Monday 28 February 2022

Nine Years of Tank Archives

The Tank Archives blog turns 9 this year! At this point, I've published 2594 posts for a total of 6,931,512 views. The numbers don't lie, this has been my most successful year yet with over 1.18 million views! This translates into some very successful individual months as well. Over the past year I beat my monthly page view record three times, with the most successful month so far being September 2021 at 112,478 page views. Five months out of the last 12 saw over 100,000 views. Thank you, dear readers, and let's keep up this success into the tenth year!

As always, the US takes the first place in readership by a long shot, followed surprisingly by Indonesia. Germany and the UK fell to third and fourth respectively. 

My other work is also doing well. Sherman Tanks of the Red Army was finally published and Designing the T-34 is on its second printing. I already have a third book in the works and I hope I can officially announce it soon!

Tank Archives is doing well on social media as well. Twitter is at the forefront with over 21,000 followers, more than double compared to last year. Facebook is also growing, having recently hit 5000 followers. Youtube is growing the slowest of all at 1,740 subscribers, which is not unexpected considering that I post relatively infrequently.

Larger articles on also remain popular, with 11 new ones over the course of the past year. I continue to hold the top viewed tank article spot on the site with a total of five article placing in the top ten.

I haven't been up to anything radically new, but it's good to see that all the old directions are going well. Let's see what the next year will bring!

Playing Catch-up

When talking about the status of tank building in various nations at the start of WW2, many tend to point to the Americans as the worst ones off. This is entirely incorrect. First of all, the American infantry and cavalry had a decent number of tanks, although not many medium ones. Second, these tanks were adapted for the American theatre of war and had exceptional mobility. Third, the Americans started the war with a well formed concept of what a tank should look like, which allowed them to quickly begin production of next generation tanks. In comparison, the British were doing very poorly, to the point where only their status as an island nation saved them from a catastrophe. This was the result of a crisis that began in the 1920s.

Friday 25 February 2022

Far East Reliability

 "September 29th, 1945

The following technical defects were discovered in tanks and SPGs of the Transbaikal Front after crossing the Manchurian and Mongolian steppe, mountains of the Greater Khingan, and the heavily swamped region until Changchung and Mukden.

  1. Widespread cases of melting battery seals on T-34 tanks and SU-100 SPGs.
    Due to the low quality of seals (low melting temperature) and lack of asbestos packing cords, the seals melted, seeped into battery cells, and covered the upper parts of the plates. Refurbishment of batteries was successfully carried out by brigade and regiment level repair units.
  2. Widespread cases of destruction of M4A2 road wheel tires.
    Destruction happened chiefly due to poor vulcanization of the rubber and especially difficult road conditions (high ambient temperature and sand-stone terrain).

Wednesday 23 February 2022

Obsolete Tanks

April 10th, 1945

I report that production for the T-27, T-30, T-37, T-38, T-40, and T-60 tanks has ceased. As of April 1st, 1945, there are 566 tanks of these types that require refurbishment but cannot be supplied with parts.

Imported Mk.II [Matilda], Mk.IV [Churchill], M3s [Medium Tank M3], and M3l [Light Tank M3] tanks are in the same state. As of April 1st, 1945, there are 315 tanks of this type that require refurbishment.

All of these vehicles are obsolete, as they have weak armament and insufficient armour. They cannot be used in battle and are only used in training units.

It would take a considerable expense to restore these tanks. Repair units are loaded with repairs of modern tanks, and it is not reasonable to distract them with repairs of obsolete vehicles.

I ask for you permission to use the aforementioned tanks until they require refurbishment, after which they will be written off and disassembled for parts. These parts will be used for light and medium repairs of tanks that are still being used.

Deputy Commander of the Armoured and Mechanized Forced, Colonel General of the Tank Forces, Korobkov."

TsAMO RF F.38 Op.11355 D.290 L.4
Printed in Glavnoye Bronetankovoye Upravleniye Lyudi, Sobytiya, Fakty v dokumentakh, 1944-1945 p.457

Monday 21 February 2022

A Prospective Standard Chassis

The E-50 and E-75 are a special topic within the history of German tank building. These tanks were not finished before the end of the war, and the work that was performed is still not entirely known. As a result, the E-50 and E-75 became a viable platform to "build" fictional tanks that would have fought the T-44, IS-3, Centurion, and Pershing. Because of this, many now know about the existence of the E-50 and E-75, but few have any understanding of what these tanks were really supposed to be like.

Unfortunately many materials pertaining to the E-50 and E-75 have been lost. Only drafts of the hull, running gear, and suspension have been preserved, so it's impossible to reconstruct how these vehicles would have looked. However, we have enough information to give a general idea.

Friday 18 February 2022

Mix and Match

April 6th, 1945

The NIBT Proving Grounds tested Tiger Ausf.B road wheels on a T-34-85 tank. Trials showed that these wheels are more reliable than those used on the T-34-85 tank.

