Wednesday 31 October 2018

GMC M10 in Combat

  • In pursuit of the enemy, the SPGs travelled over 500 km, expending 110 engine-hours.
  • The expenditure of ammunition during completion of objectives did not exceed the expected parameters.
M10 SPGs are a powerful weapon, capable of fighting alongside both tanks and infantry. Thanks to the presence of a high caliber machinegun in addition to the cannon, it can cover enemy vehicles and personnel with combined cannon and machinegun fire.

Technical drawbacks of the M10 SPG include:
  • Weak clutch, which slips under high load.
  • The dimensions are too large.
  • The lower radiator intakes are not protected by armour, and are disabled by explosions underneath the vehicle or near it.
  • The open top turret results in the crew being knocked out by shell or mortar splinters (5 cases).
Not all tank and combined arms commanders know instructions for how to use SPGs, and as a result do not set correct objectives, frequently putting them in front of tanks and infantry.

Commander of the 1239th Deblin Self Propelled Artillery Regiment, Budarin.
Chief of Staff of the 1239th Deblin Self Propelled Artillery Regiment, Belotserkovskiy
August 23rd, 1944"

Tuesday 30 October 2018

Simplified T-60 Sight

"To the Chief of the 3rd Department of the BTU
Moscow, Red Square, NKO house #2

RE: trials of the tank sight

Factory #237, on its own initiative, designed a simplified sight for the 20 mm TNSh gun and produced experimental prototypes. The difference in the proposed sight compared to the stock one is as follows:
  1. The crosshair mechanism is simplified. There is no longer a horizontal adjustment mechanism. The horizontal correction grid is painted on.
  2. The scale and grid are no longer illuminated.
  3. A brake was added to the distance setting wheel.
The modernization reduces the number of parts by 40 (out of a total of 120), while the main optical and mechanical components, as well as the characteristics of the sight, remain unchanged. The sight becomes much simpler to produce.

Production of these sights will therefore increase and will be able to satisfy the demand of tank factories, which is not currently being fully met.

I ask you to issue 300 rounds for the 20 mm TNSh cannon and 120 rounds for the 7.62 mm DT machinegun to perform trials.

The trials program has been approved by the military representative, Military Engineer 3rd Class comrade Ivanov (Kazan proving grounds). Trials will be performed by the 23rd Reserve Tank Regiment in Kazan, who I ask you to send the necessary orders for the issuing of ammunition to.

I ask you to not delay your answer.

Chief of the 3rd Department of the GAU USV, Military Engineer 2nd Class, Vaisleder
Chief of the 1st Section of the 3rd Department, Military Engineer 2nd Class, Korabut
January 26th, 1942"

Monday 29 October 2018

Tank Tactics

"Order of the People's Commissar of Defense #325
On the combat use of tank and mechanized units and formations
October 16th, 1942

The practice of war with German fascists showed us that we still have major drawbacks in the way we apply our tank units. The drawbacks are mainly as follows:
  1. When attacking enemy defenses, our tanks break away from the infantry, and having broken away, lose cooperation. Infantry, having been cut off from the tanks by enemy fire, does not support the tanks with artillery. The tanks, having broken away from infantry, fight one on one with enemy artillery, tanks, and infantry, taking heavy losses.

Saturday 27 October 2018

SKS: Experience is Experience

Having taken part in the 1944 tender for a self-loading carbine, the young Mikhail Kalashnikov suffered defeat. Another design went into production, and Sergeant Kalashnikov received nothing more than experience for his trouble. Who was his competitor in this fight?

Thursday 25 October 2018

A Lesson in Trickery

"5. Enemy agents
  1. Expect the enemy to drop agents via parachute in our rear as well as paratroopers. Our forces must be warned of this and maintain constant vigilance.
  2. Three Russians in the uniforms of German officers were captured in the supply tail of one unit. During defensive battles, a Russian officer (an agent dressed in a German uniform) ordered the battalion to retreat, and the battalion carried out the order. As a result, the front line was broken.
Do not trust strange officers!"

