Thursday 31 August 2017

Mosin Suppressor

"This suppressor, designed by comrades Barnas and Glinin, has a cigar-like shape (see photo #1) and consists of two parts, connected with a tread at the point of the suppressor where the diameter is the largest.

Photo #1 shows the suppressor."

Tuesday 29 August 2017

Tractor Trials

"Trials were performed from June 15th to July 10th at the GANIOP. Corps and high power artillery was used in the trials. 

During the trials, the tractors traveled:
  • TD-18 tractor, with a B-4 203 mm mod. 1931 howitzer (in armed condition): 100 km
  • TD-14 tractor: 200 km, of those:
    • With a Br-10 trailer (the barrel of a B-4 howitzer): 100 km
    • With a 152 mm mod. 1937 gun-howitzer: 100 km
  • HD-10 tractor, with a B-4 203 mm mod. 1931 howitzer (in armed condition): 100 km
  • HD-7 tractor: 225 km, of those:
    • With a 152 mm mod. 1937 gun-howitzer: 100 km
    • With a 152 mm mod. 1938 howitzer: 100 km
    • With a Br-10 trailer (the barrel of a B-4 howitzer): 25 km
  • D-6 tractor: 225 km, of those:
    • With a 152 mm mod. 1937 gun-howitzer: 100 km
    • With a 152 mm mod. 1938 howitzer: 100 km
    • With a Br-10 trailer (the barrel of a B-4 howitzer): 25 km

Monday 28 August 2017

T-34 Turrets at Factory #112

"Overall direction of turret modernization during the war

The design of the turret was changed significantly (see fig. 143).
  1. In December of 1941, turrets 34.30sb-7 and 34.30sb-8 were cancelled, and turret 34.30sb-12 was introduced.
  2. In January of 1942, turret 34.30sb-12 was cancelled and turret 34.30sb-12-1 was introduced.
  3. In March of 1942, turret 34.30sb-12-1 was cancelled and turret 34.30sb-12 was introduced.
  4. In June of 1942, turret 34.30sb-12-12 was introduced.
This rapid change in turret likely indicated that the type of turret was unsatisfactory, and the design was only deemed satisfactory after introduction of a new turret with a commander's cupola in 1943 (see fig. 145).

Sunday 27 August 2017

Israeli Sandwiches

When Israeli armoured vehicles are mentioned, one often thinks of Merkava tanks first. Without a doubt, these vehicles are a point of pride for Israel. However, the backbone of the Israel Defense Force (IDF) was composed of converted foreign vehicles for a very long time. The Israelis spent several decades fine tuning the art of adapting vehicles to suit their needs. Everything started with improvised armoured cars, which played an important role in the war for Israeli independence.

Friday 25 August 2017

Necessary Improvisations

The American movie Fury, which came out in 2014, was memorable, in part, due to the unusual exterior of the tank, which effectively became one of the main characters. Even though Fury's equipment was, at best, "based on a true story", and the M4A2E8 never fought with the American army, the creators of the movie managed to capture the overall idea of field improvisations. These modifications of American tanks in Europe were a widespread phenomenon, and came about out of necessity.

Thursday 24 August 2017

GVG Machinegun

The Red Army started WWII with two infantry machineguns: the light magazine fed handheld DP and heavy belt fed mounted Maxim. Both were quite aged designs by the time, so a replacement was considered. The GVG was one such replacement, eventually morphing beyond all recognition into the SG-43.

Photo #1. Magazine fed GVG machinegun in combat position (bipod with limiters)
Photo #2. View from the right. GVG machinegun in transport position.

Wednesday 23 August 2017

KS-77: M-8 on T-40 Chassis

"Meeting minutes for the technical meeting on the issue of producing the first batch of the KS-77 vehicle.
Moscow, Compressor factory, October 7th, 1941

  • Factory director, M.I. Boganov
  • NKOM TO Chief, P.F. Ostapchuk
  • NKOM TO Deputy Chief, I.S. Zakharov
  • Deputy director for special production, I.A. Dorozhkin
  • Chief engineer, V.P. Barmin
  • Chief of the 1st Section, 3rd Department of the GUVMCh, Military Engineer 2nd Class, comrade Kopylov
  • Central Committee of the VKP(b) instructor, comrade Volkov
  • Military Repersentative from the GUVMCh, Military Technician 1st Class, comrade Usachev

Tuesday 22 August 2017

SG-122 Conversion

"To the Chief of the Red Army GAU, Colonel-General comrade Yakovlev

Report on the SG-122 SPGs

In December of 1942, factory #40 produced 20 SG-122 SPGs on the chassis of German PzIII and StuG vehicles. Production was later stopped due to defects of the gun mount.

Of the overall number produced, 12 SG-122s were passed on to equip the 1435th SPG Regiment. During fighting on the Western Front, all 12 SG-122s were disabled: of them, 3 were lost irreparably and 9 need factory repairs. Out of those that need factory repairs, 6 vehicles arrived at factory #37 on February 8th, 1943.

