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.

Wednesday, 18 May 2022

Object 701 Trials

 "February 8th, 1945

  1. The Object 701 tank was designed on the initiative of the Kirov factory with participation of the Bauman Institute transmission design group and TsAKB arms designers, and produced according to GOKO decree #5583 issued on April 8th, 1944.
  2. According to order #368/01 of the Commander of Armoured and Mechanized Forces and the People's Commissariat of Tank Production, the commission led by Lieutenant General of the Tank Forces comrade Vershinin conducted proving grounds trials of the Object 701 heavy tank in June-July of 1944.
    The NIBT proving grounds held penetration trials of two variants of the hull and turret in July-August of 1944.

Monday, 16 May 2022

Halftrack vs Tanks

The Gun Motor Carriage M3 was one of the many specialized variants built on the M3 halftrack APC. It was armed with an obsolete gun and didn't satisfy American requirements for a tank destroyer, but nevertheless this vehicle became the first mass produced American tank destroyer.

Friday, 13 May 2022

Warspot Article: Firefly with a Stinger

The Sherman IC and VC (colloquially known as the Sherman Firefly) combined the American Sherman M4 and M4A4 chassis with the British 17-pounder gun. Putting such a large and heavy gun even in the Sherman's wide turret proved challenging, but despite their drawbacks the Fireflies proved to be effective anti-tank weapons. Read about their challenges and triumphs in my latest article on Warspot.net.



Wednesday, 11 May 2022

Smoke and Mirrors

 "Tactical-technical characteristics for design and production of a removable smoke device for the BT-20 tank

Purpose: the smoke device will be installed on a regular BT-20 tank to create smoke screens from standstill or on the move that cover the tank's movement.

Special requirements:

  1. The volume of the fluid tank(s) must be at least 120 L.
  2. The consumption of fluid must range from 12 to 20 L per minute. The nozzle design must be adjustable to configure the consumption. It is permissible to use two removable nozzles.
  3. The smoke device must be slight and compact. The design must be simple, easy to install and remove. It may take no longer than 2 hours for the tank's crew to install or remove.

Monday, 9 May 2022

Undercover Gun Runners

Czech anti-tank rifles fell into German hands after the annexation of Czechoslovakia, but the Germans got their hands on similar weapons designed in another European country in a different way. When it comes to Swiss (and other European) arms makers, the question of who made the order, who produced it, and who it was sold to often does not have a simple answer.

Friday, 6 May 2022

New Shermans

 "#540431
January 30th, 1944

To L.P. Beria

On the topic of track slipping of modernized American M4A2 tanks in snow, I report that:

  1. Modernized M4A2 tanks began arriving in the USSR in the fall of 1943. These tanks have metallic tracks, while all earlier tanks had rubber-metallic tracks with special spurs that could be attached in the winter.

Wednesday, 4 May 2022

SU-152 Practical Accuracy

The topic of accuracy and precision of Soviet guns comes up a lot. Stereotypically, these guns are depicted in media as being unable to hit the broad side of a barn. Records of trials show otherwise. Here is a record of one such trials at various distances.

Monday, 2 May 2022

The Fight for Sight

Optics often come up in discussions that compare Soviet and German tanks. The famous "Zeiss optics" are often invoked by those who are not very well versed in the subject matter. The issue was not in Soviet sights. Plenty of them survived to this day, and any who wish can evaluate their quality on their own. German tanks were first and foremost superior in their observation devics. Their visibility was better than that of Soviet tanks, which was often a deciding factor in victory on the battlefield. However, the evolution of German observation devices is an interesting topic for discussion.

Friday, 29 April 2022

Warspot Article: Panther's Ins and Outs

The Panther was arguably the most dangerous German tank of WW2, available in greater numbers than the Tiger and equipped with a higher penetrating gun and greater frontal armour. The British dedicated considerable resources to finding out its weaknesses, starting long before they had to face a Panther tank in combat. Read about what they found in my latest article on Warspot.net.


Wednesday, 27 April 2022

SU-76M Experience

 "Report by the Commander of the Armoured and Mechanized Forces of the Leningrad Front
#0174917
July 31st, 1944

The SU-76 shows itself well in battle, but the open top and rear as well as a lack of machine gun in a ball mount are significant drawbacks.

In battle, the SU-76 fights alongside infantry among its ranks within range of enemy machine gun fire and grenades. The SU-76 crews are completely open and singular submachine gunners can come up from the flank or rear and destroy the crew with submachine guns and grenades. This is characteristic of battles in forests.

