Saturday 30 September 2017

Through Adversity to the SU-122

It was clear by the spring of 1942 that work on a medium SPG on the T-34 chassis with an 85 mm gun in a rotating turret hit a dead end. The result of this work, which started back in the summer of 1940, was the U-20, which the military considered unsatisfactory. The project didn't leave the drawing board. Later, development of Soviet SPGs took a different path. A significant influence was the study of a captured StuG III Ausf. B. Later, factory #592 built a Soviet version on its chassis, called SG-122. It was clear, however, that converting foreign vehicles was not the end.

Friday 29 September 2017

SU-26: Blockade Long-Liver

The start of the Great Patriotic War in the summer of 1941 forced many changes onto the prospective designs of Soviet SPGs. Many branches were cancelled, and work on the ZIS-30 SPG on the Komsomolets tractor platform was urgently started. Until then, it was not considered as an SPG platform at all. However, one SPG that was designed according to pre-war plans was not only built, but mass produced. This is a vehicle best known under the name SU-26. Its real name, T-26-6, was buried deep in the archives.

Thursday 28 September 2017

Cromwell Production Intel

"Report on production of Cromwell tanks

Based on existing information, we can estimate the rate of production of Cromwell tanks.

Cromwell tanks have been built in three varieties since June of 1942: Cromwell, Centaur, and Cavalier. The Nuffield Organization factory group builds 500 tanks per month on average across 8 assembly plants. From the start of production, this group produced 3000 Cromwell tanks.

Wednesday 27 September 2017

Flamethower Tanks, 1940

"Report on the current and prospective equipment of tanks with flamethrowers and chemical trailers

1. Mass production

1. Purpose of KhT-130 and KhT-133 tanks:
  1. Burning out strongholds
  2. Destroying personnel
  3. Putting up smokescreens to hide movements of mechanized forces
  4. Can be used to place persistent poisonous substances
2. The following are armed with KhT-130 and KhT-133 tanks:
  1. Independent flamethrower battalions in tank regiments (27 tanks)
  2. Independent flamethrower battalions in tank brigades (51 tanks)

Tuesday 26 September 2017

Kalashnikov vs. Schmeisser: For the Umpteenth Time

The installation of a monument to the famous Soviet and Russian arms designer, M.T. Kalashnikov, was followed by a whole chain of scandals. Recently, Yuri Pasholok pointed out an unfortunate mistake that was made by the sculptor, who placed an exploded diagram of a Sturmgewehr on the monument to the creator of the AK. All of this led back to the question that was answered for anyone who is even slightly interested in the history of small arms long ago. Nevertheless, serious flame wars broke out, so it's time to, once again, explain the differences in the two designs, and how it turned out that an unknown sergeant's gun ended up as a symbol of the USSR, which is still relevant in modern Russia.

Saturday 23 September 2017

Light Paper SPGs

As with many other Soviet SPGs, the path to the SU-76 was not easy. Initially, the two-turreted T-26 tank would be used as the chassis for an infantry support vehicle. Later, the T-50 joined in the plans. The situation after the start of the war forced the concept of the SPG to change urgently. Instead of a light infantry support SPG, the ZIS-30 appeared, a tank destroyer on the Komsomolets tractor chassis. Designers only returned to the topic of a multipurpose SPG towards the end of 1941. The SU-12, the first production variant of the SU-76, did not come about on the first try. This article tells the story of vehicles that were dead ends, without even being produced in metal.

Friday 22 September 2017

The Road to SU-76

The T-50 tank was considered the highest priority platform for light SPGs in the pre-war Soviet Union. However, a proposal for an SPG chassis based on the T-40 amphibious reconnaissance tank was made at a meeting on June 9th, 1941. The idea was quickly abandoned, and, a few weeks later, the USSR was too busy for the T-50 SPG. Suddenly, the first wartime light Soviet SPG turned out to be the ZIS-30, which used the chassis of the Komsomolets artillery tractor. Due to the cancellation of artillery tractors, the idea of building an SPG using T-40 components came out of retirement. The result was a small family of experimental vehicles, such as the SU-31 SPAAG and SU-32 SPG.

