Wednesday 3 April 2013

Aberdeen: British Intelligence Bulletin #78

Along with KV-1 and T-34 tanks for testing, a number of engineers and officers were sent. They, of course, wrote many reports on their experiences. This one was written by Engineer-Captain V. Prishelenko in October of 1943.

"From the materials of the [Aberdeen] proving grounds library, a certain piece grabbed my attention: "Bulletin of the British Intelligence #78, January 7, 1943". I was only allowed to view handwritten excerpts, provided to me by Lieutenant Clime. The bulletin is composed of documents captured in North Africa and prisoner interrogations. The content of the bulletin was summarized to me as:

...During the war in Finland, the Russians tested all new armament, especially tanks. Several of the tanks were found insufficient for modern war, and, with Russian energy and persistence, work on their successors began...
...Possessing talented engineers and a solid industry, KV and T-34 tanks were designed and mass produced in a very short amount of time...
...Only thanks to Hitler's foresight, and the sudden attack on Russia, were the Russians forced to start a war with obsolete equipment. Manufacturers did not gain proficiency with new tanks, crews were not trained, the armies were demoralized, the rear and supply lines disorganized. The German attacks were successful regardless of what types of tanks opposed them...
...During the war, the Russians managed to start mass producing T-34 and KV tanks. By the winter campaign in 1943 they had the advantage on all fronts. The T-34 has wonderful combat characteristics: it is fast, maneuverable, has excellent armour and armament...
...After a series of engagements against T-34s and KVs, it was made clear that the tanks are superior to German ones, and German tactics were changed accordingly. Every effort was made to avoid engagement unless a numeric advantage (on the side of the Germans) existed.

Based on this information, a comparison with the data obtained at Aberdeen convinces more and more officers that the tanks sent to them were not new, and most likely were sent after capital repairs. Additionally, they are convinced that newer vehicles are far superior, and have nothing in common with those currently at Aberdeen."

CAMD RF 38-11355-1712

The officers were right. American tests made a number of grievous errors (forgetting to oil up or clean an air filter, for instance). The tanks were several years old. The KV-1 (#11302) was made in 1942 and shipped to the Americans before Kirov workers had time to install pump screens. The T-34 was a Model 1941, based on the photographs of the museum exhibit and descriptions of its components. Two years of a brutal war wouldn't be kind to any tank. Another KV-1, shipped to the British (#11306) was previously based in Kubinka, and not as a museum exhibit. Old equipment and improper maintenance doesn't exactly make for tests that demonstrate the best characteristics of any tank.


  1. Thanks for the translation. It is really useful because for these pdf documents you cannot use google translate.

    It's interesting what you said about the T-34 because Svirin in his books states that the tanks were manufactured as "pattern" vehicles i.e. you would send it to another factory for them to start production.

  2. The vehicles sent to Britain and America were not any different from production vehicles (some of them were made months before, and shipped after repairs). Perhaps Svirin is referring to the extended instrument kits and spare parts sent with the tanks.