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)
Suomi
Bergman BMP-34 #260
Schmeisser 18/28 #77598
Neuhausen
(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.

Name
Type of fire
Spread
Group center offset
R100
R50
Horizontal
Vertical
Mod. 1940
Single
24.4
8.1
+17.0
+6.2
Burst
62.0
24.8
+29.8
+2.8
Mod. 1941
Single
17.2
7.0
+16.5
-3.5
Burst
37.4
15.7
+24.3
-2.2
Suomi
Single
17.4
7.0
+12.5
+12.6
Burst
36.3
11.5
+21.0
+2.3
Bergmann BMP-34
Single
16.4
5.9
+13.4
+11.7
Burst
22.9
14.2
+16.6
+4.0
Schmeisser 18/28
Single
20.9
8.5
-13.6
-1.5
Burst
41.3
13.9
-8.8
+0.3
Neuhausen
Single
14.3
6.1
+36.9
+7.7
Burst
21.8
7.1
+25.5
+9.0

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

Present:
  • 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
Conclusions:

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.

Type
Number
Of those, functional
Remaining engine hours
under 50
50-100
150-200
over 200
T-34
276
238
-
167
71
-
T-70
109
92
-
67
25
-
T-60
17
16
-
16
-
-

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
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."