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ShKH vz.77 Dana  
In 1976 team of designers in Konstrukta Trencin Co. in Slovakia finished work on new 152 mm self-propelled gun-howitzer. At this time weapon had several unigue features which put this gun-howitzer between small group of most modern in the world.The Czechoslovak peoples army gave to this gun-howitzer girls name Dana and type name vz.77. The ZTS Dubnica nad Vahom in Slovakia was chosen for production, where preperation for production started later on.

The base for ShKH vz.77 Dana is chassis of Tatra 815 8x8 truck.The frame is the base for three armored, hermethically closed and airconditioned cabins, which provide also protection against small arms fire and granade shells.The crew of this gun-howitzer is five men. In front cabin is position for commander and driver. The entrance is through two top hatches. The commander operates fire control panel and radiostation for contact with higher command. The turret consists of two halves, with the gun mounted in between. In the left part from the gun is gunner and loader operator, in the right part is ammunition handler. In the space between two compartments runs recoil when gun fires and there is also moving belt which removes used cartridge cases.The entrance to the left part is through side door or top hatch. The gunner is using small turning turret for observing. Inside is gun telescope and two types of gunsights. The loader operator is in charge of hydraulic semi-automatic loading conveyer for 30 charges which is located in second half of the left side. Over this conveyer is smaller ammo box for spare ammunition ( 4 granades plus 12 charges ) accessible only from space between two compartments of the turret. The right part of the turret consists of three parts. In the front part is space for personal gear of the crew. In the middle is semi-automatic conveyer with 36 pieces of granades. The loading of the granades into the conveyer is made after opening the side door, putting them into the craddles and tipping into the holder of loading conveyer. In the back part is ammunition handlers place. The access into it is by the between two compartmets of the turret, or by top hatch.The ammunition handler starts, releases and controls the function of whole semi-automatic loading system. This whole operation is done without direct contact with ammunition. The top hatch has priority for holding of anti-aircraft 12,7mm machine gun DSK vz.38/46. In the space of ammunition handler are also ammunition boxes for this machine gun and a RPG-75 anti tank rocket launcher.

The stability for gun-howitzer while firing is provided by three hydraulic support legs ( one main in the back, two smaller on the sides ). The maximum range of the gun howitzer is 18.700 meters, with special charges 20.000 meters. The loading system allows to fire four rounds in a minute. To prepare gun-howitzer for fire crew needs two minutes and to leave fire post needs no more than 60 seconds. Normally the gun howitzer carries 40 rounds of ammunition, but if necessary it can carry up to 60 rounds. In this case the location of the granades is as follows:
Main semi-automatic conveyer - 36 pieces, spare ammunition box - 4 pieces, ammunition boxes over front axles 2+2 pieces, ammunition boxes between 2nd and 3rd axle 5+5 pieces, ammunition boxes over the last axle 3+3 pieces. The charges are positioned as follows: main conveyer - 30 pieces, spare ammunition box 12 pieces, ammunition box on the right side of the engine compartment - 13 pieces, ammunition box on the left side of the engine compartment - 5 pieces. The gun-howitzer is using standart HE ( High Explosive ) shells, smoke and flare granades can be added if necessary. In a case of war conflict the gun howitzer carries also HEAT ( High Explosive Anti Tank ) shells for own protection against tanks and armored vehicles.

Air cooled V 12 turbocharged engine TATRA is located at the back of vehicle and is supplied from 500 liter tank. Two spare 20 liter jericans for oils are added as well. The crew carries personal weapons, signal pistol and handgranades for own protection.

The People's Army of Czechoslovakia (CSLA) after the beginning of production started to rearm units of 152 mm towed howitzers in artillery regiments of the combat rediness divisions, it means the 1st and 9th tank division and 2nd, 19th and 20th motorized rifle division. First Danas were obtained at the beginning of 1980 in 1st artillery regiment in Terezin, which belonged into 1st tank division. Next was 47th artillery regiment in Plzen from 19th motorized rifle division. In 1981 and 1982 it was 38th artillery regiment in Kynsperk nad Ohri from 20th motorized rifle division. In 1983 it was 8th artillery regiment in Klatovy from 2nd motorized rifle division and 362nd artillery regiment in Lesany which belonged into 9th tank division. The Danas were introduced to the public on May 9th 1980 at army parade in Prague. The CSLA had the most Danas serving in units by 31 December 1992, it was 408 pieces. After the split of Czechoslovakia into two independent states The Army of the Czech Republic ( ACR ) kept 273 pieces, the newly created Army of Slovak Republic kept 135 pieces. At this time The ACR has 209 Danas, most of them are stored in warehouses. In active duty are Danas in 13th artillery brigade in Jince. Brigade has two mixed artillery battalions ( 131st and 132nd ), the first is located together with command in Jince, second is in Pardubice, but will be relocated in to Jince as well. The Danas should stay in active duty up to 2014, due to the end of technical life expectancy.

The armory in Dubnica nad Vahom produced total of 672 pieces of Dana and they were also exported. The Army of Poland purchased 111 pieces. First of them were shipped in 1983 and Danas still serve in Polish army. The Libya purchased unknown number of Danas, but minimally 27. Extra story is service in The Army of Soviet Union which purchased 126 pieces. It was the only weapon system used by Soviet army and not constructed and produced in Soviet Union, but they were using it in limited ammounts.The contract was done in 1987-1989 and Danas were used in 211th artillery brigade of the Army Group Middle ( CGV ) located after the invasion to Czechoslovakia in August 21st 1968 in Jesenik. The brigade had by 2.2.1990 104 pieces of Danas. Another Danas were located in artillery training center in Belarussia. After the withdrawal of CGV from Czechoslovakia was the equipment of the 211th brigade relocated into Kazakhstan and after the collapse of Soviet Union stayed there. Lately 10 pieces of Danas was spotted in the hands of The Army Georgia.

By the end of 80s there was effort to modernize Danas. Few pieces were modernized and named Ondava.The gun barrel was extended for almost 2 meters,also other changes were made in weapon systems and cabins.The gunner compartment had new electronic equipment and infrared night vision.From concept of ShKH .vz 77 Dana was created new gun howitzer Zuzana, but it's another story.
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