South African artillery/cannon/guns - prototypes, projects, concepts etc.

Graugrun

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An update of tests completed in South Africa at the Alkantpan range in the Northern Cape. RDM (Rheinmetall Denel Munition) is a 51%-49% split company, based in South Africa and most of it's design and development work is done by South African engineers etc...

76Km range with a V-LAP 155mm round has been achieved, and believed it would have been 80km if there had not been so much head and crosswind on the day of the tests...

https://www.defenceweb.co.za/featured/rheinmetall-resets-the-range-goal-posts/
 

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kaiserbill

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An update of tests completed in South Africa at the Alkantpan range in the Northern Cape. RDM (Rheinmetall Denel Munition) is a 51%-49% split company, based in South Africa and most of it's design and development work is done by South African engineers etc...

76Km range with a V-LAP 155mm round has been achieved, and believed it would have been 80km if there had not been so much head and crosswind on the day of the tests...

https://www.defenceweb.co.za/featured/rheinmetall-resets-the-range-goal-posts/

Great article.
Apart from the slightly over 76km with the M9703 VLAP round, they also achieved 54km with the Assegai M2005 VLAP HE shell out of a 39-calibre barrel too.
 

Graugrun

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So now we are headed for 83Km range on the 155mm side of things (the article states that this is necessary for use with a course correcting fuse, which with the extra drag it creates, will in effect bring the range down to 75Km) - While it sounds like the new 60 caliber barrel and the new 25 liter chamber might be a German development, the ammunition is South African. It would be interesting to see if the Denel (South African) course correcting fuse will play any part in this...?

The article includes a table covering the recent test firings, as mentioned in my post #84 above...

https://www.defenceweb.co.za/uncate...record-breaking-artillery-shots-at-alkantpan/
 

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Graugrun

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Another update from RDM - They pretty much are busy with updating almost all of their ammo range - the interesting part for me was the mention of wanting to get up to 100Km range out of their 155mm rounds, in which they then mentioned the following:

"RDM previously examined extending the range of 155 mm projectiles with ramjet technology, having a programme that lasted up until 2005. “We were, as far as we know, the first and the only company to demonstrate ramjet propulsion from a spinning 155 mm artillery projectile in 2005. We thus understand the advantages and the limitation of the technology very well and we have an extensive history on the topic,” the company said."

Full article: https://www.defenceweb.co.za/featured/rdm-continues-to-enhance-product-range/
 

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Graugrun

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Article from Janes IDR (September 2002) - my understanding is the the US military have been buying large quantities of our 105mm rounds for many years now (after Denel successfully won this competition)
 

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Graugrun

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Another Janes IDR article (April 2005) - covering the merger between Denel and Rheinmetall - and benefits each party will provide to the partnership. It's still going very strong today and now almost all the tech/design/development is done in South Africa by Denel (Somchem) - Rheinmetall focuses more on the marketing.
 

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Graugrun

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Some detailed info on the proposed Denel LEO 105mm gun (together with General Dynamics Land Systems) on a Stryker/LAV111 to the US Military. (Janes IDR December 2003) It seemed to have come very close to being selected, it seems the US Military requirements then changed...
 

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apparition13

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It did fit on a Rooikat. I was wondering. Shame it was never developed into an IFV and the rest of what was proposed for it. I think the Rooikat could have given the AMV a run for it's money as most versatile 8x8.

I'm also really surprised no one else jumped at that SPG turret. It would look good on both the AMV and CV90, and their respective vehicle types.
 

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Unfortunately the wrong caliber. 105mm doesn't give enough room for advanced guidance and a decent bang. Is anyone, anywhere, developing new 105mm ordnance?

Otherwise the Denel/GDLS prototype had a lot going for it. Super mobility, good range, and decent crew protection.
 

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Graugrun

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Many thanks Ron5 - unfortunately I have just moved and was forced to throw away so much that I still wanted to scan, I only managed to save a fraction of my info and have just completed scanning it...

Here is an other article from Janes IDR dated May 2003 - so 17 years ago we were already then reaching 67km ranges with 155mm guns (BTW - "Losvoor" means something like "far ahead/way ahead").
 

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Graugrun

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Just a pic from another general military article of the Denel LEO 105mm Stryker/LAV111 during tests in the US.
 

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Graugrun

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Some pics I took a few years ago of the 105mm LEO gun and some of the then being developed ammunition at one of the AAD shows - I think it was either 2014 or 2016..
 

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Graugrun

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Some more detail on on the AcuFuze as per my posts #64, 77, 78 - Interestingly this earlier Denel Dynamics slide (then called the X-50 25 2d guided fuze) reveals that it is meant for both artillery and mortar rounds and would cover the spread of 76, 105, 120 and 155mm sized rounds.
 