Monday, 25 April 2022

Balls of Soviet Tanks

Tank protection is developed based on information about anti-tank weapons of the potential enemy, physics of interaction between those weapons and a tank's armour, and the conditions in which tanks are used and that they fight in. An analysis of anti-tank weapons is a necessary step towards designing tank armour. In the 1950s it became clear that further improvement of tank protection simply through improving the characteristics of steel alloys is impossible. This was primarily true when protecting the tanks from HEAT warheads. The idea to use fillers to protect from HEAT ammunition appeared during the Great Patriotic War, but was not developed until after its conclusion.

Friday, 22 April 2022

Tiger Weak Spots

The Tiger is a pretty iconic tank and is mentioned pretty frequently in Soviet anti-tank manuals, but penetration diagrams for the big cat are hard to come by. The one in the collection I posted earlier is very simplistic and does not really give a lot of details. Fortunately, this diagram provides a little bit more information, if only for the 76 mm ZIS-3 gun.


As in the Panther diagram, red represents APCR, blue is AP, and green is HE. 

As can be expected, the front of the Tiger is a pretty tough target. The only hope with AP is to penetrate either the driver's viewport or to jam the turret. APCR also points at the turret ring. The maximum range for this kind of attack is 500 meters. At 800 meters, you can hope to knock off the tank's tracks with HE.

From the sides there are more options. The side of the turret and hull are vulnerable to AP and APCR from 800 meters, which matches some instructions I've seen. At this range you can also use AP or HE to hit the idler or drive sprocket, immobilizing the tank.

Thursday, 21 April 2022

Future of SPGs

"Prospective development of Red Army self propelled artillery
July 25th, 1945

The Red Army's self propelled artillery branch was born during the Great Patriotic War and evolved considerably during this period. Experimental work on SPGs was done before the war, but the vehicles produced at that time were not well received and were not developed further. The necessity of having self propelled artillery became obvious during the fierce fighting. The main aim of self propelled artillery was to fight alongside tank units and support them in combat against enemy tanks.

Monday, 18 April 2022

Eternal Proving Grounds in the Middle East

Throughout the various Arab-Israeli wars of 1948-1982 Israel, Egypt, and Syria received foreign military vehicles in large amounts. The Middle East was an excellent proving grounds to compare the performance of Soviet and Western military vehicles in real combat. Let's see which vehicles Israeli and Arab tankers got their hands on and how they performed over the decades of conflict.

Friday, 15 April 2022

Street Fighter

 "Tuesday, March 20th, 1945

Bulletin of street fighting experience, a daily publication of the Red Army newspaper For the Destruction of the Enemy

Guards Jr. Lieutenant-Technician M. Litvinov
Guards Jr. Lieutenant-Technician N. Deryugin

Self propelled artillery in street fighting

Self propelled artillery plays a considerable role in street fighting. Only an SPG can approach a fortified building with enemy machine gunners and destroy it at point blank range. The enemy has felt the blows from SPGs and hunts them, sending out Panzerfaust troops and shooting them on the approach. Completion of the SPGs' objectives requires considerable experience from the drivers.

In this article, we would like to share the experience of SPG drivers in street fighting.

Wednesday, 13 April 2022

IS-4 Report

 "To comrade I.V. Stalin

RE: experimental heavy tank designed at the Kirov factory

We report that the Kirov factory has designed a new heavy tank that has several distinct features from existing tanks:

  • The upper front hull armour of this tank is rolled. The upper front plate is 120 mm thick at an angle of 61 degrees. The lower front plate is 160 mm thick at an angle of 29 degrees, compred to the cast 120/100/60 mm of armour of the IS tank.

Monday, 11 April 2022

T-34's Heart in a Tractor

The engine is the most complicated and most important component of any tracked fighting vehicle. It might even take more time to develop the engine than the rest of the tank put together. Even today, not all tank building nations have the ability to produce their own engines, and a successful design can define the development of tanks for years to come. The V-2 diesel engine put into production in 1939 was one such design. Last time we told the tale of the trials of this engine in the A-8 tank. This article will cast light on the second stage of the trials. This time, the new diesel engine was put to work on a heavy tractor.

Friday, 8 April 2022

Start of the T-54

 "May 7th, 1945

I report that in mid-February of this year I ordered NKTP factory #75 to develop a mount for the 100 mm gun in the T-44 tank with a new 1700 mm wide turret ring. The design and working blueprints are complete.

