Monday, 16 July 2018

Repair Rewards

"Order of the People's Commissar of Defense
On rewards for personnel of armoured units for quick and high quality repair of tanks
#0140
February 25th, 1942

In order to accelerate repair and restoration of tanks currently undergoing light and medium repairs in army level, front level, and military repair units, I order that:
  1. Starting on March 1st, 1942, the following monetary reward for personnel of repair units that can provide quick and high quality repair of tanks in the timelines defined by their commanders is introduced.

    Light repairs
    Medium repairs
    KV tank
    350 rubles
    800 rubles
    T-34, Mk.II, or Mk.III tank
    250 rubles
    500 rubles
    BT, T-26, T-40, or T-60 tank
    100 rubles
    200 rubles

Sunday, 15 July 2018

The Birth of the Three-Line Rifle

The history of the Russian model 1891 bolt action rifle, better known as the Mosin rifle or the "mosinka" has spanned over 100 years, but this weapon still fights, and doesn't just collect dust in warehouses. How did the three line rifle come to be, and what came before?

Friday, 13 July 2018

Well Aged Browning

The reviews of the Nagant revolver were not particularly thrilling by the end of WWII, and even its replacement, the TT, was no longer adequate. In the search for a new pistol, the Soviets saw a surprising bit of inspiration.


"The design of the Browning 1903 is complex and obsolete. However, the mass, dimensions, and combat characteristics are close to those required of modern so called "officer type" weapons.

The small weight and size as well as the good stopping power of the 9 mm caliber demand attention from designers and researchers to the Browning 1903. It is important to study the characteristics of the Browning, especially now that the requirements for a new pistol (its caliber, power, weight, size, etc) have not yet been set.

See report #406 dated 1941".

Wednesday, 11 July 2018

Christmas Present

"Order of the People's Commissar of Defense #050 
On rearming one regiment in independent anti-tank artillery brigades of the Reserve of the Supreme Command with 100 mm guns
December 25th, 1944

In order to increase the firepower of  independent anti-tank artillery brigades of the Reserve of the Supreme Command, I give the order to:
  1. By January 15th, 1945, complete re-arming one regiment in the following  independent anti-tank artillery brigades:
    1. 1st Belorussian Front: 3rd Guards, 8th, 20th, and 41st Brigades.
    2. 2nd Belorussian Front: 4th, 5th, 14th, and 44th Brigades.
    3. 1st Ukrainian Front: 7th, 8th, 9th, and 10th Guards Brigades.
  2. Cancel NKO order #0046 issued on November 13th, 1944, regarding the rearmament of one battery in each regiment of  independent anti-tank artillery brigades.
  3. Send this order to the 1st and 2nd Belorussian and 1st Ukrainian Fronts by telegraph.
People's Commissar of Defense
Marshal of the Soviet Union
I. Stalin"

Tuesday, 10 July 2018

Mastery Badge

"Order of the People's Commissar of Defense #72
On Establishing Classes of Tank Drivers
November 18th, 1942

Experience shows that successful tank actions depend, first and foremost, on their drivers. Skilful driving of the tank and constant maintenance of it in working order requires significant experience and knowledge. In order to improve the training level of tank drivers and reward the best of them, especially those with significant combat experience, establish the following categories:
  1. Master tank driver
  2. Tank driver 1st class
  3. Tank driver 2nd class
  4. Tank driver 3rd class
The specification for attaining each class is contained in the attachment. 

Tank drivers will be paid an additional monthly reward:
  1. Master tank driver 150 rubles
  2. Tank driver 1st class: 80 rubles
  3. Tank driver 2nd class: 50 rubles
Complete classification of drivers by January 1st, 1943.

