Friday 31 December 2021

RPG-40 Manual

 "Study combat techniques! Anti-tank grenade model 1940

The impact anti-tank hand grenade model 1940 is designed to combat armoured cars and tanks. It can also be used to combat strongholds and field fortifications. The grenade weights approximately 1.2 kg.

The RPG-40 consists of a hull, a handle, and an impact fuse. The hull contains explosives. A handle is screwed on. A fuse is inserted into the top before throwing or on special orders from the commander. The fuse is held inside with a latch.

The grenade's trigger is held in the handle. The safety level disconnects when thrown and pulls out the safety pin. When the grenade strikes its target, a mobile weight inside the grenade will drive a rod forward. This frees two balls that then allow the spring to drive the firing pin into the primer.

Wednesday 29 December 2021

Warspot Article: How to Kill a T-34

Suddenly faced with the thickly armoured and well armed T-34 tanks in the summer of 1941, the Germans had to develop new tactics. Techniques developed to combat these new tanks ranged from reasonably effective to downright absurd. Find out about both types in my latest article on

Monday 27 December 2021

A Trophy from Pilsen

Germany invaded Czechoslovakia on March 15th, 1939. This was the final step in the process kicked off by the Munich Agreement in the fall of 1938. France and Britain were not prepared for war, and their appeasement policy handed Czechoslovakia to the Germans. The first step was annexation of the Sudetenland, then the rest of the country. Slovakia declared independence, but Jozef Tiso's government was loyal to Germany. The Germans assumed direct control of Czechia, its advanced industry, and its armoured vehicles, including the LT vz.35. These tanks were designated Pz.Kpfw.35(t) in the German army and played a big role in 1939-1941.

Friday 24 December 2021

Bigger Guns

"February 5th, 1945

Evaluation of tank armament

In 1944 the Germans accepted the Tiger B tank into service, which is now the main type of enemy heavy tank.

The Tiger B tank has powerful front armour and the 88 mm KWK-43 gun. The AP round of this gun has a muzzle velocity of 1000 m/s with an aimed rate of fire of about 6 RPM.

The second type of main German tank is the Panther medium tank. This tank has a 75 mm gun with a muzzle velocity of 1000 m/s and rate of fire of 7-8 RPM.

The AP shells of these tanks can penetrate our tanks from 1500-2000 meters.

Wednesday 22 December 2021

Winter Camo

"November 27th, 1944

According to an order of the Commander of the Armoured and Mechanized Forces, imported tanks that arrive in military acceptance departments in winter time are painted in white winter camouflage.

Tanks are then transferred to training regiments where the guns are tested and the tanks are used to train crew cohesion.

Experience from last winter showed that the camouflage is wiped off the tanks during firing and training, and the regiments are forced to paint the tanks again, which expends an excess of labour and paint.

I ask you to order the commanders of the 16th and 27th Independent Training Tank Regiments to request unpainted tanks from the GBTU Tank Directorate. Paint the tanks in the regiments before they are sent to the front.

Inform me of your decision

Deputy Chief of the GBTU Tank Directorate, Engineer-Colonel Muravich
Chief of the 5th Department of the GBTU TU, Engineer-Major Biletkin"

CAMD RF F.38 Op.11355 D.2190 L.254
Printed in Glavnoye Bronetankovoye Upravleniye Lyudi, Sobytiya, Fakty v dokumentakh, 1944-1945 p.229

Monday 20 December 2021

Object 430

One of the most important principles in tank building is that one must start working on a tank's successor as soon as it is accepted into service. Various intermediate stages are developed on the way to the next tank, some of which remains as drafts or technical projects, and some even reach the full scale model stage. One such vehicle that never came to be was the Object 430 tank designed in 1953.

Friday 17 December 2021

Pike for a Heavy Tank

Soviet tank building made a long leap during the Great Patriotic War, especially when it came to heavy tanks. For various reasons, Soviet medium tanks continued to use a pre-war chassis, but heavy tanks went through a revolutionary transformation. There was also competition among heavy tank designers, at times rougher than that of their German counterparts. The result of this competition was a rapid jump in development of heavy tanks. Development split into three directions by the summer of 1944. The first was ChKZ's Object 701, the second was the Object 252 (IS-6) developed at experimental factory #100. This was a grassroots initiative. Finally, the third direction was modernization of the IS-2 tank. Interestingly enough, factory #100 was tasked with a modernization of the IS-2, but after they started working on the IS-6 the task was given to ChKZ's SKB-2 design bureau.

Wednesday 15 December 2021

Video: Tanks in Snow, Winter 1941

It's winter again, and with it comes a sequel to my Tanks in Snow video. This time I narrow the scope a little bit and talk about how tanks in the Red Army performed in the winter of 1941-42, specifically about the T-26, T-60, Valentine, and Matilda tanks.

Monday 13 December 2021

A Second Life for Obsolete Chassis

Instances where obsolete tank chassis are used to make quite modern vehicles that nevertheless remained experimental are common. Nearly a dozen German SPGs were produced in tiny amounts but still saw front line service. One common example is the Pz.Sfl.V tank destroyer, better known as the Sturer Emil. This vehicle was built on the chassis of the VK 30.01(H) heavy tank that was never put into mass production. Only two Pz.Sfl.V were built, but they were used quite successfully.

This German SPG was brought up as an example intentionally. Today it is displayed alongside its Soviet analogues, which also remained experimental. These are the SU-14-1 and T-100Y SPGs, built as bunker busters. They did not make it to the Winter War, but were likely used in battle during the defense of the NIBT Proving Grounds. Both vehicles were built on the chassis of tanks that were either considered obsolete or otherwise unfit.

Friday 10 December 2021

Aberdeen Feedback

 "May 24th, 1944

I direct to you the detailed official report of the US War Department on trials of our T-34 and KV-1 tanks and brief excerpts from the translation of the report. I ask for your comments on their contents.

People's Commissar of Foreign Trade, A. Mikoyan

Excerpts from the summary report on trials of Russian KV and T-34 tanks at the Aberdeen Proving Grounds

Reports from German press:
New Russian tanks are the standard of good design and were produced in stunningly short time. The most fearsome tank of the Red Army is the T-34. The effectiveness of its armament, good slope of the armour, and mobility make it a very dangerous opponent.

Reports from British press:
The Russians surpassed the Germans not only in production of tanks, but also in quality. The Russian T-34 tank is the only tank that the Germans fear. They consider the T-34 the most effective and best Russian tank they encountered.
The high maneuverability, good gun, and quality of armour of the T-34 are excellent, which makes it a favourite of Russian tank crews.
The armour is the only interesting aspect of the KV tank.

Monday 6 December 2021

Results of a Great War

Germany's surrender was signed on the night between May 8th and May 9th, 1945. The core part of the Second World War, the largest war in history, was over. The German army was not the only loser in this war. German industry also lost the battle fought in factories and on drawing boards. The Soviet Union won this battle, finishing the war with the largest tank force in the world. Unlike in the summer of 1945, this was a qualitative rather than merely a quantitative advantage. More importantly, German tank building hit a dead end, while Soviet tank building evolved down a road that later proved correct. Nevertheless, there were plenty of dead ends along the way. This article tells their story.

