Thursday 30 August 2018

Mammoth Tank

"To the Commanders of Artillery of the 109th Guards Rifle Division and 86th Guards Rifle Division
Copy #2
To the Commander of the 92nd Guards Corps Artillery Regiment personally

New super-powerful "Mammoth" type tanks have arrived on the front lines and have been spotted near Shorakshar. The tanks are kept strictly secret. 

When "Mammoth" tanks are captured, it is necessary to keep them under extra guard to ensure the safety of their mechanisms and immediately report to the corps artillery HQ for subsequent evacuation to Moscow.

Commander of Artillery of the 10th Guards Rifle Corps, Guards Colonel Mihailov
Chief of Staff of Corps Artillery, Guards Major Ivanov
November 14th, 1944"

Wednesday 29 August 2018

Start of the War

"Combat journal of the 125th Tank Regiment

Journal kept by: Commander of the 1st Detachment, Captain Chigin

June 18th, 1941

At 20:00, on orders from the commander of the 202nd Motorized Division, the unit was assembled and moved to the Parizh forest 18 cm east of Sheduv. 
The regiment was composed of:
  • 1st, 2nd, and 3rd battalion: dismounted with rifles
  • 4th battalion: 46 T-26 tanks, chiefly old, none of them equipped with complete set of tools. One starting crank present for every five tanks, no spare sparkplugs, lack of other vital spare parts. 
The unit's warehouse does not have a single spare part for tank repairs. The regiment has no tractors or tow chains, with the exception of one tractor that could barely move on its own.

June 19th, 1941

Supplies, gear, and ammunition were restocked. The unit began training in near-combat conditions (arrangement of observation and guards). The soldiers and commanders are in high spirits.

June 21st, 1941

During June 20th and June 21st the unit was moving to Podukste.

June 22nd, 1941

At 04:00 the regiment commander and his HQ left to survey the Kelme region. Many airplanes were seen during reconnaissance, some familiar Soviet silhouettes, and many unfamiliar ones. Explosions were heard and smoke spotted on the horizon. None of the commanders suspected Germany's treacherous invasion. At 12:00, the unit's delegate in the division HQ arrived at the reconnaissance area and told the regiment commanders and HQ staff about Germany's invasion of the USSR. The unit immediately began preparations to push back the enemy."

Tuesday 28 August 2018


It's no secret that PzIV tanks with spaced armour were often mistaken for Tiger tanks. In fact, the similarity between the silhouettes led the Soviets to believe that this was a deliberate deception.

"German T-IV tank, camouflaged to resemble a Tiger, destroyed by the tank crew of Senior Lieutenant Ivan Strogin at the village of Yagodnoye.

Photo taken in 1943 by M. Savin, special correspondent of the Ogonyek magazine."

Monday 27 August 2018


"To the Chief of the 11th Department of the ABTU

Summary of experimental work performed at the T-2O plant in December of 1938
January 3rd, 1937

1. Installation of remote control equipment on BT-7 tanks

One BT-7 tank with remote control went through factory trials. The vehicle made two outings, travelling 200 km during each one. The first trial was not completed due to loss of air pressure. Pressure was lost because the hose leading from the air tank to the compressor burst and the liner of the air cylinder of the final drive was punctured. 
The second trial was not completed due to a breakdown of a differential gear. The following drawbacks were recorded during trials.

Saturday 25 August 2018

Semovente da 75/18: Apennine StuG

The first months of Italy's participation in WWII showed the weakness of its armour. The 47 mm gun on its M13/40 medium tank was insufficient against the thick armour of the British Matilda tank, and the P40 tank with a 75 mm gun was just being designed. The Italians turned to the experience of their main ally to quickly reinforce their armoured forces.

