Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Exotic Trophies

"September 15th, 1945

To the commander of the Armoured and Mechanized Forces of the Red Army, comrade Fedorenko

I present to you brief descriptions of the "Maus" superheavy tank, a self propelled AA gun, and a "Tiger-mortar" 380 mm SPG. I report that the aforementioned vehicles, as well as an 88 mm tank destroyer, were sent to Moscow to the Kubinka Scientific Research Tank Proving Grounds.

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Stuart Commander

"Award Order
  1. Name: Karev, Yuriy Nikiforovich
  2. Rank: Major
  3. Position, unit: commander of the 258th Independent Tank Battalion, Northern Group, Transcaucasian Front
    is nominated for the Order of the Red Star.

Monday, 14 August 2017

Whose Helmet Was Better?

Comparisons of one's own weapons and equipment to the enemy's was not just a pastime of common soldiers, but of senior officers as well. Throughout the Great Patriotic War, captured equipment was thoroughly tested and studied. In our days, much attention is paid to comparisons of tanks, planes, and guns. However, it is interesting to learn about similar trials for more common, but no less important, elements of a soldier's kit. The question was simple: which helmet is better, a Soviet one or a German one? The answer came from a commission of the Main Quartermaster Directorate of the Red Army in January-February of 1943.

Saturday, 12 August 2017

Pz.Kpfw.II Ausf. F: Third Time's the Charm

There are few cases when a tank that is accepted into service is replaced by a modification that is inferior to it. In Soviet tank building, one example of this is the KV-1S, a necessary measure. It was lighter than the KV-1, and had thinner armour, but as a result of its lower mass and improved gearbox, it was a lot more reliable and mobile. The tank itself received a large number of improvements.

With the Germans, the most clear example of such a paradoxical course of action was the PzII Ausf. F. Here, the Germans returned to an older version of the PzII (Ausf. C, albeit with some improvements) than the one that was already accepted into production (Ausf. D).

Friday, 11 August 2017

Pz.Kpfw.II Ausf. D-E: Unlucky Torsion Bars

Worldwide tank building progressed rapidly in the second half of the 1930s. This can definitely be said about Germany's tank industry, which developed tank suspensions, along with everything else. Various experiments in this area led to widespread use of torsion bars. However, there is a tank in the history of Germany's tank design that was produced in large numbers, but it is rarely remembered. It ended up in a paradoxical situation where, instead of a technically superior tank, a tank with an old suspension returned into production. This was the PzII Ausf. D: a light tank that fought in its initial configuration for only a month.

Thursday, 10 August 2017

Mosin Penetration

This article was originally posted on Soviet Gun Archives.

My other blog talks a lot about how much armour a cannon can punch through, but there are many things other than steel on the battlefield. The archives of the Komsomol's youth magazine, Smena, contain a penetration table for the Mosin rifle (sadly, they do not specify which one, but I can't imagine the ballistics are too different).


Brick: 20 cm
Sand: 70 cm
Clay: 100 cm
Dirt: 140 cm
Bushes: 150 cm
Compressed snow: 350 cm
Straw: 425 cm
Loose snow: 450 cm

KV Visibility Diagram

The issue of visibility was a known sore spot in early war Soviet tanks. The commander's cupola was not a popular feature until the T-50, but it took until 1942 for such a cupola to be developed for the KV-1 and T-34 tanks. The book Tank Observation Devices documents the improvement in observation range between the KV-1 and its successor, the KV-1S.

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Leningrad Guntruck

"Decree of the Military Council of the Northern Front #53/ss
July 8th, 1941
Leningrad

Contents: tactical-technical requirements for the installation of a 45 mm gun in a half-armoured ZIS-5 truck and production of 20 such trucks at the Izhor factory.

The Military Council of the Northern Front has decreed that:

The Izhor factory must produce 20 ZIS-5 half-armoured trucks prepared for the installation of a 45 mm gun by July 13th, 1941, with the following improvements and additions:
  1. Add additional shields in front of the gun wheels to protect the crew from the front, but without limiting the gun's horizontal traverse.
  2. Add seats for the crew and ammunition racks in the truck bed.
  3. The 45 mm gun mount must allow for firing from the truck. At the same time, it must be possible to easily and quickly remove and install the gun, with removable metal stoppers underneath the mounts and a collapsible ramp for wheeling the gun into the truck bed.
  4. Install an armoured container to hold a fuel tank. The placement is up to the designer.
  5. ABTU Chief, Colonel Dementyev, must issue 20 ZIS-5 trucks for the Izhor factory within three days.
  6. The Chief of the Artillery Directorate, Major-General Sviridov, must provide 45 mm guns for the half-armoured trucks produced at the Izhor factory.
Commander of the Norther Front, Lieutenant-General Popov
Member of the Military Council of the Northern Front, Corps Commissar Klementyev
Member of the Military Council of the Northern Front, Kuznetsov"

