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


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

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


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.