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.

Thursday, 27 December 2018

Plea for Tanks

"From the first years of its existence, red cavalry greedily absorbed vehicles. During the civil war, many regiments had dozens of mounted machineguns. The desire to fight alongside aircraft, armoured cars, and tanks is especially strong among the cavalry commanders. Not a single man even once said that the horsemen need nothing but sabers and no vehicles at all. On the other hand, everyone always says "give us vehicles". However, give us vehicles that do not hamper our mobility, that won't slow us down, which can increase the mobility of horses, not decrease it. There is not a single commander that does not aim to accept such a vehicle.

We have situations without historical precedent. The commander of one division sent in a telegram to the chair of the Revolutionary Military Committee: "Comrade Voroshilov, if you can sell tanks, then I will purchase a squadron of these tanks with my own money." There has not been such an event in history! He said directly, I will buy a squadron of tanks with my own money, as long as you can sell it."

Wednesday, 26 December 2018

IS-2 Acceptance

"State Committee of Defense decree #4479ss
October 31st, 1943
Moscow, Kremlin

On the heavy IS-2 tank with a 122 mm gun

The State Committee of Defense decrees that:
  1. The heavy IS-2 tank designed by comrade Kotin with a 122 mm gun designed by comrade Petrov (NKV factory #9) with tactical-technical characteristics matching those in attachment #1 is to be accepted into service.
  2. The People's Commissar of Tank Production (comrade Malyshev), Chief Designer of the NKTP (comrade Kotin), and Director of the Kirov Factory (comrade Zaltsmann) must provide for the production of 35 tanks in December out of the quota for production of IS tanks established by GOKO decree 4043ss of September 4th of this year.
  3. The People's Commissar of Armament (comrade Ustinov) and Director of factory #9 (comrade Gonor) must provide for the delivery of D-25 guns to the Kirov factory out of the quota established for D-5 85 mm guns in the following amounts:
    1. From November 20th to December 1st: 10
    2. From December 1st to December 15th: 15
    3. From December 15th 1943 to January 1st 1944: 20
    4. In January of 1944: 75
  4. The People's Commissar of Armament (comrade Ustinov), Director of factory #9 (comrade Petrov) must design and produce by January 1st, 1944, a sliding semi-automatic breech for the D-25 gun, and jointly with the NKTP, GAU, and GBTU perform proving grounds trials of this gun in an IS-2 tank by January 15th.
  5. The People's Commissar of Tank Production (comrade Malyshev) and Director of the Uralmash factory (comrade Muzrukov) must ensure the delivery of D-25 gun half-stock to factory #9 according to the amounts and deadlines outlined in the agreement with the NKV.
  6. The People's Commissar of Tank Production (comrade Malyshev), People's Commissar of Armament (comrade Ustinov), Chief Designers comrades Kotin and Petrov, Directors of the Kirov and #9 factories, comrades Zaltsmann and comrade Gonor, must correct all the defects in the IS-2 tank and the D-25 gun listed in attachment #2 before putting beginning mass production.
Chair of the State Committee of Defense
I. Stalin"

Tuesday, 25 December 2018

Factory #183 Experiments

"May 31st, 1940
#246s
To the Chief of the 8th Department of the ABTU, Military Engineer 1st Class Afonin

Summary report on experimental work at factory #183 in May of 1940

In May, the following work was performed at the factory:

  1. Trials of track links cast from Hadfield steel for the A-34 vehicle. Results of preliminary trials that consisted of driving for 420 km, including 140 km on a cobblestone highway, were satisfactory.
    The vehicle reached an average speed of 37 kph on a cobblestone highway, and several braking maneuvers were performed when driving at top speed (50 kph). After inspection, cracks were discovered in about 80% of the tracks with teeth. Trials of the track continue until it is worn out completely.
  2. Trials of mechanical servo controls are being performed on that vehicle. The results are good. I consider it necessary to introduce mechanical servo controls into production.
  3. In May 150 hour warranty trials  of an A-7M with a V-2 engine were performed. The vehicle travelled for 2050 km. The engine worked for 65 hours, after which trials were stopped due to a defect of the engine (penetration of gases). In parallel, replacement components, including a cast iron gearbox case, were tested. The vehicle drove for 800 km, after which the case cracked. At this time another gearbox with a reinforced iron case is being prepared for trials on another A-7M.
  4. A vehicle with substitutes for components that use non ferrous metals is being prepared for trials, which will begin in the early days of June.
  5. Inspection of parts of an A-5 vehicle which is due to receive a six cylinder V-3 engine. The refurbishing of this vehicle is delayed because factories #75 and #183 cannot agree on the required degree of modernization.
  6. An A-7M with a factory #75 engine with a 150 hour warranty is being assembled.
  7. The Voroshilovets tractor with a V-3 (six cylinder) diesel is assembled and has gone through a breaking in drive. As a result of the drive, a number of defects were discovered in transmission components. The tractor is being repaired and will be ready for factory trials on June 2nd-3rd.
  8. Partial warranty trials of Voroshilovets tractor #68 were performed in May. The trials were delayed due to a refusal by factory #183 to carry out the trials at its expense. Presently, the trials have resumed. In addition, a number of experimental components with replacement metals are being tested in the Voroshilovets tractor.
  9. Design bureau "520" is working on blueprints for a flamethrower installed in the A-34 tank. All detailed blueprints must be ready and submitted into production by June 1st, 1940.
  10. Work on a technical tractor on the A-34 chassis is underway.
  11. In May factory #183 received the objectives for 1940, but a specific plan for achieving those objectives was not established. A number of objectives might not be met, such as the trials of the V-2 engine in special conditions, as the factory does not have clarity on this issue and no specific measures are being planned. It is necessary to clarify a number of issues in the immediate future in order for the factory to complete its objectives in the required timeframe.
Senior ABTU Military Representative, Military Engineer 2nd Class Kozyrev
ABTU Military Representative, Military Engineer 3rd Class Baikov"

Monday, 24 December 2018

T-34 Radio Trials

"Record #030 
October 22nd, 1940

RE: field trials of radio equipment on T-34 vehicles
Basis: item 16 of the minutes of the commission meeting of September 28-30th, 1940

Items under trial:
Vehicle #608-01 with a 71-TK-3 radio transmitter #2205, receiver #2251, RUN-75 #31140, RUN-10 #30905, TPU-3M #5.
Vehicle #547-29 with a 71-TK-3 radio transmitter #2266, receiver #2244, RUN-75 #30248, RUN-10 #31916, TPU-3M #8

Installation of the radio is in the front of the vehicle according to the conclusions of the commission on September 28th.

Goal of trials:
  1. Establish the radio range between two vehicles in motion.
    Notes: the trials are a part of the trials of 10 vehicles requested by item 16 of the commission's concluding statement.
  2. Determine the reliability and range of the radio communication if the antenna is tilted (middle position of the antenna mount).
  3. Ability to work through the TPU-3M.
  4. Reliability of the radio mounts.