Monday, 7 August 2017

Soviet Rear Turret Tanks

The idea of a rear fighting compartment was first implemented in several KV-4 projects. This concept was picked, for example, by K.I. Kuzmin, P.S. Tarapanin, and V.I. Tarotko, who took second place in the tender. Other engineers, for example, K. Buganov, picked that layout as well. It was explored several times more. In the spring of 1944, N.F. Shashmurin proposed a modernization of the IS-2. This tank had 5 crewmen, two of which were in the front, in the driver's compartment, and 3 were in the turret. The turret was in the rear of the hull, and the engine compartment was in the middle. The Object 705A, a competitor of the Object 260, took a similar shape. The rear fighting compartment layout was not unpopular among Soviet designers. However, each time the development stopped at the drawing board.

Saturday, 5 August 2017

Pz.Kpfw.II Ausf. c-C: At the Spearhead of Blitzkrieg

The story of the PzII tank was an unusual one. In many ways, it owes its "accidental" existence to the attempts of mounting a 20 mm autocannon in the Kleintraktor (future PzI). Due to issues with production of the Z.W. tank (future PzIII), the PzII was the most numerous front line tank for the first two years of WWII. Germany's most common tank was not even originally included in the armament plans.

Friday, 4 August 2017

Pz.Kpfw.II Ausf.a through b: An Unplanned Tank

The light PzII tank played an important role in the structure of the German tank forces. Despite the opinion born of German generals' memoirs, this was not a training tank. On the contrary: at the time of its inception, the PzII was one of the best light tanks in the world. It appeared almost by accident, but occupied a significant part of the Wehrmacht's order of battle. The PzII remained in production for five years, with some small breaks. What is the history of the PzII, and what did its first versions look like?

Thursday, 3 August 2017

Trials and Tribulations

"...execution of complete trials was impossible for the following reasons:
  1. NIPSVO does not have a T-38, for which comrade Polyubin's mount was built (feed system, ammunition racks, toolkit, etc).
  2. The provided 7.62 mm modernized tank machinegun mod. 1940 was very worn out, the logbook and toolkit were missing. By the time the shortened trials program was completed, the machinegun was inoperative.
  3. Comparison of the TP and TP-1 sight and subsequent choice of the superior model (as per your instruction) was impossible, since only the TP sight arrived."

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Bulletproof Vests

"GOKO decree #6949
November 16th, 1944
  1. Permit the NKTP to produce parts for 2000 bulletproof vests at factory #50 using 2.6 mm thick 30-35 HGSA steel.
  2. The People's Commissariat of Light Manufacturing must sew together the plates and deliver the bulletproof vests to the GBTU before November 30th, 1944.
  3. The GBTU (comrade Fedorenko) must test the bulletproof vests in the army before January 20th, 1945, and report to the GOKO with conclusions regarding the need of mass production.

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Stuart Hero

"Award Order 
  1. Name: Pavkin, Aleksandr Yakovlevich
  2. Rank: Lieutenant
  3. Position, unit: company commander in the 75th Independent Tank Battalion
    is nominated for the Order of Lenin.

Monday, 31 July 2017

KV-1 Transmission Upgrade

"Transmission for the KV tank with a preselector gearbox

Variant 1

The main clutch, gearbox, both final drives, brakes, and the lines to these components are removed. Instead, two identical Wilson type gearboxes with preselectors are installed symmetrically in the transmission compartment on each side (photo #2).

Photo #2. Transmission diagram, variant 1.

Sunday, 30 July 2017

M4A2(76)W: Emcha With a Long Hand

The Americans considered improving the firepower of the Medium Tank M4 back in September of 1941. A year later, experiments with installing the 76 mm T1 gun into the stock turret commenced. Even though the gun fit, the military was unsatisfied with this rearmament. A decision was made to equip the M4 with the turret from the Medium Tank T23, which did not enter production. This was not hard, since the turret ring diameter was the same.

