Saturday, 21 October 2017

Pz.Kpfw. Löwe: The German Lion

During the Third Reich, the German tank building school was defined, in part, by monsters such as the Maus and E-100. However, the German system of armament from the 1930s had no superheavy monsters like these, and no heavy tanks at all. In the second half of the 1930s, the plan was to have two types of light tanks and two types of medium tanks. How did Germany end up with monsters like the Pz.Kpfw. Löwe, and how were they developed?

Thursday, 19 October 2017

Full Auto SVT

"Conclusions on the proving ground trials of 7.62 mm automatic rifles, converted from semi-automatic rifles, with 10-15 round magazines showed that:
  1. Groups at 100 meters when firing in bursts increase by 3-3.5 times.
    At 300 meters, only 25-30% of the bullets strike a 3x3 meter target.
    At 500 meters, up to 30% of the bullets strike a 3.5-4 meter target.
    While shooting with a 15 round magazine, grouping gets worse, and it is difficult to fire while prone due to the protruding magazine.
  2. When shooting at targets, only the first bullet hits.
  3. The ability to aim is limited to 50 shots over the span of one minute. After that, the barrel overheats, and a mirage effect is achieved, which impedes aiming.
  4. The automatic rifle jams:
    1. With thick grease: 2-4% of the time
    2. With dry parts: 12-14%
    3. In dusty conditions: 14-50%
    4. While aiming up or down: 8-12%
  5. The barrel life is 6000 rounds when firing 50 rounds per minute, after which the rifle was allowed to cool. Continuous fire brings the life down to 150-200 rounds.
As a result of trials, it was concluded that:
  1. Is is not viable to create an automatic rifle from a semi-automatic one by modifying the trigger group.
  2. It is only possible to aim with such an automatic rifle when using a thickened barrel and lightened bipod.
  3. When converting a semi-automatic rifle to fully automatic by only modifying the trigger group, its combat usefulness decreases to less than that of a submachinegun.
  1. Due to the decreased combat usefulness, conversion of a semi-automatic rifle to a fully automatic one is not rational.
  2. In order to reach required density of fire with a high probability of hitting the target, it is better to use submachineguns, which have the advantages of simpler production, higher reliability, compactness, high magazine capacity, larger stocks of ammunition, etc."

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Pak 43 Problems, Round 2

Issues with the size and weight of the Pak 43 came up before. The slightly smaller and lighter Pak 43/41 had the same issues.

"Use of 88 mm Pak 43/41 (towed) during mobile combat operations

Data in instruction 18/9 issued on June 27th, 1943, "directions on applying and using the 88 mm Pak 43/41 (towed) can only be used on stabilized sections of the front, and proved themselves in this respect.

On the other hand, experience in recent battles shows that the weapons are only of limited usefulness in mobile warfare, and one should not follow the aforementioned instructions.

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Improved Tractor

"To the Chief of the 3rd Departmetn of the GAU UMT
Engineer-Major comrade Bozilenko

On the issue of trials of the ATZ-3T tractor

I inform you in this letter that the ATZ-3T tractor, designed and assembled at the ATZ on the 1TA tractor base was subjected to factory trials and drove for 400 km along various roads and mountain terrain. The tractor was assembled by means of mounting new components on an altered chassis of a prior experimental tractor. The gearbox and other transmission mechanisms, suspension, and other components were taken from an existing tractor without changed, and had already worked for 700 hours. The altered components of the tractor worked well, without breakdowns or defects, and are in good condition even now.

Monday, 16 October 2017

Penetration: British Edition

On March 31st, 1944, a demonstration of various British vehicles was held at the Lulworth proving grounds in Great Britain. The usual fare of British and American tanks were accompanied by something a little more exotic.

Saturday, 14 October 2017

Schwere Feldhaubitze 18: Heavyweight Senior

The German 150 mm heavy s.F.H. 18 heavy howitzer left a mark on the history of artillery. Developed in secret, given a made up name, combining excessive weight with excellent ballistics and reliability, this gun was one of the main pillars of German artillery in WWII, and continues to fight to this day in the Syrian Civil War. How did its history begin?

Friday, 13 October 2017

Tankbüchse 41: Rifle or Cannon?

