Friday, 23 September 2022

The First Firebreathing KV

The USSR was the first country to mass produce flamethrower tanks. Initially these were chemical tanks, whose primary purpose was to deploy chemical weapons. Nevertheless, the KhT-26 chemical tank accepted into service in the summer of 1932 was already a dual purpose vehicle. It could still deploy chemical weapons, but now its main weapon was a flamethrower. The KS-2 flamethrower developed by the Compressor factory was the first mass produced tank flamethrower. The pneumatic system could spew fire 30-45 meters away, not too far, but not too bad for a first try. The KhT-26 was the USSR’s first mass produced flamethrower (chemical) tank. The KhT-130 on the chassis of the T-26 tank with a cylindrical turret and KhT-133 based on the T-26 with a conical turret and turret platform followed. The T-46-1, the T-26’s replacement, was also supposed to be a chemical tank, but it never went into production. The flame throwing range gradually increased, but still was not enough. Other platforms were considered for flamethrower tank production, but the chemical BT never took off.

Wednesday, 21 September 2022

45 mm gun vs Pz.Kpfw.IV Ausf.E

Photo #64: Penetration of the front hull, 50 mm thick, from a range of 50 meters (I).

Monday, 19 September 2022

The Tank's Hidden Foe

On paper, German anti-tank rocket launchers were a weapon of unimaginable terror for enemy tank crews. An infantryman with a light anti-tank weapon capable of penetrating up to 200 mm of armour could be lurking behind every corner and in every window. This weapon was powerful enough to destroy any Allied tank. What was the real effectiveness of the Panzerfaust and Panzerschreck, and what did the Allies do to protect themselves from it?

Friday, 16 September 2022

Friday, 9 September 2022

Swords to Plowshares

 "Report to Marshal of the Soviet Union N.A. Bulganin


November 17th, 1947

Armoured and Mechanized Forces are in possession of 1185 foreign tanks, broken down as follows:

  • 889 functional (including 756 M4A2 and 54 Valentine)
  • 146 need medium repairs
  • 57 need major repairs
  • 93 are unserviceable

Tuesday, 6 September 2022

A Round Too Long

Attempts to create fixed ammunition for the 122 mm D-25 gun in 1944-45

It is no secret that the firepower of tanks in WW2 increased dramatically. Armies of the world began the war wither with 37-47 mm long barrelled guns or 75-94 mm short ones. Some tanks even had armament composed only of heavy machine guns or small autocannons. Firepower of heavy tanks increased the most noticeably, particularly in 1943. German heavy tanks settled on the 88 mm caliber, the Americans focused on 90 mm guns with ballistics of the M3 AA gun. The USSR also initially chose an AA gun, an 85 mm one. However, there was a huge leap forward in the summer of 1943. The design bureau of factory #9 under the direction of F.F. Petrov developed the 122 mm D-25 gun by combining the D-2 122 mm gun (its ballistics were very close to those of the A-19) and the cradle of the 85 mm D-5T-85 gun. After trials in the Object 240 experimental tank, it was accepted into service as the IS-2 (IS-122) on October 31st 1943.

Friday, 2 September 2022

Tsyganov's Armour

Additional armour developed by Engineer-Major N.F. Tsyganov, author of the BT-IS and BT-SV

Plenty of tank designers were among those who were repressed in the 1930s. 1937-38 was the most difficult period where a number of designers and military personnel linked to tank production were either executed or ended up with lengthy prison sentences. However, history sometimes lumps the latter in with the former. For instance, A.O. Firsov (chief designer of the T2K design bureau at factory #183) died in 1943 of natural causes and was not executed as is sometimes written. There are even more surprising cases where the allegedly executed party remained working at their old place of employment. For instance, Nikolai Nikolayevich Kozyrev, the chief tank designer at factory #37 and author of the T-37 and T-37A amphibious reconnaissance tanks, would have been very surprised to find out that he was executed. Kozyrev didn't even leave factory #37. It's true that N.A. Astrov replaced him as the head of tank design, but Kozyrev remained in important positions. By the fall of 1941 he occupied the post of chief engineer of factory #37. After evacuation to Sverdlovsk he continued working on tanks.

