Tuesday 31 December 2019

APCR and HEAT Instructions

"Artillery HQ of the 25th Rifle Corps
May 23rd, 1944

To artillery commanders of divisions. Copy personally for the 77th Guards Rifle Division

I send out a copy of instructions issued by the GAU KA regarding the use of 76 mm subcaliber ammunition, 76 mm HEAT, and 122 mm HEAT.

The Corps Artillery Commander orders that:
  1. The instructions are to be taught to all artillery personnel of the units (for the appropriate caliber) before May 27th, 1944.
  2. Personally check the knowledge of these instructions by officers on May 27th, 1944, and report on the results of the check.
  3. Subcaliber and HEAT ammunition must always be stored with the guns and kept in reserve against tanks and SPGs. Do not permit firing at other targets.
Chief of the Artillery HQ of the 25th Rifle Corps, Lieutenant Colonel Solodilov"

Monday 30 December 2019

Tanks in the 7th Guards Army

"To the Commander of the Armoured and Mechanized Forces of the 7th Guards Army

Summary of experience of using tank armament in the Patriotic War

1. Range and means of fire

A typical rate of fire for tanks firing from standstill in defense or from ambush is 600-800 meters. This range allows fire to be precise and allows for knocking out the target with several shells even if it is moving straight at the shooter.

Firing on the move when attacking a defending enemy should done done from all weapons after the tank breaks away from our infantry. The rate of fire should be maximum without regard for hitting. In this case, undershooting is better than overshooting. Keep firing like this until the platoon or even the whole formation enters enemy lines, then finish off strongholds with precise fire.

Saturday 28 December 2019

Small Modernization of a Large Tank

Many tanks received significant upgrades after they first saw battle. Practice often trumps theory, especially during WWII where military vehicles quickly became obsolete. The IS-2 heavy tank was no exception. It was built with enough armour to protect it from the German Tiger tank, but it turned out that there were more dangerous opponents on the battlefield. As a result, a modernized IS-2 tank entered production in Chelyabinsk in late summer of 1944. It is sometimes called IS-2M or IS-2 model 1944, but neither designation was used in reality.

Thursday 26 December 2019

Truck Proportions

There is a commonly held opinion that, without foreign aid, the Red Army would have hardly any trucks at all and would not be able to execute strategic offensives. Indeed, if you compare the amount of trucks produced in the USSR during the war and the amount of trucks shipped in, the amount of the latter is much greater. This creates the impression that the Red Army was almost entirely dependent on foreign aid for trucks.

Wednesday 25 December 2019

Tiger II Intel

Military Mission in the USSR
August 25th, 1944

To the Chief of External Affairs of the NKO, Major General Mister V.N. Yevstigneev

We have received a report on a new type of Tiger tank weighing 67 tons with serial number P280637 captured in northern France.

This tank is of typical German design with a rear engine and front gearbox, turning mechanism, and final drives.

Visually it resembles a large Panther tank. Its armour is made from the same type of cut and welded plates.

Attachment A includes a detailed description of the tank. I would be grateful for any data regarding the use of this tank on the Soviet-German front.

We will send you details and photographs as soon as they are received from England.

Colonel, General Staff, Head of Army Section, British Military Mission in the USSR.

Tuesday 24 December 2019

Suggestion for Stalin

"To the Chairman of the Committee of Defense, comrade I.V. Stalin

In June of 1941 the 23 mm aircraft gun designed by us passed trials in an airplane, showing good results firing both on the ground and in the air. In addition to the good performance, NKV experts remarked that the gun is 50-60% simpler to produce than the VYa gun that is currently in production. Half as much time, tools, plants, workers, etc. will be required to make our gun, which is important at this time to ensure defeat of fascism.

Monday 23 December 2019

T-43 Power Up

"To the Deputy Commander of the Armoured and Mechanized Forces of the Red Army, Lieutenant General of the Tank Forces comrade Korobkov
October 20th, 1943

According to your order given on October 4th of this year, a meeting was called regarding the issue of the T-43 tank and the possibility of creating a new medium tank. The meeting was attended by specialists from the Red Army BTU. The meeting came to the following conclusions:
  1. Due to new tanks used by the enemy (Panther, Tiger) with more powerful armour and a higher amount of 75 and 88 mm anti-tank guns, the T-43 would no longer be capable of fully completing its objectives.