Thursday 21 September 2017

Spare Barrels

It's no secret that guns have a limited lifespan. Shot out barrels have to be occasionally replaced. Aside from entire tanks, the Soviets received replacement barrels to perform repairs of foreign weapons. The table shows the number of barrels received in the denominator, the number used up in the numerator, the total in the second last column, and the surplus in the last column.

CAMD RF 38-11369-1

The items are as follows:
76 mm howitzer
76 mm gun
75 mm gun
57 mm gun
40 mm gun
37 mm gun
12.7 mm MG
7.62 mm MG
7.92 mm MG
7.7 mm MG
11.43 mm SMG

Wednesday 20 September 2017

German Heavy Tank Intel

"To the chief of the operations department
Information #19

Description of new tanks used by the German army

According to information obtained by 10th Army HQ Reconnaissance Department, German tank units are being armed with new types of tanks:
  1. T-6 tank. Mass: up to 65 tons. Speed: 35 kph. Armament: one 88 mm cannon, one 20 mm AA gun in the rear. Four MG-42 machineguns. The tank is armoured with concrete in front and on the sides. The tank had a smokescreen device.

Tuesday 19 September 2017

KV-3 Mulligan

"Proposal regarding the decree issued to the Kirov and Izhor factories
  1. The Kirov and Izhor factories propose a new tank instead of the KV-3 approved by USSR SNK and CC or the VKP(b) decree #548-2332ss issued on March 15th, 1941, with increased armour according to USSR SNK and CC or the VKP(b) decree #827-345ss issued on April 7th, 1941.
  2. This tank will effectively be a KV-4 tank in armament, dimensions, transmission and suspension design, engine power, and overall layout, but with thinner armour.
  3. Decree #827-345ss issued on April 7th, 1941 ordered production of KV-3 tanks in 1941 that only differed in armament and armour thickness from the KV-1 and KV-2, so that factories could produce tanks they were used to, with the aim of producing KV-4 and KV-5 tanks in 1942.
  4. I consider it reasonable to leave the KV-3 with 120 mm of armour in the front and 90 mm in the side, armed with the 76 mm ZIS-5 gun, built using KV-1 components, according to attached tactical-technical characteristics.
Chief of the Main Auto and Armour Directorate of the Red Army, Lieutenant-General of the Tank Forces, Fedorenko

Monday 18 September 2017

Lend Lease Impressions: 37 mm M3 Anti-Tank Gun

37 mm M3 Anti-Tank Gun

"37 mm M3 Anti-Tank Gun

The gun has a vertical sliding breech without a semiautomatic mechanism. The mount has split trails, and the wheels can elevate above the ground in battle position. The wheels are equipped with pneumatic tires. The suspension is rigid. 

The following is a table of the main characteristics of the American and German 37 mm guns, as well as our 45 mm mod. 1937 gun.

Sunday 17 September 2017

45 with a Long Nose

The history of this anti-tank gun began with work done on personal initiative in December of 1941. Before mass production and service on the front lines, the gun, indexed M-42, defeated several similar weapons in trials, including some that were easier to produce, and became the main 45 mm gun of the Red Army.

Saturday 16 September 2017

Big Dreams, Small Chassis

Despite the difficulty with which the Soviet T-40 amphibious reconnaissance tank entered production, designers considered the platform quite promising. The T-40 chassis would be used to produce the GAZ-22 artillery tractor, which would eventually replace the Komsomolets. The fact that the T-40 was also seen as an SPG platform was less well known. Most of the designs remained on paper, but at least one was produced in a small batch.

Thursday 14 September 2017

SMG Showdown

In December of 1941, the Soviets decided to test a bunch of SMGs. The SMGs were as follows:
"Model 1940" (PPD)
"Model 1941" (PPSh)
Bergman BMP-34 #260
Schmeisser 18/28 #77598
(They also had something called an Esti, but no ammunition for it).

