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

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


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

Commander of Armoured and Mechanized Forces of the Red ARmy
July 19th, 1944

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.

Sunday, 28 February 2021

Eight Years of Tank Archives

Today, this blog turns eight years old! Over the years I've made 2345 posts which received 5,747,840 views, almost a million of which came in the last year alone. Unfortunately, changes to the Blogger stats tab don't let me compare my visitors directly with last year's results, but according to Google Analytics most of my readers by far are still from the United States, with the UK a distant second and Germany third. However, over the past year Canada has overtaken Germany for third place, although they still have ways to go before getting into the top 3 for all time readers.

Of course, Tank Archives is no longer just a blog and there were plenty of achievements in other areas over the last year.

Friday, 26 February 2021

One Piece

 "To the People's Commissar of Ammunition of the USSR, comrade Vannikov
Chief of the Red Army GAU, comrade Yakovlev
Deputy Chief of Armoured and Motorized Vehicles of the Red Army, comrade Korobkov

In accordance with GOKO decree #6868s issued on February 4th, 1944, the People's Commissar of Tank Production instructed the Kirov factory to study the issue of single piece ammunition for the 122 mm D-25 gun.

Wednesday, 24 February 2021

75 mm Gun vs KV-1

"Secret, copy #1

On the organization of enemy anti-tank defenses in the sector ahead of the 178th Tank Brigade and type of damage dealt to knocked out and burned KV tanks.

The enemy organized active anti-tank defenses in front of the 178th Tank Brigade with the use of terrain. Anti-tank minefields were placed in directions where tanks can be used (see diagram). There were no passive anti-tank obstacles (dragon's teeth, anti-tank trenches, barricades, scarps or countescarps) detected along the front or in the depth of enemy defenses.

Monday, 22 February 2021

ISU-122 Frontline Impressions

The Soviet ISU-122 heavy SPG is often overshadowed by its more famous siblings, the IS-2 tank and ISU-152 SPG. The similarity in the designs gave birth to the myth that the ISU-122 was an ersatz ISU-152 built due to a shortage of 152 mm guns. That is far from the truth. Let us try and figure out what crews of these tank destroyers valued the most, and what they would rather have changed.

Thursday, 18 February 2021

Warspot Article: Voroshilov Abroad

The KV-1 tank was a mystery even to the USSR's allies, but it didn't remain this way forever. Both the US and UK received a sample to study and both made some conclusions from the tanks that inspired their own designs. Read about their findings in my latest article on

Wednesday, 17 February 2021

Muzzle Brake Requirements

Tank Usage Directorate
July 4th, 1944

To Assistant Commanders in charge of Armoured and Mechanized Warfare of Fronts
Copy for the Assistant Commanders in charge of Armoured and Mechanized Warfare of the 1st Baltic Front

A report by the Usage Department of the Armoured and Mechanized Warfare of the 2nd Ukrainian Front in February and a report of the NKTP inspector's group at the 1st Belorussian Front in May indicated vases where the gearbox of the T-34 tank with an 85 mm gun broke when the gun was fired on the move.

Monday, 15 February 2021

An Amphbian's Missed Chance

Plenty of PT-76 tanks were in service in the early 2000s. The Vietnamese army alone had about 500 units and the total number of functional but obsolete tanks was about 1000. An idea came up to modernize these tanks and give them as second life.

The PT-76 was simple and reliable, but also quite obsolete. The 76 mm D-56TS gun was no longer satisfactory for modern combat. A modern light tank needs to be able to fight personnel, unarmoured and lightly armoured vehicles, anti-tank weapons, helicopters, and low flying airplanes. Because of this, the primary goal in modernizing the PT-76 was improving its firepower. At this time TsNII Burevestnik in Nizhniy Novgorod offered the AU-220M artillery system, which had its own long history.

