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

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.
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

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.