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
Chelyabinsk
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

Peacetime

Wartime

Peacetime

Wartime

Peacetime

Wartime

KV

2100

2100

243

11.5

11.5

1093

52

52

T-34

4200

4200

350

8.3

8.3

2850

67.8

67.8

BT

5487

8273

7752

141.5

93.7

7752

141.5

93.7

T-26

13,802

15,872

9987

72.3

62.9

9987

72.3

62.9

T-50

 

 

 

 

 

500

 

 

T-37/

T-38

2420

3681

3596

152

100

3596

182

116.7

T-40

 

 

100

 

 

800

 

 

Armoured cars

5298

6853

4461

84.2

65

6271

118

91.7

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


Via Yuri Pasholok

Monday, 31 May 2021

IS-2 Front Line Impressions

The appearance of the heavy IS-2 tank was an unpleasant surprise for the Wehrmacht. The Germans could no longer rely on the qualitative supremacy that Tigers and Panthers enjoyed in 1943. The first battles with Soviet vehicles showed that the time of "big cats" was at an end.

Friday, 28 May 2021

Mystery Tank

"To the commanders of the 6th Guards Motorized Rifle Brigade

A POW revealed that the German army received a new type of heavy tank called the Leopard, weighing 40 tons and armed with one 75 mm gun and two machine guns. Front armour is 100-110 mm thick.

Take measures to obtain more precise information. Do not confuse it with the Panther tank.

New information is to be immediately relayed to the HQ of the 6th Guards Motorized Rifle Brigade

Acting Chief of Staff of the 6th Guards Motorized Rifle Brigade, Guards Major Litvin"


Wednesday, 26 May 2021

German Tank Riders

For some reason, infantry hitching a ride on tanks is a tactic stereotypically associated only with the USSR. In reality, infantry from all nations did this, even those that produced APCs such as Germany. This was not an ad hoc maneuver either, but a tactic officially described in field manual. For instance, manual 130/2b "Motorized company of an infantry motorized division" signed by General Walther von Brauchitsch on October 11th, 1941, states:

"190. To defeat an enemy positioned in cover, it is sometimes reasonable to mount troops on tanks that would be able to defeat the concealed enemy firing from their vehicle or in close combat. In this case, equip them with hand grenades, pistols, submachine guns, and flare guns.

Communication with tanks is achieved through the normal signals (attachment #2). However, regardless of this, one must carefully negotiate cooperation between the tank crew and the troops that ride the tank ahead of time."

CAMD RF F.500 Op.12480 D.24 p.227

Monday, 24 May 2021

100 Stings

Even though mass production of SU-100 tank destroyers began in September of 1944, their debut in battle was delayed until January of 1945. Front line troops would no doubt have been glad to have a new methods of hunting German "beasts", but this way crews would go into battle having mastered their vehicles and built cohesion within regiments and brigades. It was three SPG brigades, the 207th, 208th, and 209th, that made up the main users of the SU-100 during the battles at Lake Balaton that began in March of 1945. These crews could now present a well balanced opinion on their vehicles.

Brand new SU-100s lined up at the Uralmash factory.

Friday, 21 May 2021

Warspot Article: All the King's Horses

The Pz.Kpfw.Tiger Ausf.B or King Tiger was the heaviest mass produced tank of WWII. The British had almost no warning before encountering this formidable machine on the battlefield, but it wasn't too long before captured vehicles were inspected and the threat was properly assessed. Find out what the British discovered in my latest article on Warspot.net.

https://warspot.net/372-all-the-king-s-horses


Wednesday, 19 May 2021

D-25 vs D-10

F.16 Op.2154 D.4"Top Secret
To the People's Commissar of Armament of the USSR, comrade D.F. Ustinov

On your orders, we report on the issue of replacing the D-25 gun in the IS tank with the D-10T.

