Friday, 17 September 2021

IS-4 Green Light

"State Committee of Defense Decree #5583ss
Moscow, Kremlin
April 8th, 1944

On production of experimental prototypes of a new heavy tank at the Kirov factory of the NKTP

The State Committee of Defense decrees that:

  1. The NKTP is permitted to produce two prototypes of a new heavy tank and one hull at the Kirov factory in April of 1944 and conduct trials of the tanks and penetration trials of the hull jointly with the GBTU.

Wednesday, 15 September 2021

Video: Sherman Tanks of the Red Army Q&A

A few months ago, I did an AMA on Reddit dedicated to my new book, Sherman Tanks of the Red Army. Some questions came up repeatedly, so I decided to make a video about them. Enjoy!



Monday, 13 September 2021

Armoured Confusion: Mid-war

The history of Soviet wartime armoured vehicles bore several misconceptions. There are many reasons for this. A number of myths came from a lack of information. Sometimes historians' own guesses that had little to do with reality were interpreted as fact. Unfortunately, the authors of some myths are still considered experts to this day and these exercises in fiction are still cited as fact. Initially the author planned on two articles dedicated to misconceptions about the Great Patriotic War, but there were too many misconceptions for 1942-1943, and so the second article won't be the last.

Friday, 10 September 2021

Warspot Article: Shermans at Kursk

 The M4A2 tanks began arriving in the USSR in late 1942, but for various reasons they did not see action until the summer of 1943. The Battle of Kursk was one of the first major engagements these tanks were used in. Read how well they did in my latest article on Warspot.




Wednesday, 8 September 2021

85 mm for Dummies

 Death to German occupants!

Areas of

GERMAN TANKS

vulnerable to the 85 mm gun

Directorate of the Commander of the Armoured and Mechanized Forces of the Red Army
Military publisher of the USSR NKO, Moscow, 1944

Monday, 6 September 2021

Soviet Camo that Came Too Late

The appearance of tanks on the battlefield in September of 1916 quickly forced many to reconsider some preconceived notions about their use. The first to make changes were the British, who pioneered the concept on the battlefield. The pair of wheels that aided in turning the tank was quickly dropped. There were two other important changes: one was the use of fascines and logs for crossing obstacles, the second was camouflage. WWI marked a turning point in the use of camouflage. Previously uniforms were bright and colourful, but now being hidden was very important. Camouflage was used in uniforms, artillery, and military vehicles. This did not mean that camouflage would entirely displace single tone paint schemes, but tanks were repainted soon after they were involved in their first battles. The use of camouflage decreased after the end of WWI. Most major tank building nations dropped the idea of widespread camouflage, with the exception of the French, who kept on using it. The Germans also returned to three colour camo in the late 1920s. A second wave of camouflage swept through all nations in the mid-1930s. Some tanks remained in camouflage at the start of WWII, but the Germans dropped it, moving from Feldgrau Nr.3 (don't be misled, this is actually a shade of olive green) and then black-gray RAL 70121 as the base coat.

A T-28 tank with three colour camouflage developed for the Middle Asian Military District, summer of 1939.

Friday, 3 September 2021

New Gun for the KV-2

 "To the Director of the Kirov Factory, comrade Zaltsman
CC: Chief of the GABTU, Lieutenant General of the Tank Forces, comrade Fedorenko
CC: Chief of the GAU, Colonel General of Artillery, comrade Yakovlev

Following government decree, we produced two experimental prototypes of 107 mm ZIS-6 tank guns and began mass production. According to the decree, we installed one of the two prototypes into a KV-2 tank and conducted trials, the second prototype is to be installed in a KV-3 tank.

Due to a delay in the mass production of the KV-3, we propose installing ZIS-6 guns into the KV-2 tank.

In order to reduce the time spent on developing the mount, we send out blueprints for the frame and mantlet developed by our factory for the ZIS-6 prototype.

Attachments: blueprints and specifications on 4 pages (only on the copy sent to the Kirov factory).

Factory Director Elyan
Chief Designer Grabin

July 22nd, 1941"

Via Padikovo Museum.

