The ZSU-57 consists of a T-54 tank chassis and a rotating, open-top turret, and is relatively effective against various targets. Being designed for use against lightly-armored air targets, the ZSU-57 performs best against unarmored or lightly-armored targets. Its twin 57mm cannons will do significant damage against infantry, helicopters, and unarmored or lightly-armored ground vehicles, but are not strong enough to be effective against heavier variants of armored personnel carriers, like the M3 Bradley CFV, or against main battle tanks.
The turret has two visible seats, but strangely, it can only hold a single person. Despite this drawback, the anti-air cannon fires explosive flak shells at a steady speed, and the shells themselves have a decent power, which allows them to quickly deal with various light-armored enemy units. However, the anti-air shells are much weaker than the guided missiles fired by the SA-8 Anti-Air or M1027 Anti-Air. The open-turret also leaves the driver vulnerable to airborne attacks, as well as precise attacks by enemy infantry. The ZSU-57's aging design and insufficient firepower for heavy ground engagements means that an operator will find himself rapidly outclassed when attempting to fight enemy main battle tanks or heavy APCs in a ZSU-57.
The ZSU-57 Anti-Air is based on the Soviet ZSU-57-2 self-propelled anti-aircraft gun. Its name is derived from three things; Zenitnaya Samokhodnaya Ustanovka, Russian for "Anti-Aircraft Self-Propelled Mount", 57 refers to the bore of its main guns in millimeters, and 2 stands for its number of gun barrels. The ZSU-57-2 had the unofficial nickname of "Sparka" or "Pair" in the USSR, referencing its prominent twin cannons. Its anti-aircraft turret is placed on top of a modified T-54 main battle tank chassis.
The ZSU-57-2 was considered state-of-the-art in the 1950s when it was adopted by the USSR and its satellite states, but in modern warfare it is increasingly obsolete. The vehicle lacks search or fire-control radar, meaning it can engage visual targets only, and night firing is generally impractical. The open turret forbids use of the ZSU-57-2 in NBC (Nuclear Biological Chemical) conditions. The turret traverse is too slow for a ZSU-57-2 to effectively track and intercept modern high-speed jet aircraft, even if they are flying at low altitudes, and it cannot perform aimed fire on the move. Despite the vehicles age and these drawbacks, the ZSU-57-2 is a typically rugged, simple, and reliable Soviet design, and ZSU-57-2s remain in use in 16 nations as of 2016, including 250 in North Korea.