Saturday 31 December 2016

Char B: On France's Backburner

On May 13th, 1924, a demonstration of medium tanks built according to the Char de bataille program took place in Rueil-Malmaison. FAMH, FCM, Renault, and Schneider each built a prototype. The plan was to pick the most successful design and split up the contract for 120 tanks between the companies. However, it turned out that none of the tanks completely satisfied requirements of the military. As a result, General Estienne, the originator of the Char B program, was forced to create new requirements in March of 1925 for an improved tank which would use the most successful technical solutions from its predecessors.

Friday 30 December 2016

Char B: A Difficult Beginning

The Char B1 and its improved version, the Char B1 bis, stand as the symbol of French tank building in WWII. At the start of WWII, these were the best medium tanks, combining shell-proof armour and serious armament, capable of destroying any tank in the world. Meanwhile, several elements of the Char B1, such as its suspension and its short barreled 75 mm howitzer in the hull, were rather archaic. Naturally, there was a good reason for this. Even though the Char B1 was accepted into service in 1934, five years before the start of the war, its story begins more than a decade and a half prior...

Thursday 29 December 2016


"Photo album of D-5S-85 with increased muzzle velocity designed by factory #9 and installed by Uralmash factory 

Photo #1: Overall view of the SPG with gun elevated to 25°.

Wednesday 28 December 2016

MS-1 Production Plans

"November 6th, 1928

To the State Izhor Factory (GIZ)

The Bolshevik factory writes to you with a proposal to produce armoured hulls for the T-18 according to blueprints and technical requirements from the Bolshevik factory. The order can be fulfilled in whichever of two variants you prefer:

Tuesday 27 December 2016

85 mm AT Gun Battery

"16.11 At 13:00, a radio telegram arrives from the XXXXVI Tank Corps giving us the objective to deliver an attack from Shitkovo through Lama, as the progress of 2 Pz.D. is blocked by flanking fire from the forest east of Morozovo."
NARA T-315 R-587 F-1014/1019

The Soviet report shines a little more light on the nature of this blocking fire:

"On 16.11, around 12:00, the enemy began an attack on the left flank of the 316th Rifle Division (8th Guards) with 25 tanks. Of them, 7 tanks fired from standstill and 18 drove towards Morozovo. The 4th AT gun battery of the 768th Artillery Regiment opened fire on the advancing tanks despite enemy fire. As a result, 3 tanks were knocked out and the tank attack was pushed back. The battery lost one gun."

Seems like a fairly standard course of events, but the 768th Artillery Regiment wasn't an ordinary AT gun unit.

Saturday 24 December 2016

Combat Car T4: Christie Style

On March 25th, 1931, the US Wheel Track Layer Corporation and Bureau of Ordnance signed a contract to build five Christie M.1931 tanks, later expanded to seven. American infantry received three Convertible Medium Tanks T3 and cavalry received four Combat Cars T1. It seemed that the long struggle between Christie and the American military finally ended with Christie's victory, and a large order will follow the first batch of tanks any day now. However, history took a different path, and the Christie suspension was a dead end for the American tank building school. However, the evolution of American convertible drive designs led to several interesting vehicles, one of which was the Convertible Medium Tank M1, which was standardized for service.

Friday 23 December 2016

We Lost a Track!

"On the losses of materiel
For the T-34, a characteristic loss is the destruction of tracks, drive wheels, and idlers. Out of 24 losses, 20 tanks were lost for these reasons. During our attacks, the enemy concentrated fire from several anti-tank guns on one tank and then moved fire to the next tank. There were two cases of partial penetrations of front armour, and those tanks went on to attack again after that.
Conclusions: T-34 tanks need strengthening of the tracks, idlers, and drive wheels to be equivalent in robustness to the front armour, since suspension damage in battle impedes further use of the tank, especially if there is a shortage of spare parts and tractors that can evacuate the tank."

Via zihuatanexo.

Wednesday 21 December 2016

Trophies into Battle

"Report on the fighting condition of captured tanks (German)

In Zamoshye: 1 medium tank without a turret, functional. At the battalion's repair yard: 3 medium tanks.
  1. No machineguns, optics, or radio, requires medium repairs (suspension, radiator, fuel tanks, turret hatch).
  2. No machineguns, optics, or radio, requires medium repairs (electric wiring, radiators, suspension).
  3. No machineguns, optics, or radio, requires medium repairs (suspension, fuel tanks).

