Monday, 21 January 2019

T8 Periscopic Sights

"Periscopic T8 sight

The principle of the T8 periscope does not differ from previously examined periscopes. It combines an observation periscope with a telescopic system. This design is a further step towards the perfection and development of these types of sights.

The significant difference between the T8 sight and other sights of the first and second group is that the degree of magnification is significantly increased, and a collimator device is with a sighting grid is introduced. Thanks to this, the T8 sight and other sights of its type can be called a variable magnification sight.

Saturday, 19 January 2019

A Turret for Three

The first project of a light infantry tank, which later transformed into the Valentine, was presented to the War Ministry on February 10th, 1938. The tank that Leslie Little developed was rejected by the British at least once. One of the reasons for the rejection was the two-man turret, as the British wanted to have it house three crewmen. Leslie Little won that time, and in April of 1939 the Infantry Tank Mk.III was approved with a two-man turret. However, the War Ministry returned to the idea of increasing the crew size of the turret, which led to the Valentine III and Valentine V with three-man turrets.

Thursday, 17 January 2019

Spring HEAT

"State Committee of Defense 
Decree #GOKO-1537ss issued on April 4th, 1942
Moscow, Kremlin

On armour-burning shells

To perfect armour-burning shells, perform the following:
  1. Order the NKV (comrade Vannikov) to produce 50 units of HEAT armour-burning shells  for the 76 mm regimental gun according to existing Artillery Committee and NII-6 blueprints within 10 days.
  2. Order the NKChM (comrade Tevtosyan) to issue 5 units each of 40 mm, 50 mm, and 60 mm armour plate for trials of the aforementioned shells.
  3. Order the GAU (comrade Yakovlev) to perform trials of the aforementioned shells against the plates and give conclusions within 5 days.
  4. Order the NKV (comrade Gamov) to organize a group within the NII-6 for the perfection of thermite type armour-burning shells, delivering the first results to the GOKO by May 5th, 1942.
    Include academic Semyenov (Academy of Sciences) and Professor Maksimenko (Leningrad Chemical Technology Institute) into the group.
  5. Order the NKVD (comrade Kravchenko) to supply a group of specialists that previously worked with armour-burning shells to participate in the NII-6 group.
Chair of the State Committee of Defense, I. Stalin"

Wednesday, 16 January 2019

Day by Day

"Order of the People's Commissariat of Defense #80-Mss
Moscow
December 27th, 1941

Referring to the decree of the State Committee of Defense #GKO-1043ss issued on December 19th, 1941, I order to:

1. Establish the following schedule for daily production in January of 1942 of tanks, hulls, and engines between the NKTP factories:
Factory
Item
Total in January 1942
10-day intervals of January 1942
1st
2nd
3rd
Tank production
Kirov factory
KV tank
435
12
14/15
17
Factory #183
T-34 tank
430
10
15
18
STZ
T-34 tank
308
9
10
12
Factory #112
T-34 tank
250
7
8
10
Factory #174
T-50 tank
210
5
7
9
Factory #37
T-60 tank
250
6
8
11
Factory #38
T-60 tank
200
4
6
10
Factory #264
T-60 tank
240
6
8
10
Engine production
Kirov factory
V-2 engine
645
16
22
26
STZ
V-2 engine
330
9
12
12
Factory #76
V-2 engine
360
10
12
14
Hull production
Izhora factory
KV hull
380
10
13
15
Factory #200
KV hull
130
3
4
6
Factory #264
T-34 hull
350
10
12
13
Factory #37
T-60 hull
260
6
9
11
Factory #38
T-60 hull
220
5
7
10
Kulebaki factory #178
T-60 hull
100
2
3
5
Murom factory #176
T-60 hull
410
13
14
14
Vyksa factory #177
T-60 hull
260
8
9
10
Factory #183
T-34 hull
450
10
16
18/19
Factory #112
T-34 hull
275
7
9
11
Saratov factory #180
T-50 hull
240
6
8
10
2. Consider that the schedule for January 1942 includes one holiday.
3. All directors of tank, hull, and engine factories must send me encrypted messages regarding the production of tanks, hulls, and engines in January of 1942 daily.