Tsyganov's BT-IS tank. The drives to the wheels can be seen. The BT-IS was an 8x6 vehicle, i.e. 6 of the wheels were powered.

Wednesday, 31 August 2022

Cheating at Statistics: Staudegger's Secrets

In a video, British historian Mark Fenton describes a truly fantastical battle. According to Felton, a Tiger tank commander from the 1st SS Tank Division Franz Staudegger pulled off a truly incredible feat, destroying two T-34 tanks with hand grenades on foot. Unfortunately, no specifics are given for this Hollywood-worthy action story, so it is difficult to ascertain whether or not it actually happened. What is easier to evaluate is Staudegger's next engagement. According to Fenton, three days later Staudegger personally held off an attack by 50 T-34 tanks. The description of the battle is right out of an 80s martial arts movie, with an overwhelming number of opponents coming at the main character one at a time, easily dispatched by his superior skill. Felton credits Staudegger with destroying 22 T-34 tanks, which earned him the Knight's Cross.

Throughout the video and in its description, Felton draws attention to the fact that this story is not only incredible, but absolutely true. However, he doesn't give any sources or really that much to go on in order to verify what actually happened. We do have a few clues: a unit (10th Tank Corps) and a date (July 8th).

Let us reconstruct the events from the point of view of the 10th Tank Corps. This unit was kept in reserve east of the front line and only activated on July 7th, two days after the start of the Battle of Kursk. 

Monday, 29 August 2022

The Longest Millimeter

The first tanks of the Medium Tank M4 family saw combat for the first time in the summer of 1942, during the Second Battle for El Alamein. Combining excellent mobility, thick armour, and firepower that could defeat any enemy tank, the “General Sherman” was a solid contender for the title of the best tank on the continent upon its debut. However, progress did not stand still. The German army began fielding improved Pz.Kpfw.III and Pz.Kpfw.IV tanks, equipped with thicker armour and longer guns. Thankfully for the Sherman, American tank designers began to think about its modernization even before it reached the battlefield.

Friday, 26 August 2022

F-34 vs Pz.Kpfw.IV Ausf.E

 "Results of firing on the German T-IV tank with the 76 mm model 1940 (F-34) gun on the T-34 tank

Photo 68. Penetration of the right side, 40 mm thick (20+20 mm) from 800 meters.

Wednesday, 24 August 2022

Fine Vintage

 "May 23rd, 1945

The Armoured and Mechanized Units of the Far East and Transbaikal Front possess 1600 functional old tanks: T-27, T-37/38, T-30/40/60, MK-2, MK-4, M3 light, M3 medium. There are also 1167 of these tanks at repair plants that require refurbishment.

Production of these tanks and spare parts for them is long finished. Spare parts for old imported tanks are not being delivered. 

Monday, 22 August 2022

Big Guns for the T-34

There is a large category of fans of alternative history who like to install large guns into small tanks. These people don't exist only on the internet, but also among popular authors of quasi-historical publications. They sometimes even provide some kind of schematics and make grandiose projections. While modern plans have little to do with reality, tank designers many years ago worked towards very similar goals. Every army wanted to put a larger gun into its tanks. This typically happened as a result of increased requirements for tank guns. This process started very early in the USSR. The MS-1, the first Soviet mass produced tank, was built with a 37 mm Hotchkiss gun. This was far from the only weapon proposed for it. The same gun mount could have been a home for a "high power 37 mm gun" or "37 mm Rheinmetall gun". There were many cases where the proposed gun would simply not have fit into the fighting compartment. For instance, this was the case with the AT-1. The 76 mm PS-3 gun failed to enter production and took down the SPG with it. Other 76 mm guns (for instance the L-10) wouldn't fit.

The 85 mm AA gun was seen as a potential anti-tank weapon and tank gun back in the summer of 1940.

