Tuesday, 19 February 2019

Factory #183 Experimental Work

"To the Chief of the 4th Department of the BTU, Military Engineer 1st Class, comrade Afonin
December 1st, 1940

Summary of experimental work at factory #183 in November of 1940

Trials of A-7M tank #0314-2 with surrogate parts:
  1. Iron casing of the distributor shaft rather than aluminium alloy.
  2. Horizontal spring rods.
  3. Electrical wiring without liners.
  4. Fuel tanks coated with zinc by schooping rather than tinning.
  5. Gearbox with an iron casing. This gearbox was removed after 353 km after large cracks developing in the casing.
  6. Final drive components.
  7. Idler components and other small parts.
In addition, the following were installed:
  1. Unified main clutch.
  2. Unified oscillating levers of the turning wheels and other small parts.
The vehicle has travelled for 1488 km by December 1st, 1940, trials will continue in December.

Saturday, 16 February 2019

Can Poland Into Tanks?

Having broken away from its collapsing "big brother", Poland recalled its once serious military and political ambitions. In certain people's minds, Poland would rise to the status of a regional superpower at the very least, which meant it needed an army to match. Polish engineers began working on a new generation of airplanes, helicopters, AA systems. Plenty of attention was directed at armoured vehicles as well.

Friday, 15 February 2019

QA

"Attachment to order #113-Mss
Approved by GKO decree #1148ss issued on January 14th, 1942

Requirements for quality assurance at tank factories
  1. Quality assurance is performed by the military representative of the GABTU.
  2. A tank can be considered accepted after firing the cannon and machineguns, test drive, correction of discovered defects and complete installation of equipment.
  3. The quality assurance process consists of:
    1. A 5 km drive for every T-34 and KV tank and 10 km drive for every tenth T-60 tank, chosen by the military representative.
    2. Firing the cannon on every tenth T-34 and KV tank and on every T-60 tank. Coaxial machineguns are fired on every tank.
      In addition, the military representative can control the quality of individual components and assemblies, as well as the quality of assembly of the tank.
  4. The military representative is permitted to accept tanks without clocks, voltmeters, ammeters (replaced with an indicator light), speedometers, aerothermometers (except one), turret fans (in winter time), turret traverse motors for the T-34, intercom (replaced with signal lights), spare containers, and radios in the event that there is a temporary absence of these parts at the tank factory."
RGAE 8752-4-8 p.169

Wednesday, 13 February 2019

By Any Other Name

The AK is subject to a number of ongoing raging discussions, one of which had to do with its name. Some claim that there was no such thing as an AK-47, with the name of the gun being simply AK, later replaced with the AKM. Sound logic, but it is not confirmed by documents, which use the name AK-47 extensively. For instance, the manual.


Internal documentation uses the indexes AK and AK-47 to refer to the same item interchangeably. From a list of experimental works of the NKV for 1951:

"Increasing production rate and quality of mechanical finish on parts and assembly of new types of weapons. Development of new high production rate processes of finishing parts and assembly of the AK-47 system.
  1. Development and agreement on blueprints.
  2. Development of high production rate technical processes for mechanical finishing and control of AK-47 parts (factory #74 and NITI-40).
  3. Development and distribution in the Q1 of 1950 of technical tasks for design of new equipment and modernization of old equipment. GSPI-7 is to receive a task for design of transport devices and planning (NITI-40 jointly with factory #74) by August 1st, 1950.
  4. Development of transport devices, planning of equipment, and composition of technical-economical metrics (GSPI-7 jointly with the factory).
  5. Production of harnesses, experimental trials and implementation of labour intensive processes (see topic 104-102 for equipment) in 1950.
  6. Development of a project to organize and launch production of a new product (AK-47) and partial execution in 1950 (NITI-40).
  7. Production and implementation of the remaining harnesses and equipment, as well as introduction by NITI-40 of new processes for the production of the AK-47 system, development of guiding materials for the organization of assembly line production.
  8. Composition of a joint technical report."
4 pages later, we see:

"4. Execution of trials of an optical calibration system for the AK, correction of working blueprints, correction of the prototype in metal, correction of the optics, introduction of the device into production, composition of a technical report with trials and acceptance documents."

