Monday 30 September 2019

Report on King Tigers

"HQ of the Commander of Artillery of the Red Army
1st Department
September 27th, 1944

For the Commander of Artillery of the 2nd Ukrainian Front only

During battles of the 1st Ukrainian Front, it was determined that the enemy is using the new Tiger B "King Tiger" tank in infantry-tank counterattacks. Interrogations of prisoners and study of captured  Tiger B vehicles shows that this type of tank has the following characteristics:
  • Mass: 68 tons
  • Length:
    • With gun: 10.4 meters
    • Without gun: 7.5 meters
  • Width: 3.75 meters
  • Height with turret: 3.07 meters
  • Primary track width: 800 mm
  • Secondary track width: 660 mm
  • Clearance (front): 490 mm
  • Clearance (rear): 510 mm
  • Rear and side armour: 80 mm
  • Front armour: 180 mm
  • Roof armour: 40 mm
  • Armament: one 88 mm gun, two machineguns, one spare machinegun
  • Ammunition carried: 48 rounds

Saturday 28 September 2019

The Golden Standard

The fate of the Soviet T-29 medium tank was a complex one. The development of a 20-ton amphibious PT-1 tank began in April of 1933. First the tank was developed in two variants, later this number grew to four. The T-29-4 and T-29-5 had the highest priority. The T-29-2 was skipped. There are plenty of strange aspects such as this in the T-29's history.

Initially the T-29 was being developed in Moscow by the technical department of the Economics Directorate of the United State Political Directorate (EKU OGPU) under the direction of N.A. Astrov. N.V. Tseits also too part in the development. Like Astrov, he spent a portion of his career working from prison. Later, development moved to Leningrad, and Tseits moved after it, eventually becoming the chief designer on the T-29 project. Such a debut promised a complicated fate for the T-29.

Thursday 26 September 2019

T-44 Under Fire

The T-44 proved a tough nut to crack. Neither the Soviet 85 mm gun nor the German 8.8 cm Pak 43 could penetrate the upper front plate even from 100 meters. The lower front plate could not be penetrated by the 85 mm gun either, but the 88 mm gun managed to break it off after several hits. Despite the welding giving out, the protection was much better than that of the T-34-85, comparable to the Panther.

"Firing trials against the armoured hull resulted the complete destruction of the following welding seams: 
  • Upper front plate and left side
  • Lower front plate and left side
  • Idler carrier and sides
  • Hull roof and left side
The welding seam between the hull roof and right side was destroyed by 80%.

The overall view of the hull from the front after trials is show in figure 21.

Photo 21. Overall view of the hull from the front after trials.

Wednesday 25 September 2019

Gotta Go Fast

"To the Chief of the Rear and Supply Directorate of the General Staff, Major General comrade Yermolin

According to your order, I present to you the conclusions on the draft project of a tank glider developed by TsAGI engineers including comrade Yermonskiy.

The project proposes a 6 ton tank that can be towed behind an airplane as a glider. The tank accelerates on its tracks with the tank's engine power to at least 100 kph.

Tuesday 24 September 2019

Stielgranate 41

"Supercaliber ammunition allowed the enemy to fire at our fortifications and strongholds at close range. Firing the subcaliber projectile is almost silent, but the sound of the explosion is equal to our 122 or 152 mm rounds. This confused our artillery reconnaissance, who expected the enemy to fire heavy artillery from long range."

Monday 23 September 2019

T-34 and KV-1 First Intel

The T-34 and KV-1 may have been a surprise for the Germans at the start of Operation Barbarossa, but fairly good information was obtained very quickly. As early as June 23rd, 1941, the Germans inspected knocked out tanks and came up with information that may not have been extremely accurate, but was close enough for preliminary work.

Saturday 21 September 2019

Backwards Tank Destroyer

British industry was one of the first to create the concept of an SPG, but did not have much success with these vehicles in WWII. Aside from Challenger and Avenger tank destroyers and Crusader AA SPAAGs the British did not have much to offer when it came to SPGs. There were only two others that saw battle: the Bishop and Archer. The latter actually turned out quite well, despite its unusual configuration.

