Monday, 18 June 2018

Mousetrap

The Maus tank that was recovered by Soviet specialists did not sit idle in the Soviet Union. It was picked apart and its components were sent out for study. The armour composition and hull design were carefully studied. It would be a shame to demolish such a rare exhibit, so only the D-25 was allowed to fire on it, with the performance of other tank guns (the Maus' own 128 mm and the Soviet D-10) being only calculated.

Saturday, 16 June 2018

Porsche's Leopard

Rumours and fabrications surround the history of tanks developed by Porsche K.G. Many of them were caused by incorrect information that appeared in reports made by American and British militaries right after the war. Later, they were supplemented by rumours and spread by not particularly thorough authors. Among others, this is the case with the history of the VK 30.01(P), the first tank independently designed by Ferdinand Porsche's team. This article will attempt to trace its history based on credible sources and archive documents.

Thursday, 14 June 2018

SKS Trials Attempt

Prototypes of the SKS carbine were ready by mid-1944. The logical step after that was to send them to the front for trials on the real battlefield. The weapons were sent to the 1st Belorussian Front, but there was a small issue.


"Your order #622590s given on June 28th, 1944, regarding conducting trials was received on July 15th, 1944, and carried out.

Further trials of the carbines have been held up by the difficult conditions for trials that have appeared on the front.

All combat units are engaged in nonstop fighting, making 15-20 km marches every day, which makes observing the carbines in battle and keeping them safe difficult.

Trials performed in these conditions, especially in brief time, will not allow us to establish the performance of the carbines and make conclusions regarding their acceptance into service. 

Based on these factors, I have made the decision to postpone trials until the situation at the front stabilizes."

Wednesday, 13 June 2018

Prewar Prototypes

"November 11th, 1939
#0830/s

To the Chief of the 8th Department of the ABTU, Military Engineer 1st Class comrade Afonin

Report on the trials of the A-32 (weight down) and preparations for trials of the A-20 and Voroshilovets tractor
  1. The A-32 (second prototype) weighed down to the weight of an A-34 has travelled 1047 km. During the third march, the average moving speed off-road was no more than 20-23 kph. This was caused by terrible conditions of the terrain (mud). Typically, the vehicle can only drive in second gear off-road. The transmission is working well in these conditions, there haven't been any defects. A trip on a highway is planned on November 10th to test the running gear.
  2. Presently, A-20 components (improving the wheeled drive transmission) are undergoing mechanical finishing.
  3. Despite our insistence, Voroshilovets tractors are not being worked on at all. Management of department 500 claims that its equipment is occupied with other projects (A-7, D-3, D-5, etc). This situation may result in the Voroshilovets tractor not being ready for mass production by January 1st, 1940.
Military representative of the RKKA, Military Engineer 3rd Class, Baikov."

Issue with Comments

I recently noticed that I stopped getting notifications for newly added comments, both requiring moderation and not. As a result, I will have to check for new comments manually until this is corrected on Blogger's side, so you will see some delay in answering/approving comments compared to normal. I apologize for this inconvenience.

Tuesday, 12 June 2018

Hetzer from Aquino

The fine lads from Base Borden are restoring a Jagdpanzer 38(t), and I had the luck to see it at Aquino Tank Weekend at the Ontario Regiment Museum last weekend. The tank is coloured like this only temporarily (the Flakpanzer they wheeled out last year had the same colour), but it will be painted its proper dark yellow in the end.

Monday, 11 June 2018

Ranks and Posts

"Order of the People's Commissar of Defense #0400 regarding commanders of heavy and medium tanks
October 9th, 1941

To increase the combat ability of the tank forces and improve their cooperation in combat with other types of forces, appoint the following:
  1. As medium tank commanders: Lieutenants and Junior Lieutenants
  2. As medium tank platoon commanders: Senior Lieutenants
  3. As KV company commanders: Captains and Majors
  4. As medium tank company commanders: Captains
  5. As heavy and medium tank battalion commanders: Majors and Lieutenant Colonels
The Chief of the Red Army Financial Directorate must make the appropriate changes to salaries.