  • Due to the higher rate of fire of the D-10 compared to the D-25, chiefly due to the single piece ammunition, it is reasonable to make this change, but only if an armour piercing shell is developed equivalent in penetration to the D-25's shell.
  • No such shell is being produced at this time.
  • We consider it necessary to preserve the D-25 gun in the IS-2 heavy tank. The latest trials at the ANIOP show a rate of fire of 4-6 RPM, this is a good result.
  • The factory is wrapping up preparations for D-10S production in August-September of 1944.
  • All armament production can be moved to produce the D-10T instead of the D-25 in October-November.
  • 150 D-10T guns can be produced in October, 250 in November.
  • To achieve this, factory #9 requires 4 600x6000 roughing lathes and two #6 milling machines.
  • Production of D-25S guns should then be transferred to factory #75 or #221 in October.
Signed:
Mirzakhanov
Gonor
Fratkin
Ryzhkov
Petrov
August 8th, 1944"

Monday, 17 May 2021

The English Panther

The British tank building school was playing catch-up throughout WWII, which is why by 1943 the most common tanks in the British army were American made. Of course, they did not fully satisfy the requirements of the British, but there was no alternative. British tank development had stalled and the tanks they were delivering were at least half a year behind those of leading tank building nations. The British caught up only by the end of the war. The Comet I was still half a step behind the leaders, but the Centurion I that appeared in 1945 was among the front runners. Few could predict that this would be one of the most successful British tanks of all time and its service would last until the 21st century.

Friday, 14 May 2021

Heavy Tank Brigades

 "Report by the Commander of Armoured and Mechanized Forces of the Red Army

To the People's Commissar of Defense I.V. Stalin on the equipment of a heavy IS tank brigade

November 20th, 1944

I report that:

As per your orders, one heavy IS tank brigade with two regiments of 21 IS tanks each and one regiment of 21 ISU-122 will be ready by December 5th of this year.

There are 65 combat vehicles in the brigade in total.

Wednesday, 12 May 2021

Big Gun, Small Turret

 "State Committee of Defense Decree #4873ss
January 1st, 1944

On installing 85 mm guns on T-34 tanks instead of the 76 mm F-34 gun

To improve the artillery armament of the T-34 tank, the State Committee of Defense orders to:

  1. Accept the 85 mm tank gun designed by the Central Artillery Design Bureau of the People's Commissar of Armament (comrade Grabin) into service with the Red Army under the name "85 mm tank gun model 1944 (S-53)".
  2. Starting with January of 1944, equip T-34 tanks with 85 mm model 1944 (S-53) tank guns installed in turrets on the stock turret ring instead of the 76 mm F-34 gun.

Monday, 10 May 2021

An Alternative Layout

SPG designs hit a dead end in many nations by the end of WWII. The concept of a heavier gun on the same chassis stopped working. Regular guns were getting so large that there were issues with the chassis. The results were essentially the same as just putting the gun in a tank with a rotating turret. This was especially true for medium SPGs. Germany, the USSR, and Great Britain eventually ended up with medium tanks that had the same gun as medium SPGs. Several nations (especially Germany and the USSR) ended up overloading the front suspension. This led to a search for new solutions. This led to the Uralmash-1, the most unusual Soviet late war SPG.

Friday, 7 May 2021

SU-152 and ISU-152 Tactics

The SU-152 is an often misunderstood vehicle. Some think that because of its thick front armour and relatively short gun it engaged enemies point-blank, but in reality it was actually a long ranged fighter, engaging enemies from 1500-2000 meters. In my latest video I explore the tactics behind SU-152 regiments and how they evolved over time.






Wednesday, 5 May 2021

A German Cat in King George's Court

As soon as a new enemy tank appears on the battlefield, it is critically important to study it and find out which of its strengths can be mitigated and which weaknesses can be exploited. In case of the Panther tank, the British spared no effort. A Panther shipped from the USSR was tested before British troops ever met one in the wild. In addition to tanks captured throughout the war, several Panthers were assembled under British supervision and taken back to the UK to perform thorough trials. Read what the British learned about this German beast in my latest article on Warspot.net.



Monday, 3 May 2021

Wrong Place, Wrong Time

 Work on Soviet heavy tanks split into two directions in 1944. One was the development of a new heavy tank, called Object 701. The second was the improvement of the IS-2 heavy tank, which later split into a minor and a major modernization projects. The former led to the creation of an IS-2 tank with a straightened upper front hull. Finally, a third tank came up in the spring of 1944 on factory #100's initiative. This tank was called IS-6 and turned out to be the odd man out.

