Monday, 27 March 2017

Cheating at Statistics 17: Leaving Leningrad

In early 1944, the German forces around Leningrad weren't doing so well. The blockade around Leningrad had ruptured, Sinyavino heights were lost, and Army Group North was beginning to slink back westward. Introduction of the hyped up Tiger tank failed to make a difference here. Now these Tigers, namely s.Pz.Abt 502, were holding back the Red Army while the rest of the Germans escaped. Forczyk describes the situation: "The remaining Tigers of the s.Pz.Abt.502 assisted the AOK 18 in its withdrawal by turning to ambush the Soviet spearheads; on 25 January they claimed 41 Soviet tanks destroyed at Voyskovitskiy, 5 km southwest of Gatchina."

Anyone who's been keeping up with this long running series will have recognized the perfect storm: the Tiger crews know for a fact that the battlefield will remain in Soviet hands and that their claims will not be checked. There was also incentive to make up for the Tiger tank's rather dismal performance on the Leningrad front. Let's take a look at just what happened at Voyskovitsy on January 25th.

Saturday, 25 March 2017

LPP-25: Light, Simple, and Unwanted

The light LPP-25 anti-tank gun was built as an answer to the German s.Pz.B.41 anti-tank rifle. As a result of information that reached Soviet designers from the front lines, a weapon was born that did not lose out to the German gun, but without the complex and short-lived conical barrel. What was this LPP-25 like?

Friday, 24 March 2017

First Soviet Tanks

The first tank built in the young Soviet Republic was the "Russian Renault", a poor copy of the most numerous and probably best tank of WWI. It is also known as "Freedom Fighter Comrade Lenin", after the name of the first tank of the batch. There were 15 Russian Renaults built in total at the Krasnoye Sormovo factory in Nizhniy Novgorod under the supervision of visiting engineers from the Putilov and Izhor factories. This group was headed by Sergei Petrovich Shukalov. The Putilov and Obukhov factories were pioneers of the Russian Empire when it came to mastering complicated machinery, and the Izhor factory specialized in producing armoured plates and parts for the Imperial army.

Thursday, 23 March 2017

SU-122-2 in Combat

The CIA has a tendency of detecting all sorts of armoured vehicles that are as interesting as they are fictional, but this time they might have hit the mark.

Two guns, like a SU-122, but larger. There can be only one answer!

Wednesday, 22 March 2017


"Mounting of a 57 mm mod. 1943 gun on a SU-76M SPG

This project is being designed according to an order from the Artillery Committee and consists of the installation of a 57 mm mod. 1943 ZIS-2 anti-tank gun barrel on the mount from the 76 mm mod. 1942 ZIS-3 gun on the SU-76M SPG chassis.

The ZIS-2 and ZIS-3 have identical semi-automatic systems and breeches.

The main characteristics of the prototype are shown in the table next to those of the SU-76M:

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Light Tanks, 1944, Part 2

"To the Chief Engineer of factory #174, comrade Demyanovich
January 26th, 1944

Regarding your inquiry relating to tactical-technical requirements for a light tank, here are the possible changes to requirements:

Monday, 20 March 2017

Light Tanks, 1944, Part 1

"To the Chief of the GBTU Tank Directorate, Major-General comrade Afonin
January 5th, 1944

The preliminary tactical-technical requirements for a light tank that you sent were examined by a small circle of design and technology managers. Having studied your requirements in detail, we came to the following conclusions:
  1. In general, the requirements are realistic and such a tank can be designed and built at our factory.
  2. A number of issues you presented require special investigation and only then can they be implemented in a production vehicle.
Based on the above, we ask you to consider the following wishes of the factory when composing the revised tactical-technical requirements.

Saturday, 18 March 2017

Light Tank M3A1: Basket into Battle

History knows many instances when an attempt to improve a design led to, if not a worse one, then at least an equivalent. The American M3A1 light tank is one such example. Even though its modernization improved some characteristics, the well-intentioned modifications had some unintended consequences. Let us go through them in order.

Friday, 17 March 2017

Sweden's Autoloaders

Sweden's tank industry was in crisis in the second half of the 1940s. On one hand, the middle of this decade was a time when Swedish self propelled artillery thrived. That is when the Swedish army finally received assault guns, tank destroyers, and SPAAGs. However, the tank program lagged behind. Sweden's luck ran out with the Strv m/42. Pricken, LS 46, Leo, all of these projects remained on paper. Attempts to build a new tank weighing between 25 and 30 tons encountered various problems. A way out of this dead end appeared in the early 1950s, which led to two interesting heavy tank projects: the EMIL and the KRV.

Turtle Tank

Continuing the theme of sketchy intel on the Soviets the CIA got from the Germans, a phantom tank appears on the Volkhov Front, completely unknown to the Soviets, but apparently common enough in German eyes to even earn a nickname.

Wednesday, 15 March 2017


"Installation of a 203 mm mod. 1931 howitzer (B-4) on a KV-1S chassis (factory index S-51)

Produced by NKV TsAKB by order of the GAU Artkom.

The self propelled S-51 howitzer consists of the oscillating part of the 203 mm mod. 1931 howitzer (B-4) installed on a KV-1S. The installation is done in the following way:

The turret and turret ring are removed from the KV-1S. Instead of the turret, a plate is installed above the driver's head and the 203 mm mod. 1931 howitzer (B-4) is installed on it.

The fighting compartment remains free and is used to house the recoiling parts of the howitzer at high gun elevations.

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Under Pressure, Part 2

In Part 1, we saw what happens to a tank crew when it's hit with a HEAT shell, whether that shell penetrates or not. However, getting hit with a kinetic penetrator has consequences too! Let's take a look.

"To compare, a table of measurements inside armoured compartments on impact from armour piercing and high explosive 76, 85, 100, and 122 mm shells with sensors positioned 200-1000 mm from armour, under the condition that the armour integrity was not compromised."