Ukraine placed a Soviet KS-19 anti-aircraft gun on a MAN 8×8 truck

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The Ukrainian United Armed Forces command recently unveiled a photograph featuring a distinctive homemade artillery system. What makes this model unique is the repurposing of old Soviet KS-19 anti-aircraft guns, impressively mounted on a MAN KAT 1 464 LKW 8×8 truck. 

It’s worth noting that this isn’t Ukraine’s first foray into creating such unusual combinations. Back in August of the previous year, the internet was treated to images of two customized artillery systems. These examples were marked by the ingenious integration of the venerable KS-19 anti-aircraft gun and a Tatra 815 VPR29 truck with an unarmored cab. These inventive vehicles are the handiwork of the 241st Independent Territorial Defense Brigade. 

Photo credit: Twitter

The current instance showcases yet another innovation using a pre-owned truck chassis. However, this time, it’s a German MAN KAT 1 464 LKW 8×8. Undoubtedly, it has been transferred to the Ukrainians from an unspecified ally [Germany may be the donor, though this is yet to be confirmed]. An upgrade in its design is evident, as it’s outfitted with a well-camouflaged, Soviet-era anti-aircraft gun, the KS-19. This gun notably serves as conventional artillery in Ukrainian usage. However, a dilemma revolves around the sourcing of ammunition for the KS-19, which likely needs to be obtained from various corners of the globe.

About KS-19

Originating from the B-34 naval weapon, the KS-19 is an impressive 100 mm anti-aircraft gun conceived by the Soviets. It required the coordination of up to 15 soldiers, who usually hitched a ride on a tug or ammunition wagon to reach their destination. 

When operated by a skilled crew, this particular piece could deliver an impressive 15 rounds per minute. Boasting a noteworthy caliber, the KS-19 could seamlessly convert into a standard artillery piece. When serving in this capacity, its reach extended to an estimated 21 km — akin to 122 mm artillery systems deploying rocket-propelled munitions. 

However, this range decreases to 12.7-15 km when the KS-19 fires vertically. Notably, it can also discharge potent anti-tank rounds, capable of breaching 185 mm thick RHA armor from a kilometer away. The KS-19 became a standard in the array of the Soviet Army in 1947 and first proved its mettle during the Korean War.

MAN Category 1

The revered MAN Category 1 series enjoyed the distinct honor of being the preferred choice for every branch of the Bundeswehr. In addition to standard features, these military models boasted a host of impressive enhancements. These included a completely isolated blackout light circuit, a meticulously calibrated military instrument package with a blackout alternative, and a quick emergency stop switch for an instant electrical power cut-off. Furthermore, they featured an overhead hatch, equipped with a machine gun, and dedicated spots for rifle storage.

Photo by Ralf Dillenburger

One feature that all models from the Category 1 series shared with their successors was their modular setup. They were distinguished by their robust box-section chassis frame, which guaranteed torsional rigidity. In addition, they were fitted with sturdy hub-reduction axles and used coil springs together with shock absorbers for optimal performance.

If you were to look under the overarching forward-control cab, you’d find the engine neatly tucked inside. A simple firewall effortlessly segregates the driver’s area from the engine compartment. Interestingly, the engine is located in the rear part of the driver’s compartment, a departure from the traditional under-the-driver positioning. This smart design feature allows the total height to stay below the 2.9 m mark. Consequently, these trucks can easily fit onto standard railway flatcars for convenient transportation.

Optional modular armor is possible

The unique, trimmed corners of the standard, cube-like driver’s cabin adhere to railway loading guidelines. Initially, due to its foundation on amphibious prototypes, the cabin’s front did not tilt for maintenance. The forward-tilt feature only came into existence in the mid-80s. 

Every axle is powered by the KHD air-cooled diesel engine. This works in conjunction with a torque converter and a semi-automatic transmission system, creating a unified component within the vehicle. 

With the advent of the succeeding A1 series, there was a substantial increase in the usage of standard truck components produced through mass production. Vehicles designated for extraterritorial missions by the Bundeswehr were sometimes outfitted with module-based armor [also known as modular Schutzausstattung, or MSA], further enhancing the safety measures for the crew.

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