People's Commissar of Defense, I. Stalin"


Order of the People's Commissar of Defense #0433 regarding the assembly of tank crews
November 18th, 1941

In order to increase the skill set of tank crews, I order that:
  1. Tank crews will be composed exclusively of junior officers and NCOs.
  2. Tank crewmen must have the following ranks:
    1. In heavy tanks:
      1. Tank commander: Lieutenant, Senior Lieutenant
      2. Senior mechanic-driver; Starshina
      3. Radio-telegraph operator: Senior Sergeant
      4. Gunner: Starshina
      5. Junior mechanic-driver (also loader): Sergeant
    2. In medium tanks and light tanks with cannons:
      1. Tank commander: Junior Lieutenant, Lieutenant
      2. Mechanic-driver: Senior Sergeant
      3. Turret commander: Sergeant
      4. Machinegunner: Junior Sergeant (on a tank with a radio the radio operator/machiengunner must be a Senior Sergeant).
    3. In small T-40 and T-60 tanks, as well as machinegun tanks:
      1. Tank commander: Starshina
      2. Mechanic-driver: Sergeant
      3. Turret commander: Junior Sergeant
  3. Replacement personnel training in replacement regiments and training battalions, training companies at the factories is to be picked in such a way that NCOs are chosen for tank crews. With this, the Chief of Training of the Armoured Force must give the order by December 1st, 1941, to set different training times for those who have already served in tank units and those who have been called up from reserves in training units.
  4. Check the quality of trained tank crews with special commissions led by the regiment commander or the commander of the factory training center.
    Include a representative from Armoured Force Training in active units and the GABTU or GAU representative at factories.
  5. Crews that demonstrate good knowledge of their speciality and good practical skills in working as a crew are to be awarded the ranks mentioned in section 2 of this order.
  6. The control over training the required amount of tank crews in the set timeframe is given to the Chief of Training of the Armoured Force.
  7. Introduce changes to TO&E the armoured force according to this order.
Deputy People's Commissar of Defense, Marshal of the Tank Forces, Fedorenko."

Sunday, 10 June 2018

Pz.Kpfw.II Ausf.J: Heavy Steps of a Light Tank

Rather unusual types of vehicles frequently appeared in WWII. Most of them remained on paper, but some of them made it to production. German tank builders were no exception, creating vehicles whose mere concept boggles the mind. The VK 16.01, otherwise known as the PzII Ausf. J was one such vehicle. It was not as useless as its brother, the PzI Ausf. F, but the concept of a lightly armoured heavy tank raises many questions.

Thursday, 7 June 2018

Quantity Over Quality

This penetration table is fairly well known. It appears in several period publications and a translated version was even sent to the USSR. Nevertheless, it gives some information as to how well the guns of the Western Allies performed against German armour.


However, there was one interesting observation made that didn't come along with this table to any other publication. Since hitting a tank at 2000 yards was very difficult, and the 2-pounder could penetrate older German tanks in the front and even newer ones from the side at nearly that distance, what was the point of having a 6-pounder at all?


Wednesday, 6 June 2018

A-20 Characteristics

"A-20 tank (convertible drive)
September 10th, 1939

Tactical-technical characteristics of the A-20 tank
(Convertible drive with 3 powered pairs of wheels)
  • Mass: 18 tons
  • Length: 5.7 meters
  • Width: 2.65 meters
  • Height: 2.36 meters
  • Armour: 25 mm or equivalent in toughness
  • Armament: one 45 mm gun, two DT machineguns
  • Ammunition: 160 45 mm shells, 300 machinegun rounds
  • Crew: 4
  • Cruising range: 350-400 km
  • Engine: 500 hp V-2
  • Top speed: 75 kph
  • Mobility:
    • Maximum grade: 40 degrees
    • Widest trench: 2.4 meters
    • Maximum fording depth: 1.2 meters