People's Commissar of Defense,
I. Stalin"

Monday, 9 July 2018

Cheating at Statistics: Coverup at Kovyagi

If there's one trend with SS armour units, it's that their successes seem to be accompanied by sudden and unpredictable failures. Whenever a unit fails to take an objective or is pushed off their lines, it always seems to be accompanied by fantastical achievements that just happened to not have altered the course of battle at all. Let's examine one of these scenarios. As it happens, Forczyk has done all the hard work for me in Red Steamroller.
"On 11 August, Katukov fought his way across the Merchyk River despite desperate efforts by Totenkopf’s Panzergrenadiers to stop him. Then he sent the lead elements of 6 TC and 3 MC south to Kovyagi, which was a station on the Polatva-Kharkov rail line. Getman’s tankers, with some attached sapper squads, succeeded in blowing up several sections of rail track. Priess committed Edwin Meiderdress’ I.SS-Panzer-Regiment 3 to counter-attack Polkovnik Vladimir M. Gorelov’s 1st Guards Tank Brigade, which had just stormed its way into Kovyagi. The result was another vicious meeting engagement and this one went very badly for Totenkopf; one company commander was killed in his tank and two others were badly wounded. However, Meiderdress had better luck against the 22nd Tank Brigade, which only had seven tanks left and its commander, Major Aleksei A. Laptev, was killed in action. Altogether, Totenkopf knocked out 18 Soviet tanks in its counter-attack."
Seems believable, even a little humble for an SS unit to claim only 18 tanks in such a high profile engagement. However, even this is unlikely. August 11th was quite far into the offensive portion of the Battle of Kursk, and leading Soviet brigades were quite exhausted by that time. Let's see how many Soviet tanks were there to face the Germans.

Saturday, 7 July 2018

High Caliber Beast Killers

The acceptance of the KV-14 SPG, better known as the SU-152 "Beast Killer", didn't mean that further development of its design ceased. The use of an ML-20 gun-howitzer was, in a way, a compromise, and attempts to install more powerful systems continued. This article will discuss alternative armament for the heavy Soviet SPG: 203 mm howitzer and mortars. The SU-203 could have been one of these vehicles.

Friday, 6 July 2018

Night Witches


"Order of the People's Commissar of Defense #0099
October 8th, 1941
Moscow

Contents: on the formation of female aircraft regiments of the Red Army VVS

In order to utilize female pilots and technical ranks, I order that the following must be formed by December 1st, 1941:
  1. 586th fighter regiment equipped with Yak-1 aircraft according to TO&E #015/174 located in Engels.
  2. 587th bomber regiment armed with Su-2 aircraft according to TO&E #015/159. Form the regiment within the 10th reserve aircraft regiment in Kamenka.
  3. 588th night air regiment with U-2 aircraft according to TO&E #015/186 located in Engels.
  4. The commander of the Red Army VVS must equip the aforementioned regiments with aircraft and women personnel from the VVS,  Civilian Air Fleet, and OSOAVIAKhIM.
  5. Retraining of personnel with their new materiel will be done at:
    1. Pilots: at the formation sites of the air regiments.
    2. Technicians: at the collection point of technical personnel in Moscow.
    3. Navigators and staff: 2nd Post-Secondary Ivanovo Navigator Academy.
  6. The Chief Intendant of the Red Army and Chiefs of the Central Directorates of the NKO are to arm the air regiments with all necessary equipment.
People's Commissar of Defense of the USSR
I.Stalin."

Wednesday, 4 July 2018

Homegrown

"Order of the People's Commissar of Defense #0580
On direction of tanks built by the Stalingrad Tractor Factory to the Stalingrad and North Caucasus Fronts
July 30th, 1942
  1. Mandate that the GABTU send all tanks produced by STZ to the Stalingrad and North Caucasus Fronts.
  2. Form homogeneous independent battalions and independent brigades out of STZ produced tanks: only T-34 tanks without small tanks.
  3. Stalingrad type independent tank battalions will contain 21 T-34 tanks, independent tank brigades will have two battalions plus two tanks for the brigade's commander and chief of staff, for a total of 44 T-34 tanks.
People's Commissar of Defense
I. Stalin"

Tuesday, 3 July 2018

Anti-tank Infantry

"Order of the People's Commissar of Defense #0052
On reinforcing the infantry core and anti-tank defenses of rifle divisions