Friday, 30 April 2021

Anti-Tank Gunner's Advice

 "Reminder to tank destroyer battery commanders

  1. Check your sight lines every day.
  2. Dial in on landmarks, especially on on off-road terrain.
  3. Have each gunner personally measure the range to landmarks in paces.
  4. Set up false guns 50-80 meters away or flanking real guns.
  5. Organize nighttime lighting (with flares) of a 500-800 meter long zone in front of the guns if enemy tanks appear.
  6. Conduct practice battles with your gunners and gun commanders.
  7. If you have time and the conditions are right, conduct subcaliber practice shoots against moving targets both at daytime and nighttime.
  8. If there are few enemy tanks, do not open fire with the entire battery. Remember the ratio: 1 gun per 3 tanks.
  9. Try to hit the tanks in the side, fire until it burns.
  10. Immediately issue bonuses for knocked out tanks.
  11. Nominate exceptional troops for government awards.
Commander of the 8th Independent Guards Anti-Tank Artillery Brigade, Guards Lieutenant Colonel Chevola"

Wednesday, 28 April 2021

KV-13 Trials

 "To the Chief of the 6th Department of the GABTU BTU, Engineer-Colonel comrade Kovalev

RE: the condition of the KV-13 as of October 19th, 1942

I report the following on the condition of the KV-13 as of October 19th, 1942:

  1. The tank set out on its sixth trip on October 18thm 1942, during which it drove for 120 km. The following defects were discovered:
    1. The 2nd gear is difficult to engage
    2. The main clutch slips
    3. The track slipped off, damaging the drive sprocket rim
    4. The front road wheel assembly (axle, swing arm, torsion bar tube) was lost
    5. The batteries were not charged
    6. The steam valve of the radiator expansion tank releases water heated to 110-115 degrees instead of steam
    7. Not a single gear could be engaged at the end of the run due to the main clutch adjustment slipping. The vehicle had to be towed to the workshop.
  2. When the clutch was disassembled, it turned out that the driving clutch plates were badly deformed. The driven plates had deep scuffs on their working surfaces.
    The loss of the road wheel was caused by a bad attachment of the swing arm to the hull. This is a design defect.
  3. The vehicle was disassembled for repairs.
The expected date for returning to trials is October 20th, 1942.

GABTU Military Representative, Engineer-Major Fedoseyev."

Monday, 26 April 2021

In the Panther's Shadow

The theory that Germany should have kept producing the Pz.Kpfw.IV instead of the Panther is common among amateur historians. However, the peak of Pz.Kpfw.IV production coincided with Panther production. Nobody was going to reduce production volumes, at least in 1943. The Pz.Kpfw.IV Ausf.H and Ausf.J became the most numerous German tanks of the second half of WWII, and the Pz.Kpfw.IV Ausf.J became its most numerous tank overall. It was outnumbered only by the StuG 40 Ausf.G, 8500 of which were built. Late production Pz.Kpfw.IV tanks were a litmus test for what was wrong with German tank production in the last years of WWII.

Friday, 23 April 2021

SU-152 Regiments

 "State Committee of Defense Decree #2889ss
February 14th, 1943
Moscow, Kremlin

Topic: on the formation of heavy SPG regiments within the Reserve of the Supreme Command

The State Committee of Defense decrees that:

  1. 16 heavy SPG regiments are to be formed according to TO&E #08/175 including 310 personnel and 12 152 mm self propelled ML-20 gun-howitzers each.
    The formation of regiments is assigned to the Commander of Artillery of the Red Army, Marshal of Artillery comrade Voronov, and the Military Council of Armoured and Mechanized Forces of the Red Army (Colonel General of the Tank Forces comrade Fedorenko and Lieutenant General of the Tank Forces comrade Biryukov). The following deadlines are set:
    1. By February 28th, 1943: 1 regiment
    2. By March 25th, 1943: 5 regiments
    3. By April 25th, 1943: 5 regiments
    4. By May 25th, 1943: 5 regiments

Wednesday, 21 April 2021

SPG Feedback

 "Brief conclusions drawn from usage of [self propelled] artillery regiments within the Central Front

...