"Firing of the Esti submachinegun was not performed, due to a lack of ammunition for it. 

The results of trials are attached in table 5. Average results are summarized in the following table.

Type of fire
Group center offset
Mod. 1940
Mod. 1941
Bergmann BMP-34
Schmeisser 18/28

The data shows that the best precision, either when shooting in bursts or in single fire, is achieved by the Neuhausen submachinegun.
The worst precision results were achieved by the model 1940 submachinegun."

Via Andrei Ulanov.

Wednesday 13 September 2017

Demolition Tanks

"April 5th, 1941

Tactical-technical characteristics for design and production of an explosive delivery and deployment device for the T-34
  1. The explosive delivery and deployment device for the T-34 tank is designed to demolish various bunker type fortifications, which can only be approached under the protection of armour, and destruction of anti-tank fortifications.
  2. The explosive delivery and deployment device must be removable and suitable for installation on a mass production tank, by field workshops if necessary.The following changes are allowed by the GABTU, on the condition that they do not impede the tank's function:

Tuesday 12 September 2017

Dome Turret

"Red Armyman A.A. Pimenov
Senior Lieutenant E.F. Polushkin
2nd Independent Training Automotive Regiment, Gorkiy

To the People's Commissar of Defense, comrade Stalin

Keeping in mind the important role of armoured vehicles in modern armies, with all due respect to high quality tanks used by our Red Army, which successfully smashes our enemies, the fact that the superiority of our equipment is only relative.

Inspired by our duty to tirelessly serve our Motherland, we, Senior Lieutenant Polushkin and Red Armyman Pimenov, based on our experience in the Patriotic war, tasked ourselves with contributing suggestions to the undertaking of the great Soviet people and their allies in the fight against the dark forces of fascist aggression. 

Lend Lease Impressions: Submachineguns

"11.43 mm Thompson submachinegun M.1928

11.43 mm Thompson submachinegun 

The submachinegun has two types of magazines: 20 round box magazine and 50 round drum magazine.

Significant drawbacks of the Thompson submachinegun include its weight (4.88 kg without a magazine and 7.12 kg with a 50 round magazine) and sensitivity to low temperatures. The 11.43 mm caliber is also high, which limits the amount of ammunition that can be carried (an 11.43 mm round is almost twice as heavy as a domestic submachinegun round).

The following is a comparison of main data of the American Thompson, Reising, German mod. 38 and 40, and our 7.62 mm mod. 1941 submachinegun.

Sunday 10 September 2017

Metamorphoses of an Amphibian Scout

An unusual modification of the T-38 can be seen in the outdoor display of the Central Museum of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation. This vehicle is distinct from its brothers: instead of one DT machinegun, its turret houses a 20 mm TNSh autocannon and a coaxial DT machinegun. Some Russian historians spread the myth that this tank was experimental. In reality, not only was this not an experimental tank, but these tanks had the chance to fight. This article will cover modifications of T-37 and T-38 amphibious tanks.

Saturday 9 September 2017

T-37 and T-38 with ShVAK

"To OKB-15 director, comrade Shpitalniy

Kaganovich factory (Khabarovsk) plans to arm 400 T-37 and T-38 tanks with a ShVAK gun and a coaxial DT machinegun.

I ask you to take this project under your supervision and urgently send your representatives to the Kaganovich factory.

Consider that, due to the small amount of space in these vehicles, it might be necessary to replace the autocannon's belt feed with a magazine one.

GBTU TU Chief, Engineer-Colonel, Afonin
GBTU TU 4th Department Chief, Engineer-Lieutenant-Colonel, Nenarokov"

Friday 8 September 2017

Failed "Laser" Tank

In the first half of the 20th century, the aircraft industry gathered up all technical and scientific achievements. Airplanes were the first to try out new materials, new engines, equipment, and armament. From time to time, tank designers had the chance to use something that was designed for aviators. The attempt to install the ShKAS aircraft machinegun on Soviet tanks in the mid-1930s was one such occurrence.

