Saturday, 18 August 2018

Semovente L40 da 47/32: Italy's Smallest SPG

Italian armoured vehicles of WWII pale in comparison to those of either their allies or their opponents. However, even though their tankettes, light, and medium tanks were not quite world class, the SPGs built on their chassis were not that bad.

The light L6/40 tank was accepted into service in the Italian land forces in 1941. This vehicle was  already obsolete: the 20 mm autocannon was not enough to fight British infantry tanks, and the armour was clearly insufficient. Nevertheless, the army needed a replacement for tankettes, and Italian industry produced about 440 of these vehicles by the summer of 1943, which were adopted by reconnaissance units.

Thursday, 16 August 2018

Grand Theft Auto

"Award Order
  1. Name: Kondratenko, Vladimir Ignatyevich
  2. Rank: Guard Red Armyman
  3. Position and unit: anti-tank rifle crew member, 1st Independent Rifle Battalion, 10th Guards Rifle Brigade.
    is nominated for the Order of the Red banner.
  4. Year of birth: 1924
  5. Nationality: Russian
  6. In the Red Army since: March 1942
  7. Party affiliation: VLKSM member
  8. Participation in combat since: August 6th, 1942 (Western Front)
  9. Wounds or concussions: none
  10. Prior awards: none
  11. Recruited by: Steingardt recruitment office, Kranodar krai
Brief and specific description of heroism: during battles near Mayramadag on November 6th, 1942, comrade Kondratenko knocked out two German tanks from his anti-tank rifle, set fire to a car, and drove an enemy tank off the battlefield under fire.

Commander of the 10th Guards Rifle Brigade, Guards Lieutenant-Colonel Terenkov"


There is also a photo of the hero, smiling next to his trophy.


Wednesday, 15 August 2018

Too Little, Too Late

"Received on June 22nd, 1:45 am
Send on June 22nd, 2:25 am, 2:35 am

To the commanders of the 3rd, 4th, 10th armies, I pass on the order of the People's Commissar of Defense for immediate execution.
  1. A sudden German attack is possible on June 22nd or 23rd on the Leningrad Military District, Baltic Military District, Western Military District, Kiev Military District, and the Odessa Military District. The German attack might begin with provocations.
  2. Our goal is to resist any provocation that could result in complications. At the same time, forces of the  Leningrad Military District, Baltic Military District, Western Military District, Kiev Military District, and the Odessa Military District must remain ready to meet a sudden attack by the Germans or their allies.
  3. I command you to:
    1. Secretly take positions along the state border on the night of June 22nd.
    2. Before dawn on June 22nd, spread out aircraft on field airstrips, including military aircraft, and carefully camouflage them.
    3. All units must be ready for combat without additional calling up of personnel. Prepare blackout measures for cities and objects.
Take no other actions without special orders.

Timoshenko
Zhukov
Pavlov
Klimovskih"

Tuesday, 14 August 2018

A-20 Production Status

"April 29th/May 4th, 1939
#205679

To the Chief of the Special Department of the NVKD GUGB of the USSR

RE: #4 04/12348

In response to your query, I reply that:
  1. The shape of the hull, armament, ammunition capacity, and cruising range of the A-20 tank have been approved by the Chief Military Council.
  2. The ABTU knows nothing about the design bureau's refusal to reduce the mass of assemblies and components of the A-20.
  3. The practical mass of the tank, robustness of the components, and accessibility will be determined in the coming months after the prototypes are built and tested.
  4. The factory has every ability to produce a prototype in the time span allotted by the government.
The Chief Engineer of the ABTU, Major Panov, is keeping track of production of the vehicles.

Chief of the ABTU, Corps Commander Pavlov
ABTU Military Commissar, Brigade Commissar Kulikov"

