Thursday 30 May 2019

New Year, New Engine

"To the Chief of the 1st Section of the 1st Department of the BTU, Military Engineer 2nd Class comrade Chikov

In response to your request by telephone, I reply with the program of 150 hour trials of the the V-2 S4 engine.

The engine has completed its trials, the trial was passed. Currently the engine is being prepared to be tested again according to the same program.

Attachment: program on 3 pages.

GABTU Regional Engineer, Military Engineer 2nd Class, Fedorov"
January 29th, 1941

Via Yuri Pasholok.

Wednesday 29 May 2019

1942 Lineup

"Wundsdorf Tank School
March 1st, 1942

Which Russian tanks will you encounter in 1942?

A significant amount of obsolete tanks:
  1. Ford armoured reconnaissance car
  2. T-37 amphibious tank
  3. T-26 light tank
  4. BT (Christie) light tank
  5. T-28 heavy tank
  6. T-35A heavy tank
Modern tanks:
  1. T-60 light tank
  2. T-40 amphibious tank
  3. T-34 heavy tank
  4. KV-1 heavy tank
  5. KV-2 heavy tank

Tuesday 28 May 2019

News from Finland

"On April 8th, 1944, a prisoner was captured near Ashtakhma lake with a photograph of the German "Amphibian" car on him. The prisoner indicated that 66 "Amphibian" cars arrived from German to Finland and were assigned to the 6th SS Grenadier Division. The photograph is attached. A description of this vehicle can be found in report #0235 for 1943.

Monday 27 May 2019

T-34s vs Tiger

On military trials of T-34 and T-34-85 tanks against the T-6 "Tiger" tank
2nd Tank Battalion, 63rd Guards Tank Brigade
June 16th, 1944

1. The 2nd Tank Battalion fired the guns. The battalion commander, Guards Captain Chirkov, was directed by the brigade commander, Guards Colonel Fomichev, in the presence of the deputy commander of the 10th Guards Tank Corps, Guards Colonel Belov, Chief of Staff of the 18th Army, and the senior officers of the 18th Army.

2. Firing was done against a German Tiger tank from 400, 600, 800, and 1300 meters.

Saturday 25 May 2019

Second Hand

The SOMUA S 35 tank was well regarded not only in the French army, but in the army of its greatest enemy. Unlike the Pz38(t), the tank did not serve in first echelon divisions, but the Pz.Kpfw.35 S (f) ended up being the only French tank that was not converted into SPGs en masse and was used by the Germans and their allies as a tank. It actively fought as a part of independent tank battalions and in armoured trains. Individual tanks lasted until the end of the war.

Thursday 23 May 2019

Great Minds Think Alike

The British were questioning the value of a hull machinegun by 1943. The gun was hard to operate and seemed to offer little actual benefit in combat. It did, however, significantly weaken the tank's armour. By 1944 the Soviets had relegated their hull MGs to fixed mounts operated by the driver, but the main drawback still remained.

"To: Deputy People's Commissar of Tank Production of the USSR, comrade Zernov
CC: GBTU TU Chief, Major General comrade Afonin

RE: hull machinegun on the IS-2 tank

Orders ##158ss and 244ss request the improvement of the front hull armour. This was done by straightening the hull front, increasing the thickness and slope of the front of the turret platform.

Wednesday 22 May 2019

Autocannon Penetration

Due to a shortage of DShK machineguns, the T-30 and T-60 tanks were equipped with the 20 mm ShVAK autocannon. Despite the larger caliber, penetration was not much more impressive than the DShK was capable of.
  • The muzzle velocity of the 20 mm AP-I round (B-Z) is 796 m/s and 892 m/s for the round with NB-200 (nitroglycerine gunpowder) propellant.
  • The precision of the ShVAK gun at ranges of up to 1000 m in bursts of 2-3 shots is satisfactory.
  • The TMFP sight scale designed for the 12.7 mm machinegun cannot be used for the ShVAK 20 mm cannon. A new sight scale needs to be applied for the optical and iron sights.