On May 5th of this year I gave orders to produce experimental prototypes of the T-44 tank with a 100 mm gun. Trials of these tanks are scheduled for June 10th.

As for stowing 50 rounds of ammunition as requested in your letter, it is very difficult to achieve. 34-35 rounds is much more realistic. Additional orders were given to factory #75 to investigate the possibility of stowing 50 rounds.

I will inform you of the results of this work.

People's Commissar of Tank Production of the USSR, V. Malyshev"

CAMD RF F.38 Op.11355 D.3048 L.9
Printed in Glavnoye Bronetankovoye Upravleniye Lyudi, Sobytiya, Fakty v dokumentakh, 1944-1945 p.487

Wednesday, 6 April 2022

100 mm Guns

 "May 17th, 1945

I report to you on the work performed by the People's Commissariat and factories #92 and #9 on improving the firepower of T-34, T-44, and T-54 medium tanks.

Two types of 100 mm guns were produced for these tanks with turret rings widened to 1700 mm.

  • 100 mm LB-1 gun produced at factory #92 (Gorkiy).
  • 100 mm D-10T gun incorporating design elements of the D-10S SPG gun produced at factory #9 (Sverdlovsk)
Both guns were installed in turn into a T-34 tank with an expanded turret ring and tested at the Gorohovets proving grounds from April 6th to April 27th. Trials included firing 100 shots and 500 km of driving.

Monday, 4 April 2022

Regimental Support Gun

The history of vehicles and weapons developed and produced in Leningrad in the summer of 1941 and during the blockade is an interesting topic for researchers. One of the most interesting parts are the improvised armoured cars, guns, and SPGs. Some of them are widely known, but others remain in obscurity. One such vehicle that became the foundation of the blockade SU-26 SPG will be covered in this article.

Friday, 1 April 2022

Change in Ranks

The Red Army set a high standard for tank crew ranks in 1941, namely that commanders of nearly all tanks were officers. In 1945 Fedorenko petitioned the General Staff to roll that bar back a bit.

"October 17th, 1945

In order to fill the Armoured and Mechanized Forces of the Red Army with well rounded officers and NCOs, I consider the following to be reasonable:

  1. As of January 1st, 1946, set the length of training courses at tank academies to 3 years. Graduates are to be awarded the rank of Lieutenant and assigned as tank or SPG platoon commanders.
  2. Enroll privates and NCOs with at least one year of combat experience and at least 7 years of schooling or civilian youths with at least 9 years of schooling in these academies.
  3. Commanders of medium and light tanks and SPGs can hold the rank of Sergeant, Senior Sergeant, or Starshina, depending on their training and duration of service.
  4. As of January 1st, 1946, set the length of training courses for NCOs in training regiments to 1 year.
  5. Until a sufficient number of NCOs are trained, it is permitted to retain officers as commanders of light and medium tanks and SPGs.
I ask for your decision.

Commander of the Armoured and Mechanized Forces, Marshal of the Armoured Forces, Ya. Fedorenko"

CAMD RF F. 38 Op.11389 D.46 L.40
Printed in Glavnoye Bronetankovoye Upravleniye Lyudi, Sobytiya, Fakty v dokumentakh, 1944-1945 p.716

Wednesday, 30 March 2022

Waking the Canadian Bear

The Canadian Ram tank was superior to its predecessor, the American Medium Tank M3, but the newer Sherman tank surpassed its Canadian brother. The solution was simple: Canada would build Sherman tanks. The decision was made to copy the Medium Tank M4A1 under the name Grizzly. Like its predecessor, the Grizzly never saw battle, but nevertheless remains an important part of Canadian military history.

Read about the development and production of the Grizzly in my latest article on Warspot.net.



Monday, 28 March 2022

Intermediate Revolution

Work on the Light Tank T37 officially began on September 27th, 1946. This was the first of the radically new tanks developed after WW2. The appearance of this vehicle was an important event, since it signalled the new vision for American tanks. All that was needed was to design new components that the tank could be built around. Because of this, it took three and a half years to finish the tank. It was finally finished in 1949, by which point there was already a replacement ready for it. This was the Light Tank T41, an improved T37. This vehicle was also not mass produced, but it served as a predecessor of the Light Tank M41 that remains in service in some nations to this day.

Friday, 25 March 2022

Where There's Smoke

 "Use of smoke in tank units as a method of improving survivability of a tank

Some experience gained from using smoke from the Churchill tank during penetration of heavily fortified defenses allows for some conclusions to be made.

