Friday 6 March 2015

Deciding on Tanks, 1925

"Minutes of a meeting with the Chief of the Mobilization Planning Directorate of the RKKA
October 24th, 1925

  1. Directorate chief, comrade Volpe
  2. Special Artillery Department chief, comrade Tonilov
  3. Artillery committee member, comrade Rozhkov
  4. GUVP Tank Bureau chief, comrade Shukalov
Chair: comrade Volpe.
Secretary: comrade Pleshkov.

Topic: on supplying the Red Army with tanks. Presenter: Volpe.

It is necessary to define measures and deadlines to equip the Red Army with tanks. Suggestions:
  1. Rely on domestic production, using imports as auxiliaries.
  2. Investigate the following parts of the issue separately:
    1. Importing tanks: capabilities, types, amount.
    2. Existing domestic tanks and domestic tank building.
    3. Design and the future of tank building.
On the issue of importing tanks, comrades Shukalov and Tonilov:

Last year (1924) we received an offer from Italy to buy no less than 10 Fiat-3000 tanks. Regarding France and England, the issue of buying tanks cannot be resolved due to political reasons.

As a result of preliminary preparations by the GUVP Tank Bureau and Artillery Committee with the Artillery Inspectorate, consider the following models compatible with technical requirements of the Red Army:
  • Support tank, Fiat-3000, Italy
  • Support tank: Meniliet, France
  • Maneuver tank: V-9, England.
Consider it necessary to purchase one or two of each tank from abroad as experimental machines for study by GUVP engineers. In case of a denial, buy only minimal amounts of Fiat-3000 and V-9 tanks, in the amount of an RKKA tank unit, with an additional tank for use by GUVP.

Ask the Revolutionary Military Council to give orders to the People's Commissariat of External Trade to determine the ability to purchase these tanks, the minimal amount, cost, and time of fulfilling that order.

Buy two Card motors (America) as samples for installing in a maneuver tank and for design work to produce a domestic tank engine.

On domestic tanks and tank designs, comrade Shukalov:

A support tank has been designed (air cooled, 37 mm gun), and is currently being examined by the Artillery Committee. Blueprints and descriptions have been given to the Obukhov factory, with the aim of producing an experimental prototype by August 1925. The issue of mass production of these tanks can be resolved by Spring of 1927.

Decision: GUVP ensures that the work at the Bolshevik factory on a support tank is completed in time. The Artillery Committee finishes the examination of blueprints and descriptions, and sends the results promptly to the GUVP Tank Bureau.

On domestic design work, comrade Shukalov:

Work is being done to equip the support tank with a water cooled engine.
A maneuver tank with a 45 mm gun is being designed.
The design of a positional tank is postponed due to a lot of work at the Tank Bureau.

Decision: Taking into account difficulty with supplies and variety of armament, the GUVP Tank Bureau and Artillery Committee should build a support tank that uses a regimental gun (three units). 
Continue work on a maneuver tank, and finish it by June of 1926. 
Aim for unification of armament. Define a positional tank in general terms only. Determine the most suitable tank we can produce.

Signed: Chair, A Volpe
Secretary Pleshkov"

As usual, the indices are a little obscure, so let's go through them. The V-9 (9-ton Vickers) is a Vickers Medium Tank Mk. I. No idea what a Meniliet is (maybe they meant Chenillette), but the "support tank" is quite obviously an MS-1, leading me to believe that the "support tank with a regimental cannon" is a SU-18. The "maneuver tank" is a T-12, which was eventually finished and went through trials in December of 1929 (unsatisfactorily). A "positional tank" is a heavy tank. One was indeed designed at the Bolshevik factory in the coming years (T-30), but was considered too complicated to build.

Another interesting part of the document is the reference to the Bolshevik factory by its old name: "Obukhov factory". The name changed in 1922, but it looks like some people were still slipping up and using the old name.

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