Thursday 31 January 2019

T-64's Birthday

"Central Committee of the CPSU and the Council of Ministers of the USSR
Decree dated December 30th, 1966
Moscow, Kremlin

On the acceptance of a new medium tank into service with the Soviet Army

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

1. Agree with the proposal of the Ministry of Defense of the USSR and Ministry of Defense Industry to accept into service with the Soviet Army a new medium tank, equipped with the 5TDF engine, 115 mm smoothbore D-68 gun with HEAT, HE, and subcaliber armour piercing ammunition, a 2318 two-plane stabilizer, a TPD-43B rangefinder sight, and a PKT coaxial machinegun developed in accordance with CC CPSU and Council of Ministers decree #141-58 dated February 17th, 1961 and matching tactical-technical requirements given in attachment #1.

Name the aforementioned tank T-64."

"Comrade N.A. Kucherenko 

Copy into the order.

V. Bakhirov
January 4th, 1967"

Wednesday 30 January 2019

PzIV Penetration Trials

I previously posted about some dodgy quality armour the British found in PzIII tanks. Samples obtained from various tanks tended to behave in a similar fashion, but other trials showed that this performance was not exclusive to just one type of German medium tank. The performance of the PzIV's armour against the British 2-pounder was so disappointing, that the British theorized the Germans are saving all of their high quality plate for prospective heavy tanks.

"Firing trials by a 2 Pdr. gun mounted in a Mark IVA Cruiser tank have recently been carried out against a captured German PZKW IV 22 ton tank in the Middle East.

The armour basis of the German tank is:
  • Turret:
    • Front: 30 mm (1.181 inches)
    • Side: 20 mm (.787 inches)
  • Hull:
    • Front superstructure: 60 mm (2.362 inches)
    • Rear: 40 mm (1.57 inches)
    • Side Centre plates: 40 mm (1.574 inches)
    • End plates: 20 mm (.787 inches)

Tuesday 29 January 2019

Trial and Error

"To the Chair of the Committee of Defense of the Council of Commissars, Marshal of the Soviet Union, comrade Voroshilov
November 6th, 1940

Experimental exercises held by tank and mechanized units and formations show that issues of controlling tank units are quite complicated. After the first stage of battle, cooperation and communication between tank units and individual tanks breaks down.

Results of lengthy marches and trials of tanks, as well as studies of foreign tanks show that tactical-technical requirements of the SP, T-34, and KV tanks need some corrections.

Commanders of individual tanks and up require the ability to fully and constantly observe the battlefield, the situation, and subordinate tanks, being freed of the requirement to also be the gunner or loader. Presently, observation devices and observation methods for the commander are limited, and there is a need to increase 360 degree vision for individual tanks.

At the same time, it is necessary to reduce the effort on levers and pedals of the tank.

In order to increase the combat quality of the SP, T-34, and KV tanks, add the following items to the list of tactical-technical requirements:
  1. Install 360 degree vision cupolas on the SP, T-34, and KV tanks
  2. Revise the number of crewmen.
  3. Clarify the armament and amount of onboard ammunition.
  4. Install the KRSTB radio for external communication, as it is smaller and simpler to set up than the 71-TK-3.
  5. Use throat microphones instead of bulky microphones for internal communication.
  6. Replace the observation devices of the driver and radio operator with improved ones. The driver also needs an optical observation device.
  7. Demand that the warranty period of a tank be 600 hours before refurbishment.
  8. Replace the T-34's suspension with individual torsion bars, which will free up room inside the tank used up by suspension springs.
  9. In the first half of 1941, factories must develop and prepare for production a planetary transmission for the SP, T-34, and KV tanks. This will increase the average speed of tanks and make turning easier.
Authorized by Marshal of the Soviet Union S. Timoshenko"

Monday 28 January 2019

New Year, New Weapons

"Decree #443ss of the Committee of Defense of the Council of Commissars
December 19th, 1939
Moscow, Kremlin

