The Russians have always been enthusiastic about artillery and the Red Army was in the forefront when it came to developing mechanised guns. This normally involved placing field guns on self-propelled tracked chassis. The SU-76, which was first built in 1942, used the chassis of the light tank T-70 to mount the superb ZiS-3, 76.2mm Divisional Gun.
An unusual feature of the T-70, which was repeated on this vehicle, was the use of a pair of GAZ six-cylinder petrol engines arranged in line on the right hand side of the tank. They can be viewed through the front hatch and one can only guess how they affected the driver.
Our exhibit is a later model of the SU-76 which had a slight redesign of the rear end. It was used by Communist forces during the Korean War where it was captured by the Allies.
Precise Name: Assault Gun SU-76M
The SU-76M served with the Red Army through out the later stages of World War II as an infantry support weapon. The vehicle lacked overhead protection for the crew and the chassis was overloaded. The limited Soviet offensives that were mounted against the invading Germans in the spring of 1942 produced a requirement for a self-propelled assault gun/tank destroyer. Zavod (factory) No. 38 was instructed to develop a light self-propelled tank destroyer based on the chassis of the T-70 light tank. Two engines were fitted, one on each side of the vehicle. An improved version, the SU-76M, was produced from June 1943 at Zavod No. 38.
The SU-76M mounted a 76.2mm gun that proved to be incapable of penetrating the thick armour of the German Panther and Tiger tanks that were introduced in 1943. As a result the SU76 was redeployed as an infantry close support weapon for the remainder of the war.
There were a number of production and experimental variants:
- The Su-12. Designation used for the prototype vehicles
- The SU-76. The first production version. Early production vehicles had the two engines installed with one on each side of the hull. Later, the engines were mounted in tandem on the right hand side of the hull
- The SU-76M. Late production SU-76Ms had the side armour extended to the rear of the hull while the rear hull armour was extended upwards
- A version that mounted a 37mm anti-aircraft gun installed in the fighting compartment.
- Two variants produced after the war by the East German NVA
- A fully armoured version, fitted with the 76.2mm gun mounted on the vehicle’s centre line, possibly designated the SU-76B; prototypes only
- A prototype with the 76.2mm gun mounted in a turret
- A fully armoured vehicle fitted with a 57mm ant-tank gun, prototype only built in 1944
- Two prototypes produced in 1945, fitted with an 85mm gun and called the SU-85 and SU-85B,
Total production between December 1942 and the end of 1945 amounted to about 12,600 vehicles.
During the war the SU-76M served with Red Army infantry formations as a light self-propelled gun and assault gun. The SU-76M remained in service with the post-war Soviet Army for some years and was supplied to the Soviet Union’s eastern bloc allies and client states. The Tank Museum’s exhibit was captured from the North Korean Army in 1950.
Summary Text by Mike Garth V1.0