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Graugrun

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So just a quick explanation for those who may be unfamiliar with how base bleed on an artillery projectile works. It's not really meant to help propel the projectile (unlike rocket-assist which does), it's real aim is to create a much better aerodynamic profile that allows for much less drag on the projectile - the first pic shows base-bleed in flight, the second pic has my crude red oval/ellipse type shape over-aligned (it's slightly misaligned - I know, but you get the idea), showing how the base-bleed creates almost the same aerodynamic, pointed shape at the rear, as is the front of the projectile, thus dramatically reducing the drag associated with normal "boat-tail" type projectiles.

It is a bit of a 'black art' to perfect, with many complications on the road to getting it right. First developed by the Swedish for their coastal artillery, Denel has over the years successfully mastered it and it's base-bleed modules/know-how are now supplied to many defence forces around the world (including a good few NATO militaries).
 

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Wavertree

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Abraham Gubler said:
lastdingo said:
Whenever you think about South African artillery ranges, remember their atmospheric conditions there allow for a couple per cent more range on some desert artillery ranges (hot propellant, for example). Some European 52cal SPGs gained several per cent range when tested on South African ranges.


High altitude is the main thing. Much of the Transvall, Orange River area is at over 4,000 feet altitude (the Highveld). Air is less dense meaning shells can fly further.However the range advantage of the 155mm ERFB and similar 105mm rounds is nothing the South Africans came up with but based on the research and application of Canadian engineer Gerald Bull for the shell shape and the Swedish coast artillery for base bleed. The range advantage of the ERFB comes with a cost however of higher dispersion thanks to slightly more instability in the rounds. Nothing a precision guided fuse kit can't fix but.

It is often believed that Gerald Bull provided us with the huge leap in artillery when the G-5 gun and it's ammunition was first revealed , however that belief is not entirely correct (he certainly provided us with assistance and with some important technology though).

The full picture is that after our operation Savannah - the 1974-5 invasion of the Cuban/Russian backed country called Angola (at the behest of the American CIA), we quickly realized that we our old WW2 era 5.5 inch and 25 pounder guns were being outgunned by Russian D-30's and 122mm MR L's. This immediately started us on a quest for artillery with ranges greater than 26 Km's. However with a total arms embargo now placed on us, we simply had to develop our own artillery (compounded by the fact that we had a relatively small and now non replaceable airforce, also necessitating the need for artillery to compensate).

We initiated concepts and theoretical work for long range artillery, however we lacked the computing capability to test our theoretical framework. The CIA put us in touch with Gerald Bull and we then contracted his Canadian SRC company in terms of assisting with our artillery project.

Gerald Bull, who had been working extensively on some of his own concepts and ideas for for very long range artillery (including placing objects/satellites into space via artillery), ran OUR theoretical calculations on his computers for us. Later with his financial issues (mostly due to his U.S. conviction and Canadian fine for contravening the U.N.'s arms embargo, principally from helping us), we (Armscor) bought shares in his SRC company and placed key management/engineers within the SRC company. Prototype barrels and projectiles were tested through a joint consortium of of Gerald Bull's and Armscor's engineers on the island of Antigua, which proved rather successful. These tested prototypes were then shipped to South Africa, where from 1976 onwards we continued and developed the full artillery system, finally emerging as the G-5 gun.

It's true that we got base-bleed technology from Gerald Bull (he bought it from Sweden, who developed it specifically for their coastal artillery), however it is rather tricky to get right and has a fairly negative effect on dispersion (accuracy), which is why the Americans gave up on rocket assisted rounds for many years (yes, I know there is a difference, they work in a similar way though). We perfected it to the point where the dispersion is negligible (0,4% at full range) and range was even further increased. Still today many defence firms around the world purchase our base bleed units/filling, for use and also re-sale on their own home produced artillery shells (including Germany).

Although we still use nubbed ERFB rounds in our army (legacy reasons), we have long past moved beyond that and obtain the same ranges with standard shaped and 'nubless' JBMOU compliant rounds. So there is one benefit from Gerald Bull that does not apply anymore.

Artillery men should know that the main cause of wear on a barrel, is not so much from the driving band of the round being fired rubbing/scraping against the barrel but rather from the heat of the propellent charge behind it. If you try to make the charge cooler burning to negate this, you end up having far less explosive energy to propel the round - and therefore much shorter range. We developed (bi-modular) charges that are far cooler burning and have far lower flash characteristics, while still delivering the same amount of explosive energy of traditional propellent. My understanding is that this has been sold/shared with the Germans, British and others (Americans?).

I spoke to a Rheinmetall representative two years ago at length (one of the 3 biggest German defence firms), who told me directly that after they had bought a 51% share in our Somchem and Nashcem companies (propellants/artillery/mortar/rockets etc), they then completed exhaustive testing on all our products - the result? - A non negotiable directive, directly from from the CEO of Rheinmetall that from then on ALL contracts and deals Rheinmetall enter into world-wide will be for the exclusive promotion and sale of the South African designed and developed ammunition (artillery, mortar etc). All the development (chemicals and physical) for the aforementioned ammunition is still developed by South Africans in South Africa, with the exception of insensitive munition (IM) filling, as the Germans had better developed IM stuff than ours.

