The Soviet army had to wait until in 1943 to get a mobile and effective air defense in the form of the ZSU-37 AA tank. ZSU stands for Zenitnaya Samokhodnaya Ustanovka (Russian: Зенитная Самоходная Установка), meaning "anti-aircraft self-propelled mount". Armed with a 37mm gun, it could cover the sky with its explosive shells' deadly black clouds. Lightly armored, very fast and cheap to produce when it was finally developed, the ZSU-37 could drive with other tanks as a mobile air defense and then turn its guns against enemy infantry or light armored units, tearing them apart.
Soviet engineers carried out some early experiments with tracked SPAAGs before and during World War II, including a modification of the T-70 light tank, resulting in the experimental T-90 SPAAG which was armed with two 12.7 mm DShKT heavy machine guns. The T-70 light tank would eventually be further developed into the SU-76 light self-propelled gun chassis, which in turn was to become the base for the ZSU-37 SPAAG. It was decided to use the chassis of the SU-76M in order to speed up and cheapen the production of the much needed tracked and armoured SPAAGs.
The ZSU-37 was produced from March 1945 to 1948, and 75 vehicles were built in total (only a few vehicles were produced before the war ended, due to temporary manufacturing technology). As a result of its late production and the almost non-appearance of the few remaining Luftwaffe aircraft in the spring of 1945, the ZSU-37 saw no service in World War II. An experimental self-propelled anti-aircraft artillery battalion equipped with 12 ZSU-37 SPAAGs was formed by the end of 1945.
After World War II it became clear that the low rate of fire and firepower of a single 37 mm AA gun was not effective against high-speed low altitude targets. The anti-aircraft artillery crews found it difficult to manually track fast-moving targets. SPAAGs based on a light tank chassis also had quite low manœuverability in difficult terrain and low off-road speed and range in comparison with medium tanks and self propelled guns (SPG)s, which the ZSU-37 was meant to protect. The two tandem engines used on the SU-76M chassis required gasoline fuel, which was sometimes a problem in tank units equipped with diesel-engined tanks. The ZSU-37 was retired from service because of the aforementioned reasons soon after series production was stopped.
An effort was made to significantly increase the firepower by mounting the same 37 mm gun into a quad-mount on a T-34 medium tank chassis, but the vehicle never left the design stage as it was recommended by the Technical Council of the Ministry of Transport to use a newer tank chassis and the more powerful S-68 57 mm twin anti-aircraft autocannon, which was being developed at the time. The next step in Soviet tracked SPAAG technology would come with the ZSU-57-2, which was based on the T-54 medium tank chassis and was mass produced in 1957-1960.
The ZSU-37-2 Yenisei is a later, unrelated design based on the chassis of the experimental SU-100P self-propelled gun. It was armed with a twin-37 mm 500P anti-aircraft autocannon. The development of completely new radar-guided SPAAG vehicles, namely the ZSU-37-2 and the ZSU-23-4 (with two dual 23-mm guns on a PT-76 floating tank chassis) began in 1957. The promising ZSU-37-2 Yenisei competed with the ZSU-23-4 Shilka as the replacement for the ZSU-57-2 SPAAG but the planned series production of the Yenisei was rejected in 1962 in favour of the production of the Shilka. In an alternate explanation, Yenisei was supposed to take a different niche: while Shilka would cover mechanized units, 37-mm cannons effectively covered the the minimum range area of the Buk surface-to-air missile system, thus the Yenisei would cover up the system's weakness. Still, it never saw production, while the ZSU-23-4 has been exported worldwide. Recent Russian SPAAG developments combine 30-mm guns with heatseeking surface-to-air missiles.
Pros & Cons
+She is the cheapest and fastest SPAAG in the game.
+Produced from the artillery factory, she doesn't take up production on your armor factory.
+/-Although she has the lowest dps, she is the fastest and has enough armor for her task.
+/-The USSR depended on ZiS-5 trucks with quat-Maxim mounts as their SPAAGs, they are not in the game.
-Standard 37mm AA guns are more economical.
- 18 dps vs 23 dps
- 10 vs 20 + research of 25 to get production started.
This AA tank is of poorer quality compared to other AA tanks in game. Its only 37mm gun fires very slow and is only really useful in numbers of 3 or 4 units in clusters. The ZSU-37 uses the same 37mm gun as the AA 37mm, not like other mobile anti air from other countries that has their own gun.
Medium AA gun