Friday 3 December 2021

85 mm Gun Instructions

"Instructions from the 4th Department of the Combat Training Directorate of the Armoured and Mechanized Forces of the Red Army on the specifics of using the 85 mm tank gun

February 23rd, 1944

  1. The T-34 tank uses two types of 85 mm gun: D5-T-85 and S-53.
    In combat the guns are serviced by two crewmen: the gunner and the loader.
  2. The differences in characteristics of the weapons are negligible. Both are meant to combat enemy armoured vehicles, suppress artillery batteries and anti-tank guns, as well as enemy personnel, at ranges of 1500-2000 meters.

Wednesday 1 December 2021

Warspot Article: Skink

The Canadian Skink AA tank was the best anti-aircraft gun platform of WW2. Unfortunately, development took too long due to the change from Hispano-Suiza to Polsten guns, and so by the time it was finished the Luftwaffe had essentially gone extinct. Nevertheless, one vehicle was sent to Europe for battlefield trials in order to figure out its advantages and drawbacks for the next generation of AA tanks. Read about the history of this unusual vehicle in my latest article on

Monday 29 November 2021

Once More on a New Chassis

Even though American self propelled artillery lay dormant for a long time, the Americans were the first nation to enter the war with an existing SPG. This was the GMC T12, built on a halftrack chassis. The halftrack SPGs were a necessary compromise, but they allowed to quickly saturate American units with motorized artillery. Production of analogous SPGs on fully tracked chassis began in 1942. This approach proved fruitful, and by the spring of 1943 the Americans not only caught up to the Germans in SPGs but took the lead in some aspects. However, there were areas where they never managed to catch up. This is mostly true for heavy self propelled guns, but this is the Americans' own fault. Their answer to German heavy SPGs only went into battle towards the end of the war in Europe and the GMC M40 was only standardized in May of 1945.

Friday 26 November 2021

Extra Ammo

 "July 29th, 1944

Experience in combat showed that the amount of ammunition carried in the T-34-85 (56 rounds) and IS-2 (28 rounds) is insufficient.

The NIBT Proving Grounds determined that it is possible to extend the T-34-85's ammunition racks by 15 rounds and the IS-2's by 3 rounds.

Wednesday 24 November 2021

KV-1S Planetary Turning Mechanism

 "January 7th, 1943

In October and November of 1942 factory #100 developed and built a planetary turning mechanism designed by Engineer Lieutenant-Colonel A.I. Blagonravov. The report on the trials performed in the KV-1S tank is attached, we ask you to review it.

Monday 22 November 2021

The Most Numerous Heavy SPG

Soviet heavy SPGs were initially designed to combat fortifications. When the war came, there turned out to be a much larger variety of targets for them. Wartime heavy SPGs were very different from what was initially envisioned. The Red Army needed universal vehicles that could both fight powerful fortifications and enemy heavy tanks. One of these vehicles was the ISU-152, a replacement for the SU-152 on the IS tank chassis. The ISU-152 became the most numerous heavy SPG in history.

Wednesday 17 November 2021

The Last 76 mm Hole Punch

Armament and vehicles become obsolete quickly in war. This is caused by rapid development of both new types of weapons and defenses. This can be seen in the history of WW2. It's easy to see progress if you compare what the belligerents were using at the start of the war and what they were using in 1945. This applied to all aspects of the tanks: chassis, engines, observation devices, armour, and of course the armament. Tank armament evolved rapidly during the war. This evolution was directly linked to the growth of armour protection. Early war tanks could be defeated with a heavy machine gun, but towards the end gunners had to crack open mobile pillboxes with 150-200 mm of armour. This required rapid development of anti-tank guns.

Warspot Article: T-34 on Tour

The British received a lot from the USSR during the war, including raw materials and samples of vehicles and technology. A T-34 tank was one such sample. The tank sent in 1943 was not the latest in Soviet armoured vehicles, but still allowed the British to learn a lot about Soviet tank design. Read what conclusions the British made in my latest article on

Monday 15 November 2021

Big Self Propelled Caliber

Unlike SPGs armed with light or medium caliber guns, the British and Americans had a harder time with heavier weapons. This is strange, since SPGs were initially envisioned to mechanize heavy artillery. The British stalled completely in this direction and work did not progress past several prototypes. The Americans fared a little better. The first production vehicles appeared in the fall of 1942 and went into action in the summer of 1944. This was the Gun Motor Carriage M12, the first American SPG with a heavy gun. This article will cover this vehicle's complex fate.

Friday 12 November 2021

Armoured Long Livers

 "Order of the Minister of the Armed Forces to the Commander of the Armoured and Mechanized Forces, Marshal of the Armoured Forces P.S. Rybalko on using unneeded armoured vehicles and spare parts for them

June 10th, 1947

Minister of the Armed Forces General of the Army comrade Bulganin permitted the use of unneeded armoured vehicles and spare parts for them in the following manner:

  • 131 MK-3 [Valentine] tanks, 63 SU-122 SPGs and 282 SU-85 SPGs in need of repairs are to be converted into prime movers for use in the Armoured and Mechanized Forces instead of tractors.
    Functional SU-85 SPGs can be used for training and converted into prime movers as they break down.

Wednesday 10 November 2021

The Zenith of AA Machine Guns

The USSR began working on the issues of protecting armoured vehicles from air attack in the early 1930s. The first plans were to create specialized self propelled anti-aircraft guns, but work on these topics did not pan out. Instead, the Red Army received tanks with AA machine gun mounts. This mount was developed at experimental factory #185. It was accepted into service as the P-40 in 1935 and entered production a year later. M.A. Shufrin was the lead engineer on this project. Ironically, his initials were rarely seen in association with factory #185, even though this was one of the few products of factory #185 that truly saw widespread use. Mass production of the mount began in 1937. Variants were installed on the T-26, BT-7, T-28, and T-35. At its inception it was the best anti-aircraft gun mount in existence. It allowed the DT machine gun installed on it to rotate a full 360 degrees. The DT machine gun was equipped with AA sights.

The KV-1 was the only new generation Soviet tank equipped with an AA machine gun, although it was not used frequently.

Monday 8 November 2021

Mobile American Howitzer

The American army had a relatively small amount of armoured vehicles on hand at the start of WWII. Just over two years of neutrality proved enough to fully prepare for war. The American army had an impressive amount of light and medium tanks by December of 1941. They had so many tanks that they were also able to supply the British and offer significant help to the USSR. By the time the United States entered WWII they also had their first SPGs. At first these were built on halftrack chassis, but half a year later fully tracked vehicles became available. One of them was the HMC M7, better known under the British designation Priest. This was the most common self propelled howitzer of the war and it remained in service for decades after.

