Thursday 30 July 2020

Thickness Problems

"Opinion of a member of the model commission and representative of the Ilyich factory

The following needs to be considered when discussing and making a decision regarding the production of the A-43 tank with thicker armour (50-60 mm):
  1. This thickness will require the use of 7-8 ton ingots to produce the sides of the tank, which the Ilyich factory doesn't have equipment to work with and development of which needs to begin right away.

Wednesday 29 July 2020

Sherman Tracks

"Armoured and Mechanized Forces of the Red Army Staff
July 25th, 1945

To the Chief of the GBTU Tank Directorate
To the Chief of the Formation and Equipment Directorate of the Armoured and Mechanized Forces

To carry out plan #00793752 issued by the Military Council of the Armoured and Mechanized Forces regarding the equipment of the 3rd Guards Mechanized Corps with Sherman tanks, I ask you to send 35 spare sets of tracks to the reserve of the corps commander.

In addition, the Commander of the Armoured and Mechanized Forces asked to send 45 sets of tracks to the reserve of the 9th Guards Mechanized Corps and the 201st Tank Brigade.

Send the tracks with tanks that will be send from the 16th Training Tank Regiment in Gorkiy in trains ## 16338, 16339, 16340, 16341, 16342.

Chief of Staff of the Armoured and Mechanized Forces, Guards Major General of the Tank Forces, Markov
Chief of the Organizational Department of the Staff, Engineer-Colonel Martynov"

Tuesday 28 July 2020

David vs Goliath

"Results of trials of the 45 mm gun and anti-tank rifles and the effectiveness of anti-tank grenades on the Tiger tank

On November 13th and 14th, 1944, trials of 45 mm armour piercing shells and subcaliber shot, anti-tank rifles, and anti-tank grenades against the tracks of a Tiger tank were held.

The following were provided by the 285th Rifle Division:
  1. 45 mm gun and crew: 1
  2. Anti-tank rifles and crews: 2
  3. Subcaliber shot for the 45 mm gun: 20
  4. Armour piercing shells for the 45 mm gun: 30
  5. Anti-tank rifle cartridge: 40
  6. Anti-tank grenade: 15
  7. Hand grenade: 15
The 45 mm gun and anti-tank rifles were fired at a range of 30-300 m at angles of 90 and 45 degrees.

Warspot Article: Firefly Development

The British developed a first class anti-tank gun during WWII, but had no luck with a platform to put it on. The solution came from abroad. Although it took a lot of effort, Sherman tanks proved capable of mounting this powerful gun. Read about the trials of the Sherman Ic and Vc tanks in my latest article on

Saturday 25 July 2020

Heavy Tank Destroyer

The ISU-152 is the best known Soviet heavy SPG. This was the most numerous heavy SPG in history and its career lasted for many decades, overshadowing its "little sister", the ISU-122. The vehicles had the same chassis and differed only in the gun (or rather just the barrel) and ammunition racks. It was the ISU-122 and not the ISU-152 that was the main product of the Chelyabinsk Kirov Factory. This was because the vehicles with 122 mm guns were meant to be heavy tank destroyers. Tank regiments that fought in IS-2 tanks were even reformed as artillery regiments with ISU-122 tank destroyers.

Friday 24 July 2020

Field Artillery Penetration

Artillery HQ of the 22nd Army
September 7th, 1941

To chiefs of artillery of infantry divisions
To the commander of the 56th Corps Artillery Regiment
Personal copy for:_________

On orders of the Chief of Artillery of the 22nd Army I send you information regarding penetration of 76 mm and 107 mm HE and 122 mm and 203 mm concrete piercing shells.

The data was obtained at the ANIOP firing at plates angled at 30 degrees from normal.

When firing at plates at normal the penetration is 15-20% higher.

Have all commanders of artillery regiments familiarize themselves with this data.

Attachment: table of penetration on one page.