Friday, 19 August 2022

Trials SNAFU

 "Conclusions on the report on firing the M7 gun on the American M10 SPG

The GBTU Chief and GBTU SPG Directorate instruction #149068 issued on October 18th, 1943, by the GBTU proving grounds (Kubinka railway station, Western railway) conducted trials of the M7 gun installed in the American M10 SPG. According to the trials program, the following characteristics of the gun were to be recorded:

  1. Size:
    1. Barrel length (total)
    2. Rifled section length
    3. Diameter between opposing grooves and between opposing lands
    4. Land width
    5. Chamber size
    6. Shell and casing size
  2. Ballistic data:
    1. Pressure
    2. Muzzle velocity
    3. Maximum range
    4. Precision
The proving grounds did not record the most important ballistic data (muzzle velocity, maximum pressure, maximum range) and dimensions (diameter between grooves or lands, land width, chamber size), as as result of which the tactical-technical data provided in the report does not give characteristics of the gun. 

Wednesday, 17 August 2022

First Anti-Tank Rifles

"To the Chairman of the State Committee of Defense, I.V. Stalin
August 9th, 1941

Trials of the German 7.92 mm Pz.B.39 rifle conducted by the Scientific Research Small Arms Proving Grounds of the Red Army showed the following results:
  • Muzzle velocity: 1189 m/s
  • Weight: 12.12 kg
  • Bullet weight: 14.8 grams
  • Chamber size: 17.06 cm³
The rifle penetrates a 20 mm surface hardened plate at 20 degrees at a range up to 500 m inclusive, a 30 mm surface hardened plate at 20 degrees from up to 300 meters inclusive.

Monday, 15 August 2022

Surprises in the Snow

Trials of foreign materiel, including captured vehicles, were quite limited before the war. This had a lot to do with the technical condition of the vehicles that fell into the hands of the Red Army. As a rule, this condition was far from ideal, meaning that the scope of possible trials was limited. Full scale trials were rare. For example, the Pz.Kpfw.I Ausf.A tank captured in the fall of 1936 in Spain arrived more or less intact, and therefore could be used for many trials, including trials against various obstacles. It's hard to say that these trials were very useful since Soviet tanks of that era were already more than a match for this tank. The T-26 that fought against the Pz.Kpfw.I Ausf.A in Spain surpassed it in all parameters. Nevertheless, there was a certain value in these trials.

Pz.Kpfw.III Ausf.H tank "Isabella" during winter trials, January-March 1942.

Friday, 12 August 2022

Development Trends Abroad

 "October 5th, 1945


  1. Germany
    1. Gun caliber increased from 37 mm to 128 mm, a factor of 3.5.
    2. Muzzle velocity increased from 720 m/s to 1000 m/s, a factor of 1.4.
    3. Magazine fed machine guns were replaced with belt fed ones.
    4. AA protection at the start of the war was limited to the MG 34 7.92 mm caliber machine gun. At the end of the war, the Germans began installing 20 mm autocannons on tank chassis.

Wednesday, 10 August 2022

Thicker Roof

"May 8th, 1943
Conclusions of the 16th Department of the GAU Artillery Committee

1. General part:

On April 27th, 1943, the Artillery Committee received a proposal from the Uralmash factory to transition from producing the roof of the 122 mm SU-122 SPG out of 20 mm thick high hardness armour to 30 mm thick medium hardness armour.

The Uralmash factory motivates this proposal with the fact that due to many cutouts and welds of various components the roof is overloaded and cracks appear, which have to be covered with 20 mm thick applique armour.

Monday, 8 August 2022

The Unluckiest Next Generation Tank

The history of mass production and use of Soviet T-50 infantry tanks and why it was doomed to fail

Initially, small tanks (later support tanks and then combined arms tanks) became the most numerous of their kind in the USSR. The MS-1 (T-18) and then T-26 became the most numerous tanks of the Red Army. The T-26's abilities were quite sufficient to escort infantry, and its relatively low speed compared to the BT also made it a more stable firing platform. Since the T-26 had nearly no oscillations after a sudden stop, it could conduct aimed fire much more accurately than the BT, which would rock back and forth. The T-26 was also 1.5 times cheaper and produced in larger volumes.

First prototype of the T-50 after improvements, spring 1941.

Thursday, 4 August 2022

Room Clearing Guide

Assault group - forward!

