Tuesday, 16 July 2019

Upgunning the T-43

"T-43 tank turret with the D-5 system

During installation of the D-5 system into the T-43 tank turret, an insert is welded into the gun port, as the D-5 system is narrower than the F-34. An armoured shield is installed in the upper front part of the turret.

The seats of the gunner and commander are located in the same place as with the F-34. The turret traverse mechanism remains in the same place. The elevation mechanism is lowered by 40 mm relative to the elevation mechanism used on the F-34.

The trigger of the system is electric. The trigger is installed in the handle of the elevation flywheel. An electric trigger also works the coaxial DT machinegun. There is also a backup hand firing mechanism for the D-5 gun.

The sights and observation devices of the turret are installed in the same way as they are when in the F-34 is installed.

The radio is located in the same place as when the F-34 is installed.

50 rounds of ammunition are carried, 29 of which are carried in the floor, 16 in the turret bustle, and 5 on the right side of the turret.

Monday, 15 July 2019

Infantry vs. Tigers

The German 4th Tank Army received an impressive injection of new reserves in March of 1944: three infantry divisions and a brigade of assault guns. The generosity of their superiors did not end there. The 507th Heavy Tank Battalion was moved out from Western Europe.

Its formation began in May of 1943. It was lucky enough to escape Operation Citadel and fall battles near Kiev. The unit received 45 brand new Tiger tanks between December 1943 and February 1944. Its hour came on March 15th, when the tanks were loaded on trains and set out eastward. Six more followed, which resulted in a total of 51 tanks.

Saturday, 13 July 2019

Kalashnikov's Debut

If you ask a foreigner words he associated with Russia, "Kalashnikov" is likely going to be one of them. The famous assault rifle became one of the symbols of not only Russia and the USSR, but the 20th Century. The assault rifle's designer, Mikhail Timofeevich Kalashnikov, also got a share of the glory. As it often happens, this glory was rather one-sided and often subjective. Let's try to get through the other creations of the designer who was defined by his best known work.

Thursday, 11 July 2019

Sd.Kfz.251/10 Ausf.D in Action

Another Sd.Kfz.251 from the Ontario Regiment Museum, this time a 251/10 Ausf.D. As far as I can tell, this is an actual German vehicle.

Wednesday, 10 July 2019

Gun Maskirovka

The art of concealment and camouflage was incredibly important for anti-tank gun crews. One position was also not enough: it was necessary to prepare multiple positions, concealment for the crew in case of indirect fire against the gun, storage of ammunition, etc. Diagrams were produced in order to make it easier to see what had to be done.

Tuesday, 9 July 2019

Dummy Tanks

"Translated from German
Memo on using dummy tanks
  1. Dummy tanks must influence the enemy's decisions in our favour. They must introduce confusion regarding the amount and application of the tanks that oppose him. In addition, they must trick enemy aircraft into bombing false targets.
    Dummy tanks used on the front lines individually do not create the necessary effect, as they can be fired upon by the enemy without the ability to fire back. They can only be put into motion in exceptional cases, and thus are quickly destroyed.
    One must breathe life into these dummies! This is achieved by concentrating a number of dummies into one squad and moving them from place to place. The dummies must be withdrawn from the zone of enemy observation.
    Do not allow the enemy to observe these tanks for prolonged periods of time. It is possible to permit the enemy to view them from the air in your own rear. This can also reveal the enemy's air reconnaissance. The dummy tank squad is not a force on its own, but an aid for a regular tank unit. It must be used alongside a real tank unit. That breathes life into tanks.

Monday, 8 July 2019

Canadian Dry Pin

This was originally written as a submission to a question on r/AskHistorians. Reddit user Jeddaven asked "What disadvantages did Canadian Dry pin tracks face versus tradition tank tracks?" Since this is a topic with little detail available, I decided to reformat my answer and post it here.

Canadian tank production is one underappreciated aspect of the country's contribution to WWII. Montreal Locomotive Works made excellent use of the American M3/M4 chassis, building the Ram and Grizzly tanks, Sexton SPG using their chassis, and the Skink AA tank on the Grizzly chassis.

Initially, these Canadian-built AFVs used WE210 tracks, commonly used on Medium Tanks M3, which were then replaced by T54E1 tracks, also used on American tanks. A shortage of rubber made the Canadians explore an alternative. Fully metallic Canadian Dry Pin tracks were designed.

Canadian Dry Pin track link.

Saturday, 6 July 2019

Schmeisser vs. Kalashnikov

There are quite a few brands in the world of weapons that are recognizeable even to the outside observer. One of them is the legendary "Kalashnikov", the AK-47. The assault rifle found a place in popular culture, computer games, and even on flags and coats of arms. However, arguments about its creator still don't die. There are those tho suspect that only German designers could have made the AK, and their labour was appropriated by the Soviets.

Thursday, 4 July 2019

OT-810/Sd.Kfz.251 Ausf.C at Aquino Tank Weekend 2019

The Sd.Kfz.251 was one of the few German army vehicles to see any post-war service. Not only that, it was produced in Czechoslovakia under the index OT-810. Dubbed "Hitler's revenge" by the soldiers, it did not prove very popular, but it did ensure that reenactors dressed as German infantrymen would not have to walk to the battlefield.