Friday 24 August 2018

IS Upgrades

"May 19th, 1944

List of work for the modernization of the IS-2 tank and ISU-152 SPG
  1. Engine group
    1. Installation of an Object 701 type radiator.
    2. Installation of a horizontal fan.
    3. Installation of fuel tanks in the engine compartment.
    4. Redesign of the oil system caused by a change in layout.
    5. Redesign of the water system caused by a change in layout.
    6. Replace the exhaust with T-34 type.
    7. Introduce shutters on the air intake.
  2. Transmission group
    1. Alteration of the main friction clutch to accommodate the fan linkage.
    2. Redesign the gearbox to accommodate the fan linkage.
    3. Installation of an Object 701 type fan linkage.
  3. Electric equipment
    1. Installation of four batteries.
    2. Installation of an ST-700 starter.
  4. Hull
    1. Straight front plate 90 mm thick for rolled armour or 100 mm thick for cast armour, 130 mm thick turret platform front, Object 701 type "cork" driver's vision port.
    2. Alteration of the engine deck to accommodate changes in the water system.
    3. Alteration of the exhaust armoured covers.
  5. Armament
    1. Thickening of the front of the turret to 130 mm with the installation of the gun through the roof, similar to Object 701.
    2. Object 701 style traverse mechanism.
    3. Object 701 type turret ring.
    4. Object 701 type low profile commander's cupola.
    5. Rework of the ammunition racks to increase ammunition capacity.
    6. Installation of a high caliber DShK AA machinegun.
The aforementioned items must be completed on each of the two experimental IS tank and SPG prototypes built according to this order.

Head of the Chief Designer's Department of the NKTP, Ber
Chief of the GBTU TU, Major-General of the Tank Engineering Service, Afonin"

Wednesday 22 August 2018


"To the Deputy Chief of the GAU, Lieutenant General of Artillery V.I. Hohlov
CC: Chief of the GABTU BTU, Engineer-Colonel Afonin
CC: Chairman of the NKV Technical Council, comrade Ye.A. Satel

February 27th, 1943

RE: development and production of an 85 mm tank gun for the installation into a KV tank.

In 1942, on factory #92's initiative, work on the development and production of one 85 mm tank gun began at the factory. TsAKB's further work plan, approved by the GAU, contains further development of this project and completion of a prototype. 

Factory #92 sent materials regarding this project to the Artillery Committee. The Artillery Committee requested additional materials, which were sent by factory #92. Letter #822229 dated January 7th, 1943, communicated to us via letter #118/s dated January 24th, 1943, from the NKV requested fitting 80 rounds of ammunition in the tank.

For further development of this project by the TsAKB, I ask of you to:
  1. Send tactical-technical requirements to the TsAKB.
  2. In order to keep track of all the latest changes to the design of the turret and fighting compartment and correctly answer questions connected with the installation of the gun system and the ammunition racks, give instructions to send the following to the TsAKB:
    1. Blueprints of the KV's turret and gun mantlet.
    2. Overall views of components, parts, and items necessary to determine the size of the fighting compartment given the presence of various devices and apparatuses, and also blueprints of the attachment of the 10-T telescopic sight and its control rods.
  3. Give orders to arrange for a working KV tank for the TsAKB of the latest type with a gun frame, mantlet, and fully equipped fighting compartment.
  4. Give orders to send one ZIS-5 gun without the barrel and breech.
Chief and Chief Designer of the TsAKB, Lieutenant-General of the Technical Forces, Grabin
Chief of the 18th Department, Renne"

Tuesday 21 August 2018

T-34 Prices

Makarov and Zheltov, the leading researchers of the history of the T-34 tank and the mind behind, a site that I often quote, came up with a rather interesting summary table of the cost of T-34 tanks throughout the wartime years. The cost is given in thousands of rubles.

Factory #183
243.8 ¹
166.3 ¹
136.6 2
135.4 6
Factory #112
179.3 2
Factory #174
210.8 2
200.9 3
175.3 2
179.6 7
212.0 4
174.0 5

Monday 20 August 2018


"To the Central Committee of the VKP(b)
Comrade I.V. Stalin
People's Commissar of Defense of the USSR, comrade K.Ye. Voroshilov

Bolshevik fighters and commanders of the Ukrainian Military District, enthusiasts of mastering and further perfecting our powerful combat vehicles, report this to you.

Your directions in improving the drive of the BT tank is complete. We present to you a new type of drive for BT tanks.

Saturday 18 August 2018

Semovente L40 da 47/32: Italy's Smallest SPG

Italian armoured vehicles of WWII pale in comparison to those of either their allies or their opponents. However, even though their tankettes, light, and medium tanks were not quite world class, the SPGs built on their chassis were not that bad.