No defects aside from the loss of the disk attachment cone at 1058 km and four cases of burst welding seams on the rims were observed during 1500 km of travel (of those 567 were on a highway with an average speed of 42.3 kph).

Wednesday 16 February 2022

Turn up the Heat

 "April 13th, 1945

Experience gathered as a result of experiments performed at the NIBT Proving Grounds and the front lines of the Patriotic War show that instructions to heat up V-2 family engines at low RPM (600-800) until coolant temperature of 50 degrees and oil temperature of 40 degrees is reached are ineffective, do not result in normal burning of fuel, and result in increased wear on components.

Heating V-2 engines at high RPM (up to 1600 RPM) by combining idling and working under load results in a higher effect and reduces the time required to heat up the engine to working conditions.

Tuesday 15 February 2022

Panzerwaffe Between III and IV

German tank building during WW2 ended up in a situation where the similar Pz.Kpfw.III and Pz.Kpfw.IV tanks as well as SPGs and other vehicles on their chassis were built in parallel in large numbers. The tank chassis were similar in many of their characteristics. They were equipped with the same engines and transmissions of the same type. At the same the designs were incompatible in many ways. Let us try to figure out how the Germans arrived at two solutions instead of one and why multiple attempts to unite the two designs ended in failure.

Friday 11 February 2022

Health and Safety

March 26th, 1945

Tank units armed with heavy tanks report instances where the spent brass catcher is removed from the 122 mm D-25 gun because it stops the spent brass from extracting fully.

The incomplete extraction of the brass is intentional and aids in reducing the fumes in the fighting compartment, as a portion of the fumes exit out of the gun barrel before it is removed.

I ask you to instruct tank units to stop removing the brass catcher as its absence results in serious bruising of the loader.

Chief of the Tank Usage Directorate of the GBTU, Major General of the Tank Engineering Service, Pechenikin
Chief of the 1st Department of the Tank Usage Directorate of the GBTU, Engineer-Colonel Oleinikov"

CAMD RF F.38 Op.11362 D.116 L.19
Printed in Glavnoye Bronetankovoye Upravleniye Lyudi, Sobytiya, Fakty v dokumentakh, 1944-1945 p.449

Wednesday 9 February 2022

The Wehrmacht's Equestrian Might

There are a lot of myths about WW2 that are actively promoted to this day. One of those myths is the total motorization of the German army. It is often said that that only the Soviets rode around on horses, but the Germans were fully equipped with trucks and halftrack APCs. This assertion would only cause a sad smile from German soldiers. While they indeed had a lot of trucks, the main backbone of infantry transport was made up of horses. Transport by horse cart was the norm until the end of the war, and production of horse carts increased as the war went on, rather than decreased.

Monday 7 February 2022

How to Lose Everything and Learn Nothing

German tanks and SPGs of the second half of WW2 are often praised as "wonder weapons". Based on what is written about them, one can only come to the conclusion that Germany lost WW2 by accident. This is often said about the "big cats": the Tiger, Panther, and so on. Indeed, Germany's tank industry took a lead in 1943. Thanks to a sudden jump forward, one can argue that Germany had the best heavy and medium tanks. However, it was in the second half of 1943 that the Germans began to lose their grasp on the Eastern Front. A year later, German tank industry was no longer in the lead. The issues it faced were systematic, and despite an arguable second plate in the tank race, the Germans had no future when it came to either the tanks or their armament.

Friday 4 February 2022

Weight Gain

February 17th, 1945

The NKPS Technical Commission has established that the M4A2 tank weighs 32.5-33 tons. Loading two M4A2 tanks on one 60 ton flat car is categorically forbidden to avoid crashes and accidents during transport. Give these directions to factories and military representatives.

When composing requests to transport M4A2 tanks, allocate one 50 ton flat car for each tank. 

Deputy Chief of Staff of the Armoured and Mechanized Forces, Guards Major General of the Tank Forces, P. Markov

Chief of the Operations Department of the Staff of the Armoured and Mechanized Forces, Engineer-Colonel Martynov"

CAMD RF F.38 Op.11355 D.1364 L.53
Printed in Glavnoye Bronetankovoye Upravleniye Lyudi, Sobytiya, Fakty v dokumentakh, 1944-1945 p.398

Wednesday 2 February 2022

A Flame Throwing Alternative

The USSR was one of the few nations that seriously explored tank flamethrowers in the 1930s. Initially there were plans to install a flamethrower on the T-18 (MS-1) tank, but the adoption of its replacement, the T-26, led to a real breakthrough. The result was the KhT-26, the most numerous chemical (flamethrower) tank. Unlike the two-turreted T-26, which was produced relatively briefly, the KhT-26 created on its chassis was in production until 1936. It was replaced by the KhT-130, an improved version based on the single turreted T-26, and then the KhT-133, the same type of vehicle based on the T-26 with a sloped turret and hull superstructure. In total, over 1200 chemical tanks on the T-26 chassis were built, not including the KhT-27 and KhT-37. However, a considerable flaw in these tanks was discovered even before the war. Their bulletproof armour made them too vulnerable.