Saturday 21 December 2019

Heavy Tank Destroyers that Remained on Paper

The KV-14 (SU-152) SPG was accepted into service on February 14th, 1943. It was designed primarily to combat enemy fortifications, but its first use in combat pitted it against German tanks. Work on tank destroyers on the SU-152 chassis began in the spring of 1943. Even though none of these projects was implemented in metal, the work eventually led to the ISU-122.

Thursday 19 December 2019

New Machine Guns

"State Committee of Defense decree #6721s
October 14th, 1944
Moscow, Kremlin

On the production of modernized light infantry and tank Degtyaryev machine guns

In order to improve the fighting ability of light infantry and tank Degtyaryev pattern machineguns, the State Committee of Defense decrees that:

The People's Commissar of Armament comrade Ustinov and director of factory #2 comrade Fomin must prepare the tools and the manufacturing process for production of modernized light infantry and tank Degtyaryev machine guns before December 1st, 1944, and shift to production of the modernized  light infantry and tank Degtyaryev machine guns in December.

Chairman of the State Committee of Defense, I. Stalin"

Wednesday 18 December 2019

Start of T-54 Development

"Order of the People's Commissar of Tank Production of the USSR #637s
November 1st, 1944

Factory #183 (comrade Morozov) developed a new T-54 medium tank with improved armour. 

The review of the project showed that the new T-54 medium tank retains high maneuverability and mobility characteristics but has significantly better armour and more powerful armament than existing medium tanks.

The presented T-54 medium tank project should be approved and a prototype developed.

Tuesday 17 December 2019

Artillery Wishlist

"Themes for research to inventors and technologists of small arms and artillery for 1943
  1. Develop an a muzzle brake for the anti-tank rifle that also acts as a flash suppressor.
  2. Design a suppressor that can silence a gunshot past a range of 100-150 meters. The suppressor must weigh no more than 1 kg, must be removable from a machine gun without disassembly, must be simple in design, and must have minimum screw threads or deep drilling. The precision of fire must not suffer from using the suppressor.
  3. Develop a method for increasing the lifespan of light machine gun barrels. The lifespan should be 25-30 thousand rounds.

Monday 16 December 2019

IS Debut

"Military Council of Armoured and Mechanized Forces of the Red Army

April 1st, 1944

To commander of the 2nd Ukrainian Front, Marshal of the Soviet Union, comrade Konev

The regiments of heavy IS tanks and ISU-152 SPGs consist of the first tanks and SPGs of this type. As tanks and SPGs of the first production batch, they have a number of minor technical drawbacks, as there is not yet sufficient experience in their use. I ask you to take measures and offer assistance in the matters of studying these vehicles in battle, discovery of their usage and technical drawbacks, and study of the best way to use them in battle.

Saturday 14 December 2019

Tanks to Sleds

GKO decree #1958ss "On production of T-34 and T-70 tanks" was published on July 3rd, 1942. According to this decree, production of T-60 small tanks ceased as of July 5th. By this point these tanks were in production at factories #264 and #37. The first factory, located in Stalingrad, switched to producing hulls for T-34 tanks. Factory #37 in Sverdlovsk switched to the T-70, but not for long: T-34 production started here as well.  

This is usually where the tale of the T-60 tank ends. However, that is not the end of the story. In late 1942 - early 1943 Soviet industry continued to build products made from T-60 armoured hulls. These were armoured sleds, work on which began in early 1942.

Thursday 12 December 2019

T-28 Successor

In 1935, even before the influence of the Spanish Civil War, the Red Army was looking to modernize its tank fleet. The objective of a fast moving convertible drive tank with a diesel engine was only achieved with the BT-7M tank in 1938. 

