Self-propelled anti-aircraft weapon
Overview
 
An anti-aircraft vehicle, also known as a self-propelled anti-aircraft weapon (SPAA) or self-propelled air defense system (SPAD), is a mobile vehicle with a dedicated anti-aircraft capability. The Russian
Russian language
Russian is a Slavic language used primarily in Russia, Belarus, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. It is an unofficial but widely spoken language in Ukraine, Moldova, Latvia, Turkmenistan and Estonia and, to a lesser extent, the other countries that were once constituent republics...

 equivalent of SPAAG is ZSU, for zenitnaya samokhodnaya ustanovka, ("anti-aircraft self-propelled mount").

Specific weapon systems used include machine gun
Machine gun
A machine gun is a fully automatic mounted or portable firearm, usually designed to fire rounds in quick succession from an ammunition belt or large-capacity magazine, typically at a rate of several hundred rounds per minute....

s, autocannon
Autocannon
An autocannon or automatic cannon is a rapid-fire projectile weapon firing a shell as opposed to the bullet fired by a machine gun. Autocannons often have a larger caliber than a machine gun . Usually, autocannons are smaller than a field gun or other artillery, and are mechanically loaded for a...

s, larger guns, or missile
Missile
Though a missile may be any thrown or launched object, it colloquially almost always refers to a self-propelled guided weapon system.-Etymology:The word missile comes from the Latin verb mittere, meaning "to send"...

s, and some mount both guns and longer-ranged missiles.
Encyclopedia
An anti-aircraft vehicle, also known as a self-propelled anti-aircraft weapon (SPAA) or self-propelled air defense system (SPAD), is a mobile vehicle with a dedicated anti-aircraft capability. The Russian
Russian language
Russian is a Slavic language used primarily in Russia, Belarus, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. It is an unofficial but widely spoken language in Ukraine, Moldova, Latvia, Turkmenistan and Estonia and, to a lesser extent, the other countries that were once constituent republics...

 equivalent of SPAAG is ZSU, for zenitnaya samokhodnaya ustanovka, ("anti-aircraft self-propelled mount").

Specific weapon systems used include machine gun
Machine gun
A machine gun is a fully automatic mounted or portable firearm, usually designed to fire rounds in quick succession from an ammunition belt or large-capacity magazine, typically at a rate of several hundred rounds per minute....

s, autocannon
Autocannon
An autocannon or automatic cannon is a rapid-fire projectile weapon firing a shell as opposed to the bullet fired by a machine gun. Autocannons often have a larger caliber than a machine gun . Usually, autocannons are smaller than a field gun or other artillery, and are mechanically loaded for a...

s, larger guns, or missile
Missile
Though a missile may be any thrown or launched object, it colloquially almost always refers to a self-propelled guided weapon system.-Etymology:The word missile comes from the Latin verb mittere, meaning "to send"...

s, and some mount both guns and longer-ranged missiles. Platforms used include both truck
Truck
A truck or lorry is a motor vehicle designed to transport cargo. Trucks vary greatly in size, power, and configuration, with the smallest being mechanically similar to an automobile...

s and heavier combat vehicle
Combat vehicle
A combat vehicle, also known as a ground combat vehicle, is a self-propelled, weaponized military vehicle used for combat operations. Combat vehicles can be wheeled or tracked.- Automation :...

s such as APCs
Armoured personnel carrier
An armoured personnel carrier is an armoured fighting vehicle designed to transport infantry to the battlefield.APCs are usually armed with only a machine gun although variants carry recoilless rifles, anti-tank guided missiles , or mortars...

 and tank
Tank
A tank is a tracked, armoured fighting vehicle designed for front-line combat which combines operational mobility, tactical offensive, and defensive capabilities...

s, which add protection from aircraft, artillery, and small arms fire for front line deployment.

Anti-aircraft guns are usually mounted in a quickly-traversing turret
Gun turret
A gun turret is a weapon mount that protects the crew or mechanism of a projectile-firing weapon and at the same time lets the weapon be aimed and fired in many directions.The turret is also a rotating weapon platform...

 with a high rate of elevation, for tracking fast-moving aircraft. They are often in dual or quadruple mounts, allowing a high rate of fire. Today, missile
Missile
Though a missile may be any thrown or launched object, it colloquially almost always refers to a self-propelled guided weapon system.-Etymology:The word missile comes from the Latin verb mittere, meaning "to send"...

s (generally mounted on similar turrets) have largely supplanted anti-aircraft guns.

History

First World War

Anti-aircraft machine guns have long been mounted on trucks, and these were quite common during World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

. A predecessor of the WW2 German "88" anti-aircraft gun, the WWI German 77 mm anti-aircraft gun, was truck-mounted and used to great effect against British tanks.

