Thursday, 21 March 2019

Up, Up, and Away!

"To director of factory #183, comrade Lyash
CC: ABTU Chief, comrade Bokis
NKOP Secretariat Chief, comrade Kryukov

We send you tactical-technical specifications based on the personal orders of the People's Commissar of Defense, Marshal of the Soviet Union, comrade K.E. Voroshilov and People's Commissar of Defense Industry, comrade M.L. Ruhimovich, for the experimental BT-7-B-IS tank that is capable of city fighting.

Wednesday, 20 March 2019

Panzerfaust Shortage

"Recently, I have observed a senseless and completely unjustified expenditure of flares and Panzerfausts in the division. Despite a number of orders and directives regarding conservative use of ammunition, no measures have been taken. For instance, just on March 28th, 1945, 60 Panzerfausts were used.

Tuesday, 19 March 2019


"To Chief of the 8th Department, Military Engineer 1st Class comrade Afonin
November 18th, 1939

  1. A-34 vehicle (as of November 16th, 1939):
    1. Blueprints for 31 groups have been sent to the plant.
    2. Blueprints for 3 groups have not been sent to the plant completely.
    3. Blueprints for 4 groups are not yet ready: the driver's seat, the radio equipment, the turning mechanism, the instruments.
    4. 307 parts have been produced out of 1229.
  2. Parts for convertible drive trials on the A-20 will be ready no sooner than December 1st, 1939. Delays are caused by plant #500 being overloaded with orders for other tanks (A-7, D-3, D-5).
  3. Trials of the A-32 (loaded to the weight of an A-34) are complete. The tank drove for 1230 km, including 200 km on the highway. Mechanisms functioned in a satisfactory manner during the tests. During trials on the highway the drive sprockets wear heavily. Special trials (grades and slopes) are still to be performed on the A-32.
Senior Military Representative of the ABTU, Military Engineer 2nd Class, Kozyrev
Military Representative of the ABTU, Military Engineer 3rd Class, Baikov"

Monday, 18 March 2019


"Decree of the Committee of Defense of the Council of Commissars of the USSR
November 1940 
Moscow, Kremlin

Contents: on additional tactical-technical requirements for SP, T-34, and KV tanks

The Committee of Defense decrees:
  1. To increase effectiveness of the gun crews on the SP, T-34, and KV tanks, widen the turret and install a special commander's cupola with all-around vision.
  2. Establish the crews of the SP, T-34, and KV tanks to be the following:
    1. SP: four man crew, of which the driver sits in the front and the commander and two gun crewmen sit in the turret.
    2. T-34 and KV tanks: five men, of which one commander and two gun crewmen are in the turret and the driver and radio operator in the front of the hull.

Saturday, 16 March 2019

IS with a Heavy Gun

The tank that went into production under the name IS-85 was only a temporary solution. By the time GKO decree #4043 "On the production of IS tanks" was signed, the military already considered the 85 mm D-5T gun insufficiently powerful. Experience in fighting new German tanks at Kursk confirmed this. Because of this, the IS-85, also known as IS-1, was produced in limited quantities of just over 100 units. The role of the main heavy tank of the Red Army in the concluding period of the war fell to the IS-122, also known as the IS-2. Interestingly, work on this tank began long before Kursk.

Friday, 15 March 2019


Some documents contain interesting information all on their own, some raise more questions than give answers. Then there's something like this.

"Intelligence Department of the Western Front
November 19th, 1942

To the Military Censor of the 33rd Army

Activist's notepad #7.

It is forbidden to cite, publish, refer to, etc. the article titled "The Germans cut prisoners and drink their blood".

Red Army Military Censorship Telegram #13861

Military Censor, Major Lavrentyev."

Wednesday, 13 March 2019

Anti-Tiger Tactics

"Directorate of Armoured and Motorized Vehicles of the 6th Army
July 21st, 1943

Only to: 212th Tank Regiment

In battle on the Voronezh Front on July 5th-6th the enemy used T-6 tanks in large amounts. Combat showed that the T-6 is vulnerable to not only 76 mm, but 45 mm guns. The following preliminary conclusions can be made from the experience:
  1. The tank can be knocked out with a 76 mm armour piercing shell when hit in the side or turret from 800 meters.
  2. With a subcaliber armour piercing shell, the tank can be knocked out with a hit to the side from 1 km. The front is not always penetrated from 800 meters.
  3. When using the 45 mm gun, best results are achieved by hitting the side, suspension, or engine group with a subcaliber shell from ranges of up to 200 meters. Maximum range is 500-600 meters.

Tuesday, 12 March 2019

Tank vs Train

"To the Chief of the 4th Department of the ABTU, Military Engineer 1st Class, comrade Alymov

I report that at 18:15 on January 11th, 1940, during a QA run, a T-28 tank collided with a passenger train coming from Leningrad. The collision took place at a crossing between Ligovo and Negorelovo in the Baltic sector. The crossing was unguarded. There is no gate bar. There is no sound alarm. Weather condition was strong wind with blowing snow, it was also snowing. Military Technician 1st Class comrade Rozov was driving the tank. The results of the collision were:

Monday, 11 March 2019

Weak Spots 2

I posted a pretty large collection of flyers showing weak spots of enemy tanks before, but here are a couple more.

First, the Pz38(t).

The symbols are the same: a target with an arrow shows where to throw Molotov cocktails, a target with a bullet shows where to hit the tank with an armour piercing bullet or anti-tank grenade.

The image was included on the back cover of a propaganda booklet, which was generously shared here.