The light L6/40 tank was accepted into service in the Italian land forces in 1941. This vehicle was  already obsolete: the 20 mm autocannon was not enough to fight British infantry tanks, and the armour was clearly insufficient. Nevertheless, the army needed a replacement for tankettes, and Italian industry produced about 440 of these vehicles by the summer of 1943, which were adopted by reconnaissance units.

Thursday 16 August 2018

Grand Theft Auto

"Award Order
  1. Name: Kondratenko, Vladimir Ignatyevich
  2. Rank: Guard Red Armyman
  3. Position and unit: anti-tank rifle crew member, 1st Independent Rifle Battalion, 10th Guards Rifle Brigade.
    is nominated for the Order of the Red banner.
  4. Year of birth: 1924
  5. Nationality: Russian
  6. In the Red Army since: March 1942
  7. Party affiliation: VLKSM member
  8. Participation in combat since: August 6th, 1942 (Western Front)
  9. Wounds or concussions: none
  10. Prior awards: none
  11. Recruited by: Steingardt recruitment office, Kranodar krai
Brief and specific description of heroism: during battles near Mayramadag on November 6th, 1942, comrade Kondratenko knocked out two German tanks from his anti-tank rifle, set fire to a car, and drove an enemy tank off the battlefield under fire.

Commander of the 10th Guards Rifle Brigade, Guards Lieutenant-Colonel Terenkov"

There is also a photo of the hero, smiling next to his trophy.

Wednesday 15 August 2018

Too Little, Too Late

"Received on June 22nd, 1:45 am
Send on June 22nd, 2:25 am, 2:35 am

To the commanders of the 3rd, 4th, 10th armies, I pass on the order of the People's Commissar of Defense for immediate execution.
  1. A sudden German attack is possible on June 22nd or 23rd on the Leningrad Military District, Baltic Military District, Western Military District, Kiev Military District, and the Odessa Military District. The German attack might begin with provocations.
  2. Our goal is to resist any provocation that could result in complications. At the same time, forces of the  Leningrad Military District, Baltic Military District, Western Military District, Kiev Military District, and the Odessa Military District must remain ready to meet a sudden attack by the Germans or their allies.
  3. I command you to:
    1. Secretly take positions along the state border on the night of June 22nd.
    2. Before dawn on June 22nd, spread out aircraft on field airstrips, including military aircraft, and carefully camouflage them.
    3. All units must be ready for combat without additional calling up of personnel. Prepare blackout measures for cities and objects.
Take no other actions without special orders.


Tuesday 14 August 2018

A-20 Production Status

"April 29th/May 4th, 1939

To the Chief of the Special Department of the NVKD GUGB of the USSR

RE: #4 04/12348

In response to your query, I reply that:
  1. The shape of the hull, armament, ammunition capacity, and cruising range of the A-20 tank have been approved by the Chief Military Council.
  2. The ABTU knows nothing about the design bureau's refusal to reduce the mass of assemblies and components of the A-20.
  3. The practical mass of the tank, robustness of the components, and accessibility will be determined in the coming months after the prototypes are built and tested.
  4. The factory has every ability to produce a prototype in the time span allotted by the government.
The Chief Engineer of the ABTU, Major Panov, is keeping track of production of the vehicles.

Chief of the ABTU, Corps Commander Pavlov
ABTU Military Commissar, Brigade Commissar Kulikov"

Monday 13 August 2018

Panther Penetration

"Table of results of shooting at the Panther tank

Armour thickness
# shots
14.5 ATR
No penetration
40 mm deep dent in the central part of the armour
45 mm
Complete penetration in the rear part of the side armour. The breach is the size of the shell caliber.
Oval penetration in the central part of the side armour 20x35 mm in size.
57 mm
Complete penetration in the side of the turret. The breach is the size of the shell caliber.
Complete penetration in the center of the side of the turret. The breach is the size of the shell caliber. There is spalling inside around the breach. The shell lodged itself in the breach of the gun.
No penetration
A 52 mm deep dent formed in the center of the sloped frontal armour. A bump formed on the inside. The armour cracked.
No penetration
Oval dent in the center part of the front armour 50x65 mm in size. A bump formed on the inside. The armour has a 25 mm long crack.
76 mm reg.
Complete penetration in the center of the side armour. The breach does not widen on the inner part.
76 mm div. ZIS-3
Complete penetration with the inside jagged. A portion of the turret armour broke off as the shell passed inside.
Complete penetration of the turret armour. The entrance opening is the size of the caliber. There is spalling on the inside.
Complete penetration of the upper portion of the side of the turret the size of the shell diameter. As the shell entered, a part of the armour that was previously weakened broke off.
85 mm
Complete penetration in the lower sloped front armour the size of the shell diameter. The armour has a horizontal crack passing through the opening.