Your submachine gun is around your neck, 10 grenades are at hand, and courage is in your heart. Act!

Be bold and take initiative! Believe in your strength!

Move unseen and without noise!

Close with the enemy using hidden paths: trenches, travelways, holes in buildings or fences. Crawl, use bomb craters and ruins. You can hide well here. And then - a brave rush forward.

Wednesday, 3 August 2022

Rise and Shine

 "22nd Guards Tank Brigade
March 22nd, 1944

Active army

Training held on March 21st, 1944, showed that assembly for action after an alarm takes a long time. The 208th Tank Battalion assembled in 42 minutes. The mechanized machine gun battalion assembled in an hour and 10 minutes. The command company assembled in 40 minutes. The anti-tank battalion assembled in 10 minutes, the AA company in 10 minutes.

Back to Battle

 "On the actions of liberated POWs and repatriated citizens in the 47th Guards Tank Regiment between January 18th and February 8th, 1945.

On January 14th, 1945, after the 9th Guards Tank Corps was introduced into a breach, the 47th Guards Tank Brigade fought at the vanguard of the corps.

In battles for Grójec, Mszczonow, and Sochaczew the brigade took heavy losses in the motorized riflemen submachine gunner battalion.

When Sochaczew (January 18th), Bromberg (January 22nd), and Kutzer (January 28th) were liberated, Russian POWs and repatriated citizens were freed from camps.

Monday, 1 August 2022

Soviet Upgrade for an American Tank

Modernization of a fighting vehicle over the course of production is a normal phenomenon. This was not the case from the very beginning, but modernization rather than creation of whole new designs was the norm by the 1920s. In Soviet practice, a good example of this is the MS-1. The first and fourth series differ significantly, and even so the full plans for improving the characteristics of the tank were not realized as it had become obsolete and did not satisfy the military's requirements even with changes. The MS-1's successor, the T-26 light tank, shows a much fuller spectrum of modernization. It started out with two turrets, one with a cannon and one with a machine gun. The first major modernization took place in 1933, and the tank that was produced at the end of its production run differed considerably from the first vehicle. Similar processes were not unusual for tank building of the era.

The first M4A2 tanks arrived in the USSR in the fall of 1942, but true mass deliveries began closer to the end of 1943. By that point the tank's armament was a bit weak.

Friday, 29 July 2022

Coded Accounting

 "December 19th, 1944

Proposals to change marking and numbering of tanks, SPGs, and engines

The following system is to be used for numbering tanks and SPGs:

  1. January and February 1945:
    1. Leave the factory letter codes.
    2. Keep the year and month, i.e. all factories will start serial numbers with 412.
    3. Increment tanks and SPG serial numbers, for example:
      1. Factory #183's first tank built in January of 1945 will have the number T412716 if the last tank built in December 1944 had the number T412715.
      2. Factory #112's first tank built in January of 1945 will have the number G412316 if the last tank built in December 1944 had the number G412315, etc.

Monday, 25 July 2022

T-20 Komsomolets

The Red Army is often criticized for its vehicle fleet. On one hand, there is plenty to criticize. On the other hand, if one examines the situation carefully, it is often much better than claimed. This is especially true for tracked tractors. Even when you include civilian tractors, not everything was hopeless. Sure, the S-65 was not exceptionally quick, but in most armies of the world the only alternative would be a horse. If you count that as an alternative for the Red Army, the situation becomes different. Keep in mind that the S-65, STZ-3, and other slow moving tractors were only a temporary measure. The Red Army was not sitting idle and work on specialized vehicles was underway.

Komsomolets tractor during a demonstration at the War Motors festival.

Friday, 22 July 2022

Ammunition Storage

June 9th, 1945

In accordance with your letter #843079s dated May 25th of this year, we present the following ideas regarding rational locations of ammunition in ammunition racks and painting of the racks with the goal of prevention of explosions.

For the SU-76

  1. Given 35 round of HE, 15 AP, and 10 APCR, place:
    1. 11 rounds of HE on the right side, 17 on the left side, 7 under the gun cradle.
    2. 15 rounds of AP in the upper bustle.
    3. 10 rounds of APCR in the lower bustle.