Wednesday, 1 September 2021

Arty Intel

 "To the Chairman of the GAU Artillery Committee, Major General of Artillery, comrade Hohlov

There are three captured weapons at army trophy warehouse #2375 (Budka Chichakovo railroad junction) belonging to the 31st Army that are of interest for study at the Artillery Committee, namely:

  1. A 57 mm anti-tank gun with a conical barrel, presumably designed according to the Gerlich principle. The barrel length is 65 calibers. The gun has a muzzle brake and split trails.

Monday, 30 August 2021

Evolution and Revolution

March 29th, 1945, was an important date for Soviet tank building. The IS-3 tank, the result of a deep modernization of the IS-2 launched in April of 1944, was accepted into service on that day. The IS-3 had a complex fate. The army did not initially want to mass produce it, although the decision to do so later proved correct. The IS-3 was the last Soviet tank to be accepted into service during the Great Patriotic War. It did not reach the battlefield, but it worked flawlessly on the ideological front. The appearance of IS-3 tanks at the Victory Parade in Berlin was a true shock for the Western Allies, and this tank remained the gold standard for a modern fighting vehicle for seven years.

Friday, 27 August 2021

Fine Vintage

 "Notice

  1. The amount of artillery systems held at warehouse #727 that are fully equipped (sans breech blocks) is as follows:
    1. 107 mm model 1877: 32 units or 8 batteries
    2. 152 mm 2 tonners: 68 units or 17 batteries
    3. 120 mm French guns: 12 units or 3 batteries
      Other systems including 127 and 152 mm British guns and 2-pood guns cannot be used as there are no shells or sights for them.

Wednesday, 25 August 2021

T-34 Experience

 "On the use of tanks in the 229th Tank Regiment of the 70th Proskurov Order of the Red Banner Order of Suvorov Order of Kutuzov 2nd class Mechanized Brigade during the Patriotic War

During the Patriotic War of 1941-1945 most of the materiel supplied to the regiment was the same in quality. In early parts of the war the regiment received T-34 tanks with the 75 mm [sic] gun. With the introduction of the T-34-85 tanks, the regiment received T-34-85 tanks until the end of the war, primarily from the Tagil factory.

Monday, 23 August 2021

Temperamental Columbina

Even though the Red Army understood the need for a light SPG even before the war, the SU-76's road to the battlefield was long and difficult. Despite popular belief he USSR's manufacturing capabilities were not as great as those of the Western Allies, who didn't need to move their factories thousands of kilometers and set up in an empty field. The front line troops would have been happy to have light tanks, SPAAGs, and tracked APCs, and captured or Lend Lease vehicles of this type were happily used. However, only the SU-76 could be had in sufficient amounts, a vehicle that received mixed impressions.

Friday, 20 August 2021

Winter Camo



 "GABTU Scientific Research Proving Grounds

Approved:
Proving Grounds Chief Colonel Romanov, December 15th, 1941

Approved
Proving Grounds Commissar, Regimental Commissar Dolgov, December 16th, 1941

Conclusions regarding experimental winter camouflage of armoured vehicles

Introduction

On orders from the GABTU, T-34, T-50, BT, T-26, and T-40 tanks were painted in winter camouflage patterns between September 19th and October 2nd, 1941. The trials were performed at the GABTU proving grounds.

The goal of the trials was to:

  1. Establish the pattern that was the most effective at breaking up the outline and shape of the tanks.
  2. Establish the shade of colours that blend together with the surroundings in winter.
  3. Develop a formula for paint that is sufficiently resilient and easy to produce.
After the pattern, colour, and formula are selected, the proving grounds will apply it to samples of all vehicles used by the Red Army. After experimental camouflage is applied, an instruction manual on winter painting will be composed and requirements will be distributed to factories.