Tuesday 21 May 2019

Lynx or Puma

"Leningrad Front,
Intelligence Department
October 21st, 1944

To the Chief of Intelligence of the 8th Army

I report on the presence in the German army of a new armoured reconnaissance car armed with a 75 mm gun called "Luchs".

Monday 20 May 2019

T-34-85 Review

"Report on the use of the T-34 in combat during the Patriotic War in the 37th Guards Tank Regiment
  1. The S-53 gun installed on the T-34 tank has a number of design drawbacks, such as:
    1. When firing, the electrical firing mechanism burns out, and until the end of the battle one is forced to use the manual firing mechanism.
    2. The recoil break grease nipples break after 1300-1500 shots, which then need replacing. The factory quota promises 2000 shots before replacement.
    3. The DT machinegun, both in the coaxial mount and in the hull, has a very small brass catcher, and there are frequent stoppages because of it. There is enough room to make it bigger both for the coaxial and the hull machinegun.

Saturday 18 May 2019

In Search of the Perfect Sphere

The idea of building spherical tanks was born long ago. Spherical tanks were treated as a viable weapon during WWI, but interest in this topic peaked in the 1930s and 40s. Most of the time, work reached the prototype stage, or sometimes only scale demonstration models were built. Nevertheless, spherical machines continued to enchant the minds of engineers. In our time, the "descendants" of spherical tanks are rather common, having lost their drawbacks.

Thursday 16 May 2019

Bunker Turret

I posted about German bunkers with tank turrets before, but only the drawings. Here are some instructions to go along with them.

"Translated from German
8th Jager Division

January 5th, 1944

21 armoured 38(t) turrets were installed in the division's sector. They are a powerful foundation for a line of defense, impenetrable by a hurricane of enemy fire. 

Wednesday 15 May 2019

MP-44 in Combat

"Translated from German (excerpts)
563rd Grenadier Division
Quartermaster department

Contents: on the use of the "MP-44" submachinegun

Preliminary instructions from the Supreme Command of the Land Forces give the following directions on using the MP-44 submachinegun:
  1. The MP-44 is a weapon that is used to fire single shots (like a semiautomatic rifle) first and as an automatic weapon second. This weapon meets the requirements for automatic weapons of an individual soldier.
    The value of this weapon is contained in the high rate of fire and precision, as well as in the ability to concentrate fire. Its value is best demonstrated when several shooters fire together.

Tuesday 14 May 2019


"Order of the People's Commissariat of Tank Production
February 16th, 1942

Lately there have been cases of individual factories making design and technological changes to components and assemblies of production tanks. Changes are being made without consideration for interchangeability and without preliminary agreements between factories that build tanks of the same type.

This kind of senseless behaviour results in violations of agreed upon blueprints and technical documentation and disrupts the work of repair bases during restoration of vehicles of the same type that are produced by different factories.

Monday 13 May 2019

The Myth of the Disposable T-34

This is a claim that I'm sure many of my readers have seen. It's usually worded something like "the lifespan of a T-34 tank on the battlefield was X hours, so the Soviets saw no reason to produce a tank that lasted X+1 hours". The number varies, but the sentiment is generally the same slight rewording of the "human waves" myth, pushing a narrative of disposable soldiers with disposable weapons sent to die in incredible numbers. However, one would consider it strange that an army whose main breakthrough exploitation tank was so short-lived would not only survive in a war characterized by long and deep armoured thrusts measuring hundreds of kilometers, but excel in it. Even a brief glance at contemporary documents demonstrates that reliability was always an important component of Soviet tank manufacturing.

Saturday 11 May 2019

None More Frightening than the Cat

German industry created three armoured vehicles during WWII that had a significant effect on tank building worldwide. The appearance of the Tiger made Allied tanks obsolete. The few Ferdinand SPGs that were built introduced serious changes into the Soviet tank program. The third tank was the Panther, and its influence was comparable to that of the Tiger.

The tank was a quite unpleasant surprise for the Red Army and its allies when it made its debut at Kursk. Despite its deficiencies, the Panther is a good candidate for the best German tank of the war. The Panther was superior to the Tiger in terms of armament and frontal protection, and was made in significantly higher numbers. Many tank designers were looking at the Panther when they were making the next generation of medium and heavy tanks.

