Saturday 31 August 2019

A Bigger Howitzer on a Smaller Chassis

The American Ordnance Committee standardized the HMC T47 as the HMC M8 on May 15th, 1942. This vehicle was accepted into service even before a prototype was built and became the first American light SPG to enter production. The HMC M8 was a good vehicle, but had its drawbacks. The fighting compartment was cramped and there was no room to improve the armament. Experience in combat showed that 75 mm was too small of a gun even for a light SPG. This prompted the development of a new SPG, also based on the Light Tank M5 chassis. The result was a number of experimental SPGs, including the HMC T82.

Thursday 29 August 2019

Waste Not, Want Not

"16th Motorized Infantry Division
Unit 1-b
Division HQ, September 1st, 1941

Special supply order #29

Dual shields for anti-tank guns

Shields of Russian anti-tank guns can be easily adapted for German anti-tank guns. All captured Russian anti-tank guns that cannot be repaired for use in the German army to replace knocked out guns should have their shields removed and attached on top of German gun shields.

Platoon gunsmiths and company repair workshops can take on the work.

On behalf of the division commander, 1st officer of the General Staff IV"

Wednesday 28 August 2019

Cabin on the Tanks

"Mechanic-driver's station

The mechanic-driver is located to the left of the ammunition rack in the front of the tank. The driver's seat is immobile. The seat can flip back and its angle can be adjusted.

The tank is driven by looking through the open hatch in front of the driver, through the slit in the hatch protected by a vision block, or through the rotating MK-IV periscope in the top hatch.

Tuesday 27 August 2019

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

"An inquiry from the State Planning Commission to the Head of the ABTU regarding the use of secondary metals in wartime
September 20th, 1936

The use of scrap metal and byproducts, especially of non-ferrous metals, will be even more important during wartime than in peace time. The use of scrap metal and byproducts accounts for 30% or more metals used in industry.

Knowing this, it is important for the RKKA in wartime to organize a collection of scrap metal and byproducts at the front lines and in the army's rear. The existing manuals regarding the collection of scrap metal are very brief. The Sector of Defense of the State Planning Commission is working on this issue and wishes to know:
  1. Which metals and alloys will be collected at the NKO's orders during the war and be sent off to the rear?
  2. Approximately what are the estimated amounts for the first year of the war (split by 6 month periods if possible)?
  3. What amounts and of what metals will be used by the army directly without being passed into the industry?
  4. What sorting of collected metals (especially important during further re-smelting of alloys and hardened steels) will be done, and by which organizations in the NKO?
  5. How much scrap and byproducts was collected in 1935?
  6. Special notes and requests regarding collection of old metal during peace and war time.
The response to these questions is needed urgently to allow rapid development of plans for other People's Commissariats.

Chief of the Defense Sector of State Planning

RGVA 31811-2-614 p.89 

"Estimates by the ABTU for the Chief of the Defense Sector of State Planning on the use of scrap metals in wartime

September 30th, 1936

It is calculated that in the first year the generation of metal from lost vehicles in the first year of war will be 900-1000 thousand tons. Of those, it will be possible to recover 100,000 tons within the RKKA. The rest of the metal will be passed onto the industry. Expect about up to 2% non-ferrous metals, the rest will be ferrous metals: iron, simple carbon steel, special steels.

Expect even distribution among 6-month periods.

Collection of scrap metals during peace time is performed by the NKO Stock Accounting Department, and organization of scrap collection during peace or wartime should be agreed upon with that department. This department has all the information about delivery of scrap metals by the RKKA Directorates for 1935 and 1936.

The ABTU considers that it is necessary to offload responsibility for collection of scrap metal as much as possible. As a rule, the role of the NKO should be limited to delivery of the scrap metal from the battlefield to the distribution warehouses, preliminary sorting, and loading.

Assistant Chief of the ABTU,
Division Commander Stepnoy"

RGVA 31811-2-614 p.103 

Monday 26 August 2019

V-2 Woes

"February 1st, 1939
To Military Representative at factory #183, Military Engineer 2nd Class, Comrade Fedorov

A telegram received from your deputy, comrade Kolesnik, and a message Military Engineer 2nd Class comrade Shukarev suggest that development of the V-2 engine at department 400 is in a completely unacceptable state.

All deadlines in development of the V-2 engine have been missed. State trials scheduled at the beginning of February have also been missed.

