Monday 30 May 2022

Third Tiger Out

The history of the Tiger heavy tank is often presented as a duel between two models: The Tiger H1 designed by Henschel with a mechanical transmission and Tiger (P) designed by Porsche with an electric transmission that allegedly led to its downfall. This common presentation is incorrect. The Germans worked on three Tiger tanks in the spring of 1942: the Tiger H1, Tiger (P) Typ 101 with a Siemens electric transmission, and the Tiger (P) Typ 102 with a Voith hydromechanical transmission. A lot has been written about the first two, but the last remained in the shadow for a long time. Books only contained scattered mentions or dry overviews of this tank without any photographs or blueprints.

Typ 102 refuelling in the vicinity of the Nibelungenwerke factory. The small fuel tanks and poor fuel economy meant this had to happen quite often. Ferdinand Porsche, director of Steyr Oscar Hacker, and Voith chief engineer Fritz Kugel.

The author of this article first wrote an article about the Tiger (P) Typ 102 back in 2017, describing its design, production, and trials. However, it contained many serious mistakes and left a lot of mysteries. Michael Fröhlich's book Der andere Tiger (The Other Tiger) was published in 2019. The author performed a lot of work and found a lot of new information on the Tiger (P) Typ 102, but not without mistakes. Now, combining all known information, the author returns to the topic with the first complete history of this mysterious Tiger.

Friday 27 May 2022

Winter Camo

 "Engineering Forces Staff
33rd Army
February 28th, 1942

I send you samples of winter camouflage that gave the best result in forested areas during proving grounds trials for a tank, a cannon, and a car.

Apply similar paint in units in order to establish effectiveness in fighting conditions.

Report on results of observing painted vehicles and report by March 10th, 1942.

Chief of Staff of the Engineering Forces, 33rd Army, Lieutenant Colonel [signature]
Major [signature]

Brief instructions on a new winter camouflage pattern

White paint available on the front lines is applied over top of summer protective green. A part of the hull (about 50-60%) is covered in large white spots. The rest is covered in 1-2 cm wide stripes that create a mesh with cells 4x4 cm to 15x15 cm in size. Apply the stripes by hand. It is not necessary to keep the lines straight and the cells the same size.

Examples for painting tanks, cars, and an anti-tank gun shield are attached.

Wednesday 25 May 2022

Training Time

 "Order of the People's Commissar of Defense #0436
October 23rd, 1943

Contents: on moving training tank units to a 6 month study period.

In order to raise the quality of crews trained in training tank and SPG regiments, I order to:

Establish a 6 month training period for personnel of all Red Army training tank units as of November 1st, 1943.

People's Commissar of Defense,
Marshal of the Soviet Union, I. Stalin"

Via Valeriy Lisyutin

Planetary Turning Mechanism Trials

 "January 7th, 1943

In October and November of 1942 factory #100 designed and tested a planetary turning mechanism designed by Engineer Lieutenant Colonel A.I. Blagonravov.

We attach the report on the first stage of trials held with a KV-1S tank and ask you to approve it.

By now, the total length of trials reached 1085 km, of those 135 km was travelled towing a tank. Once the tank with a planetary mechanism even towed two tanks with a combined weight of 75 tons without issue.

Monday 23 May 2022

Beheaded King Tiger

This photograph of a King Tiger with a torn off turret and Soviet officers standing on the hull is known to many fans of WW2 history. It can often be seen in various publications describing the Battle of Balaton in March of 1945, although none of the authors seem to have attempted to discover where this image came from. A number of clues reveals that this tank came from the 503rd Heavy Tank Battalion and the photo was made in December of 1944 during the Budapest Offensive Operation. It has nothing to do with the battles in March of 1944. Let us try to figure out where this headless tank came from.

Friday 20 May 2022

The Necessary Pair

Why the Panther couldn't replace the Pz.Kpfw.IV and why the Germans spent the whole war with two medium tanks.

The German tank building school was among the best in WW2. One could say it finished in second place overall. For instance, the Panther was a very competitive medium tank. The T-34 and Medium Tank M4 had advantages over it in production qualities and modernization potential, but the Panther surpassed them in armour and firepower while maintaining decent mobility. This tank was supposed to become Germany's main tank. It became the most numerous tank in the Germany army by the second half of 1944. Three factories built this tank, putting out 350 units monthly at the peak of production in the summer of 1944. The Panther was also a key part of the future of German tank building. This tank was supposed to be the only medium tank remaining in production by the second half of 1945. It would even be developed further. The Panther Ausf.F with improved frontal protection was supposed to become the main variant.

