180 mm gun S-23

The 180 mm gun S-23 (Russian: 180-мм пушка С-23) was a Soviet heavy gun of Cold War era. It was developed in the early 1950s, with the design based on naval guns. Its first public appearance was the 1955 May Day parade in Moscow. For some time, it was believed in the West that the S-23 was actually a 203mm weapon, and as a result it was often referred to as the 203 mm M1955 gun howitzer. However, after an example was captured in the Middle East during the 1970s this misconception was dispelled.

180 mm gun S-23
Class Vehicle
Type Towed Artillery
Manufacturer Volgograd Tractor Plant (VTZ)
Production Period 1955 - 1971
Origin Russia (USSR)
Country Name Origin Year
Russia (USSR) 1955
Country Name Operational Year Retirement Year
Bulgaria View
Russia (USSR) View
Russia (USSR) View
Syria View
ManufacturerName Production From Production To Quantity
Volgograd Tractor Plant (VTZ) 1955 1971 View
Barrikady Plant 1955 1971 View

The S-23 was designed by NII-58 as part of a new series of heavy artillery systems consisting of the following types:

  • the 180 mm gun S-23;
  • a 210 mm howitzer S-23-I a.k.a. S-33;
  • a 280 mm mortar S-23-II a.k.a. S-43 and
  • a 203 mm gun howitzer S-23-IV.

All were to be based on the same carriage. The order to start series production was given but after the production of seven S-23s (GRAU index: 52-P-572), one S-33 and one S-43 by PO "Barrikady" in 1955 the project was cancelled. The seven guns remained in service until 1967 and were regularly shown during the annual May Day parades, being towed by AT-T artillery tractors. At the request of Syria, who needed a large-calibre gun system, the project was shortly revived at the end of the 1960s and twelve more S-23 guns were produced in 1971, as well as the new VOF28 round with RAP projectile OF43. The other rounds were the VF-572 with HE projectile F-572 and the VG-572 with concrete-piercing projectile G-572.

The West assumed that the S-23 was issued within the Soviet Army at a ratio of 12 weapons per heavy artillery brigade. It was exported to Syria and some sources suggest that it might have been exported to other Middle Eastern countries such as Egypt and Iraq, and likely the Indian Army.

Type Heavy gun
Place of origin  Soviet Union
Service history
Used by Bulgaria
Soviet Union
Wars Syrian Civil War
Production history
Designer NII-58
Designed 1945–1955
Manufacturer OAO PO "Barrikady", Volgograd
Produced 1955–1971
Weight 21,450 kg (47,290 lb)
Length 10.48 m (34 ft 5 in) with barrel withdrawn for transport.
Barrel length 8.8 m (28 ft 10 in)
Width 2.99 m (9 ft 10 in)
Height 2.62 m (8 ft 7 in)
Crew 16
Shell HE, Nuclear-capable
Caliber 180 mm (7.1 in)
Breech interrupted screw
Carriage split trail
Elevation -2° to +50°
Traverse 44°
Rate of fire 1 rpm maximum;
1 round every two minutes sustained
Muzzle velocity 850 m/s (2,800 ft/s)
Effective firing range 30.4 km (18.9 mi)
Maximum firing range 43.8 km (27.2 mi)
with RAP
Sights S-85 mechanical sight, PG-1M panoramic sight and MVShP direct sight

End notes