Wednesday, 20 July 2022

T-54 at Aquino Tank Weekend

The T-54 tank and its close successor the T-55 were key players in nearly every Cold War conflict. Many nations keep these tanks in service to this day and even though they are no match for modern MBTs, modernization kits ensure that even these veterans can still pack quite a punch. The museum's vehicle was captured by British forces in Iraq and made its way to Canada from there.

Monday, 18 July 2022

Two Turrets from Leningrad

The creation of the two-turreted T-26 tank

The most famous Soviet tanks of the interbellum era at BT light tanks. Their high mobility, convertible drive feature, and a certain photogenic quality made them the best known Soviet tank series. One popular theory classified the BT tanks as "highway aggressor tanks" that indicated the offensive nature of the Red Army and popularized the idea that the BT tanks were the Red Army's main tanks. This is only an indicator of how wrong that theory is.

T-26 tanks armed with either only machine guns or both a cannon and a machine gun on parade in Moscow.

Wednesday, 13 July 2022

T-34 Commander's Cupolas

 "Order of the People's Commissar of Tank Production of the USSR #338
June 9th, 1943

On installation of commander's cupolas in T-34 tanks

In carrying out State Committee of Defense decree #3531ss, I order to:

  1. Approve a commander's cupola with the following specifications for installation on T-34 tanks:
    1. The commander's cupola is installed in the existing two-hatch turret instead of the commander's hatch.
    2. The commander's cupola has five vision slits covered in triplex bulletproof glass and a MK-4 periscope (English type) in the rotating lid of the cupola that allow for 360 degree observation.
    3. The lid of the cupola consists of two separate halves and must allow the crew to enter and exit the tank turret.

Monday, 11 July 2022

Three Inch Halftrack

Germany produced a large number of well thought out and elegantly composed improvised vehicles during the Second World War. The main character of this article is not one of them. Its large and clumsy appearance war far from perfection. Nevertheless, the 7.62 cm F.K.(r) auf gp. Selbstfahrlafette (Sd.Kfz. 6/3) left its mark on history.

Wednesday, 6 July 2022

T-34-85 at Aquino Tank Weekend

The T-34-85 is one of the Ontario Regiment Museum's most interesting vehicles. Its past is not yet fully known, but it definitely had a long and rich career before ending up at the museum. It was built at factory #112 in June of 1945 and captured in Bosnia during the Yugoslavian Civil War. The museum is returning the tank to its initial state, but it bears the signs of many modernizations and repairs applied along the way. 

Monday, 4 July 2022

Lend Lease Tank Destroyer

After creating the relatively cheap and simple GMC M3 tank destroyer on the chassis of a halftrack, the Americans took the next logical step. They replaced the 75 mm M1897A4 field gun with a purpose made anti-tank weapon, the 57 mm M1 gun. This created a tank destroyer called GMC T48.

The GMC T12 tank destroyer was designed in the summer of 1941 and then standardized as the GMC M3. This was a successful combination of two existing designs: the M3 halftrack APC and 75 mm M1897A4 gun. This tank destroyer was an improvisation, but it showed how a mobile anti-tank weapon could be created. All that was left was to adapt it to carry a more appropriate anti-tank weapon. The choice was easy to make.

Prototype of the GMC T48.

Friday, 1 July 2022

Captured Containers

Practice shows that stock fuel tanks are often not enough for long marches. This was especially critical for tanks that undertook lengthy marches away from supply units. This situation arose in the interwar period. For the USSR, this was most critical when it came to BT fast tanks. Even before the war, BT-7 tanks were equipped with 33.5 L external tanks. They were located on top of the fenders when driving on tracks or below the fenders when driving on wheels. These were the first ever specialized fuel tanks developed for armoured vehicles. These fuel tanks later migrated to the T-34. They were now attached not to the fenders, but the upper hull sides. As with the BT-7 the tanks were used during marches and were removed before battle, although this did not always happen.

