The ZPU (Russian: ЗПУ; зенитная пулемётная установка, romanizedzenitnaya pulemotnaya ustanovka, meaning "anti-aircraft machine gun mount") is a family of towed anti-aircraft gun based on the Soviet 14.5×114mm KPV heavy machine gun. It entered service with the Soviet Union in 1949 and is used by over 50 countries worldwide.

ZPU anti-aircraft gun
ZPU morrocan.jpg
TypeAnti-aircraft gun
Place of originSoviet Union
Service history
In service1949–present
Used bySee Operators for users
Production history
VariantsZPU-1, ZPU-2, ZPU-4
Caliber14.5 mm
ActionShort recoil operation
Effective firing range1.4 km
Maximum firing range8 km

Quadruple (ZPU-4), double- (ZPU-2 and ZU-2) and single-barreled (ZPU-1) versions of the weapon exist.


The 1931 ZPU for 7.62 mm machine guns

The first dedicated Soviet mount for anti-aircraft machine guns was developed around 1928 by Fedor Tokarev and was adopted for service in 1931. It was a base for mounting up to four 7.62 mm PM M1910 (Russian Maxim) guns. This was also called a ZPU, although the name М-4 was also assigned to it. It served the Soviet armed forces in all major conflicts until 1945.[3] 12.7 mm DShK 1938 was used an anti-aircraft weapon it was mounted on pintle and tripod mounts, and on a triple mount on the GAZ-AA truck. Late in the war, it was mounted on the cupolas of IS-2 tanks and ISU-152 self-propelled guns. As an infantry heavy support weapon it used a two-wheeled trolley which unfolded into a tripod for anti-aircraft use.


Development of the ZPU-2 and ZPU-4 began in 1945, with development of the ZPU-1 starting in 1947. All three were accepted into service in 1949. Improved optical predicting gunsights were developed for the system in the 1950s.

All weapons in the ZPU series have air-cooled quick-change barrels and can fire a variety of ammunition including API (B32), API (BS41), API-T (BZT) and I-T (ZP) projectiles. Each barrel has a maximum rate of fire of around 600 rounds per minute, though this is practically limited to about 150 rounds per minute.

The quad-barrel ZPU-4 uses a four-wheel carriage similar to that once used by the obsolete 25 mm automatic anti-aircraft gun M1940. In firing position, the weapon is lowered onto firing jacks. It can be brought in and out of action in about 15 to 20 seconds, and can be fired with the wheels in the traveling position if needed.

The double-barrel ZPU-2 was built in two different versions; the early model has large mud guards and two wheels that are removed in the firing position, and the late model has wheels that fold and are raised from the ground in the firing position.

ZPU-2 turned out to be too heavy for the Airborne Troops, so a new UZPU-2 (later redesignated as ZU-2) was developed from ZPU-1.

The single-barrel ZPU-1 is carried on a two-wheeled carriage and can be broken down into several 80-kilogram pieces for transport over rough ground.

Versions of the weapon are built in China, North Korea and Romania.


A North Korean ZPU-2, recovered from the naval trawler sunk by the Japan Coast Guard during the Battle of Amami-Ōshima
Israeli ZPU-1
ZPU-2 in Technical museum Togliatti
Ukrainian ZPU-2

The series was used during the Korean War by Chinese and North Korean forces, and was later considered to be the most dangerous opposition to U.S. helicopters in Vietnam. Later it was used by Morocco and the Polisario Front in the Western Sahara War. It was also used by Iraqi forces during Operation Desert Storm and again in Operation Iraqi Freedom. In 1974 the Cyprus National Guard artillery batteries used their ZPU-2s against the Turkish air force. In the Russian military, it was replaced by the newer and more powerful ZU-23 23 mm twin automatic anti-aircraft gun.