Tuesday 20 December 2016

Launch of the IS-6

"Order of the People's Commissar of Tank Production of the USSR
June 8th, 1944

Factory #100 (comrades Kotin, Yermolayev) jointly with TsNII-48 (comrades Zavyanov, Kapyrin) developed a draft project of the IS-6 heavy tank, which has significant advantages in terms of armour compared to the IS-2 mass produced tank.

In order to ensure timely production and trials of experimental prototypes of the new IS-6 tanks, I order that:

Sunday 18 December 2016

Light Tank M2: Two-Headed Light

In January of 1935, the Light Tank T2E1 arrived at Fort Benning for military trials. This vehicle was the result of nine years of trial and error, which began with the design of the Light Tank T1. Over time, the concept of the light tank changed radically. It transformed from a two man tank with an engine in the front and a 37 mm gun as the main armament to a 4 man tank with a rear engine, front transmission, and machineguns in a two man turret. As a result of the trials, the Light Tank T2E1 was accepted into service as the Light Tank M2A1.

Saturday 17 December 2016

World of Tanks History Section: Panfilov's Last Step Back

The front line passed near Kryukovo in late November of 1941: a settlement and a railway station. The Red Army and the Wehrmacht pushed against it like two boxers. One, more vicious and more experienced, was still attacking, but his blows lacked the crushing strength they had at the start of the bout. The other, forced to keep his guard up, was barely standing. He missed hits, spat blood, fell down. But every time he got up again and kept fighting.

One of Panfilov's men, regiment commander Bauryzhan Momysh-Uly, was looking for a place to stand for his men, the last line of defense. He couldn't find it. Then the senior lieutenant pulled out his knife. "I carefully cut the map in half and gave one half to Sulima. "Here," I said. "Burn it. We won't need to study terrain east of Kryukovo."" Moscow lay to the east, and Momysh-Uly hid it beyond the "end of the world", not just from the Germans, but from himself.

Thursday 15 December 2016

Siberian Tanks

The German tendency to assume that any new Soviet reinforcements in 1941 came from Siberia is well known, but turns out that along with mythical Siberian riflemen there were mythical Siberian tanks as well:

"16th Infantry Division (motorized)
Department 1 (intelligence)
Division HQ
October 7th, 1942

Intelligence agents report that new heavy tanks from Habarovsk have been sent to the European front. Tanks made in Habarovsk are allegedly labelled with the letter H and also "Habarovsk, Osoaviahim".

Immediately report the arrival of these tanks to the intelligence department of the division."

Wednesday 14 December 2016

Car Trouble

"November 2nd, 1942
To the Commander of the 5th Tank Army

I report on the rather difficult situation with communication vehicles in command units of the 1st Tank Corps.

The Corps is authorized the following amount of Bantam cars:
  • Corps HQ: 7
  • Motorized Rifle Brigade: 4
  • Tank Brigades: 1 each
  • Total: 14
Not a single brigade has received a Bantam car. The Corps HQ has only one Bantam car left out of 7. 

Tuesday 13 December 2016

76 mm HE

"Artillery HQ
August 11th, 1941
To the Chief of Artillery of the 19th Army

Practice shows that firing 76 mm HE shells with a delayed fuse is ineffective.

Better results are obtained when firing 76 mm HE shells with an impact fuse. Shooting like this can ruin the suspension, destroy armament, and knock out the crew.

In the future, when firing at armoured cars and light tanks from a 76 mm gun at an angle of less than 30 degrees, set the fuse to high explosive action. At the same targets at an angle of 30 degrees or more or medium and heavy tanks, set the fuse to fragmentation action.

Monday 12 December 2016

Pre-War Night Vision

"Approved by Deputy Chief of GABTU, Major-General of the Technical Forces, Lebedev
March 1st, 1941

Tactical-Technical Requirements for production of experimental night vision driving devices
  1. Overall requirements
    1. The night vision driving devices must be in the form of glasses that attach to the driver's helmet or head, which allow him to drive at a speed of 10-15 kph with the hatches closed and 15-20 kph with the hatches open.
    2. The commander's night vision device must be shaped like a pair of binoculars.
    3. Regular tank headlights must be used as a source of IR light, and a regular portable tank lamp must be used as an IR signalling device.
  2. Set of equipment
    1. One vehicle's set of equipment must consist of:
      1. One night driving device shaped like glasses.
      2. One communication and observation device shaped like field binoculars.
      3. Light filters for the headlights.
      4. One portable light for the commander.
      5. Light filters for portable lamps and the tank's rear lights.

