Monday, 23 November 2020

Video: Performance of Tanks in Snow

It is often said that the Red Army effortlessly won battles in the winter because its tanks worked in the snow while the German ones didn't. I take a look at how true this statement is in my latest video, comparing wintertime performance of several Soviet, German, British, and American tanks.


Friday, 20 November 2020

Wednesday, 18 November 2020

Automatic Welding

"Order of the People's Commissar of Tank Production of the USSR #837s

Moscow
December 19th, 1942

Production using automatic welding under a layer of flux when producing armoured hulls at factory #183, UZTM, etc. proved itself as having several advantages over manual arc welding.

In addition to increased productivity, reduced electricity consumption, and the ability to use untrained workers, the high quality of the seams was proven. During proving grounds trials, they showed better resistance than welds made by hand.

Monday, 16 November 2020

Still With a Cabin

Usually one or two prototypes are built before a tank goes into production with only a few changes. However, there are exceptions. With IS series of tanks there were three of them, two of which were radically different from the final model. The similarly revolutionary T-44 evolved in a similar way. Even without significant changes in requirements,, this tank went through a series of evolutionary steps. The second variant of this vehicle was created as a result of trials held in February-March 1944. One of the main differences of the intermediate prototype was the armour. Trials showed that it was not enough to protect from the 88 mm Pak 43 L/71.

Friday, 13 November 2020

Background Check

"Name: Koshkin, Mikhail Ilyich
Year of birth: 1898
Nationality: Russian
Education: engineer-designer
Party affiliation: party member since 1919
Party offenses: none
Membership in other parties: none
Membership in oppositional or anti-party groups: none
Membership in militaries fighting against the Soviet Union: none
Foreign contacts: none
Current position: Chief Designer
Recommended by: attestation commission
Recommended for: position of chief designer

Commissions' findings:

Comrade M.I. Koshkin is descended from poor peasants. He worked at factory #183 since December 28th, 1936, starting from the position of head of design department #100, then as the head of design bureau #24. On April 1st, 1939, he was nominated for the position of the factory's Chief Designer.

Wednesday, 11 November 2020

T-34 Protection Trials

"Conclusions

Based on the trials of two T-34 hulls and turrets, the commission finds that:

  1. On the impact of cracks and hot tears around welding on shell resistance:
    1. When shells impact the area of cracking, the cracks grow negligibly. In many cases cracks do not grow.
    2. The presence of cracks or hot tears in 40 or 45 mm thick armour does not decrease robustness, but is still an undesirable defect that is caused by the quality of the armour and welding. Ilyich factory and factory #183 need to develop measures to resolve these defects.
    3. The presence of cracks and hot tears up to 20 mm deep around the weld is unacceptable as they lead to brittle damage to armour when hit. In exceptional cases parts can be permitted with singular cracks or with limited hot tears.

Monday, 9 November 2020

A Step in the Right Direction

Work on a radically new tank often results in the creation of intermediate vehicles. This exact thing happened with Soviet medium tanks in WW2. Several attempts were made to replace the T-34 with modernized vehicles. The first attempt was called T-34M, later the T-43 took a shot at the reigning champion. The results were similar: neither tank replaced the T-34. The first Soviet new generation medium tank, the T-44, travelled a long way and changed a lot before it entered production.

Friday, 6 November 2020

Extra Life 2020

Extra Life Link: 

https://www.extra-life.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=donorDrive.participant&participantID=431439

Tomorrow at 12:00 Eastern I'll be starting streaming WW2 games for the benefit of the Children's Miracle Network Hospitals through Extra Life. As an incentive, I'm matching all donations received by the Toronto Geeks team this year. 

If we raise $2000 I'll be diving back into World of Tanks after not having played for 5 years. Other games up for streaming include the newly released Partisans 1941 and well known titles. Men of War, Steel Division, and Battle Academy are on the table. Once the kids have gone to bed I'll be playing Panzermadels: Tank Dating Simulator, which I'm told is a unique experience.

Your support is appreciated, whether it's a donation or just turning in to watch! 



