Monday, 29 May 2017

KwK 43 and the Schmalturm

Fantasizing about what might have been if the war in Europe continued past May of 1945 is not just a widespread hobby, but a profitable business. One of the vehicles frequently depicted laying waste to hordes of Allied tanks is the Panzerkampfwagen Panther mit 8,8 cm L/71 KwK 43, combining the firepower of a heavy tank and the mobility of a slightly less heavy tank. Yuri Pasholok wrote previously about how the gun, while technically fiting in the Schmalturm turret, didn't make the crew's life particularly pleasant. Let's take a look at a blueprint.

Saturday, 27 May 2017

Renault NC: Destined for Export

The Renault FT ended up being not only the best tank of WWI, but the most numerous one. Its production continued after the end of the war, and 3728 tanks were built by 1921. Meanwhile, the French army was no longer satisfied with the Renault FT. Even the infantry, which inherited the tank, was not thrilled with a vehicle that had a top speed of 3 kph off-road. To replace this "pensioner", Renault designed a new tank called the Renault NC. Why were foreign armies more interested in this tank than the French?

Friday, 26 May 2017

Char B in German Service

The mistake of choosing a "battle tank" (Char de bataille) as a main tank became obvious during the campaign in France in May-June of 1940. The French tank industry did not manage to shift its gears for war. As a result, by the time the German invasion began, the availability of Char B1 bis tanks was far from what was planned. In addition, some French tanks were lost to either technical problems or because of poor supplies of fuel and ammunition. Many of them fell into German hands. How did the German army use the Char B1 and vehicles on its chassis?

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Leopard Tracks

While the West seems to have had a very foggy idea of what Soviet tanks were like during the Cold War, Soviet tank designers enjoyed a more accurate picture of their competitors. For example, here is a very thorough analysis of the tracks of Leopard 1 and 2 tanks.

Fig. 1: Leopard-1 tank track
1 - track link, 2 - track pin, 3 - track tooth, 4 - spring ring. 5 - pad, 6 - rubber shock absorber, 7 - supporting plate, 8 - directing plate, 9 - rubber pad, 10 - bracket. A-A and B-B cutaways are turned.

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

T-40 Tank Destroyer

"To the Deputy Chair of the Council of Defense of the USSR, comrade Voznesenskiy

SNK and VKP(b) decree #1749-756ss issued on June 25th, 1941, removes the T-40 tank and Komsomolets tractor from production as of August 1st, 1941.

GAU is sending Military Engineer 1st Class comrade Komarov and GABTU is sending Military Engineer 3rd Class comrade Kulikov to perform one-day trials of the experimental ZIS-2 SPG on the Komsomolets tractor chassis and investigation of a ZIS-2 SPG on the T-40 tank chassis on July 10th, 1941.

A conclusion regarding restarting production of the Komsomolets tractor or T-40 tank for ZIS-2 SPG production will be ready depending on the results of the trials on July 14th, 1941.

GAU Chief, Colonel-General of Artillery, Yakovlev
GABTU Chief, Lieutenant-General of the Tank Forces, Fedorenko"

CAMD RF 38-11355-10

Monday, 22 May 2017

Svetlana Death Ray

"USSR - People's Commissariat of Aircraft Production
Factory #454
#44917
Kuybishev
July 26th, 1941

Report

Introduction

About three months ago, during a conversation with Doctor of Technical Sciences, G.I. Babat, who was working at the "Svetlana" factory in Leningrad, comrade Babat and I decided on boundaries to a solution to the issue of an effective offensive death ray.

Saturday, 20 May 2017

Light Tank M3A3: American Emigrant

The American Light Tank M3A1 turned out to be a strange tank. On one hand, it had several superior characteristics to its predecessor, the Light Tank M3. Some elements of the design were a definite step forward. For example, the Americans began to use welding to assemble it. On the other hand, some design decisions reduced its battle worthiness. The tank became cramped and uncomfortable for the turret crew. It's not surprising that another modernization quickly followed, which led to the most perfect form of the Light Tank M3 family: the Light Tank M3A3: a tank produced in large amounts, but almost ignored by the US Army.

Friday, 19 May 2017

Hellcat: Highway Tank Destroyer

The 76 mm Gun Motor Carriage M18, more commonly known as the Hellcat, is one of the best known American wartime tank destroyers. With a powerful 76 mm gun and high mobility, the vehicle was an effective anti-tank measure. A number of sources mention that several Hellcats ended up in the USSR, but that is usually all information that is offered. This is not surprising, since, unlike the GMC M10, which was accepted into service, the M18 never made it past trials. More precisely, the USSR received the pre-production prototypes, indexed Gun Motor Carriage T70. What was the fate of these vehicles?

