Thursday 30 April 2020

Slippery Slope

"Award Order
  1. Name: Popov, Semyon Yakovlevich
  2. Rank: Guards Sergeant
  3. Position, unit: assistant driver, 83rd Guards Tank Regiment, 18th Dniester Guards Mechanized Brigate, 9th Dniester-Rymninskiy Guards Order of the Red Banner Mechanized Corps
    is nominated for the Order of Glory 3rd Class.

Wednesday 29 April 2020

Multicyclone Performance

The air filter was the Achilles' heel of early T-34 tanks. The early Pomon air filters were inefficient and had to be cleaned often, which was not always possible in the heat of battle. These filters were later replaced in production with Cyclone and later Multicyclone filters. These filters proved themselves to be superior, as reports from the 2nd Guards Tank Army during the Berlin Offensive Operation indicate.

Tuesday 28 April 2020

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Welding thick high hardness introduces a large number of problems into the manufacturing process. As a result, a significant number of early T-34s had manufacturing defects, chiefly cracks in the armour near the welding seams. Defective hulls and turrets as well as one complete tank assembled from defective parts were shot up in order to determine the effect of cracks on the toughness of the armour.

"Plan of trials of a hull and turret of a T-34 tank
Basis: BTU KA chief's letter #76105 on August 28th, 1940

1. Goal of trials

To determine the resistance of the design to shells, reliability of the joints between various parts and components of the hull and turret (welds and attachments of removable parts, hatches).

Monday 27 April 2020

End of the Superheavies

"I order:
  1. My deputy, Chief of the Main Tank Directorate, comrade Maksarev, and Director of the Kirov factory in Chelyabinsk, comrade Zaltsmann:
    1. Cease further production of the IS-4.
    2. Correct defects discovered in the design of the IS-4 listed in attachment 1, then transfer all technical documentation and blueprints for the IS-4 to the mobilization reserve.
    3. Present 12 IS-4 tanks for trials to the Ministry of the Armed Forces of the USSR by May 1st, 1949, with defects corrected in accordance with the decree issued by the Council of Ministers. 2 tanks will be put through 1000 km driving trials, 10 tanks will be put through army trials according to a program approved by the Minister of the Armed Forces of the USSR.
    4. Correct defects on other tanks, present at both the factory and in the armed forces, with changes introduced as a result of the trials before January 1st, 1950.

Saturday 25 April 2020

Medium Assault Tank for the British

When the British Military Mission arrived in the United States in late 1940, they expected production of British tanks to begin in American factories. The plan was to repeat the situation in WWI, where the USA built British and French designs. However, in the 20 years that passed the USA turned into a powerful industrial nation, which could develop weapons that were, at the very least, no worse than British ones. The idea to produce British tanks was declined, which didn't stop the British from ordering the Grant I, a British take on the American Medium Tank M3. Special assault tanks were also ordered by the British. Let's take a look at the Assault Tank T14 and its companion, the A33 Excelsior.

Thursday 23 April 2020

BS-3 Sight Adjustment

"Directorate of Artillery
3rd Guards Tank Army
Department of Artillery Supply
January 31st, 1945

To the Commander of the 367th Field Artillery Regiment

100 mm model 1944 guns are equipped with drum sights with the following scales: Fragmentation Grenade, Armour Piercing, and mils or Fragmentation Grenade, Armour Piercing, Fragmentation Grenade (reduced charge) and mils. Due to imprecise markings of ranges only use the mils scale with 250K sight tables and the attached labels until drums are replaced.

Present these instructions to the gun crews.

Deputy Commander of Artillery of the 3rd GTA, Guards Lieutenant Colonel Yefimov
Chief of Artillery Supply, Guards Engineer-Major Telnov"

Wednesday 22 April 2020

Drive Me Closer

"Award Order
  1. Name: Shunkov, Sergei Petrovich
  2. Rank: Guards Sergeant
  3. Position, unit: assistant driver, 45th Guards Tank Regiment
    is nominated for the Order of the Patriotic War 1st Class

Tuesday 21 April 2020

Rules of Conduct

"Top Secret
Cipher #1141-1143
From 65th Army
Submitted August 10th, 1944, 21:00
Accepted August 10th, 1944, 21:41
Received by Ciphers Office on August 10th, 1944, 22:20

Special priority

To commanders of the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Belorussian Fronts and the 1st Ukrainian Front
All corps and division commanders of the above Fronts
CC: Politruk Zharov, comrade Vladimirov, comrade Bulganin, comrade Hrulev

