Tuesday 31 January 2017

Tank Corps on the March

"March of the Tank Corps in anticipation of battle
  1. The tank corps usually marches along a 8-10 km wide front using two roads, sometimes three. It is preferable to drive the corps along three parallel roads.
    The average speed of the tank corps, depending on the condition of roads and the weather, is 10-15 kph.
    A regular daily norm is 60-80 km per day, a forced march norm is 100-120 km per day.

Monday 30 January 2017

Tank Corps Manual

"General Foundations of Using a Tank Corps in Combat (1942)

General foundations of using a tank corps:
  1. The tank corps is the largest tank unit and is used for completing operational objectives.
    The tank corps organizational structure ensures a strike force (3 tank brigades), the ability to fight independently (presence of motorized infantry and artillery), the ability to perform tank combat, and convenience of control.
  2. The strong points of a tank corps in an operation can only be realized if the corps is used as a whole.
    Any picking apart of the corps into brigades for individual fighting deprives it of independence, strength of attack, and it turns into a tank unit for infantry support from an operational level unit. All other elements of the corps lose their combat effectiveness.
    Therefore, it is unreasonable to pick apart the tank corps, even temporarily, and the tank corps must not be used in combat in this way.

Sunday 29 January 2017

Pz.Kpfw.III Ausf B-D

The PzIII, the main German tank for the first half of WWII, was at the same time its most problematic tank. Even though the PzII also had problems with its suspension, it was only seriously redesigned once. The PzIII, on the other hand, used five (!) different types of suspension, all of which went into production. Today, we will focus on the "intermediate" PzIII Ausf. B, C, and D. Even though none of these tanks were made in large numbers, they managed to see battle, and some of them remained on the front lines for a long time.

Saturday 28 January 2017

Pz.Kpfw.III Ausf. A: Christie, German Style

The appearance of John Walter Christie's Medium Tank M1931 caused a revolution in tank building worldwide. A new type of tank appeared: the fast tank. Thanks to their speed, these tanks could carry out a number of other tasks in addition to infantry support. Many countries began working on conceptually similar tanks. The PzIII, Germany's main tank in 1940-43 could be considered one of these tanks. What is the history of its creation?

Friday 27 January 2017

World of Tanks History Section: How Nikolai Simonyak became General Breakthrough

The name Nikolai Pavlovich Simonyak is closely connected with the Red Army's successes in the Battle of Leningrad. In the winter of 1943, when the blockade was punctured, his 136th Rifle Division was fighting in the main assault, and its actions brought greatest success to the Red Army on January 12th. Here is where N.P. Simonyak earned the nickname "General Breakthrough".

Before the Breakthrough

Way back during the defense of the Hanko peninsula in 1941, Simonyak thoroughly built up a functional staff, a rare occurrence among Red Army commanders in the early war. This was noticeable in how the journals of the 8th Independent Rifle Brigade and then division which Nikolai Pavlovich commanded. Even in the battles of August-September of 1942 that ended poorly for the Red Army, his division, fighting in the 55th Army, probably performed better than any Soviet unit at Leningrad.

In November of 1942, Simonyak's 136th division was taken out of the 55th Army to the front reserve. The troops were busy with training. Everyone understood that a new breakthrough attempt was coming, and there was a lot to do before it could be successful.

Thursday 26 January 2017

T-34 Sketch

The fact that German soldiers didn't have the best idea of what a T-34 looked like already cropped up on my blog. However, if they were equipped with identification guides like these, that isn't too surprising.

The caption reads "particularly suitable places to attach explosive charges and T-mines on the 32 ton tank". The weight is also incorrect, but prophetic: the mass of the final iteration of the T-34-85 reached 32 tons.

Wednesday 25 January 2017

KV-3 Turret

Actual KV-3 turret blueprints laid over the commonly shown drawing.

Monday 23 January 2017

Operation Barbarossa

Directive #21
Plan Barbarossa
Fuhrer and Supreme Commander of the Wehrmacht
December 18th, 1940

The German armed forces must be able to defeat Soviet Russia in a brief campaign before the war against England is complete (plan Barbarossa).

Sunday 22 January 2017

Pz.Kpfw.IV Ausf. D through E

The German army entered WWII with a rather strange system of armament. The PzIII medium tank, which was built as Germany's main tank, ended up being the least numerous in the Wehrmacht. As for the other medium tank, the PzIV, it was designed as a support tank, but ended up outnumbering the PzIII four to one. German industry could only equalize the number of both tanks by the end of 1939. By then, a new version of the support tank was in production, the PzIV Ausf. D, which was in a way a return to the original concept.