Wednesday 11 December 2019


"Issues that comrade Marshal Fedorenko, Commander of Armoured and Mechanized Forces, pays special attention to during inspection of units and formations.
  1. Preparation of vehicles:
    The Marshal considers that vehicles are fully ready when the following is achieved.
    1. The full cargo load of cars is calculated and cargo is loaded.
    2. The amount of cars needed to transport remaining cargo is calculated.
    3. The driver of each car has a list of contents, who he has to report to, etc.
    4. Each car has additional barrels for gasoline, water, and oil. Each tank has a barrel of fuel.
    5. When crews enter their vehicles they must act strictly according to the manual. The senior vehicles, flanking vehicles, and observers must know their responsibilities.
    6. Cargo must be loaded into cars carefully and crews placed correctly.

Tuesday 10 December 2019

Leningrad People's Militia

I've previously looked into the effectiveness of the Leningrad People's Militia units hurriedly raised in the summer of 1941. The popular narrative is that they were composed of semi-unarmed expendable "volunteers" sent into the meat grinder to stall the Germans, but the documents tell a different story. Aleksey Isayev confirmed my suspicions.

Monday 9 December 2019

Wishlist Response

"To the Marshal of the Armoured Forces, comrade Fedorenko

The tactical-technical characteristics that you sent are viewed by us as a task to develop new prospective types of heavy tanks that are not yet put into practice in tank building.

As you do not have any objections regarding the requirements for the IS-6 that I approved and confirm that it is necessary to build such the IS-6 with a mechanical transmission, I consider that it is at the same possible to build a tank with an electrical transmission using the same requirements. 

Development of a tank with an electrical transmission will allow us to demonstrate the advantages and specifics of this transmission compared to a mechanical transmission and determine its potential in the creation of more powerful tanks.

We have the following notes about a number of tactical-technical requirements that you provided.

Saturday 7 December 2019

Kotin's Bobtail

In early 1943 the Red Army Main Armoured Vehicle Directorate (GBTU) and People's Commissariat of Tank Production (NKTP) agreed that the age of the KV-1S is coming to an end. Instead, the IS-1 (233), a further development of the KV-13, was to be produced in Chelyabinsk. This tank had the same firepower, but was more mobile and better protected. However, the experimental IS-1 was too unrefined and suffered from assembly issues. In addition, trials of the German Tiger tank showed that the Red Army was in need of a tank with an 85 mm gun. This was how the KV-85 was created, the last mass produced tank in the KV family.

Thursday 5 December 2019

More Power

"State Committee of Defense Decree #6679s
October 10th, 1944
Moscow, Kremlin

On the installation of 520 hp V-11 engines into IS tanks and SPGs

The State Committee of Defense orders that:

The People's Commissariat of Tank Production is permitted to produce and install V-11 engines adjusted to the power of 520 hp at 2000 RPM into IS tanks and SPGs before trials of modernized tanks and SPGs with an improved cooling system are completed.

Chairman of the Committee of Defense, I. Stalin"

Wednesday 4 December 2019

Soviet Zimmerit

"Instructions on combat against German magnetic HEAT mines

Over the last two months of fighting on the Belorussian Front there were many cases of our tanks blowing up when attacked by the enemy.

It was established that:
  1. Tanks blow up only in the event of ammunition detonation.
  2. The ammunition cooks off when the fighting compartment is struck by a magnetic anti-tank HEAT mine.

Tuesday 3 December 2019

What's in a Name?

"Order of the People's Commissar of Tank Production of the USSR #51ss
October 6th, 1941

In carrying out the GKO decree #743ss issued on October 4th, 1941, I order that:
  1. The following are renamed:
    1. Stalin Chelyabinsk Tractor Factory to Kirov factory. Refer to it in full as the "People's Commissariat of Tank Production Kirov factory in Chelyabinsk".
    2. The Sergo Ordzhonikidze Ural Heavy Machinebuilding Factory to the Izhora factory and refer to it in full as the "People's Commissariat of Tank Production Izhora factory in Sverdlovsk".

Monday 2 December 2019

Heavy Tanks vs Heavy Guns

Valeriy Lisyutin posted an interesting set of photos recently, one of which was a knocked out Tiger. These aren't particularly interesting on their own, but it had two things that are usually hard to find: a date and a place. I decided to investigate.

