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).

1. T-60 light tank

This tank is being built in Gorkiy in large amounts. It weighs 6-8 tons. It's very small (3.95x2.30x.175 m), has about an 85 hp engine, and a top speed of over 40 kph. The armour thickness is stated as 25 mm. Armament consists of a 2 cm gun firing 160 RPM. At a glance, the tank can be confused for the amphibious tank (T-40), although it is principally different. Judging by illustrations, it gun is of larger caliber. Intelligence reports that the tank is supposed to be the most common tank in tank companies (30 T-60, 5 T-34). The design and armament indicate that it should be used as a reconnaissance vehicle (like the Pz.Kpfw.II).

Distinctive features: very small angled turret, oscillations of the hull in motion, 4 medium sized road wheels, torsion bar suspension.

2. T-40 amphibious tank

This 5.5 ton tank was the first tank outside of Germany to use a torsion bar suspension. It has a good speed: 40 kph on road and 10 kph in water. Armour is 14 mm in the front, armament is one 12.6 mm machinegun and 1 regular machinegun, which is good for an amphibious tank, but not enough for a battle tank. The T-60 has a similar chassis, size, and other characteristics. It appears that the T-40 proved disappointing. Very possibly the production of the T-40 was ceased in favour of the T-60.

3. T-34 heavy tank (the most dangerous tank in the Red Army).

The appearance of this new type of tank in many varieties and amounts was a big surprise for us.

This is the best tank in the Red Army. Its effective armament, skilfully angled thick armour, and mobility make it a very serious opponent.

The 500 hp diesel (reduced fire risk compared to Otto's engines) moves this 26 ton tank with a speed of over 50 kph on roads. The armament is good, 7.62 cm cannon (L/30.5 or 41.5) and two machineguns. Penetration of the gun is lethal at 1000 m and over. The skilfully composed form makes the tank flat and graceful.

The armour is a very tough rolled metal. The slope in the front is 30 degrees, the sides - 50 degrees, which explains frequent ricochets despite the relatively thin armour. Some variants are equipped with a cast turret, which makes the form of the tank even more graceful. The cast armour is 52-70 mm thick. The armour of the tank is not easily defeated.

From the front it can be distinguished by its sloped sides, from the sides by 5 large Christie wheels.

Light anti-tank guns need to concentrate fire on one track to immobilize the tank. The rumour that it can move without tracks is fiction.

Heavy anti-tank guns or tank guns 5 cm and up: aim at the tracks to destroy them and at the turret bustle with PzGr.40. When aiming from the sides, pick a high point of aim. When the tank is close enough, aim at the machinegun shield below and to the left of the gun. It does not withstand hits from 3.7 or 5 cm guns, but it's a very small target.

Machinegunners: long bursts to the right, under the gun. That is where three driver's prismatic periscopes are located. They are relatively easy to destroy. The driver does not have a vision slit and will be blinded.

From close range, strike at the horizontal engine deck. Throw a grenade bundle onto the mesh. Underneath it are louvres (25 mm thick steel) that can be pushed in with an explosion. THe tank will stop and it will be relatively easy to set it on fire.

At close range, you will see a mesh on the top of the sides, in the rear. Fire with armour piercing machinegun bullets had a good effect.

Distinctive features: a flat, graceful shape. Sloped front and side armour. 5 large wheels. Very long gun.

4. KV-1 heavy tank.

The "Klim Voroshilov" tank was also new. The suspension uses torsion bars like German tanks.

The engine is the same 12 cylinder diesel as in the T-34 tank. The RPM is increased, as the KV-1 weighs 43 tons, and the KV-2 up to 52 tons. The top speed is lowered, up to 35 kph.

The tank is armed with one 7.62 cm gun (L/30.5), which is good, but not as good as on the T-34 (7.62 L/41.5). Machineguns are located in the gun mantlet, rear of the turret, and in some variants in the front. The armour is 75 mm all around. The flat sides are a better aiming point than on the T-34.

After the 5 cm gun proved it could knock out early KV types, the Russians reinforced the armour in some parts. It can be noticed by looking for large bolt heads.

The mobility of this tank is poor. The gears can only be shifted when stopped. The speed of 35 kph does not appear believable. Driver's visibility is poor. The clutch is very lightly built. Nearly all stuck KVs had damaged clutches. The tank is too heavy for pontoon bridges and simple regular bridges.

This tank is not easy to suppress. Few guns can penetrate 75 mm of armour (only 5 cm guns firing PzGr.40 at close range). It is recommended to focus fire on one track to at least stop the tank. At close range, aim at the rounded portion in the upper plate in the rear (this can be done only from the back). That is where the air intake is located, protected by a mesh. A ricochet from armour piercing bullets can destroy the engine. In close combat you can also launch a tracer shell in there. Since there is a deflecting plate installed, aim upwards, into the upper plate.

The upper plate has two round hatches, about 50 mm thick. Firing at them from the Pz.B.41 (for instance from upper floors of houses) is effective. The reinforced types of tanks can be attacked with 5 cm PzGr.40 rounds at close range. Aim at: 1. Front of the turret. 2. Upper hull behind the tool box. 3. Rear part of the hull, under the curve.

In close combat, note the dome-shaped structures on the tanks. They are plugs that can be easily removed from the inside for firing a revolver at close range.

Distinctive features: large size, but only one turret. Wide tracks. 6 medium sized road wheels.

5. KV-2 heavy tank.

This is the only Russian heavy tank with a weight of 52 tons. A 12 ton rectangular turret was installed on the KV-1 chassis. The size is so great that it surpasses the German railroad gauge, and it can only be transported with the turret removed. Russian reports often speak of crushed bridges.

The armament is a 15.2 cm howitzer. Separate loading makes firing slow. 36 rounds of ammunition is insufficient.

The KV-2 can be distinguished by its large box turret. Fight it in the same way as the KV-1. Fighting at close range is easier, since there are more dead zones and the large turret cannot be turned when the tank is tilted."

Via Photonoid.


  1. Excellent article. One comment:

    "The gears can only be shifted when stopped."

    What do you mean by this?

    1. Supposedly the driver had to select the gear for the speed he wanted to attain and and start driving in that gear until the desired speed was reached...

      Note that this is a (translated) German briefing on Soviet tanks, so take with a healthy dose of salt.

    2. TBF from everything I've heard and read about the soi-disant user-friendliness of the KV transmission it's not hard to imagine the Germans having legitimately gotten that impression from prisoner interrogations and trophy test drives alike...

    3. Could be the German's found a Russian tank with worn out transmission gears.Ever driven a old tank with manual non synchronized gears? Which might explain why it was captured.

    4. Very possible. There's also that document floating around that's claimed to be "German trials of a T-34 tank" where some SS guys found a tank at a scrap yard and then complain that it doesn't work right.