During the Lebanese Civil War, the Lebanese militias mounted the ZPU-2 and ZPU-4 on various vehicles, such as M113 armored personnel carriers, to create self-propelled support vehicles.[4]

The ZPU has seen widespread use by both sides in the Libyan Civil War, Syrian Civil War, and Yemeni Civil War, being often mounted on technical pickup trucks.[5][6] The weapon is credited for bringing down several Syrian Air Force helicopters.[7]

In North Korea, ZPU systems have been modified to be able to be directed by a MR-104 "Drum Tilt", where the guns are shown to be fired without personnel manning them.[8]


  • API (BS.41): Full metal jacket bullet round with a tungsten carbide core. Projectile weight is 64.4 g (2.27 oz) and muzzle velocity is 1000 metres per second (3,281 ft/s). Armor-penetration at 500 m (550 yd) is 32 mm (1.3 in) of RHA at 90 degrees.[9]
  • API-T (BZT): Full metal jacket round with a steel core. Projectile weight is 59.56 g (2.101 oz) and muzzle velocity is 1,005 m/s (3,297 ft/s). Tracer burns to at least 2,000 m (2,200 yd).
  • I-T (ZP): "Instantaneous Incendiary" bullet with internal fuze, incendiary in tip, tracer container in base. Projectile weight is 60.0 g (2.12 oz).

Rounds are also produced by Bulgaria, China, Egypt, Poland, and Romania.


Romanian ZU-2
A Libyan technical with ZU-2.
  • ZPU-4
    • Type 56: Chinese-built version.[10]
    • MR-4: Romanian-built version with a two-wheel carriage designed locally.[10]
    • PKM-4: Polish designation for an imported Soviet ZPU-4
  • ZPU-2
    • Type 58: Chinese-built version.[10]
    • PKM-2: Polish-built version.
  • ZU-2
  • ZPU-1
    • Type 75 and Type 75-1: Chinese built-versions.[10]
  • BTR-40A SPAAG: A BTR-40 APC with a ZPU-2 gun mounted in the rear. Entered service in 1950.
  • BTR-152A SPAAG: A BTR-152 with a ZPU-2 mounted in the rear. Entered service in 1952.


Type-56/ZPU-4 14.5mm quad barrel anti aircraft gun of Bangladesh Army.
Original ZPU-4.
Model ZPU-1 ZPU-2 ZU-2 ZPU-4
Barrels 1 2 2 4
Weight (travelling) 413 kg
(910 lb)
994 kg
(2,191 lb)
649 kg
(1,430 lb)
1,810 kg
(3,990 lb)
Weight (firing) 413 kg
(910 lb)
639 kg
(1,408 lb)
621 kg
(1,369 lb)
1,810 kg
(3,990 lb)
Length (travel) 3.44 m
(11 ft 3 in)
3.54 m
(11 ft 7 in)
3.87 m
(12 ft 8 in)
4.53 m
(14 ft 10 in)
Width (travel) 1.62 m
(5 ft 4 in)
1.92 m
(6 ft 4 in)
1.37 m
(4 ft 6 in)
1.72 m
(5 ft 8 in)
Height (travel) 1.34 m
(4 ft 5 in)
1.83 m
(6 ft 0 in))
1.1 m
(3 ft 7 in)
2.13 m
(7 ft 0 in)
Elevation +88 °/−8 ° +90 °/−7 ° +85 °/−15 ° +90 °/−10 °
Traverse 360 °
Maximum range 8,000 m
(8,750 yds)
Maximum altitude 5,000 m
(16,400 ft)
Effective altitude 1,400 m
(4,590 ft)
Ammunition (rounds) 1,200 2,400 4,800
Crew 4 5