People's Commissar of Tank Production of the USSR, Malyshev"

Tuesday, 15 January 2019

Upgunning the A-34

"Act

We the undesigned, designer of plant 520 comrade A.A. Maloshtanov, representative of the Kirov factory comrade L.N. Kondrashev, representative of the AU comrade M.R. Vorzheinov, representative of plant 509 comrade E.S. Mezhevikin, compose the present act to certify that the following chances were introduced into the turret of the A-34 during the installation of the L-11 system:
  1. The left carrier of the brass catcher is affixed to the mantlet, and because of this it is installed via an adapter.
  2. The casing of the hand firing mechanism is installed in a new place, as a result of which the trigger was re-welded, the openings in the control panel were re-drilled, and the right side of the brass catcher was trimmed.
  3. The recoil guard was trimmed as it clipped the recoil indicator.
  4. The breech handle was shortened by 20 mm.
  5. The shell catcher lock was shortened by 18 mm.
  6. The elevation mechanism boss was trimmed.
  7. A cylindrical handle was installed to rotate the PT-1 head instead of a flywheel.
  8. Trigger pedals from the 45 mm system were used.
  9. The semiautomatic mechanism cutoff from the L-10 system was installed (the cutoff from the L-11 doesn't fit).
All aforementioned changes do not decrease the quality of work of the L-11 system, except the L-10 cutoff, which does not allow firing with the semiautomatic mechanism disabled."

[signatures]
February 21st, 1940"

Monday, 14 January 2019

Factory #183 Experiments

"July 2nd, 1940

To ABTU 8th Department Chief, Military Engineer 1st Class, comrade Afonin

Report on experimental work performed at factory #183 in June 1940

The following experimental work was performed in June of 1940.
  1. Trials of two A-7M vehicles ## 0314-2 and 903-03 with substitutes. A number of parts on these vehicles use iron instead of bronze or aluminium. A number of parts were also made from cheaper steels rather than highly hardened steel. Trials were completed, micro-measurements are being performed.
  2. Reliability trials of A-7M #327-45 have finished. The vehicle completed 3000 km trials. The report is being completed.
  3. Two engines from factory #75 are undergoing 150 hour trials. The engines were installed on A-7M ## 0890-3 and 442-55. The first engine worked for 70 hours and was removed due to significant leaking of gases between the cylinder block and head. The second worked for 125 hours, after which gases started penetrating into the water and throwing the cooling system water out through the reductor. A chronic defect of this diesel engine, breakdown of the automatic timing device, was also observed.
  4. Trials of a T-34 #0311-11-3 with track links cast from Hadfield steel, mechanical controls instead of pneumatic servos, and a reinforced cooling fan are being performed.
  5. The A-5 tank with the V-3 engine is being repaired. Work is going slowly due to plant #500 being loaded with production of the T-34 tank. The repairs are also slowed down due to the fact that blueprints and detailed descriptions are absent. The repairs are planned to be completed by July 10th.
  6. Voroshilovets tractor #68 warranty trials continue. 700 km remain.
  7. Tractor #7 with a V-3 diesel engine is being trialled. Trials will be complete in early July.
  8. Completion of the agreement between factory #183 and the Chemical Directorate is delayed. Assembly blueprints are complete, all that remains is for the Chemical Directorate to give final consultations and send the technical project to be approved. All other blueprints can be readied by early August.
  9. Development of a new project for a tractor on the T-34 chassis is complete. Assembly blueprints are being copied and detailed blueprints are being made. The development of detailed blueprints can be finished by August 10-15th. Delays in producing the blueprints can be explained by a shortage of copiers.
  10. Production of pneumatic components for the Voroshilovets tractor is in progress. Two prototypes may be assembled in July.
Senior Military Representation, Military Engineer 2nd Class, Kozyrev
Military Representation, Military Engineer 3nd Class, Baikov"

Saturday, 12 January 2019

Cruiser Tank Mk.II: With Best Intentions

The British army met the start of WWII in a difficult position. The policy of appeasement allowed it to win a year to set up tank production, but it was hard to call the British army prepared for war. This can be seen in the result of the fighting in May of 1940 in France. The British Expeditionary Force used four different types of Cruiser tanks at the same time. Among them was the Cruiser Tank Mk.II, perhaps the most controversial of the quartet.

Wednesday, 9 January 2019

Kalashnikov's Contributions

"Award Order
  1. Name: Kalashnikov, Mikhail Timofeevich
  2. Rank: none
  3. Position: Veteran of the Patriotic War
    is nominated for the Order of the Red Star.
  4. Year of birth: 1919
  5. Nationality: Russian
  6. Party affiliation: none
  7. Participation in the Civil War and subsequent actions in defense of the USSR (where, when): Bryansk Front from June to November of 1941
  8. Wounds or contusions in the Patriotic War: wounded in action
  9. In the Red Army since: 1939
  10. Previous awards: none
Brief and specific description of personal heroism or achievements: 

The nominee is a participant in the Patriotic War. He proposed the following inventions: a submachinegun and a machinegun. Their originality made a valuable contribution to the field of small arms design. 

On the orders of the GAU, the nominee solved a series of problems during the modernization of the Goryunov machinegun and designed his own carbine for the intermediate round.