The survivability of a tank and hence the survivability of a tank unit, i.e. the length of time that the former is kept in fighting order, becomes of utmost importance for commanders. Smoke is one of the biggest and most important aspects of keeping a tank alive. Each soldier is going to give the same answer: smoke is used to blind the enemy when approaching its front line and to blind individual strongholds inside the enemy's defenses. Our small experience lets us share some concrete examples.

Wednesday, 23 March 2022

Warspot Article: Anglo-Canadian Cruiser

Canada is not a well known tank building nation, but they managed to produce a very competitive design during WW2. Based on the Medium Tank M3 chassis, it combined European and North American technologies to make a tank comparable with the Sherman. Read about the history of its design and production in my latest article on Warspot.net.



Monday, 21 March 2022

Bulldog's Ancestor

The Americans finished WW2 in a very strange position. On one hand they achieved great things, on the other hand they had fallen behind in a few areas. One of the aspects in which the Americans were in the lead was light tanks. Unlike other nations, which abandoned development of these vehicles by the middle of the war, the Americans rightfully kept going. The result was not just the best light tank of its time, but a whole family of SPGs. Production began to wind down in the summer of 1945, but a foundation for further work was already established. As a result, the first truly original tank built to post-war specifications was a light one. This was the Light Tank T37, an experimental vehicle that became the predecessor for the Light Tank M41.

Friday, 18 March 2022

King Tiger Intel

 "Memo on the new "King Tiger" (Koenigstiger) heavy tank and methods of combat against it

Elements of the 1st Ukrainian Front captured 4 King Tiger tanks near Szydłów on August 12th, 1944, one of which was functional. 2 non-functional King Tiger tanks were captured near Korozvenka on August 15th, 1944. 

Preliminary characteristics of the King Tiger tank are as follows:

Wednesday, 16 March 2022

SU-76 Misuse

 "#850469
June 19th, 1945

The GBTU Tank Usage Directorate received reports of incorrect use of SU-76 SPGs issued to rifle corps.

For instance, the 37th and 39th Rifle Corps of the 9th Guards Army used the SU-76 SPGs from the 1513th and 1524th Light SPG Regiments as tractors to tow captured vehicles over the course of 4-6 days, expending 25-30 engine hours and 250-450 km of travel for each SPG.

I order that:

  1. The use of tanks and SPGs to tow vehicles is forbidden. Tractors and prime movers are to be used for this purpose.
  2. Commanders of Armoured and Mechanized Forces of Fronts are to check the correctness of usage of all tank and SPG regiments attached to rifle corps.
  3. The commander of Armoured and Mechanized Forces of the 2nd Ukrainian Front must investigate the instance of incorrect usage of SU-76 SPGs of the 1513th and 1524th Light SPG Regiments attached to the 37th and 39th Rifle Corps and hold the guilty parties responsible.
Deliver this directive to commanders of armoured and mechanized units and formations of the Red Army and rifle corps commanders that have tank or SPG regiments attached.
Report on the execution of this order by July 10th of this year.

Deputy Chief of Armoured and Mechanized Forces, Colonel General of the Tank Forces, Korobkov".
CAMD RF F.38 Op.11362 D.16 L.23

Printed in Glavnoye Bronetankovoye Upravleniye Lyudi, Sobytiya, Fakty v dokumentakh, 1944-1945 p.549

Monday, 14 March 2022

T-34's Heart on Trial

The engine is the most complicated and most important component of any tracked fighting vehicle. It might even take more time to develop the engine than the rest of the tank put together. Even today, not all tank building nations have the ability to produce their own engines, and a successful design can define the development of tanks for years to come. The V-2 diesel engine put into production in 1939 was one such design. This article will tell the story of the trials that paved its way to life.

Friday, 11 March 2022

American Experience

 "Report by the 92nd Tank Brigade on use of American M3 medium and M3 light tanks in August of 1942

Positive qualities from a tactical point of view:

  1. Good density of fire.
  2. Good visibility from the medium tank (has a commander's cupola).
  3. The light tank is very mobile.
  4. The engine noise is insignificant in motion.
  5. The 75 and 37 mm guns of the M3 S and M3 L are precise and have good ballistics.
  6. The crew positions of the M3 S and M3 L are comfortable.

