Monday 30 August 2021

Evolution and Revolution

March 29th, 1945, was an important date for Soviet tank building. The IS-3 tank, the result of a deep modernization of the IS-2 launched in April of 1944, was accepted into service on that day. The IS-3 had a complex fate. The army did not initially want to mass produce it, although the decision to do so later proved correct. The IS-3 was the last Soviet tank to be accepted into service during the Great Patriotic War. It did not reach the battlefield, but it worked flawlessly on the ideological front. The appearance of IS-3 tanks at the Victory Parade in Berlin was a true shock for the Western Allies, and this tank remained the gold standard for a modern fighting vehicle for seven years.

Friday 27 August 2021

Fine Vintage


  1. The amount of artillery systems held at warehouse #727 that are fully equipped (sans breech blocks) is as follows:
    1. 107 mm model 1877: 32 units or 8 batteries
    2. 152 mm 2 tonners: 68 units or 17 batteries
    3. 120 mm French guns: 12 units or 3 batteries
      Other systems including 127 and 152 mm British guns and 2-pood guns cannot be used as there are no shells or sights for them.

Wednesday 25 August 2021

T-34 Experience

 "On the use of tanks in the 229th Tank Regiment of the 70th Proskurov Order of the Red Banner Order of Suvorov Order of Kutuzov 2nd class Mechanized Brigade during the Patriotic War

During the Patriotic War of 1941-1945 most of the materiel supplied to the regiment was the same in quality. In early parts of the war the regiment received T-34 tanks with the 75 mm [sic] gun. With the introduction of the T-34-85 tanks, the regiment received T-34-85 tanks until the end of the war, primarily from the Tagil factory.

Monday 23 August 2021

Temperamental Columbina

Even though the Red Army understood the need for a light SPG even before the war, the SU-76's road to the battlefield was long and difficult. Despite popular belief he USSR's manufacturing capabilities were not as great as those of the Western Allies, who didn't need to move their factories thousands of kilometers and set up in an empty field. The front line troops would have been happy to have light tanks, SPAAGs, and tracked APCs, and captured or Lend Lease vehicles of this type were happily used. However, only the SU-76 could be had in sufficient amounts, a vehicle that received mixed impressions.

Friday 20 August 2021

Winter Camo

 "GABTU Scientific Research Proving Grounds

Proving Grounds Chief Colonel Romanov, December 15th, 1941

Proving Grounds Commissar, Regimental Commissar Dolgov, December 16th, 1941

Conclusions regarding experimental winter camouflage of armoured vehicles


On orders from the GABTU, T-34, T-50, BT, T-26, and T-40 tanks were painted in winter camouflage patterns between September 19th and October 2nd, 1941. The trials were performed at the GABTU proving grounds.

The goal of the trials was to:

  1. Establish the pattern that was the most effective at breaking up the outline and shape of the tanks.
  2. Establish the shade of colours that blend together with the surroundings in winter.
  3. Develop a formula for paint that is sufficiently resilient and easy to produce.
After the pattern, colour, and formula are selected, the proving grounds will apply it to samples of all vehicles used by the Red Army. After experimental camouflage is applied, an instruction manual on winter painting will be composed and requirements will be distributed to factories.

Wednesday 18 August 2021

New Amphibious Tank

 "January 9th, 1938
1st Department of factory #37

To the Chief of the ABTU, Corps Commander Pavlov
CC: Chief of the 8th Main Directorate of the NKOP, Brigade Engineer Sviridov

RE: engine and armour for the amphibious tank

ABTU letters #184910s dated December 11th, 1937 and #183939s dated October 26th, 1937, state that the 6-cylinder Dodge engine must be used in the amphibious tank that is under development and the armour should be made in two layers, 3+7 mm, preferably at an angle. 

Monday 16 August 2021

Object 140: A Promising Loser

Soviet tank building appeared as one straight continuous line. The opening of the archives showed that there were many deviations from it, small and large branches leading to dead ends. The story of Nizhniy Tagil's "new medium tank" indexed Object 140 is well known today. The label "unfortunate" firmly stuck to it, given by the tank's creator himself.

