Even before the final shots of World War 2 (1939-1945) were ever fired, the Soviet Army cast its eye towards the future 'Cold War' and began several projects to modernize its war-making capabilities. In the immediate post-war world, there arose two new designs of field guns, one in 122mm caliber flavor and the other in 130mm caliber flavor. The former was designated as the "D-74" and the later became the storied "M-46".
Production of the D-74 began in 1955 and the product was publically unveiled that same year. Its design was attributed to F.F. Petrov who lent his wide-reaching wartime expertise to the project. In time, the D-74 was standardized in the Soviet ranks and went on to see adoption by other fighting forces of the world loyal to the Soviet Union at the time - these to include Cambodia, Angola, China, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Iran, Egypt, Syria, North Korea and Zimbabwe.
At its core, the weapon was a traditionally-arranged artillery piece comprised of a two-wheeled, rubber-tired carriage unit (the unit also shared with the D-20 gun series of 152mm caliber), mounting hardware containing the elevation and traverse functions, and the gun tube itself. A horizontal sliding wedge was used at the gun breech to access the chamber. Elevation was limited to +45/-5 degrees and traversal was 45-degrees from centerline. An optional thin gun shield offered limited protection to the gunnery crew that numbered between seven and nine men.
Overall weight of the complete combat system was 12,400 lb with a length measuring 30 feet and width of 7.8 feet. With its wheeled carriage and tow arms, the gun was simply transported behind a mover vehicle and could be pulled/pushed by the gunnery crew over short distances.
A trained crew could sustain between eight and ten rounds a minute. Range was out to 1,180 yards for direct line-of-sight fire. The gun also held an inherent in-direct fire capability and, in this way, could reach out to target areas as far as 15 miles though with decreased accuracy.
The D-74 went on to see considerable combat service for its time as a frontline weapon. Beginning with exposure in the Vietnam War (1955-1975) to the various Asian entanglements thereafter. The series was also used in the Chinese-Indian War (1962) as well as the Indo-Pak war (1965). Other battlefields included the South African Border War (1966-1990), the Yom Kippur War (1973) and the Lebanese Civil War (1975-1990).
While still maintained in inventory by the armies of Egypt, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, the 122mm caliber of projectile eventually fell out of favor with modern powers. This is why the 130mm M-46 series guns went on to have a much more long-standing and illustrious service career.
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