Wednesday, 29 June 2022

Aquino Tank Weekend 2022: M4A2(76)W HVSS Sherman Tank in Action

The Ontario Regiment Museum has four Sherman tanks in its collection, two of which are runners. In addition to taking part in reenactments, these tanks are used in parades and other vehicle displays every year at Aquino Tank Weekend.

Monday, 27 June 2022

An Independent Heavy

Hungary put considerable effort into the creation of its tank industry before and during WW2. The light Toldi and medium Turan tanks were further developments of foreign projects, but the heavy Tas tank was an original tank, or at least was going to be if it was finished in time.

Hungarian army command had no illusions about the state of their armoured forces by 1943. The Turan (both the 40M Turan I with a 40 mm gun and the 41M Turan II with a short 75 mm gun) were powerless against Soviet T-34 tanks, let alone their heavies. They turned to the Germans for a license to produce either the Pz.Kpfw.IV with a long 75 mm gun or the Panther. The response was the same in both cases. The Germans did not consider Hungarian industry capable of producing complex tanks. The Hungarian Ministry of Defense decided to find its own way.

Friday, 24 June 2022

King Tiger Field Penetration Trials

"Report on the results of testing the T-6-B King Tiger superheavy tank in order to determine its weak points held on September 2nd, 1944, near Staszów by a commission composed of the following: [names]

The results of the trials are summarized in the following table:

Component of the tank

Gun caliber

Type of ammunition




Hull front



250 m


First hit: 350 mm wide breach in the machine gun ball.


Second hit: 70 mm deep dent 230 mm in diameter.



200 m


60 mm deep dent 170 mm in diameter.

Turret front



200 m


165 mm deep dent 70 mm in diameter.

Turret side



1200 m


Penetration, 200 mm breach.



Penetration of both sides, entrance breach is 190 mm in diameter, exit breach is 840 mm in diameter.





Penetration 170 mm in diameter.

Superstructure side





Penetration of both sides, entrance breach is 170 mm in diameter, exit breach is 750 mm in diameter.





Penetration 150 mm in diameter.





Penetration 40 mm in diameter.


Dent 75 mm deep 84 mm in diameter.





Penetration 70 mm in diameter.




Penetration 60 mm in diameter.





Penetration 30 mm in diameter.

Wednesday, 22 June 2022

Aquino Tank Weekend 2022 Gulf War Reenactment

The Ontario Regiment Museum has a large collection of functional Gulf War era armoured vehicles, including a T-54 tank, BMP-1 IFV, several vehicles on the CVRT chassis, an M113 APC, and an M60A3 tank. Together with plenty of pyrotechnics, these make for an impressive Gulf War display.

Monday, 20 June 2022

"Tigers" from Lvov

Yuri Ozerov's cinematic series Osvobozhdenie (Liberation) began in 1968 with the film Ognennaya Duga (Fiery Salient). Its battle scenes were shot a year prior in the Kiev Military District on the territory of the Rzhyshchiv training center. The 1827th regional army base issued a large number of captured German weapons for filming, but there were no German armoured vehicles in storage in the Kiev Military District or anywhere else. The 17th Tank Repair Factory of the Carpathian Military District was tasked with production of replica Tiger tanks in the spring of 1967. This factory was formed in Lvov in July of 1944 to repair vehicles of the 1st and 4th Ukrainian Fronts.

"Tiger" tanks built at the Lvov Tank Repair Factory, Ognennaya Duga (1968)

Friday, 17 June 2022

T-80 Production Woes

 "To the Chief of the Tank Directorate of the GBTU, Engineer-Colonel comrade Afonin


The poorly organized and irresponsible actions of the factory management as well as a lack of responsibility and assistance from the NKTP in the organization of a new tank factory throughout the first half of 1943 led to a drop in the quality and quantity of T-80 tanks produced at factory #40.

Wednesday, 15 June 2022

3.7 cm Pak Penetration

The German 3.7 cm Pak was a iniquitous anti-tank gun in the first half of the war. After the Germans faced the T-34 and KV-1 tanks in the summer of 1941 it was nicknamed Panzeranklopfgerät or Tank Knocking Device due to its inability to penetrate their armour. However, this penetration table shows that the gun was a tad more potent than its reputation suggests.