Monday, 13 August 2018

Panther Penetration

"Table of results of shooting at the Panther tank

Caliber
Type
Range
Armour thickness
Result
# shots
Description
14.5 ATR
BS-42
100
50
No penetration
2
40 mm deep dent in the central part of the armour
45 mm
AP
250
50
Penetration
2
Complete penetration in the rear part of the side armour. The breach is the size of the shell caliber.
Sub-caliber
250
50
Penetration
1
Oval penetration in the central part of the side armour 20x35 mm in size.
57 mm
AP
250
45
Penetration
1
Complete penetration in the side of the turret. The breach is the size of the shell caliber.
Sub-caliber
250
45
Penetration
1
Complete penetration in the center of the side of the turret. The breach is the size of the shell caliber. There is spalling inside around the breach. The shell lodged itself in the breach of the gun.
AP
300
85
No penetration
1
A 52 mm deep dent formed in the center of the sloped frontal armour. A bump formed on the inside. The armour cracked.
Sub-caliber
300
85
No penetration
1
Oval dent in the center part of the front armour 50x65 mm in size. A bump formed on the inside. The armour has a 25 mm long crack.
76 mm reg.
HEAT
250
50
Penetration
1
Complete penetration in the center of the side armour. The breach does not widen on the inner part.
76 mm div. ZIS-3
HE
250
45
Penetration
1
Complete penetration with the inside jagged. A portion of the turret armour broke off as the shell passed inside.
AP
250
45
Penetration
1
Complete penetration of the turret armour. The entrance opening is the size of the caliber. There is spalling on the inside.
Sub-caliber
250
45
Penetration
1
Complete penetration of the upper portion of the side of the turret the size of the shell diameter. As the shell entered, a part of the armour that was previously weakened broke off.
85 mm
AP
300
85
Penetration
1
Complete penetration in the lower sloped front armour the size of the shell diameter. The armour has a horizontal crack passing through the opening.
"

Saturday, 11 August 2018

Red Army's White Tanks

Issues with reducing visibility of armoured vehicles arose as soon as these vehicles were first used. Like 100 years ago, opposing sides aim to locate enemy vehicles in motion, during stops, and during combat, determine their type and number, and also make the same as difficult as possible for the enemy. It's not easy to conceal a tank from the enemy, especially in winter. Areas covered in snow make dark objects (such as tanks in basic camouflage) very noticeable. How was the issue of camouflaging tanks in winter handled in the Red Army?

Thursday, 9 August 2018

Last Rites

"To the Chief of the Personnel Losses Department of the 3rd Army
September 8th, 1944
#08

I report that in carrying out the orders of the Chief of the Rear #0210 issued on August 25th, 1944, deceased soldiers of the 348th Rifle Division are buried in divisional cemeteries indicated in orders of the division rear.

Divisional cemeteries are built far away from roads, on forest clearings or on outskirts of settlements that are not used for planting. Graves and gravestones are built according to standardized blueprints. Inscriptions are written in black pencil or are burned on. Graves are surrounded with a mound and with a fence.

Personal belongings of the deceased are collected by the chiefs of the burial teams. No looting was observed. 

The main points of order #0210 were covered with the personnel of the burial teams.

Chief of the Trophy Group
Captain Podunin"

Via zihuatalexo.

Back to School

"Order of the People's Commissar of Defense #0909 On Equipping Training Tank Units with Transient Personnel
November 26th, 1942

In order to fill tank crews with well trained, brave, decisive, and battle-tested soldiers and NCOs, I order that:
  1. 8000 men from the active army are to be sent to tank units every month by the 15th according to the attached schedule for the next two months (December and January).
  2. Soldiers and NCOs are to be picked from the ranks of privates and junior commanders who showed courage, decisiveness, and devotion to the Motherland, no older than 35, literate, and well versed in Russian.
    40% of those picked should be junior commanders.
  3. Perform the selection with commission from representatives of the Front and Main Armour Directorate of the Red Army.
People's Commissar of Defense,
I. Stalin"

Tuesday, 7 August 2018

Corps and Brigades

"Order of the People's Commissar of Defense #00106 on the Composition of Tank Units in Tank Corps and Tank Armies
May 29th, 1942
  1. To alter the present arrangement, reorganize the tank corps and tank armies as follows:
    1. Keep three tank brigades in a tank corps: one KV tank brigade numbering 32 KV tanks with 21 attached T-60 tanks and two T-34 brigades numbering 44 T-34 tanks each and 21 additional T-60 tanks, for a total of 183 tanks in a corps.
    2. In tank armies keep two tank corps described in part 1.1 of this order and one reserve tank brigade composed of 44 T-34 and 21 T-60 tanks, for a total of 431 tanks in a tank army.
  2. Independent tank brigades are to be composed of 8 KV tanks, 20 T-34 tanks, and 20 T-60 tanks.
  3. The Chief of the Main Armoured Directorate of the Red Army is instructed to propose a draft of the changes to the TO&E.
People's Commissar of Defense,
I. Stalin"