Wednesday 24 October 2018

T-50's Growing Pains

"To the People's Commissar of Medium Machinebuilding, comrade Malyshev

I report that the proving grounds trials of the experimental prototypes of the T-50 tank cannot be completed in the time set by your order #009ss issued on January 7th, 1941, because of the design defects discovered during the trials.

The main defects of the tank are as follows:

Tuesday 23 October 2018

German Ground Attackers

"Translated from German

Combat use of ground attack aircraft
March 1944


7. Anti-tank assault aircraft
  1. Anti-tank assault aircraft squads are independent units. They can be attached to assault aircraft squadrons or united in the direction of the main attack to form a powerful anti-tank group.
  2. Henschel 129 (single seater, two engine) and Junkers 87-G (with special equipment) are used as anti-tank assault aircraft. Both airplanes, due to their heavy weight and special weapons (Henschel 129: 30 mm cannon and two 7.9 mm machineguns, Ju-87-G: two 37 mm cannons) have low speed and are insufficiently maneuverable.
    They are very vulnerable to enemy fire, and the ability to use them is therefore limited.

Monday 22 October 2018

Fabric to Metal

"Approved by the Commander of Artillery of the 57th Army, member of the military council, Major-General of Artillery, Vreydo
August 15th, 1944

Instructions on using the German MG-34 handheld machinegun belt in the Maxim mounted machinegun

Trials of using metallic belts from the German MG-34 handheld machinegun in the Maxim mounted machinegun gave good results in terms of reliability of the machinegun.

1. Reason for usage
  1. A lack of belts for the Maxim gun can be made up for with captured belts.
  2. Metallic belts are not affected by moisture, are easy to load, and are reliable.
  3. The German 50 round belt made from separate links is more convenient in battle. A domestically produced ammunition container can fit a 300 round belt.
  4. Using the German metallic belt does not require any design changes or alterations in the receiver or the belt, which means that both the domestic fabric belt and the German metallic belt can be used.
  5. The ammunition is levelled using the same mechanism when loaded from the German belt, but with a limiter, which allows ammunition to be levelled when using both belts.

Saturday 20 October 2018

Airborne Scorpion

Anti-tank artillery calibers showed a steady growth in WWII. The US Army entered the war with 37 mm guns and ended it with 76 and 90 mm guns. The increase in caliber meant the increase in the weight of the gun. This was not critical for the infantry, as they could simply introduce more powerful tractors, but the Airborne was not so lucky.

Thursday 18 October 2018

Canned Food

"On emergency reserve rations for tankers
(Excerpt from special orders of the 13th Tank Division on December 6th, 1942

The daily portion of the emergency reserve rations for tankers that is held at the field kitchen:
  • Dry concentrate: 150 g
  • Roasted coffee: 20 g
  • Biscuits: 250 g
  • Meat preserves: 200 g
Partial portion of the emergency reserve rations that is kept on each soldier:
  • Biscuits: 250 g
  • Meat preserves: 200 g
Note: for the creation of food reserves (less bread and vegetables), the following was to be received:
  • 5 daily portions of shelf-stable foods
  • 3 daily portions of special rations for tankers."

Wednesday 17 October 2018

Vodka Audit

"To member of the Military Council of the South-Western Front, Major-General of the Intendant Service, comrade Layok


An inspection of the 200th Reserve Rifle Regiment showed illegal procurement and consumption of vodka. According to documents, the regiment received:
  • February 7th, 1943, #84/4671: 5 Litres from NKO warehouse #799
  • February 12th, 1943, #57/208: 400 Litres  from NKO warehouse #799
  • February 12th, 1943, #50208: 3085 Litres from NKO warehouse #799
  • February 26th, 1943, #72208: 700 Litres  from NKO warehouse #799
In total, 4190 Litres were received. Amount consumed was:
  • February 22nd: 838.9 L
  • February 23rd: 836.6 L
  • February 24th: 824 L
Total consumed: 2499.5 L. 550 L of vodka is still present at the warehouse. No documents were presented on how 221.5 L of vodka was consumed. In addition, based on the regimental procurement chief, Senior Lieutenant of the Intendant Service Shpak is on his way with 914.5 L of vodka.