Chief of Staff of Artillery of the 22nd Army, Colonel Chudin
Chief of the 2nd Department, Captain Matyunenko"

Wednesday 22 July 2020

Thermite Shells

"Report on new armour piercing shells used by the German army
  1. The use of so called "thermite" armour piercing shells by the German army has not yet been confirmed.
    German press made a mention of an alleged patent for an incendiary thermite shell, but such a shell should be made with an Elektron alloy hull, which is completely unsuitable for armour penetrating shells. The objective of this message was disinformation.
  2. The presence of subcaliber armour piercing shot (similar to those made by the French Komissan factory) was discovered during combat.
    The shot consists of a body, a tungsten core, and a ballistic cap. The cap can be made from either plastic or from a light metal.
    Captured documents show that when an armour piercing shot with a cap made from a light metal (Elektron) hits a target, a flash of light can be seen.
    This message was not checked or verified.
Assistant Chief of the 1st Department, 2nd Directorate, Military Engineer 3rd Class, Krutik
_ April 1942

Tuesday 21 July 2020

Mine Roller Trials

"Report on the use of PT-3 mine rollers in combat from July 12th to 16th, 1943
29th Guards Independent Tank Brigade

The use of two mine rollers was planned during the penetration of enemy defenses near the eastern forest clearing 1.5 km east of Dudino to the southeast outskirts of Seraya. As of July 11th the brigade only had one roller.

A roller was towed via tractor to initial positions before the operation.

Monday 20 July 2020

Christie Negotiations

"Discussion between comrade Khalepskiy and Mr. Christie in comrade Petrov's office on April 18th, 1930 at 3 pm.

Christie: We had a board of directors meeting and the following proposal was arrived at: $15,000 monthly over the course of 4 months for the sale of 2 tractors worth $60,000

Khalepskiy: I consider that the price of $60,000 is high. I propose $50,000 with the following conditions of payment: 10% on signing, 15% after the materials are produced, 25% after assembly is finished, and 50% after trials and acceptance.

Saturday 18 July 2020

An IS in the Hand

An experimental prototype of the IS-1 tank, formerly called KV-13, was sent to factory trials on March 9th, 1943. This was a fully fledged heavy tank, a little lighter than the KV-1S, but much more mobile and protected. However, during the government trials in the spring of 1943, it became clear that it needs a number of improvements, some of them quite serious. The German Tiger tank was the last nail in the coffin of the IS-1. It turned out that an 85 mm gun was necessary to combat this tank, which would not fit into the turret of the experimental Soviet vehicle. This was the start of the story of the Object 237, the last step towards the creation of the heavy IS tank.

Thursday 16 July 2020

Soviet Panzer '46

"Plans for experimental design and scientific research work of the Ministry of Transport Machinebuilding of the USSR for 1946

Description of work
Heavy tank (Object 701)
Finishing technical documentation for mass production
Chelyabinsk Kirov factory
IS-6 heavy tank with an electric transmission
Trials and  finishing of the experimental prototype
Factory #100 branch
New heavy tank with improved armour (IS-7)
Technical project development, prototype production, conducting trials
Artillery SPG on the chassis of the new heavy tank (IS-7) with a fully rotating turret
Development of a technical project
New heavy tank with a mechanical transmission
Development of a technical project
Chelyabinsk Kirov factory

Approved by the board January 22nd, 1946."

Wednesday 15 July 2020

New Turret

"November 15th, 1942

To the chief of the BTU, Colonel comrade Afonin
Moscow, Red Square, 2nd NKO house

People's Commissar of Tank Production, comrade I.M. Zaltasmann
Moscow, 11 Sadovo-Sukharevskaya street

Director of factory #183, comrade Yu.Ye. Maksarev

RE: review of T-43 and T-44 tank projects 

In addition to my letter #SO-4698 from November 2nd, 1942, sent to you and copied to the Deputy People's Commissar Zh.Ya. Kotin, the following must be said about the results of review of T-43 and T-44 tank projects.

Video: Why did the USSR not develop an RPG during WWII?

Today's video is based on a question I answered on r/AskHistorians. This question was asked by user EhCanadianZebra, who wanted to know why the USSR never developed an anti-tank rocket launcher during WWII even though many other nations had such a weapon.

Monday 13 July 2020

Captured Tank Observation

"T-1 tank

The driver's observation devices are located in the turret platform. There are two slits in the observation hatch in front of the driver. For observation hatches are located in the corners of the turret platform. The slits in the hatches on the left side are covered with two layer protective glass. There are no slots in the right side. The driver observes through the front slits and the left slit.

The commander observes through the machine gun sight. Outside of battle, he can use the observation ports above the machine guns. Observation ports without slits are located on the sides of the turret. Two observation ports with slits are located in the back of the turret. The location and range of the devices is shown in figure 15. The observation devices do not protect the observer. It is impossible to observe to the right during battle.

