Tuesday 5 May 2020

IS-6 Drama

"To GBTU representative, Engineer-Lieutenant Colonel comrade Markin

Having taken the post of the GBTU TU representative at factory #100 in April of 1944, I already reported that my work at the factory is made difficult because of the fact that the factory is hiding experimental work from me, which has now resumed at the factory. At first, this secrecy was obtained by organizing a special room, which only comrade Kotin and a short list of other people were permitted to enter. I was not included in this list (at the time, the design of the IS-6 tank was being kept secret from me).

More recently, this organization of special rooms became more extensive, especially since comrade Kotin was appointed the factory director. All new projects are exclusively being worked on in isolated rooms where only the people who work there are allowed to enter. The special design bureau group selected a special group of people to work on a new heavy tank with powerful armour and an ISU-122 SPG with dual D-25S guns.

I tried to determine the cause for these measures due to the conditions they crated, having spoken to comrade Kotin many times. From these discussions, I understood that the main reason for this was the fear that the work at factory #100 will become known at the Kirov factory. As a subordinate of the GBTU, the military representative could communicate information to designers at the Kirov factory. 

I consider the conditions created for me at factory #100 abnormal and that the actions taken by the factory director are incorrect. To fully describe the conditions created at the factory, I take it as my duty to report the following:

As factory #100 and the Kirov factory exist more or less on the same property, and since the designers of factory #100 and the Kirov factory worked together for many years, the exchange of information between designers will happen, whether comrade Kotin wants it or not. Exchange of ideas between the designers cannot be avoided.

Since the Kirov factory has a colossal production base compared to factory #100, the Kirov factory naturally can put an idea into production much faster. This happened with the IS-6 tank, which was developed and produced at factory #100 over the course of 8 months, while the Kirovets-1 was designed and built in 2 months.

That leads to my conclusion that, in order to work productively, factory #100 needs to have a different direction than the Kirov factory and implement more radical new ideas, both in general and in individual components. Despite the call to progress the tank industry as a whole, the experimental factory spent more than a year standing in one place and continuing an unhealthy competition with the Kirov factory. Where do the reasons for this antagonistic, and dare I say it, anti-government relationship between the two factories lie? Primarily, they are the fault of the factories' management, chiefly comrade Kotin, who systematically ignores orders from the NKTP and has his own understanding of the role of a experimental factory. I will provide some concrete examples:

According to minutes of the meeting on IS blueprints, factory #100 was bound to develop a whole new line of components and put them into production. The following were proposed:
  1. A steel finned radiator.
  2. A new gear shifting gate.
  3. Protection of the turning mechanism from dust.
  4. A turning mechanism that would need to be adjusted no more often than every 500 km.
  5. A directing sleeve from the breech of the gun to the ventilation fan to improve extraction of fumes.
  6. A new driver's seat.
Work on this list was not performed, and if it was performed, it was not put into production, but instead withheld for putting into the IS-6.

The current process has the factory develop its own plan for technical development for the quarter, which is sent up to the People's Commissariat, where is is approved and sent back. The plan was not sent to the GBTU for approval in 1944, and the plan for the first quarter of 1945 has not yet been composed. However, even this way the plan is not carried out by the factory and is a worthless document. For instance, of the 24 points in the plan for the second half of 1944, only 13 were completed, primarily those that did not require a large time commitment. The following work was not done:
  1. Comparative trials of the IS tank with a planetary transmission and the existing transmission.
  2. Development of vertical stabilization of the D-25 gun.
  3. Design of an B-4 and Br-2 SPGs on the IS tank chassis.
  4. Design of synchronizers of the IS tank gearbox.
  5. Design of an SPG on the IS tank chassis with a high power 122 mm gun and rear fighting compartment.
  6. Improvement of the efficiency and lifespan of the Multicyclone air filter.
  7. Design of self-sealing grease nipples for tank transmissions.
  8. Study and measurement of characteristics of air filters in foreign and domestic tanks.
  9. Study of ventilation systems of tanks and SPGs.
  10. Development of a 4-stroke 1000-1200 hp diesel engine.
  11. Development of a working process for the 4-stroke engine with and without a supercharger.
This work and a number of other tasks were not carried out because the factory transferred most of the designers to work on the IS-6 tank. As it is known, the IS-6 does not have significantly superior characteristics to the existing IS tank with the exception of one original component: a smooth aiming device for the gun with a tracker for the commander.

The IS-6 tank is not viable. The suspension does not withstand any criticism. The VG-50 generator is unreliable due to fouling of the rotor against the casing, the cooling and oil systems are entirely untested (there were clear signs of overheating). It was sent to Moscow with the only goal being to present a competitor to the Object 701 from the Kirov factory.

The story with the demonstration of the IS-6 in Moscow shows that leadership of factory #100 has not considered the mistakes made when the IS tank was put into production and put its own interests above those of the government. There is no other way to explain the fact that unfinished work was presented as finished and ready for production with only minor changes (see the factory's report for 1944). 

As it is known, the decision in Moscow was made in favour of the Kirov factory, which stopped Kotin's intrigue for a time, but worsened the relationship between the two factories. Factory #100 cannot carry out its experimental work effectively, as it has a small production base and must cooperate with the Kirov factory on armour casting, casting nonferrous metals and steel, large forgings, stamping, and some mechanical finishing processes. At this time the cooperation with the Kirov factory is so poor that it places the existence of the factory in jeopardy. For instance, due to a lack of spare parts for the V-2-IS diesel engine the factory cannot repair them, and trials of transmission and running gear components had to be reduced or even cancelled because there are no spare engines left. The work of the factory in general, especially the trials, suffered as a result.

In December of 1944, tanks travelled 1077 km:
  • 305 km for trials of cast 800 mm diameter road wheels on Object 240.
  • 71 km for trials of a modernized turning mechanism on Object 247.
  • 251 km for trials of the IS tank in winter conditions (the tank was warmed by kero-gas) using Object 249.
In January of 1945, tanks travelled for 516 km:
  • 77 km for breaking in the gearbox developed by the Bauman institute on Object 247.
  • 21 km for trials of the turning mechanism developed by the factory's special design bureau.
  • 25 km for testing instructions for winter usage of the IS tank on Object 249.
  • 393 km for trials of the 800 mm diameter cast wheels and a gearbox with synchornization on Object 240.
As strange as it sounds, the factory now produces a number of parts of the running gear and transmission that are being mass produced at the Kirov factory only a few hundred meters away. Despite a number of categorical orders by People's Commissar comrade Malyshev, the factory releases nothing for factory #100.

Having described the conditions that I must work in, I consider it necessary to propose a plan of experimental design themes for factory #100 and provisions for control over it by the GBTU TU military representative. 

The plan needs to be composed by the People's Commissariat of Tank Production  jointly with the GBTU, taking into account requirements from the front, experience of the scientific research institutes, as well as the Armour and Mechanized Forces academy.

The plan will then the sent to the factory. The factory will be able to adjust it, but only with permission from the People's Commissariat and the GBTU. The military representative at the factory will be responsible for the execution of the plan. Monthly reports must be coordinated with him and will be considered invalid without his approval.

Only in this way can we reach a state where the experimental factory can actually work on resolving important issues for tank building and not be used by the factory's management for personal gain.

Senior Military Representative of the GBTU TU at factory #100, Guards Engineer-Lieutenant Colonel Vovk."


  1. Did anything end up happening to curb these competitions or it just stayed this way forever?

    1. Perhaps not in the same way, but a similar rivalry persisted between Tankograd and Kharkov designers, which is how the USSR ended up with three different kinds of MBT.

  2. Stayed this way up to this day