The procurement and subsequent consumption of vodka is an illegal act of the commander of the 200th Reserve Rifle Regiment, Major Galanin, and his procurement assistant,  Senior Lieutenant of the Intendant Service Shpak.

I ask you to give the order to hold them responsible.

Deputy Chief of Staff of the South-Western Front Political Department, Brigadier Commissar Gruzdov."

Tuesday 16 October 2018

D-10 and IS-2

"To comrade L.P. Beria

On installing the 100 mm D-10 gun produced by NKV factory #9 into the IS tank instead of the D-25 122 mm gun made by the same factory

In March of this year, I reported to you that NKTP factory #100 jointly with NKV factory #9 produced an experimental prototype of the IS heavy tank with a D-10 gun designed by factory #9.

Trials of the IS with a 100 mm gun showed that the 100 mm D-10 gun has undeniable advantages over the 122 mm D-25 gun as armament of the IS tank. These advantages are as follows:

Monday 15 October 2018

Penalty Company Inventory

"TO&E #04/395

Independent penalty company of the active army
  1. Organization
    1. Command
    2. Three rifle platoons
    3. 82 mm mortar platoon
    4. Medical unit
    5. Quartermaster unit
  2. Personnel
    1. Officers: 8 permanent, 0 temporary
    2. Sergeants: 3 permanent, 31 temporary
    3. Privates: 1 permanent, 110 temporary
    4. Total: 12 permanent, 141 temporary
  3. Horses
    1. Draft horses: 6
  4. Materiel:
    1. 82 mm mortars: 2
    2. DP handheld machineguns: 12
    3. Submachineguns: 49
    4. Rifles and carbines: 82
  5. Transport:
    1. One-horse carts: 2
    2. Two-horse carts: 1
    3. Cavalry type field kitchen: 1

Sunday 14 October 2018

Porsche's Tiger: A Victim of Dirty Competition

The German heavy tank program began in 1937, but work dragged on. Changes were being introduced into the design of tanks that hadn't even been built yet. Because of this, Porsche K.G. began working on a new Typ 100 heavy tank, known also as the VK 30.01(P), in December of 1939. Work on this project let to the creation of another tank, the VK 45.01(P), or Pz.Kpfw. Tiger (P), the main subject of today's article. This vehicle, often called the Porsche Tiger, was accepted for service and could have become the main German heavy tank of the war, had the situation developed a little differently.

Thursday 11 October 2018


"Order # 9/113s of the Entrusted Agent of Safekeeping of Military Secrets in Print and Chief of the Literature and Publishing Directorate
February 3rd, 1943

Introduce the following changes into order #57/1126/c published on November 6th, 1942:

A. Aircraft
I-5 with M-22 engine
I-15 bis with M-25a engine
I-16 with M-25, M-25a, M-25v, M-62, M-63 engines
I-153 with M-62, M-63, and M-63tk engines
Can be openly published.
MIG-1 fighter
LI-2 bomber
IL-4 close and long range bomber
TB heavy bomber
It is permitted to publish the name of the aircraft, usage memos, and silhouettes.
Technical descriptions and instructions must be marked “for authorized use only”.
Tactical flight characteristics must be marked “Secret”.

B. Armoured vehicles
T-26, T-27, T-28, T-34, T-35, T-37, T-38, T-40, T-60, T-70, BT-2, BT-5, BT-7M, KV-1, KV-2
Can only be mentioned and depicted in photographs in open print. Tactical-technical characteristics to be printed with “for authorized use only” mark.

American light tank M3, medium tank M3
Churchill, Tetrarch (Mk.VII)
Mention in open publications is prohibited.
Matilda (Mk.II), Valentine (Mk.III)
Allowed for open publication. Can be shown in photographs without revealing details, design of the fighting compartment, and control mechanisms.
Universal Carrier
Can only be mentioned and depicted in photographs in open print. Tactical-technical characteristics must be marked “for authorized use only”.
Aerosans NKL-16 mod. 1941, NKL-16 mod. 1943, NKL-26 combat aerosan
Can be openly published.

