Air defense / Self-propelled anti-aircraft guns / M53/59


General Facts

  • TYPE
    Self-propelled anti-aircraft gun


    Praga PLDvK vz. 53/59, official Czechoslovak service name
    Ješt?rka (lizard), Czech nickname

    Mid 1950's

    Czechoslovak state arsenals

    Late 1950's - 1960's

    Czechoslovakia - Czechoslovak state arsenals

    About 400 to 500 M53/59 were produced.


    Powerful armament
    Effective against ground targets
    Low production costs
    No fire control radar
    Limited effectiveness against jet aircraft
    Poor off road performance
    Crew is exposed in firing position


The M53/59 is an early Cold War era self-propelled anti-aircraft gun of Czechoslovak origin. It was developed in the early 1950's to provide Czechoslovak forces with air defense that could keep up with mechanized forces. At the same time the Soviet ZSU-57-2 was developed, but trails indicated that the lighter and much cheaper M53/59 was just as effective.


The M53/59 is based on an armored version of the successful Praga V3S 6x6 truck. The engine is located at the front, the four man crew cabin in the middle and the flatbed with anti-aircraft gun at the rear. The turret is a modified version of the older towed M53. It differs in using large vertical 50 round magazines instead of belts. It is possible to unload the gun mount and use it on the ground.


The armament consists of two 30mm autocannon that fire large and powerful 30x210mm HEI or API round. Each gun is fed by a 50 round box and has a cyclic rate of fire of 450 to 500 rpm. The effective range is 3 km versus aerial targets and 2 km versus light armored vehicles. The towed version has similar characteristics but is fed from 10 round clips.

Fire control

The M53/59 has no radar or fire control system. Only optical gun sights are fitted. This limits its use to clear weather and daytime and makes engaging fast moving targets or targets at maximum range difficult.


The steel armor protects the crew from small arms fire and shell splinters when on the move. In the firing position the crew is fully exposed on the gun mount. Smoke grenade dischargers and NBC system are both lacking.


The Praga V3S chassis is has proven to be rugged and reliable. Due to its weight and long wheelbase the off road capabilities are limited. A Tatra 110 hp diesel engine provides propulsion and allows for a maximum road speed of 60 km/h. The maximum range is about 500 km and the M53/59 is not amphibious.


The main users of the M53/59 were Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia and their successor states. Several hundred vehicles were also exported to the Middle East. The M53/59 was used during several Middle Eastern conflicts and was actively used against ground targets in the Balkans. Nowadays the M53/59 is considered obsolete and only small numbers remain in use.



M53/59: The M53/59 is based on an armored Praga V3S 6x6 truck. A magazine loaded version of the towed M53 anti-aircraft gun was adapted and mounted on the flatbed. The guns on the M53/59 have a higher rate of fire and are fed by large 50 round magazines. A M53/70 with improved fire control was marketed for export sales but never produced.

TypeSelf-propelled anti-aircraft gun
Crew3 (commander, driver, gunner, loader)
Length6.92 m
Width2.35 m
Height2.59 m travelling, 2.95 m with magazines
Ground clearance0.4 m
Weight10.3 t combat load
Ground pressure?
WheelbaseWheeled chassis, 6x6, 3.58 + 1.12 m wheelbase, 1.87 m track, 8.25 x20 tires
Turn radius?
EngineTatra T 912-2 6-cylinder air cooled diesel, 110 hp at 2.200 rpm
Power ratio10.7 hp/t
TransmissionManual, 4 forward, 2 reverse
Speed60 km/h on road
Fuel120 L
Range500 km
Wall0.5 m
Trench0.7 m
Gradient60% gradient, 30% slope
Fording0.8 m
ArmorSteel, up to 10 mm
NBC equipmentNo
Night visionNo
Armament2x 30mm autocannon
Weapon12x 30mm autocannon on flatbed
600 to 800 rounds, 100 ready to fire
-10 to +85° elevation, powered
360° traverse, powered


M53: The M53 is a towed twin 30mm anti-aircraft gun. It was developed after World War 2 and fulfils the same role as the Soviet ZU-23. The M53 is based on a four wheel carriage that is supported by four jacks. The two 30mm autocannon are fitted to a turntable. The gun is operated by a single operator and two men standing next to the weapon supply the ammunition. The guns on the M53 are fed by 10 round clips.

  • Specifications:
  • M53
TypeTowed anti-aircraft gun
Crew1 on weapon, 3 loaders alongside
Ordnance30x210mm M53 autocannon, 2.43 m barrel (2x)
Elevation-10 to +85°, manual
Traverse360°, manual
Rate of fire450 - 500 rpm cyclic (per barrel), 100 rpm practical
Range3 km effective, 9.7 km horizontal max, 6.3 km vertical max
Carriage4 wheel carriage with two outriggers and two jacks, 1.57 m track, 0.3 m ground clearance
Weight1.75 t firing position, 2.1 t travelling
Length7.59 m (travelling)
Width1.76 m (travelling)
Height1.58 m (travelling)
Towing vehicle6x6 truck


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