The following main conclusions can be drawn from the use of self propelled artillery in offensive and defensive fighting against numerous enemy tanks and infantry:

On the offensive:

  1. SPGs of all types are well suited for escorting tank attacks on the offensive due to their mobility, armour, and firepower.
  2. SPGs do not need time to transition from moving to firing modes and back, which allows the SPGs to follow tanks into action and support them without falling behind.
  3. The SPG regiment needs to be used as one whole jointly with its supporting tank unit (tank brigade or regiment).

Monday, 19 April 2021

On the Way to the King Tiger

There is an unwritten rule in tank building: start working on a replacement for the tank that you just built. This rule is especially true in wartime. In some cases, work on the replacement began before the predecessor left the drawing board. This is how work started on the Tiger II, the heaviest mass produced tank of WWII. Formally, development began in 1941. The tank named VK 45.02(H) gained a lot of weight during development and changed its name and designs multiple times.

Friday, 16 April 2021

Winter War Tank Experience

"Copy #1

4th Army Chief Command
Army Staff
#578/41 secret

  1. General rules of using Russian tanks:
    1. Russians support their offensives with tanks (50-100 per division, up to 200 or about 20 per battalion when attacking fortified regions).
    2. Tanks advance in 2-3 echelons:
      1. To penetrate and to reach objectives in the rear.
      2. To suppress fire and break into the main line of defense.
    3. Tanks always drove with closed hatches. Observation was done through periscopes. Hatches were opened only for self-defense if the crew was in danger.

Wednesday, 14 April 2021

Elephant Hunters

 "Characteristics of penetrative ability of guns and mines against enemy tanks
Based on combat experience and trials

1. Experimental firing against the 88 mm "Ferdinand" self propelled gun gave the following results:

A) Armour:

  • Roof: 45 mm
  • Rear: 80 mm
  • Sides: 80 mm
  • Front vertical plate: 200 mm
  • Ball mount armour: 110 mm
  • Driver and radio operator visor plate: 200 mm

Monday, 12 April 2021

American Electro-tank

The use of multiple engines, suspensions, and transmissions on one type of tank was a unique feature of American tank building. The same thing happened with the prospective replacement of the Medium Tank M4. Development of three types of transmission and several types of suspension theoretically allowed the military to choose the most reliable variant that would then enter production. The result was unexpected. The Medium Tank T23 was chosen as a result of trials, but it never replaced the M4, although some of its elements came in handy.

Friday, 9 April 2021

Book Review: Japanese Tanks and Armoured Warfare 1932-45 A Military and Political History

Even as an avid military history enthusiast, I don't come across discussion of Japanese tank warfare very often. This is not very surprising: people's imagination is captured by armoured titans like the Tiger tank or massive large scale clashes like the Second Battle of El-Alamein. The Pacific theater of WWII had space for neither heavy tanks nor large battles. Tank units in this region largely consisted of vehicles that would have been considered obsolete in Europe at the time. Discussions of tank warfare in the region usually boil down to one-sided beatings handed out by Sherman tanks against their much lighter armed and armoured Japanese brethren.

In his latest book David McCormack goes beyond such superficial comparisons and starts at the beginning of Japanese armoure warfare: the purchase of a Mark IV, six Whippet, and thirteen Renault FT tanks at the tail end of WWI. As the title promises, the prologue dives deep into the political battlefield between the innovators and traditionalists of the Japanese army. The book covers both the attempt to develop a progressive tank doctrine and production of domestic armoured vehicles inspired by foreign samples but tailored for the region.

Wednesday, 7 April 2021

85 mm Gun Upgrade

 

"In order to make loading of the S-31 tank gun in the KV-1S and IS-1 tanks comfortable, the following must be done:

  1. Increase the distance from the bore axis to the roof to 470 mm (280 mm on the IS-1) as ramming an 85 mm shell at face height is difficult and impossible if the gun is depressed.
    On most modern foreign heavy tanks and on our SPGs the space between the bore axis and the roof ranges from 400 to 500 mm.

Monday, 5 April 2021

On the Way to the Pershing

There is a rule in tank development, especially in wartime: immediately start designing the replacement for the tank you just built. The Americans had to follow this rule in WWII. The situation with light tanks was fine, but medium tank production was just spinning up. Thanks to new model coming out annually, the Americans caught up to world leaders in medium tanks by 1942. The next step forward was the T20, which was radically different from its predecessors.

