M1977/M1985 323 (122mm)

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323 (122mm)

M1977/M1985

Flag-North-Korea

dprk1227412425-95188

Unknown official name

Brief History
North Korea has a surprisingly long history of tank and AFV production, with some of their most recent developments being very interesting. During the Korean War, and for a couple decades after, North Korea relied on Soviet hand-me-downs, namely T-34s and their derivatives, T-55s, etc. In the 70s, the DPRK started development of their first MBTs based on their copy of the T-62 (Ch’ŏnma), which have continually been upgraded to this day. They haven’t just built MBTs, however. They have a number of other AFVs, such as SPGs and tank destroyers.

Alongside these vehicles, North Korea has developed a number of APCs. In 1973, the 323 was spotted for the first time (sometimes incorrectly referred to as VTT-323 in the west). The 323 is a derivative of the Chinese YW 531A, which the DPRK bought and operated, with the biggest changes being the addition of a turret, one extra roadwheel, and amphibious capabilities. This suggestion focuses on the 122mm SPG variant. This tank is also one of the very few indigenous North Korean vehicles to be exported, with some entering service with Ethiopia.

Note on nomenclature (M1977 vs. M1985)

This vehicle has 2 minor variants, hence both the names M1977 and M1985 (for the years they were first spotted). However, these variants are not distinct enough to warrant separate suggestions; they only appear to differ in very minor characteristics. They would perform identically in game. The biggest difference is a minor casemate change, with the M1977 having a straight horizontal line from the front of the raised part to the rear of the vehicle, whereas the M1985 has a gentle slope downwards. (images below). Some M1977s also appear to have kept the field gun tow-hook at the end of the barrel.

This makes sense if the M1977 was some sort of test series, with the M1985 being a more refined version. Ethiopia seem to have received an unknown number of M1977s.

M1977 vs M1985

Characteristics
The 323 (122mm) removes the turret added onto the North Korean 323 APC variant and replaces it with a Soviet-made 122mm D-30. Unlike other D-30 armed vehicles in North Korea’s arsenal (e.g. M1991 Chuch’e-Po), it appears unmodified from the original field gun design. The D-30 has a variety of shells, with at least 2 HE rounds, a couple of HEAT-FS rounds (one of which has 460-580mm penetration), as well as smoke rounds. The gun of the 2S1 Gvozdika is modified from the D-30 and uses the same shells, and so should give a good idea of it’s performance.

The 323’s engine is believed to be the same as that on the Chinese YW 531 – 320hp. The US estimated the top speed of the 323 at 80km/h, but it is much more likely to be around 65km/h.

Armour is probably very similar (if not identical) to the YW 531, being ~14mm all around.

The 323 normally has a crew of 4 – commander, driver, gunner, and radio operator. This is true for the APC variant, as well as some others (e.g. 9M14 ATGM carrier), but due to the lack of machine gun on this particular variant and much larger gun, the radio operator is now very likely a loader.

Conclusion
This vehicle would be a great indigenous mid-tier SPG for a North Korean sub-tree . It would have a powerful gun but a very weak chassis with only decent mobility. I think there are 2 options for implementing it: add it at around 3.0-3.3 with only HE rounds, to artificially limit its gun performance, or to give it it’s high-penetrating HEAT rounds and add it at around 5.7 (2S1 is at 6.0 with a similar gun but it has a turret). I personally prefer the former option, as HEAT rounds with ~480mm penetration will be extremely powerful at low BRs.

Specifications
Armament

  • 122mm D-30
    • 3OF24 HE
    • 3OF56 HE
    • BK-6M HEAT-FS
    • BK-13 HEAT-FS
    • 3BK-10 HEAT-FS
    • Smoke

Armour

  • Hull
    • Front
      • 14mm
    • Sides
      • 14mm
    • Rear
      • 14mm
  • Turret
    • N/A

Mobility

  • Speed
    • ~65km/h
    • 10km/h in water
  • Weight
    • ~12.6-15.3t (estimated for base variant)
      • 122mm D-30 weighs ~3t, so assume ~16-18t total weight
  • Engine power
    • 320hp

Images

Spoiler

m1977

  • M1985

M1977-rear

  • M1977

c0f950db945186e450916fb550ae5948

  • M1977

m1977_l1

  • M1985

M1977-parade-rear

  • M1985

yj2

  • M1977 variant with Igla MANPADs


  • M1977s during training exercises

Sources

Spoiler

The Armed Forces of North Korea: On the Path of Songun – Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans
M1977 122 mm Self-Propelled Howitzer | MilitaryToday.com
323 Fire Support Vehicle with 76mm F-22 - Tank Encyclopedia
323 APC - Tank Encyclopedia
Mobilised For War: Ethiopia’s Russian 2S19 Msta SPGs - Oryx
323 APC

1 Like

+1 great tank for a united korea tree

1 Like

Slightly clearer pictures of the M1977 variant: