Friday 11 April 2014

Heavy Tanks and Lightening

"To the Deputy People's Commissar of Defense, Lieutenant-General of the Tank Forces, comrade Fedorenko


On the issue of design and production of experimental heavy tanks, I report that:

The current heavy KV tank fielded by the Red Army demonstrates superiority in battle over fascist tanks with its powerful armour and armament. It can be successfully used to destroy the enemy defences, crushing them with its tracks and gun. The Patriotic war, combining in its nature a positional war with a maneuver war requires much of a heavy tank, and the KV does not fully meet those requirements. The KV lacks mobility for the following reasons:
  1. A low maximum speed limits its ability to move between flanks to counter-attack.
  2. Insufficient visibility from the tank makes orienting on the battlefield difficult.
  3. The tank's mobility is decreased by its number of gears: five forward gears is not enough for a heavy tank.
  4. The force required to shift gears is large. Momentum acquired on lower gears is wasted, and the tank must slowly accelerate in a higher gear.
  5. The brake ribbons are insufficiently reliable and lead to the tank stopping on the battlefield and requiring repairs.
The usage characteristics of the KV are limited by:
  1. The requirement for robust bridges or other means of crossing ravines or water hazards.
  2. The requirement for powerful tractors for rapid evacuation from the battlefield, dragging out of ravines, traps, etc, or the use of more of these expensive vehicles.
  3. The requirement of units to have powerful repair tools.
Based on the above, the government must task the People's Commissariat of Tank Production to order the Kirov factory and factory #183 to produce two experimental prototypes of heavy tanks with the following characteristics"
  1. Combat mass: 30 tons
  2. Crew: 4 (3 in the turret)
  3. Armour:
    1. front and turret: 90 mm
    2. side and rear: 75 mm
    3. roof and bottom: 25 mm
  4. Armament:
    1. 76 mm gun: 1
    2. DT machineguns: 2 (one coaxial and one in the hull)
    3. SMGs: 2 (PPSh)
    4. Flamethrower: 1 (attachable instead of the hull machinegun)
  5. Gun range:
    1. vertical: -5 to +25 degrees
    2. horizontal: 360 degrees
  6. Hull machinegun range:
    1. vertical: -5 to +15 degrees
    2. horizontal: +/- 10 degrees
  7. Ammunition capacity:
    1. Shells: 50
    2. Machinegun rounds: 2520
    3. PPSh rounds: 1000
    4. Flamethrower fluid: 20 shots
  8. Engine: V-2 or V-2K diesel, 500-600 hp
  9. Maximum speed:
    1. Highway: 60 kph
    2. Off-road: 25 kph
  10. Off-road range, non-stop: 10 hours
  11. Transmission: planetary
  12. View: 360 degrees, provided to the commander with an observation hatch in the turret roof, optical sights (with exit eyepiece 10-12 mm and field of vision no less than 60 degrees), and doubled observation devices (in the roof) for the driver.
  13. Communications:
    1. External: quartz radio station
    2. Internal: TPU-3 with throat microphone
  14. The side reductors must be protected by main armour.
  15. The coolant system and air filters should provide 10 hours of uninterrupted movement off-road in 45 degree heat.
  16. The engine must be able to start without external heating at a temperature of -45 degrees.
A tank produced in accordance with the above requirements will be fully equipped for modern war and will be an even more deadly weapon against fascist tanks.

BTU Chief, Major-General of Tank Forces Korobkov
Representing the BTU Military Commissar, Engineer-Lieutenant-Colonel Kovalev
June 1st, 1942"

Seems that the "medium tank with heavy armour" concept surfaced again, two years later. If you look at the characteristics of the A-44, it matches these requirements exactly!

As for the products of Kirov factory and factory #183, those were, of course, the KV-13 and T-43. Neither vehicle ended up in production, but the KV-13 influenced the IS series and the T-43's turret migrated to the T-34-85. 


  1. They wanted a crew of 4 with 3 of those in the turret, so was the driver expected to man the hull machinegun/flamethrower?

    1. Yes. In both cases his weapon would just be fixed facing forward and would not require a lot of effort or attention for him to operate.