Saturday, 15 June 2019

Cruiser with a Big Head

SPGs are hardly a strength of the British tank industry. The country developed the first SPG on a tank chassis, but then the birthplace of tanks fell behind in the creation of self propelled artillery. Suffice it to say that Britain produced half as many SPGs as Canada in WWII (not counting those converted into SPGs from tanks). British SPGs implemented rather unusual design decisions. This was true for their tank destroyers as well, both the Challenger and Avenger.

Thursday, 13 June 2019

Pz.Kpfw.III Replica at the Ontario Regiment Museum

This tank is not an actual PzIII, but you can hardly tell just by looking at it. The only giveaway was that the tires don't say "Continental" on them. According to the driver, it was built entirely to factory blueprints externally, and only the insides come from the M113 APC. 

Wednesday, 12 June 2019

Panther Intel

"British Military Mission in the USSR
July 9th, 1943

To: Major General Dubinin

Contents: new German medium and heavy tanks
  1. I present to you the following information that we already communicated to the GABTU. This information comes from prisoners of war and captured documents and has not been confirmed.

Tuesday, 11 June 2019

Experimental Work at factory #183, January 1941

"February 4th, 1941

To the Chief of the 3rd Department of the BTU, Military Engineer 1st Class, Afonin

The following work was performed at factory #183 during January of 1941:

1. Experimental work
  1. Trials of T-34 gearboxes were performed. 2 gearboxes with reduced 3rd gear ratios were installed in January. The first, with the ratio lowered by 14.6%, travelled about 550 km. The second, with a gear ratio lowered by 8%, travelled 340 km. Preliminary trials show that driving tanks with reduced gear ratios is easier than those with production gearboxes. One vehicle's gearbox had its 2nd, 3rd, and 4th gears constantly engaged, where the 3rd gear was reduced by 22.1% and 4th gear by 9.5%. Changing gears was performed using a clutch. The tank with this gearbox travelled for 400 km. In this tank it is easier to engage the third gear than on the production gearbox. No chipping of the gear teeth was observed.

Monday, 10 June 2019

1942 Lineup: New Players

"Wundsdorf Tank School

March 1st, 1942

Which Russian tanks will you encounter in 1942?


When looking at modern types of Russian tanks, you must realize that tanks of significantly high quality have been attained in a surprisingly short amount of time. Special attention is paid to armour and effectiveness of armament. A goal of standardization is obvious, for instance the T-34 and both KV tanks have the same 12 cylinder 500 hp engine.

Weak points include weak clutch casings, gearboxes, and turning mechanisms. The technically advanced shape of the T-34 is notable. The Russians have very good quality armour steel. Curved 75 mm thick plates signify that Russian factories are very well equipped.

Instead of the obsolete T-26, we are seeing large amounts of small modern T-60 tanks. The best Russian tank, the T-34, came out of the BT, and the T-28 and T-35 are being replaced by the KV (Klim Voroshilov) type 1 (7.62 cm gun) and type 2 (15.2 cm gun). An amphibious tank is being produced (T-40).

Saturday, 8 June 2019

Temporary Reinforcement

Modernization often starts immediately after a tank is accepted for service and put into production. The T-34 was no exception in this regard. A number of changes to simplify production and improve the tank's characteristics were made in the first year. The T-34 changed even more radically in 1941. For instance, the L-11 gun was replaced with the F-34 gun in March of 1941. There were also plans to improve the armour, but they were only partially realized. Let us discuss the applique armour used on T-34 tanks from 1941 to 1943.

Thursday, 6 June 2019

Thick Skin

"The 38th Tank Brigade with elements of the 266th Rifle Division began an offensive at 5:00 on a front from height 183 to Koshpurovka, overcoming stout enemy resistance at Grushino by 17:00 and capturing the settlement as well as the Karachintsev homestead. The tanks approached Maryevka, the offensive continues.

As a result, the brigade lost: one T-60 tank burned up from fire, one tank knocked out by a mine. 10 MK-2 tanks blew up on mines, of those two had their floor armour torn open and engines were disabled. One tank had its oil tank penetrated, two tanks had their tracks, skirts, and suspension destroyed, one tank had a drive sprocket destroyed, one tank lost a track and took 41 hits, 25 from 37 mm guns and 16 from 20 mm guns, none of them penetrating. 8 of the tanks listed will be restored by the end of May 13th, 1942."

Wednesday, 5 June 2019

Anti-Tank Snipers

"Translated from German. Truncated.
November 11th, 1943

146th Motorized Regiment, 25th Tank Division
#14143 February 10th, 1943
Supreme Command of the German Army

From experience on the front lines in the past weeks
3. Combat of Russian infantry against tank riders

The ability of Russian infantry to fight tank riders, infantry accompanying tanks, and commanders peeking out of tank hatches (using individual snipers) is notable.