Wednesday, 18 August 2021

New Amphibious Tank

 "January 9th, 1938
1st Department of factory #37

To the Chief of the ABTU, Corps Commander Pavlov
CC: Chief of the 8th Main Directorate of the NKOP, Brigade Engineer Sviridov

RE: engine and armour for the amphibious tank

ABTU letters #184910s dated December 11th, 1937 and #183939s dated October 26th, 1937, state that the 6-cylinder Dodge engine must be used in the amphibious tank that is under development and the armour should be made in two layers, 3+7 mm, preferably at an angle. 

Monday, 16 August 2021

Object 140: A Promising Loser

Soviet tank building appeared as one straight continuous line. The opening of the archives showed that there were many deviations from it, small and large branches leading to dead ends. The story of Nizhniy Tagil's "new medium tank" indexed Object 140 is well known today. The label "unfortunate" firmly stuck to it, given by the tank's creator himself.

Friday, 13 August 2021

85 mm Gun for the KV-1

 "Order for  the People's Commissariat of Tank Production of the USSR
Chelyabinsk
November 11th, 1941

In order to widely use artillery systems that are being mass produced at the factories of the People's Commissariat of Tank Production, design and install the M-30 system and the 85 mm AA gun into the KV tank. To do this:

  1. Director of the Izhora factory, comrade Muzrukov, must:
    1. Provide detailed blueprints for mounting the M-30 gun in the KV tank no later than November 15th and produce a prototype, install it in a turret, and send it to the Kirov factory for trials no later than December 15th.
    2. Develop a draft project for installing the 85 mm AA gun in a KV tank and send to me for approval by November 20th.
    3. When developing detailed blueprints for the M-30 and draft blueprints for the 85 mm gun use components that are already being produced by the Izhora factory wherever possible.
  2. Chief Engineer comrade Ryzhkov and Chief of the 5th Department comrade Bulyshev at the Izhora factory are responsible for the completion of this work.
  3. Chief of the Ammunition Department comrade Levshin must resolve the issue of armour piercing ammunition for the M-30 and 85 mm gun by November 20th of this year.
  4. Chief of the Ammunition Department comrade Levshin is responsible for ensuring the completion of this order.
Deputy People's Commissar of Tank Production, Kotin"

Wednesday, 11 August 2021

Friend or Foe

Soviet armoured forces never established a uniform system of tactical markings, leaving individual commanders to create their own. When it came to friend or for markings, there was an even greater variety, as they were changed often. One example is this schedule used by the 9th Army in July of 1941.

Monday, 9 August 2021

Light Turretless Artillery Tank

The first work on SPGs began in the USSR in the 1920s. They began as just projects, but prototypes began appearing in the early 1930s. The first such vehicles were built in 1931, generally light ones. Even though the results were negative, this was not a complete failure. Soviet SPGs were produced in series, although small ones, and some of them still saw battle. This also applies to the "artillery tank", the AT-1. Much was expected of it, and the vehicle was indeed quite decent, but it had one serious issue: the AT-1 ended up without a gun.

Friday, 6 August 2021

Book Review: The Assault Platoon of the Grenadier-Company

The Assault Platoon of the Grenadier-Company November 1944 German Army Pamphlet - Merkblatt 25a/16 is the second book by Bernard Kast (Military History Visualized) and Christoph Bergs (Military Aviation History). Much like their first bookThe Assault Platoon of the Grenadier-Company is a translation of a German tactical pamphlet, but on a closer look it's a lot more than that.

Wednesday, 4 August 2021

Supercharged KV

 "State Committee of Defense decree #1220ss
January 30th, 1942

On improving mobility of KV tanks

  1. The People's Commissar of Tank Production comrade Malyshev and director of the Kirov factory comrade Zaltsman must begin production and delivery in February of 1942 of KV tanks with:
    1. Altered final drive gear ratio and gear teeth count.
    2. A V-2K engine supercharged to 650 hp at 2100 RPM.
  2. The GABTU chief comrade Fedorenko and director of Kirov factory comrade Zaltsman must conduct comparative trials of a mass production KV tank, modernized KV tank, and a T-34 tank and present conclusions and updated tactical-technical characteristics to the State Committee of Defense by February 20th, 1942.
Chairman of the State Committee of Defense, I. Stalin
Copies to: comrade Malyshev, Zaltsman, Fedorenko, Malenkov"

