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."