Saturday 23 May 2015

German Intel: Red Army Tanks

Naturally, before you invade a country, you need to be aware of what their army is like. This is a German intelligence bulletin listing the tanks that were known to be in the Red Army. Black rectangles mark especially vulnerable areas.

"BA Ford" armoured car

This is a BA-10 armoured car. The German document correctly identifies it as being armed with one 45 mm gun and two machineguns, although the hull MG is very much overexaggerated in the drawing. The armour is also listed correctly (6-10 mm). The speed is a little low (50 kph instead of 52). The mass is listed as 5-7 tons, which is also a bit high (actual mass was 5.1 tons). The vehicle is shown to be vulnerable to armour piercing bullets at 250 meters and 20 mm shells at 700 meters.

Amphibious Tank T-37

The T-37 is correctly named, but its armour is overestimated (10 mm instead of 8) and so is the speed (45 kph instead of 40), but the rest seems about right. The vulnerability of the vehicle is the same as the BA-10.

Amphibious tank T-38

The data on the T-38 is largely the same as on the T-37, except it's 100 kg lighter (it was actually heavier, at 3.3 tons). The armour is still listed as 10 mm, even though it's still thinner (9 mm). Vulnerability is, naturally, the same.

Vickers-Armstrong's T-26A tank

This is the two-turreted T-26 mod. 1931 or 1932. The document can't decide, ascribing the tank an armament of one 37 mm gun and two machineguns, whereas in reality tanks with two turrets had either two machineguns or one 37 mm gun and one machinegun. The armour is listed as 14 mm, which is in between the mod. 1931's 13 mm and mod. 1932's 15 mm. The mass (8.55 tons) is more than either of the modifications (8 and 8.4 tons respectively). This tank is listed as invulnerable to armour piercing bullets, but still vulnerable to 20 mm shells at a range of 550 meters.

Vickers-Armstrong's T-26B Tank

This is the most common T-26, T-26 mod. 1933. Armour is too thin (14 mm instead of 15 mm) and mass is a bit high (9.55 tons instead of 9.4). Vulnerability is the same as the above tank.

Vickers-Armstrong's T-26B Flamethrower Tank

This is a KhT-130 chemical tank, the Red Army's most common flamethrower tank on the T-26 chassis. Data is the same as on the "T-26B".

Vickers-Armstrong's T-26C Tank

This is the last model of the T-26, T-26 mod. 1939. The mass is too low again (9.7 tons instead of 10.25), armour is still too thin at 14 mm. The armament is identified correctly. The vulnerability of the tank is the same as above.

BT (Christie tank)

Despite the Germans being aware that there are different kinds of BT tank, they are all rolled into the one BT entry. The mass is listed as 10.5 tons to 12 tons, and is a little off again, as the BT-2 weighed in at 11 tons and the BT-7 went up to 13.9 tons. Armour is listed as 6-16 mm; too thin for the BT-7, which went up to 22 mm. Armament is listed for all BT models, including the BT-7 with a 76 mm gun. The vehicle is vulnerable to 20 mm shells at 400 meters. 

T-28 Medium Tank

Here we have the classic T-28 with a KT-28 gun. Unlike with the T-26, there is only one T-28 model listed in the guide. The mass is a bit too high (28 tons vs. 25). Vulnerability is listed as 300 meters with the 20 mm gun, 700 meters with the Czech 37 mm gun, 450 meters with the German 37 mm gun, 1400 meters with the 50 mm tank gun, and 1500 meters with the 50 mm AT gun. The side is vulnerable at 500 meters to the 20 mm gun and at any range to any other gun.

T-35A Heavy Tank

The drawing might not look like it, but yes, this is the T-35. Armament is identified correctly, even though the drawing seems to be missing three turrets. Vulnerability is the same as in for the T-28.

T-35C Heavy Tank

The SMK (the only new Soviet tank the Germans seemed to be aware of) has been rolled into the T-35 family, which is not too absurd if you don't have very good intel. The drawing is of the early SMK with the T-35 suspension, but the tank already lost its third turret. This information is likely based on the SMK that was bogged down in Finland, as there was not much opportunity to examine the other two prototype heavy tanks.

The vulnerability of the tank is not too shabby either: impervious to bullets or 20 mm shells, vulnerable to 37 mm guns at 100 meters, and to 50 mm guns at 450 meters. The Germans bust out the heavy artillery here, noting that the tank is vulnerable at 500 meters to the 105 mm mod. 1918 cannon firing mod. 1939 shells.

And that's it, no T-34, no KV-1 or KV-2. Those tanks were indeed surprises for the German intelligence.


  1. Do you have this in a PDF format with original notes ?

    1. Not PDF, but they are here

  2. Very interesting, I remember the book written by Michulec, who spent pages and pages arguing (without any evidence) that the Germans were expecting tanks like KV-1/T34.