ZSU-57-2 self-propelled anti-aircraft gun, made by the Soviet Union with the nickname “Hell Thresher”, despite being very old, is still in service with a number of armed forces around the world.
The Russian press recently published a photo showing a ZSU-57-2 complex serving in Lebanon, at one of the bases of the Hezbollah armed movement in the Bekaa valley.
Journalists believe that this “Hell Thresher” may have previously belonged to Syria. After Damascus withdrew its troops, it was left to its allies. Visually, the self-propelled gun ZSU-57-2 is still in good condition, can continue to operate. It is known that the above mentioned ZSU-57-2 self-propelled guns were used actively during the years of the long civil war in this Middle Eastern country. The ZSU-57-2 worked very well when destroying snipers entrenched in the upper floors of houses, providing fire support for tank and infantry operations.
ZSU-57-2 is a self-propelled anti-aircraft artillery system designed by the Soviet Union in 1947, research work was completed in 1954 and this weapon was mass-produced in the period 1957 – 1960 with a total of more than 2,000 assemblies were produced.
The basic configuration of the ZSU-57-2 consists of twin 57 mm S-68 autocannon in a new, large, rotating, open-topped turret. The ZSU-57-2 consists of three compartments: driver’s in the front, fighting in the middle and engine-transmission at the rear. The chassis of this weapon system is a simplified version of the T-54 main battle tank, The hull is more spacious in comparison with the T-54 because of the thinner armour and has different locations for some equipment.
The guns firing together are capable of firing up to 210–240 fragmentation and armour-piercing tracer shells per minute, with a practical rate of fire of between 100 and 140 rounds per minute, which gives a fire time of 2-3 minutes before running out of ammo. Muzzle velocity is 1,000 m/s. Maximum horizontal range is 12 km, with an effective range against ground targets of up to 4 km. Maximum vertical range is 8.8 km with a maximum effective vertical range of 4.5 km.
The S-68 autocannon was the most powerful AA gun installed on SPAAGs at that time. A direct hit of a single 57 mm shell could destroy a contemporary jet aircraft. Until now, although not an effective anti-aircraft weapon, it is clear that the ZSU-57-2 can still be useful in a new role as a fire support vehicle for infantry.. The firing rate and accuracy of the ZSU-57-2 anti-aircraft artillery complex is difficult to beat today’s armed helicopters or jet fighters, but its power is still very significant.
More specifically, the ZSU-57-2’s turret is light, has a fairly fast rotation speed, and a large angle of elevation is suitable for bombarding high-altitude targets that are difficult or impossible for tanks to reach. The large magazine helps it create an overwhelming density of fire, protecting the armored formation in urban warfare. In addition, it also proved to be a powerful weapon when lowering the barrel to suppress.