Saturday 21 January 2017

Pz.Kpfw.IV Ausf. A through C

In December of 1936, the German military signed a contract with the Krupp conglomerate for a batch of 35 Begleitwagen tanks. This tank was designed to fight as a direct fire support tank, as its name suggests. The tank's main targets were going to be enemy infantry and light fortifications. Ironically, this vehicle became Germany's most numerous medium tank by the start of WWII. Later, the PzIII became more numerous, but only for a short time. By 1943, the Begleitwagen, known as the PzIV, retook the lead. The Pz.Kpfw. IV was the only German pre-war tank that never went through a radical chassis modernization.

Friday 20 January 2017

Begleitwagen: A Specialist of All Trades

The mittlerer Traktor (m.Tr., medium tractor), given the more widely known index Neubau Fahrzeug (Nb.Fz., newly designed vehicle) on October 3rd, 1933, began trials in 1933. The tank, an evolution of the Grosstraktor concept (Gr.Tr., large tractor) was supposed to become Germany's medium tank.

However, even as the tank began its trials, it was clear that the German military missed its mark. While the Grosstraktor was overcomplicated over its five years of development by three companies (it's enough to say that it was also amphibious), the Nb.Fz. was in an even bigger hole. The initial project, designed by Rheinmetall (chassis and turret) and Krupp (second turret variant) was supposed to fit into the 15 ton class. As a result, the appetite of the 6th Waffenprüfamt led to a complex and expensive 23 ton tank.

Thursday 19 January 2017

World of Tanks History Section: 5th Tank Army in Operation Uranus

By November of 1942, the 5th Tank Army walked a long and not so successful road. It began in the summer, when the newly formed army was sent to attack the flank and rear of the German forces rushing towards Voronezh. Due to poor reconnaissance and incorrect evaluation of the enemy's goals, our tankers were instead forces to engage the enemy tanks head on and took heavy losses.

After an unsuccessful counterattack, the army was disbanded and only reformed in September of 1942. General Prokofiy Romanenko was appointed as the commander. The army received new units: two tank corps (1st and 26th), six rifle divisions, and one cavalry corps. The Stavka intended the 5th Tank Army to play one of the two key roles in the encirclement of Paulus' 6th Army at Stalingrad. That is why Romanenko was given so much infantry: the rifle divisions were going to fight in the first echelon of the offensive and prepare a clean breakthrough for the mobile units. The cavalry corps was supposed to act as ersatz motorized infantry.

Wednesday 18 January 2017

180 mm Br-21

"To the People's Commissar of Armament of the USSR, comrade B.L. Vannikov

Reply to letter #125s from January 21st, 1941

The precision trials of the 152 mm Br-19 gun with a friction clutch in the elevation mechanism are scheduled for April of 1941, after which the decision regarding this system will be made.

The 180 mm Br-21 gun was trialed at the ANIOP with 120 shots.

The tactical-technical characteristics of the 180 mm Br-21 gun on the B-4 mount make for a weapon that has insufficient range for a gun and insufficient arc for a howitzer. The objectives that could be given to a 180 mm gun can be resolved by the B-4 or Br-2.

Based on the above information and the availability of a more powerful 210 mm Br-17 gun, the adoption of the 180 mm Br-21 gun on the B-4 mount and, therefore, the continuation of work on it, is unreasonable.

Marshall of the Soviet Union, Kulik."

There is also a note written across the typed page:

"The range is the same as the Br-2 while using twice as much propellant. Did you think about this? You approach the solution of problems formally, but fail to analyze all sides, and sometimes don't know what you're doing and confuse others. Gather all documents regarding trials and report to me. 26.2.41", followed by a signature but no name.

CAMD RF 81-12104-86

Tuesday 17 January 2017

Project Management

"To the People's Commissar of Tank Production of the USSR, comrade Malyshev

NKTP factories are busy with design and production of new experimental prototypes and modernization of existing tanks, both by your orders and on their own initiative.

This work, as a rule, is performed without prior approval of projects by GBTU, who is only given ready prototypes for trials. During trials, many noticeable drawbacks are discovered that lower the combat quality of the vehicles, which could have been discovered by joint inspection of the technical drafts.

Monday 16 January 2017

T-34 Prototype Mobility Trials

"4. Off-road Performance

General off-road performance characteristics of the T-34 tank:
  • Combat mass: 25.6 tons
  • Ground pressure: 0.60 kg/cm²
  • Contact surface length: 5219.3 mm
  • Grouser height: 650 mm
  • Effective power: 19.5 hp/ton

Saturday 14 January 2017

Czechoslovakian Tank Building: First Steps

In the late 1930s, Czechoslovakia was the second largest exporter of tanks in the world. A small Eastern European country that only obtained independence in 1918 began to catch up with Great Britain, the world leader in arms exports. Of course, such impressive leaps in only 20 years of independence didn't start with nothing. The first steps were made with inspiration from the British and German tank building schools. This experience resulted in a series of experimental vehicles and the mass produced LT vz. 34 light tank.