Wednesday, 9 March 2022

T-34 Improvements

 "Order of the People's Commissar of Tank Production of the USSR #230-M
Moscow
June 12th, 1942

With the intention of further improvement of the quality of T-34 tanks and realization of decisions made at the technical meeting of factories #183, #112, and STZ, I order that:

  1. RE: air cleaners: factory #183 director comrade Maksarev must perform bench trials of a simplified Cyclone filter developed by the factory by July 15th and test it in a vehicle in road conditions by July 25th. Send a report to the NKTP by August 1st.

Monday, 7 March 2022

Limping Jagdtiger

The German Jagdtiger tank destroyer was built in two variants: one with a Porsche suspension and one with a Henschel one. The former was deemed poor and removed from production. This fact is stated in every publication dedicated to the Jagdtiger, but is not discussed in detail. In this article we won't stop at brief descriptions, questionable overviews, and conclusions, but instead will discuss how German late war tank suspensions were developed, cover the Porsche suspension, then present the history of the Jagdtiger's suspension in the appropriate context. Our tale will be based on an analysis of the design rather than compilations of opinions of other authors.

Friday, 4 March 2022

Panther Weak Spots

Soviet diagrams showing areas where to shoot enemy tanks are pretty common. There were both elaborate ones showing various weapons printed at the Publisher of the People's Commissariat of Defense and simpler ones, produced in the field, showing whatever weapons were relevant for the unit that printed them. Here are two such flyers for the Panther.


The first one is relatively well known. Each drawing of a shell shows the range and caliber with which you can destroy a Panther tank. The small bullets are 14.5 mm bullets fired from the PTRD or PTRS. The large tube symbol under that is HE, a projectile partially filled with red is an AP shell, a fully red projectile is solid AP shot. The red arrowhead projectile is 45 mm APCR. 

Wednesday, 2 March 2022

Comparing Shells

 "Report of the GBTU Self Propelled Artillery Directorate on results of comparative penetration trials of American, German, and domestic AP shells
May 13th, 1945

Firing according to the attached velocities was done at the Main Artillery Proving Grounds of the GAU at NKB proving grounds at Sofrino

Results of firing the shells at armour plates at prescribed velocities (see table)

#1: 76 mm AP shells against 50 and 75 mm thick plates.

The experimental shell from 60Kh30 steel shows undoubtedly superior results compared to the stock shell or the American shell.

Monday, 28 February 2022

Nine Years of Tank Archives

The Tank Archives blog turns 9 this year! At this point, I've published 2594 posts for a total of 6,931,512 views. The numbers don't lie, this has been my most successful year yet with over 1.18 million views! This translates into some very successful individual months as well. Over the past year I beat my monthly page view record three times, with the most successful month so far being September 2021 at 112,478 page views. Five months out of the last 12 saw over 100,000 views. Thank you, dear readers, and let's keep up this success into the tenth year!

As always, the US takes the first place in readership by a long shot, followed surprisingly by Indonesia. Germany and the UK fell to third and fourth respectively. 

My other work is also doing well. Sherman Tanks of the Red Army was finally published and Designing the T-34 is on its second printing. I already have a third book in the works and I hope I can officially announce it soon!

Tank Archives is doing well on social media as well. Twitter is at the forefront with over 21,000 followers, more than double compared to last year. Facebook is also growing, having recently hit 5000 followers. Youtube is growing the slowest of all at 1,740 subscribers, which is not unexpected considering that I post relatively infrequently.

Larger articles on Warspot.net also remain popular, with 11 new ones over the course of the past year. I continue to hold the top viewed tank article spot on the site with a total of five article placing in the top ten.

I haven't been up to anything radically new, but it's good to see that all the old directions are going well. Let's see what the next year will bring!

Playing Catch-up

When talking about the status of tank building in various nations at the start of WW2, many tend to point to the Americans as the worst ones off. This is entirely incorrect. First of all, the American infantry and cavalry had a decent number of tanks, although not many medium ones. Second, these tanks were adapted for the American theatre of war and had exceptional mobility. Third, the Americans started the war with a well formed concept of what a tank should look like, which allowed them to quickly begin production of next generation tanks. In comparison, the British were doing very poorly, to the point where only their status as an island nation saved them from a catastrophe. This was the result of a crisis that began in the 1920s.

Friday, 25 February 2022

Far East Reliability

 "September 29th, 1945

The following technical defects were discovered in tanks and SPGs of the Transbaikal Front after crossing the Manchurian and Mongolian steppe, mountains of the Greater Khingan, and the heavily swamped region until Changchung and Mukden.