Saturday, 9 March 2019

Intermediate IS

Joseph Stalin signed GKO decree #4043 "On the production of IS tanks" on September 4th, 1943. This was the end to a long process of the creation of a new Soviet heavy tank that could replace the KV-1 in production. While it was being developed, Chelyabinsk had time to master both the KV-1S and KV-85. However, such a long journey was not for nothing: the Red Army received a completely new tank, the combined characteristics of which put it among the best heavy tanks in the world at the time. The age of the IS-1 (IS-85) was not long. Very shortly it gave up its first place to its descendant, the IS-2, which became the best Soviet heavy tank of the Great Patriotic War.

Thursday, 7 March 2019

IS-2 Resilience

The IS-2 tank debuted in early 1944, and, judging by collected combat experience, still enjoyed relative immunity on the battlefield until the end of the year, both against enemy tanks and anti-tank weapons.

"The resilience of IS-2 armour allows it to openly engage enemy heavy tanks at a range of 1000 m. Irreparable losses only happen as a result of combat with enemy heavy tanks in ambush at a range of 300-400 meters. There were no losses from Panzerfausts, only minor damage (road wheels, suspension arms, tracks."

Via Andrei Ulanov.

Wednesday, 6 March 2019

Bringing Tractors Back

"Order of the People's Commissar of Tank Production of the USSR #133-Ms
January 21st, 1942

Factory #183 (director comrade Maksarev), having performed the evacuation of equipment to manufacture the Voroshilovets tractor, still has not organized production in its new location. Plant an factory leadership did not pay due attention to rapidly restoring the production of this vehicle alongside the production of the T-34 tank.

The Red Army's requirements for rapid transport for its troops and artillery are not being met. To make up for this drawback in the factory's operation, I order that:
  1. Director of factory #183, comrade Maksarev, must present me with a specific schedule of restoring and organizing Voroshilovets artillery tractor production within ten days. 10 tractors are due in April, 30 in May, and 50 in June.
  2. Director of factory #76, comrade Kochetkov, must supply sufficient amounts of V-2V diesel engines to produce these vehicles.
  3. Deputy Chief of the 1st Department, comrade Davtyan, must establish the list of parts and their amounts that are required by factory #183 from other factories.
  4. Chief Quartermaster comrade Rosin must supply factory #183 with a necessary amount of materials and purchased goods.
  5. My deputy, comrade Kotin, is to present me within 2 weeks a plan to produce a tractor based on the T-34 chassis at factory #183. 
  6. Deputy People's Commissar comrade Stepanov must report on the execution of this order by February 20th.
People's Commissar of Tank Production, V. Malyshev."

Tuesday, 5 March 2019

Wet Ammo Rack Effectiveness

After reading reports of frequent fires in Sherman tanks coming from the British, the Americans decided to investigate. Separate trials were done on tanks cleared of ammunition, and frequent fires did not result from penetrations. However, the story was completely different when the opposite case was tested: the tank had a full loadout of ammo, but no traces of fuel or oil.

90% of penetrations of the fighting compartment and the turret caused a fire! To make things worse, CO2 fire extinguishers proved ineffective, and only large quantities of water could fight this fire.

Monday, 4 March 2019

Cessation of T-50 Production

"Order of the People's Commissar of Tank Production
January 7th, 1942

To carry out decree #1114ss issued by the State Committee of Defense on January 6th on the cessation of the production of the T-50 tank due to the organization of production of the T-60 tank, I order that:
  1. Factory #174 director, comrade Kantsellson, must:
    1. Cease production of the T-50 tank after using up all hulls and engines present at the factory.
    2. Immediately begin production of KV tank components for the Kirov factory, production of KV spare parts, and spare parts for the T-26 tank using dedicated tools.
    3. Preserve all special tools, instruments, stamps, technical documentation, etc. relevant to the T-50 tank.

Saturday, 2 March 2019

Long Barrel for Infantry Tanks

At the moment of its debut in 1940, the Infantry Tank Mk.III, later known as Valentine, was the most balanced vehicle in the British army. Its low top speed was compensated by a rather respectable average speed, especially off-road. 60 mm of armour was very good for the time, and even in 1942 not every gun was capable of penetrating this much armour.

Of course, by 1942 the tank was becoming obsolete. While there was no hope of increasing mobility, there was a chance to improve the firepower. Heroic efforts by Vickers-Armstrongs engineers resulted in a significant increase in caliber, while the tank's mass remained unchanged. As a result, the Valentine fought until the end of the war. Individual vehicles even saw victory on German territory.

Thursday, 28 February 2019

Tank Archives Turns Six

Hello, dear readers! Another year of running this blog went by. And what a year it was. I finally got past the medium of text, appearing in not one, but two podcasts by Military History Visualized: one on kill claims back in May, and one more recently on Soviet impressions on the Pz.Kpfw.I tank. In case you missed them the first time around, I'm embedding the videos under the break.

Twitter has taken off pretty well. I'm well over the 1000 follower milestone, sitting at 1322 at the time of writing. The main blog is also doing well, right up against 4 million total views. Seems that my audience demographics have stabilized: USA at a distant first, followed by the UK, Germany, Russia, Canada, Poland, France, Finland, Australia, and Spain.

Wednesday, 27 February 2019

HE vs Tanks

"Due to a shortage of armour piercing shells presently experienced by artillery units, the practice of firing other types of ammunition out of 76.2 mm divisional guns is common.
  1. Armour piercing shot. Penetrates the armour of German tanks from any direction. Insufficient beyond armour effect. Fire and destruction of the tank are only caused if the engine, fuel tank, or ammunition is hit.
  2. Steel cased HE grenade. Can be used in combat against light (in some cases medium) tanks. Aimed at the sides during oblique movement or the turret ring, it destroys or tears off side armour in addition to jamming the turret and destroying mechanisms inside the turret, including optical sights and observation devices. In a number of cases the turret stopped traversing. When howitzers are used, light tank turrets were torn off.