Saturday 29 June 2019

From Support Tank to a Lead Role

It often happens that tanks are built for one purpose, but become necessary for another. German tank building is an excellent example of this. The situation with medium tanks was the most complicated. The B.W. tank (Pz.Kpfw.IV) was envisioned as a small batch vehicle, but was several times more numerous than the Z.W. (Pz.Kpfw.III). The situation normalized only by the May-June 1940 campaign, but history repeats itself. By the middle of the war, the Pz.Kpfw.IV once again became the most numerous German tank, outlasting the PzIII in production.

Thursday 27 June 2019

Universal Carrier in Action

Like most Commonwealth forces, the Canadians used Universal Carriers extensively, and they were even produced in Canada. There are always a couple kicking around Aquino Tank Weekend.

Wednesday 26 June 2019

Big Caliber

"To the Commander of the 370th Order of the Red Banner Order of Kutuzov 2nd Class Rifle Division

I report that:
At [illegible] the enemy used 210 mm guns in the artillery barrage of [illegible], which resulted in a direct hit to the turret of IS tank #113 (serial number 41046), as a result of which internal equipment and the engine compartment burned up, and the turret was thrown to the side by the shockwave.
Out of the 6 men inside the tank at the time, the following casualties were taken:
  1. Mechanic-driver Sergeant Romanov: killed
  2. Gunner Starshina Golakhov and loader Private Panov: wounded
Company commander Guards Lieutenant Minulov, technical deputy commander Junior Lieutenant La[illegible] and tank commander Guards Lieutenant Bilanov were not injured.

The majority of the damage was caused by 3 near misses. As a result of fragments and shockwave, 4 men were killed, 4 wounded, and 2 contused.

Regiment commander, Lieutenant-Colonel [signature]
Chief of Staff, Major [signature] 
February 26th, 1945"

The handwritten text over the top of the report is hard to read, it but orders that all IS tanks must be carefully dug in and concealed to prevent this from happening again.

Tuesday 25 June 2019


"Operational summary
On completion of the ABTU's order for January 1941 by Comintern factory #183

Military Representative P.F. Rusakov

Produced this year
Delivered this year
T-34 tank, L-11 gun
Same, with radio
Spare parts for BT tanks
358.5 tons
358.5 tons
Spare parts for T-34 tanks
457.3 tons
457.3 tons
T-34 gearboxes

Monday 24 June 2019

Project 423

Project 423 was an ersatz SPG designed by the artillery chief of the Kirov factory, Lev Izrailyevich Gorlitskiy. The SPG consisted of a 76 mm regimental gun on a cruciform mount, surrounded by an armoured shield, similar to the one used on the T-26-6 (more commonly known as SU-26). 

Saturday 22 June 2019

Weaponized Carboard

Scale model building as it is known today has its roots in something that is distant from the world of hobbies. Everything started with the Navy: special models of prospective ships, known as "admiralty models", were built since time immemorial. The British were the creators of this tradition. From them, the world inherited popular scales: 1:16, 1:32, 1:48 and 1:72 all have naval origins.

Scale modelling as a hobby began to evolve in the 20th century. Its popularity today can trace its origins to the boom during WWII. Back then, this was not a hobby, but a practical military solution. In addition to wood, a material commonly used to build models of prospective tanks or ships, cardboard was also used. It is largely because of the cardboard models that modern scale models exist.

Thursday 20 June 2019

M4A2E8 at the Ontario Regiment Museum

Canada received a large number of M4A2E8 Shermans that were originally meant for shipment to the USSR. These tanks were still used for training well into the 1970s, and a great many of them are still running today. The Ontario Regiment Museum takes out two of its four Shermans during the Aquino Tank Weekend reenactments.

Wednesday 19 June 2019

1942 Tactics

"Wundsdorf Tank School

March 1st, 1942

What tactics will Russian tanks use in 1942?

Throughout the Eastern campaign, the Russians did not attack according to their manuals. We must assume that this will keep happening in the future.

Russian tanks advance in tight cooperation with infantry, since they are subordinate to it. A small group of tanks (5-10) is followed by a group of infantry, which either rides the tanks or is towed on skis. In this way, the Russians do not deliver a concentrated tank strike, but are able to use tanks everywhere.

We must discard the idea that tanks will only attack in regimental-sized fronts. These small groups of tanks can get through terrain that is suboptimal for tanks (thin forest, forest clearings, dirt roads, etc). Anti-tank obstacles several hundred meters from the front lines are pointless in this case, since the tanks already have very close targets.

Tuesday 18 June 2019

The New T-34

"December 6th, 1940
To Regional Engineer at factory #183, Military Engineer 2nd Class, comrade Kozyrev

The following is a list of changes and additions necessary to add to the production T-34 tank.
  1. Complete battle weight of no more than 26 tons.
  2. Armament: one 76 mm L-11 gun with coaxial DT machinegun, a second DT for the radio operator, and a submachinegun (PPD) in the turret for firing through hatches. Install the F-34 76 mm gun after January 1941.

Saturday 15 June 2019

Cruiser with a Big Head

SPGs are hardly a strength of the British tank industry. The country developed the first SPG on a tank chassis, but then the birthplace of tanks fell behind in the creation of self propelled artillery. Suffice it to say that Britain produced half as many SPGs as Canada in WWII (not counting those converted into SPGs from tanks). British SPGs implemented rather unusual design decisions. This was true for their tank destroyers as well, both the Challenger and Avenger.

Thursday 13 June 2019

Pz.Kpfw.III Replica at the Ontario Regiment Museum

This tank is not an actual PzIII, but you can hardly tell just by looking at it. The only giveaway was that the tires don't say "Continental" on them. According to the driver, it was built entirely to factory blueprints externally, and only the insides come from the M113 APC. 

