Monday 19 June 2023

Assault Gun with Field Improvements

The situation with German military vehicles in museums, especially Russian ones, is difficult. The treatment of German armour in many countries during the Second World War and immediately afterwards is understandable. It was decades before anyone started to think about their historical value. It's hard to blame our ancestors for this, considering what these vehicles did to them. As a result, German tanks and SPGs are very rare today. Nevertheless, they are slowly reemerging in the hands of museums and private collections thanks to restoration workshops.

A new vehicle appeared on display.

Vadim Zadorozhniy's Technical Museum is one such organization. The museum restores military vehicles of the Second World War, including German ones. Recently, the museum put a new StuG III Ausf.E on display. This is a somewhat unusual vehicle and its story is worth telling.

Friday 16 June 2023

Light Tank Destroyer

 "Approved by Deputy People's Commissar of Defense, Colonel General of Artillery, Voronov
October 17th, 1942

Tactical-technical requirements for a 45 mm anti-tank SPG

1. Purpose of the SPG

The 45 mm anti-tank SPG is designed as a weapon for tank destroyer artillery regiments and anti-tank batteries in moto-mechanized units to combat enemy tanks and infantry.

2. Requirements for the SPG

The SPG uses the traversing part of the 45 mm model 1942 "M-42" anti-tank gun. The SPG must satisfy the following requirements:

  1. Muzzle velocity of 870 m/s when firing the 1.4 kg armour piercing shell.
  2. Ability to use armour piercing, high explosive, and subcaliber ammunition.
  3. The practical rate of fire in direct fire mode is no less than 15 RPM.
  4. The elevation angle is no less than +15 degrees.
  5. The depression angle is no less than -5 degrees.
  6. The traverse is at least 30 degrees(15 degrees per side).
  7. The rate of elevation and traverse is at least 1.5 degrees per turn of the flywheel.
  8. The bore axis height is no more than 1600 mm.
  9. The gun uses the AZP sight.
  10. The SPG is serviced by three crewmen (including the driver). The fighting compartment contains folding chairs for two men.
  11. During travel, the gun can be rigidly fixed in the horizontal and vertical plane.
  12. The gun mount must allow for comfortable loading at all elevation and traverse angles.
  13. The SPG can carry two PPSh SMGs.
  14. The ammunition capacity is 90 rounds for the 45 mm gun and 1000 rounds for the submachine guns. The ammunition stowage must be reliable and safeguard the ammunition during travel. It must be easy to extract the ammunition from the racks to load.

Tuesday 13 June 2023

Aquino Tank Weekend: T-34-85

Last weekend I had the pleasure of assuming the role of a T-34-85 tank commander during Aquino tank Weekend at the Ontario Regiment Museum. In this video, I cover what we know about the history of this particular tank and briefly show it in action. 

Monday 12 June 2023

Firefighters of the Fiery Salient

Supplies of M4A2 tanks to the USSR began in late 1942. Unfortunately due to technical defects (chiefly to do with injectors) they did not see service right away. Only a few units received these tanks in the spring of 1943, but one of them ended up fighting in the most famous tank battle of the Great Patriotic War.

Firefighters of the fiery salient

The 229th Independent Tank Regiment was one of the first Soviet tank units to receive the new American medium tanks. 31 tanks of this type were issued to the unit on April 10th, 1943, and by the start of July the regiment had 38 functional Medium Tanks M4A2. The regiment was assigned to the 48th Army at the time. As of July 1st it was located in reserve in the village of Perehozheye. The regiment was commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Merkulov with Major Bogatyrev serving as the Chief of Staff.

A very early M4A2 tank in Soviet service. This vehicle still has the return roller in the middle of the bogey, M34 gun mount with a narrow external mantlet, and direct vision ports

The regiment was moved to the vicinity of Kazakovka by July 5th, 1943. At the start of the Battle of Kursk the regiment had 1.2 loads of fuel per tank, three refills of ammunition, and 4 days worth of rations on hand. The Shermans got lucky, as the German spearhead struck west of them.

Friday 9 June 2023

SU-76 Requirements

 "Approved by the Deputy People's Commissar of Defense, Colonel General of Artillery Voronov
October 17th, 1942

Tactical-technical requirements for a 76 mm assault SPG

1. Purpose of the SPG

The 76 mm SPG is designed to support moto-mechanized units to combat firing emplacements, tanks, and personnel both with direct and indirect fire.

2. Requirements for the artillery component of the SPG

The SPG uses the stock rotating part of the ZIS-3 76 mm model 1942 gun. The ability to install a 57 mm IS-1 gun must also be retained.

The SPG must meet the following requirements:

  1. Practical rate of fire of no less than 12 RPM in direct fire and at small elevations.
  2. Gun elevation of at least +15 degrees.
  3. Gun depression of at least -5 degrees.
  4. Traverse range of 30 degrees (15 in either direction).
  5. The rate of traverse must be about 1.5 degrees per turn of the flywheel. The effort on the flywheel must not exceed 4 kg.
  6. The rate of elevation must be about 1 degree per turn of the flywheel. The effort on the flywheel must not exceed 4 kg.
  7. The recoil brake must be armoured. The armour must be 8-10 mm thick.
  8. The oscillating part of the gun and the recoil brake armour must be fully balanced.
  9. The bore axis height must be no more than 1650 mm.
  10. The gun position must allow for comfortable loading at all angles of elevation and traverse.
  11. The gun sight must be a mass production type either from the 76 mm regimental gun or the ZIS-3.
  12. Crew of 4 (including the driver).
    During travel, collapsible seats for three men must be installed in the fighting compartment.
  13. The gun must be rigidly fixed in travel and not move vertically or horizontally.
  14. The SPG must carry two PPSh SMGs.
  15. The SPG must carry 60 rounds of ammunition for the gun and 1000 PPSh rounds.
    The ammunition must be stored in places that make it comfortable for the loader to work with, fix securely in its slots, and be easy to unlatch and retrieve.

Monday 5 June 2023

First Among Equals

The defeat of the British Expeditionary Force in France in 1940 was a wake-up call for British tankers. It was clear that their tanks were not suited for modern war. Light tanks had no chance to survive on a battlefield saturated with anti-tank guns, and even heavier infantry tanks were more vulnerable than expected. The Infantry Tank Mk.I armed only with a machine gun was discarded immediately. The Infantry Tank Mk.II proved itself better, but was still far from perfection. German forces were expected to cross the Channel any minute, and Britain had no modern tanks to repel them with. The only choice was to develop a new tank, and quickly. This tank was called the Infantry Tank Mk.IV or Churchill I.

A tank of compromises

Work on the new tank began in July of 1940. The A20 tank, a potential replacement for the Infantry Tank Mk.II, looked quite archaic compared to its German adversaries. However, the British were not prepared to give up on the concept just yet. Harland & Wolff built one prototype, but there were many issues with it, not the least of which was the insufficiently powerful Meadows DAV engine.

Experimental A20 tank, the Churchill’s predecessor.

The British were in a tough situation when it came to tank engines. The army didn’t want to spend money on engine development, expecting to be able to adapt an engine already in production. This is what happened in this case: the DAV was initially meant to go into the much lighter Cruiser Tank Mk.V. The Vauxhall company proposed their own engine, the Bedford Twin Six, to replace the troublesome Meadows DAV. As the name implies, it was composed of two six-cylinder engines produced by Bedford, a subsidiary of Vauxhall. These engines showed themselves well on trucks. Vauxhall’s proposal was so enticing that they ended up with a contract not just for the engine, but for the entire tank.