Friday, 30 July 2021

Weak Spots #3

As you've seen in previous articles, diagrams showing weak areas of enemy tanks were pretty common in the Red Army. However, these diagrams were usually produced as a result of thorough study and live fire tests. Sometimes diagrams had to be produced with less information, and thus ended up a little bit more vague, like these ones drawn up in the early stages of the war.

Wednesday, 28 July 2021

Book Review: T-34 Shock

The T-34 is a quite interesting tank from a historiographical point of view. Despite being one of the most numerous tanks ever built with variants still in service in some remote parts of the world, surprisingly little has been written about this vehicle. While Hunnicutt's Sherman: A History of the American Medium Tank covers production of the equivalent American tank in exhaustive detail, no such work has ever been undertaken for the T-34. Many modern books on this tank continue to recycle the same myths and misconceptions born in the Cold War, even though primary documents on the topic have been available for decades.

T-34 Shock (originally T-34 Continuum) by Francis Pulham and Will Kerrs begins with an interesting assertion. The authors state that the complete history of the tank lies not in these documents, but in photographs. Despite not reading Russian, Pulham and Kerrs have assembled an impressive collection of photographs of all manner of Soviet tanks, including the T-34, T-34-85, and SPGs on the chassis of these vehicles. These are chiefly photographs taken by German troops depicting either knocked out or captured tanks, but the book contains plenty of photos of tanks in other contexts, including in the armies of Soviet allies and tanks in post-WWII usage. With these photographs, they aim to reconstruct the vehicle's history.

Monday, 26 July 2021

From the Teplokhod AN to the MS-1

The 1920s were a transitional time for worldwide tank building. The end of the First World War resulted in a radical decrease of military budgets. Many vehicles were created as designers and commanders ruminated on the experience from the previous war, but most of them remained prototypes.

Italy joined the tank builders' club with its Fiat 3000 light tank, as did Sweden (with what really were German tanks). The USSR continued to develop tanks as well. The Russian Renault, a copy of the Renault FT, was followed by an original tank: the T-18, aka MS-1.

Friday, 23 July 2021

Warspot Article: British Tiger Trials

After having captured a running Tiger in North Africa, the British began a thorough study of this new German tank. Its performance was carefully evaluated in many trials that ran even after Germany's surrender. Read about what the British found in my latest article on Warspot.net.

 


Wednesday, 21 July 2021

Video: What did the Germans think about the T-34?

The T-34's impact on the German army is rarely underestimated, but often misunderstood. In my latest video I describe impressions from German soldiers and more importantly German commanders, as well as the lasting impact this tank had on German tank building.





Monday, 19 July 2021

Overgrown Cricket

 The Germans focused a lot of effort on mechanization of artillery. They were the first to use SPGs of all types in large numbers. The most common German fully tracked armoured vehicle was an SPG. Light and medium SPGs were common, but heavy ones not so much. Only the Jagdpanther heavy tank destroyer was built in large numbers, but only 90 Ferdinands and 85 Jagdtigers. Compared to the ISU-152 and ISU-122 these are negligible numbers. Heavy "weapons carriers" were in the worst position. Not a single one was mass produced and only one prototype was built. This was the Geschützwagen Tiger für 17cm K72 (Sf) or Grille 17/21.

Friday, 16 July 2021

From Each According to Ability

 "32nd Tank Regiment
June 27th, 1944
#0207

To the ABT Chief of the 7th Guards Cavalry Corps
Commander of the 16th Guards Cavalry Division

I report that out of the 10 MK-2 ("Matilda") tanks received by the regiment, only 2 were equipped with radios. An investigation showed that the radios were "redistributed" by the 201st Tank Brigade before the tanks were surrendered to be sent to other units.

The 1st Tank Battalion of the 201st Tank Brigade was especially complicit in the illegal disassembly of the vehicles, as the radios were removed at night while the vehicle commanders were absent.

I consider the act of permitting disassembly of perfectly functional vehicles negligent and criminal.

I ask you to forward my request to punish the guilty and return the radios for installation on the tanks to the Front command.

Commander of the 32nd Tank Regiment, Guards Lieutenant Colonel Galkin
Chief of Staff Duderman"

Via zihuatanexo.

