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Gun The M1939 (52-K) air-defense gun was efficient and well-proven, sporting a 55 caliber barrel. General Vasiliy Grabin and General Fyodor Petrov directed the team responsible with the conversion, initially into an anti-tank gun.Soon it appeared ideally suited for a tank, and the first to use a derivative model, the D-5, was the SU-85, a tank destroyer based on the T-34 chassis.The advantage of a three-man turret was already known by the British since the twenties, and the Germans found it very convenient for their main tanks, the Panzer III and IV.
From their work emerged two new models, the Panzer V “Panther” and the Panzer VI “Tiger”.
The three guns were tested at Gorokhoviesky Proving Grounds, near Gorkiy.
The S-18 won the competition at first and its design was approved for use in the modified turret, but dropped when it was apparent that it was not compatible with the D-5 mounting for which the turret was designed.
But it was clear after the first reports came from the battle of Kursk, seeing the heavy losses taken by the T-34, that the 76 mm (3 in) gun was not up to the task of taking on the up-armored German tanks, who could in turn out-range the Russian tanks with ease.
So while making production top priority, the decision was taken to favor firepower over protection.