In the US: Soviet ‘city killer’ MSTA is a really cool weapon

The war in Ukraine brought out of the old Soviet warehouses a howitzer, which is perhaps the most popular among Russian soldiers. The MSTA-B is a towed howitzer that is often called the “city killer” because of its powerful striking power and the shells it uses.

152mm Msta-B fires OF45 HE shells to deep Ukrainian fortifications
Photo: YouTube

Respect for the “big gun” and the capabilities of MSTA-B also shows Maya Carlin – senior editor at the American online portal for politics 19FortyFive. Against the backdrop of and despite the propaganda videos from the Kremlin, “the MSTA-B mobile howitzer is a really great weapon.” [MSTA-B is a towed howitzer, MSTA-S is a self-propelled howitzer – ed.]

In fact, both modifications of the 152mm gun are great. The construction and mechanics of the MSTA-B are so high-quality and durable that the howitzer can be towed by a truck across the front line at 80 km/h without any resistance to this off-road transition.

Maya Carlin’s comment is not without precedent. In the middle of last year, the Belgian online portal Army Recognition called the MSTA-S self-propelled howitzer “a nightmare for the armed forces of Ukraine” and a “killing machine”. It is no coincidence that when the Ukrainian soldiers successfully manage to destroy one of the two modifications of the howitzer, they announce it publicly in the media and the web.

Absolutely the same can be said for the opposite side. When Russian units destroy any version of the Ukrainian MSTA howitzer, the spokesman of the Russian army headquarters necessarily mentions it in his commentary.

152mm Msta-S is a Russian killing machine in Ukraine, Belgium syas
Photo credit: YouTube

There’s a reason the MSTA is a “killing machine.” This is the Krasnopol artillery shell. A little-known fact is that Krasnopol is not that much used in Ukraine by the Russian army. There could be any number of reasons. From insufficient stock and delayed production to its use only in the second phase of the war, ie. 2023 year.

But MSTA-C and MSTA-B used Krasnopol in Ukraine war. There is evidence for this. Last June, for example, a Ukrainian tank column was preparing for counteroffensive actions. All the tanks were “incinerated” in a minimum time by precision shooting with Krasnopol and precise targeting from the air using a drone.

Experts emphasize that the MSTA series of howitzers can be judged by their effectiveness because of the destructive power that is hidden in the charge we have commented on. A layman’s eye can tell when the MSTA uses an OG-45-HE round [the MSTA standard] and Krasnopol simply by seeing the end result.

Krasnopol is an artillery projectile with a semi-active laser-homing head. On the downward part of the trajectory, the head independently searches for a target illuminated by a laser pointer. Elevation – no more than a few meters.

Kalashnikov builds new base bleed 155mm Krasnopol guided projectile
Photo credit:L Wikipedia

The construction of the MSTA in both modifications makes a strong impression. For example, writes Maya Carlin, the powerful 152 mm gun of the self-propelled howitzer [MSTA-C] is supported by two metal holders. They are located parallel to each other on both sides of the cannon, which ensures its stability during a shot.

The two wheels of the towed howitzer, MSTA-B are located literally at the very end of the gun, to provide balance during towing. However, this final arrangement of the wheels cannot provide the usual stability during shooting. I.e. The MSTA-B has slightly more recoil than usual for any towed howitzer.

The MSTA can fire nuclear-tipped artillery shells. This is especially true for the 2A65 Msta-B towed howitzer. Sources report that during exercises in the Russian Federation, always at each of the exercises, at least several times, the towed version of the howitzer was tested for accuracy, range, and destructive power precisely after the use of a nuclear projectile.

Speaking of range, here are howitzers’ operational ranges. Surprisingly, both howitzers have a similar range, which is an equal sign that both are equally dangerous. Or that the same result is expected from both, take that as you will. The range of the MSTA is from 24.7 km [15.3 mi] to 36 km [22 mi] depending on the ammunition used.

At the end of last year, during the ADEX exhibition in Azerbaijan, the Russian company Rosoboronexport showed a configuration of MSTA for export. The Russian company confirmed that the new export version fires NATO projectiles, i.e. 155 mm.


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