Monday, 23 January 2017

Operation Barbarossa


Directive #21
Plan Barbarossa
Fuhrer and Supreme Commander of the Wehrmacht
December 18th, 1940

The German armed forces must be able to defeat Soviet Russia in a brief campaign before the war against England is complete (plan Barbarossa).

Sunday, 22 January 2017

Pz.Kpfw.IV Ausf. D through E

The German army entered WWII with a rather strange system of armament. The PzIII medium tank, which was built as Germany's main tank, ended up being the least numerous in the Wehrmacht. As for the other medium tank, the PzIV, it was designed as a support tank, but ended up outnumbering the PzIII four to one. German industry could only equalize the number of both tanks by the end of 1939. By then, a new version of the support tank was in production, the PzIV Ausf. D, which was in a way a return to the original concept.

Saturday, 21 January 2017

Pz.Kpfw.IV Ausf. A through C

In December of 1936, the German military signed a contract with the Krupp conglomerate for a batch of 35 Begleitwagen tanks. This tank was designed to fight as a direct fire support tank, as its name suggests. The tank's main targets were going to be enemy infantry and light fortifications. Ironically, this vehicle became Germany's most numerous medium tank by the start of WWII. Later, the PzIII became more numerous, but only for a short time. By 1943, the Begleitwagen, known as the PzIV, retook the lead. The Pz.Kpfw. IV was the only German pre-war tank that never went through a radical chassis modernization.

Friday, 20 January 2017

Begleitwagen: A Specialist of All Trades

The mittlerer Traktor (m.Tr., medium tractor), given the more widely known index Neubau Fahrzeug (Nb.Fz., newly designed vehicle) on October 3rd, 1933, began trials in 1933. The tank, an evolution of the Grosstraktor concept (Gr.Tr., large tractor) was supposed to become Germany's medium tank.

However, even as the tank began its trials, it was clear that the German military missed its mark. While the Grosstraktor was overcomplicated over its five years of development by three companies (it's enough to say that it was also amphibious), the Nb.Fz. was in an even bigger hole. The initial project, designed by Rheinmetall (chassis and turret) and Krupp (second turret variant) was supposed to fit into the 15 ton class. As a result, the appetite of the 6th Waffenprüfamt led to a complex and expensive 23 ton tank.

Thursday, 19 January 2017

World of Tanks History Section: 5th Tank Army in Operation Uranus

By November of 1942, the 5th Tank Army walked a long and not so successful road. It began in the summer, when the newly formed army was sent to attack the flank and rear of the German forces rushing towards Voronezh. Due to poor reconnaissance and incorrect evaluation of the enemy's goals, our tankers were instead forces to engage the enemy tanks head on and took heavy losses.

After an unsuccessful counterattack, the army was disbanded and only reformed in September of 1942. General Prokofiy Romanenko was appointed as the commander. The army received new units: two tank corps (1st and 26th), six rifle divisions, and one cavalry corps. The Stavka intended the 5th Tank Army to play one of the two key roles in the encirclement of Paulus' 6th Army at Stalingrad. That is why Romanenko was given so much infantry: the rifle divisions were going to fight in the first echelon of the offensive and prepare a clean breakthrough for the mobile units. The cavalry corps was supposed to act as ersatz motorized infantry.

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

180 mm Br-21

"To the People's Commissar of Armament of the USSR, comrade B.L. Vannikov

Reply to letter #125s from January 21st, 1941

The precision trials of the 152 mm Br-19 gun with a friction clutch in the elevation mechanism are scheduled for April of 1941, after which the decision regarding this system will be made.

The 180 mm Br-21 gun was trialed at the ANIOP with 120 shots.

The tactical-technical characteristics of the 180 mm Br-21 gun on the B-4 mount make for a weapon that has insufficient range for a gun and insufficient arc for a howitzer. The objectives that could be given to a 180 mm gun can be resolved by the B-4 or Br-2.

Based on the above information and the availability of a more powerful 210 mm Br-17 gun, the adoption of the 180 mm Br-21 gun on the B-4 mount and, therefore, the continuation of work on it, is unreasonable.

Marshall of the Soviet Union, Kulik."

There is also a note written across the typed page:

"The range is the same as the Br-2 while using twice as much propellant. Did you think about this? You approach the solution of problems formally, but fail to analyze all sides, and sometimes don't know what you're doing and confuse others. Gather all documents regarding trials and report to me. 26.2.41", followed by a signature but no name.

CAMD RF 81-12104-86

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Project Management

"To the People's Commissar of Tank Production of the USSR, comrade Malyshev

NKTP factories are busy with design and production of new experimental prototypes and modernization of existing tanks, both by your orders and on their own initiative.

This work, as a rule, is performed without prior approval of projects by GBTU, who is only given ready prototypes for trials. During trials, many noticeable drawbacks are discovered that lower the combat quality of the vehicles, which could have been discovered by joint inspection of the technical drafts.

Monday, 16 January 2017

T-34 Prototype Mobility Trials

"4. Off-road Performance

General off-road performance characteristics of the T-34 tank:
  • Combat mass: 25.6 tons
  • Ground pressure: 0.60 kg/cm²
  • Contact surface length: 5219.3 mm
  • Grouser height: 650 mm
  • Effective power: 19.5 hp/ton

Saturday, 14 January 2017

Czechoslovakian Tank Building: First Steps

In the late 1930s, Czechoslovakia was the second largest exporter of tanks in the world. A small Eastern European country that only obtained independence in 1918 began to catch up with Great Britain, the world leader in arms exports. Of course, such impressive leaps in only 20 years of independence didn't start with nothing. The first steps were made with inspiration from the British and German tank building schools. This experience resulted in a series of experimental vehicles and the mass produced LT vz. 34 light tank.

Friday, 13 January 2017

F-39 95 mm gun


F-95 tank gun.

The project never moved past the draft stage. The same, however, cannot be said for its towed predecessor.

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

NATI-D Trials

"Conclusions
  1. The trialed experimental prototype of the "D" tractor demonstrated satisfactory average speed characteristics, good maneuverability, simplicity of service and control, and can cross the required slopes on grassy terrain while towing divisional artillery. The performance and smoothness are a significant improvement over the STZ-5 tractor.
    Tractor "D" can be accepted into service as a transport for divisional artillery.
    In order to increase off-road performance, grousers must be included for tracks.