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M-30 (Model 1938)

122mm Towed Field Howitzer

Soviet Union | 1939

"The classic Soviet-originated 122mm M-30 towed field howitzer became one of the most famous artillery systems of the last century."

Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 02/04/2023 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site; No A.I. was used in the generation of this content.
To stave off defeat at the hands of the Germans in World War 2 (1939-1945), the Soviet Union was forced to rely on a bevy of artillery pieces of various calibers. One of the more famous of the available lot became the "M-30" (M1938) series of towed divisional-level field howitzers which went on to enjoy a long service life, its production totals reaching 19,266 units before the end. The design of the gun was attributed to the Motovilikha Plants and manufacture was under Plant No. 9 and Plant No.92 of the Soviet Union from the period spanning 1939 until 1955. Despite its age, the series continues to see service today (2017) and is regarded as one of the best artillery guns of the 20th Century.

The gun, of 122mm caliber (121.92mm to be more precise), was already in circulation before the time of World War 2. It was a conventionally-arranged artillery piece consisting of the gun tube with recoil mechanism, gun shield, twin-wheeled carriage with mounting hardware and split-trail tow arms. The gun tube sat at front-center with the hydropneumatic system underneath. Both were affixed to the mounting section and this to the carriage assembly. The allotted gun shield offered only limited protection to the gunnery crew of eight. The breech involved an interrupted screw-type design with automatic case ejection system and sighting was through an panoramic device. The roadwheels allowed for road travel with an accompanying mover vehicle and the trail arms were split apart when the weapon was made ready to fire.

The mounting hardware allowed for an elevation span of -3 to 63.5 degrees and traversal was +49 degrees left-right from centerline. This gave the weapon the capabilities of direct and in-direct fire. Range was out to 7.3 miles. A trained, well-experienced gunnery crew could reach a rate-of-fire of up to 6 rounds-per-minute.

Dimensions of the complete system included an overall length of 19.3 feet and a width of 6.5 feet. Overall weight was 5,400lb when the system was made ready-to-fire though this ballooned to 6,835lb when the gun was arranged for transport.

In 1940, some 639 total pieces were produced for immediate action and production peaked in 1944 with another 3,485 guns added to the mix. In the final year of the war, 1945, a further 2,630 more guns were included and manufacture consistently fell from there, ending in 1955.

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Captured guns by the German Army were known under the designation of "12.2cm sFH 396(r)" and used in the heavy howitzer role. Such were the numbers of captured guns from the Soviets that the Germans took to producing their own 122mm ammunition from 1943 until 1945. Likewise, the Finns captured a useful stock of the gun as well and redesignated them as the "122 H38" in their renewed war with the Soviets. These operated into the mid-1980s before being given up for good.

By this point, the gun had proliferated the inventories of many global powers who appreciated the weapon's inherent accuracy, reliability and procurement / maintenance costs. Many Soviet-aligned nations and states relied on the type to the point that thousands entered global circulation. With that said, it is no surprise that the series continues to see service today (2017) with the likes of Bangladesh, China (locally-produced as the 'Type 54/Type 54-1"), Croatia, Egypt, Ethiopia, Macedonia, Hungary (as the "Tarack 38/68M"), Iran, North Korea, Pakistan, Poland (as the "wz. 1938/1985"), Romania (as the "M-30M"), Uzbekistan and others.

The Russian Army holds as many as 4,000 M-30 gun units in reserve status should they still be needed in some modern or future conflict.

The M-30 gun also formed the basis of the main armament of the classic SU-122 self-propelled assault gun (detailed elsewhere on this site). Several experimental models were also developed during its time but none found the success of the original M-30 before more modern designs took over.

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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 122mm Model 1938 (M-30) 122mm Towed Field Howitzer.
None. This is a towed artillery piece.
Installed Power
7 miles
12 km
The physical qualities of the 122mm Model 1938 (M-30) 122mm Towed Field Howitzer.
19.4 ft
5.9 meters
O/A Length
6.5 ft
1.98 meters
O/A Width
6.0 ft
1.82 meters
O/A Height
5,512 lb
2,500 kg | 2.8 tons
Armament & Ammunition
Available supported armament, ammunition, and special-mission equipment featured in the design of the M-30 (Model 1938) 122mm Towed Field Howitzer.
1 x 121.92 (122mm) gun tube / barrel.
Dependent upon available ammunition supplies.
Nightvision - NONE.
Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear Protection (CBRN) - NONE.
Notable series variants as part of the M-30 (Model 1938) family line.
122mm Howitzer M1938 - Base Series Designation.
M-30 - Alternative designation
12.2cm sFH 396(r) - German Army designation of captured systems in World War 2.
122 H38 - Finnish Army designation of captured systems in World War 2.
Type 54 - Chinese designation
Type 54-1 - Improved Chinese model
Tarack 38/68M - Hungarian Army designation
wz. 1938/1985 - Polish Army designation
M-30M - Romanian Army designation
Global customers who have evaluated and/or operated the M-30 (Model 1938). Nations are displayed by flag, each linked to their respective national land systems listing.

Total Production: 19,266 Units

Contractor(s): Plant No. 9 / No.92 - Soviet Union
National flag of Afghanistan National flag of Algeria National flag of Armenia National flag of Bangladesh National flag of Bolivia National flag of Bosnia and Herzegovina National flag of China National flag of Croatia National flag of Cuba National flag of Czechia National flag of Egypt National flag of Ethiopia National flag of Hungary National flag of Indonesia National flag of Iraq National flag of Iran National flag of Kyrgyzstan National flag of Lebanon National flag of Macedonia National flag of Mongolia National flag of Mozambique National flag of North Korea National flag of Pakistan National flag of Poland National flag of Romania National flag of Russia National flag of Singapore National flag of Slovakia National flag of the Soviet Union National flag of Sudan National flag of Syria National flag of Tanzania National flag of Uganda National flag of Ukraine National flag of Uzbekistan National flag of Vietnam National flag of Yemen National flag of Zimbabwe

[ Afghanistan; Armenia; Algeria; Bangladesh; Bolivia; Bosnia and Herzegovina; Cambodia; China; Congo; Croatia; Cuba; Czech Republic; Egypt; Ethiopia; Macedonia; Moldova; Hungary; Indonesia; Iran; Iraq; Kyrgyzstan; Kurdistan; Laos; Lebanon; Mongolia; Mozambique; North Korea; Pakistan; Poland; Romania; Russia (Soviet Union); Sahrawi Republic; Singapore; Sudan; Slovakia; Syria; Tanzania; Uganda; Ukraine; Uzbekistan; Vietnam; Yemen; Zimbabwe ]
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Image of the M-30 (Model 1938)
Image from the Czech Ministry of Defense; Public Release.

Design Qualities
Some designs are single-minded in their approach while others offer a more versatile solution to battlefield requirements.
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 M-30 (Model 1938) 122mm Towed Field Howitzer appears in the following collections:
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