D. Chemistry

Explosive flamethrower (FOG)
Portable flamethrower (ROKS-2)
Independent explosive flamethrower companies are armed with explosive flamethrowers. Any mention in open publication is forbidden.
The explosive and portable flamethrowers can be published with the mark “for authorized use only”.
Individual incendiary items (bottles, TSch-360 thermite ball, thermite rounds, thermite charges)
Can be openly published.

Send this order to all regional publishers, and to the Central Military and Naval Censorship department.

Entrusted Agent of Safekeeping of Military Secrets in Print and Chief of the Literature and Publishing Directorate, N. Sadchikov"

Wednesday 10 October 2018

Second Wind

"Award Order
Name: Stogniy, Ivan Alekseevich
Rank and position: Guards Lieutenant, officer reserve company with the 1st Independent Training Regiment of the Far Eastern Front
  1. Year of birth: 1921
  2. Nationality: Ukrainian
  3. Party affiliation: VKP(b) member since May 1943
  4. In the Red Army since: July 22nd, 1941
    Officer since: July 6th, 1942
  5. Participated in combat (where and when): in the Patriotic War from July 10th, 1942, to August 30th, 1942, on the Western Front and the Kalinin Front.
  6. Previous wounds or contusions: wounded near the abdominal ring of the left hip.
  7. Previous awards: none
  8. Recruited by: Lenin recruitment office in Kharkov

Tuesday 9 October 2018

Discipline Abroad

"I order that:
  1. Commanders and chiefs of political departments in units must immediately create strict order in their units, mobilize the communists and komsomol members to strengthen and maintain strictest discipline on behalf of literally every soldier and officer. Explain to all personnel that combat in Polish territory requires from each one of them even higher standards of flawless and honest behaviour everywhere and at all times. Each soldier who is chasing trophies, looting, drinking, or being a public nuisance on Polish territory must be immediately arrested and strictly disciplined by the courts.

Monday 8 October 2018

Overseas Doorknocker

At the time the United States joined WWII the main anti-tank gun of the American army was the 37 mm M3 gun. As experience in North Africa showed, this gun could not successfully combat modern tanks. While the 37 mm gun was replaced by more powerful weapons in Europe, the US Army and Marines used these guns in the Pacific theatre until the end of the war.

Saturday 6 October 2018

Heavy Trophy from the Kursk Salient

The relatively rare German heavy Panzerjäger Tiger (P) SPG, more commonly known as the Ferdinand, left a noticeable mark in history and in Soviet tank building. The name "Ferdinand" itself became denominative: Ferdinands were spotted on all parts of the front until the end of the war. In practice, only 91 vehicles were built, and the Ferdinand was only used en masse in the summer of 1943, during Operation Citadel at the Battle of Kursk. The Germans lost more than a third of these vehicles there.

Despite the fact that the Ferdinands (as well as the Elefant) were used very sparingly, they showed themselves as effective anti-tank guns. The Red Army command treated the child of Porsche K.G. and Alkett seriously. The appearance of the Ferdinand on the front lines reflected itself in the development of Soviet tanks, tank guns, and SPGs.

Kursk Trio

"To the Deputy Chief of the GBTU, Lieutenant-General of the Technical Service, comrade Lebedev

By your instruction, I present you with a brief summary of new type of vehicles in the German army according to information from prisoners.
  1. Panther tank. Mass: about 35 tons. Armament: one long 75 mm gun, two MG-42 machineguns. The tank is similar to the T-4 Russian tank. Compared to the T-4, it has stronger front armour and wider tracks.
  2. Reinforced Tiger tank. Weight: up to 65 tons. Armament: one 88 mm gun, one 20 mm AA gun, installed in the rear of the tank, 4 MG-42 machineguns. An emergency hatch is present at the bottom of the tank. The walls on the front and along the sides are cemented. The armour is up to 120 mm thick. Some tanks have flamethrowers along the right side. Crew: 7 men.
  3. Ferdinand SPG. A prisoner from the 654th Independent Tank Destroyer Battalion says that the battalion is composed of three companies of 14 Ferdinand type SPGs each. Tactical technical data is unknown.
Engineer Lieutenant-Colonel Andreev
July 14th, 1943"

Thursday 4 October 2018

PPD Woes

"December 26th, 1940
To: Chief of the GABTU, Lieutenant-General Fedorenko
Moscow, Red Square, 2nd NKO house

CC: Chief of the Main Artillery Directorate of the Red Army
Moscow, Red Square, 2nd NKO house
CC: Military Department of the NSKM
Moscow, 8a Ryazanskaya St.