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

ZIS-30 Production Plans

"Decree of the People's Council of Defense of the USSR

Contents: On the production of the 57 mm ZIS-2 gun on the Komsomolets tractor, on the production of 76 mm mod. 1939 (USV) guns on the ZIS-2 mount
  1. People's Commissar of Armament, comrade Ustinov, and the GAU Chief, General-Colonel of Artillery, comrade Yakovlev, must test the 57 mm ZIS-2 SPG on the Komsomolets tractor chassis designed by Stalin factory #92 within 5 days at the Sofrino proving grounds.

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Phantom French Tanks

As you've seen many times on this blog, foreign intelligence can have some rather amusing turns. However, after fighting a war for 6 years you'd think that the German "Department for Study of Western Foreign Armies" would have a better idea about who they are fighting than... this:


"Tanks:

Old French tanks are so obsolete that they can only be used for training. It is necessary to completely refresh their tank fleet.

The Americans supplied the French with light, medium, and heavy tanks, although there was no information on heavy tanks until January of 1945. "General Sherman" and "General Les" (or something like that) are types of American tanks. Light tanks weigh 18 tons, medium tanks about 30 tons.

Armament: 10 cm guns, medium tanks had, if I'm not mistaken, 12 or even 12.4 cm guns.

I don't remember the amount of tanks the French had, but I think they had about 80 tanks."

CAMD RF 500-12480-31

Monday, 15 May 2017

Artillery Committee Conclusions on the SG-122

"April 6th, 1942

Conclusions

On the draft project of the 122 mm SPG called "122-SG"

1. Contents of the project

The GAU Artillery Committee received a draft project of a 122 mm howitzer on the chassis of a captured StuG from the OKB-16 independent design group. The proposal was met with a question (letter #537868, March 17th, 1942) regarding the utility of replacing the German 75 mm gun with a domestic 122 mm M-30 mod. 1938 howitzer.

The NKV Technical Council had a positive reaction towards this proposal and offered the OKB-16 independent design group, led by comrade E.V. Sinilshikov, to execute the project.

Saturday, 13 May 2017

Steel Chimeras of the Red Army

Scientific and technical progress has always been on the other side of the coin from war. Aiming to obtain instant superiority over the enemy, people who have never thought about the subject were as determined as those whose job was weapons design. In the years of the Great Patriotic War, self-taught designers earnestly believed that their tank or armoured cars can radically alter the course of the war. These designs remained on paper for obvious reasons, but accurately represent the spirit of their time.

The human mind does not stand still in a critical time, but invents curious designs. Most of these ideas do not even reach paper, but there are those who go even further and send their projects to ministries and directorates that, according to the inventor, should take interest in their creation. These people are motivated by many reasons, which are outside of the scope of this article.

The torrent of proposals during the Great Patriotic War was vast, and, following the principle of quality from quantity, some inventions were useful. Each commissariat and directorate had its own department of inventions, which reviewed the project and evaluated it. The Main Automotive and Armoured Directorate of the Red Army (GABTU KA) was no exception. Here is a small portion of the projects reviewed by the GABTU in the years of the GPW. Some are absurd, some are feasible, and some were ahead of their time.

Friday, 12 May 2017

Imagination Versus Hitler

As practice shows, the temptation to make up your own tank is great. Sadly (or thankfully), few people are destined to become tank designers. Here is where limitless human imagination steps in to create more "improved" or completely fictional projects than there were real tanks made.

Most of these made up tanks and SPGs belong to Germany. This is not surprising, since German dreams of Wunderwaffen firmly lodged themselves in people's heads. However, a lot of made up tanks were "invented" for Germany's enemies. There are a few of these vehicles in World of Tanks, but this article is not only dedicated to them. There were plenty of authors around the world, including during the war. Of course, some of these tanks were only partially fictional.

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Hellcat Mobility Trials

" Table #5

Speed in kph
Braking distance in m
Time to brake in sec
8
0.5
0.6
16
3.4
1.4
24
7.65
2.8
32
14.4
5.7
40
30.1
9.4

When driving at 50 kph, the SPG drifts to the side when brakes are suddenly applied. When the brakes are applied gradually the SPG does not drift, but the braking distance is very long (70-80 meters).