Saturday 30 November 2019

From Medium Assault Gun to Medium Tank Destroyer

Development of armoured vehicles in many nations proceeds in parallel. A clear example of this is the creation of German and Soviet medium SPGs. Initially, Soviet SPGs were built as tank destroyers. Later, under the influence of the German StuG III Ausf. B, the medium assault gun program was launched, which gave birth to the SU-122. By this time, the Germans had modernized the StuG III and transformed it into primarily a tank destroyer. This SPG was known as the StuG 40. In the USSR this process took longer, as there was no gun to combat German heavy tanks until the spring of 1943. That is when the SU-85 appeared, the most numerous Soviet medium SPG used in the war.

Thursday 28 November 2019

Up-Armoured T-34s

"Changes and simplifications of the hull and turret

On November 25th, 1941, the factory moved to a simplified hull. The mechanical cutting of the rabbets was simplified. The stamping of the lower rear plate (part 34.29.007) was also simplified. The full album of bluprints and technical requirements were sent out in the first few days of February.

According to the decree of the Committee of Defense the factory should have began building tanks with applique armour on the hulls and turrets by January 15th, 1942. In practice the first hull with applique armour was produced on February 25th, and the first turret on February 21st. In total there were 80 hulls and 109 turrets built with applique armour.

Wednesday 27 November 2019

Situational Awareness

"Instructions for tank watchers
  1. Tank watchers are selected from each battery to warn about the approach of tanks. They are placed in important directions no closer than 800-1000 meters to their positions.
    The tank watchers are subordinate to the battery commander and battery duty officer. 

Tuesday 26 November 2019

British Demo

By the summer of 1941 the British were still struggling to equip their army with modern anti-tank weapons in the face of a German invasion, which was considered all but a certainty. This rush resulted in a number of weapons, from more conventional anti-tank cannons to rifle grenades and bombards. The comparison of the weapons' effectiveness is fairly predictable.

Monday 25 November 2019

Tanks Review

"Exchange of experience in using tank weapons in the Patriotic War

The use of tanks in battle, especially in the winter offensive of 1943, showed several peculiarities of using tanks in battle, their advantages and disadvantages.
  1. Typical distances for firing from a T-34 tank from standstill in defense or ambush is 1000 meters. When firing on the move or from short stops during offensive action the distance is the same.
    The practical rate of fire of the 45 mm gun is 3-4 RPM. For the DT it is one disk (63 rounds) per minute. From the 76 mm gun it is 16-17 RPM. In a cohesive crew the radio operator can help hand ammunition into the turret without being distracted from his work.

Saturday 23 November 2019

Long Awaited Tank Destroyer

History often moves in a spiral. The story of Soviet medium SPGs illustrates this fact well. In the summer of 1940, when development of SPGs on the T-34 chassis began, a tank destroyer was one of them. In the spring of 1942, the concept of the SPG changed, and the SU-122 was born. However, in May of 1943 a mobile means of defeating enemy tanks in the medium weight category was needed. On August 8th, 1943, more than three years after the request for a medium tank destroyer came through, the SU-85 was finally accepted into service with the Red Army. How well did Soviet industry deal with the vehicle that came to replace the SU-122, and how did it perform the tasks given to it on the battlefield?

Thursday 21 November 2019


Checking for tiny inaccuracies to detect forged documents is a pretty common phenomenon. Soviet counterintelligence had it down to an art. Forged documents confiscated from captured spies were analyzed for more signs to be used in the future.

"Party membership booklet: bright red cover with barely noticeable stripes. Rough and blurry font. The staples are made from stainless steel. The photo is printed on glossy paper."

Wednesday 20 November 2019

Industrial Accident

"Unscheduled report of an extraordinary event
Unit: GBTU Scientific Research Proving Grounds
Region: MVO
Event: wound during trials
Time: 10:00 August 8th, 1944
Location: shooting range of the NIBT Proving Grounds, Kubinka station, Western Railroad

Rank and position
Year of birth
Social status
Party affiliation
Place of birth
Nature of wound
Sergeant Loader
Toldykin, Fedor Pavlovich
7 grades
Kolkhoz farmer
Sorochkinsk, Chkalov oblast
Ragged forehead wound
Sr. Sergeant Gunner
Butorov, Ilya Innokentivich
5 grades
Bysherovo, Buryat Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic
Minor head bruise
Description of the event:

On August 8th, 1944, at 10:00 when testing the effect of the D-25 122 mm gun (#266-44) installed on an experimental ISU-122 #249 against armoured hulls, the gun fired unexpectedly when loaded during the fourth shot, as a result of which the recoil of the gun wounded the loader Sergeant Toldykin (ragged forehead wound) and gunner Senior Sergeant Butorov, who received a minor bruise on the forehead."