Sunday 11 December 2016

Medium Tank Mk.II: Interbellum Long-Liver

The Light Tank Mk.I, later renamed to Medium Tank Mk.I, entered production in 1923 and left a notable mark in not only British tank building history, but tank building history in general. Its excellent maneuverability and armament for the time set a trend for the later part of the 1920s. Nevertheless, its lifespan was brief. Two years later, it was replaced by the most numerous tank of the 1920s: the Medium Tank Mk.II.

Friday 9 December 2016

T-62: Return of the Smoothbore

In the late 1950s, the Soviet government received information that NATO nations developed and adopted new 105 mm tank guns, which made the T-54 and T-55, the most common types of Soviet tank, vulnerable. The 100 mm rifled gun on the T-55 could not penetrate the front of the M48 Patton III, and the Americans were already developing the M60 Patton IV. In case of a duel, the T-55 would be at a disadvantage.

Thursday 8 December 2016

F-32 Technical Passport

Despite the stereotypes of poor Russian organization, major components of a tank (the gun, the radio, the engine, etc) all came with a technical passport that contained the data for the item in general and this specific item in particular. Here is a technical passport for a F-32 gun installed in a KV tank.

Wednesday 7 December 2016

Night Vision and Mine Rollers

"To the Commander of the 5th Tank Army, Lieutenant-General comrade Romanenko
CC: Commander of the 26th Tank Corps, Major-General of the Tank Forces, comrade Rodin
September 29th, 1942

On the basis of GOKO decree #2181s issued on August 18th of this year, you are being sent 25 units of special T-34 driving devices and mine rollers that have to be tested and reviewed.

Tuesday 6 December 2016

T-44 Tractor

Since the T-34 was clearly not going to stick around on the assembly line for long, the future of the AT-45 tractor on its chassis was bleak. With the T-44 cemented as its successor, it only made sense to design a tractor on that chassis.

Monday 5 December 2016

88 mm AA Gun in AT Role Instruction

"Actions of the 88 mm cannon in combat with tanks
  1. The saturation of a tank division with anti-tank weapons grants protection for tanks that move forward. As experience shows, the enemy uses T-34 in increasing amounts. As the 88 mm gun is suitable for combat against this type of tank, the combat group artillery commander can attach one or two 88 mm guns with a 20 mm gun each.
    If two 88 mm guns fire at ground targets, they must be subordinate to a heavy AA gun battery, as two guns cannot fire at air targets, even with a targeting device,
    Attaching an entire AA gun battery to fight tanks proved ineffective. Guns dedicated to anti-tank defense weaken anti-air defense.

Sunday 4 December 2016

Dicker Max

During WWII, the German army became the leader in the amount of SPGs produced. The most numerous armoured vehicle in the German army was not a tank, but an SPGs. The Germans were also the first to use self propelled gun mounts. These SPGs were, as a rule, made from obsolete tank chassis, usually light tanks. However, the Germans had a custom built self propelled gun mount, not converted from an already existing tank, but built from scratch. This unusual vehicle is known as the Dicker Max.

Friday 2 December 2016

World of Tanks History Section: Lieutenant Krysov vs. Leibstandarte

In the middle of November of 1943, the Germans tried to take Kiev, recently liberated by the Red Army. A powerful strike force struck at Soviet forces in two directions on November 15th, 1943: west of Fastov and south of Zhitomir.

Among others, the 1st SS Tank Division "Leibstandarte" attacked towards the Zhitomir direction. This division included 96 Panther and PzIV tanks and 27 Tigers. The division was tasked with capturing Brusilov. The Germans circled around it and prepared for an offensive from the east. The village of Yastrebenka lay between Leibstandarte and Brusilov, and the Germans had to take it first.

Thursday 1 December 2016

Fake Minefields

"Contents: fake minefields

During the Orel operation, it was discovered that the creation of fake minefields in the main directions of the battle has significant results. Therefore, their creation is necessary. Consider the following points:
  1. Fake minefields prevent the enemy's breakthrough of the first line of defense and hinder his progress.
  2. It is necessary to create fake anti-tank and anti-infantry minefields.
  3. These minefields must go on until anti-tank trenches.
  4. Fake minefields consist of a region surrounded by wire with signs that read "Danger: Mines".
Signed, Polmann."