Wednesday 30 May 2018

T-34 Improvements

"May 20th, 1940

To the People's Commissar of Defense, Marshal of the Soviet Union, Timoshenko

I present to you the conclusions of the trials commission for the T-34 tank, approved for service in the Red Army by decree #443ss issued by the Committee of Defense of the SNK on December 19th, 1939.

Regarding points raised in personal thoughts (pp. 83-85) of Military Engineer 2nd Class comrade Sorkin and comrade Morozov from factory #183, I report that:
  1. Widening the turret by 160 mm without touching the hull and turret ring that was proposed by factory #183 is approved. I disagree with increasing the height of the turret, as this will present a larger target to the enemy, and there is no need of this since the depression angle of -5 degrees forward and to the sides is already achieved.
  2. I do not agree with unifying the components with existing tanks, as this will increase the weight.
  3. There are no disagreements about the main clutch. The factory admits that no cause for deformation of the disks has been found. Disk deformation is a serious defect.
  4. I approved the second type of idler, with the internal tension adjustment mechanism, as the more robust and better protected option.
  5. I insist that the radio be moved to the front of the tank in order to free up the commander for combat. The hull gunner/radio operator sits in the hull.
  6. I insist on changing the observation device design to use metallic periscopes and a vision block.
  7. I approved the all-round vision device for 1940 as it was presented on blueprints.
Factory #183 will produce a pilot batch (10 units) of T-34 tanks based on prototype blueprints. I gave permission to the Mariupol factory (armour) and factory #183 to produce 10 more T-34 tanks based on prototype blueprints to better prepare for mass production.

Attachment: as mentioned on 85 pages

Red Army ABTU Chief, Army Commander 2nd Class, Pavlov
Red Army ABTU Military Commissar, Divisional Commissar, Kulikov"

Tuesday 29 May 2018

Precious Metals

"Order of the People's Commissar of Medium Machinebuilding of the USSR
September 4th, 1941

To carry out decree #9165-RS of the Council of People's Commissars of the USSR issued on August 30th, 1941, I order that:
  1. The chief designer of factory #37, comrade Astrov, is to produce and present a plan to replace  rolled duraluminium used in the T-60 tank to the NKSM within three days.
  2. The director of factory #75, comrade Kochetkov, must produce ferrous metal replacements for components of the V-2 engine previously produced from aluminium and perform trials by the end of September. Report on the trials no later than September 30th, 1941, so that a report for the Council of People's Commissars can be made.
  3. The chief designers of the Kirov factory and ChTZ (comrade Kotin), factory #183 and STZ (comrade Morozov) and factory #174 (comrade Ginzburg) must produce technical requirements for production of gearboxes of KV, T-34, T-50, and T-26 tanks that use ferrous metals instead of aluminium and present them to the 1st department within seven days.
  4. The head of the 1st department, comrade Gnesin, must agree on the technical conditions with the People's Commissariat of Defense and present them to me for approval.
Deputy People's Commissar of Medium Machinebuilding,
S. Akopov"

Monday 28 May 2018

Prospective Tanks

"To the People's Commissar of Defense of the USSR, Marshal of the Soviet Union, comrade Voroshilov

I report that the director of factory #183, comrade Maksarev, reported that he can produce the T-32 vehicle in the configuration that you provided starting with the 1st quarter of 1940, and in the variant with 45 mm of armour starting with the 2nd quarter. 

Saturday 26 May 2018

Pershing With A Long Hand

The opinion that America could win the war with tanks it already had in production was common at the start of 1944. This attitude backfired in the summer of 1944, when it turned out that even the M4A1(76)W with the 76 mm M1 gun was only a partial solution to fighting German tanks. American tanks were taking heavy losses from German Panthers on the battlefield. Another big surprise was the appearance of a new German tank in July of 1944, the Pz.Kpfw. Tiger Ausf. B, also known as the Tiger II. It turned out that no American tank gun was capable of penetrating it from the front. A search for a worthy opponent for these armoured monsters resulted in the creation of the T26E4 Super Pershing and some other variants of the Pershing with long-barreled cannons.