Wednesday, 14 July 2021

Anti T-34 Tactics

"Translated from German

Chief Inspector of Mobile Forces
Staff of the Supreme Command of the Land Forces
#126/42

Secret

Direction on tank combat against the Russian T-34 tank

Characteristics of the T-34

The T-34 tank is faster, more maneuverable, and more mobile than our Pz.Kpfw.III and Pz.Kpfw.IV tanks, its armour is thicker than the armour of our tanks. Its 76 mm gun surpasses our 50 mm and 75 mm guns in penetration. Beneficial shape (all surfaces are sloped) helps shells slide off.

Monday, 12 July 2021

The Peak of American SPG Evolution

American self propelled artillery developed on its own terms, especially tank destroyers. After a series of experiments, American tank destroyers became very similar to their own tanks. As a rule they were based on tank chassis, but had thinner armour and higher mobility. The first such vehicle was the GMC M10, which made its debut in March of 1943. Its replacement, the M36, appeared on the battlefield a year and a half later. This was the best of American tank destroyers. Like the Soviet SU-100 its career spanned more than a decade. The last conflict it took part in was the Yugoslavian Civil War in the 1990s.

Friday, 9 July 2021

Valentine Impressions

 "To the Chief of the GABTU

Combat and technical characteristics of the British Mk.III tank

In using the Mk.III in combat from November 11th to December 6th, the following positive qualities were observed:

  1. The vehicle is easy to drive. The drivers do not get tired while driving.
  2. The vehicle turns easily.
  3. The vehicle moves silently.
  4. Fuel consumption is low.
  5. All components are easy to use and work flawlessly.
  6. The gun is simple to use, works flawlessly, and fires precisely.
  7. The armour is thick enough to protect from 37 and 45 mm shells.
  8. The observation devices are quite satisfactory and protected from bullets and splash.
  9. The vehicle is easy to start in winter.

Wednesday, 7 July 2021

Identification

"June 22nd, 1943

Package to comrade Antropov

I report that the investigation of rumours of Tiger tanks appearing in the region of Greater Karagashinka established that the enemy did not use Tiger tanks in that region. Questioning of eyewitnesses revealed that the enemy used only light and medium tanks. This is also confirmed from the forward observer posts and main artillery observation post. The rumours about the appearance of heavy tanks could have been caused by the appearance of heavy self propelled guns on the approach to Greater Karagashinka. One of them was knocked out. Three knocked out tanks were inspected: turned out to have been Pz.Kpfw.III and Pz.Kpfw.IV.

Transmitted by Konova"

Via Vladimir Nagirnyak.


Monday, 5 July 2021

Kingmaker of American Tank Building

American tank history is strange in some ways. For instance, Creighton Abrams is the best known American tank ace, and few know about tankers who scored more tank kills than he did. The situation with American tank designers is even stranger. Compared to Soviet tank designers, they are like ghosts. The only well known names among them are John Walter Christie and perhaps Joseph Colby, director of the Tank-automotive Center and a key figure in American wartime tank building. Even many specialists would not recognize the name of the man who effectively created the American wartime tank. Harry Austin Knox was better known as a car designer. However, he was also a talented tank designer who had an effective monopoly on American tank chassis from 1935 to the mid-1940s.

Friday, 2 July 2021

Supercharged KV

"State Committee of Defense decree #1221ss
January 30th, 1941

On improving mobility of KV tanks

To improve mobility of KV tanks, the State Committee of Defense decrees that:
  1. The People's Commissar of Tank Production (comrade Malyshev) and director of the Kirov factory comrade Zaltsman must:
    1. Improve the KV tank's draught pull by 20-25% by means of:
      1. Increasing the engine power of the V-2K diesel engine from 600 to 650 hp.
      2. Changing the gear ratio of the final drive.
      3. Changing the number of teeth on the drive sprocket.
    2. Begin production of such tanks as of February 15th of this year.
  2. The People's Commissariat of Tank Production (Kirov factory) is permitted to produce two experimental KV tanks with new 8-speed gearboxes and a diesel engine supercharged to 700 hp.
    Trials of the tank are to be conducted jointly with the GABTU and a report on the rationality of producing KV tanks with a new gearbox is to be sent to the GKO by March 25th.
[handwritten] "Approved - I. Stalin
Copies to: Malyshev, Zaltsman, Fedorenko, Malenkov"