Monday 21 August 2017

Reliability and Repairs in the 2nd Tank Army

At the beginning of the 2nd Tank Army's offensive during the Battle of Kursk, on July 16th, the army's technical services performed an inventory of their vehicles' remaining service life.

Of those, functional
Remaining engine hours
under 50
over 200

Saturday 19 August 2017

Marder II: Light Tank Destroyer

By the end of 1941, the Germans began to understand that the time of light tanks was over. This also applied to the PzII tank. By that time, it's main enemy was medium tanks with shellproof armour, against which the 20 mm autocannon was useless. Production of light tanks ended in Germany in the summer of 1942, but that doesn't mean that the PzII chassis was done for. Work on light SPGs on its chassis began in the spring. One of them was a tank destroyer that is best known as the Marder II.

Friday 18 August 2017

An Aryan From Poland

The Red Army GABTU had a very vague idea about the armoured vehicles of its potential enemy at the start of World War II. The same could be said about the other members of what would become the Allies. For obvious reasons, there was very little available information about tanks made by Germany and its allies. Mainly, it could be obtained from encyclopedias, which were full of errors. The ability to properly study the foreign tanks was only possible after combat began. In this respect, the USSR was ahead of the rest of the world. The first trophies began arriving from Spain: a captured PzI Ausf. A and an Italian L3/35. In the summer of 1939, a Japanese Ha-Go tank was captured in the Far East. The list of trophies grew with the start of WWII. The German PzII Ausf. C was among them.

Thursday 17 August 2017

Armoury of the Moscow People's Militia

In September of 1941, things weren't looking so good for the Red Army. The possibility of the German army reaching, and even taking, Moscow was on the horizon. A People's Militia was formed to defend the city if necessary. At the same time, an inventory of obsolete weapons was taken, to see what they could be equipped with if the regular army consumes all of the currently produced guns. Numbers of functional guns and those in need of repairs are given, the latter in brackets.

Any modern collector would be envious of the result:

Wednesday 16 August 2017

Exotic Trophies

"September 15th, 1945

To the commander of the Armoured and Mechanized Forces of the Red Army, comrade Fedorenko

I present to you brief descriptions of the "Maus" superheavy tank, a self propelled AA gun, and a "Tiger-mortar" 380 mm SPG. I report that the aforementioned vehicles, as well as an 88 mm tank destroyer, were sent to Moscow to the Kubinka Scientific Research Tank Proving Grounds.

Tuesday 15 August 2017

Stuart Commander

"Award Order
  1. Name: Karev, Yuriy Nikiforovich
  2. Rank: Major
  3. Position, unit: commander of the 258th Independent Tank Battalion, Northern Group, Transcaucasian Front
    is nominated for the Order of the Red Star.

Monday 14 August 2017

Whose Helmet Was Better?

Comparisons of one's own weapons and equipment to the enemy's was not just a pastime of common soldiers, but of senior officers as well. Throughout the Great Patriotic War, captured equipment was thoroughly tested and studied. In our days, much attention is paid to comparisons of tanks, planes, and guns. However, it is interesting to learn about similar trials for more common, but no less important, elements of a soldier's kit. The question was simple: which helmet is better, a Soviet one or a German one? The answer came from a commission of the Main Quartermaster Directorate of the Red Army in January-February of 1943.

Saturday 12 August 2017

Pz.Kpfw.II Ausf. F: Third Time's the Charm

There are few cases when a tank that is accepted into service is replaced by a modification that is inferior to it. In Soviet tank building, one example of this is the KV-1S, a necessary measure. It was lighter than the KV-1, and had thinner armour, but as a result of its lower mass and improved gearbox, it was a lot more reliable and mobile. The tank itself received a large number of improvements.

With the Germans, the most clear example of such a paradoxical course of action was the PzII Ausf. F. Here, the Germans returned to an older version of the PzII (Ausf. C, albeit with some improvements) than the one that was already accepted into production (Ausf. D).

Friday 11 August 2017

Pz.Kpfw.II Ausf. D-E: Unlucky Torsion Bars

Worldwide tank building progressed rapidly in the second half of the 1930s. This can definitely be said about Germany's tank industry, which developed tank suspensions, along with everything else. Various experiments in this area led to widespread use of torsion bars. However, there is a tank in the history of Germany's tank design that was produced in large numbers, but it is rarely remembered. It ended up in a paradoxical situation where, instead of a technically superior tank, a tank with an old suspension returned into production. This was the PzII Ausf. D: a light tank that fought in its initial configuration for only a month.

Thursday 10 August 2017

Mosin Penetration

This article was originally posted on Soviet Gun Archives.

My other blog talks a lot about how much armour a cannon can punch through, but there are many things other than steel on the battlefield. The archives of the Komsomol's youth magazine, Smena, contain a penetration table for the Mosin rifle (sadly, they do not specify which one, but I can't imagine the ballistics are too different).

