Sunday, 23 October 2016

Renault R 35 in German Service

The most numerous tank in French service in 1940, the Renault R 35, was naturally the most numerous tank among the Wehrmacht's trophies. Many tanks fell into German hands either completely intact or damaged so superficially that they could quickly be repaired. In total, the Germans captured 800-840 Renault R 35 tanks, an impressive number, but the name change to Panzerkampfwagen 35R 731(f) didn't add anything to the tank's qualities. The tank's career with its new masters was long, but complicated: it served as an SPG, an engineering vehicle, a tractor, and a mobile crane.

Saturday, 22 October 2016

Renault R 35: More for Less

French light tank development after WWII opted to continue modernizing the Renault FT. After long experiments that resulted in the Renault NC, infantry command decided to develop a tank that weighed 12 tons. This project resulted in the 14 ton Renault D1, whose size and mass was closer to a medium tank. The D1 was pursued by technical problems, and it was not very numerous: compared to the 3,500 Renault FTs that it was supposed to replace, 160 of these tanks were a drop in the sea. French commanders thought long and hard, and the result was the new Renault R 35 tank which played an important role in the defeat of France in the summer of 1940.

Friday, 21 October 2016

World of Tanks History Section: Maloyaroslavl Line

The Wehrmacht's pincer closed around Vyazma on October 7th, 1941. Soldiers of the West and Reserve Fronts, about 600,000 men, were trapped in side. On the next day, Commander-in-Chief I. Stalin sent a telegram to Lieutenant-General M. Lukin, the commander of the surrounded forces. It began with the words "If you don't break through, I will have nothing and no one to defend Moscow. I repeat: nothing and no one!"

The chief wasn't joking. A new line of defense had to be built between the Germans and Moscow after the West and Reserve Fronts fell. This cost time, time that the enemy wasn't about to donate. Precious days and hours were won in fierce battles. The battle for the Maloyaroslavl fortified region (37th UR) was one of them.

Thursday, 20 October 2016

7.5 cm Sprenggranate 34

Much talk is dedicated to various armour piercing munitions, but high explosive shells are no less important for cannons. Let's take a look at the data sheet for high explosive ammunition of a 7.5 cm KwK 40 L/43 gun.

"Spreng-Granate 34. Vo = 550 m/s

Without delay (o.V.): use against strongpoints, AT guns and riflemen, masses of targets, against tanks use only with impact fuse.
With delay: (m.V.): use against targets behind cover, or, as an exception, against live targets with ricochet.

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Resilient Driver

"Nominated for the title of Hero of the Soviet Union: Guards Senior Sergeant Shilov, Grigoriy Iosifovich, mechanic-driver of a T-34 tank from the 316th Tank Battalion, 30th Tank Brigade

With his tank, comrade Shilov fought on the Voronezh Front in 1943 for Rossosh, Chuguyev, Kharkov, Valki, and dozens of other settlements. In battle for Mikhailovka, Sofievka, Rossosh, Karpenkovo, Varvarovka, Osadchiy, Ternovaya, Lizogubovka, Malinovka, Chuguyev, Kharkov, Valki, New and Old Olkhovatka, his tank destroyed:
  • Anti-tank guns: 7
  • Heavy guns: 2
  • SPGs: 3
  • Cars with ammunition and cargo: 5
  • Motorcycles with sidecars: 10
  • Soldiers and officers: 530

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

T-43 Criticism

"Factory #183 designed and is currently producing an experimental prototype of the T-43 tank. The T-43 tank is designed based on the T-34 tank with the goal of obtaining a better armoured vehicle while keeping as many parts in common as possible.

The main drawbacks of the T-43 include:

Monday, 17 October 2016

Red Army Infantry Manual on Tanks

Naturally, tanks are not the primary topic of infantry manuals, but these excerpts from the 1935 Red Armyman's handbook give you a good idea of how the common soldier in the USSR was expected to react to their appearance on the battlefield.

Saturday, 15 October 2016

3.7 cm Pak: Life of the Doorknocker

When one thinks of the German blitzkrieg and its weapons, one first thinks of tanks and airplanes. Meanwhile, the 3.7 cm Pak anti-tank gun could very well be one of the symbols of the early war. First used with great success in Spain, forcing its enemies to develop tanks with shell-proof armour, it ended up as a useless "doorknocker" against T-34 and KV tanks. What is the history of this little cannon?

Friday, 14 October 2016

7TP: Polish Vickers

Polish armoured forces were pitted against the Panzerwaffe, one of the main instruments of German strategy. Even though battles in September of 1939 showed that the light 7TP tanks could resist German tanks on a technical level, but the numerical difference left no chances for Poland.

Thursday, 13 October 2016

Beefy T-28

Soviet T-28 and T-35 tanks catch a lot of flak for being big, heavy, and not particularly well armoured in the era where anti-tank cannons became very common. German pre-war intelligence identifies the T-28 and T-35 as vulnerable to 37 mm guns from 450 meters, and yet the 94th Anti-tank Squadron of the XXXXIX Mountain Corps had a different experience. In a report titled "experience of an anti-tank unit in the East" they write:

"In one case, we managed to impede the attack of a heavy Russian tank "T-28" (or "T-35") by disabling its turret rotation mechanism. Shooting at the front or sides of the turret with PzGr 39 and PzGr 40 shells out of 37 mm guns at a range of 250 m had no effect."

CAMD RF 500-12480-145

Wednesday, 12 October 2016

On German Losses

"There is confusion regarding the alleged precision... I'm not going to speak for the Western Allies, that's not my topic, but I had to work with German losses. And believe me, the mess with their counting of losses is much greater than ours. We had a very specific Form #8, "Report on Losses", everyone had to fill it out, if it had to be revised then another form would be submitted. The Germans had nothing like this. As for the German data, you can take a look at just one period, with static positions, let's say Sevastopol. Here's a report by the army Senior Quartermaster. Compare it to the list of names of killed officers. They counted officers separately and NCOs and soldiers separately. The difference in numbers can be as high as 50%, one and a half times higher when you count them by name.
Overall, if you take 1944 and count the losses in Bagration, it's a horrible mess. Reports on losses get delayed until the fall. That same 17th Army in Crimea that was defeated on the peninsula only reports its losses several weeks later. They were only counted several weeks later. If we take the 10-day report of the medical service for the army, the number of losses in Crimea are almost an order of magnitude less than the losses that were actually taken and reported on later. This precision is greatly exaggerated. It's the opposite: the Germans were more interested in what they had now, and the losses they sustained, well, the numbers were often counted very poorly. Paulus' army doctor at Stalingrad writes reports, compare it with the 10-day reports, the difference is huge, 20%. Where it comes from, it's hard to say, but it's there a lot. The lower the level, the deeper you have to dig to discover precise numbers."

Aleksei Isayev, Battle for Moscow

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

T-60 Amour QA

"To the director of the Vyksa "DRO" factory, comrade Volkov
CC: GABTU Military Representative at the "DRO" factory, Military Engineer 2nd Grade comrade Zimin
CC: Military Machinebuilding Department

Reply to 5/109s

The list of parts to be tested by shooting and parts not to be tested by shooting are attached to technical requirements #060 TU-1 (wartime conditions for producing "060" T-70 hulls) sent to your address. Use these requirements as a benchmark. The conditions for testing plates (type of bullet, number of hits, range) are specified in the wartime requirements for tank armour, which are also present at your factory.

Test 10% of front, side, and rear hull plates and turrets according to the military representative's orders.

Deputy GABTU BTU Chief, Military Engineer 1st Grade, Alymov
GABTU BTU Military Commissar [illegible]"

CAMD RF 38-11355-20