Saturday, 17 August 2019

The Polish Army's Phantom Reserves

In the early 1930s, Poland built the TK-S, a very good design based on the British Carden-Loyd Mk.VI tankette. A similar thing happened with light tanks. Polish tank builders designed the 7TP tank based on the Vickers Mk.E. The next step, the development of a fully domestic design, turned out to be too difficult for Polish industry. Attempts were made, but progress did not move past several prototypes. The Polish army entered WWII with armoured vehicles at the technology level of the late 1920s. This article discusses experimental designs that did not manage to enter service with the Polish army.

Thursday, 15 August 2019

Aquino Tank Weekend WWII Reenactment Part 2

After the Ontario Regiment's first attack on Aquino Airport was beaten back, the regiment did not give up. The Hitler Line fell fairly quickly, and the Canadians' contribution is celebrated in part 2 of the Aquino Tank Weekend 2019 reenactment.


Wednesday, 14 August 2019

Burn Before Reading

Translation from German

9th Army HQ
Intelligence department, counterintelligence division
#653743 Secret

Army HQ July 29th, 1943

Re: Operation Citadel

All documents relevant to Operation Citadel are especially valuable to the enemy even now. Because of this, all documents of the corps and division must be completely and thoroughly destroyed without exception. Report on the execution of this order by August 3rd, 1943. Copies of documents that are not destroyed are to be handed over to rear line organizations. Division HQs must surrender their documents to Corps HQs, which will take on the task of sending the documents to the appropriate locations in the far rear.

Army Chief of Staff

Saturday, 10 August 2019

Rejected by Infantry, Adopted by Cavalry

France entered WWII armed with three different types of modern light tanks. Two of them were the numerous Renault R 35 and rarer FCM 36, used by only two tank battalions. The third tank, and a very numerous one, was the Hotchkiss H 35 (and its improved variant, the H 39). Overall, the H 39 turned out to be the best French light tank. It turned out to be very reliable and more mobile than its cousins.

Thursday, 8 August 2019

F-34 Gun Mantlet

"Requirements for the F-34 gun mantlet
  1. The front facing shield covering the gun port needs to be 52 mm thick if cast and 45 mm thick if rolled.
  2. The armouring of the cradle and recoil elements can be stamped or rolled and welded. The front cover needs to be removable. The thickness of the front cover needs to be 35 mm, the vertical sides sides sloped at 20 degrees must be 30 mm thick, top and bottom at least 15 mm.
  3. The design of the gun mantlet needs to reliably protect the crew from bullets and splash from all elevation angles from -5 to +30 degrees. The armour strips that prevent bullets and splash from entering must be at least 15 mm thick.
  4. In order to balance the system, a weight of at most 50 kg can be installed on the recoil guard. If a weight of more than 50 kg is required, a balancing mechanism must be added underneath the gun cradle.
Representative of the BTU Chief, Military Engineer 1st Class, Korobkov
Representative of the 3rd Department of the BTU, Military Engineer 1st Class, Afonin
January 18th, 1941."

Wednesday, 7 August 2019

Fuel Capacity

"Table of one full load of fuel per fighting vehicle."

Vehicle
Capacity in kg
Type of fuel
Notes
T-35
637
BK-70, B-70
Aux. tank 360 L
KV-1 and KV-2
834
RB-70 diesel

T-28
462
BK-70, B-70

BT-7M
619
RB-70 diesel

BT-7
547
BK-70, B-70, RB-70

BT-5
263
ditto

T-34
710/628
BK-70 diesel/B-70

T-26
204
RB-70

T-40
154
RB-70

T-50
255
RB-70

T-60
227
RB-70

T-70
321
RB-70

T-38
90
Automotive gasoline

T-37
90
Automotive gasoline

T-27
35
Automotive gasoline

BA-20 light
75
Automotive gasoline

BA-10 medium
88
Automotive gasoline

BA-11 heavy
115
Automotive gasoline

BA-64
68
Automotive gasoline

MK-3 Valentine
145
Gasoil “3”

MK-2
192
Gasoil “3”

