Saturday, 22 September 2018

25 Pounds of Death

Divisional artillery of most WWII belligerents was filled with several types of weapons. The Wehrmacht and the US Army combined light and heavy howitzers, while the Red Army also used guns. The only exception was Great Britain, who had only one type of divisional cannon: the 87.6 mm 25-pounder gun-howitzer.

Thursday, 20 September 2018

Panzerfaust & Co.

"Operational Department of the 1st Cavalry Corps Staff
RE: №0902, March 31st, 1945

Carrying out the orders of the Corps commander regarding the effectiveness of German anti-tank rifles and "Faustpatrone" grenades and losses in tanks and SPGs suffered from them, I report that during the fighting in East Prussia (January-February 1945) the brigade lost 1-2 tanks and one SPG near Trauvsitten to "Faustpatrone" grenades. No losses were taken from fire of "Panzerschreck" or "Ofenrohr" type weapons.

The brigade has no information on the organization of enemy units or their equipment with anti-tank rifles.

Chief of Staff of the 89th Tank Brigade, Lieutenant-Colonel Glushkov"

Considering that the brigade lost 50 tanks burned up and 38 tanks knocked out during February alone, Panzerfaust style weapons ended up doing a negligible amount of damage during the fighting in 1945 until the Red Army entered heavily built up areas.

Wednesday, 19 September 2018

Mega Hetzer

"Artillery HQ, 1st Order of Lenin Guards Mechanized Corps
February 5th, 1945

Only for: commander of the 1453rd Self Propelled Artillery Regiment

Based on directive #0160 of the Commander of Artillery of the 3rd Ukrainian Front, issued on January 17th, 1945, I report that:

A captured radio operator of the 73rd Artillery Regiment of the 1st Tank Division, German Gefreiter Gugenreiter, said that: "the first tank regiment of the division received four new anti-tank guns called "Getzer". These guns are held in great secrecy and no one is allowed to come close to them aside from their maintenance personnel. They are designed to fight Russian tanks. A shell fired from their guns can penetrate 22 cm of armour from a distance of 1200 meters. The gun is 1.5 meters tall and moves at a speed of 70 kph."

The Corps Deputy Commander of Artillery ordered that:
  1. Personnel of artillery units and reconnaissance especially must be familiarized with the POW's statement.
  2. If the new "Getzer" SPGs are located, immediately report to the Corps Artillery HQ.
Corps Artillery HQ Chief, Guards Major Veselovskiy."

Via Andrei Ulanov

Tuesday, 18 September 2018

Specialists

"Order of the People's Commissar of Defense #0953
On using tankers according to their speciality
December 13th, 1942

Still we observe mass use of intermediate and junior commanders and privates of the tank forces, including drivers, gunners, loaders, technicians, etc. as riflemen, machinegunnners, or artillerymen in infantry, other types of forces, and in rear line roles on every Front and Military District.

I order that:
  1. Intermediate and junior commanders, as well as privates, of the tank forces that are not being used according to their training must be taken out of their unit by the Military Council of the Front or District by December 30th, 1942, and sent to:
    1. In Fronts: intermediate commanders and technicians to the ABT personnel department, junior commanders and privates to training tank regiments and reserve battalions of the Front.
    2. In Military Districts: to personnel departments or training tank regiments stationed within the District.
    3. Tankers must only be sent to their own unit or to the personnel department, training regiments, or reserve tank battalions (see #1 and #2) upon recovery in hospitals.
  2. In the future, using tankers of the aforementioned categories and specialities is categorically forbidden for anyone.
Report on progress by January 5th, 1943.

People's Commissar of Defense, I. Stalin"

Monday, 17 September 2018

Far East Modernizations

"To the Chief of the GBTU TU

RE: #1142232
January 24th, 1944
  1. Repair factory #105 developed blueprints and processes to rearm the T-37 and T-38 tanks to use the ShVAK gun. The mass of the tank increases by 100 kg as a result of rearmament. After being rearmed, the prototype was tested by firing on the move and by swimming. Trials show satisfactory results. Repair factory #105 is performing the rearmament. As of January 1st, 97 T-37/38 tanks have been rearmed with the ShVAK gun.

Saturday, 15 September 2018

Unlucky 45 mm

By the end of 1941, it was clear that the power of the main Soviet anti-tank gun, the 53-K 45 mm mod. 1937, is insufficient to combat new variants of German tanks, which had thicker armour and applique plates. In addition, Soviet intelligence reported that Germany was developing vehicles with even thicker armour. The replacement or modernization of the 45 mm gun was a very pressing issue at the start of 1942. One of the candidates for the new role was the M-6 45 mm anti-tank gun.