Friday, 2 April 2021

Wider or Longer?

 


"Based on results of artillery trials of an IS-122 SPG in the amount of 438 shots (222 supercharged) the Gorohovets ANIOP makes the following conclusions:
  • The 122 mm IS-122 self propelled gun passed proving grounds trials and can be accepted into mass production.
  • The IS-122 has the following advantages over the IS-152 self propelled gun-howitzer, such as:
    • Rate of fire is twice as high.
    • Ammunition capacity is higher (30 rounds instead of 20 like in the IS-152).
    • Muzzle velocity and penetration are higher (by 20%).
    • The maximum range is longer (by 3 km).
    • It is easier for the crew to work, load ammunition, and prepare for battle.
    • Fire at moving targets is more effective."

Wednesday, 31 March 2021

Warspot Article: Landships Left in Port

A number of designers and companies involved in tank development during WWI were brought back for WWII as the Special Vehicle Design Committee or "The Old Gang" (TOG). The TOG developed a very progressive tank for its time with powerful armament and rarely seen features like an electric transmission. However, the committee only built two prototypes and never ended up putting a tank into production. Read why in my latest article on Warspot.net.



Monday, 29 March 2021

Colossus on Clay Feet

The peace treaty between France and Germany signed on June 22nd, 1940, meant the defeat of France in WWII. The fact that France was only able to hold on against Germany for 40 days shocked many. France had the second largest tank force behind only the USSR, and it seemed impossible that this armada could not resist the German advance. However, this defeat was inevitable. The problem wasn't that French tankers, as fiercely as they fought, had little experience. The problem was in the tanks themselves.

Friday, 26 March 2021

One Piece, IS-3 Edition

 "November 28th, 1945

To the Chief of the Main Artillery Directorate of the Red Army, comrade N.D. Yakovlev
People's Commissar of Armament comrade D.F. Ustinov
People's Commissar of Ammunition comrade B.L. Vannikov
Commander of Armoured and Motorized Forces comrade Ya.N. Fedorenko

RE: GAU letter #945369s dated November 22nd, 1945

I report that the Kirov factory produced an IS SPG equipped with an ammunition rack for single piece ammunition. This SPG will be sent to the GBTU proving grounds at Kubinka shortly.

At the same time, work was also conducted to place single piece ammunition in the IS-3 tank. It was not possible to achieve any kind of satisfactory results in this to date.

Only the SPG with ammunition racks for single piece rounds will be sent to trials.

People's Commissar of Transport Machinebuilding, V. Malyshev" 

Via Yuri Pasholok

Wednesday, 24 March 2021

Big Gun, Small Turret

 

"The 85 mm S-53 tank gun is installed in the regular T-34 turret. The stock turret is 130-150 mm narrower than the one housing the LB-1 gun and the turret bustle is smaller, fitting just 5 rounds instead of 12.

Monday, 22 March 2021

The Allies' View of the Maus

VE Day marked not only the defeat of Germany, but the Allies' ability to get their hands on German tank developments. A hunt for trophies and even German arms designers began. Various nations ended up with only pieces of information. This is especially true for the German Pz.Kpfw.Maus superheavy tank.  The USSR may have ended up with both prototypes and some of the documentation that was stored in Kummersdorf and in Berlin, but the British and Americans kept most of the documents, the factories that took part in its production, and the creator of the tank himself, Ferdinand Porsche.

Friday, 19 March 2021

Warspot Article: American Generals in King George's Court

When telling the story of American tanks in British service, one usually starts with the tanks arriving in North Africa. However, any brand new tank is going to be rough around the edges. The British had to discover them before sending the tank anywhere. Red about the good, the bad, and the ugly sides of the Medium Tank M3 in my latest article on Warspot.net.



Tuesday, 16 March 2021

King Tiger Battlefield Penetration Trials

Field penetration trials weren't an unusual phenomenon during WWII. Soldiers often wanted to look with their own eyes at what their own weapons can do against the enemy, plus the sight of blowing holes in enemy tanks is always good for morale. In this case, two rare beasts were captured for trials: a Tiger and a Tiger II. 

