Monday 31 August 2020

KV-1 vs KV-1S

"Proposal on improvement of the design of the KV tank
  1. It is necessary to improve the reliability of the V-2K diesel to 500 service hours. The components and assemblies of the running gear and transmission last for this time, but the tank goes out of service after 150-200 hours exclusively due to the engine. The latest engines break even earlier, 80-100 hours. The weakest parts are:
    1. Valve foundation (it unseats itself, tearing the valve and piston)
    2. The hold-down studs work themselves out and penetrate the cylinder bank head (there were cases where this happened after 30-40 hours).
    3. The piston rings are worn out quickly, and while the crank and connecting-rod assembly can keep working for 150-200 hours the engine consumes 1 kg of oil per 1 km.

Saturday 29 August 2020

A Light and Simple SPAAG

Germany developed a large series of halftrack vehicles on the eve of WWII from the Sd.Kfz.2 motorcycle to the enormous 18 ton Sd.Kfz.9. All of them (except for the smallest) were used as chassis for SPGs. The Sd.Kfz.10/4, a 20 mm AA gun on the 1 ton Sd.Kfz.10 tractor, became the most common one.

Friday 28 August 2020

T-34 Cupolas

"Order of the People's Commissar of Tank Production of the USSR #338ss
June 9th, 1943

On the installation of commander's cupolas on T-34 tanks

In carrying out decree #3531ss issued by the State Committee of Defense on June 7th, 1943, I order that:
  1. A commander's cupola for the T-34 must be accepted into service with the following technical requirements:
    1. The cupola must be installed in an existing two-hatch turret instead of the commander's hatch.
    2. The cupola must have five observation slits with triplex glass and a MK-4 observation device (English type) in a rotating roof that provide for comfortable all-round observation from the tank.
    3. The roof of the cupola must consist of two flaps that allow the crew to enter and exit the turret.

Thursday 27 August 2020

T-60 Armament

"Penetration trials

Penetration trials were conducted in parallel with a 20 mm ShVAK gun and 12.7 DShK machine gun. against 20 mm thick cemented and homogeneous armour installed at normal and at 30 degrees.

The characteristics of the plates are listed in attachment 6.

Firing was done with the following types of ammunition:
  1. 20 mm B-3, P-85, factory #187, 1941 production, VTUF 1/41 K propellant.
  2. 20 mm NB-200, reloaded by NII-6, 1941 production.
  3. 12.7 mm B-32, P-1, U-1941, 4/7 FL 9/40 RUF
  4. 12.7 mm B-30, D-16-3, 1940, SV-7/39 R
The results of trials are shown in the table (attachment 7). The following conclusions can be drawn:

Tuesday 25 August 2020

New Tanks

"Decree of the Committee of Defense of the Council of People's Commissars #198ss
On the RKKA Tank Armament System

August 7th, 1938
Top Secret

Taking into account the experience of combat and study as well as the requirements for tanks on the modern battlefield, the Committee of Defense decrees that the following tank system will be adopted.
  1. Tanks
    1. Breakthrough tank (anti-tank gun destroyer): tracked type produced according to ABTU requirements developed at the tank meeting and approved by the People's Commissar of Defense (attachment #1).
      1. The People's Commissar of Machinebuilding (NKMash) must deliver an experimental breakthrough tank by May 1st, 1939. Produce a wooden model and show it to the commission on September 1st, 1938.
      2. The People's Commissar of Defense Industry (NKOP) must produce and deliver to the People's Commissar of Defense an experimental breakthrough tank for trials by July 1st, 1939. A model of this tank must be approved by the model commission by November 1st, 1938.
      3. The NKO must test all experimental breakthrough tank prototypes and select the one most closely matching requirements for a breakthrough tank to accept into service in the RKKA.
      4. As soon as the tank is put into production, remove the T-28 and T-35 from production.