Tuesday, 12 February 2019

Leaning by Doing

"December 13th, 1939
#212472

To the Assistant of the Chief of the General Staff of the RKKA, Corps Commander comrade Zaharov
RE: your #57129s/s

It is not possible to perform battlefield trials of the KV, SMK, T-100, A-20, A-32, T-40, A5, A7M tanks or the BA-11 armoured car in 1939, as the experimental KV, SMK, and T-100 tanks are currently undergoing proving grounds trials.

Experimental prototypes of the A-20, A-32, T-40, A5, A7M tanks, and the BA-11 armoured car passed proving grounds trials, and the factories are now making changes to blueprints based on the results of the trials, in order to produce pilot batches.

Only tanks and armoured cars produced in 1940 will be sent to battlefield trials. 

Modernized T-28 tanks will not undergo battlefield trials, and will be issued to regular Belorussian Military District units. 

The modernized T-26 tank has a new suspension, but the turbocharged engine has not yet arrived, and therefore battlefield trials will be postponed until 1940.

The SBT bridgelayer tank will be transferred to battlefield trials in December of 1939.

On the orders of Assistant Chief of the ABTU, Corps Commander Pavlov Panfilov
On the orders of Military Commissar of the ABTU, Brigade Commissar Kulikov"

Monday, 11 February 2019

Getting Ahead

"To the People's Commissar of Defense, Marshal of the Soviet Union comrade Timoshenko
CC: Chief of the GABTU, Lieutenant-General Fedorenko
November 27th

RE: acceptance of 143 T-34 tanks with 25 degrees of gun elevation

The Ilyich Mariupol factory began producing armoured parts for the T-34 before mass production blueprints were approved, and  built a batch of turrets using the experimental blueprints with the GABTU's permission, i.e. with 25 degrees of gun elevation.

Saturday, 9 February 2019

SU-100, Czechoslovakian Style

Domestic tank and SPG designs took a downturn in post-war Czechoslovakia. The cause of this was more technical than political. Czechoslovakian engineers could not keep up with the changing requirements of the Czechoslovakian military. As a result, Czechoslovakia began licensed production of T-34-85 tanks in September of 1951. A similar situation took place with medium SPGs. Just under 800 SD-100 SPGs, licensed clones of the SU-100, were built.

Thursday, 7 February 2019

Captured Panzerfausts



"To regimental commanders and their political deputies:

On the initiative of the political department of the 2nd Tank Army, captured Panzerfausts have been widely used in the forces of the 1st Belorussian Front.

The use of this weapon against the enemy led to very effective results on several occasions.

In order to improve the application of this type of weapon against the enemy, I order that:
  1. Spread experience of using Panzerfausts captured from the enemy in battle among your unit or formation.
  2. Organize the collection of Panzerfausts on the battlefield and precisely maintain their inventory. Organize training of personnel in using this weapon against the enemy.
  3. Dedicate at least 2-3 instructors in your unit to train soldiers, sergeants, and officers on how to use Panzerfausts.
Report on your experience in using the Panzerfaust against Germans and the completed work in carrying out this order by March 8th, 1945.

Commander of the 4th Guards Tank Division, Guards Major-General Millerov
4th Guards Tank Division Political Department Chief, Guards Lieutenant Colonel Halimov."

Wednesday, 6 February 2019

L-11 Installation

"To: AU, ABTU, 520, AU Military Representative at factory #183

The installation of the L-11 system in the A-34 tank can be done without changes to the following parts only:
  • Gun barrel
  • Recoil mechanism
As for the remaining parts, all of them must be changed to some degree, largely covered by the following:
  1. Group 02: breech
    1. The semiautomatic cutoff mechanism is removed and the roller cutoff mechanism from the L-10 is installed.
    2. The breech handle is shortened by 20 mm.
  2. Group 03: trigger mechanism
    1. The hand trigger is different, and the attachment point is different.
    2. The hand trigger (pedal) is used from the 45 mm gun.
  3. Group 05: gun shield
    1. The gun shield is completely different, including a coaxial machinegun. The telescope mount from the old gun shield is used, but with changes. The elevation mechanism sector is different.
  4. Brass catcher: a new one with smaller dimensions (on the left side) will be used, with a trimmed stopper and a new carrier.
  5. Frame: the L-11 frame is removed completely. The gun is mounted on two vertical posts welded from the inside to the front of the turret, replacing the frame.
  6. Mantlet: a new one based on the changes to the gun shield and carrier.
  7. Elevation mechanism is used from the L-11, but with small changes.
  8. The periscope link is from the 45 mm gun.