American M3 medium
613
3 cubic cm of RD per 1 kg of B-70

American M3 light
146
2 cubic cm of RD per 1 kg of B-70 or B-74

Universal Carrier
45
B-74 2nd grade

Bren Carrier
68
B-74 2nd grade


Via Valeriy Lisyutin

Tuesday, 6 August 2019

Diesel Engine, Take One

"May 31st, 1937
To the Head of the 1st Main Directorate of the NKOP, comrade M.M. Kaganovich
To the Head of the 8th Main Directorate of the NKOP, comrade K.A. Neiman
To the Head of the Planning Directorate of the NKOP, comrade V.A. Levin
To the Acting Director of factory #183, comrade Lyash

In order to unconditionally launch an experimental batch of the improved BD-2 (400 hp) engine and deliver them to state trials no later than October of 1937, I propose the following:

Monday, 5 August 2019

Anti-Panzerfaust Tactics

"How to combat Panzerfaust soldiers and counteract them

The Red Army's use of mass amounts of tanks and SPGs forced the German command to work at reinforcing their anti-tank defenses. This reinforcement went in the following directions:
  1. Introduction of high caliber anti-tank weapons.
  2. Replacement of anti-tank towed guns with SPGs (Ferdinand and others).
  3. Widespread use of AA artillery in anti-tank roles.
  4. Invention of new types of weapons, especially close combat ones: torpedo tankette, Ofenrohr, Faustpatrone.

Saturday, 3 August 2019

When Late is not Better than Never

The saying "fast enough is well enough" applies to a whole slew of armoured vehicles that arrived too late to take part in the war. One of them was the Heavy Tank T29, the next tank after the M6 to be built in any kind of series. This tank was supposed to be America's answer to the Tiger Ausf.B. The Americans got their King Tiger, but only two years after WWII ended. At that point the Heavy Tank T29 looked rather obsolete.

Thursday, 1 August 2019

Aquino Tank Weekend Reenactment Day 1

The battle for Aquino airport in Italy on May 19th, 1944, was a difficult one for the Canadian Ontario Regiment and the British 26th Armoured Brigade that they were supporting. The attack against the German defensive line covered by fog failed. Even though the Hitler Line fell only a few days later, the sacrifice of the Ontario Regiment is still commemorated by the Ontario Regiment Museum at the Aquino Tank Weekend every year.


Wednesday, 31 July 2019

Wolfschanze

"2nd Ukrainian Front 
#4391
March 29th, 1945

I attach the results of interrogation of Unteroffizier Zaibert Friedrich from the 8th company, 979th Infantry Regiment, 271st Infantry Division.

The prisoner served in the 601th Signals Regiment for a long time, which serviced the needs of the land army command. The prisoner stated that:

"Until mid-November of 1944, Hitler's HQ was located in East Prussia in a fortified camp with the codename "Wolfschanze" (wolf's lair), 2-3 km from Rastenburg. Himmler's HQ was 11 km from Angeburg, in Grossgarten. The OKH HQ was in Tiergarten. Ribbentrop's HQ was located in the "Jegerhee" hotel in Angeburg. Hitler's HQ and other HQs were moved from East Prussia to Zossenshobn in the fall of 1944. All construction battalions, technical units, and a number of signals units that serviced Hitler's HQ and other HQs were sent to Bad Reichenhall in Bavaria. I know that they began to construct a fortified camp, big communications hub, and airport.

Tuesday, 30 July 2019

Sturmoviks

"Actions of ground attack aircraft against enemy tanks

During the Patriotic War against German invaders, the destruction of enemy vehicles as well as enemy personnel increased in importance. At this stage of the war, the most important thing was to destroy enemy tanks and SPGs, which then slows down the enemy and prevents his ground forces from advancing.

In addition to ground based methods, ground attack aircraft increased in importance, as they could defeat enemy tanks with cannon fire or special bombs.

