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."