Tuesday, 5 February 2019

A Different Angle

There is a strangely prevalent opinion in some circles that everything there was to know about WWII was already known, and that any new information is completely unnecessary revisionism. Those people are naturally wrong, as illustrated pretty conclusively by Yuri Pasholok. Something as fundamental as a measurement went uncorrected for decades.

Monday, 4 February 2019

Panther's Side

The Panther's thick front armour could not be penetrated by any Soviet tank gun in use in 1943. This immunity, however, did not apply to the side armour, which turned out to be vulnerable to even the rapidly ageing 45 mm gun.


The sloped part of the sides proved a tough nut to crack. The 45 mm gun doesn't work here, and hits from 300 and then 100 meters do not penetrated. However, other parts of the tank can still be penetrated from this side: the turret has two holes in it from 45 mm APCR (300 and 400 meters) and one from 45 mm AP (400 meters). The vertical side of the hull (unfortunately not pictured) can be penetrated from 500 meters. The rear was also penetrated from 300 meters (also not pictured).

The 76 mm gun has no issues with this armour at all, however. Even firing at an angle of 60 degrees, from 600 meters the armour piercing shell penetrated the side armour. The sloped hull did poorly against this weapon, as you can see, forming a fairly sizeable breach. Despite the thick front plate, even an ordinary T-34 would not have to flank very far to be able to destroy its much heavier opponent.

CAMD RF 38-11469-40 p.22

Saturday, 2 February 2019

Modernization, Polish Style

The 7TP, a Polish modernization of the Vickers Mk.E, was the pride of Polish tank building in the interwar period. Skilfully combining products of the Swiss Saurer company (who made the engine) and the Swedish Bofors company (who made the gun), Polish designers significantly improved the characteristics of the initial tank. The 7TP design also included a number of Polish creations, including the excellent Mk.IV periscope. Polish tanks fought German tanks as equals in the 1939 campaign, and many of them later served in the German army. A number of the tanks ended up in the USSR as trophies, where they were studied.

Thursday, 31 January 2019

T-64's Birthday

"Central Committee of the CPSU and the Council of Ministers of the USSR
Decree dated December 30th, 1966
Moscow, Kremlin

On the acceptance of a new medium tank into service with the Soviet Army

The Central Committee of the CPSU and the Council of Ministers of the USSR decree to:

1. Agree with the proposal of the Ministry of Defense of the USSR and Ministry of Defense Industry to accept into service with the Soviet Army a new medium tank, equipped with the 5TDF engine, 115 mm smoothbore D-68 gun with HEAT, HE, and subcaliber armour piercing ammunition, a 2318 two-plane stabilizer, a TPD-43B rangefinder sight, and a PKT coaxial machinegun developed in accordance with CC CPSU and Council of Ministers decree #141-58 dated February 17th, 1961 and matching tactical-technical requirements given in attachment #1.

Name the aforementioned tank T-64."

"Comrade N.A. Kucherenko 

Copy into the order.

V. Bakhirov
January 4th, 1967"



Wednesday, 30 January 2019

PzIV Penetration Trials

I previously posted about some dodgy quality armour the British found in PzIII tanks. Samples obtained from various tanks tended to behave in a similar fashion, but other trials showed that this performance was not exclusive to just one type of German medium tank. The performance of the PzIV's armour against the British 2-pounder was so disappointing, that the British theorized the Germans are saving all of their high quality plate for prospective heavy tanks.

"Firing trials by a 2 Pdr. gun mounted in a Mark IVA Cruiser tank have recently been carried out against a captured German PZKW IV 22 ton tank in the Middle East.

The armour basis of the German tank is:
  • Turret:
    • Front: 30 mm (1.181 inches)
    • Side: 20 mm (.787 inches)
  • Hull:
    • Front superstructure: 60 mm (2.362 inches)
    • Rear: 40 mm (1.57 inches)
    • Side Centre plates: 40 mm (1.574 inches)
    • End plates: 20 mm (.787 inches)

Tuesday, 29 January 2019

Trial and Error

"To the Chair of the Committee of Defense of the Council of Commissars, Marshal of the Soviet Union, comrade Voroshilov
November 6th, 1940

Experimental exercises held by tank and mechanized units and formations show that issues of controlling tank units are quite complicated. After the first stage of battle, cooperation and communication between tank units and individual tanks breaks down.

