MT-12 RAPIRA anti-tank gun gallery

The constant stability problems of the T-12 anti-tank gun during transport, due to its track width of only 1.46 meters, forced a solution to be found, since the problem was so serious that the gun could not be towed through the field at more than 15 km/h without danger of overturning on its side. At the same time that the track width was widened, it was decided to reinforce the suspension of the carriage, and improve its capacities in a general way. A small castering wheel was also installed on the left arm of the carriage, in this way, the gun can be moved a few meters by the servers if necessary.
Other main differences with respect to the previous T-12 gun are larger wheels, similar to those used by the ZiL-150 truck, which give it better rolling qualities. Thanks to these wheels and the greater track width, the MT-12 gun can be towed on rough terrain at 25 km/h and can be towed by MT-LB tracked carriers as well as by trucks. A new larger coil spring equilibrator was also installed above the right tube of the recoil system. This new system allows the barrel to be raised more easily and improves operating reliability. A larger gun shield was also installed to protect the servers from shell splinters and machine gun fire.
Rapira gun has several sights and optical equipment that can be installed on the gun shield, which has 3 folding panels for mounting. For daytime direct fire it has a 5.5x OP4M-40U sight with a field of vision of 11º, and for nighttime direct fire it has APN-5-40 and APN-6-40 sights, although you can also use more modern ones such as APN-7, 1PN35 and 1PN53. To carry out indirect fire, the MT-12 gun has the PG-1M panoramic telescope, the K-1 collimator sight and the S71-40 mechanical artillery sight.
The MT-12 gun has a 2A29 100/61mm smoothbore barrel that measures 6.30 meters. It is a very powerful gun that can also be used as a light artillery piece thanks to its weight of only 3.1 tons. The effective range performing direct fire is 1,200 meters for HE rounds and 2,000 meters for APFSDS rounds and in indirect fire it is 8,200 meters for HE rounds. It has a semi-automatic breech block system with a safety mechanism that prevents the gun from firing if the breech is not properly closed. The muzzle of the barrel is reinforced and has 80 holes, acting as a muzzle brake to reduce recoil. The barrel can be elevated between −6° and +20° and has a traverse of 27° on each side. The maximum rate of fire is 14 rounds per minute, although for aimed fire it is only 6 rounds per minute.
The ammunition used by the MT-12 gun is the same of the T-12 gun and is mainly armor-piercing fin-stabilized discarding sabot (APFSDS) rounds of the 3UBM1, 3UBM2, 3UBM10 and 3UBM15 type. It also uses the high-explosive anti-tank (HEAT) 3UBK2, 3UBK2M, 3UBK8 and 3UBK8M rounds and for soft targets and infantry the Rapira have High-Explosive fragmentation (HE) 3UOF3 and 3UOF12 rounds. All projectiles are fin-stabilized non-rotating type because the barrel is smooth bore. The HE and HEAT rounds have a muzzle velocity of 975 m/s while that of the APFSDS is 1,570 m/s. APFSDS rounds can penetrate 225mm of rolled homogeneous armor (RHA) at 1,000 meters and HEAT rounds can penetrate 400mm at any distance, although the latter are less effective against reactive armor and composite armor. Normally the MT-LB tracked carrier that tows the gun carries 20 rounds ready for use, divided into 4 HE, 6 HEAT and 10 APFSDS rounds.
In addition to conventional ammunition, the MT-12 Rapira can also use tube fired anti-tank missiles such as the types: 9M117 Bastion capable of penetrating up to 550mm of armor, the 9M117MKan” with tandem HEAT warhead capable of penetrating up to 600mm, the 9M117M1Arkan” (on the image) with tandem HEAT warhead that penetrates up to 750mm and the Ukrainian Stugna (Skif) missile that penetrates up to 550mm of armor. All of these missiles are laser guided and have a range between 4 and 6 km, greatly improving the effectiveness of this gun.
The MT-12 gun entered service in 1970 and was assigned to anti-tank defense battalions. Each battalion had 18 guns distributed in 3 batteries of 6 guns each. Its easy construction and low cost made the MT-12 a very widespread weapon within the Soviet Army, which used them in hidden positions, suitable for ambushes. Although it is likely that it could not frontally destroy a state-of-the-art Western tank of the time such as a Leopard 2 or a Challenger 1, it was capable of destroying any other type of armored vehicle, including older tanks from more than 1 km away, even it could destroy the most modern ones if they hit them on the sides.
Several variants of the MT-12 gun have been made such as the MT-12R (2A29R) “Ruta” (on the image), which was manufactured between 1981 and 1990. This gun carried a small RLPK-1 (1A31) Ruta radar mounted on the top of the gun shield. Thanks to this device, the gun could detect and attack targets at night or in poor visibility at distances of 3,500 meters. Also in 1981, a variant known as MT-12K (2A29K) appeared, which had a laser designator that allowed the use of tube-fired 9K117 Kastet missiles. These variants were not exported and were only used by the Soviet Union.
The MT-12 Rapira was exported to a dozen countries, including some of the Warsaw Pact, Iraq and the former Yugoslavia among others. Production of the MT-12 and T-12 guns must have reached around 4,000 and there are still quite a few in service and many in reserve. It is known that both guns have been used during the War in Donbas, which occurred between 2014 and 2022. Of course it is being used by both sides during the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine, although more as a support gun than as an anti-tank gun. The Ukrainian Army uses the MT-12 and MT-12R (on the image) models, mainly in Territorial Defense units, and the Russians use the MT-12 model.
Although the MT-12 gun has not been used to equip any artillery vehicle or tank destroyer, there are at least two self-propelled vehicles known to have this gun as their main weapon. One is a vehicle manufactured in Algeria that consists of a Mercedes-Benz Zetros truck to which an MT-12 gun has been mounted behind the cabin along with 4 stabilizing legs to absorb the recoil of the gun. The other vehicle has been seen in Ukraine, and it is a Ukrainian conversion of an MT-LB tracked carrier to which a gun has been externally mounted on the roof. This tank destroyer has been designated as “MT LB.12” (on the image) and there are several vehicles, armed with both T-12 and MT-12 guns, judging by several videos shared on the internet.


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