Tuesday 19 November 2019

Detailed Trials

"Approved by the Commander of Artillery of the 38th Army, Major-General of Artillery Likhachev
June 31st, 1944

Plan of firing trials demonstrating penetration ability against enemy T-4 and Panther tanks held by the 9th Guards Independent Kiev Order of Lenin Order of the Red Banner Tank Destroyer Artillery Brigade of the Supreme Command Reserve, as an element of the 38th Army

Held on June 4th, 5th, and 6th, 1944

Objective of the firing trials demonstration:
  1. To illustrate to the NCO and private ranks the effectiveness of various types of shells fired from domestic weapons against enemy tanks.
  2. To establish the penetration of weapons and the best distance from which to fire.
  3. To inspire confidence in the power of our artillery against tanks.
  4. To demonstrate the weak points of enemy tanks.
  5. The demonstrate the effectiveness of dense fire of the small arms of an anti-tank battery against enemy submachinegunners that are advancing on the observation post.

Monday 18 November 2019

Experimental Work at Factory #183 March 1941

"To the Chief of the 3rd Department of the BTU, Military Engineer 1st Class comrade Afonin

Summary report of experimental work performed at factory #183 in March 1941
  1. Trials of cooling fans: three types of cooling fans entered trials.
    1. 1st variant: instead of blade supports special ribs were used. A vehicle with this fan travelled for 800 km. Trials will continue in April.
    2. 2nd variant differs from the production type only in the riveted rim that is the same as the BT-7M type. A vehicle with this fan travelled for 400 km. rials will continue in April.
    3. 3rd variant: production fan attached to the flywheel with a friction clutch to slip in cases of rapid changes of RPM in the driveshaft. A vehicle with this fan travelled for 80 km. Trials will continue in April.
  2. Trials of the constant mesh gearbox were completed. This gearbox shows no advantages over the production type, and the top speed in 4th gear dropped by 5 kph, which is not desirable. There were also a number of defects found in several parts. It is pointless to implement this design into production.
  3. New types of cast driver's hatches with different types of thermal treatment were tested by fire. One type showed good results in terms of ballistic resistance. The decision to put it into production is being made by the BTU.
  4. Trials of a new type of turret ring with a different bearing runner to tighten tolerances. Trials showed that tolerances are tighter, but the turret can jam. Work on other variants is being performed.
  5. 8 types of air cleaners were produced. One of the types showed the best results (95% clearance) and was sent to Leningrad for government trials.
  6. Reinforced Hadfield steel tracks were produced and tested. The assembled tracks made it to 2500 km after which the pin eyes were severely worn and the tracks began to break, the same thing as with production tracks.
  7. Major modernization of the T-34: the model is complete. The design bureau is producing blueprints for the experimental design.
Military Representative of the GABTU, Military Engineer 3rd Class, Alekseev"

Saturday 16 November 2019

A Barrel Too Long

Rapid growth in power of tank and SPG guns continued throughout WWII. Designers of some nations achieved the increase in firepower through a harmonious increase of gun caliber and barrel length. Other schools of design preferred to keep the caliber, but significantly lengthen the gun. The second approach was very common for German armoured vehicles. This decision had both positives and negatives. It turned out to be not so simple to install long guns on medium tanks. The Panzer IV/70 is a good example of this. An attempt to create a more powerful variant of the Jagdpanzer IV gave the tank destroyer both new abilities and serious problems.

Thursday 14 November 2019

Pistol Power

Conservative elements within the tank corps favoured the Nagant M1895 revolver. It was relatively simple and could be fired out of a smaller pistol port than the TT. However, the Nagant took much longer to reload and could not use submachinegun ammunition in a pinch.

"For ISU-122 crews it is desirable to have a TT pistol, since the long loading time for Nagant revolvers puts the crew into a critical position. The limited amount of ammunition in a revolver causes frequent reloads. There is also much more ammunition for a pistol available inside the vehicle."