Tuesday, 5 June 2018

Green Light

"Record of inspection of the T-34 tank prototype produced by NKSM factory #183 as ordered by the Committee of Defense within the Council of Commissars in decree #443 issued on December 19th, 1939

March 31st, 1940

Present:
From the People's Commissariat of Defense:
  • People's Commissar of Defense, Marshal of the Soviet Union, K.E. Voroshilov
  • Deputy People's Commissar of Defense, Army Commander 1st Class, G.I. Kulik
  • Chief of the ABTU, Army Commander 2nd Class, D.G. Pavlov
From the People's Commissariat of Medium Machinebuilding:
  • People's Commissar I.A. Likhachev
  • Deputy People's Commissar A.A. Goreglyad
  • Chief designer of factory #183 and the T-34 tank, Koshkin
It was established that:

Monday, 4 June 2018

Object 240 Ergonomics

There is a common misconception that the Soviet army had no regard for the conditions of its crew. This is provably false. Just as with the US army, the Red army had a medical service, which would evaluate the user-friendliness of its equipment. Tanks were no exception. For instance, the Object 240, the precursor of the IS-2 tank, was put through thorough testing by the medical service, and the faults that were discovered were corrected by the time the tank reached mass production.

"Conditions of servicing of the 122 mm D-25 gun in the IS tank

1. The D-25 gun is installed in the turret of the IS tank.
The fighting compartment has the following dimensions: turret ring diameter: 1800 mm, height in the rear part: 1520 mm, height in other parts: 1580 mm.
The height of the fighting compartment is insufficient for free work by standing people. The turret crew stands in a slouched over pose.
The short height of the fighting compartment is due to the metal crates with ammunition on the floor. The crates are covered in rubber and used as the floor of the fighting compartment.
To better evaluate the dimensions of the fighting compartment, they should be compared with those of the IS tank armed with a D-5 85 mm gun. With the same sized turret, the gun takes up much more space, which reduces crew comfort.
The width of the gunner's station is reduced by 60 mm (to 650 mm) and the breech operator by 30 mm (to 660 mm). It is narrow, but possible to work.
The distance between the deflector and the rear of the turret was 450 mm for the D-5 and is 200 mm for the D-25. It is not possible to pass behind the gun. It is also uncomfortable to load, since the casing does not fit into this opening and catches onto the rear ammunition rack. When inserting it the loader has to aim (make additional careful motions).

Sunday, 3 June 2018

GMC M12: King Kong on Tracks

One of the best weapons of French origin adopted by the US Army in WWI was the 155 mm GPF cannon, designed by Captain Filloux in 1917. The gun had a simple, easy to service, reliable, and effective recoil mechanism, a significant horizontal aiming arc, and a long range. However, the GPF was fairly heavy. It was no accident that it was one of the first candidates for an SPG.

Friday, 1 June 2018

Planetary Transmission

"Attachment #2 to NKSM order #192ss
May 10th, 1941

Tactical-technical requirements for a mechanical planetary transmission for the T-34 tank
  1. The planetary transmission is to be installed into the T-34 tank to improve its mobility.
  2. The installation of a planetary transmission must not require relocation of the engine and final drives. The transmission must fit within existing dimensions of the tank and provide for convenient access to service and adjustment points.
  3. The planetary transmission must provide the T-34 with a top speed of 45-50 kph and a minimum speed of no less than 5-6 kph, as well as have a reverse gear. The transmission must allow for free changing of gears out of order, both when gearing up and gearing down.
  4. The planetary transmission must provide:
    1. Smooth turns without jerking at any gear.
    2. Turning without sudden load on the engine and excess loss of power.
    3. The ability to keep course on any surface.
    4. Brake while climbing or descending inclines up to 45 degrees.
  5. The controls must be the same as presently. The force applied to final drive clutch levers must not be more than 15-18 kg each.
  6. The planetary transmission must be highly reliable, robust, resistant to wear, and allow the tank to be controlled easily.
  7. The mechanisms of the planetary transmission must require adjustment no sooner than 50 hours of driving the tank.
  8. The warranty period of the transmission must be no less than the overall warranty period of the tank.
  9. The factory is allowed to introduce changes and additions to these tactical-technical requirements to improve the design with the permission of the NKO (GABTU)."

