Monday 30 November 2020

On Water Like On Land

WWII clearly showed the importance of combat and transport vehicles that could cross water hazards. Crossings of rivers, lakes, channels, and reservoirs made planning any military operation more complicated, reduced the rate of offensives, and led to significant losses among attackers. The USSR performed nearly no work on amphibious vehicles for transport or combat. Only T-37, T-38, and T-40 tanks designed for reconnaissance were accepted into service. They were armed only with machine guns and could not effectively support infantry. After the end of the war the USSR began development of a wide variety of amphibious vehicles.

Friday 27 November 2020

Black Prince

The British military had strange ideas about what a tank should look like in WWII, which led British tank building into a dead end. It's not surprising that the American Stuart tank became the most common light tank in the British army and the most common medium tank was the Sherman. The British were on their own when it came to heavy tanks, as there was no foreign alternative to the Churchill. That didn't stop the British from making several attempts to replace it throughout the war. The Black Prince I was one such attempt. This was a direct descendant of the Churchill tank that came up short compared to its ancestor.

Wednesday 25 November 2020

Distorted Tanks

"October _, 1942

To the Chief of Staff of the 1st Motorized Brigade

The Red Army General Staff reports that the German army has the following new types of tanks:
  1. T-5 tank. Weight: 30 tons. Armament: 1 88 mm gun and 2 machine guns.
  2. T-12 tank. Weight: 40 tons. Armament: 1 75 mm gun and 4 machine guns.
  3. V-K-18 tank. Weight: 18 tons. Armament: 1 20 mm gun and 1 machine gun.
Determine the presence of these tanks and their tactical-technical characteristics from interrogation of POWs and captured documents. Report to the 3rd Mechanized Corps on your results. Send captured documents and photographs of these tanks to the 3rd Mechanized Corps.

Chief of Staff of the 3rd Mechanized Corps, Guards Lieutenant Colonel Nikitin."

Looks like a bunch of nonsense based on unverified information that was pretty common, but these descriptions match reality quite well. The T-5 could very well be the VK 30.01(P), which indeed had an 88 mm gun. The T-12 looks more unusual, closer to the fledgeling Panther, which would have reached the weight of about 40 tons in late 1942. Finally, the V-K-18 could be the VK 18.01, but this tank only had machine guns for armament, unlike the similar VK 16.01 which the report could be confusing it with. 

Monday 23 November 2020

Video: Performance of Tanks in Snow

It is often said that the Red Army effortlessly won battles in the winter because its tanks worked in the snow while the German ones didn't. I take a look at how true this statement is in my latest video, comparing wintertime performance of several Soviet, German, British, and American tanks.

Friday 20 November 2020

Wednesday 18 November 2020

Automatic Welding

"Order of the People's Commissar of Tank Production of the USSR #837s

December 19th, 1942

Production using automatic welding under a layer of flux when producing armoured hulls at factory #183, UZTM, etc. proved itself as having several advantages over manual arc welding.

In addition to increased productivity, reduced electricity consumption, and the ability to use untrained workers, the high quality of the seams was proven. During proving grounds trials, they showed better resistance than welds made by hand.

Monday 16 November 2020

Still With a Cabin

Usually one or two prototypes are built before a tank goes into production with only a few changes. However, there are exceptions. With IS series of tanks there were three of them, two of which were radically different from the final model. The similarly revolutionary T-44 evolved in a similar way. Even without significant changes in requirements,, this tank went through a series of evolutionary steps. The second variant of this vehicle was created as a result of trials held in February-March 1944. One of the main differences of the intermediate prototype was the armour. Trials showed that it was not enough to protect from the 88 mm Pak 43 L/71.

Friday 13 November 2020

Background Check

"Name: Koshkin, Mikhail Ilyich
Year of birth: 1898
Nationality: Russian
Education: engineer-designer
Party affiliation: party member since 1919
Party offenses: none
Membership in other parties: none
Membership in oppositional or anti-party groups: none
Membership in militaries fighting against the Soviet Union: none
Foreign contacts: none
Current position: Chief Designer
Recommended by: attestation commission
Recommended for: position of chief designer

Commissions' findings:

Comrade M.I. Koshkin is descended from poor peasants. He worked at factory #183 since December 28th, 1936, starting from the position of head of design department #100, then as the head of design bureau #24. On April 1st, 1939, he was nominated for the position of the factory's Chief Designer.

