Saturday, 28 March 2020

The First T-80

The T-70 tank, developed as a continuation of the T-60, had a large number of drawbacks, especially compared to the T-50 that was supposed to become the Red Army's main tank according to pre-war plans. Nevertheless, the T-70 evolved in two directions. A small modernization led to the T-70B. A more thorough modernization led to the T-80, the last Soviet wartime light tank that was put into mass production.

Thursday, 26 March 2020

Perfidious Albion

"People's Commissariat of Foreign Affairs
10th Department
Outgoing #4490
Received: 18:00 September 20th, 1942
Sent: 19:20 September 20th, 1942

Top Secret, copies forbidden
Specialist number: 896

To: London, Soviet envoy

Special
Top priority

To Mayskiy. You acted like a coward in your conversation with Eden about the Aerocobras.

Wednesday, 25 March 2020

Kursk Experience

"70th Army HQ
August 25th, 1943
#4025569
Active army

To the Chief of Staff of the Central Front

I attach summary #1 of the experience of the combat units and formations of the 70th Army in the offensive and defensive battles in July-August of 1943.
Attachment: the aforementioned on one sheet.

Deputy Chief of Staff of the 70th Army, Colonel Abayev

Summary #1

Experience of the combat units and formations of the 70th Army in the offensive and defensive battles in July-August of 1943.
  1. Signals detachments of army units laid telegraph and telephone cable to rifle regiment HQ level. This allowed timely installation of telegraph and telephone cables to connect units, formations, and their neighbours. In the practice preceding combat this was never done.
    The losses in personnel while performing this task were insignificant. The laying of cables proved itself.

Tuesday, 24 March 2020

Counteroffensive

"To the Commander of the South-Western Direction, Marshal of the Soviet Union, comrade Timoshenko
September 16th, 1941

I direct to you materials written by brigade commander comrade Ivanov

Member of the Military Council of the South Front, Army Commissar 1st Class, Zaporozhets"

"Ideas about the upset of further offensive of fascist forces
Maps: 2,500,000 and 1,000,000

Mistakes and weaknesses of the fascists

The enemy still considers our army to be clumsy, unable to make bold moves, unable to use trickery and deceit in operational maneuvers. He relies on our passivity and simplicity. Because of this, the fascist commanders allow:

Monday, 23 March 2020

HEAT and APCR

"USSR NKO
Main Artillery Directorate of the Red Army #11794s
ArtKom
December 18th, 1943
#800360s

To commanders of Fronts and Armies
Copy for Leningrad Front only
RE: using subcaliber and armour burning (HEAT) ammunition

With the goal of increasing the effectiveness of artillery against modern enemy tanks, the Main Artillery Directorate produces and supplies the following new types of ammunition:
  • 45 mm, 57 mm, and 76 mm subcaliber AP-tracer shot with a tungsten core
  • 76 and 122 mm armour burning (HEAT) shells with a powerful explosive charge
Subcaliber shot penetrated armour with a pointed tungsten core and is most effective at close tactical ranges as due to the shape and light weight it quickly loses speed, and therefore penetrative power.

HEAT shells penetrate the armour via a directed explosion and allow the use of guns with low muzzle velocity as effective anti-tank weapons. The effectiveness of these shells remains at long ranges.

Saturday, 21 March 2020

In Search of an Ideal Weapon

The poor results of the Heavy Tank M6 program led to a lethargy in American heavy tank development by the first half of 1944. The success of American medium tanks in North Africa led the American military to believe that they will not need heavy tanks. The summer of 1944 in Normandy proved sobering. It turned out that the Germans had new types of heavy tanks that were a tough nut to crack for American tanks and tank destroyers. As a result, development of several new heavy tanks was expedited in late July of 1944. The Heavy Tank T30 was one of them.

Thursday, 19 March 2020

"T-34-57"

Out of the many resilient myths that surround the T-34 tank, there are several that revolve around the rarest one of them all: the T-34 tank armed with the 57 mm ZIS-4 gun, specifically the four experimental tanks produced in 1943. Many sources give these tanks and their guns some kind of made up name like T-34-57 or ZIS-4M and claim that these tanks fought in "special tank company #100" from August 15th, 1943. All three of those claims are false.

Wednesday, 18 March 2020

Sherman Driver

"Award Order
  1. Name: Nikolai Dmitrievich Volnistiy
  2. Rank: Senior Sergeant
  3. Position, unit: mechanic-driver, 53rd Tank Regiment, 69th Mechanized Rifle Brigade, 9th Mechanized Corps
    is nominated for the state award of the Order of the Red Star.

Tuesday, 17 March 2020

Many Faces of the T-26

"Condition of SPGs and artillery systems on the T-26 chassis

T-26-8: 37 mm AA gun on the T-26 chassis.

According to instructions from the NKSM and tactical-technical requirements developed by the 20th department of the GAU, an experimental prototype of a 37 mm AA gun on the T-26 tank chassis was developed in July and tested.
Trials gave a positive result. Presently blueprints are being developed that include improvements requested by the ANIOP. Production of two prototypes to send to the front is being finished.
Final work on blueprints for mass production will conclude on August 25th, 1941.