Friday 5 November 2021

Extra Life 2021

I'm doing Extra Life again this year! For those of you who didn't have a chance to check it out last year, I'm going to be streaming games and answering tank related questions starting at noon tomorrow for the benefit of Sick Kids children's hospital and the Children's Miracle Network.

This year there are individual incentives! For $50 USD I will paint you a 1:100 scale tank, for $100 you get a 1:72 tank, and for $500 a 1:35 scale tank! There are still group milestones for this fundraiser. If we raise $750, I pledge to play Panzermadels: The Tank Dating Simulator to completion on tomorrow's stream. The same deal applies as last year, I will be matching all donations to the Toronto Geeks team up to $2000 USD.

Tune in right here tomorrow at noon!

American Review

 "Materials from the USA War Department describing Soviet T-70, T-34, KV-1, and KV-2 tanks

To the Chief of Staff of the Armoured and Motorized Forces, Major General of the Tank Forces comrade Salminov

I present to you materials received from the USA War Department describing Soviet T-70, T-34, KV-1, and KV-2 tanks.

This material was composed by the training department of the US Army Air Force to familiarize American personnel with identifying foreign tanks.

Attachment: the aforementioned on 5 pages
For your eyes only

Chief of the 2nd Directorate of Red Army Main Intelligence Directorate, Major General Khlopov
October 15th, 1943

Wednesday 3 November 2021

Video: How to Kill a T-34

The T-34 was famously tough to destroy in the summer of 1941, and the 88 mm Flak gun was far from the panacea that it is often presented as. The Germans developed less flashy but more reliable ways of taking out this well protected tank. See how in my latest video.

Monday 1 November 2021

The Third Reich's Last Tanks

German tank building was in a difficult state towards the end of WW2. The issue wasn't just in factories damaged by bombers, loss of significant territories, and shortages of resources. The consequences of mistakes in planning and production as well as unscrupulous competition began to crop up. Let's take a look at how the new head of the Panzerkommission tried to bring order back to German tank building and what came of it.

Friday 29 October 2021

Lend Lease Review

 "April 17th, 1943

  1. English Mk.II Matilda and Mk.III Valentine tanks have been used in the Great Patriotic War as a part of:
    1. Independent tank brigades and battalions where they were used alongside domestic tanks, chiefly the T-60 and T-70.
    2. Tank regiments of the 5th Mechanized Corps, equipped exclusively with English Mk.II and Mk.III tanks.
    3. Tank brigades of the 9th, 10th, and 11th Tank Corps jointly with T-60 and T-70 tanks.
      Mk.II and Mk.III tanks were used in 1942-1943 in the winter and summer, mostly on the Western (up to 200 tanks), Bryansk (up to 250 tanks) and North Caucasus (up to 150 tanks) Fronts as well as the 5th Mechanized Corps of the South-Western Front (up to 180 tanks.
      The Churchill tank was only used on the Don and Volkhov Fronts in the winter of 1942-43 in independent breakthrough regiments equipped only with this kind of tank.

Wednesday 27 October 2021

Aquino Tank Weekend 2021: Leopard Tank Battle

A highlight of every Aquino Tank Weekend is the tank duel between two Leopard tanks. The vehicles drive around the Tank Arena to get a favourable position and fire on each other with simulated ammunition in a unique event. 

Monday 25 October 2021

A Questionable Finish

The American tank industry finished WW2 in a strange position. On one hand, the Americans achieved an impressive amount. Starting the war with a few hundred light tanks and a few dozen medium ones, the Americans quickly caught up and in some ways even overtook the leading tank building nations of the world. The Medium Tank M4 was one of the finest medium tanks in the world when it was built. The Americans also achieved great things in SPG development. However, the Americans were in a difficult position by the end of the war. The looming crisis was not so obvious in 1945, but if one digs a bit deeper then the situation in American tank building begins to seem a lot more dire.

Friday 22 October 2021

Mine Rollers

 "Order of the People's Commissariat of Defense #489s

July 3rd, 1942

To complete the design of the mine rollers, I order that:

  1. Chief engineer of the Kirov factory comrade Makhonin and director of factory #100 comrade Voroshilov must produce a batch of 3 universal mine rollers compatible with the KV-1 and T-34 tanks.
    Chief engineer of the Kirov factory comrade Makhonin must:
    1. Use the design of the mine roller previously developed by the Kirov factory, NATI, and factory #174 in development of the new design.
    2. Conduct trials of the mine rollers jointly with GABTU representatives, complete them by August 10th, and present the results for review no later than August 12th.
  2. The 2nd department of the NKTP must develop a program for mine roller trials and get approval from the GABTU.
    Comrade Ginzburg is responsible for carrying out this order.
Deputy People's Commissar of Tank Production, Stepanov"

Wednesday 20 October 2021

IS-4 Acceptance

 "Order of the Minister of Transport Machinebuilding of the USSR #122ss
May 4th, 1946

Council of Ministers decree #961-403ss issued on April 29th, 1946, approved the proposal of the Minister of Transport Machinebuilding comrade Malyshev and Deputy Commander of Armoured and Mechanized Forces of the Red Army comrade Korobkov to accept the IS-4 heavy tank designed at the Kirov factory in Chelyabinsk built according to the tactical-technical characteristics listed in attachment #1 into service. The same decree mandates the Minister of Transport Machinebuilding comrade Malyshev and Director of the Kirov factory comrade Zaltsman to begin preparations for IS-4 heavy tank production to begin production in 1946.

Monday 18 October 2021

Finland's "Elephant Gun"

Many nations searched for effective anti-tank weapons in the interbellum years. One of the most popular countermeasures was the anti-tank rifle. These rifles ranging in caliber from 7.92 to 20 mm were issued to infantry units. Finland also followed this path as it nervously observed the development of armoured vehicles by its eastern neighbour, the Soviet Union.

Friday 15 October 2021

Tips for an Anti-Tank Rifleman

 Advice for anti-tank riflemen penned by Degtyaryev himself published in the Boyevoy Put' newspaper on May 13th, 1944.

Wednesday 13 October 2021

Video: Italian M 14/41 Tank in Action

Aquino Tank Weekend hosted at the Ontario Regiment Museum often has a guest appearance from a vehicle owned by the Base Borden museum. Usually these are static displays, but this year visitors were presented with a running Italian M 14/41 medium tank. 

Monday 11 October 2021

The First Soviet RPG

Widespread use of anti-tank rocket launchers by both the USSR's allies and enemies starting in 1943 forced it to expedite experimental work on these weapons. The first positive results were achieved in early 1944.