Warspot Article: Churchill Mk.I

After their defeat on the mainland in 1940, the British army ordered the development of a new infantry tank. As radically new designs often go, the Infantry Tank Mk.IV or Churchill had a pretty rough start. Learn about the mechanical and political issues that threatened its continued production in my latest article on Warspot.net.



Wednesday, 4 November 2020

Flamethrower Tanks

"Excerpt from the trip report to the Volkhov Front

The 502nd and 503rd Independent Tank Battalions used flamethrower tanks rarely, but the commanders and crews still praise highly the effect of flamethrowers in battle. For instance, the commissar of the 502nd ITB stated that the flamethrowers were used rarely only because the terrain got in the way and that German infantry flees in advance of the tanks to keep out of range. The effectiveness is high. When flamethrowers are used, the enemy runs from dugouts and abandons everything.

A driver of a KV-8 tank, comrade Paturnak, tells had he made only 4 shots from his flamethrower. An anti-tank gun fired at the tank, but as soon as a flamethrower burst was fired towards the gun the gun crew fled and two Germans fell down in shock and were then crushed by the tank's tracks.

The commander of the 503rd ITB, Captain Drozdov, stated that when using flamethrowers near Gontovaya Lipka the fuel did not reach the enemy positions, but they fled in panic. However, he considers it unreasonable to use flamethrowers in forested swamps.

The commander of the 507th ITB, Major Nikolayevtsev, tells that a KV-8 tank commanded by political coordinator Osatyuk fired 15 shots at infantry hidden in bushes. The infantry fled in panic. A portion of the fascists ran while on fire. One KV-8 tank used flamethrowers at night. The Germans ran in panic, tearing off burning clothes and even underwear.

The commanders of the 507th ITB reported to the 8th Army that "the flamethrowers fulfilled their mission" and later, after a description of drawbacks encountered during exercises near Kuzminka, writes that "after these drawbacks are corrected, this will be an excellent weapon to use against the enemy."

Another report to the same organization states that "the flamethrower is an excellent weapon for use against counterattacking infantry in forested swamps... practice shows that the effect on the enemy at night is terrifying. During an attack on the night of August 30th-31st near point 40.4 and in the sector of the 24th Guards Rifle Division the Germans fled in panic, throwing off their equipment and underwear".

All flamethrower battalions on the Volkhov Front mainly used KV-8 tanks. T-O34 tanks used their flamethrowers rarely."


Monday, 2 November 2020

An Overloaded Big Cat

German tank builders started producing tanks with greater characteristics than those of their competitors since late 1942. First was the Tiger Ausf.E which had no equivalent for over a year. The Panther Ausf.D debuted in the summer of 1943. This tank was even more dangerous, if only because there was more of them. As practice showed, the Panther's gun was more powerful than a Tiger's, and its upper front hull plate was impervious to 76-85 mm guns at any range. The Ferdinand heavy SPG debuted alongside it. The USSR, USA, and Great Britain had to catch up. Only Soviet tank builders ended up producing a worthy opponent with the IS-2 and ISU-152. The Tiger Ausf.B was supposed to be Germany's answer, but it never reached the status of "king of beasts" like the Tiger did. Its influence on Soviet tank building was also far lesser.

Friday, 30 October 2020

IS-7 Trials

"Commission for Government Trials according to decree of the Council of Ministers of the USSR issued on July 28th, 1948
#0306cc
September 4th, 1948
Kirov factory, Leningrad

To Acting Minister of Transport Machinebuilding of the USSR, comrade Yu.Ye. Maksarev
CC Acting Commander of the Amoured and Mechanized Forces, Colonel-General Solomatin

I report on the results of trials of tank #4 and its condition as of September 3rd, 1948.

On August 31st, 1948, after driving trials on a cobblestone highway, intensive leakage of oil from the engine block pressure plug due to gas penetration was discovered. When the engine was disassembled at the factory, the following was found: destruction of the piston and rings, deformation of the sixth left hand cylinder, high wear on the rings of the other pistons.

The destruction of the piston and rings took place due to working the engine at high head during trials that was permitted to occur by the cooling system in normal conditions and the general unrefined nature of the M-50T piston group. 