Three German medium tanks in one shot, July 1943. The Pz.Kpfw.III was on its way out, the Pz.Kpfw.IV was here to stay, and the Panther that couldn't quite replace it.

There is a common misconception that once the Panther appeared on the scene production of other medium tanks either stopped or began to wind down, after which it quickly became Germany's main tank. In reality, peak production of the Panther coincided with peak production of Germany's other medium tank, the Pz.Kpfw.IV. The difference in production volumes was not so great, which is a feat considering that only one factory build Pz.Kpfw.IV tanks starting with the summer of 1944: Nibelungenwerke. Medium SPGs are incomparable, as only the StuG 40 and StuH 42 outnumbered the vehicles built on the Pz.Kpfw.IV chassis, even though it was considered outdated in early 1944. This seems like a paradox, but there were good reasons why the Pz.Kpfw.IV entered production in November of 1937 and stayed there so long and why production of two medium tanks continued throughout the entire war.

Wednesday 18 May 2022

Object 701 Trials

 "February 8th, 1945

  1. The Object 701 tank was designed on the initiative of the Kirov factory with participation of the Bauman Institute transmission design group and TsAKB arms designers, and produced according to GOKO decree #5583 issued on April 8th, 1944.
  2. According to order #368/01 of the Commander of Armoured and Mechanized Forces and the People's Commissariat of Tank Production, the commission led by Lieutenant General of the Tank Forces comrade Vershinin conducted proving grounds trials of the Object 701 heavy tank in June-July of 1944.
    The NIBT proving grounds held penetration trials of two variants of the hull and turret in July-August of 1944.

Monday 16 May 2022

Halftrack vs Tanks

The Gun Motor Carriage M3 was one of the many specialized variants built on the M3 halftrack APC. It was armed with an obsolete gun and didn't satisfy American requirements for a tank destroyer, but nevertheless this vehicle became the first mass produced American tank destroyer.

Friday 13 May 2022

Warspot Article: Firefly with a Stinger

The Sherman IC and VC (colloquially known as the Sherman Firefly) combined the American Sherman M4 and M4A4 chassis with the British 17-pounder gun. Putting such a large and heavy gun even in the Sherman's wide turret proved challenging, but despite their drawbacks the Fireflies proved to be effective anti-tank weapons. Read about their challenges and triumphs in my latest article on

Wednesday 11 May 2022

Smoke and Mirrors

 "Tactical-technical characteristics for design and production of a removable smoke device for the BT-20 tank

Purpose: the smoke device will be installed on a regular BT-20 tank to create smoke screens from standstill or on the move that cover the tank's movement.

Special requirements:

  1. The volume of the fluid tank(s) must be at least 120 L.
  2. The consumption of fluid must range from 12 to 20 L per minute. The nozzle design must be adjustable to configure the consumption. It is permissible to use two removable nozzles.
  3. The smoke device must be slight and compact. The design must be simple, easy to install and remove. It may take no longer than 2 hours for the tank's crew to install or remove.

Monday 9 May 2022

Undercover Gun Runners

Czech anti-tank rifles fell into German hands after the annexation of Czechoslovakia, but the Germans got their hands on similar weapons designed in another European country in a different way. When it comes to Swiss (and other European) arms makers, the question of who made the order, who produced it, and who it was sold to often does not have a simple answer.

Friday 6 May 2022

New Shermans

January 30th, 1944

To L.P. Beria

On the topic of track slipping of modernized American M4A2 tanks in snow, I report that:

  1. Modernized M4A2 tanks began arriving in the USSR in the fall of 1943. These tanks have metallic tracks, while all earlier tanks had rubber-metallic tracks with special spurs that could be attached in the winter.

Wednesday 4 May 2022

SU-152 Practical Accuracy

The topic of accuracy and precision of Soviet guns comes up a lot. Stereotypically, these guns are depicted in media as being unable to hit the broad side of a barn. Records of trials show otherwise. Here is a record of one such trials at various distances.

Monday 2 May 2022

The Fight for Sight

Optics often come up in discussions that compare Soviet and German tanks. The famous "Zeiss optics" are often invoked by those who are not very well versed in the subject matter. The issue was not in Soviet sights. Plenty of them survived to this day, and any who wish can evaluate their quality on their own. German tanks were first and foremost superior in their observation devics. Their visibility was better than that of Soviet tanks, which was often a deciding factor in victory on the battlefield. However, the evolution of German observation devices is an interesting topic for discussion.