Friday, 12 February 2021

Landlocked T-40

 "Meeting minutes

August 20th, 1941

  • Factory #37 director Levitanskiy
  • Chief of KB-1 Astrov
  • Chief of the 1st Department of the GABTU BTU, Military Engineer 1st Class Pavlov
  • Chief of the 1st Section, 1st Department of the GABTU BTU, Military Engineer 2nd Class Chizhikov
  • Senior Military Representative at factory #37, Military Engineer 2nd Class Kostsov
On the change to the T-40's starter mechanism necessitated by the delivery of 25 non-amphibious T-40 hulls without an opening for an external starter that 030 (T-60) tanks normally have from the Podolsk Ordzhonikidze factory.

Permit installation of internal pedal starters on 25 non-amphibious T-40 tanks of the same type as on the amphibious T-40, with the exception of a lack of propeller and its drive as well as installation of a special cover and armoured plugs in the openings of the rear bay.


Note that the index T-40S was not used here. This index was a post-war invention and was never used to refer to T-40 tanks incapable of swimming.

Wednesday, 10 February 2021

Rifle vs Tank

The British were the first to invent the tank during WWI, and so the Germans were forced into the position of being the first to undertake the difficult task of developing anti-tank weapons. The Kaiser's army approached the issue of protecting infantry from tanks in a pretty straightforward way: if regular machine guns and rifles can't penetrate the new British wonder weapon, then make a larger rifle.

Monday, 8 February 2021

Driving the T-34

Vadim Elistratov is a renowned restorer of armoured vehicles, and has extensive experience in driving the tanks he and his group restores. In a recent interview with TacticMedia he recounts the experience of driving a T-34 tank.

Friday, 5 February 2021

Export to Czechoslovakia

 "Chief of the General Staff
Worker and Peasant Red Army
July 5th, 1936

To the People's Commissar of Defense, comrade K. Ye. Voroshilov

While in Czechoslovakia I met with the Chief of the General Staff of the Czechoslovakian army General Krejčí on his request. The meeting was confidential and took place in a seldom visited suburban hotel near Prague. 

General Krejčí was accompanied by his deputy General Fiala and a Colonel, Chief of External Relations and military attache in France.

I was accompanied by our military attache in Czechoslovakia, Colonel L.A. Schnitman.

General Krejčí underscored the respect that the Czechoslovakian government and army have for the Soviet government and Red Army and stated that he found it necessary to inform me and discuss a number of important issues to do with Czechoslovakia and the mutual assistance pact.

Thursday, 4 February 2021

Designing the T-34 eBook

Probably the most frequently asked question about my book has been "is there going to be an ebook". I am excited to announce that the ebook version is finally here! Morton's designed variants for Amazon KindleKobo, and Google Play Books. If you're on the fence about buying, Google Play offers the longest sample. Enjoy!

Wednesday, 3 February 2021

Teletank Revival

 "To the Chief of the Tank Directorate, Engineer-Colonel Afonin

RE: development and production of teletanks (your letter #1148978)

October 2nd, 1943

Modern telemechanical devices for tanks consist of a whole complex of separate devices and components. Their production is effort intensive, requiring qualified personnel and highly precise equipment.

Production and tuning of telemechanical components can largely be done only by hand.

It is senseless to revive equipment for teletanks based on existing NII-200 designs and development of new simpler types of equipment would take a long time (5-6 months). Transition into mass production would take an equal amount of time.

Monday, 1 February 2021

Light and Long Lasting

The light tank as a cheaper and more numerous version of a medium tank was obsolete by the end of WWII. The Germans were one of the first to stop building classical light tanks, the USSR followed soon after in the fall of 1943. The USA was the only major tank building nation to continue light tank development. The result of this development was the Light Tank M24, the best light tank of WWII. Its success is underlined by its longevity: some nations kept theirs in service into the 21st century!

Friday, 29 January 2021

Book Review: How to Kill a Panther Tank

Many of my readers are avid historians themselves, or at the very least dabble in primary documents, with small libraries of scans tucked away in your collection, and a lucky few may have visited archives and handled the originals. This kind of engagement usually takes a lot of time and effort, which makes it a difficult thing to do for the majority of people to do. Craig Moore's latest book is targeted towards this demographic, letting you step into the shoes of a historian and read raw unrefined documents originally typed or penned in the 1940s.

