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.
The devices and rollers have to be installed on tanks. A GABTU BTU representative is being sent to direct the installation and trials of devices and mine rollers along with a brigade of workers, which you must cooperate with.

Since the first batch of night driving device prototypes will remain with you after trials, it is imperative that you keep a close watch on them and keep them in strict secrecy. They must not be allowed to fall into enemy hands in combat. In a critical situation, the devices and equipment for them must be destroyed. The instructions on how to destroy the devices will be sent separately.

During use of the night vision devices and mine rollers, it is necessary to explore the following topics and include them in a report by October 5th, 1942:
  1. For the special driving devices:
    1. Is the clarity of vision satisfactory?
    2. Is the visibility range sufficient?
    3. What is the quality of the device, its simplicity, its ease of use, does it have significant drawbacks, and what must be done to simplify it and mitigate the drawbacks?
    4. Can the devices be used while driving up to the battlefield and during nighttime battle? (If there is a case of fighting at night, report in detail when and how the devices were used).
    5. Is it necessary to equip tanks with such a device?
    6. What is the desired percentage of tanks in every battalion and company that should be equipped with these devices? Which commanders' tanks should receive these devices first?
  2. For the mine rollers:
    1. Quality of the mine trawling.
    2. Effect of mine detonation on the roller and the crew.
    3. Ability to trawl for mines on various types of terrain.
    4. Degree of performance reduction and peculiarities of driving tanks equipped with mine rollers.
    5. Notes on the design and use of the rollers.
    6. Degree of safety for tanks driving along trawled routes.
The devices and mine rollers were sent to the 19th TBr. of the 26th TK. All materials regarding the aforementioned devices and rollers should be sent to GABTU immediately.

Deputy Chief of the Red Army GABTU, Major-General of the Tank Forces, Korobkov
GABTU Military Commissar, Army Commissar Biryukov."

CAMD RF 38-11355-650

Unfortunately, there is nothing at all in the documents of the 19th Tank Brigade regarding the performance of these devices, only a brief mention of the mine rollers being tested with the Army commander on October 5th. 

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