Via Andrei Ulanov.

Wednesday 13 November 2019

Small Arms

"August 8th, 1942

To the artillery quartermasters of the 124th and 125th Tank Battalions

I report to you the supply of 7.62 mm rifle cartridges and F-1 grenades carried in KV, T-34, T-60, and T-40 tanks for precise inventory.

Total MG ammunition
Ammunition by type
F-1 grenades
Light bullet
AP-I bullet
At the same time, I instruct you that AP-I ammunition should be loaded in magazines separately, not mixed with ammunition that has light bullets. Magazines with AP-I ammunition must be specially marked. Check how magazines were loaded in your units and load AP-I ammunition separately.

Report on execution of this order to the artillery supply department of the brigade by 16:00 on August 9th, 1942

Artillery quartermaster of the 112th Tank Brigade, Intendant 3rd Class, Tomilin"

Tuesday 12 November 2019

On to Tallinn

"Award order
  1. Name: Gorban, Vasiliy Moiseyevich
  2. Rank: Major
  3. Position and unit: commander of the 2nd tank battalion, 152nd Leningrad Independent Tank Brigade.
  4. Year of birth: 1916
  5. Nationality: Ukrainian
  6. Party affiliation: VKP(b) member
  7. Participation in the Civil War and subsequent action in defense of the USSR or in the Patriotic War: in the Patriotic War since June 22nd 1941, Leningrad Front
  8. Wounds and contusions in the Patriotic War: wounded twice lightly in 1941, once heavily and once lightly in 1942
  9. In the Red Army since: 1937
  10. Recruited by: career officer
  11. Prior awards: Order of the Red Banner, Order of Aleksandr Nevskiy, Order of the Red Star, Defense of Leningrad medal.

Monday 11 November 2019

7.5 cm KwK 42 Penetration Table

I've posted a number of these diagrams before, for instance here is one for the Pak 40. The set of images for the more powerful KwK 42 is unfortunately incomplete and only available in low resolution, but I am including it for completeness sake.

The Valentine is not surprising at all. The armour piercing ammunition can penetrate any surface from up to 2000 meters. HE can knock off the tracks.

Saturday 9 November 2019

First Try at a Medium Tank

To a casual observer, German tank industry was like a jack in a box. 15 years after the end of WWI it suddenly sprang to life and began to crank out world class designs. However, there is no such thing as miracles. In addition to German specialists like Joseph Vollmer and Otto Merker who worked abroad, Germany had its domestic tank program. It was conducted in secret and birthed some very unconventional designs. One of them was the Grosstraktor, a medium tank that became the culmination of German tank building of the 1920s. It was the first step on the way to the PzIV, the most numerous German tank of WWII.

Thursday 7 November 2019

Small Arms Feedback

"HQ of the 27th Rifle Division
Dept 1
November 14th, 1945

To the commander of the 132nd Rifle Corps

I present my notes and conclusions on infantry weapons, ammunition, and preparation of infantry based on experience in the Patriotic War of 1941-45.
  1. Notes on design.
    1. TT model 1930 pistol: has design defects. The center of mass is bad (almost in the center of the pistol), it must be closer to the handle, like the Borchardt-Luger pistol. It is desirable to reduce the mass to 800-850 grams, change the shape of the pistol grip to make shooting more comfortable, and increase the angle between the barrel and handle.

Wednesday 6 November 2019

Finnish Zimmerit

"Copy from a copy
For service use only
Translated from Finnish

Methods of combat against anti-tank magnetic charges

The British, Americans, and also the Russians use magnetic charges, especially against tanks and cars. They are supposed to stick to metal including painted metal or armour.

Report: this is likely a device of British origin, shaped like a half-cylinder 14 cm in length made of artificial materials and filled with explosives. The flat half has 4 magnetic poles. The curved half has an 8 cm deep slot for the fuse and detonator. The fuse is held in place with a cap that screws in.

The knife-shaped delayed fuse is 11 cm long and 1 cm in diameter. Two captured delayed fuses show that they cam go off in an hour or in 3 days. It is possible that other time settings exist.

