Sunday 21 April 2024

Single Hatch for Tank Turrets

The interwar period was a time of new technical solutions, and tanks were no exception. Even though tank development was allocated a limited budget, experiments never stopped. The budgets began to swell in the early 1930s, which coincided with a rapid growth of tank characteristics. Various improvements were implemented, including those that improved the crew's working conditions. 

T-34 in Crimea, 1944. Factory #112 was the last to keep the turret with a single hatch in production. One of their tanks can be seen in the foreground.

One of the characteristic features of Soviet tanks and armoured cars in the late 1930s was the conical turret that came to replace the earlier cylindrical shape. Some vehicles also received a single hatch for their two-man turret. The T-34 tank was the most famous vehicle with this solution. This idea was dropped only to resurface in post-war designs. Let us discuss why this hatch appeared in the first place and why it disappeared.

Tuesday 2 April 2024

Video: Evolution of the T-34's Armour

The T-34 tank might look like it started and ended the Second World War with more or less the same level of armour protection, but things are more complicated than they first appear. In this video, I take a look at how the tank's armour evolved to deal with new threats on the battlefield.

Saturday 16 March 2024

There are Always Two

The tank was initially conceived as a mobile fortress; huge and slow. However, the army had to rein in their appetites from a 300 ton monster to just 28 tons. This didn’t mean that the idea of a mobile fortress died off. The mass of tanks continued to grow and the development of the K-Wagen clearly suggested that not only Lebedenko was thinking about Tsar-tanks. Only the prompt end of the First World War stopped these giants from reaching the battlefield. Although, the monstrous projects that were built by 1919 were about as useful as the rest of the Tsar family: a tank that doesn’t fight in addition to a bell that doesn’t ring and cannon that doesn’t shoot.

T-39, the first Soviet "large" heavy tank. Thankfully, clearer minds prevailed.

For obvious reasons, Soviet tank designers didn’t even think about a heavy breakthrough tank. Ironically, the most numerous tank in the Red Army at the time was the British Mark V that fit this role perfectly. The USSR began working on its own heavy tank in the early 1930s. It just so happened that they ended up with two designs over and over again for two decades. They choice was always made in favour of the lighter one, but it didn’t prevent work on the heavier one from moving forward.

Thursday 29 February 2024

Video: How the T-34 got an 85 mm gun

The T-34 tank was upgraded with an 85 mm gun in a new enlarged turret in 1944. The true story of how the new gun and turret ended up on a 4 year old chassis is an interesting and complicated one. Find out how it happened in my latest video.

Tuesday 27 February 2024

Foreign Tanks in Winter

 "Report on the tactical use of English made MK-2 and MK-3 tanks as well as domestic T-60 tanks in combat

1. The 23rd Tank Brigade was engaged in nonstop fighting from December 16th to December 31st, 1941, and has experience in using MK-2, MK-3, and T-60 tanks in battle.

2. Driving in a tank column made of MK-2, MK-3, and T-60 tanks on a road does not pose a problem if the road was previously used by horse-drawn transport. If the road was not used, the MK-2 and MK-3 can push their way through 40-45 cm deep snow losing speed (the MK-2 can drive well in 3rd gear, the MK-3 in 1st or 2nd gear). The T-60 can't drive in snow this deep without following a path made by horse-drawn transport or medium tanks. It is impossible to drive individual tank columns made only of T-60 tanks in snow this deep. 

There is no particular difficulty when tanks of these types drive on country roads, the specifics of their driving remain the same. 

Sunday 4 February 2024

Video: Not-so-Soviet Inventions

We all know that Scotch was invented by a little old lady from Leningrad, but there were Soviet inventions that had foreign roots and not necessarily the ones you might think. Check out this video to see which of the Red Army's weapon originated abroad and which are surprisingly original.


Thursday 25 January 2024

Flame War

A search for methods to combat tanks began as soon as the tanks themselves reached the battlefield. The first anti-tank rifles and anti-tank cannons were already created during the First World War. They turned out to be quite bulky and could not be used by an individual to combat armoured vehicles. The Germans were the first to design improvised anti-tank grenades that could be used by one person. Bottles of incendiary fluid came later. They also turned up during the First World War, but then they were used for a very different purpose. These bottles were first used against armoured vehicles in Ethiopia and then in Spain. They were quite an effective weapon against first Italian CV 33 tankettes and then Republican T-26 tanks. The Japanese also used bottles filled with gasoline during the battles at Lake Hasan and Khalkhi-Gol. "Bottle artillery" proved its effectiveness once again.

Trials of Molotov cocktails against an A-34 tank, April 1940. The trials were not entirely successful.

Tuesday 2 January 2024

Video: Comparing the D-25T and 8.8 cm KwK 43 L/71

The IS-2 and King Tiger were equipped with some of the most powerful tank guns used in the Second World War, but which one of them takes the top prize? I compare the penetration power of these two legendary weapons in my latest video.  

Sunday 31 December 2023

2023 in Review

As Tank Archives nears the conclusion its eleventh year, I've decided to bring up the traditional year-end summary from the blog's birthday on February 28th to New Year's Eve. Without further ado, let's jump in to see what I've been up to for the last twelve months.

Thursday 21 December 2023

British Tanks in 1943

 "Report on use of foreign MK-2 [Matilda] and MK-3 [Valentine] tanks in combat

1. General characteristics

Since the brigade was created on March 25th, 1942, it was armed with MK-2 and MK-3 tanks. The latter showed themselves well in battle as infantry support tanks in all sorts of battles. There were also cases of using them to combat enemy tanks (Pz.Kpfw.III, Pz.Kpfw.IV) at close ranges (200-600 meters), especially from ambush in defensive fighting.

The off-road mobility and maneuverability of the MK-2 and MK-3 tanks is insufficient compared to the T-34 in all types and periods of battle. The MK-2 tank in particular is not very mobile even on even terrain. In cases where it needs to turn 360 degrees, its turning radius is 15 meters. The tracks often fall off on sharp turns. The limit of the slopes it can climb or descend in winter, rainy, or damp weather is 15-18 degrees. 

The dimensions of the MK-3 tank allow it to get up close to the enemy using terrain features as cover and take them by surprise. In winter, the depth of the snow conceals it from enemy fire. MK-2 and MK-3 tanks have a clearance of 420 mm with a ground pressure of 0.60 [kg/cm²] when the tracks are submerged by 100 mm. In the winter, they can drive through 50-60 cm deep snow, which allows them to drive on country roads and off-road. If anti-tank obstacles need to be crossed, they can cross a 0.75 m tall wall, ford a one meter deep stream, cross an anti-tank trench [figure missing] wide. In the winter they can handle 18 degree slopes, in the summer and in dry weather they can handle 30 degree slopes.