Thursday 19 September 2019


"Record of payment for citizens Zimmerman, Finkler, and Gonfeldman of the city of Odessa

For restoration of health after being bruised by tanks, the corps commander issues: 600 rubles

Total: 600 (six hundred) rubles

Approved: Chief Quartermaster and Paymaster, Dukhanin"

Wednesday 18 September 2019

V-2 Improvements

I've written a lot about what the reliability of the T-34 tank was, but not as much about where the army wanted it to be. I don't have as much data on the expected lifetime of engines in 1942 as I do for other years, but from documents it seems that it did not drop as some people state. The USSR did not opt to discard quality for quantity, far from it. The order issued by People's Commissar of Tank Production Malyshev on April 21st, 1942, demonstrates that the quality target was higher than ever:

Tuesday 17 September 2019

Ferdinand Intel

"Captured enemy vehicles

Ferdinand SPG

Characteristics: 88 mm gun with an elongated barrel on the Tiger tank chassis, immobile armoured turret. Mass: 67-70 tons. Chassis: width 3.5 meters, length (with gun) 10 meters. Top speed: 20 kph, average speed: 10-15 kph.

Monday 16 September 2019

Factory #183 Experiments, January-February 1941

"Report on the execution of experimental work on armoured vehicles from January 1st to February 20th, 1941

Tractor "42" on the T-34 chassis
Due date: September 1940
2x prototypes were built in November of 1940. Factory trials were supposed to complete in December 1940. A number of gearbox, tracks, winch, etc. defects were discovered during trials. Presently, the defects are being corrected, after which trials will resume.

T-34 tank modernization
The design bureau is developing a modernized T-34 with a new hull, turret, gearbox, main clutch, and suspension. A draft project is being worked on. Individual components are being built. A model is being built.

Saturday 14 September 2019

Gorilla, King Kong's Sister

Like other members of the Light Combat Team based on the M24 Chaffee chassis, the 155 mm Howitzer Motor Carriage M41 did not take part in WWII, but fought actively in Korea. Even though the Gorilla was not numerous and its career was short, this vehicle still deserves attention.

Thursday 12 September 2019

Express Tank Destroyers

"Decree #252ss of the State Committee of Defense
July 23rd, 1941
  1. The People's Commissar of Armament (comrade Ustinov) is to install the first 100 57 mm anti-tank guns on Komsomolets tractors.
  2. The People's Commissar of Medium Production (comrade Malyshev) must ship 100 Komsomolets tractors to factory #92 before August 10th, 1941.
  3. The People's Commissar of Armament (comrade Ustinov) must produce towed 57 mm anti-tank guns using the GAZ-61 car as an artillery tractor starting on August 10th.
  4. Comrade Malyshev must supply factory #92 with GAZ-61 cars in sufficient amounts to match production of the 57 mm ZIS-2.
  5. Production of 57 mm and 76 mm divisional guns at factory #92 remains unchanged.
  6. The proposal made by the Gorkiy Regional Committee and factory #92 to install 57 mm guns on the GAZ-AAA truck is rejected.
Copies: Ustinov, Malyshev, Voznesenskiy, Popov."

Wednesday 11 September 2019

Difference of Opinion

"A record of disagreement regarding contract #B1-221 signed on May 8th, 1941, between Comintern factory #183 and the GABTU regarding delivery of T-34 tanks in 1941

Article 9 paragraph 1:
  • GABTU version: the guaranteed period for which the tank will function without excessive wear and breakdowns of components and assemblies is 3000 km, provided the tank is operated within guidelines and instructions issued by the GABTU.
  • Factory #183 version: the warranty period for tanks up to #1001 is set to 3000 km, with the exception of tracks and the cooling fan, which the factory guarantees up to 1500 km. Starting with the 1001st tank this component will also be guaranteed up to 3000 km.

