Volkov-Yartsev VYa-23

Last updated
Volkov Yartsev VYa-23
VYa-23 cannon Keski-Suomen ilmailumuseo.JPG
VYa-23 cannon
TypeAircraft autocannon
Place of origin Soviet Union
Service history
In service1941–?
Used by Soviet Union
Wars World War II
Production history
Designer A.A. Volkov and S.A. Yartsev
No. built64,655
Mass68 kg (150 lb)
Length2.15 metres (7 ft 1 in)
Barrel  length1.66 metres (5 ft 5 in)

Cartridge 23x152mmB
Caliber 23 mm (1 in)
Rate of fire 550–650 rounds/min
Muzzle velocity 905 m/s (2,969 ft/s)

Volkov-Yartsev VYa-23 (Волков-Ярцев ВЯ-23) is a 23 mm (0.91 in) autocannon used on Soviet aircraft during World War II.



In 1940, A.A. Volkov and S.A. Yartsev created an autocannon called TKB-201 for the new 23 mm round. It was intended to be the primary weapon of the Ilyushin Il-2 ground attack aircraft. The original intention was to create a gun capable of penetrating German tank armour.

Due to unavailability of Il-2, the first airborne testing was performed using a Messerschmitt Bf 110 heavy fighter sold by Germany in 1940. After testing on Il-2 in 1941, TKB-201 was accepted into service as VYa-23. A total of 64,655 VYa-23 were built.


The VYa-23 is a gas-operated belt-fed autocannon with a rate of fire of 600 rounds per minute - a high rate of fire for the caliber at the time. The gun was 2.140 metres long, and weighed 68 kg. Its main disadvantages are powerful recoil and very abrupt functioning of the firing and reloading mechanisms which decreased service life and often caused jamming that could not be fixed in mid-air.

According to a US intelligence report, the VYa-23 used an upscaled version of the Berezin UB mechanism. [1]


Cartridge from VYa-23 Cartridges 23 x 152 mm.jpg
Cartridge from VYa-23

A powerful new 23×152mm cartridge was specifically developed for the VYa. The same caliber was later used also in the post-war towed ZU-23 and self-propelled ZSU-23-4 23mm AA guns. However, the ammunition for this later AA gun has a different powder charge and primer, and is thus not interchangeable. [2] The ammunition is externally easily recognizable: VYa ammunition has brass cases, while post-war AA ammunition has steel cases. [2]

The ammunition for VYa included fragmentation-incendiary, fragmentation-incendiary-tracer, and armor-piercing-incendiary rounds. The total weight and filling of HE rounds were more than twice that of the 20 mm ammunition used by the ShVAK and Berezin B-20 cannons. The armor-piercing round could penetrate 25 mm (1 in) of armor at 400 m (1,300 ft). The main characteristics of VYa ammunition according to Christian Koll's Russian Ammunition site [3] are listed in the table below:

DesignationTypeProjectile Weight [g]Bursting charge [g]Muzzle Velocity [m/s]Description
BZ API 196..198none90568g hard steel core and incendiary in the windshield cap. Two types with different caps (aluminium and swaged steel) are found. Penetration 25 mm RHA at 400 m and perpendicular impact.
OZ HEI 19815 (RDX/Al/wax)905HE incendiary round with a K-20 or DV nose fuze.
OZT HEI-T 19012 (RDX/Al/wax)905HE incendiary round with a K-20 or DV nose fuze and a reduced HE charge due to the space taken by the tracer.
PUT TP-T 198none905Practice round with tracer, based on the OZT but with a dummy fuze and inert filling in HE cavity.


A total of 64,655 VYa-23 were produced. [4] Soviet archives give the following known production numbers by year: [4]


The VYa-23 cannon was mounted on Il-2 and Il-10 ground attack aircraft, on LaGG-3 and Yak-9 fighter aircraft, and on the experimental Mikoyan-Gurevich DIS long range fighter aircraft. [5]

In spite of the large round, the VYa-23 proved to be a disappointment in its intended anti-tank role. Light German tanks could be defeated from the side or rear only, with front armor of all tanks impervious. Medium tanks could be defeated if hit into the top of the turret or the engine compartment from under 400 m (1,300 ft) in a greater than 40-degree dive—a very difficult maneuver in Il-2 even under the most ideal conditions compounded by the difficulty of aiming at a small target.

See also

Related developments:

Similar weapons:

Related Research Articles


An autocannon, automatic cannon or machine cannon is a fully automatic gun that is capable of rapid-firing large-caliber armour-piercing explosive or incendiary shells, as opposed to the smaller-caliber kinetic projectiles (bullets) fired by a machine gun. Autocannons have a longer effective range and greater terminal performance than machine guns, due to the use of larger/heavier munitions, but are usually smaller than tank guns, howitzers, field guns or other artillery. When used on its own, the word "autocannon" typically indicates a non-rotary weapon with a single barrel. When multiple rotating barrels are involved, such a weapon is referred to as a "rotary autocannon" or simply "rotary cannon".

25 mm caliber caliber of ammunition

The 25 mm caliber is a specific size of cannon or autocannon ammunition. It has also been recently used for the Barrett XM109 anti-material rifle. Such ammunition includes the NATO-standard 25×137mm and 25×184mm rounds, Soviet 25x218mmSR, as well as the World War II-era French-designed 25×163mm and 25×193.5mmR rounds.