In total tank #4 travelled for 1400 km between July 25th and August 31st, 1948. The engine worked for 84 hours 30 minutes, 16 hours 40 minutes of those without load.

Wednesday, 28 October 2020

Double Tigers

 "American Embassy
American Military Mission
Moscow
USSR

September 13th, 1944

To Major General V.N. Yevstigneyev
Chief of the Department of External Affairs
People's Commissar of Defense
Moscow
USSR

Dear General Yevstigneyev,

Several weeks after the last meeting with Lieutenant General Lebedev, we learned about a number of new German tanks and SPGs. The following tanks were mentioned:

Monday, 26 October 2020

How the Wehrmacht's Diesel Stalled

All mass produced German tanks in WWII were equipped with gasoline engines. This fact resulted in a lot of myths that are being repeated to this day. How did Germany end up with a Maybach monopoly on tank engine and is it true that the navy ate up all the diesel fuel? Did German designers ever manage to create a good diesel engine?

Friday, 23 October 2020

Bunker Buster

"Top Secret
Copy #2
1st Department of Land Artillery, GAU
December 14th, 1940
#721557ss

To the Chief of the Red Army GABTU, Lieutenant General of the Tank Forces, comrade Fedorenko

The Red Army Main Artillery Directorate ordered the following types of armament at the Kirov factory for 1941:
  1. 152 mm Br-2 gun on a self propelled chassis.
    1. Experimental prototype due on April 1st.
    2. Production batch of 12 due on October 1st.
  2. 130 mm B-13 gun on a self propelled chassis.
    1. Experimental prototype due on May 1st.
    2. Production batch of 12 due on November 1st.
The GAU will sign a contract for the armament and its installation in an SPG. I ask you to order the GABTU to sign a contract with the Kirov factory to produce 2 experimental and 24 production vehicles for installation of B-13 and Br-2 guns in the specified timeframe.

Deputy Chief of the GAU, Major General Savchenko."

Wednesday, 21 October 2020

Warspot Article: Canadian Valentines

Canada is not known for its arms industry, but during WWII the nation pitched in a significant quantity of weapons. One example is the Valentine tank. 1420 units were built at the Angus Shops in Montreal, with the majority going to the Red Army. See how these Canadian tanks compared to their British counterparts in my latest article on Warspot.net.



Monday, 19 October 2020

Just Add Armour

 The caleidoscope of various vehicles based on the Heavy Tank T26E3 shows how difficult the situation was with American heavy tanks. The T26E3 was really a medium tank, especially when it came to armour. Several variants were developed to make it into a true heavy, from installing more powerful armament to a thorough modernization that resulted in the Heavy Tank T32. The simplest variant was the Heavy Tank T26E5 where the designers decided to limit themselves to thickening the tank's armour.

Friday, 16 October 2020

Warspot Article: Sherman Jumbo

 In early 1944 the Americans decided to build a heavily armoured assault tank based on the Sherman. Instead of reviving the disappointing T14 built for the British, they simply added more armout to the M4A3 chassis. The resulting tank was indexed M4A3E2 and is more commonly known as the Sherman Jumbo. It was enthusiastically received by troops, but only 250 were built. Read more about this tank in my latest article on Warspot.net.



Wednesday, 14 October 2020

Tanker's Oath

"A Socialist Obligation of soldiers, commanders, and political workers of the 1st Tank Battalion, 100th Tank Brigade

To the People's Commissar of Tank Production, comrade V.A. Malyshev

We, the soldiers, commanders, and political workers, take on the following obligations based on the directions given to us by you when you visited our battalion to take care of our vehicles with love, strike the fascists without mercy, and fight for the Guards brigade. We swear to:
  1. Carry out comrade Stalin's order #100 with honour. We will study our weapons to perfection, master the art of war, strike the fascist invaders until their annihilation.
  2. We will fight such that every crew is granted the high government honour of the Order of the Patriotic War.
  3. We will always keep our menacing tanks in full fighting order. In maintaining our expensive vehicles we swear to keep the engine running for 200 hours before medium repairs.
  4. Each T-34 crew swears to destroy at least 5 German tanks on the front lines of the Patriotic War and to receive a T-34 tank as a gift from you for every 5 German tanks destroyed.
  5. We swear to mercilessly defeat the fascist beasts in battle, to destroy their vehicles, to fight for the Guards brigade, and to honourably execute comrade Stalin's order to defeat the German fascists in 1942.
Death to German occupants!
This obligation is unanimously approved at the meeting of the 1st Tank Battalion, 100th Tank Brigade on June 9th, 1942.