On the acceptance of tanks, armoured cars, and artillery tractors into service in the Red Army and production in 1940

Based on the results of trials of new types of tanks, armoured cars, and tractors, produced in accordance with Committee of Defense decree #198ss issued on July 7th, 1938, and #118ss, issued on May 15th, 1939, the Committee of Defense of the Council of Commissars decrees that:
  1. The following are accepted into service in the Red Army:
    1. KV tank: heavily armoured, produced by the Kirov factory based on NKO tactical-technical requirements, with the correction of all defects discovered during trials. The tank must be armed with:
      1. An F-32 gun with a coaxial 7.62 mm machinegun in the gun mantlet.
      2. A separate 7.62 mm machinegun operated by the radio operator.
      3. One 7.62 mm machinegun in the turret bustle.
        Proved for full visibility from within the tank.
    2. T-32 tank: tracked, with a V-2 diesel engine, produced by factory #183, with the following changes:
      1. Increase the thickness of the main armour plates to 45 mm.
      2. Improve visibility from the tank.
      3. Install the following armament:
        1. F-32 76 mm gun with a coaxial 7.62 mm machinegun.
        2. A separate 7.62 mm machinegun for the radio operator.
        3. A separate 7.62 mm machinegun.
        4. An AA 7.62 mm machinegun.
          This tank will be named "T-34".
    3. BT tank: with a V-2 diesel engine, produced by factory #183.
    4. T-40 tank: amphibious, with a torsion bar suspension, high caliber machinegun, coaxial 7.62 mm machinegun, produced by factory #37.
    5. V-2 engine: 450 hp, produced by factory #75
    6. Voroshilovets tractor: artillery tractor with a V-2 diesel engine, produced by factory #183.
    7. ST-2 tractor: artillery tractor with a V-2 diesel engine, produced at the Chelyabinsk Tractor Factory.
    8. STZ-5 tractor: produced by the Stalingrad factory.
    9. BA-11 armoured car: on the ZIS-6-K chassis, 90 hp engine, produced by the Izhora factory.
    10. GAZ-61 light 4x4 truck produced by the Molotov Gorkiy Automotive Factory.
    11. ZIS-5 4x6 truck.

Saturday 26 January 2019

Valentine With a Long Gun

In the spring of 1943 the variety of British tanks sent to the USSR dropped radically. Matilda tanks were no longer sent, the Churchill nearly vanished from shipping manifests. The Valentine remained the only type of tank sent by the British in large numbers. Even though the British themselves nearly stopped using it by the spring of 1943, they were still in demand with the Red Army. This was especially true for the Valentine IX, the version with a 6-pounder cannon, which had to revert to the two-man turret.

Thursday 24 January 2019

Radio Trucks

"To the People's Commissar of Defense, comrade I.V. Stalin
August 5th, 1941

I report on the execution of NKO order #0243s issued on July 23rd, 1941, on the issue of producing armoured carriers for Army (Front) radios and armouring of the divisional radio.
  1. The Stalin Automotive Factory (ZIS) developed and produced prototypes (models) of RAF type armoured carriers for Army (Front) radios. The radio is installed in two armoured carriers produced on the chassis of the ZIS-5 truck.
    The armoured carrier was approved by the GABTU and US for mass production on July 30th.
  2. The Podolsk Ordzhonikidze factory covered one prototype RSB type divisional radio in armour, which was approved for mass production by the GABTU and US on July 28th, 1941.
  3. Presently, neither the armoured carrier nor the armoured radio are put into production due to a lack of armour production base designated by the Central Plan.
Deputy People's Commissar of Defense, Lieutenant General of the Tank Forces, Fedorenko
Deputy People's Commissar of Defense, Peresypkin"