RGVA 4-11-67 p.137

Monday, 6 August 2018

Ersatz Tank Destroyer

The Jadgpanzer 38(t), also widely known as the "Hetzer", is often treated as just being short of a wonder-weapon that could significantly change the tide of war had it appeared sooner. Without doubt, the Jadgpanzer 38(t) was a good design. Its weight class had hardly any other vehicles that combined thick sloped armour, powerful armament, and a relatively low silhouette. However, let's not overestimate this vehicle. The Jagdpanzer 38(t) was just one of many ersatz vehicles called upon to slow down the relentless approach of the front line to Germany's borders.

Thursday, 2 August 2018

Upgrade

"Order of the People's Commissar of Defense #005
On the refreshing of materiel of one tank battalion in each tank brigade in the Far Eastern Front with T-34 tanks
March 19th, 1945

In order to renew the materiel of the Far Eastern Front, I order that the following be carried out:
  1. Re-arm the first tank battalion of each tank brigade on the Far Eastern Front with T-34 tanks according to TO&E #010/271 (21 T-34 tanks) or #010/346 (25 T-34 tanks).
  2. Old tanks, left over from re-arming of the first battalion, are to be left in the brigade's reserve.
  3. The Commander of the Armoured and Motorized Forces of the Red Army is to transfer 436 T-34 tanks with crews to the Commander of the Far Eastern Front with in order to perform re-armament. Of those:
    1. For the 12 tank brigades of the Primorye army group: 264 tanks from April 1st to April 30th, 1945.
    2. For the remaining 8 tank brigades: 172 tanks from April 15th to April 30th, 1945.
  4. Give the Chief of the General Staff necessary directions for transferring tanks to the Far Eastern Front.
People's Commissar of Defense,
Marshal of the Soviet Union,
I. Stalin."

Wednesday, 1 August 2018

T-64 Light Tank

"Calculations of hull and turret weights made to requirements of the GBTU TU

Report on the increase in mass of the T-64 tank as a result of increase of armour thickness
  1. Armour thickness:
    1. Front plate: 45 mm at 80 degrees
    2. Lower front plate: 220 mm at 0 degrees (cast)
    3. Side armour: 150 mm at 0 degrees
    4. Rear: 75 mm at 10 degrees
    5. Turret front: equivalent to 220 mm at 0 degrees
    6. Turret side: equivalent to 220 mm at 0 degrees
    7. Turret rear: equivalent to 150 mm at 0 degrees
  2. Increasing the thickness of the turret armour by 80 mm (the turret shape is taken as a truncated cone for ease of calculations):
    1. Side surfaces: (720+380)/2 * 70 = 38,500 cm²
    2. Dimensions of the added plate: 38,500 * 8 = 308,000 cm³
    3. Increase in mass: 308,000 * 8 = 2,464,000 grams or 2,464 kg
  3. Increasing the thickness of the front armour by 15 mm:
    1. 142 * 220 = 31,240 cm²
    2. 31,240 * 1.5 = 46,860 cm³
    3. 46,860 * 8 = 375,000 grams or 375 kg
  4. Increasing the thickness of the hull armour by 25 mm
    1. 220 * 110 = 24,200 cm²
    2. 24,200 * 2.5 = 60,500 cm³
    3. 60,500 * 8 = 484,000 grams or 480 kg
Total increase in mass is equal to 3,300 kg.

Assistant to the Chief of the 2nd Department of the GBTU TU, Engineer-Captain [signature]"

Tuesday, 31 July 2018

SU-85 Organization

"Order of the People's Commissar of Defense #0032
On the inclusion of SU-85 self propelled gun regiments into independent tank destroyer artillery brigades in the Reserve of the Stavka of the Supreme Command
August 2nd, 1944