Tuesday 5 November 2019

Lessons Learned

To Comrade Beria
January 27, 1944

Based on the recommendations given by the commander of the 3rd Ukrainian Front, Army General comrade Malinovskiy, we report that:
  1. Item 1 in comrade Malinovsky's letter proposed installation of spaced armour 30-50 mm thick on the SU-85 and SU-122 SPGs.
    We consider that it would be unacceptable to install 30-50 mm thick spaced armour on the SU-85 and SU-122 SPGs on the T-34 chassis due to excess weight and overloading of the front suspension, which would radically reduce the lifespan of the transmission and running gear.
    An experimental SPG with a 100 mm gun is being built which will have 75 mm of front armour. Trials will show how feasible this undertaking is.

Monday 4 November 2019

Quality Control

"American Embassy in Moscow, Military Mission 
January 13th, 1944

To the Tank Directorate
M4A2 Medium Tank

For your information, we attach the aforementioned list of difficulties encountered by our personnel with M4A2 tanks of the latest type. We also send you methods of resolving these issues.
  1. Turrets of many tanks are poorly fitted, therefore turning them in order to fire on the move is difficult. This usually happens due to incorrect installation of the turret ring and due to incorrectly assembled liners of the traverse mechanism. There should be a liner between the mount of the case and the turret wall. The thickness is chosen such that the space between the gear teeth is minimal, 0.002"

Saturday 2 November 2019

Heavy Tank, Italian Style

In the mid-20th century heavy tanks were a sign of membership in an elite club of tank building nations. Many nations attempted to make these tanks, but failed. Even if a heavy tanks was made, it did not always make it to the war, like the American Heavy Tank M6. Only four nations mass produced heavy tanks that made it to the battlefield: USSR, Germany, Great Britain, and Italy. The British Churchill was officially an infantry tank, and the Italian Carro Armato P 40 was only heavy on paper. The Italians never even got to use their tanks in battle, as they fell to the Germans.

Thursday 31 October 2019

"Tiger" or "Elephant"?

The Tiger tank first saw battle in the USSR in the fall of 1942, but its debut was unnoticed. The Red Army first inspected one of these tanks in early 1943, but verifiable information was rare. For the time being its name was not "Tiger", but "Elephant", named after the elephant emblem painted on its armour.

"April 20th, 1943
To the commander of the anti-tank rifle company

In addition to the description of the "Elephant" German tank sent earlier, find attached photographs of the "Elephant"

Chief of the [illegible] 48th Independent Mechanized Brigade
Captain [signature]

Wednesday 30 October 2019

Comrade Sherman

"Award Order
  1. Name: Sherman, Yevgeniy Grigoryevich
  2. Rank: Jr. Lieutenant
  3. Position and unit: T-70 tank commander, 2nd tank battalion, 120th Orsha Independent Tank Brigade.
    Is nominated for the Order of the Patriotic War 1st Class (posthumously).
  4. Year of birth: 1924
  5. Nationality: Jewish
  6. Party affiliation: none
  7. Participation in the Civil War, subsequent combat in defense of the USSR: Patriotic War, Western Front, as of August 13th, 1943
  8. Wounds or contusions in the Patriotic War: did not have any
  9. In the Red Army since: March 6th, 1942
  10. Recruited by: Samarkand recruitment office
  11. Prior awards: none

Tuesday 29 October 2019

Night Rider

"To the Deputy Chair of the State Committee of Defense of the USSR, comrade Molotov
August 2nd, 1942

According to GOKO decree #175ss issued on May 15th, 1942, the Special Design Bureau of the All-Union Electrotechnical Institute produced and presented by July 15th, 1942, one sample of a device for driving tanks at night.

The device was installed on a T-34 tank and tested at the Research Proving Grounds of the Main Auto-Armour Directorate of the Red Army..

The results of the trials showed that the tank can be driven at night with a closed hatch on a highway or on a dirt road at a speed of 10-12 kph.

The sensitivity of the fiberoptic elements in the prototype is insufficient and the IR lights (headlights) do not proving a sufficiently wide beam which does not offer sufficient visibility through the device.

The night driving device based on the principle of transforming IR light into visible light has one significant drawback in that the light from signal lights (stoplights) can only be seen in one colour.