We were the first (or one of the first ) to place muzzle velocity radars onto our artillery guns to assist with increased accuracy - Also the hugely increased lethality of our artillery rounds - our 105mm rounds for example are more than twice as lethal as the standard US M107 155mm round - proven in US and British tests, the US now manufactures them for themselves under license from us. Then there are the V-LAP rounds (combined Base-Bleed and rocket assist).

I cannot think of all of them now, however the simple fact of the matter is that there have been so many developments and continuous gains in artillery by us, long after Gerald Bull's assistance had come and gone, that it is ample proof that we did not just get some input from an artillery genius (who most others would not listen to anyway) and that, his input (while valuable) was not the alpha and omega of our long range and very accurate artillery.

Regards ranges at altitude, it is always mentioned that our ranges are achieved at altitude, which certainly gives an advantage - however all the brochures on G-5, G-6, G-7 etc always give the ranges based on sea level. Even then, we had deployed artillery that far out-ranged (with good accuracy) most western systems at the time and for many years thereafter.

The tests in 2006 by the German KMV's PzH2000 using our M2005 V-LAP projectiles, achieved ranges of just over 56 km at our Alkantpan range in South Africa - using our M2000 and their own Rh40 projectiles they achieved ranges of 40km, very similar ranges to our G-6. Our G-6 has achieved ranges of 75km using our M9703 V-LAP projectiles at Alkantpan.

Lastly, forgive me if I sound a touch nationalistic, or venting in the above - It's just that too often I read that Gerald Bull was our artillery messiah, and without him we would be absolutely nowhere in terms of artillery - it's simply not true...



Moving on - Below is the LEO G-7 105mm brochure - as mentioned above, our next step in artillery design was to create the best of both 105mm and 155mm worlds in terms of range, lethality, weight, logistics support and tail etc...etc - packed into a 105mm system.

Note also the comparisons between our 105mm Igla rounds in terms of lethality, to some of the more prominent Western 155mm artillery rounds.
Thanks for that detailed article. I was working at Marconi which developed the Fire-Control computer for the G-5 and G-6. Previous comments have talked about SA being at high altitude. The final height of the shell basically negated any difference between sea level and Luatla range. The first round fired with the fire-control system landed 5 metres from its target at a range exceeding 40 kms!!! When I read the specification for the computer, I saw that one of the algorithms was to take into account the coriolus force - something I'd never thought of before.
 

Wavertree

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One the more amusing military contracts was the effort to speed up the rotation of the turret of the Centurion. The original method apparently used metadynes to rotate the turret but the powers-that-be wanted a much quicker rate of turn to engage a target.
The speed increase was impressive, but the tremor once the gun had stopped rotating caused a significant delay to line up on a target! The proposed modification was dropped.
 

kaiserbill

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Interesting Wavertree.
When was this project dating from?
Was this a project for the Olifant, or earlier?
 

Wavertree

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Interesting Wavertree.
When was this project dating from?
Was this a project for the Olifant, or earlier?
1981
Thanks.
So after the original Olifant, and most likely an early part of the Olifant Mk1A program.
An amusing story:
On one of my visits to Armskor in Pretoria I met a new project manager working on the Oliphant. He was a model maker like me and showed me his collection of tank models in his office. The latest model was a Tamiya Centurion kit that he had altered to be an Oliphant Mk I. I was surprised at this model and asked him where he got the information from. He replied that he just went to OMC and borrowed a set of plans of the real thing!!!! So much for a high-security project!
 

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Janes article (March 2005) covering the mounted 60/81mm mortar platform and it's associated digital targeting system.
 

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Hydroxideblue

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Was wondering if people had any data on the LEO 105mm Howitzer's ammunition, specifically its APFSDS round.

Thanks,

Hydroxideblue
 

Graugrun

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Was wondering if people had any data on the LEO 105mm Howitzer's ammunition, specifically its APFSDS round.

Thanks,

Hydroxideblue
Post #90, #92, #99 and #100 cover some of the detail on the 105mm ammo - I don't know that the (intended) APFSDS round was ever developed, at least I've never seen any photos or evidence thereof..
 
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Hydroxideblue

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Was wondering if people had any data on the LEO 105mm Howitzer's ammunition, specifically its APFSDS round.

Thanks,

Hydroxideblue
Post #90, #92, #99 and #100 cover some of the detail on the 105mm ammo - I don't know that the (intended) APFSDS round was ever developed, at least I've never seen any photos or evidence thereof..
This was per Janes Armour and Artillery 2006-2007, p. 871: "Other 105mm ammunition natures include a standard type high explosive projectile and an APFSDS (armour piercing fin stabilized discarding sabot) round for the engagement of armoured targets."
 

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