Signed:
[signatures]"

Monday, 12 October 2020

The British Way: Boys and PIAT

In WWI the British created a new type of armoured vehicle: the tank. Very little attention was dedicated to the issue of anti-tank defense, as the Germans had very few analogous vehicles. However, in the interbellum period it became clear that the British infantry will have to face an enemy with a large amount of tanks, and so the issue had to be resolved.

Friday, 9 October 2020

PIAT Gunner

 "Award Order

  1. Name: Novikov, Gennadiy Vasilyevich
  2. Rank: yefreitor
  3. Position, unit: rocket gunner of the 252nd Independent Special Purpose Motorized Battalion
    is nominated for the Order of the Red Star.
  4. Year of birth: 1926
  5. Nationality: Russian
  6. Party affiliation: VLKSM
  7. Participation in the Civil War, subsequent fighting in defense of the USSR, Patriotic War: none
  8. Wounds or contusions in the Patriotic War: none
  9. In the Red Army since: August 1943
  10. Recruited by: Komsomolsk recruitment office, Ivanovo oblast
Brief and specific description of personal heroism or achievements: in the fighting from the city of Akkerman to the city of Bucharest comrade Novikov demonstrated his bravery and courage. Specifically, he destroyed 2 German tanks, 1 APC, three trucks of ammunition, and killed 12 Germans.

Commander of the 252nd OMB [signature]"

Wednesday, 7 October 2020

PIAT Review

A limited number of PIAT anti-tank grenade launchers were shipped to the USSR in 1944, but it was unclear if any of the weapons ever made it to the front line. Turns out they have, although they name they were given by Soviet troops makes tracing their path difficult. However, these weapons were found in one unit: the 252nd Independent Special Purpose Motorized Battalion. On December 2nd, 1944, the battalion reports 18 "rocket powered guns" in its possession. The battalion fought from August of 1944 to to May 9th 1945 and had little good to say about its weapons.

Monday, 5 October 2020

Big Anti-Tank Feline

 The Jagdpanther is one of the most famous German tank destroyers of WW2. Even though it was built on the chassis of the medium Panther tank, it's classified as a heavy tank destroyer. Many consider it the best German tank destroyer. The Jagdpanther combined good mobility, high protection, a powerful gun, and it had defensive armament, which is important for a tank destroyer. However, its influence is often overestimated. The vehicle was only available in large numbers by late 1944 and arrived on the Eastern Front only in January of 1945. The way these tank destroyers were used was often different from the original intention and this impacted its usefulness. Finally, the vehicle was far from the most reliable.

Friday, 2 October 2020

Video: When is the T-34 a Tank Destroyer?

A new video is up! This is a second video on my series on Soviet tank destroyers. This time I take a look at what exactly defines a tank destroyer and dispel some myths about the elusive T-34 tank armed with the 57 mm ZIS-4 gun.

You'll be pleased to know that I bought a new microphone and the quality of the audio increased dramatically since my previous recordings.


 

Wednesday, 30 September 2020

Tank Brigade Experience

"To Deputy People's Commissar of Defense, Lieutenant General Fedorenko

Experience in battle, especially the experience of the [91st Tank] Brigade between August 21st and 29th, 1942, shows that the KV tank lost its advantage over the T-34 in protection, as the same caliber of gun can penetrate both the KV and T-34. The KV has a significantly different weight and dimensions than the T-34, is less maneuverable, and is thus inferior to the T-34.

Monday, 28 September 2020

Experiments in Tankograd

"People's Commissariat of Tank Production
#1041s
February 9th, 1942

To the Deputy Chair of the Council of People's Commissars of the USSR, People's Commissar of Tank Production, V.A. Malyshev

The creation and deployment of a powerful heavy tank production center in the Urals requires the rapid organization of a design center based on the concentration of tank and engine designers already gathered here and a special experimental production base that has yet to be created.