  1. Widespread cases of melting battery seals on T-34 tanks and SU-100 SPGs.
    Due to the low quality of seals (low melting temperature) and lack of asbestos packing cords, the seals melted, seeped into battery cells, and covered the upper parts of the plates. Refurbishment of batteries was successfully carried out by brigade and regiment level repair units.
  2. Widespread cases of destruction of M4A2 road wheel tires.
    Destruction happened chiefly due to poor vulcanization of the rubber and especially difficult road conditions (high ambient temperature and sand-stone terrain).

Wednesday, 23 February 2022

Obsolete Tanks

 "#0858795
April 10th, 1945

I report that production for the T-27, T-30, T-37, T-38, T-40, and T-60 tanks has ceased. As of April 1st, 1945, there are 566 tanks of these types that require refurbishment but cannot be supplied with parts.

Imported Mk.II [Matilda], Mk.IV [Churchill], M3s [Medium Tank M3], and M3l [Light Tank M3] tanks are in the same state. As of April 1st, 1945, there are 315 tanks of this type that require refurbishment.

All of these vehicles are obsolete, as they have weak armament and insufficient armour. They cannot be used in battle and are only used in training units.

It would take a considerable expense to restore these tanks. Repair units are loaded with repairs of modern tanks, and it is not reasonable to distract them with repairs of obsolete vehicles.

I ask for you permission to use the aforementioned tanks until they require refurbishment, after which they will be written off and disassembled for parts. These parts will be used for light and medium repairs of tanks that are still being used.

Deputy Commander of the Armoured and Mechanized Forced, Colonel General of the Tank Forces, Korobkov."

TsAMO RF F.38 Op.11355 D.290 L.4
Printed in Glavnoye Bronetankovoye Upravleniye Lyudi, Sobytiya, Fakty v dokumentakh, 1944-1945 p.457


Monday, 21 February 2022

A Prospective Standard Chassis

The E-50 and E-75 are a special topic within the history of German tank building. These tanks were not finished before the end of the war, and the work that was performed is still not entirely known. As a result, the E-50 and E-75 became a viable platform to "build" fictional tanks that would have fought the T-44, IS-3, Centurion, and Pershing. Because of this, many now know about the existence of the E-50 and E-75, but few have any understanding of what these tanks were really supposed to be like.

Unfortunately many materials pertaining to the E-50 and E-75 have been lost. Only drafts of the hull, running gear, and suspension have been preserved, so it's impossible to reconstruct how these vehicles would have looked. However, we have enough information to give a general idea.

Friday, 18 February 2022

Mix and Match

 "#837681
April 6th, 1945

The NIBT Proving Grounds tested Tiger Ausf.B road wheels on a T-34-85 tank. Trials showed that these wheels are more reliable than those used on the T-34-85 tank.

No defects aside from the loss of the disk attachment cone at 1058 km and four cases of burst welding seams on the rims were observed during 1500 km of travel (of those 567 were on a highway with an average speed of 42.3 kph).

Wednesday, 16 February 2022

Turn up the Heat

 "April 13th, 1945

Experience gathered as a result of experiments performed at the NIBT Proving Grounds and the front lines of the Patriotic War show that instructions to heat up V-2 family engines at low RPM (600-800) until coolant temperature of 50 degrees and oil temperature of 40 degrees is reached are ineffective, do not result in normal burning of fuel, and result in increased wear on components.

Heating V-2 engines at high RPM (up to 1600 RPM) by combining idling and working under load results in a higher effect and reduces the time required to heat up the engine to working conditions.

Tuesday, 15 February 2022

Panzerwaffe Between III and IV

German tank building during WW2 ended up in a situation where the similar Pz.Kpfw.III and Pz.Kpfw.IV tanks as well as SPGs and other vehicles on their chassis were built in parallel in large numbers. The tank chassis were similar in many of their characteristics. They were equipped with the same engines and transmissions of the same type. At the same the designs were incompatible in many ways. Let us try to figure out how the Germans arrived at two solutions instead of one and why multiple attempts to unite the two designs ended in failure.

Friday, 11 February 2022

Health and Safety

 "#850232
March 26th, 1945

Tank units armed with heavy tanks report instances where the spent brass catcher is removed from the 122 mm D-25 gun because it stops the spent brass from extracting fully.

The incomplete extraction of the brass is intentional and aids in reducing the fumes in the fighting compartment, as a portion of the fumes exit out of the gun barrel before it is removed.

I ask you to instruct tank units to stop removing the brass catcher as its absence results in serious bruising of the loader.