Friday 8 October 2021

T-34 Rate of Fire Trials

 "March 1st, 1941
Approved by Proving Grounds Chief Colonel Romanov

Report on the experimental driver's observation device, ammunition racks, and commander's and loader's seats of the T-34 tank


Program of T-34 ammunition rack and rate of fire trials

1. Purpose of trial

  1. To determine the practical rate of fire in various conditions of operation.
  2. To determine the convenience of using the new ammunition rack.
  3. To test the convenience of loading with the loader's seat folded

Wednesday 6 October 2021

Video: T-34-85 in Action at Aquino Tank Weekend 2021

This T-34-85 tank was acquired by the Ontario Regiment Museum in 2019 and first shown in 2020. Since then it has been restored to working order and takes part in demonstrations and reenactments at the museum. This vehicle was originally produced at factory #112 in June of 1945.

Monday 4 October 2021

On the Way to the Most Numerous American Tank

The Americans met the start of WWII with about a dozen Convertible Medium Tanks T4 and a handful of Medium Tanks M2. Despite this poor state of readiness, American industry made some important steps even before the war that let them make up this gap very quickly. While battles were raging in Europe, the US launched first the Medium Tank M2A1 then the Medium Tank M3 into production. Solutions worked out on these vehicles allowed the development of a new generation medium tank: the Medium Tank T6. This vehicle was standardized as the Medium Tank M4 on September 5th, 1941.

Friday 1 October 2021

Howitzer T-34

"July 20th, 1942

To the director of Kalinin factory #8, comrade Fratkin

CC: Chief of the NKTP Technical Department, Engineer Colonel Ginzburg
CC: Chairman of the NKTP Technical Council, Satel

RE: conclusion regarding installation of a 122 mm howitzer in a T-34 tank turret

The project of a T-34 tank with a 122 mm howitzer developed on factory #8's initiative that you sent attached to letter #1430s was reviewed by the GAU Artillery Committee.

The project consists of installing an experimental 122 mm tank howitzer into a T-34 tank with the condition of maintaining the existing turret ring.

Wednesday 29 September 2021

Video: Hetzer in Action

The Jagdpanzer 38(t) "Hetzer" tank destroyer at the Ontario Regiment Museum has been under restoration for the past several years. This year, the museum crew put the finishing touches on this vehicle and it was finally able to take part in the Aquino Tank Weekend event. Like many Hetzers in museums today, this is a post-war G-13, but thanks to a thorough restoration process it is nearly indistinguishable from the real deal.

Monday 27 September 2021

Armoured Confusion: Victorious '45

There are many misconceptions about the use of tanks in 1945, same as any other period of the Great Patriotic War. These myths muddle the characteristics of tanks, their application, and sometimes even introduce tanks that were not there at all. The final chapter in the series dedicated to myths on Soviet armour in the Great Patriotic War is dedicated to this period.

Friday 24 September 2021

Aquino Tank Weekend 2021

Aquino Tank Weekend at the Ontario Regiment Museum is back, and with it another fresh set of reenactments. This year's was a little bit different than before, featuring a newcomer: the Red Army with a T-34-85 tank!

Wednesday 22 September 2021

Repair Crews

 "Order of the People's Commissar of Tank Production of the USSR #438s
June 6th, 1942

For rapid repairs of hulls and turrets of T-34 tanks in front line conditions, I order that:

  1. A repair base must be organized at the factory #37 branch in Moscow.
  2. Acting Chief of the 3rd Directorate of the NKTP comrade Habahapashev must provide for technical repair organizations and ensure timely repairs according to requirements from the front and from the BTU.

Monday 20 September 2021

Long Living IS

Production of the IS-2 ended in June of 1945. The IS-3 replaced it in production. The IS-3 was supposed to replace it in service as well, and many considered the IS-3 to be a temporary tank as well. However, plans and reality are often different. Like its successor, the IS-2 stuck around for decades after the end of its production, undergoing two waves of modernization, which will be covered in this article.

Friday 17 September 2021

IS-4 Green Light

"State Committee of Defense Decree #5583ss
Moscow, Kremlin
April 8th, 1944

On production of experimental prototypes of a new heavy tank at the Kirov factory of the NKTP

The State Committee of Defense decrees that:

  1. The NKTP is permitted to produce two prototypes of a new heavy tank and one hull at the Kirov factory in April of 1944 and conduct trials of the tanks and penetration trials of the hull jointly with the GBTU.

Wednesday 15 September 2021

Video: Sherman Tanks of the Red Army Q&A

A few months ago, I did an AMA on Reddit dedicated to my new book, Sherman Tanks of the Red Army. Some questions came up repeatedly, so I decided to make a video about them. Enjoy!

Monday 13 September 2021

Armoured Confusion: Mid-war

The history of Soviet wartime armoured vehicles bore several misconceptions. There are many reasons for this. A number of myths came from a lack of information. Sometimes historians' own guesses that had little to do with reality were interpreted as fact. Unfortunately, the authors of some myths are still considered experts to this day and these exercises in fiction are still cited as fact. Initially the author planned on two articles dedicated to misconceptions about the Great Patriotic War, but there were too many misconceptions for 1942-1943, and so the second article won't be the last.

Friday 10 September 2021

Warspot Article: Shermans at Kursk

 The M4A2 tanks began arriving in the USSR in late 1942, but for various reasons they did not see action until the summer of 1943. The Battle of Kursk was one of the first major engagements these tanks were used in. Read how well they did in my latest article on Warspot.

Wednesday 8 September 2021

85 mm for Dummies

 Death to German occupants!

Areas of


vulnerable to the 85 mm gun

Directorate of the Commander of the Armoured and Mechanized Forces of the Red Army
Military publisher of the USSR NKO, Moscow, 1944

Monday 6 September 2021

Soviet Camo that Came Too Late

The appearance of tanks on the battlefield in September of 1916 quickly forced many to reconsider some preconceived notions about their use. The first to make changes were the British, who pioneered the concept on the battlefield. The pair of wheels that aided in turning the tank was quickly dropped. There were two other important changes: one was the use of fascines and logs for crossing obstacles, the second was camouflage. WWI marked a turning point in the use of camouflage. Previously uniforms were bright and colourful, but now being hidden was very important. Camouflage was used in uniforms, artillery, and military vehicles. This did not mean that camouflage would entirely displace single tone paint schemes, but tanks were repainted soon after they were involved in their first battles. The use of camouflage decreased after the end of WWI. Most major tank building nations dropped the idea of widespread camouflage, with the exception of the French, who kept on using it. The Germans also returned to three colour camo in the late 1920s. A second wave of camouflage swept through all nations in the mid-1930s. Some tanks remained in camouflage at the start of WWII, but the Germans dropped it, moving from Feldgrau Nr.3 (don't be misled, this is actually a shade of olive green) and then black-gray RAL 70121 as the base coat.

A T-28 tank with three colour camouflage developed for the Middle Asian Military District, summer of 1939.

Friday 3 September 2021

New Gun for the KV-2

 "To the Director of the Kirov Factory, comrade Zaltsman
CC: Chief of the GABTU, Lieutenant General of the Tank Forces, comrade Fedorenko
CC: Chief of the GAU, Colonel General of Artillery, comrade Yakovlev

Following government decree, we produced two experimental prototypes of 107 mm ZIS-6 tank guns and began mass production. According to the decree, we installed one of the two prototypes into a KV-2 tank and conducted trials, the second prototype is to be installed in a KV-3 tank.