Shortly before that, the M4 (known in the USSR under the nickname "Emcha") was equipped with wet ammunition racks. These modernized tanks, whose name received the suffix (76)W, went into production in January of 1944. Among them was the M4A2(76)W, the production of which began in May of 1944. The USSR received these tanks under the Lend Lease program.

Saturday, 29 July 2017

M4A2(76)W Shipment


"ACT
October 5th, 1944
Baku

We, the undersigned, Senior Assistant to the Chief of the GBTU TU Military Acceptance Department, Engineer-Captain comrade A.M. Davydov, and Technical Deputy to the Commander of the 27th Independent Training Tank Regiment, Engineer-Captain comrade Dudin, compose this act to state that the former had delivered and that the second had accepted tanks that arrived on the "Darma" on October 4th, 1944, and the "Neftedag" on October 2nd, 1944.

Friday, 28 July 2017

M24 Chaffee: Test Drive at the End of Lend Lease

Starting in the second half of 1943, the approach to sending British and American Lend Lease armoured vehicles to the USSR changed. Instead of immediate large scale shipments, the Western Allies sent a few samples of new vehicles. If the tank or SPG was satisfactory for the Soviet side, full scale shipments followed.

The first vehicle to arrive on this trial basis was the Light Tank M5A1. By that point, production of light tanks in the USSR was wrapping up, so the American novelty never made it into service. Nevertheless, the USSR received another foreign light tank. This was the Light Tank M24, the best American light tank of WWII.

Thursday, 27 July 2017

Dinger Tank

"USSR NKO
BTU HQ of the Voronezh Front
Reconnaissance Dept.
May 3rd, 1943

To the divisional HQ chief
Operational department only

Through POW interrogation, it was established that:

The German army is receiving a new "Dinger" tank. The mass is 65 tons, armament is one 100 mm cannon and two M-42 machineguns. The armour thickness (front and engine compartment) is 90 mm. The crew consists of 6 men.

This type of tank is being built in Austria, at a tank factory in Proll. Mass production began in the fall of 1942.

In addition, infantry units received a new type of anti-tank grenade. The grenade carries three magnets on the front of a round plate. The grenade is used as follows: a tank hunter attaches the grenade to the tank and pulls out the cord (the grenade is held on the tank with magnets), after which the grenade explodes.

Inform your subordinate forces of this kind of tank and anti-tank grenade, make it a priority to clarify data on the type of tank and anti-tank grenade.

Chief of the Armoured and Motorized Department of the Voronezh Front, Lieutenant-Colonel Sch[illegible]enko."

Lend Lease Truck Requirements

"People's Commissariat of External Trade, Technical and Industrial Imports
To comrade Pritvorov

When ordering trucks, keep in mind the following technical requirements that GABTU has for foreign vehicles:
  1. From the total, 70% must be two axle 4x4, 20% two axle 2x4, and 10% three axle 4x6. The cargo capacity must be 2.5-3 tons. One or two brands.
  2. All vehicles must be equipped with tools and spare parts, and have special Ground Grip type tires.

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Tanker Rations


"Report

On the supplies of Guards tank units, attached to the 64th Army by order of the Member of the State Committee of Defense of the USSR, comrade Malenkov,

As of March 6th, 1943, in days:

Monday, 24 July 2017

New Heavy Tanks, 1943

"To the Chief of the GBTU TU 6th Department, Regional Engineer at the Kirov Factory
July 5th, 1943

I report on the experimental work performed at factory #100 during June of 1943.

The most attention was paid to Objects 237 (experimental IS tank) and 239 (KV-1S tank with an IS tank turret and 85 mm gun).

Saturday, 22 July 2017

SG-122: Assault Gun on a Foreign Chassis

Work on SPGs, especially heavy ones, stopped in the USSR after the start of the Great Patriotic War. This was largely caused by the fact that the factories were busy with other orders. In addition, many factories were evacuated eastward. Only light SPGs were put into production at the start of the war, and these were largely improvised.

Meanwhile, due to the number of factories that switched from making artillery tractors to tanks, the artillery branch was forced to revisit SPGs towards the end of 1941. Experience gained in battle and a number of other factors meant that the new generation of SPGs that was built in 1942 was radically different from pre-war designs. This is especially true for medium SPGs, which became assault guns instead of tank destroyers. The SG-122 was one such SPG, built on the chassis of a captured German SPG.