Chief of the Tank Usage Directorate of the GBTU, Major General of the Tank Engineering Service, Pechenikin
Chief of the 1st Department of the Tank Usage Directorate of the GBTU, Engineer-Colonel Oleinikov"

CAMD RF F.38 Op.11362 D.116 L.19
Printed in Glavnoye Bronetankovoye Upravleniye Lyudi, Sobytiya, Fakty v dokumentakh, 1944-1945 p.449

Wednesday, 9 February 2022

The Wehrmacht's Equestrian Might

There are a lot of myths about WW2 that are actively promoted to this day. One of those myths is the total motorization of the German army. It is often said that that only the Soviets rode around on horses, but the Germans were fully equipped with trucks and halftrack APCs. This assertion would only cause a sad smile from German soldiers. While they indeed had a lot of trucks, the main backbone of infantry transport was made up of horses. Transport by horse cart was the norm until the end of the war, and production of horse carts increased as the war went on, rather than decreased.

Monday, 7 February 2022

How to Lose Everything and Learn Nothing

German tanks and SPGs of the second half of WW2 are often praised as "wonder weapons". Based on what is written about them, one can only come to the conclusion that Germany lost WW2 by accident. This is often said about the "big cats": the Tiger, Panther, and so on. Indeed, Germany's tank industry took a lead in 1943. Thanks to a sudden jump forward, one can argue that Germany had the best heavy and medium tanks. However, it was in the second half of 1943 that the Germans began to lose their grasp on the Eastern Front. A year later, German tank industry was no longer in the lead. The issues it faced were systematic, and despite an arguable second plate in the tank race, the Germans had no future when it came to either the tanks or their armament.

Friday, 4 February 2022

Weight Gain

 "#0791669
February 17th, 1945

The NKPS Technical Commission has established that the M4A2 tank weighs 32.5-33 tons. Loading two M4A2 tanks on one 60 ton flat car is categorically forbidden to avoid crashes and accidents during transport. Give these directions to factories and military representatives.

When composing requests to transport M4A2 tanks, allocate one 50 ton flat car for each tank. 

Deputy Chief of Staff of the Armoured and Mechanized Forces, Guards Major General of the Tank Forces, P. Markov

Chief of the Operations Department of the Staff of the Armoured and Mechanized Forces, Engineer-Colonel Martynov"

CAMD RF F.38 Op.11355 D.1364 L.53
Printed in Glavnoye Bronetankovoye Upravleniye Lyudi, Sobytiya, Fakty v dokumentakh, 1944-1945 p.398

Wednesday, 2 February 2022

A Flame Throwing Alternative

The USSR was one of the few nations that seriously explored tank flamethrowers in the 1930s. Initially there were plans to install a flamethrower on the T-18 (MS-1) tank, but the adoption of its replacement, the T-26, led to a real breakthrough. The result was the KhT-26, the most numerous chemical (flamethrower) tank. Unlike the two-turreted T-26, which was produced relatively briefly, the KhT-26 created on its chassis was in production until 1936. It was replaced by the KhT-130, an improved version based on the single turreted T-26, and then the KhT-133, the same type of vehicle based on the T-26 with a sloped turret and hull superstructure. In total, over 1200 chemical tanks on the T-26 chassis were built, not including the KhT-27 and KhT-37. However, a considerable flaw in these tanks was discovered even before the war. Their bulletproof armour made them too vulnerable.

Monday, 31 January 2022

Patton's Growing Pains

The US Army received the M48A5 tank in the early 1970s. This index represented earlier tanks, chiefly the M48A3, upgraded to match the characteristics of the M60. The modernization consisted of installing a 105 mm gun, new fire control systems, new engine, improved cruising range, etc. Large scale modernization began in 1975 and touched about 2100 tanks. However, there were earlier attempts to modernize the M48 to the M60 standard, attempts that will be covered in this article.

Friday, 28 January 2022

Warspot Article: Tanks Worth Their Weight in Gold

One can often hear the argument that Moscow would have fallen in 1941 if not for Lend Lease tanks provided free of charge to the USSR. The truth is somewhat more complicated than that. Read what effect foreign tanks had at Moscow and how they got there in my latest Warspot article.