March 16th, 1942

In order to reinforce the infantry core and anti-tank defenses of rifle divisions, I order that:
  1. Each rifle platoon in rifle regiments and divisions is to be reinforced with 3 snipers, 4 sharpshooters, and one light machinegun.
  2. Introduce a training battalion into the rifle division to train junior officers numbering 600 men according to TO&E #04/768.
  3. Independent anti-tank squadrons in rifle divisions (TO&E #04/753) are to be converted to  independent anti-tank battalions (TO&E #04/767) numbering 241 men with 3 batteries of 45 mm guns (12 guns) and a company of anti-tank rifles (36 rifles).
  4. Introduce a company of anti-tank rifles into each rifle battalion (16 rifles), numbering 53 men.
  5. Introduce a third squadron into the rifle division artillery regiment with one battery of 4 76 mm USV guns and one battery of 4 122 mm howitzers. Introduce 15 tractors to tow the howitzers.
  6. Reduce the service personnel by 850 in order to keep the total numbers in a division below 12,785 men and 1850 horses.
  7. Order the Chief of the Main Directorate of Formation and Equipment of the Armed Forces to alter the TO&E of infantry divisions by March 30th, 1942. 
  8. This order will come into force on April 1st, 1942.
People's Commissar of Defense, I. Stalin."

Monday, 2 July 2018

A Timely Purchase

Soviet trials of the PzIII medium tank, purchased in the summer of 1940, are frequently discussed by military history enthusiasts. The conclusions that various authors make from these trials seem rather mixed. Let us try to figure out the real influence of the study of a PzIII Ausf.G tank purchased at the dawn of war using archive documents.

Sunday, 1 July 2018

Reconnaissance Cats

The last light tank of the traditional variety produced in Germany, the PzII Ausf. F, was removed from production in July of 1942. Nevertheless, light tanks continued to exist within the Third Reich. These were reconnaissance tanks, similar to reconnaissance armoured cars in function. Even the German term "Panzerkampfwagen" was not used to refer to these vehicles. This article will cover German reconnaissance tanks of WWII: Gefechtsaufklärer Leopard, Pz.Sp.Wg.II Ausf.MAN Luchs and Aufklärungspanzer 38(t), none of which were truly mass produced.

Thursday, 28 June 2018

Lethality in Berlin

Some interesting data from the 2nd Guards Tank Army gathered during their fighting in Berlin. Analysis of tanks that were badly damaged enough to have to be written off from their unit was performed at the repair base. There, a decision was made: either the tank is irreparable and is destined for the scrap heap or is salvageable, but only after refurbishment, and is thus sent to the factory. Unfortunately there are no notes that tell us why each specific type of tank typically became unsalvageable, but only a general rule of thumb: if the ammunition rack is hit, the tank blows up and is a complete loss. If the ammunition does not go off, then the tank will probably be suitable for refurbishment, even if there was a fire.

Type
Total
T-34
IS-2
M4A2
SU-76
SU-85
SU-100
ISU-122
Irrep.
Maj.
Irrep.
Maj.
Irrep.
Maj.
Irrep.
Maj.
Irrep.
Maj.
Irrep.
Maj.
Irrep.
Maj.
75 mm shell
39
6
8
-
-
3
16
2
2
-
2
-
-
-
-
88 mm shell
27
7
3
7
-
4
4
-
-
-
-
1
-
1
1
100 mm shell
9
2
2
3
-
1
1
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
22 mm AA gun
5
-
1
-
-
4
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
Artillery total
80
15
14
10
-
12
21
2
2
-
2
1
-
1
-
Faust
47
16
2
2
1
13
8
3
-
-
-
1
-
1
-
Aircraft
4
-
-
-
-
-
2
-
-
-
-
-
-
2
-
Mines
4
2
-
-
-
-
-
-
1
-
-
1
-
-
-
Total
135
33
16
12
1
25
31
5
3
-
2
3
-
4
-