Wednesday 23 January 2019

Acceptance of the T-34-85

"State Committee of Defense Decree #4776ss
December 15th, 1943

On the production of the T-34-85 tank with an 85 mm gun at factory #112

The State Committee of Defense decrees:
  1. TheT-34-85 tank designed at factory #183 with the 85 mm gun designed at factory #9 built according to tactical-technical characteristics in attachment #1 is accepted into service with the Red Army.
  2. The People's Commissariat of Tank Production (comrade Malyshev) and director of factory #112 in Gorky (comrade Rubinchik) to organize production of the T-34-85 tank in the following amounts:
    1. In January of 1944: 25 units
    2. In February of 1944: 75 units
    3. In March of 1944: 150 units
      starting with April of 1944, completely switch to T-34-85 production instead of T-34 tanks."

Tuesday 22 January 2019

New Year, New Valentines

"December 30th, 1942

To the Deputy Chief of the GABTU, Major-General of the Tank Forces, comrade Korobkov

Our representatives in England say that 70 Valentine-9 tanks are being sent with the next caravan. The armament of these tanks is as follows:
  1. One 6-pounder gun with elevation of +15 degrees and depression of: forward and to the sides of 8 degrees 30 minutes, to the back 2 degrees 30 minutes. The tank holds 49 artillery shells. Only armour piercing shells are provided.
  2. Bren AA machinegun.
  3. Thompson SMG.
I ask you to give conclusions.

Deputy Chief of the NKVT Engineering Directorate, Colonel Khryaev"

Monday 21 January 2019

T8 Periscopic Sights

"Periscopic T8 sight

The principle of the T8 periscope does not differ from previously examined periscopes. It combines an observation periscope with a telescopic system. This design is a further step towards the perfection and development of these types of sights.

The significant difference between the T8 sight and other sights of the first and second group is that the degree of magnification is significantly increased, and a collimator device is with a sighting grid is introduced. Thanks to this, the T8 sight and other sights of its type can be called a variable magnification sight.

Saturday 19 January 2019

A Turret for Three

The first project of a light infantry tank, which later transformed into the Valentine, was presented to the War Ministry on February 10th, 1938. The tank that Leslie Little developed was rejected by the British at least once. One of the reasons for the rejection was the two-man turret, as the British wanted to have it house three crewmen. Leslie Little won that time, and in April of 1939 the Infantry Tank Mk.III was approved with a two-man turret. However, the War Ministry returned to the idea of increasing the crew size of the turret, which led to the Valentine III and Valentine V with three-man turrets.

Thursday 17 January 2019

Spring HEAT

"State Committee of Defense 
Decree #GOKO-1537ss issued on April 4th, 1942
Moscow, Kremlin

On armour-burning shells

To perfect armour-burning shells, perform the following:
  1. Order the NKV (comrade Vannikov) to produce 50 units of HEAT armour-burning shells  for the 76 mm regimental gun according to existing Artillery Committee and NII-6 blueprints within 10 days.
  2. Order the NKChM (comrade Tevtosyan) to issue 5 units each of 40 mm, 50 mm, and 60 mm armour plate for trials of the aforementioned shells.
  3. Order the GAU (comrade Yakovlev) to perform trials of the aforementioned shells against the plates and give conclusions within 5 days.
  4. Order the NKV (comrade Gamov) to organize a group within the NII-6 for the perfection of thermite type armour-burning shells, delivering the first results to the GOKO by May 5th, 1942.
    Include academic Semyenov (Academy of Sciences) and Professor Maksimenko (Leningrad Chemical Technology Institute) into the group.
  5. Order the NKVD (comrade Kravchenko) to supply a group of specialists that previously worked with armour-burning shells to participate in the NII-6 group.
Chair of the State Committee of Defense, I. Stalin"

Wednesday 16 January 2019

Day by Day

"Order of the People's Commissariat of Defense #80-Mss
December 27th, 1941

Referring to the decree of the State Committee of Defense #GKO-1043ss issued on December 19th, 1941, I order to:

1. Establish the following schedule for daily production in January of 1942 of tanks, hulls, and engines between the NKTP factories:
Total in January 1942
10-day intervals of January 1942
Tank production
Kirov factory
KV tank
Factory #183
T-34 tank
T-34 tank
Factory #112
T-34 tank
Factory #174
T-50 tank
Factory #37
T-60 tank
Factory #38
T-60 tank
Factory #264
T-60 tank
Engine production
Kirov factory
V-2 engine
V-2 engine
Factory #76
V-2 engine
Hull production
Izhora factory
KV hull
Factory #200
KV hull
Factory #264
T-34 hull
Factory #37
T-60 hull
Factory #38
T-60 hull
Kulebaki factory #178
T-60 hull
Murom factory #176
T-60 hull
Vyksa factory #177
T-60 hull
Factory #183
T-34 hull
Factory #112
T-34 hull
Saratov factory #180
T-50 hull
2. Consider that the schedule for January 1942 includes one holiday.
3. All directors of tank, hull, and engine factories must send me encrypted messages regarding the production of tanks, hulls, and engines in January of 1942 daily.

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

Tuesday 15 January 2019

Upgunning the A-34


We the undesigned, designer of plant 520 comrade A.A. Maloshtanov, representative of the Kirov factory comrade L.N. Kondrashev, representative of the AU comrade M.R. Vorzheinov, representative of plant 509 comrade E.S. Mezhevikin, compose the present act to certify that the following chances were introduced into the turret of the A-34 during the installation of the L-11 system:
  1. The left carrier of the brass catcher is affixed to the mantlet, and because of this it is installed via an adapter.
  2. The casing of the hand firing mechanism is installed in a new place, as a result of which the trigger was re-welded, the openings in the control panel were re-drilled, and the right side of the brass catcher was trimmed.
  3. The recoil guard was trimmed as it clipped the recoil indicator.
  4. The breech handle was shortened by 20 mm.
  5. The shell catcher lock was shortened by 18 mm.
  6. The elevation mechanism boss was trimmed.
  7. A cylindrical handle was installed to rotate the PT-1 head instead of a flywheel.
  8. Trigger pedals from the 45 mm system were used.
  9. The semiautomatic mechanism cutoff from the L-10 system was installed (the cutoff from the L-11 doesn't fit).
All aforementioned changes do not decrease the quality of work of the L-11 system, except the L-10 cutoff, which does not allow firing with the semiautomatic mechanism disabled."

February 21st, 1940"

Monday 14 January 2019

Factory #183 Experiments

"July 2nd, 1940

To ABTU 8th Department Chief, Military Engineer 1st Class, comrade Afonin

Report on experimental work performed at factory #183 in June 1940

The following experimental work was performed in June of 1940.
  1. Trials of two A-7M vehicles ## 0314-2 and 903-03 with substitutes. A number of parts on these vehicles use iron instead of bronze or aluminium. A number of parts were also made from cheaper steels rather than highly hardened steel. Trials were completed, micro-measurements are being performed.
  2. Reliability trials of A-7M #327-45 have finished. The vehicle completed 3000 km trials. The report is being completed.
  3. Two engines from factory #75 are undergoing 150 hour trials. The engines were installed on A-7M ## 0890-3 and 442-55. The first engine worked for 70 hours and was removed due to significant leaking of gases between the cylinder block and head. The second worked for 125 hours, after which gases started penetrating into the water and throwing the cooling system water out through the reductor. A chronic defect of this diesel engine, breakdown of the automatic timing device, was also observed.
  4. Trials of a T-34 #0311-11-3 with track links cast from Hadfield steel, mechanical controls instead of pneumatic servos, and a reinforced cooling fan are being performed.
  5. The A-5 tank with the V-3 engine is being repaired. Work is going slowly due to plant #500 being loaded with production of the T-34 tank. The repairs are also slowed down due to the fact that blueprints and detailed descriptions are absent. The repairs are planned to be completed by July 10th.
  6. Voroshilovets tractor #68 warranty trials continue. 700 km remain.
  7. Tractor #7 with a V-3 diesel engine is being trialled. Trials will be complete in early July.
  8. Completion of the agreement between factory #183 and the Chemical Directorate is delayed. Assembly blueprints are complete, all that remains is for the Chemical Directorate to give final consultations and send the technical project to be approved. All other blueprints can be readied by early August.
  9. Development of a new project for a tractor on the T-34 chassis is complete. Assembly blueprints are being copied and detailed blueprints are being made. The development of detailed blueprints can be finished by August 10-15th. Delays in producing the blueprints can be explained by a shortage of copiers.
  10. Production of pneumatic components for the Voroshilovets tractor is in progress. Two prototypes may be assembled in July.
Senior Military Representation, Military Engineer 2nd Class, Kozyrev
Military Representation, Military Engineer 3nd Class, Baikov"