Friday 13 January 2017

F-39 95 mm gun

F-95 tank gun.

The project never moved past the draft stage. The same, however, cannot be said for its towed predecessor.

Wednesday 11 January 2017

NATI-D Trials

  1. The trialed experimental prototype of the "D" tractor demonstrated satisfactory average speed characteristics, good maneuverability, simplicity of service and control, and can cross the required slopes on grassy terrain while towing divisional artillery. The performance and smoothness are a significant improvement over the STZ-5 tractor.
    Tractor "D" can be accepted into service as a transport for divisional artillery.
    In order to increase off-road performance, grousers must be included for tracks.

Monday 9 January 2017

Comparative Penetration


1. As a result of trials of D-25 (122 mm) and D-10 (100 mm) tank guns, the following penetration ranges against the upper front plate of the Panther tank were established:

Distance of complete penetration
122 mm D-25
Armour piercing
100 mm D-10
Armour piercing
German 88 mm gun (Ferdinand SPG)
Armour piercing
German 75 mm gun (Panther tank)
Armour piercing
No penetration

Sunday 8 January 2017

Medium Tank Mk.III: Britain's Cerberus

By the middle of the 1920s, the British army received a new generation of medium tanks that served for a long time. The Medium Tank Mk.I and Medium Tank Mk.II became the first turreted medium tanks in the world. A good design and high reliability guaranteed a long life for these tanks, but by 1926, the British military was already thinking about their replacement. A Vickers design, the Medium Tank Mk.III, was suitable for the job. Even though the rather interesting design became the ancestor of a series of later tanks, including Soviet and German ones, its life in the British army was a difficult one.

Friday 6 January 2017

TK-3 and TKS: Poland's Armoured Cockroaches

By pure numbers, Poland had an impressive amount of armoured vehicles in WWII: about 870 units (against approximately 2700 German tanks in Army Group North and South). However, three quarters of them were rather unusual vehicles: TK-3 and TKS tankettes. What were the machines that formed the backbone of the Polish armoured forces like?

Pak 43 Problems

"Experience with 88 mm Pak 43 anti-tank guns

Front line experience showed that towed 88 mm anti-tank guns are of limited usefulness in mobile warfare (counterattacks, mobile defense, and especially when covering retreats).

  • The 4.5 ton mass, 1.9 meter height, and completely unprotected prime movers limit its mobility on the battlefield.
  • As a rule, there is not enough time to organize a proper firing position.
  • The gun, due to its size, cannot be concealed from the enemy (especially from the air).
  • Due to the difficulty of turning the gun, it is difficult to defend against infantry at close range.
Conclusions: The towed 88 mm gun is only useful in positional warfare. In mobile warfare, it can only be used in the main directions of defense, for example in important sectors, control over which is especially important.

The manual 18/9 "Instructions on using the 88 mm Pak" issued on June 27th, 1943 is being revised."

CAMD RF 500-12480-24

Wednesday 4 January 2017

Experimental Night Vision

"Trials of night vision IR detection devices and IR projectors
  1. Items under trials:
    1. Night vision device type Dudka Dosug (2 units)
    2. Tokarev rifle with IR optical sight.
    3. IR projectors
      1. PP-45 spotlight (2 units)
      2. Z-15-4 AA spotlight (1 unit)
  2. Goal of trials:
    1. Determine the maximum range of vision with IR light when observing:
      1. A single moving or stationary soldier.
      2. A group of moving soldiers.
      3. Shields, dugouts, local landmarks.
    2. Determining the possibility of shooting from a sniper rifle using a nighttime IR sniper scope and determining range at various levels of light."

Monday 2 January 2017

Teletank Development

"To Lieutenant-General of the Tank Forces, comrade Fedorenko


I report to you on the current status of armoured telemechanics:

Various organizations (NII-10, NII-20, Red Army NIST) performed work regarding telemechanization of tanks since 1929 under the orders of Red Army US and ABTU. Experimental prototypes of Renault, T-18, T-24, T-37, T-26, T-28, T-20, T-38, and BT-7 teletanks were produced.

By 1935, the issues of automation of the suspension and chemical armament of the tank were resolved, and a commission selected the TOZ-26 T-26 teletank developed by NII-20 as the most suitable teletank out of three experimental T-26 teletanks. This prototype was accepted for mass production. In 1936-37, factory #192 produced 35 groups and another 30 groups in 1938-39, slightly modernized vehicles with the index TOZ-8. In total, 130 special tanks were built, 65 control tanks and 65 teletanks (65 groups).