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ZPU-1


Single-Barrel, Towed Anti-Aircraft (AA) Gun System (1949)


Land Systems / Battlefield

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A ZPU-1 fitted to the flatbed of a military truck
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Front right side view of a captured Iraqi ZPU-1 awaiting destruction by US Marines
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The barrel component of a dismantled ZPU-1
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An Iraqi Army ZPU-1 gun system lies in hiding after the American invasion; note ammunition boxes
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A ZPU-1 sits in the foreground ahead of a related ZPU-4
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A ZPU-1 fitted to a bombed out Iraqi vehicle
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Left side view of a captured Iraqi ZPU-1 anti-aircraft system

Jump-to: Specifications

The ZPU-1 is a single-barreled version of the 14.5mm ZPU anti-aircraft gun family line.



Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 09/29/2020 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site.
Development of the ZPU-1 began after World War 2 in 1947. The ZPU-1 was nothing more than a single-barreled version of the successful ZPU anti-aircraft family line mounting the Soviet 14.5mm KPV heavy machine gun. The weapon system was designed as a cost-effective anti-aircraft system to counter low-flying aircraft within reach of a 14.5mm heavy caliber system. Such a reliable and resilient piece of military hardware has proven a favorite among cash-strapped and budget conscious armies of the world and some 50 countries have, at one time or another, utilized the ZPU series guns for air defense work. All versions of the ZPU entered operational service in 1949 and some continue to see widespread use even today as noted by their appearance in after-action reports following the American invasion of Iraq in 2003.

Design of the ZPU-1 is highly utilitarian and conventional. The system is essentially made up of three major components that include the barrel, gun mount and carriage - though the barrel and gun mount can be fitted to a vehicle for an improvised mobile weapons platform if desired. The air-cooled 14.5mm machine gun sits on a semi-flexible mounting that allows for engagement elevations of -8 to +88 degrees. Since the gun mount is fixed into the ZPU base carriage, the entire ZPU-1 system must be turned in order to achieve traverse. However, this does allow for traversal of a full 360-degrees. Maximum range of the gun system is out to 8,749 yards reaching aircraft as high up as 16,404 feet. However, the ZPU-1 remains most effective in engaging aircraft under 5,000 feet. A practical rate-of-fire for the 14.5mm machine gun is about 150 rounds per minute. The weapon base is fitted to a two-wheeled, rubber-tired carriage system with a tow arm for ground transport by light or heavy vehicles. A typical ZPU-1 crew is four personnel. The early optical sights of all ZPU-1s were updated in the 1950s. The 14.5mm barrel can be changed out when overheated.

The ZPU is cleared to fire a variety of ammunition types including an API (Armor-Piercing Incendiary), API-T (Armor-Piercing Incendiary - Tracer) and I-T (Incendiary - Tracer) type. The API (also known as the BS.41) features a full metal jacketed bullet that sports a tungsten carbide core. Penetration of this cartridge is out to 547 yards. The API-T (also known as the BZT) is a full metal jacketed round featuring a steel core and includes a tracer round during active firing for visually training the weapon system against a target. The I-T round is also known by the designation of "ZP". Typically, some 1,200 rounds of 14.5mm ammunition are supplied to a ZPU-1 crew though this may vary based on operator and ammunition carrier. ZPU ammunition was produced in Soviet factories as well as at facilities in Communist Bulgaria, China, Poland and Romania. Egypt also undertook production of ZPU cartridges for a time.

As the ZPU series was wholly Soviet in origin, it was not surprising to find it in the inventories of supported states and allied nations from in the Cold War years. The ZPU series was actively used throughout the Korean War by both North Korean and Chinese army troops against UN aircraft from 1950-1953. Additionally, the NVA utilized the weapon as a low-flying deterrent against the might of American Army helicopters in the upcoming Vietnam War of the 1960s-1970s. Saddam Hussein's forces were equipped with the ZPU types during the 1991 Gulf War. Most recently, examples of ZPU systems were recovered by coalition troops following the fall of Iraq in the 2003 American invasion showing that they were still in active use with the nation.

Major variants of the ZPU family line include the single-barreled ZPU-1, the double-barreled ZPU-2 and the quad-barreled ZPU-4. Each are easily recognizable and their designations clearly mark their respective versions based on number of barrels utilized. The ZPU has also been produced by the Chinese military industry under their own localized designations (Type 58/ ZPU-2 and Type 56/ZPU-4). The ZPU-1 and ZPU-2 are both transported on their integrated two-wheeled carriages while the ZPU-4 is moved by way of its four-wheeled carriage system. Additionally, the larger ZPU-2 and ZPU-4 systems require a standard operating crew of five personnel.

In the Russian Army inventory, the ZPU-1 has since been replaced by the more potent 23mm ZU-23 double-barreled air defense cannon system.

Specifications



Service Year
1949

Origin
Soviet Union national flag graphic
Soviet Union

Crew
4
CREWMEN
Production
20,000
UNITS


Various State Factories - Soviet Union / China
National flag of Afghanistan National flag of Albania National flag of Algeria National flag of Angola National flag of Bangladesh National flag of Bulgaria National flag of Cameroon National flag of Chad National flag of China National flag of Croatia National flag of Cuba National flag of Egypt National flag of Ethiopia National flag of Guinea National flag of Iraq National flag of Iran National flag of Israel National flag of Libya National flag of Morocco National flag of Mozambique National flag of Namibia National flag of Nicaragua National flag of North Korea National flag of Pakistan National flag of Romania National flag of Russia National flag of South Africa National flag of the Soviet Union National flag of Sri Lanka National flag of Sudan National flag of Somalia National flag of Syria National flag of Tanzania National flag of Uganda National flag of Vietnam National flag of Yugoslavia National flag of Zaire National flag of Zambia National flag of Zimbabwe 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; North Korea; Pakistan; Romania; Russia; Sao Tome and Principe; Seychelles; Sri Lanka; Somalia; South Africa; Soviet Union; Sudan; Syria; Tanzania; Togo; Uganda; Vietnam; Yugoslavia; Zambia; Zaire; Zimbabwe
(OPERATORS list includes past, present, and future operators when applicable)
Anti-Aircraft / Airspace Denial
Base model or variant can be used to search, track, and neutralize airborne elements at range.
Fire Support / Assault / Breaching
Support allied forces through direct / in-direct fire, assault forward positions, and / or breach fortified areas of the battlefield.


Length
11.3 ft
3.44 m
Width
5.3 ft
1.62 m
Height
4.4 ft
1.34 m
Weight
911 lb
413 kg
(Showcased structural values pertain to the base ZPU-1 production variant. Length typically includes main gun in forward position if applicable to the design)
Powerplant: None. This is a towed artillery piece.
Range
5.0 mi
(8.0 km)
(Showcased performance specifications pertain to the base ZPU-1 production variant. Compare this entry against any other in our database)
1 x 14.5mm Heavy Machine Gun (HMG).


Supported Types


Graphical image of a tank medium machine gun
Graphical image of a tank heavy machine gun


(Not all weapon types may be represented in the showcase above)
1,200 x 14.5mm ammunition.


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.


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