Saturday, 14 December 2019

Tanks to Sleds

GKO decree #1958ss "On production of T-34 and T-70 tanks" was published on July 3rd, 1942. According to this decree, production of T-60 small tanks ceased as of July 5th. By this point these tanks were in production at factories #264 and #37. The first factory, located in Stalingrad, switched to producing hulls for T-34 tanks. Factory #37 in Sverdlovsk switched to the T-70, but not for long: T-34 production started here as well.  

This is usually where the tale of the T-60 tank ends. However, that is not the end of the story. In late 1942 - early 1943 Soviet industry continued to build products made from T-60 armoured hulls. These were armoured sleds, work on which began in early 1942.

Thursday, 12 December 2019

T-28 Successor

In 1935, even before the influence of the Spanish Civil War, the Red Army was looking to modernize its tank fleet. The objective of a fast moving convertible drive tank with a diesel engine was only achieved with the BT-7M tank in 1938. 

Wednesday, 11 December 2019


"Issues that comrade Marshal Fedorenko, Commander of Armoured and Mechanized Forces, pays special attention to during inspection of units and formations.
  1. Preparation of vehicles:
    The Marshal considers that vehicles are fully ready when the following is achieved.
    1. The full cargo load of cars is calculated and cargo is loaded.
    2. The amount of cars needed to transport remaining cargo is calculated.
    3. The driver of each car has a list of contents, who he has to report to, etc.
    4. Each car has additional barrels for gasoline, water, and oil. Each tank has a barrel of fuel.
    5. When crews enter their vehicles they must act strictly according to the manual. The senior vehicles, flanking vehicles, and observers must know their responsibilities.
    6. Cargo must be loaded into cars carefully and crews placed correctly.

Tuesday, 10 December 2019

Leningrad People's Militia

I've previously looked into the effectiveness of the Leningrad People's Militia units hurriedly raised in the summer of 1941. The popular narrative is that they were composed of semi-unarmed expendable "volunteers" sent into the meat grinder to stall the Germans, but the documents tell a different story. Aleksey Isayev confirmed my suspicions.

Monday, 9 December 2019

Wishlist Response

"To the Marshal of the Armoured Forces, comrade Fedorenko

The tactical-technical characteristics that you sent are viewed by us as a task to develop new prospective types of heavy tanks that are not yet put into practice in tank building.

As you do not have any objections regarding the requirements for the IS-6 that I approved and confirm that it is necessary to build such the IS-6 with a mechanical transmission, I consider that it is at the same possible to build a tank with an electrical transmission using the same requirements. 

Development of a tank with an electrical transmission will allow us to demonstrate the advantages and specifics of this transmission compared to a mechanical transmission and determine its potential in the creation of more powerful tanks.

We have the following notes about a number of tactical-technical requirements that you provided.

Saturday, 7 December 2019

Kotin's Bobtail

In early 1943 the Red Army Main Armoured Vehicle Directorate (GBTU) and People's Commissariat of Tank Production (NKTP) agreed that the age of the KV-1S is coming to an end. Instead, the IS-1 (233), a further development of the KV-13, was to be produced in Chelyabinsk. This tank had the same firepower, but was more mobile and better protected. However, the experimental IS-1 was too unrefined and suffered from assembly issues. In addition, trials of the German Tiger tank showed that the Red Army was in need of a tank with an 85 mm gun. This was how the KV-85 was created, the last mass produced tank in the KV family.

Thursday, 5 December 2019

More Power

"State Committee of Defense Decree #6679s
October 10th, 1944
Moscow, Kremlin

On the installation of 520 hp V-11 engines into IS tanks and SPGs

The State Committee of Defense orders that:

The People's Commissariat of Tank Production is permitted to produce and install V-11 engines adjusted to the power of 520 hp at 2000 RPM into IS tanks and SPGs before trials of modernized tanks and SPGs with an improved cooling system are completed.

Chairman of the Committee of Defense, I. Stalin"

Wednesday, 4 December 2019

Soviet Zimmerit

"Instructions on combat against German magnetic HEAT mines

Over the last two months of fighting on the Belorussian Front there were many cases of our tanks blowing up when attacked by the enemy.

It was established that:
  1. Tanks blow up only in the event of ammunition detonation.
  2. The ammunition cooks off when the fighting compartment is struck by a magnetic anti-tank HEAT mine.

Tuesday, 3 December 2019

What's in a Name?

"Order of the People's Commissar of Tank Production of the USSR #51ss
October 6th, 1941

In carrying out the GKO decree #743ss issued on October 4th, 1941, I order that:
  1. The following are renamed:
    1. Stalin Chelyabinsk Tractor Factory to Kirov factory. Refer to it in full as the "People's Commissariat of Tank Production Kirov factory in Chelyabinsk".
    2. The Sergo Ordzhonikidze Ural Heavy Machinebuilding Factory to the Izhora factory and refer to it in full as the "People's Commissariat of Tank Production Izhora factory in Sverdlovsk".

Monday, 2 December 2019

Heavy Tanks vs Heavy Guns

Valeriy Lisyutin posted an interesting set of photos recently, one of which was a knocked out Tiger. These aren't particularly interesting on their own, but it had two things that are usually hard to find: a date and a place. I decided to investigate.