Saturday 24 August 2019

The American Highrise

Many Russian publications give the Medium Tank M3, known in the USSR as M3Sr (sredniy - medium) a poor evaluation. It is often dubbed "a grave for six brothers". Indeed, reviews of the M3 were the least favourable compared to most tanks that arrived in the USSR in large batches, but the infamy it holds today is not deserved. Let's try to objectively evaluate this American tank using reports from the proving range and the battlefield.

Thursday 22 August 2019


Typically, armoured vehicles have a tendency to sag forward, especially as they are modernized throughout their service life. Heavier cannons and frontal armour often strain the front suspension elements more than the rear. The T-34 was no exception, with the T-34-85's front springs having to be reinforced when the larger and heavier turret entered service.

The T-44 was a revolutionary shift for Soviet medium tanks. In order to rid the front of the hull of the vulnerable driver's hatch, the hatch had to be placed on the roof, which meant shifting the turret backwards. In order to keep the fighting compartment the same size, the engine had to be placed perpendicularly to the hull. This resulted in a lot of weight moving backwards, and the center of mass followed. Calculations may show some detailed insight, but one can even see with the naked eye that the tank is tilting backwards.

Wednesday 21 August 2019

Stronger Tanks

The T-34's armour was considered formidable in the summer of 1941, as it was protected against the majority of German anti-tank guns. By the end of 1943, the balance tipped the other way. The light "doorknocker" 3.7 cm Pak and the occasional 5 cm Pak 38 were being forced out by the 7.5 cm Pak 40 and other high velocity weapons. An analysis of tanks knocked out in combat was performed in order to determine where the armour needs to be increased, but the results were rather disappointing.

Tuesday 20 August 2019

Night Fighters

"572 sorties were carried out this month. Of those, the machineguns were fired in 134 sorties. Firing was done from a height of 300-500 meters, from a distance of 700-1000 meters. Targets included columns of vehicles, strongholds, personnel, and enemy vehicles in settlements and on roads.

As a result of the assault, the following damage was done to the enemy, based on the crews' reports:
  • Fires started: 1
  • Strongholds suppressed: 3
  • Vehicles destroyed: 1

Monday 19 August 2019

Object 704 Conclusions

High backlash was noticed in the traverse mechanisms.
Conclusions: the traverse mechanism passed trials.

10: Loading tray

In order to make it easier to move between the loader and breech operator's stations, it is reasonable to make the rear tray corners rounded. Otherwise, there are no complaints about the tray.

11: Sights

The prototype carries the telescopic ball and socket TSh-17 sight with 4x magnification and a panoramic sight for the 76 mm ZIS-3 gun without an extension. 

The ball and socket sight is comfortable to use due to the immobile eyepiece in relation to the gunner's eye. A lack of muzzle brake improves the conditions of observation after a shot.

Trials showed that after 40 shots the sight calibration offset is negligible.

No complaints are made about the installation of the sight.

Saturday 17 August 2019

The Polish Army's Phantom Reserves

In the early 1930s, Poland built the TK-S, a very good design based on the British Carden-Loyd Mk.VI tankette. A similar thing happened with light tanks. Polish tank builders designed the 7TP tank based on the Vickers Mk.E. The next step, the development of a fully domestic design, turned out to be too difficult for Polish industry. Attempts were made, but progress did not move past several prototypes. The Polish army entered WWII with armoured vehicles at the technology level of the late 1920s. This article discusses experimental designs that did not manage to enter service with the Polish army.

Thursday 15 August 2019

Aquino Tank Weekend WWII Reenactment Part 2

After the Ontario Regiment's first attack on Aquino Airport was beaten back, the regiment did not give up. The Hitler Line fell fairly quickly, and the Canadians' contribution is celebrated in part 2 of the Aquino Tank Weekend 2019 reenactment.

Edit: there was an error with the uploaded video. It is now fixed.

Wednesday 14 August 2019

Burn Before Reading

Translation from German

9th Army HQ
Intelligence department, counterintelligence division
#653743 Secret

Army HQ July 29th, 1943

Re: Operation Citadel

All documents relevant to Operation Citadel are especially valuable to the enemy even now. Because of this, all documents of the corps and division must be completely and thoroughly destroyed without exception. Report on the execution of this order by August 3rd, 1943. Copies of documents that are not destroyed are to be handed over to rear line organizations. Division HQs must surrender their documents to Corps HQs, which will take on the task of sending the documents to the appropriate locations in the far rear.