Due to a delay in the mass production of the KV-3, we propose installing ZIS-6 guns into the KV-2 tank.

In order to reduce the time spent on developing the mount, we send out blueprints for the frame and mantlet developed by our factory for the ZIS-6 prototype.

Attachments: blueprints and specifications on 4 pages (only on the copy sent to the Kirov factory).

Factory Director Elyan
Chief Designer Grabin

July 22nd, 1941"

Via Padikovo Museum.

Wednesday 1 September 2021

Arty Intel

 "To the Chairman of the GAU Artillery Committee, Major General of Artillery, comrade Hohlov

There are three captured weapons at army trophy warehouse #2375 (Budka Chichakovo railroad junction) belonging to the 31st Army that are of interest for study at the Artillery Committee, namely:

  1. A 57 mm anti-tank gun with a conical barrel, presumably designed according to the Gerlich principle. The barrel length is 65 calibers. The gun has a muzzle brake and split trails.

Monday 30 August 2021

Evolution and Revolution

March 29th, 1945, was an important date for Soviet tank building. The IS-3 tank, the result of a deep modernization of the IS-2 launched in April of 1944, was accepted into service on that day. The IS-3 had a complex fate. The army did not initially want to mass produce it, although the decision to do so later proved correct. The IS-3 was the last Soviet tank to be accepted into service during the Great Patriotic War. It did not reach the battlefield, but it worked flawlessly on the ideological front. The appearance of IS-3 tanks at the Victory Parade in Berlin was a true shock for the Western Allies, and this tank remained the gold standard for a modern fighting vehicle for seven years.

Friday 27 August 2021

Fine Vintage


  1. The amount of artillery systems held at warehouse #727 that are fully equipped (sans breech blocks) is as follows:
    1. 107 mm model 1877: 32 units or 8 batteries
    2. 152 mm 2 tonners: 68 units or 17 batteries
    3. 120 mm French guns: 12 units or 3 batteries
      Other systems including 127 and 152 mm British guns and 2-pood guns cannot be used as there are no shells or sights for them.

Wednesday 25 August 2021

T-34 Experience

 "On the use of tanks in the 229th Tank Regiment of the 70th Proskurov Order of the Red Banner Order of Suvorov Order of Kutuzov 2nd class Mechanized Brigade during the Patriotic War

During the Patriotic War of 1941-1945 most of the materiel supplied to the regiment was the same in quality. In early parts of the war the regiment received T-34 tanks with the 75 mm [sic] gun. With the introduction of the T-34-85 tanks, the regiment received T-34-85 tanks until the end of the war, primarily from the Tagil factory.

Monday 23 August 2021

Temperamental Columbina

Even though the Red Army understood the need for a light SPG even before the war, the SU-76's road to the battlefield was long and difficult. Despite popular belief he USSR's manufacturing capabilities were not as great as those of the Western Allies, who didn't need to move their factories thousands of kilometers and set up in an empty field. The front line troops would have been happy to have light tanks, SPAAGs, and tracked APCs, and captured or Lend Lease vehicles of this type were happily used. However, only the SU-76 could be had in sufficient amounts, a vehicle that received mixed impressions.

Friday 20 August 2021

Winter Camo

 "GABTU Scientific Research Proving Grounds

Proving Grounds Chief Colonel Romanov, December 15th, 1941

Proving Grounds Commissar, Regimental Commissar Dolgov, December 16th, 1941

Conclusions regarding experimental winter camouflage of armoured vehicles


On orders from the GABTU, T-34, T-50, BT, T-26, and T-40 tanks were painted in winter camouflage patterns between September 19th and October 2nd, 1941. The trials were performed at the GABTU proving grounds.

The goal of the trials was to:

  1. Establish the pattern that was the most effective at breaking up the outline and shape of the tanks.
  2. Establish the shade of colours that blend together with the surroundings in winter.
  3. Develop a formula for paint that is sufficiently resilient and easy to produce.
After the pattern, colour, and formula are selected, the proving grounds will apply it to samples of all vehicles used by the Red Army. After experimental camouflage is applied, an instruction manual on winter painting will be composed and requirements will be distributed to factories.

Wednesday 18 August 2021

New Amphibious Tank

 "January 9th, 1938
1st Department of factory #37

To the Chief of the ABTU, Corps Commander Pavlov
CC: Chief of the 8th Main Directorate of the NKOP, Brigade Engineer Sviridov

RE: engine and armour for the amphibious tank

ABTU letters #184910s dated December 11th, 1937 and #183939s dated October 26th, 1937, state that the 6-cylinder Dodge engine must be used in the amphibious tank that is under development and the armour should be made in two layers, 3+7 mm, preferably at an angle. 

Monday 16 August 2021

Object 140: A Promising Loser

Soviet tank building appeared as one straight continuous line. The opening of the archives showed that there were many deviations from it, small and large branches leading to dead ends. The story of Nizhniy Tagil's "new medium tank" indexed Object 140 is well known today. The label "unfortunate" firmly stuck to it, given by the tank's creator himself.

Friday 13 August 2021

85 mm Gun for the KV-1

 "Order for  the People's Commissariat of Tank Production of the USSR
November 11th, 1941

In order to widely use artillery systems that are being mass produced at the factories of the People's Commissariat of Tank Production, design and install the M-30 system and the 85 mm AA gun into the KV tank. To do this:

  1. Director of the Izhora factory, comrade Muzrukov, must:
    1. Provide detailed blueprints for mounting the M-30 gun in the KV tank no later than November 15th and produce a prototype, install it in a turret, and send it to the Kirov factory for trials no later than December 15th.
    2. Develop a draft project for installing the 85 mm AA gun in a KV tank and send to me for approval by November 20th.
    3. When developing detailed blueprints for the M-30 and draft blueprints for the 85 mm gun use components that are already being produced by the Izhora factory wherever possible.
  2. Chief Engineer comrade Ryzhkov and Chief of the 5th Department comrade Bulyshev at the Izhora factory are responsible for the completion of this work.
  3. Chief of the Ammunition Department comrade Levshin must resolve the issue of armour piercing ammunition for the M-30 and 85 mm gun by November 20th of this year.
  4. Chief of the Ammunition Department comrade Levshin is responsible for ensuring the completion of this order.
Deputy People's Commissar of Tank Production, Kotin"

Wednesday 11 August 2021

Friend or Foe

Soviet armoured forces never established a uniform system of tactical markings, leaving individual commanders to create their own. When it came to friend or for markings, there was an even greater variety, as they were changed often. One example is this schedule used by the 9th Army in July of 1941.