The nominee earned the state award of the Order of the Red Star through his participation in the Patriotic War and resilient labour in the design of weapons.

Deputy Chair of the GAU Artillery Committee, Lieutenant General of the Engineering-Artillery Service, Berkalov
Chief of the Artillery Committee Department of Inventions, Engineer Lieutenant-Colonel Popkov

[illegible] October 1945."

Tuesday, 8 January 2019

Improved T-34

"To the Chief of the Red Army GABTU, Lieutenant-General of the Tank Forces, comrade Fedorenko

...

Conclusions: in addition to Committee of Defense decree #428, I deem it necessary to approach the Committee of Defense with the proposal to produce two improved T-34 prototypes at factory #183 by April 1st, 1941, with the following changes:
  1. Widening of the turret ring and the turret, installation of a commander's cupola with all-round vision.
  2. A torsion bar suspension.
  3. Increased ammunition capacity.
  4. Stronger transmission.
  5. Increased top speed to 70 kph.
  6. Improve the crew conditions, providing them with more comfortable positions and better vision.
Perform trials in April-May.
In June, improve the design based on the trials results.
In August and September the technological process will be refined. Mass production of the improved T-34 can start in October.

This allows us to introduce all improvements without rushing, check them with trials, and painlessly move to the production of an even higher quality vehicle. 

Factory #183 is gladly cooperating with this work and considers these improvement processes correct.

Production of T-34s should be done with the existing turret, without any kind of halfway changes, and the existing suspension, keeping the interchangeability of internal components. We must concentrate our attention on the new vehicle.

Order factory #183 to improve the following items in accordance with decree #428:
  1. Main clutch.
  2. Fan.
  3. Tracks.
  4. Visibility.
  5. Ammunition rack.
I consider it necessary to arm the T-34 tank with 76 and 45 mm guns in one turret, with the following in mind:

Two companies of tanks per battalion with 45 mm guns and coaxial DT machineguns and one company per battalion with a 76 mm gun and a DT machinegun

or

One platoon per company with tanks armed with 45 mm guns and one with 76 mm guns.

What will this give? Tanks armed with 45 mm guns will store 250 rounds (expanded turret) or 200 (existing turret), twice as much as the existing 76 mm gun. The rate of fire of the 45 mm gun, considering the mass of the shell, is nearly twice as high, which will give no less of an effect against enemy fortifications (machinegun nests, anti-tank gun) and lightly armoured tanks.

Upon encountering obstacles that demand more powerful fire, the company or battalion commander will have the means in his possession and can therefore form his troops as necessary.

I ask you to give the required orders.

Lead Engineer-Colonel Panov
December 13th, 1940"

Monday, 7 January 2019

French Exit

"Award Order
  1. Name: Kuharenko, Nikolai Ivanovich
  2. Rank: Guards Lieutenant
  3. Position and unit: T-34 platoon commander, Independent Tank Battalion of the 38th Guards Independent Tank Brigade
    is nominated for the title of Hero of the Soviet Union.
  4. Year of birth: 1915
  5. Nationality: Ukrainian
  6. Party affiliation: VKP(b) member since 1944
  7. Participation in the Patriotic War (where, when): since 1941, Karelian Front
  8. Wounds and contusions in the Patriotic War: none
  9. In the Red Army since: 1937-1939, after 1941
  10. Recruited by: Kramatorsk recruitment office
  11. Prior awards: none
Brief and specific description of personal heroism or achievments: On September 6th, 1944, Guards Lieutenant Kuharenko and his platoon, in carrying out a task of making a 50 km deep path into the enemy's deep rear for a tank column through swampy forest and then rocky mountain terrain, made it to the agreed upon target of the Miokkalahti-Kuoioyarvi highway on schedule, and ensured the destruction of an enemy group. At 21:30 on September 9th, Guards Lieutenant Kuharenko fought in the first echelon of the battalion under a storm of heavy artillery, mortar, and small arms fire. At top speed, he was the first to break through the enemy's reinforced defenses and slipped through a 12 tank German ambush. 1 km away from the front lines, within the enemy rear, he blocked the road and did not permit enemy tanks to escape the encirclement. Forcing the enemy to engage, Lieutenant Kuharenko's platoon destroyed 8 R-35 type tanks and up to 80 fascists. Kuharenko himself destroyed 3 enemy tanks and captured 2 tanks in working order, ensuring success for his battalion and the infantry of 217th Rifle Regiment, 104th Rifle Division.