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

ZIS-6 Characteristics

"To the Director of the Kirov Factory, comrade Zaltsmann,
GABTU Chief, Lieutenant-General of the Tank Forces, comrade Fedorenko

On the issue of installing the ZIS-6 into the KV-3 tank

We accompany the design for installing the ZIS-6 gun into the KV-3 tank with the following characteristics:
  1. Muzzle velocity: 800 m/s
  2. Recoil resistance: 20,000 kg
  3. Mass of the recoiling parts: 1600 kg
  4. Mass of the oscillating part with the gun mantlet: 2600 kg
  5. Recoil length: 640 +/- 40 mm
  6. Ammunition: one piece
  7. Breech: semiautomatic
  8. Coaxial DT machinegun
  9. The horizontal range of the gun is from +20 degrees to - 5 degrees.
  10. The recoil mechanisms allow firing from +40 degrees to -15 degrees.
  11. The gun will have a fume extractor.
  12. The length of a shell casing is 625 mm.
  13. The length of the full round (HE) is about 1200 mm.
  14. The initial pressure in the recoil brake is 50 atm.
  15. The TD telescopic sight is installed.
  16. The armour layout will be of the same type as in existing KV turrets.
  17. The experimental prototype of the gun will be tested in the KV-2 tank turret.

Monday, 8 May 2017

Cheating at Statistics 20: Precision at Pechenegi

The alleged long-range supremacy of German weapons is a common trope in popular history. The dreaded "Flak 88" sets up on a hill and fires at hordes of incoming T-34s or Shermans, racking up a large amount of kills despite being hard to hide and having limited range in practice. I already picked apart claims of these guns excelling at 3500 meters, but Forczyk brings even more impressive claims by the SS-men for us.

"...the rest of Koptsov's 15th Tank Corps reached Pechenegi on 4 February and was shocked to find that elements of the SS-Panzergrenadier-Division Liebstandarte Adolf Hitler (LSSAH) were already defending the heights on the far side of the Northern Donets.
...
The Germans emplaced a few 8.8cm Flak guns on the heights and they were able to engage Koptsov's tanks at distances up to 6,000 meters and succeeded in setting nine tanks on fire."

Nine tanks knocked out at ten times the recommended engagement range? Sounds fishy. Let's take a closer look at what was happening at the banks of the Donets on that day. 

Saturday, 6 May 2017

Pz.Kpfw.38(t): Prize from Bohemia

The LT vz. 38, the best Czechoslovakian inter-war tank, is more famous under another name, since it attained fame in another army. Indexed Pz.Kpfw.38(t) in the Wehrmacht, this tank became a symbol of Blitzkrieg, fighting in the advance guard of the German tank units. In the spring of 1940, tanks built in Prague smashed British and French vehicles who failed to come to Czechoslovakia's aid two years prior.

Friday, 5 May 2017

LT vz. 38: Bestseller from Prague

After the victory in the light tank tender for the Czechoslovakian army, CKD received a contract to build its P-II tank, adopted by the army under the index LT vz. 34. Another tender was declared soon after, which resulted in disappointment for CKD. The military did not like the light P-II-a tank. This time, Skoda celebrated victory, whose S-II tank was adopted as the LT vz. 35. However, CKD still managed to grab half of the contract for building the LT vz. 35.

In parallel, the company was working on tanks for export, where it saw much greater success. The work on export tanks led to the LT vz. 38, Czechoslovakia's best pre-war tank. CKD's creation became the most numerous and widely known Czechoslovakian tank. Nevertheless, it appeared far too late to help its own country's army.

Thursday, 4 May 2017

Sherman Infantry

I previously presented an instruction manual regarding how many infantrymen got to ride on one tank. In it, the Soviets only fit 6 men on a Sherman. Seems like the Americans came to the same conclusions.


Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Improved Gearbox

"To comrade V.M. Molotov

On the timeline of producing improved T-34 components at the Kirov factory

In connection with the increased production of T-34 tanks and start of their production at the Kirov factory, it is necessary to make decisions regarding starting production with improved components (5-speed gearbox, improved idler, turret with a commander's cupola) before the deadline given by GOKO decree #1879ss (June 5th, 1942).

The most complicated of these components, the gearbox, went through 1700 km trials in June flawlessly in addition to 2000 km of trials last year.

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

100 mm Tank Gun, First Attempt

"To the director of the Kirov factory, Leningrad, in response to letter #838s sent on January 31st, 1941
CC: GAU UVNA Military Representative at the Kirov factory
NKTM Military Department Chief
March 13th, 1941

Having examined these projects developed at the Kirov factory under its own initiative:
  • 412-1V, 100 mm tank gun, and
  • 412-2V, 107 mm tank gun
the GAU UVNA has come to the conclusion that:
  1. Both guns are equivalent and modern, both in their ballistics and armour penetration.
  2. Out of the two presented variants, the 412-1V is not recommended for production, because:

Monday, 1 May 2017

Anti-Tiger Manual

I posted a brief manual on dealing with Tiger tanks in my post on anti-tank manuals, but here is an extended version.


"The most vulnerable and easily damaged places of a German T-VI tank and methods of combat against it."

The left side of this sheet of the pamphlet is from the back of the book, where the methods of knocking out the tank are illustrated. "Hit the wheels with an anti-tank grenade, and the tank will stop!"