Wednesday, 27 January 2021

Warspot Article: Second Fiddle

The Pz.Kpfw.IV became the workhorse of the German army, serving from the first day of the war to its last. However, one could hardly have predicted this in 1941. The British developed quite a negative opinion of this vehicle through trials and inspections of captured samples. Read why in my latest article on

Monday, 25 January 2021

Armoured Confusion

Works on Soviet tank building are published with striking regularity. Some are the results of many years of archival research, but many are based on prior works. There is nothing shameful about this, as skillful compilation is an art of no lesser value than writing from scratch. However, an issue with credibility may arise when picking secondary sources, and even primary documents can contain mistakes often caused by a lack of information. As a result, dozens of myths were built around Soviet tank building over the course of decades that live on today. This article will discuss such myths connected to pre-war tank building in the Soviet Union.

Friday, 22 January 2021

Accounting 101

18th Army Command
Operational Department
December 8th, 1943

Reports on the number of destroyed tanks

1. Precise reports on destroyed or knocked out tanks are of great importance for evaluating the combat strength of Russian tank units and estimation of success during defense. Not every hit on a tank destroys it. Reports need to differentiate:

  1. Destroyed tanks
  2. Knocked out tanks
  3. Tanks destroyed by the Luftwaffe
Tanks are counted as destroyed when they are disabled at our defensive lines or behind them.
Tanks are counted as destroyed if it's on fire, exploding, fell apart, or if the turret was knocked off. Tanks that can still drive away or move after being hit do not count.

Wednesday, 20 January 2021

Tech Support


On the trip to the city of Gorkiy with a group of American specialists from May 13th, 1943 to June 5th, 1943

Goal of the trip:

  1. To train the command and technical staff of the 5th Tank Brigade, 229th Tank Regiment, and 45th Tank Regiment on American tanks.
  2. To teach technical staff at the Department of Military QA and repair base #97 the design changes made to M4A2 and M3 tanks.
  3. To help repair base #97 organize a technological process for repairing American tanks in the conditions of their new workshops.
The group of American specialists included:
  1. Lieutenant Colonel Grey
  2. Mr. Ford
  3. Mr. Aikanimou
  4. Mr. Thornton
Major Kenges and Captain McEnton arrived on June 2nd.
  1. On May 14th the Americans familiarized themselves with the required tasks to organize work in the new workshops.
    The plan was to equip the new workshops and to demonstrate American methods for using the equipment for tank repair.
    Mr. Lieutenant Colonel Grey directed the overall work of the group and also directed the installation of equipment and organization of work at the tank assembly plant.
    Mr. Ford was tasked with placing equipment and organizing work in the engine and transmission repair workshop.
    Mr. Aikanimou was tasked to install equipment in the radio workshop.

Monday, 18 January 2021

Dead End Reinforcement

The design of the T-34 tank left a lot of reserves for modernization. The chassis dealt with a 5 ton increase in weight during its production run. A result of a thorough modernization, the T-34-85, entered production in early 1944. This tank received a new turret and an 85 mm gun. The crew increased to 5 people. The T'34's armament was radically improved, but the armour of the Soviet tank remained the same. The T-34-85M tank with improved armour was an attempt to resolve this situation.

Friday, 15 January 2021

T-43 Reliability Trials

 "To the People's Commissar of Tank Production, comrade Malyshev
To the Commander of the Armoured and Mechanized Forces of the Red Army, Colonel-General of the Tank Forces, comrade Fedorenko

According to your orders, I report on the work of the main components of experimental T-43 tanks.

Tank #1 travelled 2669 km.