The British QF 3 inch 20 cwt
QF 3 inch 20 cwt
The QF 3 inch 20 cwt anti-aircraft gun became the standard anti-aircraft gun used in the home defence of the United Kingdom against German airships and bombers and on the Western Front in World War I. It was also common on British warships in World War I and submarines in World War II...

 was mounted on trucks for use on the Western Front
Western Front (World War I)
Following the outbreak of World War I in 1914, the German Army opened the Western Front by first invading Luxembourg and Belgium, then gaining military control of important industrial regions in France. The tide of the advance was dramatically turned with the Battle of the Marne...

.

Between wars

Between the wars the British developed the Birch gun
Birch gun
The Birch Gun was the world's first practical self-propelled artillery gun, built at the Royal Arsenal, Woolwich in 1925. The gun was never highly regarded by the British High Command, purely for prejudicial beliefs and political pressure rather than any real lack of ability...

, a general purpose artillery piece on an armoured tracked chassis capable of maintaining formation with their current tanks. The gun could be elevated for anti-aircraft use.

Among early pre-war pioneers of self-propelled AA guns were the Germans. By the time of the war, they fielded the SdKfz 10/4 and 6/2, cargo halftracks mounting single 20 mm or 37 mm AA guns (respectively). Later in the war similar German halftracks mounted quadruple 20 mm weapons.

Second World War

Larger guns followed on larger trucks, but these mountings generally required off-truck setup in order to unlimber the stabilizing legs these guns needed. One exception to this rule was the Italian Cannone da 90/53
Cannone da 90/53
The Cannone da 90/53 was an Italian designed cannon, and one of the most successful anti-aircraft guns to see service during World War II. It was used both in an anti-aircraft role and as an anti-tank gun...

 which was highly effective when mounted on trucks, a fit known as the "autocannoni da 90/53". The 90/53 was a feared weapon, notably in the anti-tank role, but only a few hundred had been produced by the time of the armistice in 1943.

Other nations tended to work on truck chassis. Starting in 1941, the British developed the "en portee
Portee
A portee is a truck that carries a gun on its bed, such that the gun is not affixed permanently to the vehicle, can be quickly unloaded, and can be fired from the truck....

" method of mounting an anti-tank gun (initially a 2 pounder) on a truck. This was to prevent the weapon from being damaged by long-distance towing across rough, stony deserts, and it was intended only to be a carrying method, with the gun unloaded for firing. However, crews tended to fire their weapons from their vehicles for the mobility this method provided, with consequent casualties.
This undoubtedly inspired their Morris C9/B (officially the "Carrier, SP, 4x4, 40 mm AA"), a Bofors 40 mm AA gun mounted on a chassis derived from the Morris "Quad"
Morris C8
The Morris Commercial C8 FAT commonly known as a Quad was an artillery tractor of the British and Commonwealth forces during World War II....

 Field Artillery Tractor truck. Similar types, based on 3-ton lorries, were produced in Britain, Canada and Australia, and together formed the most numerous self-propelled AA guns in British service.

The U.S. Army brought truck-towed Bofors 40 mm AA guns along with truck-mounted units fitted with mechanized turrets when they sailed, first for Great Britain and then onto France. The turrets carried four .50 inch (12.7 mm) machine guns, which were designed to be adjusted to converge at the single point where enemy aircraft were expected to appear at low altitude in conduction of strafing runs directed at large infantry and field artillery units.

Interest in mobile AA turned to heavier vehicles with the mass and stability needed to easily train weapons of all sizes. Probably the desire, particularly in German service, for anti-aircraft vehicles to be armoured for their own protection also assisted this trend.

The concept of an armored SPAAG was pioneered by Hungary
Hungary
Hungary , officially the Republic of Hungary , is a landlocked country in Central Europe. It is situated in the Carpathian Basin and is bordered by Slovakia to the north, Ukraine and Romania to the east, Serbia and Croatia to the south, Slovenia to the southwest and Austria to the west. The...

 during World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 Hungary
Hungary
Hungary , officially the Republic of Hungary , is a landlocked country in Central Europe. It is situated in the Carpathian Basin and is bordered by Slovakia to the north, Ukraine and Romania to the east, Serbia and Croatia to the south, Slovenia to the southwest and Austria to the west. The...

 by producing the 40M Nimrod
40M Nimrod
The 40M Nimród was a World War II Hungarian anti-aircraft tank based on a license built copy of the Swedish Luftvärnskanonvagn L-62 Anti II tank. Originally, it was intended to be used as an anti-aircraft and anti-tank weapon, but it proved to be ineffective against Soviet T-34 tanks...

 based on the Luftvärnskanonvagn L-62 Anti II
Luftvärnskanonvagn L-62 Anti II
Luftvärnskanonvagn L-62 anti II, also known as Landsverk anti-II or L-62 or locally ItPsv 41, was a Swedish self-propelled anti-aircraft gun that was developed specifically for Finland between 1941 and 1942. The vehicle was developed from the Toldi L-60 m/38 tank. The chassis was lengthened and an...

 license acquired from Sweden
Sweden
Sweden , officially the Kingdom of Sweden , is a Nordic country on the Scandinavian Peninsula in Northern Europe. Sweden borders with Norway and Finland and is connected to Denmark by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund....

. Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

 followed later with their "flakpanzer" series. German World War II SPAAGs include the Möbelwagen
Möbelwagen
The 3.7cm FlaK auf Fahrgestell Panzerkampfwagen IV , nicknamed Möbelwagen because of its boxy turret , was a self-propelled anti-aircraft gun built from the chassis of the Panzer IV tank...

, Wirbelwind
Wirbelwind
The Flakpanzer IV "Wirbelwind" was a self-propelled anti-aircraft gun based on the Panzer IV tank. It was developed in 1944 as a successor to the earlier self-propelled anti-aircraft gun Möbelwagen....

, Ostwind
Ostwind
The Flakpanzer IV "Ostwind" was a self-propelled anti-aircraft gun based on the Panzer IV tank. It was developed in 1944 as a successor to the earlier self-propelled anti-aircraft gun Wirbelwind....

 and Kugelblitz
Kugelblitz
The Flakpanzer IV Kugelblitz was a German self-propelled anti-aircraft gun developed during World War II. By the end of the war, only a pilot production of five units had been completed...

. Other forces followed with designs of their own, notably the American M16 created by mounting quadruple M2 machine guns on a M3 Half-track
M3 Half-track
The Carrier, Personnel Half-track M3 was an armored vehicle used by the United States, the British Empire and the other Allies during World War II and the Cold War. Nearly 43,000 were produced, and supplied to the U.S...

.

The British developed their own SPAAGs throughout the war mounting multiple machine guns and light cannon on various tank and armoured car chassis and by 1943, the Crusader AA tanks
Crusader tank
The Tank, Cruiser, Mk VI or A15 Crusader was one of the primary British cruiser tanks of the early part Second World War and perhaps the most important British tank of the North African Campaign...

, which mounted the Bofors 40 mm gun or two-three Oerlikon 20 mm cannon
Oerlikon 20 mm cannon
The Oerlikon 20 mm cannon is a series of autocannons, based on an original design by Reinhold Becker of Germany, very early in World War I, and widely produced by Oerlikon Contraves and others...

. Although used during the Normandy landings, by that point German aircraft were contained by the Allies own air forces and they were largely unneeded.

Cold war and later

On occasion SPAAGs have been used as very effective direct fire weapons against infantry, for example by American forces during late World War II, in Korea against mass infantry assault, and extensively during the Vietnam War
Vietnam War
The Vietnam War was a Cold War-era military conflict that occurred in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from 1 November 1955 to the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975. This war followed the First Indochina War and was fought between North Vietnam, supported by its communist allies, and the government of...

, where for example the U.S. M42 Duster
M42 Duster
The M42 40 mm Self-Propelled Anti-Aircraft Gun, or "Duster," is an armored light air-defense gun built for the U.S. Army from 1952 until December 1959. Production of this vehicle was performed by the tank division of the General Motors Corporation. It used components from the M41 light tank...

 SPAAG (based on a light tank) was employed purely for this purpose. Nowadays the system is rather superfluous due to the lack of a threat from sophisticated gunship helicopters, but development continues.

Modern weapons include the Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

n ZSU-23-4 Shilka
ZSU-23-4
The ZSU-23-4 "Shilka" is a lightly armored, self-propelled, radar guided anti-aircraft weapon system . ZSU stands for Zenitnaya Samokhodnaya Ustanovka , meaning "anti-aircraft self-propelled mount". The "23" signifies the bore diameter in millimeters. The "4" signifies the number of gun barrels. It...

 and Tunguska-M1
Tunguska-M1
The 2K22 Tunguska is a Russian tracked self-propelled anti-aircraft weapon armed with a surface-to-air gun and missile system. It is designed to provide day and night protection for infantry and tank regiments against low-flying aircraft, helicopters, and cruise missiles in all weather conditions...

, Chinese
People's Republic of China
China , officially the People's Republic of China , is the most populous country in the world, with over 1.3 billion citizens. Located in East Asia, the country covers approximately 9.6 million square kilometres...

 Type 95 SPAAA
Type 95 SPAAA
The Type 95 is a Chinese self-propelled anti-aircraft vehicle. It is armed with four 25 millimeter cannons and optionally four fire-and-forget QW-2 infra-red homing missiles. It was first displayed publicly at the Beijing Military Parade in 1999...