Wednesday 8 May 2019

Expert Opinion

"Report on the development of the new A-20 tank at factory #183

The A-20 is began development at factory #183 in December of 1937 by designer Koshkin.

Information obtained by the UNKVD of Kharkov oblast reveals that Koshkin is conducting sabotage in the development of the tank. This was confirmed by the former director of factory #183 Bondarenko (convicted), from whose confession it can be seen that Koshkin was intentionally sabotaging the design of the A-20 tank from the very beginning on the orders of an anti-Soviet right-Trotskyist organization.

Tuesday 7 May 2019

"Tommy Gons"

"From Washington
#11115, 11116
00:45 August 14th, 1941

Immediate priority
To: Stalin, Molotov, Shaposhnikov
  1. The American government officially asks if we need submachineguns currently used by the American military (the so called "Tommy gons"), as well as ammunition for them, and in what amounts. The caliber is 11.53 mm, weight 3.5 kg, effective range of 400 m, the length is about the same as the PPD, top rate of fire is 500 RPM. Three types of magazines: 20, 50, 100 rounds. Muzzle velocity around 300 meters per second. The cartridges are the revolver type. Looks like the Americans have a large stock of this machinegun. It might be good for arming reconnaissance units, paratroopers, cavalry, motorcyclists, and partisans. I request your instruction for the volume of the order.

Monday 6 May 2019

Production Trials

To establish the qualities of the mass produced T-34, three tanks were picked out at the end of 1940 to be run through large scale trials, including 3000 km of driving, gunnery, and communication tests. The conclusions outlined a number of issues with the design, but only because the Red Army had high hopes for this tank. It was already clear that the T-34 was going to be an exceptional fighting machine.

  1. Due to its armament, armour, type and power of engine, and cruising range, the T-34 must be the prevailing tank in the Red Army’s system of armament due to the wide range of possibilities of tactical use of this tank. The design of this type of tank must be especially thoroughly polished.

Saturday 4 May 2019

Light SPGs with Big Guns

The SU-76M SPG, armed with the ZIS-3 76 mm gun, was the second most numerous vehicle in the Red Army. This gun was one of Grabin's best, and had very respectable characteristics. Nevertheless, the idea of installing a more powerful gun was persistent, and some variants, such as the SU-85B, came close to entering production. However, the Red Army never received its domestic Marder.

Thursday 2 May 2019

Prospective SPGs

"April 14th 1944

Confirmed: Chief of the GBTU USA, Major General of the Tank Engineering Service, Alymov

Plan of the 3rd Department of the GBTU USA for April-May 1944

Due date
Controlling the completion of 100 mm D-10S gun installation into the SU-100 at factory #9 and the Uralmash factory.
May 1st, 1944
Organizing and performing large scale trials of the SU-100 from the first batch.
June 1st, 1944
Taking part in SU-152M trials with an OBM-143 gun and giving conclusions.
May 1st, 1944
Controlling the installation of and participation in trials of the 122 mm high power gun into the ISU. Giving conclusions.
May 15th, 1944
Controlling the production and testing of the 85 mm high power gun.
June 1st, 1944
Organizing and execution of trials of the SU-85 (GAZ). Giving conclusions.
May 15th, 1944
Controlling experimental work at factory #38:

·         Testing the installation of the 122 mm howitzer into the SU-76M
May 15th, 1944
·         Correction of defects of the SU-37 discovered during proving grounds trials.
May 1st, 1944
·         Organization and execution of SU-37 trials after the prototype is improved. Giving conclusions.
Vasilevskiy, Volgushev
May 20th, 1944
Organization and execution of proving grounds trials of the SU-37 produced by factory #40. Giving conclusions.
Vasilevskiy, Volgushev
May 15th, 1944

Via Yuri Pasholok.

Wednesday 1 May 2019


"Decree of the Committee of Defense #___
__ September 1944

Contents: acceptance of the SU-57 57 mm SPG

1. Accept the 57 mm SPG produced on the chassis of the SU-76M SPG into service with anti-tank artillery regiments. Give it the name "57 mm SU-57 SPG model 1944".