Saturday 22 August 2020

An Ersatz Tank Destroyer from an Ersatz Tractor

Operation Barbarossa was a difficult trial for the Wehrmacht, as they ran into many unexpected complications. One of them was the presence of a significant amount of Soviet tanks with shell-proof armour (T-34 and KV). The 37 mm anti-tank gun was powerless against them. Another issue was the low quality of roads, which turned into a serious obstacle for wheeled vehicles and even halftracks as soon as the autumn rains came. The first issue was solved by introducing the 75 mm Pak 40, the second by creating the "eastern" RSO prime mover. In 1943 these were joined together to form an ersatz tank destroyer.

Thursday 20 August 2020

New Look of the Central Front

"May 18th, 1943
Armoured and Mechanized Forces of the Central Front

Distinguishing markings of the Armoured Forces of the Central Front

A: Land forces (daytime), tanks and armoured cars

Wednesday 19 August 2020

PTRD Instructions

 "Instructions on handling the PKB* 14.5 mm anti-tank rifle
  1. The PKB anti-tank rifle uses the force of the recoil to open the breech and extract spent casings.
  2. The loading of the rifle is done manually by inserting and ramming the cartridge through the opening in the top of the receiver with a subsequent locking of the bolt.
  3. The bold is locked by vigorously pushing the bolt forward so that the bolt handle touches the cutout in the receiver and slides downwards along it until it is locked in place to avoid misfires due to an improperly locked bolt.

Tuesday 18 August 2020

By The Book

"Conversation between comrade Khalepskiy and Mr. Christie in comrade Gobar's office, April 21st, 1930

Christie: As I give you a draft of the contract that is copied from our contract with the American government, I ask you in the future to discuss any additions to the contract and clarifications with our attorney and company member Mr. Tiffany.

Khalepskiy: Is there a condition in your agreement with Poland prohibiting the sale of tanks to other European nations?

Monday 17 August 2020

Video: Soviet Tank Tactics of the 1930s

The Red Army flourished in the mid-1930s. Industry was cranking out new tanks that were easily among the best in the world, and the army was a prestigious institution, which attracted many talented young minds. The result was a progressive tank doctrine that, for a variety of reasons, was never put into practice on the battlefield. I cover this doctrine in my latest video.

Saturday 15 August 2020

Panther's Ancestors

The birth of every German medium tank was long and painful. This also applied to the Panther. One of the most numerous German tanks, it took almost 5 years to grow from a 20 ton tank to a 45 ton one. The tank changed radically during this time, and the T-34 had a significant impact on its design. Let's dive into how the replacement for the Pz.Kpfw.III was developed.

Thursday 13 August 2020

Stuart Arrivals

"June 12th, 1942
To the Chief of the 5th Department of the BTU, Engineer-Colonel Afonin
  1. Recently arriving American M3 light tanks with a modernized turret (the commander's sub-turret is removed) had an opening on the right side of the roof 256 mm in diameter covered by a 268 mm wide cover (sketch attached).

Wednesday 12 August 2020

76 mm HEAT Instructions

"October 28th, 1942
Instructions for firing 76 mm HEAT rounds from the 76 mm regimental gun model 1927
  1. The BP-353A 76 mm HEAT made from gun iron is introduced into the ammunition loadouts of 76 mm regimental guns model 1927 to fire at tanks.
  2. The BP-353A HEAT shell is an effective method of fighting any known enemy tank. The most effective distance to fire this shell at is up to 500 meters. Firing at up to 1000 meters is permitted.
  3. The HEAT shell penetrates the following amount of armour:
    At 90 degrees
    At 60 degrees

Monday 10 August 2020

IS-1 Variants

Development of 85 mm tank guns in the USSR began on May 5th, 1943. Multiple competing variants were developed. A new tank was being designed in parallel, and when it was finished there were two 85 mm guns available for it: the S-31 and D-5.