Friday, 21 July 2017

Superheavy Trophy

The German superheavy Maus tank left a mark in the history of tank building. This was the heaviest tank in the world, developed as an assault tank, practically invincible to enemy fire. In many ways, its fate was the same as the fate of another giant, the French FCM 2C, which holds the title of the world's largest tank to this day. Like the French heavyweight, the German tank never saw combat. In both cases, the tanks were blown up by their own crews. Another similarity was that the tanks became the subject of a careful study.

Thursday, 20 July 2017

Br-19 152 mm Gun

"To the Chief of the 3rd Department of the USSR NKV 85 Gorkiy St
In response to #5488s and 5255s-41

CC: Factory #221 director, Stalingrad
In response to #2890s-41

CC: Chief of the 2nd Department of the GAU UVNA, 2nd NKO Building

CC: GAU Regional Military Engineer at factory #221, Stalingrad

September 2nd, 1941

RE: Br-19 system

The Br-19 152 mm gun showed satisfactory precision at proving grounds trials, and the elevation mechanism worked flawlessly.

Considering the positive results of the trials and the advantages of the Br-19 over the 152 mm Br-2 gun in its lack of balancing mechanism, I consider it possible to put the gun into production to replace the 152 mm Br-2.

In connection with this, I ask that you instruct factory #221 to develop copies of blueprints and technical documentation for the Br-19 gun and send it by November 1st, 1941, through the GAU regional engineer to the 1st Department of the GAU UVNA for approval.

GAU UVNA Chief, Colonel Sorokin
GAU UVNA Military Commissar, Regimental Commissar Kozlov
1st Department of the GAU UVNA Deputy Chief, Komarov
3rd Section of the 1st Department of the GAU UVNA Chief, Yudov"

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

T-34 with U-11

"To the director of Kalinin factory #8, comrade Fratkin, Sverdlovsk
CC: NKTP Technical Department Chief, Engineer-Colonel Ginzburg, Sadovo-Sukharevskaya 9.11.
CC: NPTK Technical Council Chair, comrade Satel, 35 Gorkiy St.
July 20th, 1942

The design sent to us for review in letter #1430s of a 122 mm U-11 howitzer in a T-34 turret, designed under the initiative of factory #8, was reviewed by the Artillery Committee of the GAU.

The design describes the installation of an experimental U-11 122 mm tank howitzer into a new T-34 tank turret, while maintaining the existing turret ring. Since the proposed fighting compartment only fits two men to service the gun, which is insufficient for the howitzer to work normally, the project is not of interest and is rejected.

Considering that the installation of this howitzer in the larger KV tank turret resulted in insufficient comfort of service and rate of fire, the development of this project is nonsensical.

In order to avoid unproductive waste of effort and resources, the Artillery Committee consider it prudent to seek approval from the GAU before projects are started.

Deputy GAU Chief and ArtKom chair, Major-General of Artillery, Hohlov
ArtKom Military Commissar, Regimental Commissar Vasiliev"


Here is the proposed design.



Monday, 17 July 2017

Experimental Guns, 1941

"Experimental works
at the Order of Lenin Molotov factory #172, 1941

According to contract #3-84 signed on March 18th, 1941, the factory is working on the following systems and parts:

1. 152 mm gun, 203 mm howitzer, and 280 mm mortar on a unified mount (M-70)

The technical project was completed in March of 1941. In August of this year, it was reviewed by the NKV Technical Council, along with a GAU representative. As a result, the factory received several directions regarding the technical project and the permission to begin development of working blueprints, which were completed to 40%, after which the factory ceased work under orders from the NKV. Until the end of the year, we did not work in this area.

According to the agreement, the factory was supposed to deliver working blueprints and the prototype by March of 1942, but it appears that the factory cannot do that.

Sunday, 16 July 2017

Small, But Fierce

One of the distinguishing characteristics of German tank building in WWII was an aim to use up obsolete vehicles, including those which used to be the backbone of the German tank force. If a German tank became obsolete, that didn't mean that it would be scrapped. Some tanks were sent to training units, other were modernized. Obsolete tanks, especially light ones, were often converted to SPGs or engineering vehicles. This was the fate that awaited the PzI, Germany's first mass produced tank, which was already obsolete at the start of WWII.

Saturday, 15 July 2017

Pz.Kpfw.I Ausf. F: Pocket Tiger

Coming up with tank ratings is a hobby of many tank experts, as well as people who consider themselves as such. As a rule, the creators try to determine the best tank. While some kind of systematic approach was developed over the years, picking out the worst tanks is usually more complicated. Often, creators of lists of the worst tanks make their choices according to no set system and end up naming a number of tanks that didn't earn such a shameful label.