During the liberation of Polish territory from German occupants, some units, formations, and trophy teams do not understand the specifics of our friendship with the Committee of National Liberation and entirely incorrectly include property belonging to Polish organizations, private citizens, and municipal governments as trophies. According to the agreement between the USSR and the Polish Committee of National Liberation, the Stavka of the Supreme Command orders that:
  1. On Polish territory, defined as all land west of the Curzon line, "trophy" is taken to mean all armament, ammunition, military vehicles, military intendant and military technician equipment, fuel and lubricants of all types, general and special purpose transport, military warehouses, and other property of the enemy's armies.
  2. Warehouses filled with property looted by the Germans from Polish citizens and Polish organizations (food, livestock, building materials, medicine, factory tools, transport, civilian goods, etc) are to be guarded and transferred with a receipt to the Polish government.
  3. Any kind of possessions, transport, or equipment whatsoever belonging to private citizens, cooperative organizations, industrial organizations, or municipal governments does not count as trophies and cannot be taken.
  4. Possessions without a lawful owner (including those who fled to Germany along with retreating Germans) and abandoned goods (grain or other food, livestock, prepared products, equipment, raw materials, goods at factories, etc) must be guarded and transferred with a receipt to the Polish government.
  5. All complaints regarding unauthorized seizure of food or livestock from the population (including swapping horses) will be investigated. If the fact is confirmed, the possessions must be returned or compensation paid even if a specific culprit could not be identified.
  6. All personnel, regardless of rank or position, are to be harshly punished up to and including judgement by a military tribunal for unauthorized seizure of possessions from civilians.
    Commanders and superiors who do not prevent unauthorized actions of their subordinates or assist in these acts must also be held criminally responsible.
  7. All officers, NCOs, as well as commanders of trophy units and formations must be familiar with this order.

Monday 20 April 2020

T-34-85 Reliability, 1945

The service life of the T-34 tank continued to increase throughout the war. The engine could be expected to put out 250 hours of service by 1945, with individual drivers able to get to 300. These were not individual occurrences, as the 2nd Guards Tank Army's experience shows.

Saturday 18 April 2020

Pocket Fury

British tank building developed differently from other nations. For instance, the British built tanks in one weight category that had vastly different characteristics. It is no less interesting that the while the core of the British tank fleet was made up of light tanks, production of light tanks as a class ended in 1940. Although, the British later returned to the topic of light tanks. One light vehicle was designed and even released in small series at the end of the war. This is the Alecto I: an SPG that was too late for the war, but managed to serve in the British army nevertheless.

Thursday 16 April 2020

David vs Goliath

"Results of firing at the King Tiger tank with a 45 mm model 1943 gun

Firing was done from 180 meters at the side of the tank. The results are as follows:
  • Of 4 shots with armour piercing shells, none penetrated.
  • The running gear and tracks (road wheels and tracks) can be destroyed.
  • Of 6 shots with subcaliber armour piercing shot 5 penetrated. It also destroys the wheels and tracks.

Wednesday 15 April 2020

Roots of the SU-152

"Approved: Deputy People's Commissar of Tank Production, Major General of the Technical Forces, Kotin
Approved: Chief of the GABTU BTU, Major General of the Tank Forces, Korobkov
January 31st, 1942

Tactical-technical requirements for a self propelled 152 mm howitzer on the KV-7 chassis

The 152 mm self propelled howitzer is similar in design to the KV-7 tank and is designed to be used for destruction of fortifications at close range

Tuesday 14 April 2020

Lesson Plan

"March 20th, 1945

Syllabus for technical preparation of crews for usage of tanks and SPGs in spring-summer conditions

Objective: to teach the main rules of  moving over to using tanks and SPGs in the spring and summer and learn the specifics of using tanks and SPGs in the spring and summer.
Time allotted: 12 hours, one hour per day
Location: in classrooms and in vehicles
Training conducted by: technical deputy commanders of companies and battalions

Monday 13 April 2020

King Tiger Penetration Trials

"10th Tarnopol Order of Lenin Independent Guards Tank Destroyer Brigade
September 3rd, 1944

To: Commander of artillery of the 1st Ukrainian Front, Colonel General of Artillery, Barentsov
CC: Commander of artillery of the 13th Army, Commander of artillery of the 5th Guards Army

I report that on September 1st and 2nd, 1944, I performed penetration trials against the "T-B King Tiger" tank using 57 and 76 mm guns, a 57 mm SPG, an 85 mm gun on a SU-85, and a 152 mm gun-howitzer on an ISU.

Results of penetration trials:

Saturday 11 April 2020

Slow and Thick-skinned

Most British tanks built in the first half of the Second World War quickly became obsolete. Their war ended by mid-1943, after that they only served as a chassis for SPGs or ARVs. The only British tank of the period which continued to be built until the final stages of the war was the Churchill. At first, it was a disappointment, and it might have been replaced by the A33 Excelsior or the Assault Tank T14 if not for its rehabilitation in Tunisia. This allowed the development of the vehicle to continue. The result was the Churchill VII, a tank that first went into battle 75 years ago on June 6th, 1944.

Thursday 9 April 2020

Local Procurement

"HQ of the Northern Group of the Transcaucasian Front ABTU
September 10th, 1942

To: Deputy Commander of Artillery of the Northern Group of the Transcaucasian Front
CC: Deputy Commander of the Automotive and Armoured Forces of the Transcaucasian Front, Commander of Forces of the Northern Group of the Transcaucasian Front, Members of the Military Council

On September 8th, 1942, the commander of the 563rd Independent Tank Battalion performed experimental trials of 50 mm domestic mortar shells fired from the 50 mm mortar installed on British MK-3 tanks. 

