Monday 23 February 2015

Achievements and Predictions, 1929

"Report of the Artillery Directorate of the Supplies Directorate on achievements from 1925 to 1928

Part 2: Scientific research work on improving armament (Artkom)
Moscow, 1929
  1. The army's technical strength is a consequence of the technical and cultural condition of the country.
  2. Between exiting the World War in 1917 and until the end of the Civil War, the USSR was completely cut off from the West for four years. This, as well as the destruction of industry and a lack of materials and production capacity impeded any development of an armament improvement program.
  3. Artkom places three principles into the development of artillery technology, same as in the West: surprise, mass, and depth.
  4. The principle of surprise is achieved in the following ways:
    1. Increasing mobility, primarily operational mobility (wide use of mechanical transport, development of railroad artillery).
    2. Development of methods that permit opening lethal fire immediately (such as use of land or air observers).
  5. The principle of mass involves admitting that artillery can only be effective when used in massed amounts. It is necessary to strengthen artillery as a type of forces and establish a powerful Supreme Command reserve, as well as centralized control of artillery in battle.
  6. The principle of depth is achieved by increasing the range of all guns and increasing the horizontal and vertical field of fire.
  7. Requirements for new artillery systems that solve the issues of modern war are composed considering the following factors:
    1. Widespread use of aircraft.
    2. Group infantry tactics and use of defense in depth, using both natural terrain and artificial fortifications.
    3. Widespread use of tanks.
    4. Use of chemical weapons.
  8. Considering the above, it is suggested that a new system of armament should be developed and taken as the baseline.
    1. Existing weapons should be evaluated from the point of view of the new system.
    2. A realistic plan of improvements should be adopted, and weapons that cannot be adapted to the new system must be found out.
    3. A realistic plan for development of new designs that satisfy the new system must be created.
      However, this path is long, so the first stage is defined by Artkom to be:
      1. Modernization of existing designs.
      2. Creation of new designs, made necessary by tactics of modern battle.
  9. Modernization is defined by Artkom as changes made to a design that improve its characteristics according to the new tactical-technical requirements without interfering with production and acceptable according to economic and supply considerations.
  10. In order to better describe work performed in the past years on modernization and development of new designs, let us briefly describe the state of armament in 1925, analyze it, and attempt to evaluate the modernization work based on this analysis.

In 1925, support tanks with a special domestic tank motor were sent to the Bolshevik factory with the aim of producing the first batch in 1928. Work proceeded mostly as follows:
  • 1926: working blueprints were finished, production began.
  • 1927: trials were performed, the first production batch was organized.
  • 1928: mass production of the MS-1 began, working blueprints of the T-12 maneuver tank were completed, work on a one-man tank began.
Modernization of existing B and M tanks was scheduled.

Existing tank Modernization Replacement
B tank (breakthrough) Planned T-12
S tank (maneuver)

M tank (support) Planned One-man tank

Foreign achievements

KN convertible drive
Mass (tons)
Fuel capacity (liters)
Range (hours)
3 coax
Maximum speed
Front and side armour (mm)
Roof armour (mm)
Maximum traversible trench width (meters)
Maximum fording depth (meters)
Maximum grade (degrees)
Armament of tanks and armoured cars

In 1926, the following weapons were available:
  1. 37 mm Hotchkiss tank gun
  2. 57 mm Hotchkiss tank gun
  3. 0.303 inch Hotchkiss machinegun
The last two weapon types were captured.

As a result of proving grounds trials, it was discovered that existing cannons and machineguns were hard to use, and a series of improvements for the 37 mm Hotchkiss gun was defined. 
Orders were made for a 45 mm tank gun that could replace captured armament. Work began on using Fedorov machineguns instead of captured ones.


A special shoulder stock was designed for the 37 mm Hotchkiss gun, with sights and a trigger mechanism, and production started for existing tanks. At the same time, changes were made to the gun mantlet to increase horizontal traverse range.
A new mount for 37 mm Hotchkiss guns was designed and tested for new tanks and armoured cars.
A mount for two coaxial Fedorov Avtomats was tested, and a mount for the Degtyaryev machinegun was designed. Orders were made for a high power 37 mm tank gun.


The Degtyaryev tank machinegun mount was designed and entered production for both new vehicles and replacement of machineguns captured vehicles. Production of a special 37 mm tank gun started.
A 45 mm gun is being tested for maneuver tanks and replacement of captured B tanks.
A universal stock for 37 mm Hotchkiss guns with an optical sight was designed.

Supplies of tank columns:

Aside from battle vehicles, it is necessary to equip tank units with tracked tractors and trailers, capable of following a tank unit on marches and transporting personnel (commanders, scouts, communications personnel, support personnel) with their belongings and supplies (ammunition, fuel, lubricant, etc). The speed of these tractors should be no less than that of tanks, and their off-road performance should allow them to follow tanks on any terrain.

It is necessary to limit the number of different types of these tanks due to our limited manufacturing capacity and to reap the benefits of having one chassis. This suggests that such a tractor should use as many existing tank components as possible.

Initially, a light tractor based on the standard MS-1 tank was developed, with a maximum speed that is equal to the maximum speed of the tank, even when it is towing a trailer. The trailer is in development, with the aim to make it compatible with existing trailers in order to provide mechanized transport for artillery.

  1. By 1929, after four years of research, design, construction, and trials, tank building work is underway at three factories. The RKKA will receive its first domestically designed support tank, smallest in its weight class, with an air cooled engine, with high off-road performance, high speed that allows it to support infantry and cavalry on marches and in battle, armour that is invincible against regular riflemen, with armament that allows it to complete objectives for the tanks of this type (fighting infantry and enemy positions at ranges of effective fire during tank attacks). Tanks are capable of fighting against tanks with analogous armour at straight shot ranges. Experimental 37 mm guns that are more appropriate for a modern battlefield are in development, and orders for production will be made after they finish trials.
    Simultaneously with production of the tank, the issue of tractors and auxiliary vehicles is being solved.
  2. An experimental maneuver tank has been designed and is being assembled.
  3. The first tankette is finishing trials. Its components and design, first used in our industry, will be studied in the summer of 1929 to obtain data required for a design to be assembled in 1930 that will be acceptable for use by the army.
  4. When the three required types of tanks are completed, the issue of arming the RKKA with tanks that match our closest enemies will be resolved.
  5. The path of motorization of the RKKA is inevitable, as we cannot afford to provide an advantage to our enemies. This challenges the AU to design new tanks that fully match the requirements provided by the RKKA, which need significant technical and tactical research to define.
  6. Artkom's current priority is increasing the movement speed of support tanks without decreasing other combat characteristics.
The issues of radio communications, AA defenses, poison gas protection, smokescreens, and transport on wheeled trailers on roads will be solved in the near future."

V. Lehn collection

The B tank in question is a British MkV tank. Presumably the S tank is a Whippet, and M tank is an FT-17.

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