At 7:30 on September 10th, 1944, comrade Kuharenko was taking part in his second attack and was one of the first to penetrate through two echelons of enemy forces, where he destroyed 4 anti-tank guns, 5 dugouts, and up to 70 fascists. During subsequent pursuit, comrade Kuharenko became bogged down in a swamp in the enemy rear. Despite the difficulty of his situation, comrade Kuharenko did not abandon his tank under a hurricane of artillery and mortar fire. For 14 hours he fired at enemy strongholds, keeping them away from the tank, while simultaneously correcting fire of the rest of the tank battalion. When his infantry pulled up, Kuharenko unbogged his tank and continued the assault on the enemy.

For heroism, courage, and bravery displayed in the fighting with German invaders, Guards Lieutenant Kuharenko is worthy of the highest government award, the title of Hero of the Soviet Union.

Commander of the Independent Tank Battalion, Guards Captain Donets
September 15th, 1944."


The story gets more interesting once you find out what tanks Kuharenko captured. In addition to the downright obsolete R 35s, his platoon ran into a handful of SOMUA S 35 tanks, which were at least in the same weight category as the T-34. One of these tanks is now on display at Kubinka.


Saturday, 5 January 2019

The First Cruiser

British tank building developed rapidly in the 1920s, but started slipping in the first half of the 1930s. At the time, the British army was only buying light tanks, and even then miserly amounts of them. The situation with medium tanks was a fiasco. The replacement for the Medium Tank Mk.II never made it into production. By the time a worthy heir turned up, British policy regarding the use of tanks changed entirely. The result of this change was the Tank, Cruiser, A9, also known as the Cruiser Tank Mk.I.

Thursday, 3 January 2019

Schmeisser

"Report #405
Small Arms Scientific Research Proving Grounds
December 17th, 1941
Shurovo, Moscow oblast

RE: trials of foreign submachineguns in comparison with the domestic model 1940 submachinegun and model 1941 submachinegun
...
The trigger mechanism of the Schmeisser submachinegun (see diagram) consists of 12 parts in a complex arrangement, and in addition has 6 small springs. Its positive sides include a good ratio of the sear shoulders, which allows the effort on the trigger to be low.

This mechanism of the safety and fire selector is needlessly complicated. In addition, a large amount of small springs (6) makes it unreliable in its function. 
...
The trigger mechanism of the Schmeisser submachinegun is a good example of how not to design trigger mechanisms with fire selectors."

Wednesday, 2 January 2019

Substitute Standard

"To the Chief of the Main Department of Special Machinebuilding, comrade Surenyan
CC: Director of factory #183, comrade Maksarev
CC: Senior Military Representative at factory #183, Military Engineer 2nd Class Kozyrev

To complete the decree of the Committee of Defense of the Council of Commissars of the USSR #443/ss issued on December 19th, 1939, A-34 tanks will be produced with the L-11 gun and DT machinegun until the F-32 gun and DS machinegun are put into production.

At the same time, in order to begin production, I ask you to develop the mount for the F-32 gun and DS machinegun based on blueprints that were sent to the factory earlier. The tactical-technical characteristics of the F-32 gun mount are being sent to the factory.

Authorized representative of the Assistant of the Chief of the ABTU, Military Engineer 1st Class Korobkov
Autorized representative of the ABTU Military Commissar, Military Engineer 2nd Class Makarov
Authorized representative of the Chief of the 8th Department of the ABTU, Military Engineer 1st Class, Afonin

January 25th, 1940"

Tuesday, 1 January 2019

Visibility from Tanks

"Engineer-Major L.S. Tolokonnikov
Obsevartion from Tanks
...

T-34 tank: the mechanic-driver observes through two mirror periscopes. The periscopes are affixed to the driver's hatch. Periscopes are made from transparent plastic. From the outside, they are covered with armoured covers, from the inside with a transparent plastic shield. The periscopes are angled towards the sides to increase the field of view. There is a backup for observing the road in front of the tank. The commander of the tank observes through the commander's panoramic sight and the telescopic sight. Two observation slits with two layers of armoured glass are located along the sides of the turret. The loader and hull gunner observe through their machinegun ball mount sights.

Monday, 31 December 2018

Happy New Year

Happy New Year to all my readers! I hope that your new year was too ushered in in the usual style.


Saturday, 29 December 2018

The KV's Last Bow

It is often the case in many nations that instead of new tanks, industry preferred improved versions of tanks that were already in production. The Soviet tank industry was no exception in this regard. That was the start of the history of the T-60, for example. Factory #37 proposed that an improved T-60 with a 45 mm cannon and improved armour be built instead of the T-70. That time the gamble didn't succeed, and the T-45 remained experimental. In 1942-44, a the story repeated itself with the heavy KV tank, which brought to life the KV-100 and KV-122 tanks, the tale of which this article will tell.