Wednesday 12 June 2019

Panther Intel

"British Military Mission in the USSR
July 9th, 1943

To: Major General Dubinin

Contents: new German medium and heavy tanks
  1. I present to you the following information that we already communicated to the GABTU. This information comes from prisoners of war and captured documents and has not been confirmed.

Tuesday 11 June 2019

Experimental Work at factory #183, January 1941

"February 4th, 1941

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

The following work was performed at factory #183 during January of 1941:

1. Experimental work
  1. Trials of T-34 gearboxes were performed. 2 gearboxes with reduced 3rd gear ratios were installed in January. The first, with the ratio lowered by 14.6%, travelled about 550 km. The second, with a gear ratio lowered by 8%, travelled 340 km. Preliminary trials show that driving tanks with reduced gear ratios is easier than those with production gearboxes. One vehicle's gearbox had its 2nd, 3rd, and 4th gears constantly engaged, where the 3rd gear was reduced by 22.1% and 4th gear by 9.5%. Changing gears was performed using a clutch. The tank with this gearbox travelled for 400 km. In this tank it is easier to engage the third gear than on the production gearbox. No chipping of the gear teeth was observed.

Monday 10 June 2019

1942 Lineup: New Players

"Wundsdorf Tank School

March 1st, 1942

Which Russian tanks will you encounter in 1942?


When looking at modern types of Russian tanks, you must realize that tanks of significantly high quality have been attained in a surprisingly short amount of time. Special attention is paid to armour and effectiveness of armament. A goal of standardization is obvious, for instance the T-34 and both KV tanks have the same 12 cylinder 500 hp engine.

Weak points include weak clutch casings, gearboxes, and turning mechanisms. The technically advanced shape of the T-34 is notable. The Russians have very good quality armour steel. Curved 75 mm thick plates signify that Russian factories are very well equipped.

Instead of the obsolete T-26, we are seeing large amounts of small modern T-60 tanks. The best Russian tank, the T-34, came out of the BT, and the T-28 and T-35 are being replaced by the KV (Klim Voroshilov) type 1 (7.62 cm gun) and type 2 (15.2 cm gun). An amphibious tank is being produced (T-40).

Saturday 8 June 2019

Temporary Reinforcement

Modernization often starts immediately after a tank is accepted for service and put into production. The T-34 was no exception in this regard. A number of changes to simplify production and improve the tank's characteristics were made in the first year. The T-34 changed even more radically in 1941. For instance, the L-11 gun was replaced with the F-34 gun in March of 1941. There were also plans to improve the armour, but they were only partially realized. Let us discuss the applique armour used on T-34 tanks from 1941 to 1943.

Thursday 6 June 2019

Thick Skin

"The 38th Tank Brigade with elements of the 266th Rifle Division began an offensive at 5:00 on a front from height 183 to Koshpurovka, overcoming stout enemy resistance at Grushino by 17:00 and capturing the settlement as well as the Karachintsev homestead. The tanks approached Maryevka, the offensive continues.

As a result, the brigade lost: one T-60 tank burned up from fire, one tank knocked out by a mine. 10 MK-2 tanks blew up on mines, of those two had their floor armour torn open and engines were disabled. One tank had its oil tank penetrated, two tanks had their tracks, skirts, and suspension destroyed, one tank had a drive sprocket destroyed, one tank lost a track and took 41 hits, 25 from 37 mm guns and 16 from 20 mm guns, none of them penetrating. 8 of the tanks listed will be restored by the end of May 13th, 1942."

Wednesday 5 June 2019

Anti-Tank Snipers

"Translated from German. Truncated.
November 11th, 1943

146th Motorized Regiment, 25th Tank Division
#14143 February 10th, 1943
Supreme Command of the German Army

From experience on the front lines in the past weeks
3. Combat of Russian infantry against tank riders

The ability of Russian infantry to fight tank riders, infantry accompanying tanks, and commanders peeking out of tank hatches (using individual snipers) is notable.

Tuesday 4 June 2019

T-43, Take One

"For further development and improvement of medium tanks, permit the NKTP and factory #183 to produce two experimental prototypes of T-44 tanks with the following tactical-technical requirements by September 1st [1942]:
  1. Mass: under 32 tons
  2. Armour:
    1. Sides: 60 mm
    2. Front: 60-75 mm
    3. Rear: 60 mm rolled, 75 mm cast
    4. Turret (cast): 80-85 mm
      The turret must have a commander's cupola.

Monday 3 June 2019

Big Guns

"To the Chief of the 16th Department of the GAU Artillery Committee, Colonel comrade Zhevanik

I report on the work that I performed during my trip to Sverdlovsk and Chelyabinsk from May 3rd to May 28th, 1943.

1. Kalinin factory #8.

Based on directions by Lieutenant General of Artillery Hohlov, I organized work to design and produce an experimental 85 mm tank gun. To achieve this, I supplied factory #8 with a copy of the tactical-technical requirements and necessary blueprints with the aid of the GAU military representative at factory #9. I negotiated with the factory's director, comrade Fratkin, as well as the chief engineer and chief designer. Based on this meeting, comrade Fratkin gave the order on May 4th to quickly begin work on designing the gun with the aim of completing blueprints by May 10th.

Saturday 1 June 2019

6-pounder, American Style

The Ordnance Department gave its permission to produce the British QF 6-pounder under license in February of 1941 in order to supply them through Lend Lease. At that point, only prototypes of the gun had been built. Even though the 6-pounder was ready for production in the summer of 1940, the British decided to postpone it for mass production of 40 mm QF 2-pounder guns. This was a logical decision. The British needed to rapidly compensate for the armament lost in France, and six 2-pounders could be made for the cost of one 6-pounder.