Saturday 12 January 2019

Cruiser Tank Mk.II: With Best Intentions

The British army met the start of WWII in a difficult position. The policy of appeasement allowed it to win a year to set up tank production, but it was hard to call the British army prepared for war. This can be seen in the result of the fighting in May of 1940 in France. The British Expeditionary Force used four different types of Cruiser tanks at the same time. Among them was the Cruiser Tank Mk.II, perhaps the most controversial of the quartet.

Wednesday 9 January 2019

Kalashnikov's Contributions

"Award Order
  1. Name: Kalashnikov, Mikhail Timofeevich
  2. Rank: none
  3. Position: Veteran of the Patriotic War
    is nominated for the Order of the Red Star.
  4. Year of birth: 1919
  5. Nationality: Russian
  6. Party affiliation: none
  7. Participation in the Civil War and subsequent actions in defense of the USSR (where, when): Bryansk Front from June to November of 1941
  8. Wounds or contusions in the Patriotic War: wounded in action
  9. In the Red Army since: 1939
  10. Previous awards: none
Brief and specific description of personal heroism or achievements: 

The nominee is a participant in the Patriotic War. He proposed the following inventions: a submachinegun and a machinegun. Their originality made a valuable contribution to the field of small arms design. 

On the orders of the GAU, the nominee solved a series of problems during the modernization of the Goryunov machinegun and designed his own carbine for the intermediate round.

The nominee earned the state award of the Order of the Red Star through his participation in the Patriotic War and resilient labour in the design of weapons.

Deputy Chair of the GAU Artillery Committee, Lieutenant General of the Engineering-Artillery Service, Berkalov
Chief of the Artillery Committee Department of Inventions, Engineer Lieutenant-Colonel Popkov

[illegible] October 1945."

Tuesday 8 January 2019

Improved T-34

"To the Chief of the Red Army GABTU, Lieutenant-General of the Tank Forces, comrade Fedorenko


Conclusions: in addition to Committee of Defense decree #428, I deem it necessary to approach the Committee of Defense with the proposal to produce two improved T-34 prototypes at factory #183 by April 1st, 1941, with the following changes:
  1. Widening of the turret ring and the turret, installation of a commander's cupola with all-round vision.
  2. A torsion bar suspension.
  3. Increased ammunition capacity.
  4. Stronger transmission.
  5. Increased top speed to 70 kph.
  6. Improve the crew conditions, providing them with more comfortable positions and better vision.
Perform trials in April-May.
In June, improve the design based on the trials results.
In August and September the technological process will be refined. Mass production of the improved T-34 can start in October.

This allows us to introduce all improvements without rushing, check them with trials, and painlessly move to the production of an even higher quality vehicle. 

Factory #183 is gladly cooperating with this work and considers these improvement processes correct.

Production of T-34s should be done with the existing turret, without any kind of halfway changes, and the existing suspension, keeping the interchangeability of internal components. We must concentrate our attention on the new vehicle.