Tuesday 10 September 2019


"Commanders of the Fronts
August 10th, 1942

Our tank units and formations take heavy losses, and losses in tanks for technical reasons outweigh losses in battle. On the Stalingrad Front, over 6 days of fighting, despite having superiority in tanks and artillery, in 12 of our tank brigades out of 400 tanks 326 were lost, out of those 200 were lost for technical reasons, and the majority were left on the battlefield. Similar examples can also be found on other Fronts. Considering this kind of rates of breakdown inconceivable, the Stavka considers this the be caused by covert sabotage and destruction on behalf of tankers, who either seek out small faults with their tanks or create them themselves in order to keep away from the battle, abandoning their tanks on the battlefield. At the same time, poorly established control over materiel and tracking of whether or not tanks perform their duties in battle in tank units allows this criminal and unacceptable behaviour to continue.

Monday 9 September 2019

Experimental Work at Factory #183, February 1941

"Report on experimental work at factory #183 for February of 1941

Work performed at workshop 500:
  1. Trials of two types of main clutches with a friction clutch for the fan. Tanks with these clutches drove for 400 km, after which trials stopped due to breakages of three pins on each. Presently, a new main clutch is being produced with an altered driving drum and a friction clutch for the fan. This type will be produced in mid-March of 1941.

Saturday 7 September 2019

A Fast Howitzer on a Light Chassis

Unlike American light tanks, which towards the war reached perfection in their class, light SPGs did not work out. The first successful design, the HMC M8, appeared towards the middle of the war. It did not satisfy the military and work on light SPGs continued. The result of this work was the HMC M37, a good design that appeared far too late. The production run was limited and it only saw battle after the end of WW2.

Thursday 5 September 2019


"October 18th, 1945
To the Deputy People's Commissar of Railways, Vice General Director 1st Class comrade Arutyunov

A captured special tank weighing 160 tons (including a removable 40 ton turret) directed to the NIBT proving grounds (Kubinka station, Western railroad) has been stuck at the storage terminal of the cargo base at Brest-East.

The transfer of the special tank is delayed due to the fact that the storage terminal does not have cables necessary for moving the special tank.

I ask for your order to expedite the transfer of the special tank and its delivery to its destination.

I ask you to reply with your decision.

Deputy Chief of the GBTU, Engineer-Major of the Tank Service, Pavlovskiy"

CAMD RF 38-11355-3009 p.82

Wednesday 4 September 2019

Monstrous Regiment

Even as late as 1944, Red Army tank units were far from being populated entirely by T-34s. Sometimes colourful mixes like these went into battle, and their owners had to put up with a gently used fleet.

"By July 15th, 1944, the regiment was equipped with the following:
  • 16 T-70 tanks
  • 10 Matilda tanks
  • 1 M4A2 tank
  • 4 BA-64
  • 2 motorcycles
  • Automobiles:
    • Trucks: 34
    • Special: 8
    • Cars: 2
At this time:
  1. T-70 tanks each ran for 110-120 hours, and their technical condition was satisfactory to perform a forced march.
  2. Matilda tanks, received from refurbishment on June 27th, 1944, had only 45-55 running hours remaining. Their technical condition was unsatisfactory for a combat vehicle. Matilda tanks required another round of factory repair due to worn out components and assemblies. Due to significant wear on all parts and components of the tank, they could not be restored by the regiment's resources.
  3. The M4A2 tank was technically functional and ready for upcoming battles.
  4. The Harley and Indian motorcycles were received from refurbishment and were in unsatisfactory condition.
  5. Automobiles: half made up of foreign makes. 85% were received to fill up the regiment and brigade back in April of 1942, only 15% were received in the summer of 1943."

Tuesday 3 September 2019

Budget Tracks

"Order of the People's Commissar of Tank Production of the USSR #131-M
April 10th, 1942

In order to preserve ferromanganese in T-34 and T-60 track links and improve production of steel in electric furnaces, I order that:
  1. NII-48 director comrade Zavyalov must assemble two brigades of the best specialists of the Institute in order to resolve the issue of creating a new type of steel to use in track links, sending one brigade to factory #183 and the other to factory #37.

Monday 2 September 2019

Even More MKb 42(H) Intel

"GAU Artillery Committee Information Department
Information Summary #16
July 1943
New German light machinegun and ammunition for it

In June of 1943, Red Army units captured a new 7.9 mm machinegun firing intermediate cartridges.