Sunday 24 August 2014

State of Affairs, 1932

"Conclusions of the RKKA staff based on materials provided by the Directorate of Mechanization and Motorization on the development of armoured forces

May 10th, 1932

1. T-27 tankette

Given that the Red Army possesses the T-26, the T-27 is unsatisfactory as a reconnaissance vehicle for motorized infantry for the following reasons: low maximum and average speed, limited off-road capability, insufficient horizontal traverse, poor visibility, low range, lack of backup driving controls. It is necessary to produce a new amphibious tankette that is capable of performing reconnaissance for motorized infantry. For infantry, the T-27 is not very useful due to its limited off-road capability and difficulty in shooting on the move.

I think it is necessary to rapidly perform trials of an amphibious tankette with the aim of producing the improved variant instead of the T-27. Preliminary trials of the tankette show a top speed of 30-31 kph on a highway, good maneuverability and satisfactory buoyancy. Drawbacks include an overly rigid suspension, engine overheating, low fuel capacity (6 hours of driving), low speed on land and on water, poor off-road performance (drives over trenches with difficulty, hits the propeller on highways. The amphibious tankette requires the following characteristics:
  1. A speed of 50-60 kph on a highway, no less than 35-45 off-road, 15 kph on water with perpendicular current.
  2. Capable of crossing trenches 1.6-1.8 meters wide.
  3. Fuel capacity to run the engine at maximum RPM for 8 hours.
  4. Capable of traversing a 35-40 degree grade that is three times as long as the tankette.
  5. 360 degree traverse with one regular or high caliber machinegun.
  6. Gyroscopic compass and speedometer.
  7. Armour should protect the crew and mechanisms from SMK and AU armour piercing bullets from 50 meters.
  8. Crew of two.
  9. Ammunition capacity: 3000 rounds for the machinegun.
  10. Water cooled engine.
2. T-26 light tank

Trials of a 45 mm gun with a coaxial machinegun in the T-26 turret show that the semi-automatic mechanism is unreliable, the turret is cramped (420 and 430 mm for the gunner and loader, which reflects poorly on the rate and precision of fire, the turret does not turn fast enough, leading to poor agility of fire. The foot trigger is poorly positioned, the optical sight is unreliable, the ventilation is inadequate, which reflects on the combat ability of the crew. After trials of this mount are done, two others must be tested immediately.
  1. In order to increase the rate of fire and precision, push the gun forward, tilt the front of the turret, and remove the rear turret bustle, designed to balance the turret. 
  2. Make a wider turret with a tilted forward section and lack of turret bustle.
If the tank commander is to the right of the gun (acting as the loader), give him a second periscope, otherwise he cannot control the tank as he cannot see.

Rapidly finish the trials of the 45 mm gun, and produce only tanks with a single turret, carrying a 45 mm gun capable of rotating 360 degrees with 110 rounds of ammunition and 3000 bullets. Install a gyroscopic compass and speedometer. Work on the following issues:
  1. Extend fuel capacity to 10 hours at maximum engine RPM.
  2. Investigate the issue of buoyancy (or underwater driving) with a tank on the T-26 chassis.
  3. Investigate the possibility of a convertible drive.
  4. Investigate the possibility of making the tank air-tight.
  5. Increase the speed to 50 kph on tracks and 100 kph on wheels.
  6. Increase the reliability of mechanisms, reaching 1000 km before medium repairs are needed.
3. TMM-1 and TMM-2

Due to the variety of theaters of war and special climate conditions where winter lasts 3-5 months, it is more reasonable to develop air cooled engines and have automotive factories produce them instead of making the vehicle rely on availability of water in the summer and antifreeze in the winter. TMM-1 and TMM-2 vehicles based on imported water-cooled engines are of no value. It is reasonable to develop domestic engines for armoured vehicles.

4. Fast BT tank

Factory trials of the original and domestically produced BT tank show that the tank can drive on asphalt and dirt roads on wheels. The original was not trialled on tracks, as the left idler was broken. Our tank was not trialled on tracks over a large distance, and it is impossible to make conclusions of its tactical value. 

Given current tactical-technical qualities, the BT cannot be considered a fully functional battle machine, capable of driving on wheels on wet dirt and dirty roads. RKKA UMM should, without stopping production, design a BT tank with four drive wheels, later increasing that number to six. The track removal and installation process should be mechanized, as taking 30-45 minutes to install tracks and 15-30 minutes to remove them is excessively high. 