Brick: 20 cm
Sand: 70 cm
Clay: 100 cm
Dirt: 140 cm
Bushes: 150 cm
Compressed snow: 350 cm
Straw: 425 cm
Loose snow: 450 cm

KV Visibility Diagram

The issue of visibility was a known sore spot in early war Soviet tanks. The commander's cupola was not a popular feature until the T-50, but it took until 1942 for such a cupola to be developed for the KV-1 and T-34 tanks. The book Tank Observation Devices documents the improvement in observation range between the KV-1 and its successor, the KV-1S.

Tuesday 8 August 2017

Leningrad Guntruck

"Decree of the Military Council of the Northern Front #53/ss
July 8th, 1941

Contents: tactical-technical requirements for the installation of a 45 mm gun in a half-armoured ZIS-5 truck and production of 20 such trucks at the Izhor factory.

The Military Council of the Northern Front has decreed that:

The Izhor factory must produce 20 ZIS-5 half-armoured trucks prepared for the installation of a 45 mm gun by July 13th, 1941, with the following improvements and additions:
  1. Add additional shields in front of the gun wheels to protect the crew from the front, but without limiting the gun's horizontal traverse.
  2. Add seats for the crew and ammunition racks in the truck bed.
  3. The 45 mm gun mount must allow for firing from the truck. At the same time, it must be possible to easily and quickly remove and install the gun, with removable metal stoppers underneath the mounts and a collapsible ramp for wheeling the gun into the truck bed.
  4. Install an armoured container to hold a fuel tank. The placement is up to the designer.
  5. ABTU Chief, Colonel Dementyev, must issue 20 ZIS-5 trucks for the Izhor factory within three days.
  6. The Chief of the Artillery Directorate, Major-General Sviridov, must provide 45 mm guns for the half-armoured trucks produced at the Izhor factory.
Commander of the Norther Front, Lieutenant-General Popov
Member of the Military Council of the Northern Front, Corps Commissar Klementyev
Member of the Military Council of the Northern Front, Kuznetsov"

Monday 7 August 2017

Soviet Rear Turret Tanks

The idea of a rear fighting compartment was first implemented in several KV-4 projects. This concept was picked, for example, by K.I. Kuzmin, P.S. Tarapanin, and V.I. Tarotko, who took second place in the tender. Other engineers, for example, K. Buganov, picked that layout as well. It was explored several times more. In the spring of 1944, N.F. Shashmurin proposed a modernization of the IS-2. This tank had 5 crewmen, two of which were in the front, in the driver's compartment, and 3 were in the turret. The turret was in the rear of the hull, and the engine compartment was in the middle. The Object 705A, a competitor of the Object 260, took a similar shape. The rear fighting compartment layout was not unpopular among Soviet designers. However, each time the development stopped at the drawing board.

Saturday 5 August 2017

Pz.Kpfw.II Ausf. c-C: At the Spearhead of Blitzkrieg

The story of the PzII tank was an unusual one. In many ways, it owes its "accidental" existence to the attempts of mounting a 20 mm autocannon in the Kleintraktor (future PzI). Due to issues with production of the Z.W. tank (future PzIII), the PzII was the most numerous front line tank for the first two years of WWII. Germany's most common tank was not even originally included in the armament plans.

Friday 4 August 2017

Pz.Kpfw.II Ausf.a through b: An Unplanned Tank

The light PzII tank played an important role in the structure of the German tank forces. Despite the opinion born of German generals' memoirs, this was not a training tank. On the contrary: at the time of its inception, the PzII was one of the best light tanks in the world. It appeared almost by accident, but occupied a significant part of the Wehrmacht's order of battle. The PzII remained in production for five years, with some small breaks. What is the history of the PzII, and what did its first versions look like?

Thursday 3 August 2017

Trials and Tribulations

"...execution of complete trials was impossible for the following reasons:
  1. NIPSVO does not have a T-38, for which comrade Polyubin's mount was built (feed system, ammunition racks, toolkit, etc).
  2. The provided 7.62 mm modernized tank machinegun mod. 1940 was very worn out, the logbook and toolkit were missing. By the time the shortened trials program was completed, the machinegun was inoperative.
  3. Comparison of the TP and TP-1 sight and subsequent choice of the superior model (as per your instruction) was impossible, since only the TP sight arrived."

Wednesday 2 August 2017

Bulletproof Vests

"GOKO decree #6949
November 16th, 1944
  1. Permit the NKTP to produce parts for 2000 bulletproof vests at factory #50 using 2.6 mm thick 30-35 HGSA steel.
  2. The People's Commissariat of Light Manufacturing must sew together the plates and deliver the bulletproof vests to the GBTU before November 30th, 1944.
  3. The GBTU (comrade Fedorenko) must test the bulletproof vests in the army before January 20th, 1945, and report to the GOKO with conclusions regarding the need of mass production.

Tuesday 1 August 2017

Stuart Hero

"Award Order 
  1. Name: Pavkin, Aleksandr Yakovlevich
  2. Rank: Lieutenant
  3. Position, unit: company commander in the 75th Independent Tank Battalion
    is nominated for the Order of Lenin.