Neutral Switzerland understood the fragility of its sovereignty perfectly well during WWII. However, in case of an invasion, the Alpine confederacy expected to go down fighting. In reinforcing its country's army, the Swiss arms industry created a number of interesting weapons, which include the Tankbüchse 41.

Thursday, 12 October 2017

Hammer Time

Here are some document excerpts regarding the PTRD bolt-action anti-tank rifle, that a lot of modern milsurp collectors might feel empathy with.

"Recent reports from the fronts, regions, and armies remark on cases where Simonov and Degtyaryev ATRs do not work
Experience shows that when using PTRs in summer conditions, even when maintaining them according to section 1, there are rifles that do not extract freely. In order to continue use of the weapon, authorize soldiers to apply wooden mallets."

"Experimental PTRD from factory #74. 610 rounds were fired in various conditions, and 189 extractions (31%) had to be performed with a mallet. The report stated "This PTRD works unsatisfactorily in any conditions". Another PTRD from the factory earned the review "This PTRD works exceptionally unsatisfactorily in any conditions". Out of 275 shots, 264 needed a wooden mallet (96%).
The third PTRD managed to surpass that result. "The lifetime of the rifle was 43 shots. Every extraction needed the mallet. After extracting the 43rd casing, the bolt handle fell off."

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

How Many Roads Must a Tank Drive Down

"Order to the forces of the 2nd Guards Tank Army

The commander of the Armoured and Motorized Forces of the 1st Belorussian Front indicated in directive #1/04210 issued on December 28th, 1944, that there were cases of tanks moving along paved roads during marches, which leads to their premature destruction.

In order to prevent the ruining of paved roads by tracked vehicles, I order that:
  1. Unit and formation commanders are forbidden from moving their tanks or tractors along paved roads.
  2. My rear echelon deputy must ensure that this order is carried out and report to the Army Military Council about every instance of movement of tractors or tanks to bring the violators to justice.
Commander of the 2nd Guards Tank Army, Guards Lieutenant-General, A. Radziyevskiy
Member of the Military Council, Guards Major-General P. Latyshev
Army Chief of Staff, Guards Colonel U. Bazanov"

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

SU-122 Cost

"To UZTM Director, comrade Muzrukov
UZTM Military Representative, comrade Mitrofanov
NKTP Military Department Chief

Based on GKO decree #2559ss issued on December 2nd, 1942, you are instructed to produce and deliver products according to the attached deadlines, prices, blueprints, and technical requirements in the first quarter of 1943, totaling up to a price of 60 million rubles.

Note: the temporary cost of a SU-35 SPG for the 1st quarter, agreed upon with the NKTP, is 200,000 rubles. The cost of the cannon is not included in the price.

Monday, 9 October 2017

Cheating at Statistics 20: British Edition

The strange fact is that many people these days take German claims for gospel truth is made even stranger by the fact that skepticism was much more rampant 75 years ago.

National Defense RG 24 C-2 vol. 12305 3/REPORTS/2

To put the German claims in perspective, Soviet forces in Kerch numbered 249,800 men at their peak. According to Isayev's research, their actual losses in the spring fighting were 162,282 men, 4,646 guns and mortars, and 196 tanks. It's highly unlikely that the stragglers that continued fighting after the collapse of the front  managed to dig up thousands of tanks out of thin air. If these kind of claims aren't "greatly inflated", then I am greatly looking forward to seeing what the British thought was excessive overclaim. 

Saturday, 7 October 2017

Medium Tank M3

The American army had only a handful of medium tanks at the start of WWII. That does not mean that American designers ignored vehicles of this class. In the summer of 1939, the Medium Tank M2 entered production. Only 18 units were built, but it turned out to be the start of a new era for American tank building. The layout of its chassis became the foundation of American medium tanks. In 1940, the superior Medium Tank M2A1 was built, although it was already obsolete at the time. Based on that design, American engineers built the Medium Tank M3, the first mass produced American medium tank. The tank and its modifications only lasted in production for a year and a half, but its unusual looks made it a landmark of tank design. There are many opposing opinions about the tank, so let us approach it as neutrally as possible.

