125mm 2A46/2A46M Mainguns

2A46M line drawing

2A46M gun with T-80-style autoloader and gunner's instruments

The 2A46 and 2A46M lines of mainguns (internal designations D-81T, D-81TM) were developed by the Spetstekhnika design bureau in Ekaterinburg (former Sverdlovsk), and are manufactured at the Motovilikha artillery plant in Perm.

The 125mm high-velocity maingun was a huge overkill when it was first introduced on a T-64A MBT back in 1969. Today, however, it is barely able to keep on par with the modern Western mainguns like Rh-120. Its inability to reliably penetrate frontal projections of modern MBTs is the main reason why the Russian designers are developing a 152mm maingun to substitute the 2A46 gun on a perspective Russian MBT.

However, even with tungsten alloy rounds this gun remains a very dangerous adversary that assures penetration of any other projection at all battle ranges.

One of the drawbacks of this gun is that a high strain on internal surfaces during firing, as well as sheer size of it demands strict manufacturing discipline of which Soviet industry was never famous. This resulted in unsatisfatory dispersion characteristics of original models due to all kinds of manufacturing defects, including substandard materials, poor machining, barrel drooping, and so on. It is worth noting, however, that this problem has received due attention during the upgrading efforts (2A46M line of mainguns), including the purchase of the Western machining equipment. Improved manufacturing process and better stabilization and recoil equipment provided for increase in accuracy especially on the move and at medium to long ranges.

The barrel life of an original 2A46 gun was 210 APFSDS rounds or 840 HEAT/HEF rounds, or around 500 'generic' rounds, according to the Polish data provided by Mike Jasinsky. Russian sources give the figure of 900 rounds, but it is not known of what type. The barrel life of 2A46M guns is unknown, but modernization included the addition a more robust internal chromium liner and provided for a simple gun barrel replacement in field conditions.

As a last note, the unique feature of all Russian mainguns is the ability to launch guided rounds through the barrel.

2A46 breechblock
2A46 breechblock

Specifications (2A46M-2 with T-90 FCS and autoloader):
Designation            2A46M-2
Internal designation   D-81TM-2
Type                   Smoothbore
Caliber                125 mm
Features               Bore Evacuator, Thermal sleeve, Chromium liner
                       Barrel replaceable in field conditions
Recoil devices         2, symmetrical
                       Free recoil until the round clears the barrel
Recoil length          300 mm
Barrel length          6383 mm
                       51 caliber
Barrel life            >500 shots
Gun weight             2500 kg
Max.barrel pressure    5200 N/cm2
Ammunition             separately loaded
                       w/semicombustible propellant case 4Zh63
Ammunition types:      APFSDS, HEAT, HEF, ATGM

Practical ROF
   autoloader          8 rds/min
   manual              2 rds/min
   ATGMs out to 5km
   with autoloader     3 rds/min

Effective range
   direct fire vs. 2m high target
      HEAT             1010 m
      APFSDS           2120 m
   with FCS
      HEAT/APFSDS      4000 m
      HEF              5000 m
      HEF indirect     10000 m
Max.range with APFSDS  >80 km
2A46 guns at Motovilikha plant

2A46 guns at Motovilikha plant

This page is © 1999, 2000, Sauron's Creations.