Monday, 29 July 2019

Object 704 Drama

"Report on the development of the 152 mm ML-20SM SPG
  1. The Journal of the Artillery Committee #0254 1943 indicates that, as a result of trials and review of blueprints of the 152 mm model 1937/43 SPG, work should be done to improve the following areas:
    1. Gun/breech: get rid of the muzzle brake, introduce a sliding quarter or semi automatic breech.
    2. Cradle and recoil elements: simplify the recoil brake, transition to constant resistance to recoil and constant recoil length.
    3. Turning mechanism: improve the design to reduce drifting of the aim and reduce effort of turning the aiming flywheel.
    4. Frame, loading tray, recoil guard: review the design in order to standardize the parts and reduce their number.
  2. By January of 1944, OKB-172 performed a modernization of the ML-20S, which consisted of the following:
    1. Removal of the muzzle brake.
    2. Introduction of a simpler recoil brake with a constant resistance and constant recoil length.
    3. Shorter cradle and recoil elements.
  3. Factory #172 began to work on producing a prototype of the ML-20SM. OKB-172 was told that it was expected by February 10th, 1944.
    In practice, work on the experimental prototype lasted until September of 1944.
  4. After multiple requests made by the GAU to the NKTP to install the ML-20SM into a mass production ISU-152 SPG at the Kirov factory, this order was only given on October 2nd, 1944.
  5. The experimental ML-20SM gun was delivered to the Kirov factory in the first half of October of 1944. As it was established later (December 12th, 1944), the gun was incomplete (lacked a turning mechanism, lacked a prepared location to install it, factory #172 did not respect the established connection between the gun and mantlet)
  6. The GAU raised the issue of completing the ML-20SM to factory #172. Factory #172 representatives arrived at the Kirov factory to perform the work there in mid-February of 1945.
  7. Factory #172 communicated the following to the GAU in early May of 1945:
    1. The ML-20SM is being installed at the Kirov factory not in the mass production ISU-152, but in the experimental "Kirovets-2". Because of this, it is necessary to shorten the cradle and recoil elements. An agreement was reached to make changes to mass production samples, and for now the experimental ML-20SM was installed with a special mantlet (to compensate for the longer recoil elements) and presented to proving grounds trials in this manner.
  8. The GAU informed comrades Ustinov, Malyshev, and Fedorenko by letter that it will only accept a fully completed ML-20SM for trials, with all changes required to install it in the new SPG. At the same time, the question of how future-proof the Kirovets-2 is was raised (May 16th, 1945).
  9. The GBTU and NKTP replied that they were in agreement with the GAU, and urged the NKV to complete modifications of the ML-20SM, after which it would be sent to trials.
    The NKV insisted that the trials are to be carried out at the GAU main proving grounds without changes to the gun, claiming that it is necessary to discover additional requirements for its improvement.
  10. The GAU replied that, if the trials are considered factory trials, the GAU has no issue with trials aimed at determining requirements being carried out at the GAU main proving grounds, and will aid the NKV with necessary service and supplies.
  11. The NKV presented a program of trials at the start of August, and the GAU main proving grounds were ready for the trials in mid-August.
  12. Factory trials of the ML-20SM at the Main proving grounds began on September 24th, 1945, and concluded on November 13th, 1945. The start and end of the trials were delayed due to a lack of NKV representatives. The GAU informed the NKV that they must be sent urgently on two occasions (September 9th and October 15th). 
  13. The report on factory trials arrived at the GAU on December 6th, 1945. The main goal of the trials was to:
    Determine the quality of the weapon.
    Determine the robustness of the system as a whole and its individual components.
  14. In total, 65 rounds with normal charge and 244 with increased charge were fired. Overall, including the rounds fired before arriving at the proving grounds, the gun made 576 shots, 440 of them with increased charge.
  15. The SPG will be sent to the NIBT proving grounds for GBTU trials on December 21st-25th.
  16. The People's Commissariat of Armament gave the order to factory #172 to produce a new MK-20SM including the required improvements described as a result of trials at the GAU proving grounds and NIBT proving grounds.
Senior Engineer of the 2nd Department of the Artillery Committee, Engineer-Major Gorbachev
December 19th, 1945"

Sunday, 28 July 2019

Quad and 25-pounder in Action

The 25-pounder gun-howitzer was a very effective weapon, seeing service not just in WWII, but for a long time after. A large number of guns were preserved in excellent condition because of this. This particular gun shows up at events at least three times per year, and it's always a joy to see in action.

Saturday, 27 July 2019

Kalashnikov and the Intermediate Round

After an unsuccessful attempt at a submachinegun and light machinegun, the young small arms designer Mikhail Kalashnikov did not lose hope, but began to design a new semiautomatic carbine for the new intermediate round. However, here too he was faced with defeat. Why did it happen, and what lessons did the future author of the AK learn from this?

Thursday, 25 July 2019

StuG Replica at Aquino

This StuG replica looks pretty good, but a quick count of the road wheels reveals that it's not a StuG at all. This is a vehicle on the FV 432 chassis, which is commonly used to make replicas of PzIII and StuG vehicles for reenactments.