Friday, 6 October 2017

Light Tank M5: The Peak of Evolution

Rapid advances in armoured vehicles during WWII meant that even very good designs did not stay at the top for long. This was especially noticeable in American tank building. In 1939, the Light Tank M2 and Combat Car M1 were at the top of technical progress, but they were replaced with the Light Tank M3 by the time the USA entered the war in late 1941. In 1942, the Light Tank M3A1 entered production, but it did not last long as America's main light tank. At the end of 1942, the Light Tank M5 was there to replace it, the last of the descendants of the Light Tank M2.

Thursday, 5 October 2017

KV-1S Costs

"To the Director of the Kirov factory, comrade Makhonin
Regional GABTU engineer at the Kirov factory, Engineer-Lieutenant-Colonel comrade Kozyrev

Notice #B1-521
October 16th, 1942
  1. In accordance with GOKO decree #2392ss issued on October 10th, 1942, the Kirov factory must produce and deliver KV-1S and KV-8S tanks to the GABTU in the 4th quarter of 1942, in the amounts and according to deadlines outlined in the attached ledger.
    Prices, requirements, and list of equipment is given in the same ledger.
  2. The overall price of deliveries between October 1st and December 31st, 1942, according to the attached ledger, is 177,000,000 (one hundred and seventy seven million) rubles.
  3. The cost of a KV tank, 295,000 rubles, is established by USSR SNK decree #638-328ss issued on May 6th, 1942.
    The cost of a tank is determined as free-on-board at the station, including container and packaging.
  4. In all else, the conditions established in agreement #B1-081 on February 7th, 1942, remain in effect.
  5. This notice is an inseparable addendum to agreement #B1-081, signed on February 7th, 1942.
Attachment: ledger on two pages.

Deputy Chief of the GABTU, Major-General of the Tank Forces, Korobkov

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Cancellation of the SG-122

"To the State Committee of Defense, comrade V.M. Molotov
January 3rd, 1943

GOKO decree #2429ss issued on October 19th, 1942, which began domestic SPG development, also approved production of 120 SG-122 122 mm self propelled howitzers on the chassis of the captured German Artshturm at factory #592.

Factory #592, due to a lack of necessary organization, failed to complete this task, and produced only 6 SPGs, fulfilling a separate GAU order.

Monday, 2 October 2017

Lend Lease Impressions: 57 mm M1 Anti-tank Gun

"57 mm M1 Anti-tank Gun

American 57 mm M1 Anti-tank Gun

The gun has a semiautomatic vertical sliding breech, the semiautomatic mechanism is a mechanical type. The mount has split trails. The gun fires one-piece armour piercing shot (without explosive filler).

Sunday, 1 October 2017

Unlucky SPG from Mytishi

On December 2nd, 1942, GKO decree #2559ss "On organization of production of self propelled guns (SPGs) at the Uralmash factory and factory #38" was signed. It became the final point in the long history of Soviet medium SPGs, which started out as tank destroyers, but turned into assault guns in the spring of 1942. On GKO's orders, the U-35, designed by the UZTM design bureau, was put into production, even though it had not even entered trials yet. This kind of order is explained by the desperate need for these kind of vehicles in the Red Army. Interestingly, instead of Sverdlovsk, Mytishi could have become the center for medium SPG development. The SPGs designed at factory #592 were, at the very least, no worse than those designed in Sverdlovsk.

Saturday, 30 September 2017

Through Adversity to the SU-122

It was clear by the spring of 1942 that work on a medium SPG on the T-34 chassis with an 85 mm gun in a rotating turret hit a dead end. The result of this work, which started back in the summer of 1940, was the U-20, which the military considered unsatisfactory. The project didn't leave the drawing board. Later, development of Soviet SPGs took a different path. A significant influence was the study of a captured StuG III Ausf. B. Later, factory #592 built a Soviet version on its chassis, called SG-122. It was clear, however, that converting foreign vehicles was not the end.

Friday, 29 September 2017

SU-26: Blockade Long-Liver

The start of the Great Patriotic War in the summer of 1941 forced many changes onto the prospective designs of Soviet SPGs. Many branches were cancelled, and work on the ZIS-30 SPG on the Komsomolets tractor platform was urgently started. Until then, it was not considered as an SPG platform at all. However, one SPG that was designed according to pre-war plans was not only built, but mass produced. This is a vehicle best known under the name SU-26. Its real name, T-26-6, was buried deep in the archives.