If we consider the tank's characteristics, the time of its appearance on the battlefield, and combat effectiveness, then one of the worst tanks of WWII was the German Pz.Kpfw.I Ausf. F. Conceptually similar to the British Infantry Tank Mk.I, it entered service in the middle of the war, with very questionable characteristics.

Thursday, 13 July 2017

Wonder Weapons

Colonel Kurt Stressner was captured by the Red Army on January 12th, 1945. His interrogation deals with many interesting topics, but one section is probably the most interesting:

"Presence of new weapons and chemical substances

I don't know anything about new weapons, either through official channels or personally. It's possible to redesign the V-2 so that it could be used to strike targets on the front lines precisely. The V-1 is shaped like a plane and is aimed at the target along a horizontal trajectory, and hits the target very imprecisely. They say that it hits 2-3 km from the target. The V-2 has a vertical trajectory and hits 500-1000 m from the target. Time consuming calculations are required. The V-2 can strike tall objects in an area 3-4 square kilometers in size. Both of these weapons can only be used against cities, that is why they cannot be used on the Eastern Front. They say that there is also a type of weapon being developed that is based on decay of atoms. This kind of weapon is desirable, but unlikely.

The use of chemical weapons on German soil is impossible due to the small spaces on which the battles take place."

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

T-37 Modernization

"Report on the modernization of the T-37 tank
  1. After the modernization, the T-37 becomes purely a land tank.
  2. The following components are removed:
    1. Hull buoys
    2. Propeller with transmission
    3. Rudder, carrier, and drive
    4. One DT machinegun magazine rack (15 slots remain)
    5. Gunner's turning seat

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

T-37 and T-38 Applique Armour

"To the Deputy People's Commissar of Tank Production, comrade Goreglyad
CC: factory #37 director

The question of adding applique armour to T-38 and T-37 tanks during their repair and turning them into land tanks has arisen.

I ask you to instruct factory #37 to develop blueprints for applique armour for the T-38 and T-37 with calculations of change in mass and other parameters.

GABTU BTU Chief, Military Engineer 1st Class, Korobkov
GABTU BTU Military Commissar, Regimental Commissar [illegible]"

Monday, 10 July 2017

Experimental Tank Guns in 1940, part 2

We saw some Soviet pre-war prospective guns in a previous article, let's take a look at the rest of the list.

Name
Mass
Oscillating part mass
Top speed (kph)
Practical rate of fire RPM
Horizontal range
Vertical range
Max. range (km)
Muzzle velocity
m/s
Shell mass (kg)
Effect/
Notes
152 mm M-10 tank howitzer in the KV tank
53 tons
1890
Up to 20
1-2
360
-3
+12
6
436
51.07
Penetrates 90 mm of armour at 1000 m
122 mm corps gun for the KV tank
54 tons
3200
Up to 20
2-3
360
-3
+15
13
800
25.2
Penetrates 130 mm at 30 degrees at 1000 m (calculated)
85 mm SPG on T-34 chassis (tank destroyer)
26 tons
1200
Up to 40
15
360
-5
+45
17
800
9.2
Penetrates up to 88 mm at 30 degrees at 1000 m (calculated)
130 mm SPG (B-13) for the SMK
64 tons
-
Up to 20
2
6
+12
15
870
33.5
Penetrates 130 mm of armour and 40 mm of iron liner at 4400 m. Ready by September 1st, 1940.
152 mm SPG (Br-2) for the SMK
64 tons
4200
Up to 20
0.5
6
+12
13
860
51.07
Penetrates 130 mm of armour at 30 degrees at 5000 m and 150 mm of armour at 0 degrees at 1100 m. Ready by September 1st, 1940.
55-60 mm anti-tank gun
1000 kg
-
Up to 50
15
60
+25
13
At least 1000
Up to 3
Penetrates 70 mm of armour at 1000 m at 30 degrees (calculated)
76 mm anti-tank gun based on the USV or F-22
Up to 1800 kg
1200
Up to 50
15
55
+45
15
813
6.5
Penetrates 70 mm of armour at 30 degrees at 1000 m. Uses shells from the mod. 1931 AA gun. Ready by October 1st, 1940

The first entry is pretty self explanatory: this is the KV-2. By this time, 4 KV-2s have been assembled, but it has not gone into production quite yet, so it still shows up on the experimental list. The second entry is quite interesting: some kind of proto-IS-2. It's interesting to see such a powerful gun in a rotating turret so early in the war.