Wednesday, 26 January 2022

Gas Siphon

 "Award Order

  1. Name: Polyakov, Anatoliy Arkadyevich
  2. Rank: Guards Red Armyman
  3. Position and unit: mechanic-fitter of the technical support company, 18th Minsk Order of the Red Banner Guards Tank Brigade
    is nominated for the "For Courage" medal.
  1. Year of birth: 1920
  2. Nationality: Russian
  3. In the Red Army since: 1940
  4. Party affiliation: none
  5. In combat since: August 7th, 1942
  6. Wounds and contusions: none
  7. Prior awards: Defense of Stalingrad medal
  8. Recruited by: Vladimir recruitment office, Ivanovo oblast
Brief and specific description of combat heroism or accomplishments: A T-34 tank was knocked out in battle on October 13th, 1944. In order to repair it, several road wheels had to be transported from the brigade's repair base.

When the order was given, the repair truck had no gasoline, which delayed delivery of spare parts. Comrade Polyakov suggested siphoning gasoline from a Panther tank knocked out in no man's land. He carried out this mission within 20 minutes, which made delivery of parts and repair of the T-34 tank possible.

For his resourcefulness and fearless action, he is worthy of the "For Courage" medal.

Commander of the technical support company of the 18th Minsk Order of the Red Banner Guards Tank Brigade, Guards Captain Denisov"

Monday, 24 January 2022

A Sequel with Improvements

The American Heavy Tank T26E3 was standardized as the Heavy Tank M26 on March 29th, 1945. This stage was preceded by front line trials where the vehicle that the Americans spent so much time and effort building showed itself pretty well. Standardization was a green light for mass production. The end of the war limited the production volume to 2022 units, so the M26 never replaced the Medium Tank M4. It seemed that the end of production would herald in a new tank that had better armour and armament, but that was not the case. The first American post-war tank was the Medium Tank M46 or Patton, effectively a modernized M26.

Friday, 21 January 2022

Upgrade

 "#006
March 19th, 1945

In order to refresh the materiel of the Transbaikal Front tank forces, I order to:

  1. Rearm the first regiment of each tank division of the Transbaikal Front with T-34 tanks (69 T-34 tanks).
  2. Rearm the first battalion of each tank brigade with T-34 tanks according to TO&E 010/346 (25 T-34 tanks) and #010/318 (23 T-34 tanks).
  3. Keep old tanks left over from rearming tank regiments and tank battalions in the reserve of the commanders of the tank divisions and brigades.
  4. The Commander of Armoured and Mechanized Forces of the Red Army must send 234 T-34 tanks to the Commander of the Transbaikal Front to rearm tank regiments and tank battalions.
    Send the tanks and crews from May 1st to May 31st, 1945.
  5. The Chief of the General Staff will give any necessary directions on transferring tanks to the Transbaikal Front.
People's Commissar of Defense of the USSR
Marshal of the Soviet Union, I. Stalin"

RGVA F.4 Op.11 D.160-161
Printed in Glavnoye Bronetankovoye Upravleniye Lyudi, Sobytiya, Fakty v dokumentakh, 1944-1945 p.440

Wednesday, 19 January 2022

Foreign Aid

"GBTU Tank Directorate report on the amount of imported tanks received from 1941 to January 1945

March 10th, 1945

 

Crom-well

Chur-chill

Matil-da

Valen-tine 3-5

Valen-tine 7

Valen-tine 9-10

M4-A2

M4-A4

M3 med

M3 lt

M5-A1

Bridge-layer

Tetrarch

Total

1941

-

-

145

216

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

361

1942

-

84

626

636

323

-

36

-

812

977

-

-

20

3514

1943

-

174

147

430

709

637

469

2

164

255

5

-

-

2992

1944

6

-

-

82

9

290

2345

-

-

-

-

25

-

2757

January 1945

-

-

-

-

-

-

289

-

-

-

-

-

-

289

Total

6

258

918

1364

1041

927

3139

2

976

1232

5

25

20

9913

 

Mk.1

M3A1

M2

SU-57 (T48)

SU-76 (T70)

SU-76 (M10)

SU M17

SU-37 (M15)

ARVs

1941

330

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

1942

903

261

83

-

-

-

-

-

-

1943

403

608

30

251

-

-

-

-

-

1944

351

1954

-

409

5

52

1000

100

127

January 1945

16

180

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

Total

2003

3003

113

650

5

52

1000

100

127


Deputy Chief of the GBTU TU, Engineer-Colonel Muravich
Chief of the 5th Department of the GBTU TU, Engineer-Colonel Biletkin"

CAMD RF F.38 Op.11355 D.3016 L.118 
Printed in Glavnoye Bronetankovoye Upravleniye Lyudi, Sobytiya, Fakty v dokumentakh, 1944-1945 p.429