Aviation & Aerospace - Airpower 2024 - Aircraft by Country - Aircraft Manufacturers Vehicles & Artillery - Armor 2024 - Armor by Country - Armor Manufacturers Infantry Small Arms - Warfighter 2024 - Small Arms by Country - Arms Manufacturers Warships & Submarines - Navies 2024 - Ships by Country - Shipbuilders U.S. Military Pay 2024 Military Ranks Special Forces by Country


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

Soviet Union | 1949

"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; No A.I. was used in the generation of this content.
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.

Content ©MilitaryFactory.com; No Reproduction Permitted.
Power & Performance
Those special qualities that separate one land system design from another. Performance specifications presented assume optimal operating conditions for the ZPU-1 Single-Barrel, Towed Anti-Aircraft (AA) Gun System.
None. This is a towed artillery piece.
Installed Power
5 miles
8 km
The physical qualities of the ZPU-1 Single-Barrel, Towed Anti-Aircraft (AA) Gun System.
11.3 ft
3.44 meters
O/A Length
5.3 ft
1.62 meters
O/A Width
4.4 ft
1.34 meters
O/A Height
911 lb
413 kg | 0.0 tons
Armament & Ammunition
Available supported armament, ammunition, and special-mission equipment featured in the design of the ZPU-1 Single-Barrel, Towed Anti-Aircraft (AA) Gun System.
1 x 14.5mm Heavy Machine Gun (HMG).
1,200 x 14.5mm ammunition.
Nightvision - NONE.
Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear Protection (CBRN) - NONE.
Notable series variants as part of the ZPU-1 family line.
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.
Global customers who have evaluated and/or operated the ZPU-1. Nations are displayed by flag, each linked to their respective national land systems listing.

Total Production: 20,000 Units

Contractor(s): 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 Mongolia 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 ]
1 / 10
Image of the ZPU-1
Image copyright www.MilitaryFactory.com; No Reproduction Permitted.
2 / 10
Image of the ZPU-1
Image copyright www.MilitaryFactory.com; No Reproduction Permitted.
3 / 10
Image of the ZPU-1
Image copyright www.MilitaryFactory.com; No Reproduction Permitted.
4 / 10
Image of the ZPU-1
Image copyright www.MilitaryFactory.com; No Reproduction Permitted.
5 / 10
Image of the ZPU-1
Image copyright www.MilitaryFactory.com; No Reproduction Permitted.
6 / 10
Image of the ZPU-1
Image copyright www.MilitaryFactory.com; No Reproduction Permitted.
7 / 10
Image of the ZPU-1
A ZPU-1 fitted to the flatbed of a military truck
8 / 10
Image of the ZPU-1
Front right side view of a captured Iraqi ZPU-1 awaiting destruction by US Marines
9 / 10
Image of the ZPU-1
The barrel component of a dismantled ZPU-1
10 / 10
Image of the ZPU-1
An Iraqi Army ZPU-1 gun system lies in hiding after the American invasion; note ammunition boxes

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 ZPU-1 Single-Barrel, Towed Anti-Aircraft (AA) Gun System appears in the following collections:
Disclaimer | Privacy Policy | Cookies

2024 Military Pay Scale Military Ranks U.S. DoD Dictionary Conversion Calculators Military Alphabet Code Military Map Symbols US 5-Star Generals WW2 Weapons by Country

The "Military Factory" name and MilitaryFactory.com logo are registered ® U.S. trademarks protected by all applicable domestic and international intellectual property laws. All written content, illustrations, and photography are unique to this website (unless where indicated) and not for reuse/reproduction in any form. Material presented throughout this website is for historical and entertainment value only and should not to be construed as usable for hardware restoration, maintenance, or general operation. We do not sell any of the items showcased on this site. Please direct all other inquiries to militaryfactory AT gmail.com. No A.I. was used in the generation of this content.

Part of a network of sites that includes Global Firepower, WDMMA.org, WDMMW.org, and World War Next.

©2024 www.MilitaryFactory.com • All Rights Reserved • Content ©2003-2024 (21yrs)