Wednesday 8 April 2020

Beginning of the ZIS-2

"People's Commissar of Defense
December 10th, 1940

Central Committee of the VKP(b), comrade Stalin
Council of People's Commissars, comrade Molotov
Committee of Defense of the Council of People's Commissars, Marshal of the USSR comrade Voroshilov

In accordance with the minutes of the meeting held by Marshal of the USSR comrade Kulik on June 15th of this year on the issue of tank and anti-tank armament, factory #92 was tasked with development and production of an experimental 55-60 mm anti-tank gun with the following characteristics:
  • Muzzle velocity: at least 1000 m/s
  • Penetration: 70 mm from 1000 meters at 30 degrees
  • Mass: no more than 950 kg
  • Horizontal traverse range: 60 degrees
The 57 mm caliber was selected to solve this problem.

The gun is not yet ready. Factory #92 is completing development of blueprints and only several components are in production. Only the barrel has been produced and tested using a pillbox gun mount.

During the trials a muzzle velocity of 1000 m/s was recorded.

As the propellant was picked by factory #92 from expedient gunpowders, the combination of which could not be satisfactory, the final ballistic data to design complete ammunition was not obtained.

Because of this, a barrel of the 57 mm gun was installed on the mount of a 76 mm model 1939 divisional gun and sent to Leningrad to develop the projectile, test ballistic qualities, and approve them so that ammunition can be developed.

It is not impossible that the maximum pressure calculated at factory #92 (2890 kg/cm²) will not be enough to obtain a muzzle velocity of 1000 m/s, which will require design changes to the barrel and development of a special primer.

Factory #92 has now turned its primary attention to using the 57 mm barrel of the pillbox gun as a tank gun.

This direction cannot be considered correct, as the use of the 57 mm gun caliber in pillboxes and tanks can only be allowed if it is present in field artillery. Factory #92 should develop an anti-tank gun first.

Based on the above, on this December 10th I present a draft decree to the Committee of Defense that defines the production of experimental prototypes of the 57 mm anti-tank gun, ammunition for it, and complete trials.

Marshal of the Soviet Union, S. Timoshenko"

Tuesday 7 April 2020

T-43 Level Up

"Approximate calculations

Increase in mass of the T-43 tank as a result of new tactical-technical requirements

The main changes in the tactical-technical requirements that will result in an increase in mass are:
  • Increase in the front armour from 75 to 90 mm
  • Increase of the turret ring from 1600 to 1700 mm
  • Increase of the front turret armour from 90 to 110 mm
  • Decrease of the ground pressure from 0.93 to 0.8 kg/cm²
Main changes in tactical-technical requirements that will result in a decrease in mass are:
  • Decrease of the rear armour from 75 to 60 mm
  • Decrease of the roof armour from 30 to 20 mm
  • Decrease of the rear floor from 30 to 20 mm 

Monday 6 April 2020

Gold Rounds

"Results of experimental firing at a German King Tiger tank with a BP-460A HEAT shell from the 122 mm model 1938 howitzer
  1. Firing against the side of the hull (at 89 degrees 28 minutes).
    1.  Distance 200 meters. Results: 2 complete penetrations 45-50 mm in diameter. The edges of the breach were melted.
  2. Firing at the side of the superstructure.
    1. Distance: 200 meters. Result: 2 complete penetrations (#1 and #2) 45-50 mm in diameter.
    2. Distance: 300 meters. Result: 1 complete penetration (#3) 50-60 mm in diameter.
      The angle was not calculated as the angle of the plate was not measured.

Saturday 4 April 2020

T-18: Mass Produced Answer to Chamberlain

The Red Army accepted the T-18 infantry support tank, better known as the MS-1, into service on July 6th, 1927. This tank was developed by Soviet specialists and was the first truly mass produced domestic tank. The T-18 was the most numerous tank of the 1920s. More of them were built in the USSR than every other country produced tanks altogether.

Thursday 2 April 2020

Fedorov Avtomat

"July 7th, 1924
Minutes #222/23

On weapons (Sheydeman):
  1. Categorically reject Fedorov's rifle if ammunition is not manufactured at the same time.
  2. As soon as possible limit the number of avtomats chambered in the 0.25" caliber, dedicating resources and effort to the creation of 0.3" avtomats and to starting production of these avtomats at the Kovrov factory.

Wednesday 1 April 2020

Anti-Tank Gas

Supreme Command of the Land Forces
Staff of the Chief of Army Engineering Structures and Fortifications


Translated from German

Army Group A (General of Engineering Forces)

The experiments of the 395th [illegible] division regarding the use of smoke grenades against T-34 tanks in close combat gave the following results:
  1. The tank was standing in place. The engine was running. The hatches were shut. The smoke grenade was ignited near the tank.
    Result: rapid penetration of concentrated smoke through the engine intake and through the front entrance hatch, ball mount, machinegun mount, and turret.
    Result: the crew was quickly forced to exit the tank due to choking and vomiting.