In accordance with the excerpt from the order of the People's Commissariat of Medium Machinebuilding #268ss issued on November 25th, 1940, the T-34 tank needs to carry a submachinegun (PPD) and at least 500 rounds of ammunition for it. According to the order, the submachinegun (PPD) must be installed to fire from the hatches.

One submachinegun, model 1934/38 #VF360 produced in 1940, and a brief instruction manual, were received from the Military Acceptance department of our factory. During the examination of the item, the following questions arose:

Wednesday 3 October 2018


"Excerpt from an intelligence report from the 1st Belorussian Front on the enemy's impression of our aircraft

A captured memo issued by the 9th Army command begins with these words: "Enemy Sturmoviks can appear like lightning in a clear sky. They are exceptionally dangerous if you remain like a passive observer on the road, gazing at the machines exhaling fire. Only one rule exists in relation to ground attack aircraft: get off the road, get to cover." In early April, the 9th Army newspaper also published several slogans giving advice on what to do in case of ground attack aircraft raids. Flyers with this information are also posted in occupied cities."

Supply Drop

"Report on assistance to the uprising in Warsaw by elements of the 16th Air Army in September of 1944

On September 12th, 1944, based on the request from the Polish Committee of National Liberation, after the reception of representatives of the uprising that crossed to the eastern bank of the Vistula river, the Military Council of the 1st Baltic Front gave the following order to the commander of the 16th Air Army: to assist the uprising in Warsaw via delivery of weapons, ammunition, and supplies by air.

The execution of this task was assigned to the 9th Guards Stalingrad-Rechitsa Order of Suvorov Night Bomber Division (Po-2). On September 13th, individual Il-2 aircraft under fighter cover flew over the blocks held by the uprising forces dropping banners with notes containing the schedule of the Po-2 flights and means of communication with the uprising forces. In addition, to establish reliable communication and control over the delivery of the cargo, paratroopers equipped with radios were dropped into uprising held regions, who reported on their landing and location, and subsequently maintained communication with the 1st Baltic Front HQ, reporting on the situation in Warsaw and the amount of supplies dropped from Po-2 bombers that ended up in the hands of the uprising.

The Po-2 bombers set out with cargo for the uprising on the first time on the night of September 14th, 1944. Between September 14th and October 1st, the Po-2 bombers made 2243 sorties and dropped the following cargo:
  • 45 mm guns: 1
  • 50 mm mortars: 156
  • Anti-tank rifles: 505
  • SMGs and rifles: 2667
  • Grenades: 41,780
  • Ammunition (various): over 30 million
  • Medicine: 0.5 tons
  • Supplies: 113 tons
as well as communications equipment (telephones, cable, etc).

The actions of Po-2 bombers were supported by fighters and ground attack aircraft, who suppressed the most active enemy AA emplacements during the day. 14 Po-2 night bombers were lost between September 14th and October 1st.

Composed based on materials summarizing the actions of the 16th Air Army for September of 1944.

Senior Assistant to the Chief of Operational Research of the 1st Belorussian Front Operational Department, Lieutenant-Colonel Pavlovskiy"

Monday 1 October 2018

Tiger's Hide

Preliminary British intelligence on the Tiger that was available for fairly general consumption throughout 1943 did not set up great expectations for the quality of its armour, already indicating that it was prone to spalling and cracking. Trials conducted in October confirmed these suspicions. The following are excerpts from WO 194/744, "Firing trials in Tunisia against the hull of a Pz.Kw.VI" made available to me by Alexander Sotnikov. I'm not going to copy the whole report, but there is a pretty good example that shows how greatly variable the quality of German armour has become even by 1943. For your convenience, a penetration table for the 6-pounder gun is attached.