RKKA HQ insists on rapid modernization of the BT and construction of a prototype amphibious tank.

5. T-28 medium tank

We currently produce no medium tanks. The construction and trials of a prototype should be accelerated in order to begin production in August-September.

6. Heavy tank

I consider it necessary to have a heavy tank designed for penetration of enemy defenses, fortresses, and fighting enemy heavy tanks. The tank should have the following technical-tactical characteristics:
  1. Speed: 40-50 kph
  2. Range: 300-400 km
  3. Air cooled engine
  4. Maximum grade: 45 degrees
  5. Ability to cross trenches 7 m wide
  6. Capable of moving on railroads (foreign and domestic) on its own power
  7. Can cross water hazards either by driving underwater or swimming
  8. Capable of knocking over two trees at once, with a diameter of 0.5 meters each
  9. Armour should guarantee protection from a 3-inch shell fired at 800 m/s at 50 meters.
  10. Armament:
    1. 1 152 mm gun with 360 degree traverse
    2. 2 semi-automatic 76 mm guns with 280 degree traverse
    3. 12-14 machineguns
    4. 2 37 mm AA autocannons and 2 AA machienguns (out of the 14)
  11. Ammunition:
    1. 152 mm shells: 60
    2. 76 mm shells: 200
    3. 37 mm shells: 1000
    4. 2000 rounds of ammunition per machinegun
  12. A radio
  13. The tank should have a gyroscopic compass, speedometer, and observation devices.
  14. The tank should be impenetrable to gases.
  15. The combat weight should be less than 150 tons.
  16. Blueprints of the tank should be delivered to the RKKA HQ no later than August of this year. Work with the aim to have a prototype by the start of 1933.
Conclusions on tanks
  1. Tanks are a powerful offensive force, and their development should follow corresponding types: first light and medium, then heavies and tankettes. Meanwhile, the plan for 1932 has equal amounts of tankettes as tanks: 3000 T-26, 2000 BT, 5000 T-27. I deem it necessary to make a push for light tanks for next year.
  2. Currently, there is no complete data on the tactical-operative value of vehicles in the RKKA. I consider it necessary to investigate the issue of testing the BT, T-26, T-27, D-13, and D-8 in combat conditions (three vehicles of each type) in order to determine the following:
    1. Daily range of vehicles on highways, dirt roads, and mixed terrain in various conditions.
    2. Average speed over 100, 200, 300, 400, and 500 km on highways, dirt roads, and mixed terrain, with various obstacles (water, swamps, sand, elevation, etc)
    3. Average range of night marches on various roads.
    4. Exhaustion of crews of tanks and armoured cars after day and night marches.
    5. The capability of each vehicles to cross various obstacles: trenches, elevation, fording, driving over sand, swamps, stumps, etc.
    6. Accuracy of shooting from 100 to 2000 meters.
    7. Reliability of vehicles, increase reliability to 5000-8000 kilometers
  3. Perform trials no later than May of this year. Perform additional trials in fall-winter conditions. The RKKA considers performing these trials for all combat and auxiliary vehicles, both domestic and foreign bought.
7. Tractor

The tractor will work in motorized infantry units, and must have the same tactical-technical characteristics as a T-26. The tractor should be based on the T-26 chassis, and not only be useful for transporting infantry, but also evacuating the wounded, delivering ammunition and fuel, and as a command vehicle for motorized and tank units. It can also be used as a mobile workshop for battlefield repairs and a radio tank.

8. Engineering vehicles

An experimental prototype has been built with a 76 mm mountain gun on a T-26 chassis. As the tank does not have a rotating turret, I would suggest withholding production. It is necessary to develop a T-26 tank with a semi-automatic 76 mm gun in a rotating turret. It is also unreasonable to produce SPGs using Moreland trucks, as they are imported and have poorer off-road performance than Ford AA trucks.

9. Sapper tank

No complaints about the sapper tank. Aside from a sapper tank, we need a mine carrier tank. The mine carrier tank should have the same characteristics as a light tank, and should carry 1200-1500 AT mines, and two machineguns. The mine carrier is meant to lay mines in three rows in an interleaving pattern 1.5 meters away from one another during tank battles, when being chased by enemy tanks, when retreating and creating minefields for defense, on flanks, etc.

RKKA HQ Chief, Egorov"

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