Monday 28 August 2023

Alternative Heavy Tank

Factory #183 in Kharkov was the center of Soviet heavy tank development in the interwar period. The T-35 powerful (heavy) tank developed in Leningrad by N.V. Barykov was produced here. Production was set up with the participation of I.S. Ber, who was appointed as the head of HPZ (factory #183) Diesel Department design bureau T-35K. Iosif Solomonovich Ber played a key role in the fate of the T-35 tank. It was he who produced the technical documentation for the tank and further development of the design was done under his direction. Work to replace the T-35 moved to Leningrad in 1938 and Ber was promoted to the position of deputy chief of the KB-520 design bureau. Work on heavy tanks in Kharkov ended, but not for long.

I.S. Ber, a key player in the creation of T-35, T-34M, and T-44 tanks.

Tuesday 22 August 2023

Failed Modernization of the KV-1S

Evolutionary development is a common sight in tank development. The fact that engineers do not seek to make work for themselves should not be mistaken for laziness. This is often a necessary requirement set by the customer, especially when it is necessary to keep up the rate of production. For this reason, revolutionary projects were often vetoed from above. This happened with the KV-13 and T-34M in 1942 when both were put away until better days.

Object 238 on trials, August 1943.

Saturday 19 August 2023

Video: Almost an Hour of the T-34-85 at Capel

Didn't get enough of the T-34-85 tank shown at Capel? Enjoy almost an hour of glorious 4K footage from the event:

Monday 7 August 2023

Shermans in "August Storm"

In Soviet historiography, the Soviet-Japanese War of 1945 is overshadowed by grandiose operations against Berlin and Vienna earlier that year. However, Western historians pay close attention to this campaign and debates on whether it was the A-bombs or the Soviet invasion that forced the Japanese to surrender rage on to this day. Famous historian David Glantz even invented a grandiose name for this operation: August Storm. The Red Army's advance was indeed lightning fast, in part thanks to foreign vehicles. This included the M4A2(76)W HVSS, the most advanced Sherman variant sent to the USSR.

Clouds gather

Stalin promised to enter the war against Japan within three months of Germany's defeat at the Yalta conference in February of 1945. Colonel-General Alfred Yodl signed an order for unconditional capitulation of all German forces on May 7th, 1945, coming into effect at 23:01 on May 8th. This kicked off the countdown for a Soviet offensive against Japan. The Red Army had three months to move an enormous force to the other side of an equally enormous country.

Concentration of the 6th Guards Tank Army in the vicinity of Tamsagbulag. The army included the 9th Guards Mechanized Corps that used Sherman tanks.

The 6th Guards Tank Army was one of the units that was destined to transfer to the far east. On June 26th, 1945, the unit was reallocated to the Transbaikal Front. It would have to cover a distance of 9000 km to cross from Czechoslovakia to Choibalsan. 88 trains of 60 cars each were allocated for this journey. The full transfer took 30 days, but the first elements began to form up by July 17th. New tanks awaited them there: 100 M4A2(76)W including the latest tanks with HVSS suspensions. These tanks were described in documents as "M4A2 with wide tracks". The 46th Guards Tank Brigade was fully equipped with these vehicles. One company from each of the tank regiments of the 18th, 30th, and 31st Guards Mechanized Brigades that made up the 9th Guards Mechanized Corps also received new tanks.

From Choibalsan, the tanks would make a 300 km march to Tamsagbulag, where the army would prepare for the upcoming offensive. This march took place in extreme conditions. The temperature reached 45 C during the day, as a result of which marches took place only at night to avoid overheating the engines and running gear. This also helped hide the tanks from air reconnaissance, as there was nowhere to conceal them in the desert. The army's documents describe the M4A2 as less sensitive to hot weather than the T-34-85. The American tanks could cover more ground every day, but at the cost of increased fuel consumption. The Shermans normally burned 40 kg of fuel per hour, but this went up to 60 kg in Mongolia. Each tank could only run 90-100 km before refuelling instead of 150 km. The T-34-85 burned only 26 kg of fuel per hour.

M4A2(76)W HVSS, the newest tanks of the 9th Guards Mechanized Corps.

Wednesday 2 August 2023

Crewing the T-34-85 at Capel 2023

A month ago I joined the Capel Military Show as a T-34-85 tank crewman. With a full crew, hatches shut, and cannons firing outside, it was a great chance to experience what I've only read about. Watch my latest video for my impressions.