Russian media reported that Bulgaria, a NATO member, transferred poor quality 152mm artillery shells, causing the barrel of the Ukrainian D-20 howitzer to be ripped off. Currently, neither Kiev nor Sofia have commented on the information.
Russian media reported that Bulgaria had followed NATO’s call to transfer weapons of Soviet-era to Ukraine, but the 152mm shells they delivered to Ukraine was of poor quality, causing the barrel of the Ukrainian Army D-20 howitzer to be ripped off.
The video clip released by russian media sites, shows that the barrel of the cannon has been ripped open, military experts believes that poor maintenance of the artillery shells caused this problem, this problem is not caused by the quality of the shells.
Neither Bulgaria nor Ukraine have commented on this information yet.
The old soviet-era legendary 152mm D20 Artillery Systems are being used by the Ukrainian Armed Forces in large numbers in the ongoing Russia-Ukraine War.
After the disintegration of the Soviet Union, Ukraine inherited a large number of these 152mm howitzers. However, Keiv is seriously lacking artillery shells when fighting with the enemy.
Kiev is actually calling on NATO countries that have traditionally used soviet-era weapons to help them provide with artillery shells, and Bulgaria is one of those countries that has supplied shells to the Ukrainian Army.
The D20 was one of the most successful howitzer of the Cold War era.
This 152 mm artillery gun is a manually loaded, towed 152 mm artillery piece, manufactured in the Soviet Union during the 1950s. It was first observed by the west in 1955.
The D-20 became the Soviet Army’s favorite heavy towed gun-howitzer beginning in the mid-1950s. From then on it went to enjoy a spectacular career with Soviet allies and client states. It was recognizable for its short barrel assembly topped with a double baffle muzzle brake.
The D-20 used a semi-automatic sliding wedge breech that put its rate-of-fire on par with NATO’s own 155 mm howitzers. Other identifiers are its carriage, elongated trails with miniature rollers attached before the large spades, and of course its iconic splinter shield.
The D-20 fires fragmentation, High-Explosive Fragmentation (HE-FRAG), High Explosive (HE), concrete-busting, and illumination rounds. It is also capable of launching Krasnopol laser-guided projectiles, as well as nuclear rounds. Maximum range of fire with HE-FRAG round is 17.4 km.
The HE round penetrates 250 mm steel plate at a range of 3 km.
The D-20’s operation during combat remains a contentious matter. For a weapon system that fought so many wars in different climates details such as its accuracy, effective range, and correct deployment along with its crew number (varying from 6 to 10 soldiers) are shrouded in obfuscation.
The crew of 10 prepares this gun-howitzer for firing from traveling order within 3 minutes.
During the Cold War the D-20 was towed by AT-L and AT-S tracked artillery tractors, Ural-375 6×6 trucks and Tatra 813 8×8 trucks.
The D-20 ranks among the most prolific artillery pieces ever. Aside from the Soviet Union’s titanic production numbers, its barrel assembly was used and upgraded in the late 1960s for the 2S3 Akatsiya self-propelled howitzer.
China, North Korea, the former Yugoslavia, and Bulgaria also manufactured the D-20 in significant quantities, often adding specific improvements. With conventional wars back in vogue in the 2010s the D-20 is enjoying a career boost as national armies on a budget are deploying it again.
The irony of its success, as with many Soviet-era weapons, is it probably faced other Soviet-made howitzers in several wars. The Sino-Vietnamese conflict comes to mind. One can also recall the Iran-Iraq War, the Balkans and Afghanistan in the early 1990s, the drawn-out showdown in Nagorno-Karabakh, and the current Syrian Civil War.
During the 2022 Invasion of Ukraine both sides have relied on the D-20. Russian forces have started deploying the weapons from storage.
There are reports of at least one Russian D-20 being destroyed due to poor ammunition. This weapon was in the service of the Luhansk People’s Republic.
Currently russia has more than 1,073 units of the D20 Howitzers, and Ukraine has 130+ units of these guns in its service.