Monday, 2 August 2021

Chief Designer of the 1930s

When one lists Soviet tank designers, M.I. Koshkin is usually remembered first as one of the main authors of the T-34. He is usually followed by A.A. Morozov, who succeeded Koshkin as the Chief Designer of factory #183 in Kharkov and in Nizhniy Tagil after the evacuation. Zh.Ya. Kotin, the author of many tanks from the KV-1 to the IS-2, also ranks highly. N.A. Astrov, the creator of the T-40, T-60, T-70, and other light vehicles is slightly less famous. However, if one explores an earlier period of Soviet tank building, one will see many other much less known names. Their obscurity is largely due to their complicated history.

One such history belongs to the main character of today's article, Semyon Aleksandrovich Ginzburg. He oversaw the creation of the most numerous and most successful Soviet tanks of the interbellum era: the T-26, BT, T-28, and T-35. As the Chief Engineer at factory #185 he directed the creation of a number of tanks and SPGs. His designs include the T-50 light tank and SU-12 (SU-76) SPG, which played a fatal role in his career. Let us recall this man, whose contribution to Soviet tank building was truly immense. The war for his tanks began back in 1936 and finished in August of 1945 in the Far East.

Friday, 30 July 2021

Weak Spots #3

As you've seen in previous articles, diagrams showing weak areas of enemy tanks were pretty common in the Red Army. However, these diagrams were usually produced as a result of thorough study and live fire tests. Sometimes diagrams had to be produced with less information, and thus ended up a little bit more vague, like these ones drawn up in the early stages of the war.

Wednesday, 28 July 2021

Book Review: T-34 Shock

The T-34 is a quite interesting tank from a historiographical point of view. Despite being one of the most numerous tanks ever built with variants still in service in some remote parts of the world, surprisingly little has been written about this vehicle. While Hunnicutt's Sherman: A History of the American Medium Tank covers production of the equivalent American tank in exhaustive detail, no such work has ever been undertaken for the T-34. Many modern books on this tank continue to recycle the same myths and misconceptions born in the Cold War, even though primary documents on the topic have been available for decades.

T-34 Shock (originally T-34 Continuum) by Francis Pulham and Will Kerrs begins with an interesting assertion. The authors state that the complete history of the tank lies not in these documents, but in photographs. Despite not reading Russian, Pulham and Kerrs have assembled an impressive collection of photographs of all manner of Soviet tanks, including the T-34, T-34-85, and SPGs on the chassis of these vehicles. These are chiefly photographs taken by German troops depicting either knocked out or captured tanks, but the book contains plenty of photos of tanks in other contexts, including in the armies of Soviet allies and tanks in post-WWII usage. With these photographs, they aim to reconstruct the vehicle's history.

Monday, 26 July 2021

From the Teplokhod AN to the MS-1

The 1920s were a transitional time for worldwide tank building. The end of the First World War resulted in a radical decrease of military budgets. Many vehicles were created as designers and commanders ruminated on the experience from the previous war, but most of them remained prototypes.

Italy joined the tank builders' club with its Fiat 3000 light tank, as did Sweden (with what really were German tanks). The USSR continued to develop tanks as well. The Russian Renault, a copy of the Renault FT, was followed by an original tank: the T-18, aka MS-1.

Friday, 23 July 2021

Warspot Article: British Tiger Trials

After having captured a running Tiger in North Africa, the British began a thorough study of this new German tank. Its performance was carefully evaluated in many trials that ran even after Germany's surrender. Read about what the British found in my latest article on Warspot.net.

 


Wednesday, 21 July 2021

Video: What did the Germans think about the T-34?

The T-34's impact on the German army is rarely underestimated, but often misunderstood. In my latest video I describe impressions from German soldiers and more importantly German commanders, as well as the lasting impact this tank had on German tank building.