Wednesday, 3 July 2019

Book Announcement

I mentioned this in my annual update, but I'm writing a book! Or, rather, I have written a book, and am currently in the final stages of neatly arranging everything and sending it off to the publisher. However, preorders are already open! Head on over to Morton's to reserve a copy, or wait until it becomes available on Amazon or wherever you buy your books.

Cover art by Piotr Forkasiewicz.

Description of the contents:
  • Chapter 1: overview of Soviet tank design, development of requirements for the BT-20 as a result of experience gained in the Spanish Civil War.
  • Chapter 2: Development and trials of the A-20 and A-32 tanks.
  • Chapter 3: Development and trials of the A-34 tank.
  • Chapter 4: Mass production and design changes of the T-34, trials of production tanks.
  • Chapter 5: Delivery and service of T-34 tanks in 1940 and the first half of 1941.

Update: Morton's confirmed that there will indeed be a digital version.


"Order of the People's Commissar of Tank Production #120s
March 31st, 1942

In order to improve the driving qualities of our tanks, I order that:
  1. STZ director, comrade K.A. Zadorozhniy, must:
    1. Perform experimental work  to increase the power of the V-2 engine to 750 hp at 2000-2100 RPM with a centrifugal or volumetric supercharger. 
    2. Complete experimental work to increase the power of engines by May 1st, 1942.
    3. Present the experimental work and reports for approval to my deputy, comrade Zh.Ya. Kotin, by July 10th, 1942.
      Supply one new T-34 and one repaired KV tank for trials.
  2. Acting director of the Kirov factory, comrade S.N. Makhonin, must:
    1. Send two centrifugal AM-35 superchargers to STZ by airplane no later than April 5th, 1942, as well as a set of blueprints of the transmission and engine compartment and gearbox of the KV tank to select a location for the supercharger.
  3. Chief of the NTKP Financial Department, comrade Shagalov must:
    1. Issue 500,000 roubles to STZ director comrade Zadorozhniy for conducting the experimental work.
Authorized representative of the People's Commissar of Tank Production, V. Malyshev"

Tuesday, 2 July 2019

More or Less

Human intelligence is a fickle thing rumours might end up being almost completely wrong, or pretty much right on the money. For instance, this interrogation resulted in information that ends up being almost correct, but it's hard to filter out what is wrong and what is right from this piece of info alone.

Monday, 1 July 2019

Scorched Earth

"Intelligence department, 1st Ukrainian Front

Captured by the 4th Guards Tank Army on March 20th, 1945
Copy from a copy
Translated from German

Supreme command of the land forces, Field Marshal Keitel
Supreme HQ
September 25th, 1944

Contents: on robbery performed by soldiers within the empire

Reports indicate that soldiers located in regions of the empire that is adjacent to combat zones are guilty of most heinous crimes against the property of their German compatriots. They raid the possessions and stocks of those who have been evacuated and rob abandoned apartments. Commanders did not only fail to combat this, but occasionally participated in these shameful actions.

Saturday, 29 June 2019

From Support Tank to a Lead Role

It often happens that tanks are built for one purpose, but become necessary for another. German tank building is an excellent example of this. The situation with medium tanks was the most complicated. The B.W. tank (Pz.Kpfw.IV) was envisioned as a small batch vehicle, but was several times more numerous than the Z.W. (Pz.Kpfw.III). The situation normalized only by the May-June 1940 campaign, but history repeats itself. By the middle of the war, the Pz.Kpfw.IV once again became the most numerous German tank, outlasting the PzIII in production.

Thursday, 27 June 2019

Universal Carrier in Action

Like most Commonwealth forces, the Canadians used Universal Carriers extensively, and they were even produced in Canada. There are always a couple kicking around Aquino Tank Weekend.

Wednesday, 26 June 2019

Big Caliber

"To the Commander of the 370th Order of the Red Banner Order of Kutuzov 2nd Class Rifle Division

I report that:
At [illegible] the enemy used 210 mm guns in the artillery barrage of [illegible], which resulted in a direct hit to the turret of IS tank #113 (serial number 41046), as a result of which internal equipment and the engine compartment burned up, and the turret was thrown to the side by the shockwave.
Out of the 6 men inside the tank at the time, the following casualties were taken:
  1. Mechanic-driver Sergeant Romanov: killed
  2. Gunner Starshina Golakhov and loader Private Panov: wounded
Company commander Guards Lieutenant Minulov, technical deputy commander Junior Lieutenant La[illegible] and tank commander Guards Lieutenant Bilanov were not injured.

The majority of the damage was caused by 3 near misses. As a result of fragments and shockwave, 4 men were killed, 4 wounded, and 2 contused.

Regiment commander, Lieutenant-Colonel [signature]
Chief of Staff, Major [signature] 
February 26th, 1945"

The handwritten text over the top of the report is hard to read, it but orders that all IS tanks must be carefully dug in and concealed to prevent this from happening again.

Tuesday, 25 June 2019


"Operational summary
On completion of the ABTU's order for January 1941 by Comintern factory #183

Military Representative P.F. Rusakov

Produced this year
Delivered this year
T-34 tank, L-11 gun
Same, with radio
Spare parts for BT tanks
358.5 tons
358.5 tons
Spare parts for T-34 tanks
457.3 tons
457.3 tons
T-34 gearboxes