Nudelman N-37 Type of Single-barrel autocannon

The Nudelman N-37 was a 37 mm (1.46 in) aircraft autocannon used by the Soviet Union. It was designed during World War II by V. Ya. Nemenov of A.E. Nudelman's OKB-16 to replace the earlier Nudelman-Suranov NS-37 and entered service in 1946. It was 30% lighter than its predecessor at the cost of a 23% lower muzzle velocity.

Revolver cannon

A revolver cannon is a type of autocannon, commonly used as an aircraft gun. It uses a cylinder with multiple chambers, like those of a revolver handgun, to speed up the loading-firing-ejection cycle. Some examples are also power-driven, to further speed the loading process. Unlike a rotary cannon, a revolver cannon has only a single barrel, thus its spun weight is lower. Automatic revolver cannons have been produced by many different manufacturers.

Nudelman-Rikhter NR-23 Type of Single-barrel Autocannon

The Nudelman-Rikhter NR-23 is a Soviet autocannon widely used in military aircraft of the Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact. It was designed by A. E. Nudelman and A. A. Rikhter to replace the wartime Nudelman-Suranov NS-23 and Volkov-Yartsev VYa-23, entering service in 1949.

Nudelman-Suranov NS-23 Type of Autocannon

The NS-23 was a 23 mm (0.91 in) aircraft cannon designed by A. E. Nudelman, A. Suranov, G. Zhirnykh, V. Nemenov, S. Lunin, and M. Bundin during World War II as a replacement for the Volkov-Yartsev VYa-23 cannon. It entered service in 1944. The NS-23 round was derived from the 14.5×114mm anti-tank round by necking it out to 23 mm.

Mikoyan-Gurevich DIS 1941 fighter aircraft prototype by Mikoyan-Gurevich

The Mikoyan-Gurevich DIS was a prototype Soviet heavy fighter of World War II, envisioned to serve primarily in the escort fighter role. The service designation MiG-5 was reserved for the production version of the aircraft. Competing designs in the USSR included the Grushin Gr-1, Polikarpov TIS and Tairov Ta-3.

The ShVAK was a 20 mm autocannon used by the Soviet Union during World War II. It was designed by Boris Shpitalniy and Semyon Vladimirov and entered production in 1936. ShVAK were installed in many models of Soviet aircraft. The TNSh was a version of the gun produced for light tanks.

The Berezin UB was a 12.7 mm caliber Soviet aircraft machine gun widely used during World War II.

Berezin B-20 Type of Autocannon

The Berezin B-20 was a 20 mm caliber autocannon used by Soviet aircraft in World War II.

Lavochkin-Gorbunov-Gudkov LaGG-3

The Lavochkin-Gorbunov-Gudkov LaGG-3 was a Soviet fighter aircraft of World War II. It was a refinement of the earlier LaGG-1 and was one of the most modern aircraft available to the Soviet Air Force at the time of Germany's invasion in 1941. Despite its wooden construction, it was overweight and underpowered, at one stage 12 LaGG-3s were being completed daily and 6,528 had been built when factory 31 in Tbilisi switched to Yak-3 production in 1944.

Shipunov 2A42 Type of Autocannon

The Shipunov 2A42 is a Soviet/Russian 30 mm autocannon. It is built by the Tulamashzavod Joint Stock Company.


The 23×115mm round is used by Soviet (USSR)/Russian/CIS aircraft autocannon, most notably by the GSh-23L and GSh-6-23. Although the round has been superseded by the 30×165mm round, the Russian Air Force still uses it in the GSh-23L and GSh-6-23. This round still serves in many countries and is widely available. Projectile weight is 175 grams.


The 23×152mmB used by the USSR/CIS in the VYa-23 aircraft autocannon the Ilyushin Il-2 ground attack aircraft and in the 2A7 and 2A14 autocannons on the ZU-23-2 anti-aircraft gun series and ZSU-23-4 "Shilka", among others.

The Nudelman-Suranov NS-45 was an enlarged version of the Soviet Nudelman-Suranov NS-37 aircraft autocannon. It was evaluated for service on 44 Yakovlev Yak-9K aircraft during World War II, but proved to stress the airframes too much. The NS-45 was also mounted on the prototype Tupolev Tu-1 night fighter after the end of World War II.

Afanasev Makarov AM-23 Type of Single-barrel Autocannon

The Afanasev Makarov AM-23 is a Soviet designed aircraft autocannon that has been used in a number of aircraft in the Soviet Air Force. Its GRAU index was 9-A-036. It was often used in place of the earlier and slower-firing Nudelman-Rikhter NR-23.

Vyacheslav Ivanovich Silin (1907—1975) was a leading Russian weapons engineer in the Soviet Union.

Gryazev-Shipunov GSh-30-1 Type of Aircraft autocannon

The Gryazev-Shipunov GSh-30-1 is a 30 mm autocannon designed for use on Soviet and later Russian military aircraft, entering service in the early 1980s. Its current manufacturer is the Russian company JSC Izhmash.

ZSU-23-4 Shilka Type of Self-propelled anti-aircraft gun

The ZSU-23-4 "Shilka" is a lightly armored Soviet self-propelled, radar guided anti-aircraft weapon system (SPAAG).


  1. Chinn, p. 96
  2. 1 2 "Williams, Anthony G: An introduction to collecting 23-28mm cartridges. http://www.quarryhs.co.uk/collecting%2023-28mm.htm
  3. "Russian Ammunition Page, http://www.russianammo.org
  4. 1 2 Shirokograd, p. 115
  5. A LaGG-3 in Japan