Next, we have something my readers should already be familiar with. The 85 mm gun on a T-34 chassis is the U-20 tank destroyer

Now here's something a little more obscure. Fans of Soviet tank history will know that the T-100, SMK, and KV faced off for the title of the Red Army's next heavy tank during the Winter War. By the summer of 1940, when this list was composed, the KV had already won. However, it seems that the SMK wasn't quite dead yet. Two SPGs, one with a 130 mm gun and one with a 152 mm gun, are still being pitched. The tank may have never moved forward, but the idea of SPGs with these guns remained. The 130 mm S-26, based on the B-13, was used in the ISU-130 SPG. The 152 mm Br-2 on a self propelled chassis was a long-lived dream of Soviet artillerymen, with several attempts, like the U-19, and S-51.

The 55-60 mm anti-tank gun is another familiar sight. This is, quite obviously, the ZIS-2. The 76 mm anti-tank gun, however, is more interesting. There were attempts to build guns for the KV (ZIS-5, first iteration) and T-34 (S-54) with the ballistics of this gun, so it's only logical that a towed version would also be made. This particular implementation looks similar to the Pak 36(r), with the existing F-22 being adapted for a more powerful round.

Sunday, 9 July 2017

Pz.Kpfw.I Ausf. C: Kniepkamp's Latecomer

Putting the PzI Ausf. B into production was the correct decision, albeit a late one. The problem wasn't only that the concept of a light tank with machineguns for armament was obsolete. The 6th Department of the Armament Directorate was disappointed in the chassis developed by Krupp's engineers overall. Even though the power to weight ratio of the PzI grew from 11.1 to 17.2 hp/ton after modernization, there was no drastic improvement in mobility. 40 kph is not what was expected with such a boost. It's not surprising that, instead of developing the PzI Ausf. B further, the German military decided to develop a completely new tank: the PzI Ausf. C.

Friday, 7 July 2017

Pz.Kpfw.I Ausf. B: All Grown Up

The creation of the PzI light tank did not come easily for German tank building. The tank was redesigned several times while still in the development stage, starting out as a 3 ton tank with a 20 mm autocannon, and ending up as a 5 ton tank, where nothing larger than a pair of MG-13 machineguns could fit into the turret. Even though the PzI entered production and became a mass produced tank, easily numbering over 1000 units, the German tank forces were not completely satisfied with its characteristics even before production began. Modernization was only a matter of time. What results did it bring?

Thursday, 6 July 2017

The Other M-30

"Technical data of the M-30 303 mm HE (chemical) rocket

Parameter
Tested variant
In production
Total weight
82 kg
76 kg
Mass of explosive (nitrol)
27 kg
21 kg
Mass of poison (Yperite)
24 kg
21 kg
Volume of explosive or poison chamber
18 L
16 L
Range
2550 m
3000 m

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

KV Tank Markings

"To the chief of the "Balance" operational department

In order to more easily control and identify fighting and transport vehicles, the Commander of the Army's Armoured Forces gave the following order:
  1. For tank units, introduce the following identification marks:
    1. 1st TC and 8th G.TBr: Rhombus
    2. 26th TC: Circle
    3. 4th TC: Square
      drawn on in white paint on the side and rear of the turret. The size of the marks is 50 cm, with a 5 cm thick outline.

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

Truck Amphibian

"Towing barges with a ZIS-5 truck

When crossing deep rivers, drivers of the Nth Front successfully used a ZIS-5 truck to tow a barge. Equipped with special wheels, the truck could easily tow 12 ton barges at a speed of 4 kph (see figure).

Monday, 3 July 2017

New Gun for the T-34

"On arming the T-34 with an 85 mm gun instead of the 76 mm F-34 gun

In order to improve the artillery armament of the T-34 tank, the State Committee of Defense decrees that:
  1. The 85 mm tank gun designed by TsAKB (comrade Grabin) is accepted into service and named "85 mm tank gun model 1944 (S-53)".
  2. T-34 tanks, starting with January of 1944, will be armed with the 85 mm tank gun model 1944 (S-53), installed with the stock turret ring, instead of the 76 mm F-34 gun.