Thursday, 28 September 2017

Cromwell Production Intel

"Report on production of Cromwell tanks

Based on existing information, we can estimate the rate of production of Cromwell tanks.

Cromwell tanks have been built in three varieties since June of 1942: Cromwell, Centaur, and Cavalier. The Nuffield Organization factory group builds 500 tanks per month on average across 8 assembly plants. From the start of production, this group produced 3000 Cromwell tanks.

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Flamethower Tanks, 1940

"Report on the current and prospective equipment of tanks with flamethrowers and chemical trailers

1. Mass production

1. Purpose of KhT-130 and KhT-133 tanks:
  1. Burning out strongholds
  2. Destroying personnel
  3. Putting up smokescreens to hide movements of mechanized forces
  4. Can be used to place persistent poisonous substances
2. The following are armed with KhT-130 and KhT-133 tanks:
  1. Independent flamethrower battalions in tank regiments (27 tanks)
  2. Independent flamethrower battalions in tank brigades (51 tanks)

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

Kalashnikov vs. Schmeisser: For the Umpteenth Time

The installation of a monument to the famous Soviet and Russian arms designer, M.T. Kalashnikov, was followed by a whole chain of scandals. Recently, Yuri Pasholok pointed out an unfortunate mistake that was made by the sculptor, who placed an exploded diagram of a Sturmgewehr on the monument to the creator of the AK. All of this led back to the question that was answered for anyone who is even slightly interested in the history of small arms long ago. Nevertheless, serious flamewars broke out, so it's time to, once again, explain the differences in the two designs, and how it turned out that an unknown sergeant's gun ended up as a symbol of the USSR, which is still relevant in modern Russia.

Saturday, 23 September 2017

Light Paper SPGs

As with many other Soviet SPGs, the path to the SU-76 was not easy. Initially, the two-turreted T-26 tank would be used as the chassis for an infantry support vehicle. Later, the T-50 joined in the plans. The situation after the start of the war forced the concept of the SPG to change urgently. Instead of a light infantry support SPG, the ZIS-30 appeared, a tank destroyer on the Komsomolets tractor chassis. Designers only returned to the topic of a multipurpose SPG towards the end of 1941. The SU-12, the first production variant of the SU-76, did not come about on the first try. This article tells the story of vehicles that were dead ends, without even being produced in metal.

Friday, 22 September 2017

The Road to SU-76

The T-50 tank was considered the highest priority platform for light SPGs in the pre-war Soviet Union. However, a proposal for an SPG chassis based on the T-40 amphibious reconnaissance tank was made at a meeting on June 9th, 1941. The idea was quickly abandoned, and, a few weeks later, the USSR was too busy for the T-50 SPG. Suddenly, the first wartime light Soviet SPG turned out to be the ZIS-30, which used the chassis of the Komsomolets artillery tractor. Due to the cancellation of artillery tractors, the idea of building an SPG using T-40 components came out of retirement. The result was a small family of experimental vehicles, such as the SU-31 SPAAG and SU-32 SPG.

Thursday, 21 September 2017

Spare Barrels

It's no secret that guns have a limited lifespan. Shot out barrels have to be occasionally replaced. Aside from entire tanks, the Soviets received replacement barrels to perform repairs of foreign weapons. The table shows the number of barrels received in the denominator, the number used up in the numerator, the total in the second last column, and the surplus in the last column.

CAMD RF 38-11369-1

The items are as follows:
76 mm howitzer
76 mm gun
75 mm gun
57 mm gun
40 mm gun
37 mm gun
12.7 mm MG
7.62 mm MG
7.92 mm MG
7.7 mm MG
11.43 mm SMG

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

German Heavy Tank Intel

"To the chief of the operations department
Information #19

Description of new tanks used by the German army

According to information obtained by 10th Army HQ Reconnaissance Department, German tank units are being armed with new types of tanks:
  1. T-6 tank. Mass: up to 65 tons. Speed: 35 kph. Armament: one 88 mm cannon, one 20 mm AA gun in the rear. Four MG-42 machineguns. The tank is armoured with concrete in front and on the sides. The tank had a smokescreen device.