, Swedish
Sweden
Sweden , officially the Kingdom of Sweden , is a Nordic country on the Scandinavian Peninsula in Northern Europe. Sweden borders with Norway and Finland and is connected to Denmark by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund....

 CV9040 AAV
Combat Vehicle 90
The Combat Vehicle 90 or Stridsfordon 90 is a Swedish infantry fighting vehicle designed by Hägglunds where the first generation was fitted with a Bofors turret. It is currently produced by BAE Systems Hägglunds.-Background:...

, Polish PZA Loara
PZA Loara
The PZA Loara is a Polish armored radar-directed self-propelled anti-aircraft gun system. The original PZA Loara prototype was based on the chassis of the T-72 MBT...

, American M6 Bradley Linebacker and M1097 Humvee Avenger
M1097 Avenger
The Avenger Air Defense System, designated AN/TWQ-1 under the Joint Electronics Type Designation System, is a missile system which provides mobile, short-range air defense protection for ground units against cruise missiles, unmanned aerial vehicles, low-flying fixed-wing aircraft, and helicopters...

, Yugoslavian BOV-3
BOV (APC)
The BOV , literally "Combat Armored Vehicle", is an all-wheel drive armoured vehicle manufactured in the former Yugoslavia.-Description:The BOV has a capactiy of 10, including a driver, gunner and eight infantrymen...

, Canadian ADATS
Air Defense Anti-Tank System
The Air Defense Anti-Tank System is a dual-purpose short range surface-to-air and anti-tank missile system based on the M113A2 vehicle. It is manufactured by the Swiss company Oerlikon-Contraves, a member of the Rheinmetall Defence Group of Germany....

, aging German
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

 Gepard
Flugabwehrkanonenpanzer Gepard
The Flugabwehrkanonenpanzer Gepard is an autonomous, all-weather-capable German self-propelled anti-aircraft gun . It was developed in the 1960s and fielded in the 1970s, and has been upgraded several times with the latest electronics...

, Japanese Type 87 SPAAG
Type 87 Self-Propelled Anti-Aircraft Gun
The is a Japanese air defense weapon built around the Oerlikon 35 mm twin cannon system used on the Gepard tank. The system uses a modified Type 74 tank chassis...

 and similar versions with the British Marksman turret
Marksman anti-aircraft system
Marksman is a British anti-aircraft weapon system, consisting of a turret, a Marconi Series 400 radar and two Swiss 35 mm Oerlikon autocannons...

 (which was also adapted for a number of other users), Italian
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

 SIDAM 25
SIDAM 25
The Sidam 25 is a self-propelled anti-aircraft gun developed in Italy from the chassis of the American M113 armoured personnel carrier. Due to the choice of basic chassis for the Sidam 25, components and spare parts are both cheap, and readily available because of the widespread use of the basic M113...

 and Otomatic
Otomatic
The Otomatic was an Italian prototype self-propelled anti-aircraft gun built by OTO-Melara. It combined the chassis of a Leopard 1 or OF-40 tank with a new turret mounting the Otobreda 76 mm gun along with associated search and targeting radars and their fire control systems...

, and versions of the French
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 AMX-13
AMX-13
The AMX-13 is a French light tank produced from 1953 to 1985. It served with the French Army and was exported to over twenty-five other nations...

. Older post-war examples include the ZSU-57-2
ZSU-57-2
The ZSU-57-2 is a Soviet self-propelled anti-aircraft gun , armed with two 57 mm autocannons. 'ZSU' stands for Zenitnaya Samokhodnaya Ustanovka , meaning "anti-aircraft self-propelled mount", '57' stands for the bore of the armament in millimetres and '2' stands for the number of gun barrels....

, M163 VADS
M163 VADS
The M163 Vulcan Air Defense System is a self-propelled anti-aircraft gun that was used by the United States Army. The M168 gun is a variant of the General Dynamics 20 mm M61 Vulcan rotary cannon, the standard cannon in most US combat aircraft since the 1960s, mounted on either an armored...

 (mounting the Vulcan cannon) and failed M247 Sergeant York
M247 Sergeant York
The M247 Sergeant York DIVAD was a self-propelled anti-aircraft weapon , developed by Ford Aerospace in the late 1970s. Based on the M48 Patton tank, it replaced the Patton's turret with a new one that featured twin radar-directed 40 mm rapid-fire guns...

.

See also

  • Man-portable air-defense systems
  • Flakpanzer
    Flakpanzer
    Flakpanzer is a German term for anti-aircraft tanks . The term may be applied to the following:* Flakpanzer I, a converted version of the Panzer I tank. Very rare in combat service...

    , a collective term for German anti-aircraft tanks, particularly those used in World War II.
  • List of anti-aircraft guns
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