Armoured trains & ICMs, on the Volga

A MSTA self-propelled howitzer seen on train ready to set off for West 2009 exercise from Naro-Fominsk, Russia.

A MSTA self-propelled howitzer seen on train ready to set off for West 2009 exercise from Naro-Fominsk, Russia.

Sergey Pyatakov/RIA Novosti
Stalingrad was always a hub for weapons. The renamed city, Volgograd, remains a large military industrial centre, instrumental in the building of the intercontinental Topol missile and the Iskander ballistic missile system. The city’s workshops are now producing the new ‘Yars’ intercontinental ballistic missile.

As World War I approached, Russia desperately lacked modern weaponry for its field army. While the industry developed at a good pace, it was not fast enough for an enormous country with more than a million servicemen, whose number could increase tenfold in the event of a war.

Just before the declaration of war in 1914, the government decided to build an artillery factory in the town of Tsaritsyn, on the Volga, which would take care of new production: of armoured trains, rail cars, and so on.

These armoured vehicles came in handy during the next war, the Russian Civil War, which saw hostilities take place all across the country, from European Russia to the Far East. There was basically no frontline so the manoeuvrable units, particularly those with armoured trains, could easily operate in the enemy's rear.

At the centre of the major battles, Tsaritsyn was where weapons were repaired and trains were covered with armour. When the town was renamed Stalingrad, the weapons factory was named ‘Barricade.’ It soon began a massive program to modernize and overhaul Soviet artillery.

The factory's management received many prestigious government awards, yet it suffered official reverses.

World War II

A design office was set up at the Barricade factory on the eve of the Nazi invasion of the USSR. It was assigned a particularly important project: development of heavy-duty weapons with more than 200- and 300-mm calibre.

The battle for the "Barricades" plant. The Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945. Source: Gregory / RIA Novosti

By the beginning of the war, the project was not complete. The factory's main products during the war were the 76-mm canons and mortars. The factory's engineers were evacuated and, as the Germans advanced, the design office workers and deputy director took up arms. Less than half of them survived.

On the ruins of the destroyed factory, the survivors began restoring production in 1943, displaying incredible heroism. In barely a year, literally rising from its own ashes, the factory was again building 122-mm weapons for heavy Soviet tanks.

From cannons to intercontinental missiles

In the immediate post-war period Stalingrad residents continued producing cannons for the army, including completely modern ones destined for coastal defense. The factory also excelled in the production of civilian apparatus, such as drilling rigs.

By the end of the 1950s the factory received a new profile: missile construction. The missile flew farther than the shell and had a more powerful combat component, on which a nuclear warhead could be placed. The city, now-renamed Volgograd, started producing the Luna unguided missile, whose models the Soviet Union sent to Cuba in 1962, the Temp guided missile and the entirely unique and incomparable Tochka and Oka missiles. In the 1980s the city began producing the Topol intercontinental ballistic missile.

2P16 Launcher for Luna missile complex based on PT-76 amphibious light tank, Soviet Union, 1966. Source: TASS/ Mark Redkin

But no one had forgotten about the artillery. The Barricade design office produced weapons for the Pion self-propelled units, the self-propelled Malka and the Msta howitzers. In view of the office's potential, in 1990 it was separated from the factory and received its own name: the Titan Design Office.

Vladimir Putin on observing the mobile strategic missile system Topol-M, Ivanovo region, 2006. Source: Sergey Guneev / RIA Novosti

In the 1990s Titan participated in the construction of the Topol intercontinental missile and the new Iskander ballistic missile system.

An Iskander-E short-range ballistic missile launcher. Photo courtesy of Russia's KBM Engineering Design Bureau based in Kolomna. Source: RIA Novosti

In 2009 the enterprise began building the new Yars intercontinental ballistic missile. Once just a part of the renowned factory, the design office finally eclipsed its fame. Since 2014 both the factory and the design office have officially been called Titan.

All rights reserved by Rossiyskaya Gazeta.

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