Results of lengthy marches and trials of tanks, as well as studies of foreign tanks show that tactical-technical requirements of the SP, T-34, and KV tanks need some corrections.

Commanders of individual tanks and up require the ability to fully and constantly observe the battlefield, the situation, and subordinate tanks, being freed of the requirement to also be the gunner or loader. Presently, observation devices and observation methods for the commander are limited, and there is a need to increase 360 degree vision for individual tanks.

At the same time, it is necessary to reduce the effort on levers and pedals of the tank.

In order to increase the combat quality of the SP, T-34, and KV tanks, add the following items to the list of tactical-technical requirements:
  1. Install 360 degree vision cupolas on the SP, T-34, and KV tanks
  2. Revise the number of crewmen.
  3. Clarify the armament and amount of onboard ammunition.
  4. Install the KRSTB radio for external communication, as it is smaller and simpler to set up than the 71-TK-3.
  5. Use throat microphones instead of bulky microphones for internal communication.
  6. Replace the observation devices of the driver and radio operator with improved ones. The driver also needs an optical observation device.
  7. Demand that the warranty period of a tank be 600 hours before refurbishment.
  8. Replace the T-34's suspension with individual torsion bars, which will free up room inside the tank used up by suspension springs.
  9. In the first half of 1941, factories must develop and prepare for production a planetary transmission for the SP, T-34, and KV tanks. This will increase the average speed of tanks and make turning easier.
Authorized by Marshal of the Soviet Union S. Timoshenko"

Monday, 28 January 2019

New Year, New Weapons

"Decree #443ss of the Committee of Defense of the Council of Commissars
December 19th, 1939
Moscow, Kremlin

On the acceptance of tanks, armoured cars, and artillery tractors into service in the Red Army and production in 1940

Based on the results of trials of new types of tanks, armoured cars, and tractors, produced in accordance with Committee of Defense decree #198ss issued on July 7th, 1938, and #118ss, issued on May 15th, 1939, the Committee of Defense of the Council of Commissars decrees that:
  1. The following are accepted into service in the Red Army:
    1. KV tank: heavily armoured, produced by the Kirov factory based on NKO tactical-technical requirements, with the correction of all defects discovered during trials. The tank must be armed with:
      1. An F-32 gun with a coaxial 7.62 mm machinegun in the gun mantlet.
      2. A separate 7.62 mm machinegun operated by the radio operator.
      3. One 7.62 mm machinegun in the turret bustle.
        Proved for full visibility from within the tank.
    2. T-32 tank: tracked, with a V-2 diesel engine, produced by factory #183, with the following changes:
      1. Increase the thickness of the main armour plates to 45 mm.
      2. Improve visibility from the tank.
      3. Install the following armament:
        1. F-32 76 mm gun with a coaxial 7.62 mm machinegun.
        2. A separate 7.62 mm machinegun for the radio operator.
        3. A separate 7.62 mm machinegun.
        4. An AA 7.62 mm machinegun.
          This tank will be named "T-34".
    3. BT tank: with a V-2 diesel engine, produced by factory #183.
    4. T-40 tank: amphibious, with a torsion bar suspension, high caliber machinegun, coaxial 7.62 mm machinegun, produced by factory #37.
    5. V-2 engine: 450 hp, produced by factory #75
    6. Voroshilovets tractor: artillery tractor with a V-2 diesel engine, produced by factory #183.
    7. ST-2 tractor: artillery tractor with a V-2 diesel engine, produced at the Chelyabinsk Tractor Factory.
    8. STZ-5 tractor: produced by the Stalingrad factory.
    9. BA-11 armoured car: on the ZIS-6-K chassis, 90 hp engine, produced by the Izhora factory.
    10. GAZ-61 light 4x4 truck produced by the Molotov Gorkiy Automotive Factory.
    11. ZIS-5 4x6 truck.
..."

Saturday, 26 January 2019

Valentine With a Long Gun

In the spring of 1943 the variety of British tanks sent to the USSR dropped radically. Matilda tanks were no longer sent, the Churchill nearly vanished from shipping manifests. The Valentine remained the only type of tank sent by the British in large numbers. Even though the British themselves nearly stopped using it by the spring of 1943, they were still in demand with the Red Army. This was especially true for the Valentine IX, the version with a 6-pounder cannon, which had to revert to the two-man turret.