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ZPU-4 Towed Anti-Aircraft Gun System (1949)

Authored By Staff Writer | Last Updated: 4/5/2012

The ZPU-4 was a product of post-World War 2 Soviet design.

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The ZPU-4 anti-aircraft gun was developed in the post-war Soviet Union, seeing official production service in 1949. The towed artillery system featured four air-cooled, quick change 14.5mm main guns with a maximum range of 8,000 meters (nearly 5 miles) and an altitude range of 5,000 meters (3.1 miles) (though notable more effective in the 1,400 meter - 0.86 miles - altitude range). Improved optical gunsights added later in its production life. The system could be set up and ready to fire in less than 30 seconds, making it a most adaptable and mobile air defense system.

The ZPU-4 anti-aircraft system was operated in combat by the Chinese and North Korean forces in the Korean War and by the North Vietnamese in the Vietnam War. In fact, the ZPU-4 was one of the most feared weapon systems of American heicopter crews, as the 4-barrel systems could wreak havok on the slower moving helicopters. Iraq was also a major user of the system in the first Persian Gulf War - though many systems have since fallen in disarray.

Many countries have since replaced the ZPU-4 weapon system in favor of the ZU-23 anti-aircraft defense system, though it still continues in frontline service with a handful of nations. The system has seen extensive use in the export market with the total number of users numbering in the 50's. China produced variants under license known as the Type 56 and Type 58.

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Specifications for the
ZPU-4
Towed Anti-Aircraft Gun System


Country of Origin: Soviet Union
Manufacturer: State Factories - Soviet Union / China
Initial Year of Service: 1949
Production: 20,000


Focus Model: ZPU-4
Crew: 5


Overall Length: 14.86 ft (4.53 m)
Width: 5.64 ft (1.72 m)
Height: 6.99 ft (2.13 m)
Weight: 2.0 US Short Tons (1,810 kg; 3,990 lb)


Powerplant: None. This is a towed-artillery piece.


Maximum Speed: 0 mph (0 km/h)
Maximum Range: 4,971 miles (8,000 km)


NBC Protection: None
Nightvision: None


Armament:
4 x 14.5mm heavy machine guns


Ammunition:
4,800 x 14.5mm ammunition


Variants:
ZPU-1 - Single-barrel 14.5mm anti-aircraft machine gun; appearing in 1949.


ZPU-2 - Double-barreled version; appearing in 1949.

ZPU-4 - Four-barreled version; appearing in 1949.

Type 58 - Chinese production version of the ZPU-2

Type 56 - Chinese production version of the ZPU-4


Operators:
Afghanistan; Albania; Algeria; Angola; Bangladesh; Benin; Bulgaria; Burkina Faso; Burundi; Cambodia; Cameroon; Cape Verde; Chad; China; Republic of Congo; Croatia; Cuba; Egypt; Ethiopia; Ghana; Guinea; Guinea-Bissau; Iran; Iraq; Israel; North Korea; Laos; Libya; Madagascar; Malawi; Mali; Malta; Mauritania; Mongolia; Morocco; Mozambique; Namibia; Nicaragua; Pakistan; Romania; Russia; Sao Tome and Principe; Seychelles; Sri Lanka; Somalia; South Africa; Sudan; Syria; Tanzania; Togo; Uganda; Vietnam; Yugoslavia; Zambia; Zaire; Zimbabwe