Friday 13 August 2021

85 mm Gun for the KV-1

 "Order for  the People's Commissariat of Tank Production of the USSR
November 11th, 1941

In order to widely use artillery systems that are being mass produced at the factories of the People's Commissariat of Tank Production, design and install the M-30 system and the 85 mm AA gun into the KV tank. To do this:

  1. Director of the Izhora factory, comrade Muzrukov, must:
    1. Provide detailed blueprints for mounting the M-30 gun in the KV tank no later than November 15th and produce a prototype, install it in a turret, and send it to the Kirov factory for trials no later than December 15th.
    2. Develop a draft project for installing the 85 mm AA gun in a KV tank and send to me for approval by November 20th.
    3. When developing detailed blueprints for the M-30 and draft blueprints for the 85 mm gun use components that are already being produced by the Izhora factory wherever possible.
  2. Chief Engineer comrade Ryzhkov and Chief of the 5th Department comrade Bulyshev at the Izhora factory are responsible for the completion of this work.
  3. Chief of the Ammunition Department comrade Levshin must resolve the issue of armour piercing ammunition for the M-30 and 85 mm gun by November 20th of this year.
  4. Chief of the Ammunition Department comrade Levshin is responsible for ensuring the completion of this order.
Deputy People's Commissar of Tank Production, Kotin"

Wednesday 11 August 2021

Friend or Foe

Soviet armoured forces never established a uniform system of tactical markings, leaving individual commanders to create their own. When it came to friend or for markings, there was an even greater variety, as they were changed often. One example is this schedule used by the 9th Army in July of 1941.

Monday 9 August 2021

Light Turretless Artillery Tank

The first work on SPGs began in the USSR in the 1920s. They began as just projects, but prototypes began appearing in the early 1930s. The first such vehicles were built in 1931, generally light ones. Even though the results were negative, this was not a complete failure. Soviet SPGs were produced in series, although small ones, and some of them still saw battle. This also applies to the "artillery tank", the AT-1. Much was expected of it, and the vehicle was indeed quite decent, but it had one serious issue: the AT-1 ended up without a gun.

Friday 6 August 2021

Book Review: The Assault Platoon of the Grenadier-Company

The Assault Platoon of the Grenadier-Company November 1944 German Army Pamphlet - Merkblatt 25a/16 is the second book by Bernard Kast (Military History Visualized) and Christoph Bergs (Military Aviation History). Much like their first bookThe Assault Platoon of the Grenadier-Company is a translation of a German tactical pamphlet, but on a closer look it's a lot more than that.

Wednesday 4 August 2021

Supercharged KV

 "State Committee of Defense decree #1220ss
January 30th, 1942

On improving mobility of KV tanks

  1. The People's Commissar of Tank Production comrade Malyshev and director of the Kirov factory comrade Zaltsman must begin production and delivery in February of 1942 of KV tanks with:
    1. Altered final drive gear ratio and gear teeth count.
    2. A V-2K engine supercharged to 650 hp at 2100 RPM.
  2. The GABTU chief comrade Fedorenko and director of Kirov factory comrade Zaltsman must conduct comparative trials of a mass production KV tank, modernized KV tank, and a T-34 tank and present conclusions and updated tactical-technical characteristics to the State Committee of Defense by February 20th, 1942.
Chairman of the State Committee of Defense, I. Stalin
Copies to: comrade Malyshev, Zaltsman, Fedorenko, Malenkov"

Monday 2 August 2021

Chief Designer of the 1930s

When one lists Soviet tank designers, M.I. Koshkin is usually remembered first as one of the main authors of the T-34. He is usually followed by A.A. Morozov, who succeeded Koshkin as the Chief Designer of factory #183 in Kharkov and in Nizhniy Tagil after the evacuation. Zh.Ya. Kotin, the author of many tanks from the KV-1 to the IS-2, also ranks highly. N.A. Astrov, the creator of the T-40, T-60, T-70, and other light vehicles is slightly less famous. However, if one explores an earlier period of Soviet tank building, one will see many other much less known names. Their obscurity is largely due to their complicated history.

One such history belongs to the main character of today's article, Semyon Aleksandrovich Ginzburg. He oversaw the creation of the most numerous and most successful Soviet tanks of the interbellum era: the T-26, BT, T-28, and T-35. As the Chief Engineer at factory #185 he directed the creation of a number of tanks and SPGs. His designs include the T-50 light tank and SU-12 (SU-76) SPG, which played a fatal role in his career. Let us recall this man, whose contribution to Soviet tank building was truly immense. The war for his tanks began back in 1936 and finished in August of 1945 in the Far East.