|Product type:||Armoured Vehicles|
Late in 1986, a German consortium consisting of MTU, GLS and Rheinmetall completed the prototype of an upgraded 155 mm M44 self-propelled howitzer subsequently designated the M44T.
This was built to meet the requirements of the Turkish Army and the prototype commenced mobility and firepower trials at the Turkish School of Artillery in 1987. Compared with the original M44, which was developed in the United States in the late 1940s, the M44T has increased mobility, firepower and reliability.
A total of 222 M44s of the Turkish Army was upgraded in Turkey with some of the component parts being made under licence in Turkey.
The M44T conversion is of modular design so that the user can select only those parts that meet their operational requirements and financial situation.
Turkey is now converting 365 of the US supplied 105 mm M52 self-propelled artillery systems to the 155 mm/39 calibre M52T configuration and full details of this system are given in Jane's Armour and Artillery 1997-98 pages 632 to 633.
The main differences between the M44T and the M52T is that the latter has its 155 mm 39 calibre ordnance in a fully enclosed turret which has a total traverse of 60" left and right. To provide a more stable firing platform a spade is lowered at the rear of the hull when the system is in the firing position.
The M44T has its original Continental 500 hp petrol engine replaced by an MTU MB 833 Aa-501 V-6 water-cooled diesel developing 450 hp at 2,300 rpm coupled to the original Allison CD-500-3 transmission via a ZF gearbox.
Increased fuel capacity of 780 litres, together with the diesel engine, provides a range of approximately 620 km compared with the 122 km of the original petrol-engined M44.
On the prototype M44T upgrade, the driver remained in the gun compartment but on production vehicles he is seated in the chassis.
Various other components and subsystems have been modernised and a Halon fire warning and extinguishing system has been installed. A new driver's instrument panel has also been fitted.
Replacement of the existing electrical system has also been carried out using new cables, fuse boxes and batteries. New actuators for steering, braking and acceleration have been fitted, and for cold starting of the engine at temperatures below -18°C a preheating system has been fitted. The top engine deck and exhaust systems have also been modified.
Modifications to the suspension include new hydraulic shock-absorbers and torsion bars and some adaptation of the hydraulic bump stops. A new track has also been installed with replaceable rubber pads and snow grips can be fitted if required. New rubber dust skirts have been fitted to help keep dust down.
The original 155 mm ordnance has been replaced by a 155 mm 39 calibre barrel and breech similar to that used on the Rheinmetall M109A3G (qv). This provides a range, firing standard projectiles, of 24,700 m and enhanced range projectiles can now reach 30,000 m. Elevation is from -5 to +65° with ammunition stowage for 30 projectiles and charges being provided.
The ordnance has automatic primer feeding as well as automatic opening and closing of the breech mechanism. The recoil system, balancers and ammunition racks have also been modified, ordnance has a life of 10,000 standard rounds.
Production was completed in 1992. A similar upgrade is now under way for the M52 105 mm self-propelled howitzer which is being fitted with a 155 mm 39 calibre ordnance.