|Product type:||Weapons & Weapon Systems|
The Soltam M-68 gun-howitzer uses a carriage similar to the Tampella 122 mm M-60 Field Gun described in the Finnish section. Further development by Soltam resulted in the M-71 gun-howitzer which is also described in this section. The first Israeli prototype was completed in 1968, with the first production example produced in 1970.
The carriage comprises a top carriage, bottom carriage and two trails. In action a screw type firing jack is lowered under the lower carriage and the two trails are opened out. A loose spade is placed at the end of each trail and staked to the ground by three wedges. A further two loose spades and six wedges are carried enabling the gun crew to change the direction of firing without taking up the original loose spades. When travelling the loose spades and wedges are stowed on the trails. The bogies have four pneumatic tyres and each wheel has a hydraulic brake.
The recoil mechanism is under the barrel and the counter-recoil system is on the top of it with the pneumatic equilibrators either side of the barrel. Recoil varies in relation to elevation but maximum recoil is 1 m. The elevating wheel is on the left side of the carriage as is the panoramic sight, and the traversing gear is on the right.
The barrel is of the monobloc type with a screw-on breech mechanism and a single-baffle muzzle brake with a fume extractor fitted to the rear.
The semi-automatic horizontal sliding breech-block remains open on recoil for loading of the next round. The breech incorporates a specially developed gas check ring which effectively prevents the escape of propellant gases to the rear. Provision is made for opening the breech-block for loading the first round. Loading from the left is possible at all angles of elevation.
The M-68 fires an HE projectile weighing 43.7 kg, a maximum muzzle velocity of 725 m/s and a maximum range of 21000 m. The weapon fires all standard NATO 155 mm projectiles including illuminating and smoke. The M-68 also fires Tampella-designed projectiles using a nine-charge system (charges 1 to 9) with a muzzle velocity of 253 to 820 m/s and a maximum range of 23500 m.
When travelling the barrel is swung through 180º to the rear and is locked in position over the closed trails.
Soltam has developed a self-propelled model of the M-68 called the L-33 based on a modified Sherman chassis, full details of which are given in the Self-propelled guns and howitzers section under Israel.