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Volkov Yartsev VYa-23
Type Aircraft autocannon
Place of origin  Soviet Union
Service history
In service 1941–?
Used by  Soviet Union
Wars World War II
Production history
Designer A.A. Volkov and S.A.Yartsev
Designed 1940–41
Number built 64,655
Weight 68 kg (150 lb)
Length 2.15 metres (7 ft 1 in)
Barrel length 1.66 metres (5 ft 5 in)

Cartridge 23x152mmB
Caliber 23 mm (1 in)
Rate of fire 550–650 rounds/min
Muzzle velocity 905 m/s (2,969 ft/s)

Volkov-Yartsev VYa-23 (Волков-Ярцев ВЯ-23) is a 23 mm (0.91 in) autocannon used on Soviet aircraft during World War II.


In 1940, A.A. Volkov and S.A.Yartsev created an autocannon called TKB-201 for the new 23 mm round. It was intended to be the primary weapon of the Ilyushin Il-2 ground attack aircraft. The original intention was to create a gun capable of penetrating German tank armour.

Due to unavailability of Il-2, the first airborne testing was performed using a German Messerschmitt Bf 110 heavy fighter. After testing on Il-2 in 1941, TKB-201 was accepted into service as VYa-23. A total of 64,655 VYa-23 were built.


The VYa-23 is a gas-operated belt-fed autocannon with a rate of fire of 600 rounds per minute - a high rate of fire for the caliber at the time. The gun was 2.140 metres long, and weighed 68 kg. Its main disadvantages are powerful recoil and very abrupt functioning of the firing and reloading mechanisms which decreased service life and often caused jamming that could not be fixed in mid-air.

According to an US intelligence report, the VYa-23 used an upscaled version of the Berezin UB mechanism.[1]


Cartridge from VYa-23

A powerful new 23x152B cartridge was specifically developed for the VYa. The same caliber was later used also in the post-war towed ZU-23 and self-propelled ZSU-23-4 23mm AA guns. The later AA guns ammo differs in loading and primer however, and are thus not interchangeable with the post-war AA gun ammunition.[2] The ammunition is externally easily recognizable: VYa ammunition has brass cases, while post-war AA ammunition has steel cases.[2]

The ammunition for VYa consisted of fragmentation-incendiary, fragmentation-incendiary-tracer, and armor piercing-incendiary rounds. The total weight and filling of HE rounds were more than twice that of the 20 mm ammunition used by the ShVAK and Berezin B-20 cannons. The armor-piercing round could penetrate 25 mm (1 in) of armor at 400 m (1,300 ft). The main characteristics of VYa ammunition according to Christian Koll's Russian Ammunition site[3] are listed in the table below:

Designation Type Projectile Weight [g] Bursting charge [g] Muzzle Velocity [m/s] Description
BZ API 196..198 none 905 68g hard steel core and incendiary in the windshield cap. Two types with different caps (aluminium and swaged steel) are found. Penetration 25 mm RHA at 400 m and perpendicular impact.
OZ HEI 198 15 (RDX/Al/wax) 905 HE incendiary round with a K-20 or DV nose fuze.
OZT HEI-T 190 12 (RDX/Al/wax) 905 HE incendiary round with a K-20 or DV nose fuze and a reduced HE charge due to the space taken by the tracer.
PUT TP-T 198 none 905 Practice round with tracer, based on the OZT but with a dummy fuze and inert filling in HE cavity.


A total of 64,655 VYa-23 were produced.[4] Soviet archives give the following known production numbers by year:[4]

  • 1942 — 13,420
  • 1943 — 16,430
  • 1944 — 22,820
  • 1945 — 873
  • 1946 — 2,002
  • 1947 — 1,247


The VYa-23 cannon was mounted on Il-2 and Il-10 ground attack aircraft on Yak-9 fighter aircraft and on the experimental Mikoyan-Gurevich DIS long range fighter aircraft.

In spite of the large round, the VYa-23 proved to be a disappointment in its intended anti-tank role. Light German tanks could be defeated from the side or rear only, with front armor of all tanks impervious. Medium tanks could be defeated if hit into the top of the turret or the engine compartment from under 400 m (1,300 ft) in a greater than 40-degree dive—a very difficult maneuvre in Il-2 even under the most ideal conditions compounded by the difficulty of aiming at a small target.

See also

Related developments:

Similar weapons:


  1. Chinn, p. 96
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Williams, Anthony G: An introduction to collecting 23-28mm cartridges.
  3. "Russian Ammunition Page,
  4. 4.0 4.1 Shirokograd, p. 115

External links

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