Saturday 11 August 2018

Red Army's White Tanks

Issues with reducing visibility of armoured vehicles arose as soon as these vehicles were first used. Like 100 years ago, opposing sides aim to locate enemy vehicles in motion, during stops, and during combat, determine their type and number, and also make the same as difficult as possible for the enemy. It's not easy to conceal a tank from the enemy, especially in winter. Areas covered in snow make dark objects (such as tanks in basic camouflage) very noticeable. How was the issue of camouflaging tanks in winter handled in the Red Army?

Thursday 9 August 2018

Last Rites

"To the Chief of the Personnel Losses Department of the 3rd Army
September 8th, 1944

I report that in carrying out the orders of the Chief of the Rear #0210 issued on August 25th, 1944, deceased soldiers of the 348th Rifle Division are buried in divisional cemeteries indicated in orders of the division rear.

Divisional cemeteries are built far away from roads, on forest clearings or on outskirts of settlements that are not used for planting. Graves and gravestones are built according to standardized blueprints. Inscriptions are written in black pencil or are burned on. Graves are surrounded with a mound and with a fence.

Personal belongings of the deceased are collected by the chiefs of the burial teams. No looting was observed. 

The main points of order #0210 were covered with the personnel of the burial teams.

Chief of the Trophy Group
Captain Podunin"

Via zihuatalexo.

Back to School

"Order of the People's Commissar of Defense #0909 On Equipping Training Tank Units with Transient Personnel
November 26th, 1942

In order to fill tank crews with well trained, brave, decisive, and battle-tested soldiers and NCOs, I order that:
  1. 8000 men from the active army are to be sent to tank units every month by the 15th according to the attached schedule for the next two months (December and January).
  2. Soldiers and NCOs are to be picked from the ranks of privates and junior commanders who showed courage, decisiveness, and devotion to the Motherland, no older than 35, literate, and well versed in Russian.
    40% of those picked should be junior commanders.
  3. Perform the selection with commission from representatives of the Front and Main Armour Directorate of the Red Army.
People's Commissar of Defense,
I. Stalin"

Tuesday 7 August 2018

Corps and Brigades

"Order of the People's Commissar of Defense #00106 on the Composition of Tank Units in Tank Corps and Tank Armies
May 29th, 1942
  1. To alter the present arrangement, reorganize the tank corps and tank armies as follows:
    1. Keep three tank brigades in a tank corps: one KV tank brigade numbering 32 KV tanks with 21 attached T-60 tanks and two T-34 brigades numbering 44 T-34 tanks each and 21 additional T-60 tanks, for a total of 183 tanks in a corps.
    2. In tank armies keep two tank corps described in part 1.1 of this order and one reserve tank brigade composed of 44 T-34 and 21 T-60 tanks, for a total of 431 tanks in a tank army.
  2. Independent tank brigades are to be composed of 8 KV tanks, 20 T-34 tanks, and 20 T-60 tanks.
  3. The Chief of the Main Armoured Directorate of the Red Army is instructed to propose a draft of the changes to the TO&E.
People's Commissar of Defense,
I. Stalin"

RGVA 4-11-67 p.137

Monday 6 August 2018

Ersatz Tank Destroyer

The Jadgpanzer 38(t), also widely known as the "Hetzer", is often treated as just being short of a wonder-weapon that could significantly change the tide of war had it appeared sooner. Without doubt, the Jadgpanzer 38(t) was a good design. Its weight class had hardly any other vehicles that combined thick sloped armour, powerful armament, and a relatively low silhouette. However, let's not overestimate this vehicle. The Jagdpanzer 38(t) was just one of many ersatz vehicles called upon to slow down the relentless approach of the front line to Germany's borders.