Order factory #183 to improve the following items in accordance with decree #428:
  1. Main clutch.
  2. Fan.
  3. Tracks.
  4. Visibility.
  5. Ammunition rack.
I consider it necessary to arm the T-34 tank with 76 and 45 mm guns in one turret, with the following in mind:

Two companies of tanks per battalion with 45 mm guns and coaxial DT machineguns and one company per battalion with a 76 mm gun and a DT machinegun


One platoon per company with tanks armed with 45 mm guns and one with 76 mm guns.

What will this give? Tanks armed with 45 mm guns will store 250 rounds (expanded turret) or 200 (existing turret), twice as much as the existing 76 mm gun. The rate of fire of the 45 mm gun, considering the mass of the shell, is nearly twice as high, which will give no less of an effect against enemy fortifications (machinegun nests, anti-tank gun) and lightly armoured tanks.

Upon encountering obstacles that demand more powerful fire, the company or battalion commander will have the means in his possession and can therefore form his troops as necessary.

I ask you to give the required orders.

Lead Engineer-Colonel Panov
December 13th, 1940"

Monday 7 January 2019

French Exit

"Award Order
  1. Name: Kuharenko, Nikolai Ivanovich
  2. Rank: Guards Lieutenant
  3. Position and unit: T-34 platoon commander, Independent Tank Battalion of the 38th Guards Independent Tank Brigade
    is nominated for the title of Hero of the Soviet Union.
  4. Year of birth: 1915
  5. Nationality: Ukrainian
  6. Party affiliation: VKP(b) member since 1944
  7. Participation in the Patriotic War (where, when): since 1941, Karelian Front
  8. Wounds and contusions in the Patriotic War: none
  9. In the Red Army since: 1937-1939, after 1941
  10. Recruited by: Kramatorsk recruitment office
  11. Prior awards: none
Brief and specific description of personal heroism or achievments: On September 6th, 1944, Guards Lieutenant Kuharenko and his platoon, in carrying out a task of making a 50 km deep path into the enemy's deep rear for a tank column through swampy forest and then rocky mountain terrain, made it to the agreed upon target of the Mikkolahti-Kuolajarvi. highway on schedule, and ensured the destruction of an enemy group. At 21:30 on September 9th, Guards Lieutenant Kuharenko fought in the first echelon of the battalion under a storm of heavy artillery, mortar, and small arms fire. At top speed, he was the first to break through the enemy's reinforced defenses and slipped through a 12 tank German ambush. 1 km away from the front lines, within the enemy rear, he blocked the road and did not permit enemy tanks to escape the encirclement. Forcing the enemy to engage, Lieutenant Kuharenko's platoon destroyed 8 R-35 type tanks and up to 80 fascists. Kuharenko himself destroyed 3 enemy tanks and captured 2 tanks in working order, ensuring success for his battalion and the infantry of 217th Rifle Regiment, 104th Rifle Division.

At 7:30 on September 10th, 1944, comrade Kuharenko was taking part in his second attack and was one of the first to penetrate through two echelons of enemy forces, where he destroyed 4 anti-tank guns, 5 dugouts, and up to 70 fascists. During subsequent pursuit, comrade Kuharenko became bogged down in a swamp in the enemy rear. Despite the difficulty of his situation, comrade Kuharenko did not abandon his tank under a hurricane of artillery and mortar fire. For 14 hours he fired at enemy strongholds, keeping them away from the tank, while simultaneously correcting fire of the rest of the tank battalion. When his infantry pulled up, Kuharenko unbogged his tank and continued the assault on the enemy.

For heroism, courage, and bravery displayed in the fighting with German invaders, Guards Lieutenant Kuharenko is worthy of the highest government award, the title of Hero of the Soviet Union.

Commander of the Independent Tank Battalion, Guards Captain Donets
September 15th, 1944."

The story gets more interesting once you find out what tanks Kuharenko captured. In addition to the downright obsolete R 35s, his platoon ran into a handful of SOMUA S 35 tanks, which were at least in the same weight category as the T-34. One of these tanks is now on display at Kubinka.