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

KV-3 Mulligan

"Proposal regarding the decree issued to the Kirov and Izhor factories
  1. The Kirov and Izhor factories propose a new tank instead of the KV-3 approved by USSR SNK and CC or the VKP(b) decree #548-2332ss issued on March 15th, 1941, with increased armour according to USSR SNK and CC or the VKP(b) decree #827-345ss issued on April 7th, 1941.
  2. This tank will effectively be a KV-4 tank in armament, dimensions, transmission and suspension design, engine power, and overall layout, but with thinner armour.
  3. Decree #827-345ss issued on April 7th, 1941 ordered production of KV-3 tanks in 1941 that only differed in armament and armour thickness from the KV-1 and KV-2, so that factories could produce tanks they were used to, with the aim of producing KV-4 and KV-5 tanks in 1942.
  4. I consider it reasonable to leave the KV-3 with 120 mm of armour in the front and 90 mm in the side, armed with the 76 mm ZIS-5 gun, built using KV-1 components, according to attached tactical-technical characteristics.
Chief of the Main Auto and Armour Directorate of the Red Army, Lieutenant-General of the Tank Forces, Fedorenko

Monday, 18 September 2017

Lend Lease Impressions: 37 mm M3 Anti-Tank Gun

37 mm M3 Anti-Tank Gun

"37 mm M3 Anti-Tank Gun

The gun has a vertical sliding breech without a semiautomatic mechanism. The mount has split trails, and the wheels can elevate above the ground in battle position. The wheels are equipped with pneumatic tires. The suspension is rigid. 

The following is a table of the main characteristics of the American and German 37 mm guns, as well as our 45 mm mod. 1937 gun.

Sunday, 17 September 2017

45 with a Long Nose

The history of this anti-tank gun began with work done on personal initiative in December of 1941. Before mass production and service on the front lines, the gun, indexed M-42, defeated several similar weapons in trials, including some that were easier to produce, and became the main 45 mm gun of the Red Army.

Saturday, 16 September 2017

Big Dreams, Small Chassis

Despite the difficulty with which the Soviet T-40 amphibious reconnaissance tank entered production, designers considered the platform quite promising. The T-40 chassis would be used to produce the GAZ-22 artillery tractor, which would eventually replace the Komsomolets. The fact that the T-40 was also seen as an SPG platform was less well known. Most of the designs remained on paper, but at least one was produced in a small batch.

Thursday, 14 September 2017

SMG Showdown

In December of 1941, the Soviets decided to test a bunch of SMGs. The SMGs were as follows:
"Model 1940" (PPD)
"Model 1941" (PPSh)
Bergman BMP-34 #260
Schmeisser 18/28 #77598
(They also had something called an Esti, but no ammunition for it).

"Firing of the Esti submachinegun was not performed, due to a lack of ammunition for it. 

The results of trials are attached in table 5. Average results are summarized in the following table.

Type of fire
Group center offset
Mod. 1940
Mod. 1941
Bergmann BMP-34
Schmeisser 18/28

The data shows that the best precision, either when shooting in bursts or in single fire, is achieved by the Neuhausen submachinegun.
The worst precision results were achieved by the model 1940 submachinegun."

Via Andrei Ulanov.

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Demolition Tanks

"April 5th, 1941

Tactical-technical characteristics for design and production of an explosive delivery and deployment device for the T-34
  1. The explosive delivery and deployment device for the T-34 tank is designed to demolish various bunker type fortifications, which can only be approached under the protection of armour, and destruction of anti-tank fortifications.
  2. The explosive delivery and deployment device must be removable and suitable for installation on a mass production tank, by field workshops if necessary.The following changes are allowed by the GABTU, on the condition that they do not impede the tank's function:

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Dome Turret

"Red Armyman A.A. Pimenov
Senior Lieutenant E.F. Polushkin
2nd Independent Training Automotive Regiment, Gorkiy

To the People's Commissar of Defense, comrade Stalin

Keeping in mind the important role of armoured vehicles in modern armies, with all due respect to high quality tanks used by our Red Army, which successfully smashes our enemies, the fact that the superiority of our equipment is only relative.

Inspired by our duty to tirelessly serve our Motherland, we, Senior Lieutenant Polushkin and Red Armyman Pimenov, based on our experience in the Patriotic war, tasked ourselves with contributing suggestions to the undertaking of the great Soviet people and their allies in the fight against the dark forces of fascist aggression. 