Saturday, 26 September 2020

Bug with a Big Caliber

Germany was a leader in self propelled artillery at the start of WWII. Approaching the idea of motorized artillery from a new angle, they ended up with a wide spectrum of SPGs by the middle of the war. This also applied to self propelled howitzers, which were first used in France in 1940. Truly mass produced SPHes entered service closer to mid-1943. These were the Grille (Grasshopper), the best SPG series with the 149 mm sIG 33 howitzer.

Thursday, 24 September 2020

T-34 Variants

"Tactical-technical requirements for the T-34 "SU-34" SPG

T-34 (mass production)
T-34 lightened (SPG)
T-34 thickened
T-34M lightened (SPG)
Mass (tons)
27.5
23.5-24
25.5
28-28.5
19-20
Armament*
76 mm or 57 mm gun
85 mm gun**
57, 76, or 85 mm gun
57, 76, or 85 mm gun
Ammunition
77 rounds for the 76 mm gun

85 rounds for the 57 mm gun
45-50 rounds for the 85 mm gun
107 rounds for the 76 mm gun

110 rounds for the 57 mm gun

65-70 rounds for the 85 mm gun
Same
65-70 rounds for the 85 mm gun
Crew
4
4
5
5
5
Armour





Front
45
25-30
45
60
30
Side
45
25-30
45
60
25-30
Roof
13-16
16
20
30
16
Floor
13-16
10
20
30
16
Turret
45
25
45
60
25
All other characteristics of the tanks are the same.

* All tanks also have a machine gun for self defense.
** 85 mm gun without a turret with a limited traverse of +/-15 degrees.

Wednesday, 23 September 2020

Panther Penetration

"Maximum penetration at which the armour of the German Panther tank is destroyed
Composed according to experimental firing data.

System
Ammunition type
Maximum distance in meters at which penetration was achieved  during experimental firing
Effect
Front armour
Side armour
Upper sloped plate (90 mm)
Lower sloped plate (50-65 mm)
Gun mantlet (100 mm cast)
Turret side (45-50 mm)
Upper side (45-50 mm)
Lower side (45 mm)
45 mm gun mod. 1942
APT BR-240
-
-
-
400
300
400
Complete penetration of the turret and hull side armour.

APIT BZR-240
-
-
-
400
300
400
APCR BR-240P
-
-
-
400
300
400
57 mm gun mod. 1941
APT BR-271
-
-
-
1200
1200
1200
APIT BZR-271
-
-
-
1000
1000
1000
APT BR-271 SP
-
-
-
1200
1200
1200
APCR BR-271P
-
-
-
1200
1200
1200
76 mm regimental gun mod. 1927
HEAT BP-354A
-
-
-
600
600
600
Complete penetration of the sloped turret armour.
76 mm regimental gun mod. 1943
HEAT BP-344A
-
-
-
600
600
600
76 mm ZIS-3 mod. 1942
APT BR-350
300
300
-
1200
1200
1200
Penetrates the turret and the side of the hull.
APCR BR-350P
300
300
-
1200
1200
1200
HEAT BP-350
300
300
-
1200
1200
1200
SU-76
APIT BZR-354
300
300
-
1200
1200
1200
APCR BR-354P
300
300
-
1200
1200
1200
SU-85
APT BR-365
1000
1000
1000
1500
1500
1500
Complete penetration of various parts of the hull.
APT BR-365 SP
1000
1000
1000
1500
1500
1500
122 mm gun mod. 1938
HEAT BP-463
800
800
800
1000
1000
1000
Penetrates armour and detonate the ammunition.
KV-122
APT
1200
1200
1200
1500
1500
1500
A shot to the front destroys the tank.
152 mm gun mod. 1937
AP BP-545
800 m and closer
The front armour is penetrated.
Confirmed: Authorized representative of the Operational Department of Artillery of the 1st Belorussian Front, Colonel Levit
Confirmed: Colonel Utin"