See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Cooper, Tom (2013). Great Lakes Conflagration: Second Congo War, 1998–2003. UK: Helion & Company Limited. p. 39. ISBN 978-1-920143-84-8.
  2. ^ "SPLA-N weapons and equipment, South Kordofan, December 2012" (PDF). HSBA Arms and Ammunition Tracing Desk. Small Arms Survey: 8. February 2013. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2016-03-22. Retrieved 2019-01-02.
  3. ^ Семен Федосеев (2009). Пулеметы России. Шквальный огонь. Яуза / Коллекция / ЭКСМО. pp. 377–380. ISBN 978-5-699-31622-9.
  4. ^ Zaloga, Steven J. (2003). Tank battles of the Mid-East Wars (2): The wars of 1973 to the present. Hong Kong: Concord Publications. p. 7. ISBN 962-361-613-9.
  5. ^ "Rebels down Libyan aircraft as world leaders discuss next move". Retrieved 6 May 2018.
  6. ^ Neville 2018, p. 34.
  7. ^ Neville, Leigh (19 Apr 2018). Technicals: Non-Standard Tactical Vehicles from the Great Toyota War to modern Special Forces. New Vanguard 257. Osprey Publishing. p. 10. ISBN 9781472822512.
  8. ^ Oryx. "A Visual Guide to North Korea's Fighting Vehicles". Oryx Blog. Retrieved 2020-12-20.
  9. ^ "ZPU-4 14.5 mm quadruple guns anti-aircraft technical data sheet specifications information UK - Army Recognition - Army Recognition". Archived from the original on 2011-10-12. Retrieved 2011-10-10.
  10. ^ a b c d Gander, Terry J. (4 May 2001). "14.5 mm KPV heavy machine gun". Jane's Infantry Weapons 2002-2003. pp. 3732–3734.
  11. ^ Bhatia, Michael Vinai; Sedra, Mark (May 2008). Small Arms Survey (ed.). Afghanistan, Arms and Conflict: Armed Groups, Disarmament and Security in a Post-War Society. Routledge. p. 66. ISBN 978-0-415-45308-0. Archived from the original on 2018-09-01. Retrieved 2018-09-01.
  12. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Military Balance 2017
  13. ^ "TENDER NOTICE" (PDF). Directorate General of Defence Purchase. Retrieved 2 March 2021.
  14. ^ Cherisey, Erwan de (July 2019). "El batallón de infantería "Badenya" de Burkina Faso en Mali - Noticias Defensa En abierto". Revista Defensa (in Spanish) (495–496).
  15. ^ The Military Balance 2021, p. 454.
  16. ^ The Military Balance 2021, p. 455.
  17. ^ The Military Balance 2021, p. 457.
  18. ^ The Military Balance 2021, p. 458.
  19. ^ The Military Balance 2021, p. 461.
  20. ^ The Military Balance 2021, p. 467.
  21. ^ The Military Balance 2021, p. 469.
  22. ^ "Syrie: l'EI inflige un revers aux FDS dans l'est, mais reste acculé". France Soir (in French). 25 October 2018. Archived from the original on 25 October 2018. Retrieved 4 March 2019.
  23. ^ The Military Balance 2021, p. 473.
  24. ^ Mitzer, Stijn; Oliemans, Joost (29 October 2021). "Kurdish Armour: Inventorising YPG Equipment In Northern Syria". Oryx Blog.
  25. ^ Mitzer, Stijn; Oliemans, Joost (6 March 2021). "Qatar's Purchase of BP-12A SRBMs: A Guppy Sprouts Teeth". Oryx Blog.
  26. ^ Cooper, Tom; Grandolini, Albert; Fontanellaz, Adrien (2019). Showdown in Western Sahara, Volume 2: Air Warfare Over the Last African Colony, 1975-1991. Warwick, UK: Helion & Company Publishing. p. 43. ISBN 978-1-912866-29-8.
  27. ^ Jones, Richard D.; Ness, Leland S., eds. (January 27, 2009). Jane's Infantry Weapons 2009/2010 (35th ed.). Coulsdon: Jane's Information Group. ISBN 978-0-7106-2869-5.
  28. ^ Mitzer, Stijn; Oliemans, Joost (20 September 2015). "The Oryx Handbook of Pre-war Yemeni Fighting Vehicles". Oryx.

External linksEdit