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

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

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

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

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.