Thursday 24 May 2018

More MKb.42 Impressions

"Operational research department, 3rd Shock Army

Information Summary #01
January 1944

The model 1943 carbine-machinegun is designed to be used by infantry divisions that fight in forests. Two divisions in the Volkov and Holmsk directions had these weapons. Submachineguns have proven to be ineffective in the forest due to poor penetration. Machineguns are too heavy and not maneuverable enough. It is hard to aim and see when firing from the ground, and uncomfortable to fire from trees. machinegun-carbine combines the maneuverability of a submachinegun with the penetration of a machinegun. The system is well balanced and mobile. Firing in bursts has very light recoil. It is light and comfortable to use. One drawback is that it uses a special round with a shortened casing. Despite that, it has the penetration of a rifle at 400 meters. The magazines (30 round capacity, 7 are carried by each rifleman) are comfortable to use.

The weapon is gas-operated, tilting bolt. The effective range is 100-800 meters. Rate of fire: 500 rounds per minute."

Wednesday 23 May 2018

Compare and Contrast

An interesting document was posted the other day on the War Thunder subreddit.

While very interesting on its own, there is one particular part of the trials that popped out at me.

Tuesday 22 May 2018

Mix and Match

"Order of the People's Commissariat of Medium Machinebuilding #301ss
July 6th, 1941

On the order of introducing design and technological changes to tanks and artillery tractors

Further developing paragraph 4 of order #253ss issued on June 26th, 1941, I order that:
  1. The leading factories, which develop all blueprints and design documentation, are as follows:
    1. KV-1 tank: Kirov factory
    2. T-34 tank: factory #183
    3. T-50 tank: factory #174
    4. V-2 engines: factory #75
  2. ChTZ, STZ, Krasnoye Sormovo, Uralturbomash, factory #37, HTZ, and all subcontractors that produce tanks, assemblies, components, and engines must produce their goods according to the blueprints of the lead factory.
  3. Changes to the technical documentation to meet orders of the SNK and Central Committee of the VKP(b) can only be done by the main factory, after approval by the customer.
  4. ChTZ, STZ, Krasnoye Sormovo, Uralturbomash, factory #37, HTZ are permitted to make design changes to components and assembly only with the permission of the lead factory's director and chief designer.
  5. Changes that impact the approved tactical-technical characteristics of tanks, engines, and artillery tractors can only be made with the permission of the People's Commissar.
  6. Control over the execution of this order is to be carried out by NKSM lead engineers:
    1. KV-1 tank: A.P. Petrov
    2. T-34 tank: N.I. Masalskaya
    3. T-50 tank: I.V. Yurasov
    4. V-2 engine: I.A. Moskalevskiy
    5. Artillery tractors: comrade Komov
People's Commissar of Medium Machinebuilding, V. Malyshev"

Monday 21 May 2018

Canadian Sten

The Sten Gun earned a reputation for being cheap and shoddy, but trials showed that it wasn't all that bad.

Seems acceptable. Let's compare it with the results of Soviet submachinegun trials. The numbers will be a little off, since the British were firing at 91.4 meters instead of 100, and taking the line from the center of the rectangle to the corner will (in most cases) result in an R100 that is larger than if a circle would be drawn around the points of impact, but the results will at least be comparable.

Sten #1 gives an R100 of 17.8 cm when firing single shots. This is around the same as the PPSh and Suomi submachineguns, around the middle of the pack. The mean point of impact is off by 28 cm to the right and 10 cm down. This is quite bad indeed, among the worst of the results. 

In bursts, the radius is 21.1 cm, which is quite good. Only the Neuhausen performs better. The mean point of impact is off by 6.35 cm right and 21.6 cm down, which is actually really good as well.

Sten #2 is a little less reliable, jamming up every time full auto is attempted (but firing off 6 mags initially without issues). It also has issues with dispersion. R100 in single fire is 22.9 cm, significantly worse than its brother and any of the other submachineguns. The mean point of aiming is off by 2.5 cm to the right and 12.7 cm up, however, which is pretty good.

Firing in bursts, the picture is reversed. Sten #2 has an R100 of 35 cm, around the same as the PPSh and Suomi. The mean point of impact is off by 22.9 cm left and 28 cm down, which is the worst result.

The Stens jump all over the place, doing rather average overall. However, considering that the other guns were produced in peacetime, while the Sten was a wartime design and produced by relatively inexperienced hands, the end result is actually quite impressive.