In order to increase the firepower and mobility of fire of independent tank destroyer artillery brigades in the Reserve of the Supreme Command, I order that:
  1. In the 15 independent tank destroyer artillery brigades that are in the Reserve of the Stavka of the Supreme Command, a self propelled artillery regiment with 21 SU-85 SPGs is to be added.
    The overall counts of the brigade will include 1852 men.
  2. The Commander of the Armoured and Mechanized Forces of the Red Army must form and transfer to the Commander of Artillery of the Red Army 15 SU-85 SPG regiments in the following timeline:
    1. 5 regiments by July 20th 1944.
    2. 5 regiments by August 5th, 1944.
    3. 5 regiments by August 20th, 1944.
      Select 15 officers to fill the position of deputy commander of the technical branch.
  3. Chiefs of the NKO Central Directorates are to fill the brigades with personnel, armament, transport, and materiel.
People's Commissar of Defense
Marshal of the Soviet Union
I. Stalin"

Monday, 30 July 2018

Firing at Ferdinands

"Characteristics of armour penetration of cannons and effectiveness of mines on enemy tanks
Based on experience of combat and trials
  1. Trials against an 88 mm SPG "Ferdinand" show the following results:
    1. Armour of the SPG: roof: 45 mm, rear: 80 mm, side: 80 mm, front: 200 mm, gun mantlet: 110 mm, front hull: 200 mm.
    2. Effectiveness of firing:
      1. Anti-tank rifles: firing at the side armour from 80-100 meters with the BS-41 bullet penetrates 50 mm of armour forming a 20-22 mm deep indentation. Firing at the tracks can break track pins and the track links. The rifle can penetrate observation periscopes and jam the gun ball mount.

Saturday, 28 July 2018

SPG and Fold-out AA Gun

Medium SPGs on the PzIV chassis designed by Krupp engineers were seemingly cursed. The Pz.Sfl.IVa "bunker buster" only had two prototypes built, and work on the Pz.Sfl.IVb ended after a pilot batch. Nevertheless, both vehicles made it to the front lines. The fate of the Pz.Sfl.IVc was similar. Initially, the vehicle was designed as a bunker buster, then as a medium SPAAG. In the end, only one prototype was built, which underwent conversion and was sent to the front.

Thursday, 26 July 2018

Tank Killer Payouts

"Order of the People's Commissar of Defense #0387
On rewards for soldiers and commanders who destroy enemy tanks in combat
June 24th, 1943

In order to increase effectiveness in combat with enemy tanks and reward soldiers and commanders for their work in destroying enemy tanks, I order that the following be established:
  1. A reward for each knocked out or burned up tank by anti-tank rifle crews in the amount of:
    1. For the rifleman: 500 rubles
    2. For the assistant: 250 rubles
  2. A reward for each knocked out or destroyed enemy tank by tank crews: 500 rubles each to the commander, driver, and gun (turret) commander, 200 rubles each for others.
  3. A reward for tanks knocked out by any type of artillery: 500 rubles for the gun commander and gunner, 200 rubles each to all other members of the crew.
  4. A reward of 1000 rubles for every soldier or commander who individually knocks our or burns up a tank using individual measures.
    If a group of tank destroyers acted to destroy a tank, then the award is increased to 1500 rubles and is distributed among the group equally.
  5. Instruct the Chief of the Financial Directorate of the NKO to create instructions for application of this order.
  6. The order will enter effect on July 1st, 1943. Report by telegraph.
People's Commissar of Defense,
Marshal of the Soviet Union
I. Stalin."

Wednesday, 25 July 2018

More Firepower

"Order of the People's Commissar of Defense #020
On increasing the firepower of tank and mechanized units of the Red Army.
January 10th, 1943

In order to increase the firepower of tank and mechanized units and formations of the Red Army, I order that:
  1. Introduce the following into the units:
    1. Into each Guards Breakthrough Regiment: a platoon of submachinegunners, numbering 33 men and 32 PPSh.
    2. Into each tank brigade: a company of anti-tank rifles following TO&E #010/375 numbering 61 men and 18 anti-tank rifles.
    3. Into tank and mechanized corps: RGK mortar regiment following TO&E #08/106 and RGK self propelled artillery regiment following TO&E #08/158.
  2. Starting with January 1st, raise the salary of personnel of units, formations, and individual groups armed with anti-tank rifles: 100% increase for enlisted men and junior officers, on average 25% to intermediate officers and higher.
    The salary increase will be determined for each position by the Chief of the Financial Directorate of the NKO after agreement with the Commander of the Armoured and Mechanized Forces of the Red Army.
People's Commissar of Defense,
I. Stalin"