Antique desperation – Ukraine captured Stalin-era anti-aircraft gun

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KS-19 is a soviet 100 mm anti-aircraft gun. It started service in 1950, although a big part of its technology is rooted deep in the Second World War. It took part in many major conflicts, usually in the hands of Soviet-friendly countries. KS-19 was used in the Korean, Vietnam Iran-Iraq wars, as well as the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. And now it is being used in the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Military-grade weapons do last for a long time. People often imagine military tech evolving rapidly and us switching to robots and AI very soon. However, war never changes and weapons remain in service for decades. On the other hand, Russia likes positioning itself as the Second Army in the world while still using Stalin-era weapons.

KS-19 in a museum. The anti-aircraft guns were decommissioned, but are still used by the Russian military. Image credit: Музей отечественной военной истории via Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 4.0)

KS-19 is a heavy towed anti-aircraft gun, which can shoot high explosive, high explosive fragmentation, and fragmentation type munitions. Later armored piercing rounds were developed for KS-19 to enable this gun to target ground armored machines, such as tanks.

Armour Piercing-Tracer from KS-19 can penetrate 185 mm of armor at 1000 meter distance. The rate of fire is about 15 rounds per minute, which is not too bad for a weapon of this caliber. In theory, KS-19 can engage air targets that are flying at an altitude of up to 15 km, but in practice, this would be fairly difficult to achieve. More than likely KS-19 nowadays is serving as an artillery substitute or anti-armor gun, although its anti-aircraft functions have not been totally abandoned.

A number of countries are still using KS-19, even though the capabilities of this type of anti-aircraft gun these days are severely limited. It is known that Armenia, Cuba, Iran, Syria, and, of course, Russia. 10151 units of series-produced KS-19 guns were made in total.

Interestingly, the KS-19 officially is no longer in service with the Russian army. However, at the beginning of September Armed forces of Ukraine announced that during counter-offensive operations they captured three KS-19 anti-aircraft guns. This is a sign that the Russian military is facing weapon shortages and is using guns that have been in storage for a very long time. Ukraine says that KS-19 is only found in the paramilitary units of Roshydromet – the Russian hydrometeorological service.

Russia is using ancient weaponry in Ukraine. T-64 tanks have been spotted on their way to Southern Ukraine, as well as very old artillery systems and even handguns. This is indicative of the stagnation of Russian military infrastructure and industry. Also, this may be the effect of strong Ukrainian resistance and, as for the beginning of September, successful counter-offensive operations.


Sources: Focus, Wikipedia.


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