Thursday 7 September 2017

SVT as a Sniper Rifle

"Description of the issue:

Proving grounds and battlefield tests of self-loading sniper rifles developed by factory #314 based on approved and prototype blueprints revealed unsatisfactory shot groups, and significant deviations of the first and second bullets from the dispersion ellipse.
Both drawbacks are caused by design flaws in the rifle and scope mount.
Attempts by the factory to improve groupings with small design proved fruitless, as reducing dispersion and preventing the 1st and 2nd bullet from deviating too much requires significant changes to the rifle and scope mount.
Since, currently, the 7.62 mm model 1891/30 sniper rifle with the PE scope is being manufactured, and a scope mount for the PU scope for the same rifle is under development, it is reasonable to cease production of 7.62 mm self-loading rifles with the PU scope, provided that proving grounds trials of the model 1891/30 rifle prove satisfactory.

Decisions of the Artillery Directorate of the Red Army:
1. Finish trials of the PU scope mount for the model 1891/30 sniper rifle no later than August 20th, 1942.
2. If results are positive, cease production of self-loading sniper rifles starting on September 1st.
3. If the self-loading sniper rifle is removed from production, increase production of model 1891/30 sniper rifles."

Via Andrei Ulanov.

Wednesday 6 September 2017

Tetrarch Overview

"Office of the Commander of the Armoured and Mechanized Forces of the North Caucasian Front
August 9th, 1943

To the GABTU BTU Chief, Engineer-Colonel Afonin

In reply to your inquiry, I report the tactical-technical characteristics of the British MK-7 tank:
  1. Full weight: 8.0 tons
  2. Main dimensions:
    1. Length: 4.0 m
    2. Width: 2.4 m
    3. Height: 2.17 m
    4. Clearance: 0.4 m

Tuesday 5 September 2017

KV-1S Road Wheels

"Report on KV-1S Road Wheels

Kirov factory KV-1 tanks used cast road wheels with Г-shaped rims. As a part of the total requirement for weight reduction, the weight of the road wheels would be reduced by changing the shape of the rim. A T-shaped rim was selected, which gave the same robustness at less weight.

Two of the first KV-1S tanks produced at the Kirov factory, #15001 and #15002, with T-shaped road wheel rims, ribs, and round openings in the disks were provided for trials.

Monday 4 September 2017

Tank Trailers

"Minutes of a meeting at the 5th Department of the GABTU BTU with representatives of tank units on the issue of trailers for tanks proposed by factories #592 and #112

The meeting was led by the Chief of the 5th Department of the BTU, Military Engineer 1st Class, comrade Afonin.

Afonin: We gathered representatives of tank units by order from Army Commissar 2nd Class Biryukov to discuss the proposal of engineers from factories #592 and #112 to build trailers for tank riders. [Reads proposal from factory #112 and explains technical issues connected with factory #592's proposal].

Saturday 2 September 2017

Swedo-Polish Tank Killer

Germany invented specialized anti-tank artillery before the end of WWI. It is not surprising that German anti-tank guns became some of the best known in their class. A German gun served as the starting point for the famous Soviet 45 mm anti-tank gun. The use of the German 3.7 cm Pak in Spain triggered the development of tanks with shell-proof armour in the USSR. However, another gun gave an even more powerful impulse to the strengthening of tank armour, built in neutral Sweden. Swedish 37 mm anti-tank guns were also used in Spain, and continued serving until the end of WWII.

Friday 1 September 2017

Trophies from Galicia

Starting with the late 1930s, testers in Kubinka began receive foreign vehicles from all corners of the world to try on for size. The first to come were trophies captured in Spain during the civil war, but the floodgates opened in 1939. The first to come was the Japanese Ha-Go tank, and Polish vehicles came after that. One of them was the TK-S tankette.