By U.S. ArmyMay 29, 2019
Developed towards the end of World War II, the M1945 (D-44) antitank gun was used by Soviet bloc nations until the late 1970s. It used the same 85MM gun found on the T-34/85 tank. The T-34 series of tanks were the primary Soviet medium tanks used during World War II. The antitank gun displayed at Memorial Field is the conventional design with split trails and shield. A self-propelled model known as the SD-44 was also produced.
From Tank Guns to Anti-Tank Guns
The D-44 85MM antitank gun was the successor to the smaller 76MM design used during the majority of World War II. The gun system was developed from the well-known T-34-85 tank, which used the same barrel, muzzle, and recoil mechanism as the D-44. When it was first fielded in 1945, it had the highest rate of fire of any field gun. It was capable of firing up to 25 rounds per minute.
The gun was later exported to various operators within the Soviet bloc, with virtually all Warsaw Pact nations obtaining the weapon by the late 1950s. The gun was also licensed to China, where it was rebranded as the Type 56. These licensed versions would see action during the Vietnam War in a limited capacity. Of the over 8,000 guns produced, it is estimated that 600 remain in service. Over 400 Type 56 variants remain in service as well.
The D-44 was capable of firing incendiary, high-explosive, and armor piercing rounds. The armor piercing rounds were capable of penetrating 100 millimeters of armor, with other projectiles capable of piercing anywhere from 180 to 300 millimeters of armor. This made the D-44 one of the most deadly field guns on the battlefield.
The gun was formally retired from front-line service with the Russian Ground Forces in the 1970s in favor of larger, more accurate antitank systems.