History of the Su-100

After the power of the German army penetrated into Russia, it was stopped at the gate of Moscow due to lack of supplies and bad weather. This calm allowed the Soviets to rebuild power and take advantage of new reserves stationed in the Far East and throughout Siberia. The Soviet counter-offensive in the winter of 1941 also led to the deployment of the new T-34 medium tank, which surprised both German tankers and anti-tank personnel with its thick armor and quick off-road maneuverability.

Tanks, combined with the weather and Soviet tank doctrine and tactics, were helpful to the German invaders in favor of the Soviet defenders, who were better suited to such battlefields than their enemies. In the summer of 1942, the planned full-scale German invasion of Russia ended, and the following winter brought greater casualties to the besieged German army.

The Kursk Offensive of 1943 was the last major German attack on the now established Red Army dynamic.

To compensate for the increasing losses, the German authorities demanded improvements to the tank - especially in terms of armor protection and penetrating weapons. This reaction culminated in the Panther medium tank and the highly regarded Tiger I and Tiger II heavy tanks.

To counter the German counterattack, the Soviets set out to design a series of tracked vehicles with their own increasingly effective armament, one of which became the SU-100 tank destroyer.

The SU-100 arose out of the sheer need of the Soviet Army to counteract the latest generation of German tanks now deployed on the Eastern Front. In response, Soviet engineers developed a new naval gun based on the existing and proven B-34 gun, which was subsequently used on Soviet warships. To reduce development time, the T-34 chassis was naturally chosen to ensure that the gun could be mounted on an off-the-shelf and proven track system. Almost three-quarters of the new vehicles will consist of T-34s, while the remaining quarter will be largely exclusive to the new tank destroyers.

The design and development of the tank destroyer - designated the SU-100 ("100" from the main weapons caliber) - began in early 1944. The basic form of the gun itself was named "D-10" and became the D-10T mounted on the tank and the D-10S mounted on the self-propelled gun.

Despite their related names, these guns vary widely in the mounting options required for each installation - the armored version is built into the mobile turret, while the self-propelled version is installed in the fixed superstructure. Two test vehicles - "SU-100-1" and "SU-100-2" - were ready for testing in March 1944.

After a successful evaluation, the vehicle was quickly put into service on the front lines of the Red Army under its famous generic designation "SU-100". Its overall design is fairly traditional, with most of the exterior of the T-34 fuselage largely intact. The main distinguishing feature of the SU-100 is its rigid superstructure hull, which houses the mounts required for the 100mm main gun.

The 100mm main gun protrudes from the front of the vehicle and suffers from limited lateral and height, requiring the crew to point the entire tank in the direction it needs to fire. The crew, associated internal facilities and engines are housed under the enclosed armored structure.

The driver was seated on the front left with the gun directly to his right. The crew of four also includes the tank commander, gunner and ammunition operator. The vehicle's forward-leaning plates are effectively angled to provide basic ballistic protection, while the sides of the hull superstructure are angled inward to keep the top of the hull flat. On the right side of the top of the fuselage is a raised dome for the commander, complete with useful viewing slits. Another hatch is on the left side of the cupola, just behind the loader driver's seat.

The fuselage superstructure reached only the middle of the structure, the lower engine compartment was attached to the rear. The engine is jetted through a pair of ducts at the rear, which are also sloping inward, giving the SU-100 its unique wraparound shape. Like the T-34 before it, the SU-100's frame uses five large rubber tire wheels on one side of the track, with the necessary track idlers and drive sprockets on both ends. The chassis is suspended on a traditional Christie-type suspension system for improved off-road performance. The SU-100 often sees two or four external fuel tanks mounted on the upper rear fuselage - this helps extend the vehicle's operational range to keep up with the main force.

All in all, the SU-100 is an imposing battlefield systembuilt with Soviet expertise and wartime experience.

The main armament of the SU-100 is focused on the use of the powerful 100mm D-10S main gun. The system is mounted on a specially designed bracket that forms a rather complex overall system. The 33 x 100mm projectile is usually carried on a specific SU-100, usually in standard 18 x AP (armor-piercing) and 15 x HE/FRAG (high-explosive/fragmentation) rounds.