"1st Howitzer Artillery Brigade of the Reserve of the Supreme Command
November 9th, 1944
#01909

For your information, I direct to you the results of experimental firing on Tiger and Tiger B tanks.

Forward these results to battalion commanders, and the results on SU-152 shooting to all troops.

Attachment: the aforementioned on 4 pages.

Chief of Staff of the 1st Starokonstantinov Order of the Red Banner Order of Bogdan Khmelintskiy Howitzer Artillery Brigade, Major Vinogradov"

Diagram #1: upper front plate and illustration of the angle and thickness of the upper and lower front plates.

Monday, 15 March 2021

Snow "Shoes"

The tank was born on the battlefields of WWI where it had to combat not only enemy fortifications, but also mud. Tanks were often lost not from enemy fire, but from being stuck on cross country terrain. Engineers and the military first started thinking about how to improve mobility of their vehicles. Further improvements focused on improving mobility in general, but advanced methods of driving on soft terrain did not progress past experiments. Engineers returned to the issue of improving off-road mobility in WWII. In addition to mud, tanks got a new enemy: snow. This issue was most prevalent on the Soviet-German front where there was more snow than anywhere else for obvious reasons.

Friday, 12 March 2021

School of Hard Knocks

 "Order to units of the Leningrad Front #032

Active army
September 16th, 1941

I assigned one tank battalion each (84th and 107th Independent Tank Battalions) to the Slutsk-Kolpino Fortified Region and the 22nd Fortified Region with the special objective of reinforcing the fortified regions' firepower and not for use in counterattacks.

However, on September 5th, 1941, the commander of the 1025th Rifle Regiment of the 291st Rifle Division Major Belousov sent out one KV tank from an ambush to attack Beloostrov, as a result of which the tank was disabled and abandoned on the battlefield. The commander took no action to recover this tank over the course of two days.

Wednesday, 10 March 2021

Extra Protection

The tendency to increase armour protection was one of the most notable features of the German tank building school. No nation in the world increased protection without a radical change to the chassis. For instance, the Pz.Kpfw.III more than tripled the thickness of its front armour compared to its initial form. The Pz.Kpfw.IV set a record, quadrupling the thickness of the front hull compared to that of the B.W. This wasn't it, as the Germans still worked on improving protection of tanks that were already build. This article will cover those methods.

Monday, 8 March 2021

Spaced Armour

I previously posted some photos from trials of the armour skirts of a captured Pz.Kpfw.III Ausf.N tank. It turned out that the skirts themselves were not very difficult to penetrate, but they destabilized small projectiles enough to prevent penetration of the main armour, as well as offer a few other benefits. Here are some more results from that same test.


"RPG at close range. Photo #3. Penetration in the spaced armour plate (the main armour does not have damage."

Friday, 5 March 2021

85 mm for Dummies

 "To Commanders of Army Artillery and Commanders of Tank Armies

USSR NKO
Main Artillery Directorate of the Red Army
Artillery Committee
December 25th, 1943

#800868
Moscow

The Main Artillery Directorate of the Red Army learned that troops do not always correctly use ammunition for 85 mm tank and SPG guns. I ask you to explain the following to the troops:

85 mm tank and SPG guns are equipped with ammunition from the 85 mm AA gun:

  1. BR-365 armour piercing-tracer rounds
  2. O-365K steel cased HE rounds with KTM-1 fuses.

Wednesday, 3 March 2021

Extended Magazines

"USSR NKO
Commander of Armoured and Mechanized Forces of the Red ARmy
July 19th, 1944
#511127

Trials were held to establish the possibility of increasing the amount of ammunition carried in SPGs, which increases the ammunition capacity of the ISU-152 and ISU-122 by 7 rounds and the SU-85 by 5 rounds if necessary.
Additional ammunition is to be carried in the following ways:

Monday, 1 March 2021

The USSR's Hungriest Tank

Comparative trials of four Soviet tanks were conducted in the summer and fall of 1976 according to order of the Minister of Defense of the USSR D.F. Ustinov titled "On military trials of tanks" issued on July 20th, 1976. In September, a summary titled "Minutes of trials results" was composed. This article will discuss the contents of these documents.