Monday, 19 July 2021

Overgrown Cricket

 The Germans focused a lot of effort on mechanization of artillery. They were the first to use SPGs of all types in large numbers. The most common German fully tracked armoured vehicle was an SPG. Light and medium SPGs were common, but heavy ones not so much. Only the Jagdpanther heavy tank destroyer was built in large numbers, but only 90 Ferdinands and 85 Jagdtigers. Compared to the ISU-152 and ISU-122 these are negligible numbers. Heavy "weapons carriers" were in the worst position. Not a single one was mass produced and only one prototype was built. This was the Geschützwagen Tiger für 17cm K72 (Sf) or Grille 17/21.

Friday, 16 July 2021

From Each According to Ability

 "32nd Tank Regiment
June 27th, 1944
#0207

To the ABT Chief of the 7th Guards Cavalry Corps
Commander of the 16th Guards Cavalry Division

I report that out of the 10 MK-2 ("Matilda") tanks received by the regiment, only 2 were equipped with radios. An investigation showed that the radios were "redistributed" by the 201st Tank Brigade before the tanks were surrendered to be sent to other units.

The 1st Tank Battalion of the 201st Tank Brigade was especially complicit in the illegal disassembly of the vehicles, as the radios were removed at night while the vehicle commanders were absent.

I consider the act of permitting disassembly of perfectly functional vehicles negligent and criminal.

I ask you to forward my request to punish the guilty and return the radios for installation on the tanks to the Front command.

Commander of the 32nd Tank Regiment, Guards Lieutenant Colonel Galkin
Chief of Staff Duderman"

Via zihuatanexo.

Wednesday, 14 July 2021

Anti T-34 Tactics

"Translated from German

Chief Inspector of Mobile Forces
Staff of the Supreme Command of the Land Forces
#126/42

Secret

Direction on tank combat against the Russian T-34 tank

Characteristics of the T-34

The T-34 tank is faster, more maneuverable, and more mobile than our Pz.Kpfw.III and Pz.Kpfw.IV tanks, its armour is thicker than the armour of our tanks. Its 76 mm gun surpasses our 50 mm and 75 mm guns in penetration. Beneficial shape (all surfaces are sloped) helps shells slide off.

Monday, 12 July 2021

The Peak of American SPG Evolution

American self propelled artillery developed on its own terms, especially tank destroyers. After a series of experiments, American tank destroyers became very similar to their own tanks. As a rule they were based on tank chassis, but had thinner armour and higher mobility. The first such vehicle was the GMC M10, which made its debut in March of 1943. Its replacement, the M36, appeared on the battlefield a year and a half later. This was the best of American tank destroyers. Like the Soviet SU-100 its career spanned more than a decade. The last conflict it took part in was the Yugoslavian Civil War in the 1990s.

Friday, 9 July 2021

Valentine Impressions

 "To the Chief of the GABTU

Combat and technical characteristics of the British Mk.III tank

In using the Mk.III in combat from November 11th to December 6th, the following positive qualities were observed:

  1. The vehicle is easy to drive. The drivers do not get tired while driving.
  2. The vehicle turns easily.
  3. The vehicle moves silently.
  4. Fuel consumption is low.
  5. All components are easy to use and work flawlessly.
  6. The gun is simple to use, works flawlessly, and fires precisely.
  7. The armour is thick enough to protect from 37 and 45 mm shells.
  8. The observation devices are quite satisfactory and protected from bullets and splash.
  9. The vehicle is easy to start in winter.

Wednesday, 7 July 2021

Identification

"June 22nd, 1943

Package to comrade Antropov

I report that the investigation of rumours of Tiger tanks appearing in the region of Greater Karagashinka established that the enemy did not use Tiger tanks in that region. Questioning of eyewitnesses revealed that the enemy used only light and medium tanks. This is also confirmed from the forward observer posts and main artillery observation post. The rumours about the appearance of heavy tanks could have been caused by the appearance of heavy self propelled guns on the approach to Greater Karagashinka. One of them was knocked out. Three knocked out tanks were inspected: turned out to have been Pz.Kpfw.III and Pz.Kpfw.IV.

Transmitted by Konova"

Via Vladimir Nagirnyak.


Monday, 5 July 2021

Kingmaker of American Tank Building

American tank history is strange in some ways. For instance, Creighton Abrams is the best known American tank ace, and few know about tankers who scored more tank kills than he did. The situation with American tank designers is even stranger. Compared to Soviet tank designers, they are like ghosts. The only well known names among them are John Walter Christie and perhaps Joseph Colby, director of the Tank-automotive Center and a key figure in American wartime tank building. Even many specialists would not recognize the name of the man who effectively created the American wartime tank. Harry Austin Knox was better known as a car designer. However, he was also a talented tank designer who had an effective monopoly on American tank chassis from 1935 to the mid-1940s.

Friday, 2 July 2021

Supercharged KV

"State Committee of Defense decree #1221ss
January 30th, 1941

On improving mobility of KV tanks

To improve mobility of KV tanks, the State Committee of Defense decrees that:
  1. The People's Commissar of Tank Production (comrade Malyshev) and director of the Kirov factory comrade Zaltsman must:
    1. Improve the KV tank's draught pull by 20-25% by means of:
      1. Increasing the engine power of the V-2K diesel engine from 600 to 650 hp.
      2. Changing the gear ratio of the final drive.
      3. Changing the number of teeth on the drive sprocket.
    2. Begin production of such tanks as of February 15th of this year.
  2. The People's Commissariat of Tank Production (Kirov factory) is permitted to produce two experimental KV tanks with new 8-speed gearboxes and a diesel engine supercharged to 700 hp.
    Trials of the tank are to be conducted jointly with the GABTU and a report on the rationality of producing KV tanks with a new gearbox is to be sent to the GKO by March 25th.
[handwritten] "Approved - I. Stalin
Copies to: Malyshev, Zaltsman, Fedorenko, Malenkov"

Wednesday, 30 June 2021

KV's Replacements

 "To the Chief of the BTU, Military Engineer 1st Class comrade Korobkov
January 31st, 1941

I report the status of the work on the T-150 and T-220 tanks at the Kirov factory as of January 28th, 1941. The T-150 and T-220 tanks are still not ready for trials and have not been presented to the commission.

T-150 tank:

After replacing the engine that broke during factory breaking in on January 21st, 1941, the tank has still not been returned to a condition suitable for QA and Military Representative approval.
The gun mantlet design is unrefined and allows a gun depression of only 3 degrees as opposed to 6.5 degrees on blueprints.

T-220 tank:

The engine broke during factory breaking-in on January 25th, 1941. The experimental main bearings melted.
Presently, a new experimental engine is being installed on the tank. Chief Engineer of factory #75 comrade Chupakhin, currently at the Kirov factory, cannot vouch that the engines installed in T-150 and T-220 tanks will work.
Your decision is needed in equipping the T-150 and T-220 tanks with refined engines.

The T-150 and T-220 tanks were weighed on January 25th.
The combat weight of the T-150 is 50 tons 160 kg.
The combat weight of the T-220 is 62 tons 700 kg.

The GABTU's tactical-technical requirements give a limit of 48 tons for the T-150 and 56 tons for the T-220. I ask for your directions on whether or not it is sensible to put the T-150 and T-220 tanks through proving grounds trials if they do not meet the GABTU's requirements."

Via Padikovo museum

Monday, 28 June 2021

Long-Awaited Success

The last two years of WW2 were difficult for American tank building. Their first few wartime tanks were quite modern and even surpassed those of leading tank building nations of the time, but a wave of failures followed, resulting in them falling behind. Mass production of the planned replacement of the Medium Tank M4 only began in November of 1944, and officially this was a heavy tank to boot. This article tells the tale of the M26 Pershing, a tank with a complex but ultimately successful history.

Friday, 25 June 2021

Pre-War Markings

The Red Army had no universal system of tank markings used during the Great Patriotic War, and commanders developed their own systems, sometimes changing them frequently to prevent the enemy from figuring them out. This was not the case before the war, as a standard system of markings was used.