Lend Lease Impressions: Submachineguns

"11.43 mm Thompson submachinegun M.1928

11.43 mm Thompson submachinegun 

The submachinegun has two types of magazines: 20 round box magazine and 50 round drum magazine.

Significant drawbacks of the Thompson submachinegun include its weight (4.88 kg without a magazine and 7.12 kg with a 50 round magazine) and sensitivity to low temperatures. The 11.43 mm caliber is also high, which limits the amount of ammunition that can be carried (an 11.43 mm round is almost twice as heavy as a domestic submachinegun round).

The following is a comparison of main data of the American Thompson, Reising, German mod. 38 and 40, and our 7.62 mm mod. 1941 submachinegun.

Sunday, 10 September 2017

Metamorphoses of an Amphibian Scout

An unusual modification of the T-38 can be seen in the outdoor display of the Central Museum of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation. This vehicle is distinct from its brothers: instead of one DT machinegun, its turret houses a 20 mm TNSh autocannon and a coaxial DT machinegun. Some Russian historians spread the myth that this tank was experimental. In reality, not only was this not an experimental tank, but these tanks had the chance to fight. This article will cover modifications of T-37 and T-38 amphibious tanks.

Saturday, 9 September 2017

T-37 and T-38 with ShVAK

"To OKB-15 director, comrade Shpitalniy

Kaganovich factory (Khabarovsk) plans to arm 400 T-37 and T-38 tanks with a ShVAK gun and a coaxial DT machinegun.

I ask you to take this project under your supervision and urgently send your representatives to the Kaganovich factory.

Consider that, due to the small amount of space in these vehicles, it might be necessary to replace the autocannon's belt feed with a magazine one.

GBTU TU Chief, Engineer-Colonel, Afonin
GBTU TU 4th Department Chief, Engineer-Lieutenant-Colonel, Nenarokov"

Friday, 8 September 2017

Failed "Laser" Tank

In the first half of the 20th century, the aircraft industry gathered up all technical and scientific achievements. Airplanes were the first to try out new materials, new engines, equipment, and armament. From time to time, tank designers had the chance to use something that was designed for aviators. The attempt to install the ShKAS aircraft machinegun on Soviet tanks in the mid-1930s was one such occurrence.

Thursday, 7 September 2017

SVT as a Sniper Rifle

"Description of the issue:

Proving grounds and battlefield tests of self-loading sniper rifles developed by factory #314 based on approved and prototype blueprints revealed unsatisfactory shot groups, and significant deviations of the first and second bullets from the dispersion ellipse.
Both drawbacks are caused by design flaws in the rifle and scope mount.
Attempts by the factory to improve groupings with small design proved fruitless, as reducing dispersion and preventing the 1st and 2nd bullet from deviating too much requires significant changes to the rifle and scope mount.
Since, currently, the 7.62 mm model 1891/30 sniper rifle with the PE scope is being manufactured, and a scope mount for the PU scope for the same rifle is under development, it is reasonable to cease production of 7.62 mm self-loading rifles with the PU scope, provided that proving grounds trials of the model 1891/30 rifle prove satisfactory.

Decisions of the Artillery Directorate of the Red Army:
1. Finish trials of the PU scope mount for the model 1891/30 sniper rifle no later than August 20th, 1942.
2. If results are positive, cease production of self-loading sniper rifles starting on September 1st.
3. If the self-loading sniper rifle is removed from production, increase production of model 1891/30 sniper rifles."

Via Andrei Ulanov.

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Tetrarch Overview

"Office of the Commander of the Armoured and Mechanized Forces of the North Caucasian Front
August 9th, 1943

To the GABTU BTU Chief, Engineer-Colonel Afonin

In reply to your inquiry, I report the tactical-technical characteristics of the British MK-7 tank:
  1. Full weight: 8.0 tons
  2. Main dimensions:
    1. Length: 4.0 m
    2. Width: 2.4 m
    3. Height: 2.17 m
    4. Clearance: 0.4 m

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

KV-1S Road Wheels

"Report on KV-1S Road Wheels

Kirov factory KV-1 tanks used cast road wheels with Г-shaped rims. As a part of the total requirement for weight reduction, the weight of the road wheels would be reduced by changing the shape of the rim. A T-shaped rim was selected, which gave the same robustness at less weight.