All colours (red, yellow, blue, white) can be seen through the device from a long distance away, but only as bright green dots.

These drawbacks limit the usefulness of this device for driving tanks.

In order to read a final judgement regarding the use of this device in the military it is necessary to produce a trial batch of the devices with the aforementioned defects corrected. 

Attached is a draft GOKO decree to order the production of a trial batch of devices for night driving. I ask you to approve it.

GABTU Military Commissar, Army Commissar 2nd Class, Biryukov"

Monday 28 October 2019

Never Penetrated in Combat

Fans of German armoured vehicles often claim that the Tiger II was the ultimate in armoured vehicles of WWII. Particularly, one claim is often made: its upper front plate was never penetrated in combat (even though it was penetrated in testing by several types of guns). Indeed, as this vehicle is rather rare, few photos of them with battle damage exist at all, let alone ones with a visible hole in the UFP. There is one, however.

Saturday 26 October 2019

Workhorse of the Italian Army

Stereotypically, Italian tank forces were filled with antiquated designs that broke down constantly. Reality is somewhat more complicated. It's true that Italy fell behind in the arms race, but this happened closer to 1942 or even 1943. In 1940-41 Italian tanks were on par with British tanks, or sometimes even surpassed them. The Carro Armato M 13-40 was comparable to British cruiser tanks that it shared the front line with.

Friday 25 October 2019

Designing the T-34

My first book, Designing the T-34: Genesis of the Revolutionary Soviet Tank is available for purchase! It is currently available at the publisher's website or Amazon. Some regional Amazon sites still have it listed as a preorder, but Morton's is already shipping copies. An ebook is planned, but there is no concrete release date, so for now your only chance to get it is a good old fashioned paper copy.

It is printed in A5 format on 92 pages of glossy paper with 100 images, including full colour modern photos, blueprints, and black and white archive photo, plus 8 colour profiles by artist Thierry Vallet. 

Thursday 24 October 2019

What's In A Name?

When the T-44 was created, the 85 mm gun was already insufficiently powerful. One solution was to install a 100 mm gun, but a widened turret ring was required. The result was the T-44B tank, which eventually evolved into the T-54.

"To the People's Commissar of Tank Production of the USSR, comrade Malyshev

Factory #183 developed a modernization of the T-44 tank with reinforced armour and a 100 mm gun installed on a 1800 mm wide turret ring.

According to my information the lead designer of factory #183 comrade Morozov has already arrived in Moscow with the project materials.

I ask you to instruct comrade Morozov to deliver the materials to the Tank Directorate for review and evaluation of the T-44B project.

Deputy Commander of the Motorized and Armoured Forces of the Red Army, Colonel-General of the Tank Forces, Korobkov.
November 2nd 1944"

Wednesday 23 October 2019

HEAT Issues

"TO: Commanders of Artillery of Rifle Corps, Rifle Divisions, and Artillery Regiments

29th Rifle Corps only

On the causes of premature detonation of 122 mm HEAT rounds

Several cases of premature detonation of HEAT (armour burning) ammunition in barrels of model 1938 122 mm howtizers with the subsequent destruction thereof have been recorded in 1944. Investigations show that in half of the cases firing was done with the full propellant charge instead of #4 charge as required by the firing tables for HEAT ammunition.

Tuesday 22 October 2019

Casting in Omsk

"Requirements for T-34 castings cast in the 2nd quarter of 1942 at factory #200 for factory #174

# per set
Weight per unit (kg)
Weight per set (kg)
Items in 2nd qtr
Total weight in tons
In April
In May
In June
From 8S armour steel
Final drive cover
DT shield
Right crankcase shield
Left crankcase shield
Exhaust pipe shield
Front plate connector beam
Driver’s hatch
Gun shield



175 tons
302.1 tons
From SL-2 or 40SG high carbon steel
Final drive clutch outer drum
Final drive clutch inner drum
Wheel hub
Idler disk
Right crankcase
Left crankcase
Right carrier
Left carrier
Swing arm carrier
Right idler carrier
Left idler carrier

1317 kg


62.55 tons
85 tons



237.55 tons
387.16 tons


RGAE 8752-1-9 p.46