ITEM NUMBER #188 Russian assembled round 76,2mm UOF-354M from ZiS-3 divisional gun with OF-350 HE projectile and KTM-1 fuze.
Artillery Factory No. 92 began designing the ZiS-3 at the end of 1940. The ZiS-3 combined the light carriage from the 57 mm ZiS-2 anti-tank gun and the powerful 76.2 mm barrel from the F-22USV, the previous divisional field gun. The addition of a muzzle brake reduced recoil and prevented damage to the light carriage upon firing. Producing a ZiS-3 cost only a third of the time and two-thirds of the money of a F-22USV by making greater use of casting, stamping and welding.
V. G. Grabin, the chief designer of Soviet medium caliber guns, initiated the gun’s development without state approval, and the prototype was hidden from the state. Marshal Grigory Kulik, commander of Soviet artillery, had ordered a halt to the production of light 45 mm anti-tank guns and 76.2 mm divisional field guns in the belief that they were inadequate; the Soviets overestimated the armour protection of the latest German heavy tanks from propaganda about the Neubaufahrzeug multi-turreted prototype tank.
The beginning of the Great Patriotic War revealed that the pre-war 76 mm guns overmatched German armour; in some cases even 12.7 mm DShK machine guns were adequate. Most of the 76 mm guns were lost early in the war; some captured examples armed German Panzerjäger self-propelled guns. Marshal Kulik ordered the F-22USV back into production. At Artillery Factory No. 92, Grabin put the ZiS-3 into mass production in December 1941.
The factory’s ZiS-3 stockpile grew and went unused as the Red Army refused to accept the guns without the usual acceptance trials. Grabin convinced the army to issue the guns for impromptu testing at the front, where it proved superior to existing divisional field guns. A subsequent demonstration impressed Joseph Stalin, who praised the weapon as “a masterpiece of artillery systems design.” The ZiS-3 underwent an official five-day acceptance trial in February 1942, and was then accepted into service as divisional field gun model 1942 (full official name).
Grabin worked to increase production at Artillery Factory No. 92. Conveyor assembly lines admitted the use of low-skilled labour without significant quality loss. Experienced laborers and engineers worked on complicated equipment and served as brigade leaders; they were replaced on the production line by young factory workers who were exempt from conscription, producing a new generation of skilled labourers and engineers. More than 103,000 ZiS-3s were produced by the end of the war, making it the most numerous Soviet field gun during the war.
Mass production of the ZiS-3 ceased after the war. It was replaced by the 85 mm D-44 divisional field gun. The D-44 had better anti-armour capabilities, but inferior mobility due to its increased weight.
The Finns captured 12 units, and designated them 76 K 42.