Wednesday, 13 January 2021

First Emchas

"Brief report on the technical condition of M4-A2 tanks arriving at the Gorkiy foreign vehicles QA department of the GABTU
  1. 26 M4-A2 tanks arrived in Gorkiy from November 20th to December 28th, 1942.
    Delivery of the tanks and external inspection was performed in the presence of the delivering party.
    Transport #
    Arrival date
    # of M4-A2 tanks
    Train chief
    November 20th, 1942
    Jr. Lt. Barsukov
    November 23rd, 1942
    Sr. Tech. Lt. Balyayev
    November 26th, 1942
    Tech. Lt. Volosko
    December 1st, 1942
    Lt. Nesayev
    December 24th, 1942
    Sgt. Kinozarov
  2. External inspection of M4-A2 tanks showed that:
    1. Transport #17413 had no seals or tarps on 9 vehicles. Tank #3020993 had an open toolbox. Tank #3021054 did not have its travel lock engaged.
    2. Transport #17414 was missing tarps on 11 vehicles. Tank #3021079 was not sealed.

Monday, 11 January 2021

Red Army's First HEAT Grenades

Tanks became a true terror for infantry in WWI, although an "antidote" for these steel monsters was quickly found. The first stage was introduction of new ammunition for existing weapons: armour piercing bullets, rifle grenades, bombs, mines. Special anti-tank rifles and cannons were built later, but grenades and bottles with incendiary fluid became some of the most common weapons used against tanks.

Friday, 8 January 2021

Tank Comfort

Vadim Elistratov is a renowned restorer of armoured vehicles, with experience of bringing WWII era tanks back to life with their original components. Since he doesn't just rebuild the tanks but also drives them, he gave his impressions on how various nations' armoured vehicles compare to one another in a recent interview with Tactic Media.

Wednesday, 6 January 2021

Book Review: Panzer IV


As a military history writer, it is hard to strike a balance between the two sides of a tank's history. Many opt to focus exclusively on the technical specifications of a tank, judging its effectiveness and evaluating its legacy via a measure of kilograms or centimeters divorced entirely from any kind of context. Others lean towards the description of military operations only and gloss over any technical aspects of the tanks involved or how well they were suited for the tasks they carried out. Publications that attempt to cover both aspects often result in abrupt switches from one to the other without any meaningful link between the two. The simply named Panzer IV by Thomas Anderson stands in contrast to these works, masterfully weaving together the combat experience of the Pz.Kpfw.IV tanks and the technical changes introduced into the design in response to lessons learned in battle.

Monday, 4 January 2021

Intermediate Tank

GKO decree #6209s "On organizing T-44 tank production at factories #75 and #264" was signed on July 18th, 1944. With this order, Stalin gave permission to produce a replacement for the T-34. However, the T-44 never truly replaced the T-34-85. It was only produced at a backup factory and production volumes were small compared to the T-34-85. 1823 tanks is a very small number, and even in 1946 only 2701 T-44 tanks were built. The T-44 shouldered the problems of a revolutionary tank, although its service was long and it even saw battle.

Saturday, 2 January 2021

IS-3 Production

 "To the Deputy Commander of Armoured and Mechanized Forces of the Red Army, Colonel General of the Tank Forces, comrade Korobkov

I report that:

In accordance with order of Deputy Commander of the Armoured and Mechanized Forces and the NKTP #113/023 issued on March 12th, 1945, trials of the experimental IS-3 tank produced by the Kirov factory are completed.

I present the commission's report.

Due to the fact that the IS-3 was accepted into service before the trials ended, the main design and production drawbacks discovered during the trials were reflected in minutes #1 dated March 27th and minutes #2 dated March 30th.

Drawbacks discovered during further trials and those contained in the commission's report are largely operational drawbacks.

Presently the issue that stands before the NKTP is accepting list #3 of proposals in correcting the aforementioned drawbacks.

Deputy Chief of the GBTU, Lieutenant General of the Tank Engineering Service, Lebedev

Chief of the GBTU TU, Engineer-Colonel Blagonrarov

April 27th, 1945"

CAMD RF F.38. Op.11355 D.2986 L.176