Wednesday, 23 June 2021

ZIS-6 Production

 "Decree of the Committee of Defense within the Council of Commissars of the USSR
#D-7ss
Moscow, Kremlin
April 5th, 1941

Contents: on production of the 107 mm tank gun

The Committee of Defense decrees:

  1. Factory #92 (factory director comrade Elyan and chief designer comrade Grabin) is responsible for development of a 107 mm tank gun with a muzzle velocity of 800 m/s with a fixed ammunition fitting an armour piercing shell weighing 18.8 kg.
    Produce, test, and deliver an experimental prototype of this gun installed in a KV tank by May 20th.
  2. Kirov factory (comrade Zaltsman) and the Izhora factory are responsible for producing a gun mantlet for installation of the gun in a KV tank and delivery to factory #92 by May 10th.

Monday, 21 June 2021

Intermediate Experiment

The American program to create a replacement for the Medium Tank M4 was a mess by the end of 1943.  Three types of medium tanks were being tested in parallel. These included the Medium Tanks T20 and T22. Two prototypes of each were built, and proven to be ultimately disappointing. There was also the Medium Tank T23. It turned out to be better than its competitors and even put into production, but it turned out that there were issues with using it. Finally, development of two more tanks was launched in May of 1943. This made for five medium tanks in development at the same time. This article will describe the fate of the Medium Tank T25, an intermediate vehicle.

Friday, 18 June 2021

Running In

 "December 8th, 1944

Description of the running in process of rifle regiment personnel from the 60th Guards Pavlograd Order of the Red Banner Division with SU-76M SPGs conducted on November 11th, 1944.

Based on the enciphered telegram delivered from the 32nd Rifle Corps on November 6th, 1944, the division performed running in of rifle regiment personnel with SU-76M SPGs.

Wednesday, 16 June 2021

KV-3 Gun Mount

 "I.V. Stalin factory #92

September 8th, 1941

To the Chief Engineer of the Chelyabinsk Factory, comrade Makhonin

We developed and are currently manufacturing a coaxial 45 mm gun for the 107 mm ZIS-6 gun mount. The DT coaxial machine gun remains in its old place.

The tactical purpose of such a weapon is obvious: to avoid wasting 107 mm ammunition on targets that could be defeated with a 45 mm gun.

As the factory doesn't have a KV-3 tank, the prototype will be installed in a KV-2 tank turret.

Your designer comrade Schneidman informed us that you are making a new turret for the KV-3. Due to the obvious advantage of having a 45 mm gun in the KV-3 and minor changes required to the turret as a result of using this mounting, we ask you to widen the gun port and change the frame and gun mantlet in accordance to the attached blueprints. We don't have blueprints for the new KV-3 turret and are still working with old ones, but that shouldn't matter in this case.

At the same time, we ask you to develop ammunition racks for 107 and 45 mm rounds in the KV-3 turret. For this reason, we attach a dimensional drawing of a 45 mm round.

Attached: draft drawing of the coaxial mounting on two pages, dimensional drawing of the 45 mm round.

Factory director Elyan
Chief designer Grabin"

Via Yuri Pasholok

Monday, 14 June 2021

Germany and the T-34

The Wehrmacht was stuck at Moscow in the winter of 1941, and leadership of the Reich had time to think while its troops developed frostbite. The first encounters with the T-34 and KV-1 tanks showed that Soviet engineers were much better at implementing thick shell-resistant armour and powerful tank engines. A whole commission arrived on the front on November 18th, 1941, to survey the situation. The commission included the head of the Tank Commission Ferdinand Porsche, his deputy and director of the Steyr company Oscar Hacker, head of Department #6 of the Ordnance Directorate colonel Sebastian Fichtner, the civilian head of Department #6 engineer Heinrich Kniepkamp, and high ranking representatives of leading arms companies: Krupp, Daimler-Benz, Henschel, MAN, and Rheinmetall. They examined Soviet tanks and evaluated the harsh conditions of winter and the lack of roads.

No one doubts that this examination had a significant effect on further development of the German tank school. But what were their conclusions? How did Soviet tanks influence German tank building? There are many different opinions about this, right down to calling the Panther a poor copy of the T-34. What was the real change to the German way of building tanks after the fall-winter of 1941?