Two of the first KV-1S tanks produced at the Kirov factory, #15001 and #15002, with T-shaped road wheel rims, ribs, and round openings in the disks were provided for trials.

Monday, 4 September 2017

Tank Trailers

"Minutes of a meeting at the 5th Department of the GABTU BTU with representatives of tank units on the issue of trailers for tanks proposed by factories #592 and #112

The meeting was led by the Chief of the 5th Department of the BTU, Military Engineer 1st Class, comrade Afonin.

Afonin: We gathered representatives of tank units by order from Army Commissar 2nd Class Biryukov to discuss the proposal of engineers from factories #592 and #112 to build trailers for tank riders. [Reads proposal from factory #112 and explains technical issues connected with factory #592's proposal].

Saturday, 2 September 2017

Swedo-Polish Tank Killer

Germany invented specialized anti-tank artillery before the end of WWI. It is not surprising that German anti-tank guns became some of the best known in their class. A German gun served as the starting point for the famous Soviet 45 mm anti-tank gun. The use of the German 3.7 cm Pak in Spain triggered the development of tanks with shell-proof armour in the USSR. However, another gun gave an even more powerful impulse to the strengthening of tank armour, built in neutral Sweden. Swedish 37 mm anti-tank guns were also used in Spain, and continued serving until the end of WWII.

Friday, 1 September 2017

Trophies from Galicia

Starting with the late 1930s, testers in Kubinka began receive foreign vehicles from all corners of the world to try on for size. The first to come were trophies captured in Spain during the civil war, but the floodgates opened in 1939. The first to come was the Japanese Ha-Go tank, and Polish vehicles came after that. One of them was the TK-S tankette.

Thursday, 31 August 2017

Mosin Suppressor

"This suppressor, designed by comrades Barnas and Glinin, has a cigar-like shape (see photo #1) and consists of two parts, connected with a tread at the point of the suppressor where the diameter is the largest.

Photo #1 shows the suppressor."

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Tractor Trials

"Trials were performed from June 15th to July 10th at the GANIOP. Corps and high power artillery was used in the trials. 

During the trials, the tractors traveled:
  • TD-18 tractor, with a B-4 203 mm mod. 1931 howitzer (in armed condition): 100 km
  • TD-14 tractor: 200 km, of those:
    • With a Br-10 trailer (the barrel of a B-4 howitzer): 100 km
    • With a 152 mm mod. 1937 gun-howitzer: 100 km
  • HD-10 tractor, with a B-4 203 mm mod. 1931 howitzer (in armed condition): 100 km
  • HD-7 tractor: 225 km, of those:
    • With a 152 mm mod. 1937 gun-howitzer: 100 km
    • With a 152 mm mod. 1938 howitzer: 100 km
    • With a Br-10 trailer (the barrel of a B-4 howitzer): 25 km
  • D-6 tractor: 225 km, of those:
    • With a 152 mm mod. 1937 gun-howitzer: 100 km
    • With a 152 mm mod. 1938 howitzer: 100 km
    • With a Br-10 trailer (the barrel of a B-4 howitzer): 25 km

Monday, 28 August 2017

T-34 Turrets at Factory #112

"Overall direction of turret modernization during the war

The design of the turret was changed significantly (see fig. 143).
  1. In December of 1941, turrets 34.30sb-7 and 34.30sb-8 were cancelled, and turret 34.30sb-12 was introduced.
  2. In January of 1942, turret 34.30sb-12 was cancelled and turret 34.30sb-12-1 was introduced.
  3. In March of 1942, turret 34.30sb-12-1 was cancelled and turret 34.30sb-12 was introduced.
  4. In June of 1942, turret 34.30sb-12-12 was introduced.
This rapid change in turret likely indicated that the type of turret was unsatisfactory, and the design was only deemed satisfactory after introduction of a new turret with a commander's cupola in 1943 (see fig. 145).

Sunday, 27 August 2017

Israeli Sandwiches

When Israeli armoured vehicles are mentioned, one often thinks of Merkava tanks first. Without a doubt, these vehicles are a point of pride for Israel. However, the backbone of the Israel Defense Force (IDF) was composed of converted foreign vehicles for a very long time. The Israelis spent several decades fine tuning the art of adapting vehicles to suit their needs. Everything started with improvised armoured cars, which played an important role in the war for Israeli independence.