Army Chief of Staff

Saturday 10 August 2019

Rejected by Infantry, Adopted by Cavalry

France entered WWII armed with three different types of modern light tanks. Two of them were the numerous Renault R 35 and rarer FCM 36, used by only two tank battalions. The third tank, and a very numerous one, was the Hotchkiss H 35 (and its improved variant, the H 39). Overall, the H 39 turned out to be the best French light tank. It turned out to be very reliable and more mobile than its cousins.

Thursday 8 August 2019

F-34 Gun Mantlet

"Requirements for the F-34 gun mantlet
  1. The front facing shield covering the gun port needs to be 52 mm thick if cast and 45 mm thick if rolled.
  2. The armouring of the cradle and recoil elements can be stamped or rolled and welded. The front cover needs to be removable. The thickness of the front cover needs to be 35 mm, the vertical sides sides sloped at 20 degrees must be 30 mm thick, top and bottom at least 15 mm.
  3. The design of the gun mantlet needs to reliably protect the crew from bullets and splash from all elevation angles from -5 to +30 degrees. The armour strips that prevent bullets and splash from entering must be at least 15 mm thick.
  4. In order to balance the system, a weight of at most 50 kg can be installed on the recoil guard. If a weight of more than 50 kg is required, a balancing mechanism must be added underneath the gun cradle.
Representative of the BTU Chief, Military Engineer 1st Class, Korobkov
Representative of the 3rd Department of the BTU, Military Engineer 1st Class, Afonin
January 18th, 1941."

Wednesday 7 August 2019

Fuel Capacity

"Table of one full load of fuel per fighting vehicle."

Capacity in kg
Type of fuel
BK-70, B-70
Aux. tank 360 L
KV-1 and KV-2
RB-70 diesel

BK-70, B-70

RB-70 diesel

BK-70, B-70, RB-70


BK-70 diesel/B-70






Automotive gasoline

Automotive gasoline

Automotive gasoline

BA-20 light
Automotive gasoline

BA-10 medium
Automotive gasoline

BA-11 heavy
Automotive gasoline

Automotive gasoline

MK-3 Valentine
Gasoil “3”

Gasoil “3”

American M3 medium
3 cubic cm of RD per 1 kg of B-70

American M3 light
2 cubic cm of RD per 1 kg of B-70 or B-74

Universal Carrier
B-74 2nd grade

Bren Carrier
B-74 2nd grade

Via Valeriy Lisyutin

Tuesday 6 August 2019

Diesel Engine, Take One

"May 31st, 1937
To the Head of the 1st Main Directorate of the NKOP, comrade M.M. Kaganovich
To the Head of the 8th Main Directorate of the NKOP, comrade K.A. Neiman
To the Head of the Planning Directorate of the NKOP, comrade V.A. Levin
To the Acting Director of factory #183, comrade Lyash

In order to unconditionally launch an experimental batch of the improved BD-2 (400 hp) engine and deliver them to state trials no later than October of 1937, I propose the following:

Monday 5 August 2019

Anti-Panzerfaust Tactics

"How to combat Panzerfaust soldiers and counteract them

The Red Army's use of mass amounts of tanks and SPGs forced the German command to work at reinforcing their anti-tank defenses. This reinforcement went in the following directions:
  1. Introduction of high caliber anti-tank weapons.
  2. Replacement of anti-tank towed guns with SPGs (Ferdinand and others).
  3. Widespread use of AA artillery in anti-tank roles.
  4. Invention of new types of weapons, especially close combat ones: torpedo tankette, Ofenrohr, Faustpatrone.

Saturday 3 August 2019

When Late is not Better than Never

The saying "fast enough is well enough" applies to a whole slew of armoured vehicles that arrived too late to take part in the war. One of them was the Heavy Tank T29, the next tank after the M6 to be built in any kind of series. This tank was supposed to be America's answer to the Tiger Ausf.B. The Americans got their King Tiger, but only two years after WWII ended. At that point the Heavy Tank T29 looked rather obsolete.

Thursday 1 August 2019

Aquino Tank Weekend Reenactment Day 1

The battle for Aquino airport in Italy on May 19th, 1944, was a difficult one for the Canadian Ontario Regiment and the British 26th Armoured Brigade that they were supporting. The attack against the German defensive line covered by fog failed. Even though the Hitler Line fell only a few days later, the sacrifice of the Ontario Regiment is still commemorated by the Ontario Regiment Museum at the Aquino Tank Weekend every year.