Wednesday, 30 May 2018

T-34 Improvements

"May 20th, 1940
#730034s

To the People's Commissar of Defense, Marshal of the Soviet Union, Timoshenko

I present to you the conclusions of the trials commission for the T-34 tank, approved for service in the Red Army by decree #443ss issued by the Committee of Defense of the SNK on December 19th, 1939.

Regarding points raised in personal thoughts (pp. 83-85) of Military Engineer 2nd Class comrade Sorkin and comrade Morozov from factory #183, I report that:
  1. Widening the turret by 160 mm without touching the hull and turret ring that was proposed by factory #183 is approved. I disagree with increasing the height of the turret, as this will present a larger target to the enemy, and there is no need of this since the depression angle of -5 degrees forward and to the sides is already achieved.
  2. I do not agree with unifying the components with existing tanks, as this will increase the weight.
  3. There are no disagreements about the main clutch. The factory admits that no cause for deformation of the disks has been found. Disk deformation is a serious defect.
  4. I approved the second type of idler, with the internal tension adjustment mechanism, as the more robust and better protected option.
  5. I insist that the radio be moved to the front of the tank in order to free up the commander for combat. The hull gunner/radio operator sits in the hull.
  6. I insist on changing the observation device design to use metallic periscopes and a vision block.
  7. I approved the all-round vision device for 1940 as it was presented on blueprints.
Factory #183 will produce a pilot batch (10 units) of T-34 tanks based on prototype blueprints. I gave permission to the Mariupol factory (armour) and factory #183 to produce 10 more T-34 tanks based on prototype blueprints to better prepare for mass production.

Attachment: as mentioned on 85 pages

Red Army ABTU Chief, Army Commander 2nd Class, Pavlov
Red Army ABTU Military Commissar, Divisional Commissar, Kulikov"

Tuesday, 29 May 2018

Precious Metals

"Order of the People's Commissar of Medium Machinebuilding of the USSR
Moscow
September 4th, 1941

To carry out decree #9165-RS of the Council of People's Commissars of the USSR issued on August 30th, 1941, I order that:
  1. The chief designer of factory #37, comrade Astrov, is to produce and present a plan to replace  rolled duraluminium used in the T-60 tank to the NKSM within three days.
  2. The director of factory #75, comrade Kochetkov, must produce ferrous metal replacements for components of the V-2 engine previously produced from aluminium and perform trials by the end of September. Report on the trials no later than September 30th, 1941, so that a report for the Council of People's Commissars can be made.
  3. The chief designers of the Kirov factory and ChTZ (comrade Kotin), factory #183 and STZ (comrade Morozov) and factory #174 (comrade Ginzburg) must produce technical requirements for production of gearboxes of KV, T-34, T-50, and T-26 tanks that use ferrous metals instead of aluminium and present them to the 1st department within seven days.
  4. The head of the 1st department, comrade Gnesin, must agree on the technical conditions with the People's Commissariat of Defense and present them to me for approval.
Deputy People's Commissar of Medium Machinebuilding,
S. Akopov"

Monday, 28 May 2018

Prospective Tanks

"To the People's Commissar of Defense of the USSR, Marshal of the Soviet Union, comrade Voroshilov

I report that the director of factory #183, comrade Maksarev, reported that he can produce the T-32 vehicle in the configuration that you provided starting with the 1st quarter of 1940, and in the variant with 45 mm of armour starting with the 2nd quarter.