Monday, 13 June 2022

Gasoline T-34s

It would not be an exaggeration to say that the V-2-34 diesel engine was the T-34's core feature. This engine gave the T-34 its high mobility. However, not all T-34 tanks had this engine. Quite a large amount of T-34 tanks produced in the most difficult parts of the Great Patriotic War were equipped with M-17T and M-17F gasoline engines. This article will tell the tale of what the M-17 engine was, what the T-34 tanks with them looked like, and what the reason for this replacement was.

Friday, 10 June 2022

German Night Vision

 "To Acting Chief of the 4th Department of the SPG Directorate, GBTU, Engineer-Major comrade Konev

September 21st, 1945

As per your instructions, I familiarized myself with the night vision sight installed on the German reconnaissance tank.

Wednesday, 8 June 2022

Aquino Tank Weekend: Battle of Casa Berardi

The WW2 battle reenactment is the highlight of each year's Aquino Tank Weekend at the Ontario Regiment Museum. This year we saw the Ontario Regiment and Royal 22nd Regiment duke it out against the 90th Panzergrenadier Regiment at the Battle of Casa Berardi

Monday, 6 June 2022

T-54 with a Pipe

The army always needs tanks that can cross water obstacles. There are two ways of solving this issue: the tank can either swim or drive underwater. The Soviet T-54 tank went with the second option.

The topic of researching and studying underwater driving equipment was a very important one at the NIIBT Proving Grounds after the war. Experience gathered during WW2 showed that it was important to find methods of crossing water obstacles as quickly as possible. The proving grounds at Kubinka became one of the main developers of various underwater driving systems.

T-54 tank with underwater driving equipment installed, three quarters view.

Friday, 3 June 2022

Za Rodinu!

With the benefit of hindsight, it's easy to tell what intelligence is valid and what is not. However, in the moment, even mostly correct information takes on a very strange form.

This is one such example. 

Wednesday, 1 June 2022

Start of the Kubinka Museum

 "April 19th, 1938

The RKKA has obsolete tanks of various types, experimental domestic vehicles, samples obtained abroad, and captured vehicles that cannot be restored and used as fighting vehicles.

  • T-18 tanks: 862
  • Ricardo [Mark V]: 15
  • Vickers 12 ton: 16
  • T-24: 24
  • T-41: 8
  • T-33: 1
  • T-34: 1
  • Renault: 2
  • Carden-Loyd: 4
  • PT-1: 1
  • T-29: 1
  • T-46: 1
  • T-43: 1
  • T-26 APC: 1
  • T-26 munitions carrier: 1
  • T-26 fuel carrier: 1
  • SU-14: 1
The Supreme Military Council of the RKKA decrees that the tanks will be used in the following ways:

Monday, 30 May 2022

Third Tiger Out

The history of the Tiger heavy tank is often presented as a duel between two models: The Tiger H1 designed by Henschel with a mechanical transmission and Tiger (P) designed by Porsche with an electric transmission that allegedly led to its downfall. This common presentation is incorrect. The Germans worked on three Tiger tanks in the spring of 1942: the Tiger H1, Tiger (P) Typ 101 with a Siemens electric transmission, and the Tiger (P) Typ 102 with a Voith hydromechanical transmission. A lot has been written about the first two, but the last remained in the shadow for a long time. Books only contained scattered mentions or dry overviews of this tank without any photographs or blueprints.

Typ 102 refuelling in the vicinity of the Nibelungenwerke factory. The small fuel tanks and poor fuel economy meant this had to happen quite often. Ferdinand Porsche, director of Steyr Oscar Hacker, and Voith chief engineer Fritz Kugel.

The author of this article first wrote an article about the Tiger (P) Typ 102 back in 2017, describing its design, production, and trials. However, it contained many serious mistakes and left a lot of mysteries. Michael Fröhlich's book Der andere Tiger (The Other Tiger) was published in 2019. The author performed a lot of work and found a lot of new information on the Tiger (P) Typ 102, but not without mistakes. Now, combining all known information, the author returns to the topic with the first complete history of this mysterious Tiger.

