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POLSTEN AAA


Towed Anti-Aircraft Artillery System


Poland | 1944



"The POLSTEN was a Polish economically-minded derivative of the classic Swiss Oerlikon 20mm autocannon and serve a vital role during World War 2."



Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 05/12/2017 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site; No A.I. was used in the generation of this content.
As effective as the Swiss-made Oerlikon 20mm automatic cannon (detailed elsewhere on this site) proved to be for many heading into World War 2 (1939-1945), it was a complex and expensive weapon to produce for some global operators. A team of engineers in Poland took up the task of redesigning the weapon system into a more economical product resulting in the gun that would be called the "POLSTEN". While largely a Polish development at its core, its primary operators and manufacturers during the conflict became Canada and Britain.

The POLSTEN name is thought to have come from the combined words "Poland" and "STEN".

The POLSTEN project was nearing its end in September 1939 when the German Army rolled over Polish borders. Before defeat had set in, the engineering team fled with their work to the relative safety of England where they continued the project, now with support from local talent as well as assistance from relocated Czechs. The modifications to the Oerlikon design including a massive reduction in parts - up to 47% - and this not only simplified production and maintenance and repair but also lowered procurement costs. Beyond supporting a 20mm ammunition drum (60-rounds), the POLSTEN was given the ability to feed from a 30-round, top-mounted box magazine (double-stacked). The chief victory in the revision work was that the weapon lost none of the Oerlikon's effectiveness in-the-field.

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With the project completed and evaluations had, the POLSTEN was quickly pushed into service during the spring of 1944 and Canadian factories participated in its serial manufacturing (John Inglis Ltd, Ontario). While Allied production of Oerlikons was given up in favor of the cheaper, simpler POLSTEN, the Polish gun never superseded the original in terms of numbers available and battlefield reach. In service, the POLSTEN was used as a local air-denial weapon against low-flying aircraft and featured as a towable, lightweight AA gun system and well as in double, triple and quad cannon mountings atop military trucks and trailers. Some Commonwealth tanks also featured the gun as secondary armament.

Atop its lightweight 'Universal Mounting', the POLSTEN had an overall length of 7 feet and weighed 121 lb. The mounting hardware allowed for an elevation span of -5 to +85 degrees to be reached. Traversal was a full 360-degrees. The 20mm projectiles exited the gun at a muzzle velocity of 2,725 feet per second. Rate-of-fire reached 450 rounds per minute. The gun held a reach out to 6,630 feet of altitude.

In the field, there was no reduction of efficiency and effectiveness for the Polish derivative of the Oerlikon and its versatility shown through by way of its many applications. Despite this it never took over the Oerlikon on a global scale simply due to the Swiss gun's availability.

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Power & Performance
Those special qualities that separate one land system design from another. Performance specifications presented assume optimal operating conditions for the POLSTEN AAA Towed Anti-Aircraft Artillery System.
None. This is a towed or fixed artillery piece.
Installed Power
1 miles
2 km
Range
Structure
The physical qualities of the POLSTEN AAA Towed Anti-Aircraft Artillery System.
3
(MANNED)
Crew
7.1 ft
2.178 meters
O/A Length
121 lb
55 kg | 0.0 tons
Weight
Armament & Ammunition
Available supported armament, ammunition, and special-mission equipment featured in the design of the POLSTEN AAA Towed Anti-Aircraft Artillery System.
1 x 20mm main gun barrel (some versions mounting two, three or four total guns).
AMMUNITION:
1 x 30-round detachable box magazine (top mounted) OR 1 x 60-round detachable drum.
SPECIAL EQUIPMENT:
Nightvision - NONE.
Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear Protection (CBRN) - NONE.
Variants
Notable series variants as part of the POLSTEN AAA family line.
POLSTEN - Base Series Name
Operators
Global customers who have evaluated and/or operated the POLSTEN AAA. Nations are displayed by flag, each linked to their respective national land systems listing.

Total Production: 3,000 Units

Contractor(s): 20mm Anti-Aircraft Gun
National flag of Canada National flag of Poland National flag of the United Kingdom

[ Canada; Poland; United Kingdom ]
1 / 1
Image of the POLSTEN AAA
Image from the Public Domain.

Design Qualities
Some designs are single-minded in their approach while others offer a more versatile solution to battlefield requirements.
Recognition
Some designs stand the test of time while others are doomed to never advance beyond the drawing board; let history be their judge.
Going Further...
The POLSTEN AAA Towed Anti-Aircraft Artillery System appears in the following collections:
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