Wednesday 11 November 2020

T-34 Protection Trials


Based on the trials of two T-34 hulls and turrets, the commission finds that:

  1. On the impact of cracks and hot tears around welding on shell resistance:
    1. When shells impact the area of cracking, the cracks grow negligibly. In many cases cracks do not grow.
    2. The presence of cracks or hot tears in 40 or 45 mm thick armour does not decrease robustness, but is still an undesirable defect that is caused by the quality of the armour and welding. Ilyich factory and factory #183 need to develop measures to resolve these defects.
    3. The presence of cracks and hot tears up to 20 mm deep around the weld is unacceptable as they lead to brittle damage to armour when hit. In exceptional cases parts can be permitted with singular cracks or with limited hot tears.

Monday 9 November 2020

A Step in the Right Direction

Work on a radically new tank often results in the creation of intermediate vehicles. This exact thing happened with Soviet medium tanks in WW2. Several attempts were made to replace the T-34 with modernized vehicles. The first attempt was called T-34M, later the T-43 took a shot at the reigning champion. The results were similar: neither tank replaced the T-34. The first Soviet new generation medium tank, the T-44, travelled a long way and changed a lot before it entered production.

Friday 6 November 2020

Extra Life 2020

Extra Life Link:

Tomorrow at 12:00 Eastern I'll be starting streaming WW2 games for the benefit of the Children's Miracle Network Hospitals through Extra Life. As an incentive, I'm matching all donations received by the Toronto Geeks team this year. 

If we raise $2000 I'll be diving back into World of Tanks after not having played for 5 years. Other games up for streaming include the newly released Partisans 1941 and well known titles. Men of War, Steel Division, and Battle Academy are on the table. Once the kids have gone to bed I'll be playing Panzermadels: Tank Dating Simulator, which I'm told is a unique experience.

Your support is appreciated, whether it's a donation or just turning in to watch! 

Warspot Article: Churchill Mk.I

After their defeat on the mainland in 1940, the British army ordered the development of a new infantry tank. As radically new designs often go, the Infantry Tank Mk.IV or Churchill had a pretty rough start. Learn about the mechanical and political issues that threatened its continued production in my latest article on

Wednesday 4 November 2020

Flamethrower Tanks

"Excerpt from the trip report to the Volkhov Front

The 502nd and 503rd Independent Tank Battalions used flamethrower tanks rarely, but the commanders and crews still praise highly the effect of flamethrowers in battle. For instance, the commissar of the 502nd ITB stated that the flamethrowers were used rarely only because the terrain got in the way and that German infantry flees in advance of the tanks to keep out of range. The effectiveness is high. When flamethrowers are used, the enemy runs from dugouts and abandons everything.

A driver of a KV-8 tank, comrade Paturnak, tells had he made only 4 shots from his flamethrower. An anti-tank gun fired at the tank, but as soon as a flamethrower burst was fired towards the gun the gun crew fled and two Germans fell down in shock and were then crushed by the tank's tracks.

The commander of the 503rd ITB, Captain Drozdov, stated that when using flamethrowers near Gontovaya Lipka the fuel did not reach the enemy positions, but they fled in panic. However, he considers it unreasonable to use flamethrowers in forested swamps.

The commander of the 507th ITB, Major Nikolayevtsev, tells that a KV-8 tank commanded by political coordinator Osatyuk fired 15 shots at infantry hidden in bushes. The infantry fled in panic. A portion of the fascists ran while on fire. One KV-8 tank used flamethrowers at night. The Germans ran in panic, tearing off burning clothes and even underwear.

The commanders of the 507th ITB reported to the 8th Army that "the flamethrowers fulfilled their mission" and later, after a description of drawbacks encountered during exercises near Kuzminka, writes that "after these drawbacks are corrected, this will be an excellent weapon to use against the enemy."

Another report to the same organization states that "the flamethrower is an excellent weapon for use against counterattacking infantry in forested swamps... practice shows that the effect on the enemy at night is terrifying. During an attack on the night of August 30th-31st near point 40.4 and in the sector of the 24th Guards Rifle Division the Germans fled in panic, throwing off their equipment and underwear".

All flamethrower battalions on the Volkhov Front mainly used KV-8 tanks. T-O34 tanks used their flamethrowers rarely."

Monday 2 November 2020

An Overloaded Big Cat

German tank builders started producing tanks with greater characteristics than those of their competitors since late 1942. First was the Tiger Ausf.E which had no equivalent for over a year. The Panther Ausf.D debuted in the summer of 1943. This tank was even more dangerous, if only because there was more of them. As practice showed, the Panther's gun was more powerful than a Tiger's, and its upper front hull plate was impervious to 76-85 mm guns at any range. The Ferdinand heavy SPG debuted alongside it. The USSR, USA, and Great Britain had to catch up. Only Soviet tank builders ended up producing a worthy opponent with the IS-2 and ISU-152. The Tiger Ausf.B was supposed to be Germany's answer, but it never reached the status of "king of beasts" like the Tiger did. Its influence on Soviet tank building was also far lesser.