Friday, 27 May 2022

Winter Camo

 "Engineering Forces Staff
33rd Army
February 28th, 1942

I send you samples of winter camouflage that gave the best result in forested areas during proving grounds trials for a tank, a cannon, and a car.

Apply similar paint in units in order to establish effectiveness in fighting conditions.

Report on results of observing painted vehicles and report by March 10th, 1942.

Chief of Staff of the Engineering Forces, 33rd Army, Lieutenant Colonel [signature]
Major [signature]

Brief instructions on a new winter camouflage pattern

White paint available on the front lines is applied over top of summer protective green. A part of the hull (about 50-60%) is covered in large white spots. The rest is covered in 1-2 cm wide stripes that create a mesh with cells 4x4 cm to 15x15 cm in size. Apply the stripes by hand. It is not necessary to keep the lines straight and the cells the same size.

Examples for painting tanks, cars, and an anti-tank gun shield are attached.

Wednesday, 25 May 2022

Training Time

 "Order of the People's Commissar of Defense #0436
October 23rd, 1943

Contents: on moving training tank units to a 6 month study period.

In order to raise the quality of crews trained in training tank and SPG regiments, I order to:

Establish a 6 month training period for personnel of all Red Army training tank units as of November 1st, 1943.

People's Commissar of Defense,
Marshal of the Soviet Union, I. Stalin"

Via Valeriy Lisyutin

Planetary Turning Mechanism Trials

 "January 7th, 1943

In October and November of 1942 factory #100 designed and tested a planetary turning mechanism designed by Engineer Lieutenant Colonel A.I. Blagonravov.

We attach the report on the first stage of trials held with a KV-1S tank and ask you to approve it.

By now, the total length of trials reached 1085 km, of those 135 km was travelled towing a tank. Once the tank with a planetary mechanism even towed two tanks with a combined weight of 75 tons without issue.

Monday, 23 May 2022

Beheaded King Tiger

This photograph of a King Tiger with a torn off turret and Soviet officers standing on the hull is known to many fans of WW2 history. It can often be seen in various publications describing the Battle of Balaton in March of 1945, although none of the authors seem to have attempted to discover where this image came from. A number of clues reveals that this tank came from the 503rd Heavy Tank Battalion and the photo was made in December of 1944 during the Budapest Offensive Operation. It has nothing to do with the battles in March of 1944. Let us try to figure out where this headless tank came from.

Friday, 20 May 2022

The Necessary Pair

Why the Panther couldn't replace the Pz.Kpfw.IV and why the Germans spent the whole war with two medium tanks.

The German tank building school was among the best in WW2. One could say it finished in second place overall. For instance, the Panther was a very competitive medium tank. The T-34 and Medium Tank M4 had advantages over it in production qualities and modernization potential, but the Panther surpassed them in armour and firepower while maintaining decent mobility. This tank was supposed to become Germany's main tank. It became the most numerous tank in the Germany army by the second half of 1944. Three factories built this tank, putting out 350 units monthly at the peak of production in the summer of 1944. The Panther was also a key part of the future of German tank building. This tank was supposed to be the only medium tank remaining in production by the second half of 1945. It would even be developed further. The Panther Ausf.F with improved frontal protection was supposed to become the main variant.

Three German medium tanks in one shot, July 1943. The Pz.Kpfw.III was on its way out, the Pz.Kpfw.IV was here to stay, and the Panther that couldn't quite replace it.

There is a common misconception that once the Panther appeared on the scene production of other medium tanks either stopped or began to wind down, after which it quickly became Germany's main tank. In reality, peak production of the Panther coincided with peak production of Germany's other medium tank, the Pz.Kpfw.IV. The difference in production volumes was not so great, which is a feat considering that only one factory build Pz.Kpfw.IV tanks starting with the summer of 1944: Nibelungenwerke. Medium SPGs are incomparable, as only the StuG 40 and StuH 42 outnumbered the vehicles built on the Pz.Kpfw.IV chassis, even though it was considered outdated in early 1944. This seems like a paradox, but there were good reasons why the Pz.Kpfw.IV entered production in November of 1937 and stayed there so long and why production of two medium tanks continued throughout the entire war.