The SU-100 crew can attack both "hard" armored and "soft" targets. High-explosive munitions have proven extremely effective against densely excavated troops and lightly armored vehicles, and have been fitted with almost every armored fighting vehicle in war.

Interestingly, the SU-100's crew was not believed to be armed with self-defense machine guns, making them vulnerable to enemy infantry attacks and low-flying aircraft.

The performance of the SU-100 is delivered by the installation of a 500-520 hp V-2 34M Series 12-cylinder four-stroke diesel engine mated to a five-speed drivetrain. This allowed the vehicle to reach a top speed of 30 mph in ideal terrain and a range of up to 200 miles - in keeping with the rapidly developing Soviet tank theory of the time.

In practice, the SU-100 proved its worth to the Red Army units, especially when deployed to support infantry and armored units. About 65 systems were issued to self-propelled artillery brigades to strengthen the front. A well-trained and experienced aircrew can fire six rounds per minute from a fighting compartment not unlike the T-34 itselfexcept for the lack of a turret.

Attacks are carried out with a pair of sights - one is a panoramic sight, the other is a telescopic sight - which makes it an efficient tank killer. The D-10S gun can now withstand 125mm thick German armor at ranges up to 6,500 feet, with increased lethality against armored targets within 3,200 feet.

The first contact of the SU-100 with the enemy took place in March 1945, against German tanks in Hungary, with Soviet victory at Lake Balaton.

Everything was not great for the SU-100 design, however, the first production models showed some inherent limitations. The complex weapon assembly system resulted in prolonged production times, which also resulted in the weapon itself having below-average penetration performance on the battlefield. The problem wasn't resolved until late 1944, when the D-10S - by and large - were delivered as promised. Natural teething problems also played a role in the early limited success.

However, after the SU-100's problems were resolved, it became an excellent German tank killing system, allowing it to reach full production in late 1944 and 1945. Given the lack of self-defense weapons, the SU-100 had to go into battle with accompanying ground infantry to protect the point.

Enemy infantry will often shell defenseless tanks and try to wake up the tank crew, only to fire when they leave the vehicle.

It is believed that around 2,335 to 3,000 SU-100s were eventually produced, which allowed the vehicle to stock the inventories of several countries allied with the Soviet Union during the Cold War. In fact, Soviet production continued until 1947a full two years after the end of World War II, and that's where the value of small, flexible systems comes in. Czechoslovakia continued to locally produce the SU-100 until 1957.

Other operators are Albania, Angola, Bulgaria, Cuba, East Germany, Egypt, Hungary, North Korea, Poland, Romania, Vietnam and Yugoslavia. While serving in Yugoslavia, the SU-100 was designated "M-44". A tropicalized version of desert warfare came with the "SU-100M" - the "M" was used to show off its "modified" form.

The Egyptians used their SU-100s primarily during the Suez Crisis in 1956, the Six Day War in 1967 and the Yom Kippur War in 1973, and these vehicles proved adequate for their intended role. Likewise, these SU-100s served a short period of time in the local civil war in Yugoslavia, until maintenance problems caused them to be withdrawn from service.

For some global powers in the world today - including North Korea and China - the SU-100 remains a viable tank destroyer.

Su-100 Specification

Basic

Year:
1944
Staff:
4
Manufacturing:
State Factory - USSR; State Factory - Czechoslovakia
Production:
2,500 units

Roles

- anti-tank/anti-tank

Dimensions

Length:

9.45m

Width:

9. 84 feet (3 m)

Height:

7.38 ft (2.25 m)

Weight:

35 tons (31,600 kg; 69,666 lb)

Performance

1 x Model V-2-34M 12 Cylinder 4 Stroke Diesel Engine 500-520HP.

Performance

Maximum Speed:

48 km/h

Maximum range:

199 miles (320 km)

Armor

1 x 100 mm D-10S main gun

Ammo:

33 x 100mm projectiles (18 x AP; 15 x HE or FRAG)

Changes

SU-100 - Basic Series Name

SU-100M - Modified SU-100 for desert warfare.

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