Monday 9 August 2021

Light Turretless Artillery Tank

The first work on SPGs began in the USSR in the 1920s. They began as just projects, but prototypes began appearing in the early 1930s. The first such vehicles were built in 1931, generally light ones. Even though the results were negative, this was not a complete failure. Soviet SPGs were produced in series, although small ones, and some of them still saw battle. This also applies to the "artillery tank", the AT-1. Much was expected of it, and the vehicle was indeed quite decent, but it had one serious issue: the AT-1 ended up without a gun.

Friday 6 August 2021

Book Review: The Assault Platoon of the Grenadier-Company

The Assault Platoon of the Grenadier-Company November 1944 German Army Pamphlet - Merkblatt 25a/16 is the second book by Bernard Kast (Military History Visualized) and Christoph Bergs (Military Aviation History). Much like their first bookThe Assault Platoon of the Grenadier-Company is a translation of a German tactical pamphlet, but on a closer look it's a lot more than that.

Wednesday 4 August 2021

Supercharged KV

 "State Committee of Defense decree #1220ss
January 30th, 1942

On improving mobility of KV tanks

  1. The People's Commissar of Tank Production comrade Malyshev and director of the Kirov factory comrade Zaltsman must begin production and delivery in February of 1942 of KV tanks with:
    1. Altered final drive gear ratio and gear teeth count.
    2. A V-2K engine supercharged to 650 hp at 2100 RPM.
  2. The GABTU chief comrade Fedorenko and director of Kirov factory comrade Zaltsman must conduct comparative trials of a mass production KV tank, modernized KV tank, and a T-34 tank and present conclusions and updated tactical-technical characteristics to the State Committee of Defense by February 20th, 1942.
Chairman of the State Committee of Defense, I. Stalin
Copies to: comrade Malyshev, Zaltsman, Fedorenko, Malenkov"

Monday 2 August 2021

Chief Designer of the 1930s

When one lists Soviet tank designers, M.I. Koshkin is usually remembered first as one of the main authors of the T-34. He is usually followed by A.A. Morozov, who succeeded Koshkin as the Chief Designer of factory #183 in Kharkov and in Nizhniy Tagil after the evacuation. Zh.Ya. Kotin, the author of many tanks from the KV-1 to the IS-2, also ranks highly. N.A. Astrov, the creator of the T-40, T-60, T-70, and other light vehicles is slightly less famous. However, if one explores an earlier period of Soviet tank building, one will see many other much less known names. Their obscurity is largely due to their complicated history.

One such history belongs to the main character of today's article, Semyon Aleksandrovich Ginzburg. He oversaw the creation of the most numerous and most successful Soviet tanks of the interbellum era: the T-26, BT, T-28, and T-35. As the Chief Engineer at factory #185 he directed the creation of a number of tanks and SPGs. His designs include the T-50 light tank and SU-12 (SU-76) SPG, which played a fatal role in his career. Let us recall this man, whose contribution to Soviet tank building was truly immense. The war for his tanks began back in 1936 and finished in August of 1945 in the Far East.

Friday 30 July 2021

Weak Spots #3

As you've seen in previous articles, diagrams showing weak areas of enemy tanks were pretty common in the Red Army. However, these diagrams were usually produced as a result of thorough study and live fire tests. Sometimes diagrams had to be produced with less information, and thus ended up a little bit more vague, like these ones drawn up in the early stages of the war.

Wednesday 28 July 2021

Book Review: T-34 Shock

The T-34 is a quite interesting tank from a historiographical point of view. Despite being one of the most numerous tanks ever built with variants still in service in some remote parts of the world, surprisingly little has been written about this vehicle. While Hunnicutt's Sherman: A History of the American Medium Tank covers production of the equivalent American tank in exhaustive detail, no such work has ever been undertaken for the T-34. Many modern books on this tank continue to recycle the same myths and misconceptions born in the Cold War, even though primary documents on the topic have been available for decades.

T-34 Shock (originally T-34 Continuum) by Francis Pulham and Will Kerrs begins with an interesting assertion. The authors state that the complete history of the tank lies not in these documents, but in photographs. Despite not reading Russian, Pulham and Kerrs have assembled an impressive collection of photographs of all manner of Soviet tanks, including the T-34, T-34-85, and SPGs on the chassis of these vehicles. These are chiefly photographs taken by German troops depicting either knocked out or captured tanks, but the book contains plenty of photos of tanks in other contexts, including in the armies of Soviet allies and tanks in post-WWII usage. With these photographs, they aim to reconstruct the vehicle's history.

Monday 26 July 2021

From the Teplokhod AN to the MS-1

The 1920s were a transitional time for worldwide tank building. The end of the First World War resulted in a radical decrease of military budgets. Many vehicles were created as designers and commanders ruminated on the experience from the previous war, but most of them remained prototypes.

Italy joined the tank builders' club with its Fiat 3000 light tank, as did Sweden (with what really were German tanks). The USSR continued to develop tanks as well. The Russian Renault, a copy of the Renault FT, was followed by an original tank: the T-18, aka MS-1.

Friday 23 July 2021

Warspot Article: British Tiger Trials

After having captured a running Tiger in North Africa, the British began a thorough study of this new German tank. Its performance was carefully evaluated in many trials that ran even after Germany's surrender. Read about what the British found in my latest article on


Wednesday 21 July 2021

Video: What did the Germans think about the T-34?

The T-34's impact on the German army is rarely underestimated, but often misunderstood. In my latest video I describe impressions from German soldiers and more importantly German commanders, as well as the lasting impact this tank had on German tank building.

Monday 19 July 2021

Overgrown Cricket

 The Germans focused a lot of effort on mechanization of artillery. They were the first to use SPGs of all types in large numbers. The most common German fully tracked armoured vehicle was an SPG. Light and medium SPGs were common, but heavy ones not so much. Only the Jagdpanther heavy tank destroyer was built in large numbers, but only 90 Ferdinands and 85 Jagdtigers. Compared to the ISU-152 and ISU-122 these are negligible numbers. Heavy "weapons carriers" were in the worst position. Not a single one was mass produced and only one prototype was built. This was the Geschützwagen Tiger für 17cm K72 (Sf) or Grille 17/21.

Friday 16 July 2021

From Each According to Ability

 "32nd Tank Regiment
June 27th, 1944

To the ABT Chief of the 7th Guards Cavalry Corps
Commander of the 16th Guards Cavalry Division

I report that out of the 10 MK-2 ("Matilda") tanks received by the regiment, only 2 were equipped with radios. An investigation showed that the radios were "redistributed" by the 201st Tank Brigade before the tanks were surrendered to be sent to other units.

The 1st Tank Battalion of the 201st Tank Brigade was especially complicit in the illegal disassembly of the vehicles, as the radios were removed at night while the vehicle commanders were absent.

I consider the act of permitting disassembly of perfectly functional vehicles negligent and criminal.

I ask you to forward my request to punish the guilty and return the radios for installation on the tanks to the Front command.

Commander of the 32nd Tank Regiment, Guards Lieutenant Colonel Galkin
Chief of Staff Duderman"

Via zihuatanexo.