Friday, 11 June 2021

In Defense of the Panzer IV

With the debut of the Panther in 1943 the Pz.Kpfw.III and Pz.Kpfw.IV were threatened with cancellation. Their chassis would be used to make StuGs, a vehicle that could not be replaced with the Panther. However, Guderian himself wrote a treatise in defense of the humble Pz.Kpfw.IV.

"Notes for the Fuhrer's report (September 5th, 1943)

Pz.Kpfw.IV tank or assault gun?

Despite arriving reports, the assault gun has practically no advantages over the Pz.Kpfw.IV tank, as the assault gun:

Wednesday, 9 June 2021

Fathers of the SU-152

 "Order to the People's Commissariat of Tank Production #764s
Chelyabinsk
November 13th, 1942

On the creation of an SPG design group

In accordance with the order issued by People's Commissar of Tank Production comrade I.M. Zaltsman on the creation of SPGs on the KV and T-34 tank chassis, I order to:

  1. Create an SPG design group within the Kirov factory's design bureau, as the factory is a producer of both T-34 and KV tanks.
  2. Appoint engineer Lev Sergeyevich Troyanov to the position of Deputy Chief Designer of Tank Production at the Kirov Factory. Task him with leading the SPG design group.
  3. Director of the UZTM factory comrade Muzrukov must permanently transfer designers Kurin, Ilyin, Rybin, and Vishnyakov to the Kirov factory by November 15th, 1942.
Deputy People's Commissar of Tank Production, Kotin"

Monday, 7 June 2021

Armoured Confusion: Start of the Great Patriotic War

One of the most popular topics of discussion in Soviet tank circles is their use in the Great Patriotic War. As strange as this may sound, the production and use of Soviet tanks during the war is not a very well studied topic. This is caused by shallow surface level research and resilience of "common knowledge", little of which overlaps with any facts. There are so many of these myths that it's impossible to cover them all in a single article. Let's examine only the first half of the Great Patriotic War and misconceptions linked to this period.

Friday, 4 June 2021

Book Review: Soviet T-62 Main Battle Tank

It's easy to dismiss the T-62 tank. It was not produced in the numbers that its predecessors, the T-54 and T-55 enjoyed, nor did it have the technical novelties of the T-64 tank that came just a few years later. Discussion of this tank in Western sources usually boils down to a list of its drawbacks and a brief description of its lackluster performance in various Middle Eastern wars. Nevertheless, the tanks were used well into the 21st century not only by Soviet client states, but even by ex-Soviet nations, despite availability of more recent vehicles. The latest book by James Kinnear and Stephen "Cookie" Sewell takes a look at why this is the case.

Wednesday, 2 June 2021

War Plans

The Red Army was undergoing a pretty radical reorganization in the summer of 1941. Fans of the theory that the USSR was about to attack Germany and Hitler merely delivered a preemptive strike will be disappointed to find out that not only did the Red Army not consider itself in any situation to fight a war in 1941, 1942 wasn't looking much better either. Compare the number of tanks on hand to the number of tanks required according to authorized strength.


Tank type

Authorized strength

On hand as of Jan 1st, 1941

% Authorized strength as of Jan 1st, 1941

Expected inventory as of Jan 1st, 1942

% Authorized strength as of Jan 1st, 1942

Peacetime

Wartime

Peacetime

Wartime

Peacetime

Wartime

KV

2100

2100

243

11.5

11.5

1093

52

52

T-34

4200

4200

350

8.3

8.3

2850

67.8

67.8

BT

5487

8273

7752

141.5

93.7

7752

141.5

93.7

T-26

13,802

15,872

9987

72.3

62.9

9987

72.3

62.9

T-50

 

 

 

 

 

500

 

 

T-37/

T-38

2420

3681

3596

152

100

3596

182

116.7

T-40

 

 

100

 

 

800

 

 

Armoured cars

5298

6853

4461

84.2

65

6271

118

91.7

Total as of January 1st, 1941: 22,530 tanks (of those 59 T-35 and 443 T-28), 4461 armoured cars


Via Yuri Pasholok