Sunday 12 July 2020

Warspot Article: The Most American Sherman

Of the many varieties of Sherman tanks that fought in many different armies all over the world in WWII, the M4A3 was an exception. Only the US used this tank in combat, and the most anyone else could hope for was a few samples for evaluation. Was this really the best Sherman tank? Read the results of American and British trials in my latest Warspot article and decide for yourself.

Saturday 11 July 2020

The Red Army's Most Numerous SPG

The SU-12 was accepted into service with the Red Army on December 2nd, 1942. It was a good design with a fatal flaw: the parallel placement of its engines. This layout was the SPG's Achilles' heel. The amount of defects linked to the engine and transmission was very high. Many SU-12s never made it to the front lines. The flawed components had to be drastically redesigned. This is how the SU-15 was born, better known as the SU-76M. This was the Red Army's second most numerous AFV, beaten only by the T-34. This article covers the development and mass production of the SU-76M from the summer of 1943 to the spring of 1945.

Thursday 9 July 2020

Big Chungus

The final report covering the history of development at the Uralmash factory during the Great Patriotic War dwells little on their failures, but at least mentions them briefly.


This was an SPG project armed with a B-4 howitzer, the largest in caliber that was ever prepared by the Uralmash factory for installation in an SPG. The design was completed in the spring of 1942.

Wednesday 8 July 2020


The further down the chain of command you go, the harder it is to find a good representation of battlefield events from both sides. It's an absolute rarity at the tactical level, which makes this episode grossgrisly found even more valuable.

From the history of the German 5th Tank Division:

Tuesday 7 July 2020

Buying Christies

"Report on the situation with Christie tanks in the USA
December 14th, 1931

I first visited Christie's workshop in early June of this year (after arriving from Detroit upon receipt of the first batch of components from Tikman). Subsequently, I met with Christie in his workshop monthly. I visited Christie several times in October before leaving for the USSR.

Situation with Christie's tank design:

When I first visited the workshop, Christie's design bureau composed of two men began to draw blueprints for the vehicle that is now in the USSR, as before this Christie only had assembly blueprints. These blueprints were being completed during my last visit before departure.

Monday 6 July 2020

Warspot Article: Tiger Killers

A lot of post-war discussion of Tiger tanks revolved around how difficult they were to destroy and how thick their armour was. However, the reaction to the discovery of Tiger tanks wasn't anywhere as panicked as one might be led to believe. British specialists figured out pretty quickly that these new tanks could be destroyed with existing tank and anti-tank guns. Read how in my article on

Sunday 5 July 2020

Video: Designing the T-34 Q&A

This is a slightly different type of video from the previous ones. Instead of focusing on just one topic for the whole duration, I answer various questions from readers of Designing the T-34. 

Saturday 4 July 2020

Dead End on Wheels

The 1930s were a time of experiments in the field of armoured vehicles. Some of these experiments were successful, some not so much. Some tanks passed trials and were even accepted into service, but failed to enter mass production. For instance, the convertible drive T-29 tank was supposed to replace the T-28. It was accepted into service, but not mass produced for a variety of reasons. The T-46 was its comrade in sorrow. This tank was supposed to become the most numerous in the Red Army, but only four were built. That was the end, the idea of replacing the T-26 failed.

Friday 3 July 2020


"Award Order
  1. Name: Stepanov, Konstantin Ivanovich
  2. Rank: Guards Junior Lieutenant 
  3. Position: Tank commander, 14th Guards Independent Motorcycle Battalion
    is nominated for the Order of the Red Banner.

Wednesday 1 July 2020

Army Trials

"General Staff of the Worker and Peasant Red Army
February 17th, 1937

Commander of the Leningrad Military District, Army Commander 1st Class comrade Shaposhnikov
Chief of Ordnance and Technology Supply of the RKKA, Army Commander 2nd class comrade Khalepskiy
Chief of Artillery of the RKKA, Division Commander Rogovskiy
Chief of the Automobile and Armour Directorate of the RKKA, Division Commander comrade Bokis

The General Staff of the RKKA considers it necessary to create a battery consisting of the four SU-5 SPGs with 122 mm howitzers out of those assigned to the 11th Mechanized Brigade with all necessary support units and carry out large scale trials.