Wednesday 14 July 2021

Anti T-34 Tactics

"Translated from German

Chief Inspector of Mobile Forces
Staff of the Supreme Command of the Land Forces


Direction on tank combat against the Russian T-34 tank

Characteristics of the T-34

The T-34 tank is faster, more maneuverable, and more mobile than our Pz.Kpfw.III and Pz.Kpfw.IV tanks, its armour is thicker than the armour of our tanks. Its 76 mm gun surpasses our 50 mm and 75 mm guns in penetration. Beneficial shape (all surfaces are sloped) helps shells slide off.

Monday 12 July 2021

The Peak of American SPG Evolution

American self propelled artillery developed on its own terms, especially tank destroyers. After a series of experiments, American tank destroyers became very similar to their own tanks. As a rule they were based on tank chassis, but had thinner armour and higher mobility. The first such vehicle was the GMC M10, which made its debut in March of 1943. Its replacement, the M36, appeared on the battlefield a year and a half later. This was the best of American tank destroyers. Like the Soviet SU-100 its career spanned more than a decade. The last conflict it took part in was the Yugoslavian Civil War in the 1990s.

Friday 9 July 2021

Valentine Impressions

 "To the Chief of the GABTU

Combat and technical characteristics of the British Mk.III tank

In using the Mk.III in combat from November 11th to December 6th, the following positive qualities were observed:

  1. The vehicle is easy to drive. The drivers do not get tired while driving.
  2. The vehicle turns easily.
  3. The vehicle moves silently.
  4. Fuel consumption is low.
  5. All components are easy to use and work flawlessly.
  6. The gun is simple to use, works flawlessly, and fires precisely.
  7. The armour is thick enough to protect from 37 and 45 mm shells.
  8. The observation devices are quite satisfactory and protected from bullets and splash.
  9. The vehicle is easy to start in winter.

Wednesday 7 July 2021


"June 22nd, 1943

Package to comrade Antropov

I report that the investigation of rumours of Tiger tanks appearing in the region of Greater Karagashinka established that the enemy did not use Tiger tanks in that region. Questioning of eyewitnesses revealed that the enemy used only light and medium tanks. This is also confirmed from the forward observer posts and main artillery observation post. The rumours about the appearance of heavy tanks could have been caused by the appearance of heavy self propelled guns on the approach to Greater Karagashinka. One of them was knocked out. Three knocked out tanks were inspected: turned out to have been Pz.Kpfw.III and Pz.Kpfw.IV.

Transmitted by Konova"

Via Vladimir Nagirnyak.

Monday 5 July 2021

Kingmaker of American Tank Building

American tank history is strange in some ways. For instance, Creighton Abrams is the best known American tank ace, and few know about tankers who scored more tank kills than he did. The situation with American tank designers is even stranger. Compared to Soviet tank designers, they are like ghosts. The only well known names among them are John Walter Christie and perhaps Joseph Colby, director of the Tank-automotive Center and a key figure in American wartime tank building. Even many specialists would not recognize the name of the man who effectively created the American wartime tank. Harry Austin Knox was better known as a car designer. However, he was also a talented tank designer who had an effective monopoly on American tank chassis from 1935 to the mid-1940s.

Friday 2 July 2021

Supercharged KV

"State Committee of Defense decree #1221ss
January 30th, 1942

On improving mobility of KV tanks

To improve mobility of KV tanks, the State Committee of Defense decrees that:
  1. The People's Commissar of Tank Production (comrade Malyshev) and director of the Kirov factory comrade Zaltsman must:
    1. Improve the KV tank's draught pull by 20-25% by means of:
      1. Increasing the engine power of the V-2K diesel engine from 600 to 650 hp.
      2. Changing the gear ratio of the final drive.
      3. Changing the number of teeth on the drive sprocket.
    2. Begin production of such tanks as of February 15th of this year.
  2. The People's Commissariat of Tank Production (Kirov factory) is permitted to produce two experimental KV tanks with new 8-speed gearboxes and a diesel engine supercharged to 700 hp.
    Trials of the tank are to be conducted jointly with the GABTU and a report on the rationality of producing KV tanks with a new gearbox is to be sent to the GKO by March 25th.
[handwritten] "Approved - I. Stalin
Copies to: Malyshev, Zaltsman, Fedorenko, Malenkov"

Wednesday 30 June 2021

KV's Replacements

 "To the Chief of the BTU, Military Engineer 1st Class comrade Korobkov
January 31st, 1941

I report the status of the work on the T-150 and T-220 tanks at the Kirov factory as of January 28th, 1941. The T-150 and T-220 tanks are still not ready for trials and have not been presented to the commission.

T-150 tank:

After replacing the engine that broke during factory breaking in on January 21st, 1941, the tank has still not been returned to a condition suitable for QA and Military Representative approval.
The gun mantlet design is unrefined and allows a gun depression of only 3 degrees as opposed to 6.5 degrees on blueprints.

T-220 tank:

The engine broke during factory breaking-in on January 25th, 1941. The experimental main bearings melted.
Presently, a new experimental engine is being installed on the tank. Chief Engineer of factory #75 comrade Chupakhin, currently at the Kirov factory, cannot vouch that the engines installed in T-150 and T-220 tanks will work.
Your decision is needed in equipping the T-150 and T-220 tanks with refined engines.

The T-150 and T-220 tanks were weighed on January 25th.
The combat weight of the T-150 is 50 tons 160 kg.
The combat weight of the T-220 is 62 tons 700 kg.

The GABTU's tactical-technical requirements give a limit of 48 tons for the T-150 and 56 tons for the T-220. I ask for your directions on whether or not it is sensible to put the T-150 and T-220 tanks through proving grounds trials if they do not meet the GABTU's requirements."

Via Padikovo museum

Monday 28 June 2021

Long-Awaited Success

The last two years of WW2 were difficult for American tank building. Their first few wartime tanks were quite modern and even surpassed those of leading tank building nations of the time, but a wave of failures followed, resulting in them falling behind. Mass production of the planned replacement of the Medium Tank M4 only began in November of 1944, and officially this was a heavy tank to boot. This article tells the tale of the M26 Pershing, a tank with a complex but ultimately successful history.

Friday 25 June 2021

Pre-War Markings

The Red Army had no universal system of tank markings used during the Great Patriotic War, and commanders developed their own systems, sometimes changing them frequently to prevent the enemy from figuring them out. This was not the case before the war, as a standard system of markings was used.

Wednesday 23 June 2021

ZIS-6 Production

 "Decree of the Committee of Defense within the Council of Commissars of the USSR
Moscow, Kremlin
April 5th, 1941

Contents: on production of the 107 mm tank gun

The Committee of Defense decrees:

  1. Factory #92 (factory director comrade Elyan and chief designer comrade Grabin) is responsible for development of a 107 mm tank gun with a muzzle velocity of 800 m/s with a fixed ammunition fitting an armour piercing shell weighing 18.8 kg.
    Produce, test, and deliver an experimental prototype of this gun installed in a KV tank by May 20th.
  2. Kirov factory (comrade Zaltsman) and the Izhora factory are responsible for producing a gun mantlet for installation of the gun in a KV tank and delivery to factory #92 by May 10th.