Tuesday, 4 June 2019

T-43, Take One

"For further development and improvement of medium tanks, permit the NKTP and factory #183 to produce two experimental prototypes of T-44 tanks with the following tactical-technical requirements by September 1st [1942]:
  1. Mass: under 32 tons
  2. Armour:
    1. Sides: 60 mm
    2. Front: 60-75 mm
    3. Rear: 60 mm rolled, 75 mm cast
    4. Turret (cast): 80-85 mm
      The turret must have a commander's cupola.

Monday, 3 June 2019

Big Guns

"To the Chief of the 16th Department of the GAU Artillery Committee, Colonel comrade Zhevanik

I report on the work that I performed during my trip to Sverdlovsk and Chelyabinsk from May 3rd to May 28th, 1943.

1. Kalinin factory #8.

Based on directions by Lieutenant General of Artillery Hohlov, I organized work to design and produce an experimental 85 mm tank gun. To achieve this, I supplied factory #8 with a copy of the tactical-technical requirements and necessary blueprints with the aid of the GAU military representative at factory #9. I negotiated with the factory's director, comrade Fratkin, as well as the chief engineer and chief designer. Based on this meeting, comrade Fratkin gave the order on May 4th to quickly begin work on designing the gun with the aim of completing blueprints by May 10th.

Saturday, 1 June 2019

6-pounder, American Style

The Ordnance Department gave its permission to produce the British QF 6-pounder under license in February of 1941 in order to supply them through Lend Lease. At that point, only prototypes of the gun had been built. Even though the 6-pounder was ready for production in the summer of 1940, the British decided to postpone it for mass production of 40 mm QF 2-pounder guns. This was a logical decision. The British needed to rapidly compensate for the armament lost in France, and six 2-pounders could be made for the cost of one 6-pounder.

Thursday, 30 May 2019

New Year, New Engine

"To the Chief of the 1st Section of the 1st Department of the BTU, Military Engineer 2nd Class comrade Chikov

In response to your request by telephone, I reply with the program of 150 hour trials of the the V-2 S4 engine.

The engine has completed its trials, the trial was passed. Currently the engine is being prepared to be tested again according to the same program.

Attachment: program on 3 pages.

GABTU Regional Engineer, Military Engineer 2nd Class, Fedorov"
January 29th, 1941

Via Yuri Pasholok.

Wednesday, 29 May 2019

1942 Lineup

"Wundsdorf Tank School
March 1st, 1942

Which Russian tanks will you encounter in 1942?

A significant amount of obsolete tanks:
  1. Ford armoured reconnaissance car
  2. T-37 amphibious tank
  3. T-26 light tank
  4. BT (Christie) light tank
  5. T-28 heavy tank
  6. T-35A heavy tank
Modern tanks:
  1. T-60 light tank
  2. T-40 amphibious tank
  3. T-34 heavy tank
  4. KV-1 heavy tank
  5. KV-2 heavy tank

Tuesday, 28 May 2019

News from Finland

"On April 8th, 1944, a prisoner was captured near Ashtakhma lake with a photograph of the German "Amphibian" car on him. The prisoner indicated that 66 "Amphibian" cars arrived from German to Finland and were assigned to the 6th SS Grenadier Division. The photograph is attached. A description of this vehicle can be found in report #0235 for 1943.

Monday, 27 May 2019

T-34s vs Tiger

On military trials of T-34 and T-34-85 tanks against the T-6 "Tiger" tank
2nd Tank Battalion, 63rd Guards Tank Brigade
June 16th, 1944

1. The 2nd Tank Battalion fired the guns. The battalion commander, Guards Captain Chirkov, was directed by the brigade commander, Guards Colonel Fomichev, in the presence of the deputy commander of the 10th Guards Tank Corps, Guards Colonel Belov, Chief of Staff of the 18th Army, and the senior officers of the 18th Army.

2. Firing was done against a German Tiger tank from 400, 600, 800, and 1300 meters.

Saturday, 25 May 2019

Second Hand

The SOMUA S 35 tank was well regarded not only in the French army, but in the army of its greatest enemy. Unlike the Pz38(t), the tank did not serve in first echelon divisions, but the Pz.Kpfw.35 S (f) ended up being the only French tank that was not converted into SPGs en masse and was used by the Germans and their allies as a tank. It actively fought as a part of independent tank battalions and in armoured trains. Individual tanks lasted until the end of the war.

Thursday, 23 May 2019

Great Minds Think Alike

The British were questioning the value of a hull machinegun by 1943. The gun was hard to operate and seemed to offer little actual benefit in combat. It did, however, significantly weaken the tank's armour. By 1944 the Soviets had relegated their hull MGs to fixed mounts operated by the driver, but the main drawback still remained.

"To: Deputy People's Commissar of Tank Production of the USSR, comrade Zernov
CC: GBTU TU Chief, Major General comrade Afonin

RE: hull machinegun on the IS-2 tank

Orders ##158ss and 244ss request the improvement of the front hull armour. This was done by straightening the hull front, increasing the thickness and slope of the front of the turret platform.