Monday, 16 March 2020

T-34 Improvements

"Decree #1873ss of the State Committee of Defense
June 5th, 1942

On improvement of the T-34 tank

The State Committee of Defense decrees that the T-34 tank, having sufficient armour for a medium tank (45 mm), good power to weight ratio (18.2 hp/ton), needs improvements in gearbox mechanisms and vision. The most important task of the People's Commissariat of Tank Production and directors of tank factories that produce the T-34 is the rapid development of improved gearbox mechanisms and vision devices.

Saturday, 14 March 2020

Pershing on Steroids

The history of the American heavy tank building program during the years of WW2 is very messy. On one hand, there was a standardized Heavy Tank M6, which quickly became obsolete. On the other hand, a whole three heavy tanks were in development by the spring of 1945. The first, the Heavy Tank T28, had little resemblance to a tank. The second, the Heavy Tank T29, was the highest priority. Finally, the Heavy Tank T32, the development of which began later than all the rest, was built a year and a half earlier than the T29. Even though the tank was just an "overfed" M26 Pershing, it ended up as the best protected American classic heavy tank built in the 1940s.

Thursday, 12 March 2020

Overkill

"To commanders of tank units and armoured trains

_ July 1943

Recent fighting showed that artillerymen and tankers leave tanks alone after the first penetration during enemy tank attacks. The enemy takes advantage of this, evacuates the tanks at night or even during the day, repairs them and sends them into battle.

The Front commander orders: the army needs to reliably shoot up and burn every knocked out enemy tank to completely render it useless.

Chief of Staff of the Motorized and Armoured Forces of the 13th Army
Lieutenant Colonel Chetverikov"

Wednesday, 11 March 2020

Tanks and Air

"Orders to the 4th Tank Army #019
July 24th, 1943

The Army Commander orders that:

Friendly identification markings for aircraft consist of:
  1. For cabins of trucks and turrets of tanks: a white triangle at the top, as large as possible.
  2. Motorized rifle units mark the front line with white strips of fabric.
  3. When our aircraft are seen, immediately fire green-red flares and a burst of tracers towards the enemy.

Tuesday, 10 March 2020

Book Review: German Army Regulation on the Medium Tank Company

Most of my readers are likely aware of the YouTube channel Military History Visualized (and its audio-only companion, Military History Not Visualized). Bernhard Kast, the man behind the scenes, teamed up with another prolific historian, Christoph Bergs, who runs Military Aviation History. Together, they broke into a new genre: print. Bernhard was kind enough to send me a copy of the book to review.

Monday, 9 March 2020

Grosstraktor Amphibious Trials

"People's Commissar of Military and Naval Affairs
Chairman of the Revolutionary Military Council
K. Voroshilov
November 3rd, 1929
#05752ss
Moscow, 19 Frunze St.

To: Comrade Stalin

I attach a report on testing the amphibious properties of German tanks at Kazan. The experiments have been unsuccessful so far. Recall that although the tanks are early prototypes, the Germans spent 6-7 years on designing and building them."

Saturday, 7 March 2020

"Baby Doll", "Stovepipe", and Others

Due to the widespread use of the Faustpatrone, its name became shorthand for any German man-portable HEAT rocket launcher in the Red Army. However, German industry produced other anti-tank weapons for infantry, including those that were much more interesting and much more dangerous than the Faustpatrone.

Thursday, 5 March 2020

Sherman Tanks of the Red Army

I hinted at a big announcement in my annual status update a few days ago, and now it's official. I'm proud to announce that I'm writing another book, this time dedicated to the service of American M4 tanks in the Red Army.

Lead By Example

"Award Order
  1. Name: Ivan Mikhailovich Harlamov
  2. Rank: Junior Lieutenant
  3. Position, unit: M4A2 tank commander, 2nd tank company, 53rd Tank Regiment, 69th Mechanized Brigade of the 9th Mechanized Corps
    is nominated for the Order of the Red Star.

Tuesday, 3 March 2020

Gearing Up

"Commanders of the 5th Shock, 44th, 2nd Guards, 28th, 51st Armies

For the duration of the upcoming operation, establish the following norm for soldiers (sergeants).
  1. Rifleman
    1. Rifle: 1
    2. Ammunition: 120 rounds
    3. RGD grenades: 4
    4. Trench shovel: 1
    5. Individual medical kit
      A rifle section should have 4 RPG grenades.

Monday, 2 March 2020

Goliath Intel

"Intelligence Department of the Armoured and Motor Vehicles HQ of the Bryansk Front
August 2nd, 1943

The commander of Armoured and Motor Vehicles of the Bryansk front orders that all personnel must be familiarized with a new German anti-tank weapon: torpedo tankettes.

Some information about the torpedo tankette:

During the offensive in the Orel-Kursk direction on July 5th, 1943, the Germans used torpedo tankettes to demolish our tanks, pillboxes, dugouts, and minefields. 

According to incomplete information, a tank destroyer battalion consisting of three companies armed with torpedo tankettes was allegedly operational near Protasovo and Ponyri.