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"

Tuesday, 22 September 2020

Armour Up

"Order of the People's Commissar of Tank Production of the USSR
Moscow
July 23rd 1943

In order to achieve rapid organization and preparations for production of heavy IS tank hulls from high hardness steel, I order that:
  1. The Chief Designer of the NKTP (comrade Kotin) must rework the blueprints of the hull by August 8th of this year to allow for production from high hardness steel. The design must be suitable for mass production.

Monday, 21 September 2020

The Real Panzer '46

There is a certain group of people who are dead certain that if the Germans got lucky and held on for at least a year then they would get a second chance. The only reaction to this opinion can be a smile. These day-dreamers should understand the state of German industry and what their opponents were doing in the same fields in order to realize the potential Germany had in late 1945 and early 1946.

One of the fan favourites among the "second chance" theorists are the military vehicle projects. Allegedly, if they had the time, these could be built. The reason for this hope is that information about German military projects became available several decades earlier than Allied ones. The first information (or rather, digests) became available towards the mid-60s. This was typically not original German documents, but Allied intelligence reports, which contained a ton of mistakes. The same can be seen in Soviet reports. The first documents to be declassified were ones related to aircraft. Aviation developed at a breakneck pace, and various napkinwaffe were only interesting in the years immediately following the war. The situation with tanks was much more complicated. There were fewer of them and little information remains regarding prospective projects.

The E-50/E-75 was one of those projects. It is mentioned often, frequently as a wonder weapon that would have composed a new generation of German tanks if it was ever put into production. Yuri Pasholok wrote about it before, but it's time to revisit the topic without rose tinted glasses.

Saturday, 19 September 2020

A SPAAG for the Panzerwaffe

The result of battles in WWII was often decided by tank spearheads that cracked open defensive lines like a tin can. Combat against tanks was a priority and every possible asset was aimed against them, including aircraft. This in turn required effective AA guns that could follow tank units. The optimal solution was the installation of AA guns on tank chassis, as this solved the problem of giving the guns mobility on par with tanks. The Germans were some of the first to attack the problem of creating highly mobile SPAAGs. Work began in 1940 and the 2 cm Flak 38 auf (Sf) Pz.Kpfw. 38(t) Ausf. M (Sd.Kfz. 140), unofficially called Flakpanzer 38(t), was born in 1943.

Thursday, 17 September 2020

Bombs vs Tanks

The eternal question of aircraft vs tanks came up during the recent stream with Valeriy Zamulin about the Battle of Kursk.

"I saw an analysis I think in August-September of 1943 of using HE bombs on enemy concentrations of armoured vehicles. They specified in brackets: tanks, APCs, accompanying wheeled vehicles. It clearly said that the effectiveness of HE bombs against enemy armoured groups was rather low. Causes:
  1. The armoured groups are highly mobile. Consider this: you order the strike against tanks, point it out, the order goes through several HQs (army, front, airstrip) and by the time the airplanes  gather and arrive there is no one there. 
  2. The Germans used concealment well, like smokescreens. It was also rare for significant armoured forces to be concentrated on a narrow section of the front. If the Germans came up with an armoured group it would immediately scatter and when bombed (according to our statistics) about 5% were hit. "

Wednesday, 16 September 2020

Video: Soviet Tank Destroyers Part 1

My latest video is up. In the first part of this series, I take a look at one of the various kinds of troops known as "tank destroyers" in the Red Army.



Tuesday, 15 September 2020

The Elusive Maus

The Maus tank still inspires the imaginations of military history enthusiasts to this day, but the Allies knew nothing about it until after Germany's surrender. In my latest article on Warspot.net I take a look at how the British pieced together scraps of information from documents, interrogations, and inspections of captured materiel to discover the secret of Germany's largest tank.

The Elusive Maus



Monday, 14 September 2020

T-60 for Dummies

"Brief directions regarding the use of T-60 tanks

The T-60 tank is a highly mobile combat vehicle armed with an automatic cannon.

The past snowy winter limited the mobility of these vehicles or in some cases completely stopped them from moving. This low effectiveness in the winter does not apply to any other seasons, especially in the spring and summer.