Sunday, 2 July 2017

Howitzer KV

So called artillery tanks, or support tanks, appeared in the mid-1920s. The British pioneered the concept, equipping their Medium Tanks Mk.I and Mk.II with 94 mm howitzers. Similar tanks were also built in other countries. The USSR was no exception. The first work on artillery tanks in the USSR began in the early 1930s. The BT-7 Artillery was the best known vehicle of this type. The KV-2 can also be placed into the artillery tank category, with some leeway. The artillery tank concept was rejected by the USSR before the start of WWII. Nevertheless, the KV-9 was designed in early 1942, a tank that fully fit into the category of support tanks.

Saturday, 1 July 2017

Big Gun for a Small Turret

In June of 1940, the Red Army GABTU began working on modernizing the KV-1 heavy tank. Even though production had not yet fully began, the military already had issues with the tank. This is a fairly ordinary scenario, especially considering the fact that tank development sped up with the start of WWII. According to the GABTU, the KV-1 needed more armour and, more importantly, a more powerful gun. It's hard to argue with the latter, since the Red Army's heavy and medium tanks, KV-1 and T-34, ended up with the same gun.

Thursday, 29 June 2017

Tetrarch Delivery

"Contents: delivery of supplies to the USSR by the south route
December 27th, 1941

To: General Panfilov
CC: General Fedorenko

I received a report that the light tanks which we delivered through Persia arrived in Zanjan, where they are being transferred to Soviet authorities.

I am being told that training of Soviet personnel with these tanks will happen in Zanjan. I am also being told that an officer of the British Mission in Tbilisi is being sent to Zanjan to help.

I would like to know if everything is going well or if you have some issues that demand my attention.

Lieutenant General [signature]
British Military Mission
Moscow"

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

On the Way to the SU-122

"To factory #8 director comrade Fratkin
CC: Chairman of the NKV Technical Council, regional GAU KA engineer at factory #8, Engineer-Colonel Kascheev

RE: development of self propelled howitzers.

Regarding the issue of designing a 122 mm self propelled M-30 or U-11 howitzer on the T-34 chassis, in accordance with the NKTP, I report that:
  1. The turret platform of the T-34 tank can be extended to span the length of the hull, and the sloped sides can be placed vertically.
  2. The fuel tanks can be located in the engine compartment. As a last resort, the shape of the fuel tanks can be changed
  3. It is not permitted to change the hull of the T-34 tank or  the layout of the engine and transmission.

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

French Tanks in German Service

"Use of French Armoured Vehicles by Germany

A series of low altitude photographs of large tank parks at Gien and La Brosse gave valuable information regarding the types of French armoured vehicles in use by Germany.

Monday, 26 June 2017

Soviets vs M48 Patton

Fig. 2 Tactical diagram of complete penetration and satisfactory penetration limits when firing at an M48 tank with domestic 85 mm sharp tipped capped armour piercing shells.
Muzzle velocities higher than stock were tested at 100 meters with an increased charge.
  1. Complete penetration limit of the lower front hull.
  2. Rear plate integrity limit of the lower front hull.
  3. Complete penetration limit of the upper side of the hull.
  4. Rear plate integrity limit of the upper side of the hull.
  5. Complete penetration limit of the lower side of the hull.
  6. Rear plate integrity limit of the lower side of the hull.

Saturday, 24 June 2017

T-60 From Stalingrad

The T-34 tanks built in Stalingrad became one of the symbols for the battle there. The last tanks produced where went straight into battle from the factories, crewed by factory workers. T-60 tanks were less noticeable contributors to the breaking of the backbone of the German blitzkrieg. At the outskirts of the city, in Krasnoarmeysk, the T-60 tank remained in production at factory #264 for less than half a year. However, by volume of production, this "unplanned" factory was second only to the Molotov GAZ.

Friday, 23 June 2017

T-60 in Difficult Times

On July 20th, 1941, the State Committee of Defense (GKO) passed decree #222ss "On the production of 10 thousand light tanks". Interestingly enough, the tank that was supposed to be built did not exist even on paper. The tank, later named T-60, was designed in a little over a week. The first tanks were built in September of that year, and full fledged mass production began in October. The Molotov Gorkiy Automotive Factory (GAZ), Kharkov Tractor Factory (HTZ), and factory #37 were tasked with producing these tanks. Meanwhile, reports coming in from the front indicated that the tank was in need of modernization. What problems did the tankers reveal, and how did Soviet engineers try to solve them?