Sunday 20 May 2018

Short-Term Queen of the Desert

The Matilda is arguably the most famous British tank of WWII. This fame is well deserved. At the time of its appearance this slow moving but thickly armoured tank was the best the British industry could give its troops. However, its service with the British army was brief. By mid-1942, these tanks began to leave the stage to make room for American tanks.

T-64A's Birthday

"Central Committee of the CPSU and the Council of Ministers of the USSR


May 20th, 1968

On the installation of a more powerful set of armament into the T-64 tank.

The Central Committee of the CPSU and the Council of Ministers of the USSR decree that:

In agreement with the proposal of the Ministry of Defense of the USSR and the Ministry of Defense Industry of installing into the T-64 tank a new 125 mm smoothbore D-81 gun with armour piercing subcaliber, HEAT, and HE-fragmentation shells, two-plane stabilizer 2E23, TPD-2 rangefinder sight, and a PKT coaxial machinegun with main characteristics in accordance to attachment #1.

The T-64 tank with new armament will be called T-64A."

Thursday 17 May 2018

Replacement Engines

"Order of the People's Commissar of Medium Machinebuilding of the USSR #319ss
July 11th, 1941

To carry out State Committee of Defense Decree issued on July 9th, 1941, "On the facilitation of production of T-34 tanks at the Krasnoye Sormovo factory, I order that:
  1. The director of the Molotov Gorkiy Automotive Factory must provide Krasnoye Sormovo with M-17 engines for the T-34 tank in the following amounts:
    1. August 1941: 15
    2. September 1941: 80
    3. October 1941: 160
    4. November 1941: 230
    5. December 1941: 260
      supply them evenly throughout the month.
  2. The director of factory #183, comrade Maksarev, must deliver to the Krasnoye Sormovo factory 5 sets of all T-34 parts in their completed state and 5 sets of rough stock.
Deputy People's Commissar of Medium Machinebuilding, S. Akopov."

Wednesday 16 May 2018

Hide Your Guns

The need to hide artillery appeared long ago, but the military took development of camouflage paint schemes seriously only on the cusp of the 19th and 20th centuries. Progress in observation methods and increased movement of all sorts of forces played an important role. Widespread use of firearms and the introduction of aircraft dispelled the romantic notion of tight formations and colourful uniforms. There was a sudden need to quickly hide equipment, especially large equipment such as tanks, guns, and automobiles, but not at a cost to mobility. How did the Red Army deal with camouflage during the Great Patriotic War?

Tuesday 15 May 2018

Tough IS-2

"During the fighting for Roben, having broken enemy resistance by the end of March 23rd, 1945, the brigade approached Roben proper. On the night from March 23rd to March 24th, units of the brigade occupied the eastern outskirts of Roben. During the night and the day of March 24th, the brigade fought to clear Roben from enemy submachinegunners. By 12:00 on March 24th, Roben was cleared completely.

Monday 14 May 2018


"Order of the People's Commissariat of Medium Machinebuilding of the USSR #268ss
June 29th, 1941

In accordance with the decree of the USSR SNK, I order:
  1. To the director of factory #174, comrade Markin:
    1. Produce two experimental T-26 tanks (one 1939 production with a conical turret and sloped turret platform, the second 1938 production with a conical turret and vertical turret platform) with 25-35 mm thick applique armour by July 25th, 1941.
    2. Develop blueprints, have them approved by the GABTU, and send them to the Izhora factory by July 8th, 1941.

Sunday 13 May 2018

Lee and Grant: American Generals in British Service

The United States was seen by Britain and France as a giant factory that could aid them in production of military hardware back before the First World War. That is what ended up happening, although American produced vehicles did not arrive in time to fight. However, during WWII, the expectations of America's European allies were met, especially when it came to tanks. However, the trans-Atlantic tank factories didn't work like the British expected them to. Instead of building British tanks under license, the Americans provided their own designs. This article describes the General Lee and General Grant tanks, the first mass produced American medium tanks that were used by the British army.