Monday 21 June 2021

Intermediate Experiment

The American program to create a replacement for the Medium Tank M4 was a mess by the end of 1943.  Three types of medium tanks were being tested in parallel. These included the Medium Tanks T20 and T22. Two prototypes of each were built, and proven to be ultimately disappointing. There was also the Medium Tank T23. It turned out to be better than its competitors and even put into production, but it turned out that there were issues with using it. Finally, development of two more tanks was launched in May of 1943. This made for five medium tanks in development at the same time. This article will describe the fate of the Medium Tank T25, an intermediate vehicle.

Friday 18 June 2021

Running In

 "December 8th, 1944

Description of the running in process of rifle regiment personnel from the 60th Guards Pavlograd Order of the Red Banner Division with SU-76M SPGs conducted on November 11th, 1944.

Based on the enciphered telegram delivered from the 32nd Rifle Corps on November 6th, 1944, the division performed running in of rifle regiment personnel with SU-76M SPGs.

Wednesday 16 June 2021

KV-3 Gun Mount

 "I.V. Stalin factory #92

September 8th, 1941

To the Chief Engineer of the Chelyabinsk Factory, comrade Makhonin

We developed and are currently manufacturing a coaxial 45 mm gun for the 107 mm ZIS-6 gun mount. The DT coaxial machine gun remains in its old place.

The tactical purpose of such a weapon is obvious: to avoid wasting 107 mm ammunition on targets that could be defeated with a 45 mm gun.

As the factory doesn't have a KV-3 tank, the prototype will be installed in a KV-2 tank turret.

Your designer comrade Schneidman informed us that you are making a new turret for the KV-3. Due to the obvious advantage of having a 45 mm gun in the KV-3 and minor changes required to the turret as a result of using this mounting, we ask you to widen the gun port and change the frame and gun mantlet in accordance to the attached blueprints. We don't have blueprints for the new KV-3 turret and are still working with old ones, but that shouldn't matter in this case.

At the same time, we ask you to develop ammunition racks for 107 and 45 mm rounds in the KV-3 turret. For this reason, we attach a dimensional drawing of a 45 mm round.

Attached: draft drawing of the coaxial mounting on two pages, dimensional drawing of the 45 mm round.

Factory director Elyan
Chief designer Grabin"

Via Yuri Pasholok

Monday 14 June 2021

Germany and the T-34

The Wehrmacht was stuck at Moscow in the winter of 1941, and leadership of the Reich had time to think while its troops developed frostbite. The first encounters with the T-34 and KV-1 tanks showed that Soviet engineers were much better at implementing thick shell-resistant armour and powerful tank engines. A whole commission arrived on the front on November 18th, 1941, to survey the situation. The commission included the head of the Tank Commission Ferdinand Porsche, his deputy and director of the Steyr company Oscar Hacker, head of Department #6 of the Ordnance Directorate colonel Sebastian Fichtner, the civilian head of Department #6 engineer Heinrich Kniepkamp, and high ranking representatives of leading arms companies: Krupp, Daimler-Benz, Henschel, MAN, and Rheinmetall. They examined Soviet tanks and evaluated the harsh conditions of winter and the lack of roads.

No one doubts that this examination had a significant effect on further development of the German tank school. But what were their conclusions? How did Soviet tanks influence German tank building? There are many different opinions about this, right down to calling the Panther a poor copy of the T-34. What was the real change to the German way of building tanks after the fall-winter of 1941?

Friday 11 June 2021

In Defense of the Panzer IV

With the debut of the Panther in 1943 the Pz.Kpfw.III and Pz.Kpfw.IV were threatened with cancellation. Their chassis would be used to make StuGs, a vehicle that could not be replaced with the Panther. However, Guderian himself wrote a treatise in defense of the humble Pz.Kpfw.IV.

"Notes for the Fuhrer's report (September 5th, 1943)

Pz.Kpfw.IV tank or assault gun?

Despite arriving reports, the assault gun has practically no advantages over the Pz.Kpfw.IV tank, as the assault gun:

Wednesday 9 June 2021

Fathers of the SU-152

 "Order to the People's Commissariat of Tank Production #764s
November 13th, 1942

On the creation of an SPG design group

In accordance with the order issued by People's Commissar of Tank Production comrade I.M. Zaltsman on the creation of SPGs on the KV and T-34 tank chassis, I order to:

  1. Create an SPG design group within the Kirov factory's design bureau, as the factory is a producer of both T-34 and KV tanks.
  2. Appoint engineer Lev Sergeyevich Troyanov to the position of Deputy Chief Designer of Tank Production at the Kirov Factory. Task him with leading the SPG design group.
  3. Director of the UZTM factory comrade Muzrukov must permanently transfer designers Kurin, Ilyin, Rybin, and Vishnyakov to the Kirov factory by November 15th, 1942.
Deputy People's Commissar of Tank Production, Kotin"

Monday 7 June 2021

Armoured Confusion: Start of the Great Patriotic War

One of the most popular topics of discussion in Soviet tank circles is their use in the Great Patriotic War. As strange as this may sound, the production and use of Soviet tanks during the war is not a very well studied topic. This is caused by shallow surface level research and resilience of "common knowledge", little of which overlaps with any facts. There are so many of these myths that it's impossible to cover them all in a single article. Let's examine only the first half of the Great Patriotic War and misconceptions linked to this period.

Friday 4 June 2021

Book Review: Soviet T-62 Main Battle Tank

It's easy to dismiss the T-62 tank. It was not produced in the numbers that its predecessors, the T-54 and T-55 enjoyed, nor did it have the technical novelties of the T-64 tank that came just a few years later. Discussion of this tank in Western sources usually boils down to a list of its drawbacks and a brief description of its lackluster performance in various Middle Eastern wars. Nevertheless, the tanks were used well into the 21st century not only by Soviet client states, but even by ex-Soviet nations, despite availability of more recent vehicles. The latest book by James Kinnear and Stephen "Cookie" Sewell takes a look at why this is the case.

Wednesday 2 June 2021

War Plans

The Red Army was undergoing a pretty radical reorganization in the summer of 1941. Fans of the theory that the USSR was about to attack Germany and Hitler merely delivered a preemptive strike will be disappointed to find out that not only did the Red Army not consider itself in any situation to fight a war in 1941, 1942 wasn't looking much better either. Compare the number of tanks on hand to the number of tanks required according to authorized strength.

Tank type

Authorized strength

On hand as of Jan 1st, 1941

% Authorized strength as of Jan 1st, 1941

Expected inventory as of Jan 1st, 1942

% Authorized strength as of Jan 1st, 1942







































































Armoured cars









Total as of January 1st, 1941: 22,530 tanks (of those 59 T-35 and 443 T-28), 4461 armoured cars

Via Yuri Pasholok