Wednesday, 16 June 2021

KV-3 Gun Mount

 "I.V. Stalin factory #92

September 8th, 1941

To the Chief Engineer of the Chelyabinsk Factory, comrade Makhonin

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

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

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

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

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

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

Factory director Elyan
Chief designer Grabin"

Via Yuri Pasholok

Monday, 14 June 2021

Germany and the T-34

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

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

Friday, 11 June 2021

In Defense of the Panzer IV

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

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

Pz.Kpfw.IV tank or assault gun?

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

Wednesday, 9 June 2021

Fathers of the SU-152

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

On the creation of an SPG design group

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

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

Monday, 7 June 2021

Armoured Confusion: Start of the Great Patriotic War

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

Friday, 4 June 2021

Book Review: Soviet T-62 Main Battle Tank

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

Wednesday, 2 June 2021

War Plans

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

Tank type

Authorized strength

On hand as of Jan 1st, 1941

% Authorized strength as of Jan 1st, 1941

Expected inventory as of Jan 1st, 1942

% Authorized strength as of Jan 1st, 1942







































































Armoured cars









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

Via Yuri Pasholok

Monday, 31 May 2021

IS-2 Front Line Impressions

The appearance of the heavy IS-2 tank was an unpleasant surprise for the Wehrmacht. The Germans could no longer rely on the qualitative supremacy that Tigers and Panthers enjoyed in 1943. The first battles with Soviet vehicles showed that the time of "big cats" was at an end.

Friday, 28 May 2021

Mystery Tank

"To the commanders of the 6th Guards Motorized Rifle Brigade

A POW revealed that the German army received a new type of heavy tank called the Leopard, weighing 40 tons and armed with one 75 mm gun and two machine guns. Front armour is 100-110 mm thick.

Take measures to obtain more precise information. Do not confuse it with the Panther tank.

New information is to be immediately relayed to the HQ of the 6th Guards Motorized Rifle Brigade

Acting Chief of Staff of the 6th Guards Motorized Rifle Brigade, Guards Major Litvin"

Wednesday, 26 May 2021

German Tank Riders

For some reason, infantry hitching a ride on tanks is a tactic stereotypically associated only with the USSR. In reality, infantry from all nations did this, even those that produced APCs such as Germany. This was not an ad hoc maneuver either, but a tactic officially described in field manual. For instance, manual 130/2b "Motorized company of an infantry motorized division" signed by General Walther von Brauchitsch on October 11th, 1941, states:

"190. To defeat an enemy positioned in cover, it is sometimes reasonable to mount troops on tanks that would be able to defeat the concealed enemy firing from their vehicle or in close combat. In this case, equip them with hand grenades, pistols, submachine guns, and flare guns.

Communication with tanks is achieved through the normal signals (attachment #2). However, regardless of this, one must carefully negotiate cooperation between the tank crew and the troops that ride the tank ahead of time."

CAMD RF F.500 Op.12480 D.24 p.227