30 to 100 guns and infantry mortars. In breakthrough areas during the counter-offensive near Moscow the density of artillery per kilometer of front rarely exceeded 30–40 guns and infantry mortars; at the counteroffensive near Stalingrad it was 80–100 guns and infantry mortars; but in the counteroffensive near Kursk and in the operations that took place in 1943–45 in Byelorussia, L’vov-Sandomierz, the Vistula-Oder area, EastPrussia, Berlin, and elsewhere, the density reached 200–300 and more guns and infantry mortars. The decisive massing of artillery on the most important operational axes required the exploration of new methods of its combat application in battle and in general operations. In this respect, of great importance was the development and implementation of the artillery offensive, which made it possible to solve the very important problem of continuous artillery support of the breakthrough of a strong enemy defense in all its depth.

Concentration of great masses of artillery on the main operational axes and the creation of a high density (of guns) on breakthrough sectors were achieved by virtue of the broad semistrategic and tactical maneuvers of the artillery and in particular of the artillery reserve of the Supreme Command. In the most important operations during the execution of artillery maneuvering from General Headquarters reserve to the fronts and between fronts, from 150 to 500 artillery regiments could be involved. The difficulty of directing a maneuver of such a large number of regiments made it nec-cessary at the end of 1942 to create artillery brigades and divisions and in the spring of 1943 still more powerful artillery divisions and breakthrough corps. During the war the artillery reserve of the Supreme Command increased ninefold, and by the end of the war it included almost 50 percent of the artillery of ground forces. By the end of the war, moreover, most of it was organizationally included in the large artillery units, that is, artillery brigades, divisions, and corps. As a result of these measures the artillery reserve of the Supreme Command took on significance as an important strategic factor in all operations being carried out.

On the whole, Soviet artillery played an important role in achieving victory during the Great Patriotic War; it proved its superiority in action over the enemy’s artillery both in its combat capabilities and in the art of its application in combat and general operations. The artillery’s great firepower and the high degree of skill in directing concentrated artillery fire were especially clearly manifested in the battles near Moscow, Stalingrad, and Kursk; in the operations in the Right-bank Ukraine, in Byelorussia, and in the Baltic area; and in the Iaşi-Kishinev, Vistula-Oder, and Berlin operations. During the operations of 1941–42, 7,000–12,000 guns and infantry mortars took part, but in the years 1943–45 up to 20,000–35,000 participated, and in the concluding Berlin operation there were more than 45,000 guns, infantry mortars, and multiple rocket launchers. The successful activities of the artillery during the Great Patriotic War are linked with the names of such major military leaders as N. N. Voronov, M. P. Dmitriev, S. A. Krasnopevtsev, V. I. Kazakov, M. I. Nedelin, G. F. Odintsov, F. A. Samsonov, A. K. Sokol’skii, N. M. Khlebnikov, M. N. Chistiakov, N. D. Iakovlev, and many others. During the course of the war, Soviet artillery accumulated an enormous amount of military experience, which in many respects has not lost its importance even at the present time. The services performed by the Soviet artillery during the Great Patriotic War were highly esteemed by the Soviet people; more than 1,800 artillerymen were awarded the title Hero of the Soviet Union, 1.2 million were awarded orders and medals, and 515 artillery units of various sizes were converted to guards units.

The artillery of the USA and Great Britain during the years of World War II also acquired significant experience in combat operations. In the Western European operations, however, the distribution of artillery throughout the armed forces was relatively small. Their density of artillery in breakthrough sectors amounted to 45–130 guns and infantry mortars per kilometer of front. To a certain extent this is explained by the fact that the Allied command attempted to supplement artillery firepower with massed air operations.

The postwar development of artillery in the economically, scientifically, and technically advanced countries has proceeded in the direction of further increasing its range, rate of fire, and maneuverability. The armies of these countries have introduced extensive automation and mechanization into the processes of preparation of artillery fire and fire control; artillery shells with an atomic charge have been created and continue to be created. The complete motorization of armies has brought about the need to create self-propelled artillery. Artillery science has undergone further development based on new achievements in mathematics, physics, chemistry, cybernetics, electronics, and other sciences. New models of cannon, howitzer, and antiaircraft artillery and infantry mortars have been added as armament. Especially rapid has been the development of rocket artillery, which has an increased range, a high degree of accuracy, and a heavy salvo weight; this allows troops to successfully knock out targets within short periods of time. Great attention has been paid to means of combating tanks with artillery. In antitank artillery the muzzle velocity and armor-piercing ability have been increased; the design of guns and shells has also been improved. During the mid-1950’s a new and effective means of combating tanks was created, the antitank guided missiles, which ensure the destruction of any tank with one shell within a distance of several kilometers. Motorized rifle subunits have new and effective grenade launchers and recoilless guns. Modern tanks, ships, and the naval coast defense have also been equipped with more powerful guns. As a result of the replacement of obsolete models of armament with new ones, the firepower of artillery units and subunits has considerably increased as compared to that of 1945.

Despite the development of nuclear rocket weapons in certain countries during recent years, artillery still remains an important means of providing fire during combat operations of troops, especially by the direct fire support of motorized rifle and tank units of various sizes; and it is one of the decisive means of combating enemy tanks. In carrying out combat operations without using nuclear means of destruction, the artillery will, as before, play the role of the principal fire shock force in modern armies. The artillery carries out all its assignments in cooperation with the tactical and operational rocket forces. The combat operations of the artillery are closely linked to the operations of motorized rifle, tank, and airborne troops and the air force.


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The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


A gun or a rocket launcher with mounting too large or too heavy to be classed as a small arm.
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