Friday, 25 August 2017

Necessary Improvisations

The American movie Fury, which came out in 2014, was memorable, in part, due to the unusual exterior of the tank, which effectively became one of the main characters. Even though Fury's equipment was, at best, "based on a true story", and the M4A2E8 never fought with the American army, the creators of the movie managed to capture the overall idea of field improvisations. These modifications of American tanks in Europe were a widespread phenomenon, and came about out of necessity.

Thursday, 24 August 2017

GVG Machinegun

The Red Army started WWII with two infantry machineguns: the light magazine fed handheld DP and heavy belt fed mounted Maxim. Both were quite aged designs by the time, so a replacement was considered. The GVG was one such replacement, eventually morphing beyond all recognition into the SG-43.

Photo #1. Magazine fed GVG machinegun in combat position (bipod with limiters)
Photo #2. View from the right. GVG machinegun in transport position.

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

KS-77: M-8 on T-40 Chassis

"Meeting minutes for the technical meeting on the issue of producing the first batch of the KS-77 vehicle.
Moscow, Compressor factory, October 7th, 1941

  • Factory director, M.I. Boganov
  • NKOM TO Chief, P.F. Ostapchuk
  • NKOM TO Deputy Chief, I.S. Zakharov
  • Deputy director for special production, I.A. Dorozhkin
  • Chief engineer, V.P. Barmin
  • Chief of the 1st Section, 3rd Department of the GUVMCh, Military Engineer 2nd Class, comrade Kopylov
  • Central Committee of the VKP(b) instructor, comrade Volkov
  • Military Repersentative from the GUVMCh, Military Technician 1st Class, comrade Usachev

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

SG-122 Conversion

"To the Chief of the Red Army GAU, Colonel-General comrade Yakovlev

Report on the SG-122 SPGs

In December of 1942, factory #40 produced 20 SG-122 SPGs on the chassis of German PzIII and StuG vehicles. Production was later stopped due to defects of the gun mount.

Of the overall number produced, 12 SG-122s were passed on to equip the 1435th SPG Regiment. During fighting on the Western Front, all 12 SG-122s were disabled: of them, 3 were lost irreparably and 9 need factory repairs. Out of those that need factory repairs, 6 vehicles arrived at factory #37 on February 8th, 1943.

Monday, 21 August 2017

Reliability and Repairs in the 2nd Tank Army

At the beginning of the 2nd Tank Army's offensive during the Battle of Kursk, on July 16th, the army's technical services performed an inventory of their vehicles' remaining service life.

Of those, functional
Remaining engine hours
under 50
over 200

Saturday, 19 August 2017

Marder II: Light Tank Destroyer

By the end of 1941, the Germans began to understand that the time of light tanks was over. This also applied to the PzII tank. By that time, it's main enemy was medium tanks with shellproof armour, against which the 20 mm autocannon was useless. Production of light tanks ended in Germany in the summer of 1942, but that doesn't mean that the PzII chassis was done for. Work on light SPGs on its chassis began in the spring. One of them was a tank destroyer that is best known as the Marder II.

Friday, 18 August 2017

An Aryan From Poland

The Red Army GABTU had a very vague idea about the armoured vehicles of its potential enemy at the start of World War II. The same could be said about the other members of what would become the Allies. For obvious reasons, there was very little available information about tanks made by Germany and its allies. Mainly, it could be obtained from encyclopedias, which were full of errors. The ability to properly study the foreign tanks was only possible after combat began. In this respect, the USSR was ahead of the rest of the world. The first trophies began arriving from Spain: a captured PzI Ausf. A and an Italian L3/35. In the summer of 1939, a Japanese Ha-Go tank was captured in the Far East. The list of trophies grew with the start of WWII. The German PzII Ausf. C was among them.

Thursday, 17 August 2017

Armoury of the Moscow People's Militia

In September of 1941, things weren't looking so good for the Red Army. The possibility of the German army reaching, and even taking, Moscow was on the horizon. A People's Militia was formed to defend the city if necessary. At the same time, an inventory of obsolete weapons was taken, to see what they could be equipped with if the regular army consumes all of the currently produced guns. Numbers of functional guns and those in need of repairs are given, the latter in brackets.

Any modern collector would be envious of the result:

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

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"