Friday 11 May 2018

Reused Tank

"Female soldiers fight the enemy exceptionally well. Senior Sergeant Voyevodina's 45 mm gun crew consisting of Komsomol members Rofanova, Zibirova, Bartinkova, and Abramova opened direct fire at enemy strongholds on the left flank during a battle for a settlement. The enemy moved into a counterattack, but the women were out of ammunition. Spotting a knocked out tank up ahead, the brave women crawled forward to it. Having entered the tank, they opened fire from cannons and machineguns at the enemy. The counterattack was defeated. 2 cannons, 9 strongholds, and over 70 fascists were killed. In this battle, crew commander Voyevodina and private Zibirova died the death of heroes."

Wednesday 9 May 2018

Soviet Schurzen

I posted some information on Soviet protection research before, which included experiments spaced armour. Here is another such experiment, performed in the summer of 1943 at factory #112.

A drawing of the extra armour includes armour for the turret, but the prototype does not have it. Only the sides of the hull are equipped with additional armour.

Tuesday 8 May 2018

PzIII Armour in British Hands

I previously shared how the PzIII did in Soviet hands. In summary, the 30 mm plate proved far too brittle under fire from a 45 mm gun, shattering into pieces from just one hit. Curiously, British trials find the exact same thing.

Under attack from 2-pounder AP shot, the first projectile chips off the edge, but the second shatters the plate and causes severe cracks. When the remaining pieces are tested, they too crack into pieces after one or two shots with APC shells at 20 and 30 degrees. The British had more than just one hatch, however, and also observed the welding seams coming apart after the shots. The velocities matched those for 1200 yards in the test with AP and 1000 yards with APC. 

However, things get even more interesting after. In trials against a later model PzIII, one with 50 mm of front armour, the 2-pounder can get a shot through the front plate from 100 yards, although the projectile shatters. Interestingly enough, in Soviet trials, the 2-pounder only managed to penetrate the upper edge of the StuG's upper plate (also 50 mm thick) once from 100 meters. The testers were unable to reproduce this penetration from 50 or 100 meters. The Soviet conclusion is that the 2-pounder cannot penetrate 50 mm of armour at any distance, whereas the British are content with its ability to penetrate the German tank from 100 yards. The British also establish that the 2-pounder can defeat a PzIII from the front from 300 yards with HV ammo, but the Soviets didn't have any available.

Monday 7 May 2018

The Future of Tanks

"Theses of the report by the commander of the Armoured and Mechanized Forces in the Group of Soviet Forces in Germany, Marshal of the Armoured Forces Rotmistrov, titled "Tanks of the Soviet and Foreign Armies Presently, and the Potential of Their Development"
March 24th, 1947

Overall conclusions regarding the tanks of WWII and the potential of its development:
  1. Due to the thickening of armour and gun calibers, light tanks are departing from the battlefield. The amount of medium and heavy tanks is increasing.

Friday 4 May 2018

An Opponent for the Tiger

The capture of two Tiger tanks by the Red Army on January 18th, 1943, had a significant impact on Soviet tank building. Trials of one of the tanks revealed an unfortunate fact: the F-34 76 mm gun, the main weapon of Soviet tanks, could not penetrate the side. The reaction to this result was swift. Designers were tasked with developing a more powerful tank gun immediately. It was to be installed in the KV-1S heavy tank.

Thursday 3 May 2018

Tank Armies

Despite its very young industry, the USSR was focused on building a large amount of tanks right off the bat. It might seem weird to focus on something like that so early on, but once you see the intelligence information at the army's disposal then everything falls into place.

Controlled Impact

"Order to the Red Army Air Force #0194
September 23rd, 1944

Commanders of the Air Armies report that fighter pilots still use one of the most complicated attacks, namely ramming, to this day. 

In many cases, ramming does not only destroy the enemy plane, but also leads to a loss of our airplane, and, often, the death of the pilot.

Tuesday 1 May 2018

D-25 Muzzle Brake

"October 13th, 1943

To the Deputy Chair of the GAU ArtKom, Major-General of the Engineering Artillery service comrade Zhevanik
CC: Chief of the Gorohovets ANIOP, Engineer-Lieutenant-Colonel comrade Grandilevskiy

RE: sending materials on the D-25 122 mm gun

I send you letter #1468/35s from factory #9 written on October 9th, 1943, with materials on the D-25 tank gun.

The D-25 tank gun was designed and produced by NKV factory #9 according to GOKO decree published on September 4th, 1943.