Saturday 8 August 2020

The Best StuG

The StuG III and StuG 40 were the most numerous armoured vehicles in the German army during WWII. Together with the StuH 42 assault howitzer, 11,300 such vehicles were built. The front lines needed more of these assault guns, and so Germany began to develop these vehicles on other chassis. The fighting in 1942-43 made it clear that the Marder tank destroyers needed to be replaced. The Wehrmacht wanted something lower and better protected. This began the development of the main character of today's article, the Jagdpanzer IV tank destroyer. The sum total of its characteristics made this vehicle the best German medium SPG of the war.

Thursday 6 August 2020

Tank Identification

"Identifying signs of tanks and armoured cars of the Armoured and Mechanized Forces of the Central Front
June 1st to June 15th, 1943

For ground forces, tanks and armoured cars

Main: solid white stripe along the top of the turret (white paint or chalk), 15-20 cm tall.
Secondary: three green flares towards friendly forces

Main: the daytime secondary signal.
Secondary: raising and lowering a lit lamp from the partially opened top turret hatch up to three times.

Chief of Staff of the Armoured and Motorized Forces of the Central Front, Korobkov
May 25th, 1943"

CAMD RF F.62 Op.321 D.16 L.117

Wednesday 5 August 2020

Christie Proposal

"April 9th, 1930
New York

A discussion between comrades Khalepskiy and Gobar with Mr. Christie
  1. Mr. Christie arrived with his director and stated that on April 8th his board of directors had a meeting and made the official decision: "Christie Corp. is prepared to sell us two sample tanks of his design and provide technical aid for building tanks". At the same time, Christie Corp. established that they are willing to negotiate a commercial agreement and that permission from Washington is not needed.

Tuesday 4 August 2020

Video: Red Army Tactics, Tank Brigades (1942)

The Red Army is often stereotyped as throwing tanks at the enemy haphazardly, hoping to overwhelm the enemy. This is far from the truth. As early as 1942 tactics changed drastically to reflect the shortcomings experienced in the summer of 1941. I explain how in my latest video: 