Thursday, 13 September 2018

Coverup

"Translation from German
9th Army HQ
Intelligence department, counterintelligence section
#653/43 Secret
July 18th, 1943

RE: Operation Citadel

All documents that relate to Operation Citadel even now have a special meaning for the enemy. Because of this, all documents, down to every last copy, in both the corps and the divisions, need to be thoroughly and completely destroyed. The report of this destruction must be submitted by August 3rd, 1943. Copies not marked for destruction in corps and divisions must be delivered immediately to rear line organizations. 


Division HQs must transfer the documents to corps HQs, which will take on the task of ensuring that they are transferred to the distant rear.

Army Chief of Staff"

Wednesday, 12 September 2018

Far East Variety

As I've written before, the tank fleet of the Far East Front was rather heterogeneous. Large amounts of T-26 and BT tanks were preserved there, since there was little for them to do in Europe. When the war moved over to the Far East, these tanks were ready to spring into action.

"Report on the materiel of the Armoured and Mechanized Forces of the 1st Red Banner Army as of August 8th, 1945

Unit
Authorized strength
Actual strength
KV
T-34
BT-7
T-26
ISU-152
SU-76
KV
T-34
BT-7
T-26
ISU-152
SU-76
75th Tank Brigade
-
86
-
-
-
-
-
43
-
46
-
-
77th Tank Brigade
-
86-
-
-
-
-
-
42
42
-
-
-
257th Tank Brigade
-
86-
-
-
-
-
-
40
-
46
-
-
48th Independent Tank Regiment
21
-
-
-
-
-
21
-
-
-
-
-
335th Heavy SPG Regiment
-
-
-
-
21
-
-
-
-
-
21
-
338th Heavy SPG Regiment
-
-
-
-
21
-
-
-
-
-
21
-
339th Heavy SPG Regiment
-
-
-
-
21
-
-
-
-
-
21
-
455th SPG Squadron
-
-
-
-
-
13
-
-
-
-
-
13
456th SPG Squadron
-
-
-
-
-
13
-
-
-
-
-
13
457th SPG Squadron
-
-
-
-
-
13
-
-
-
-
-
13
459th SPG Squadron
-
-
-
-
-
13
-
-
-
-
-
13
460th SPG Squadron
-
-
-
-
-
13
-
-
-
-
-
13
466th SPG Squadron
-
-
-
-
-
13
-
-
-
-
-
13
Total
21
258
-
-
63
78
21
125
42
92
63
78
Conclusions:
  1. The army's units are fully equipped with armoured vehicles.
  2. Instead of the authorized amounts of T-34 tanks, the tank brigades are half full of obsolete T-26 and BT-7 light tanks.
  3. The 48th Independent Tank Regiment's KV tanks require medium repairs and cannot participate in the operation."
Interestingly enough, at least one of these BT-7 tanks was a refurbished tank equipped with applique armour.


Tuesday, 11 September 2018

Flamethrower Tanks

"Order
To the People's Commissariat of Medium Machinebuilding
Moscow
March 15th, 1941

In carrying out the decree of the Council of Commissars and the Central Committee of the VKP(b) issued on March 13th titled "On arming KV, T-34, and T-50 tanks with gunpowder flamethrowers", I order that:
  1. Deputy Chief of Special Industry comrade Hlamov, director of factory #174 comrade Markin, and Chief Engineer of factory #174 comrade Ginzburg must work alongside the GABTU, People's Commissariat of General Production (Lubertsy factory), and the designers of factory #183 and Kirov factory to:
    1. By March 25th, 1941, test a prototype of the 10 Litre gunpowder flamethrower and present blueprints and technical requirements for approval by the NKSM by April 2nd, 1941, matching tactical-technical requirements in attachment #1.
    2. By April 28th, 1941, complete all work on the four flamethrower mounts for the KV-1, KV-3, T-34, and T-50, as well as present technical requirements and blueprints to the NKSM, including corrections made as a result of the trials.

Monday, 10 September 2018

Tankers' Day

"Order of the Minster of the Armed Forces of the USSR #27
July 16th, 1946
Moscow

Order of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR on the establishment of the annual holiday "Tankers' Day"

Considering the special significance of tank and mechanized forces and their achievements during the Great Patriotic War, as well as the achievements of tank builders in equipping the Armed Forces with armoured vehicles, the annual holiday of "Tankers' Day" is established.

"Tankers' Day" will be celebrated annually on the second Sunday of September.

This day will be celebrated in every capital of the Soviet republics, as well as Leningrad, Stalingrad, Chelyabinsk, Gorkiy, Nizhniy Tagil, Sverdlovsk, Kharkov, Omsk, Habarovsk, and Vladivostok by 20 artillery volleys.

Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet, N. Shvernik
Secretary of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet, A. Gorkin

Moscow, Kremlin
July 11th, 1946"