Monday 3 August 2020

T-60 Guide

"March 16th, 1942

Directions on using T-60 small tanks
  1. The main combat ability of the T-60 is its speed and mobility on the battlefield. The density of its autocannon and machine gun fire, the small dimensions of its tank, and sufficient thickness of armour make it a first class tank.
    Its speed, maneuverability, and small dimensions are the best protection against enemy machine gun and artillery fire.
  2. Design flaws of the T-60 include low clearance and high ground pressure due to its narrow track. On difficult terrain (swamp, snow) the tracks cut into the mud and the tank bottoms out.
    It is also necessary to always remember the tank's relatively poor ability to negotiate certain artificial and natural obstacles: deep snow, rivers, swamps, trenches, walls, etc.
    In those cases, refer to the following data:
    1. Maximum snow depth: 35 cm (the tank's speed is halved)
    2. Fording depth: up to 50 cm
    3. Trench: up to 100 cm
    4. Vertical wall: up to 35 cm
    5. Slopes:
      1. Summer: 40%
      2. Winter: 20%
    6. Tilts: up to 15%
    7. Swamp: only with a solid ground and a silt contents, up to 20 cm deep
  3. The commander who organizes the T-60 tanks for battle must consider these positive and negative qualities.
    Without their consideration, any method or use of these tanks will be doomed to failure and excess losses. The personnel will develop mistrust of their own vehicles and that will reduce the quality of the crews.
  4. It is necessary to take all measures to train T-60 crews and inspire them to use the tanks' best qualities in battle: speed, maneuverability, fire. When attacking, plan the course in a zig-zag instead of a straight line.
  5. When choosing how to attack with T-60 tanks, in addition to studying the enemy's anti-tank defenses, do the following.
    1. Carefully study the terrain in the attack sector (using a map, reconnaissance, or observation from a forward observation point), determine the tanks' ability to move through it at full speed and their ability to cross obstacles in the way. Choose the direction where the highest speed can be developed.
    2. Determine the formation of the tanks not just based on the location and type of attack, but the convenience of maneuver, fire, and speed of the tanks. The best formation is the one that allows you to move the whole formation towards the target without stopping or pausing without reforming and maintaining fire with as much of the tank's firepower as possible.
  6. It is permitted to fire both from short stops, using terrain features to hide, as well as on the move. Do not permit crews to waste AP-I ammunition on targets that are not meant for this type of ammunition. At the same time, teach the crews the effectiveness of the shell against armour.
  7. It is necessary to instill the knowledge that the T-60 cannot be left under enemy artillery or mortar fire into crews and commanders. Even medium type splinters 5-10 meters away can harm the tank.
  8. In case of a failed attack, the T-60 must immediately be moved back to initial positions or to cover from artillery and mortar fire.
  9. Ramming cannons and vehicles of any type is categorically forbidden.
  10. In case T-60 tanks have to be used on difficult terrain or terrain with ample artificial hazards, reserve one or two light or medium tanks with a special task to extract stuck T-60s and aid them over obstacles.
  11. During an offensive, use the T-60 only in the second and third echelon. The first echelon must consist of medium or heavy tanks.
    If the enemy's defenses are deep, keep tanks from the second echelon 300-400 meters away from the first during the approach of the first line of defense in order to build up strength in depth.
    In this case, the medium and heavy tanks that destroyed the anti-tank defenses on the first line will allow the second echelon tanks (the T-60) to deal with enemy personnel and themselves will move up to destroy anti-tank defenses in the second line.
    If the enemy is defending with open flank or flanks, order the T-60 tanks to attack near the flank with the goal of flanking the enemy or coming in from the rear.
    The use of T-60 tanks to assault fortified regions is only permissible after the first line of defense is broken.
    When pursuing the retreating enemy, boldly move T-60 tanks forward, use their speed reserve, fire from standstill when necessary. Heavy and medium tanks can be used in the second echelon if they do not have a separate task. 
    The commander that organizes the T-60's attack must take into account the possibility of a prepared defensive line. In that case, the T-60 tanks must stop at a prearranged point, after which the medium or heavy tanks once again enter the first echelon.
  12. In encounters, use the T-60 tank in the same way as during pursuit. Boldly move them out to the first echelon, or in a flanking maneuver, supporting them with fire of medium and heavy tanks attacking in the second echelon or from the front.
  13. On the defense, use T-60 tanks as a reserve for counterattacks against enemy personnel and machine guns. Destroy enemy tanks with fire from standstill or from ambushes.
    The use of T-60 tanks to counterattack beyond the first line of defense against an enemy prepared to attack can only be done with support from heavy and medium tanks.
  14. Pay special attention to cooperation with infantry and cavalry when pursuing the enemy.
Special technical features of the T-60:
  1. Pay close attention to the temperature of the engine. Do not permit even slight overheating. Starting up the engine without coolant in the system even for a short time is forbidden.
  2. When it is warm, the use of the oil radiator is mandatory. Disable the oil radiator in cold weather.
  3. Regularly tighten the engine block bolts.
  4. When switching gears, double-clutch when switching up, add gas when switching down.
  5. After the tank passed through obstacles where the suspension suffered shocks, it is necessary to inspect the condition of the drive wheel, idler, and tracks.
Acting Chief of the Operational Department of the Armoured and Motorized Vehicle Directorate of the Southern Front, Major Beloozerov"

Saturday 1 August 2020

Late Replacement

There are many cases in tank building where a very good vehicle appears too late to enter mass production. This was most common at the end of WWII, when a number of development programs were cut due to the end of hostilities. The Object 704 or Kirovets-2 was one such unfortunate project. This was a significant step forward compared to the ISU-152, but the end of the war and revised requirements for heavy SPGs left it no chance of entering production.