Sunday, 2 March 2014

Let Slip the Dogs of War

"To the chief of the 2nd department of GABTU BTU, Military Engineer 2nd grade, comrade Demyanenko
[date cut off] July, 1941

I report that trained dogs carrying an anti-tank pouch filled with high explosives can be considered a viable method of combat with enemy tanks.

Trials of this anti-tank method were conducted by the Communications Directorate and Engineering and Armoured Directorate in 1939-1940. The results of the trials proved that this method is effective.

On the BTU KA proving grounds at the Kubinka station, an MS-1 tank moving at second gear was destroyed by a dog carrying an AT pouch, which caused the following damage: torn track, torn out tank side, torn off and destroyed drive wheel, damage to the upper front plate and lower hull, tank turret torn off. During all other trials with dummy pouches, dogs dove under a moving tank without fail.

The Central Dog Training School of the Communications Directorate has staff that can train these dogs, as well as staff that can use them. 3000 AT pouches were produced at Gromov factory #2 (Solnechnogorsk) in 1939-1940.

Principle of operation:

A dog that is trained to dive under a tank is equipped with a special AT pouch filled with explosives. The pouch is equipped with a lever. When the dog dives under the tank, the lever pulls out the safety pin, the striker hits the detonator, and the explosives go off underneath the tank.

Materials on trials with conclusions, blueprints, and AT pouch and detonator samples, as well as a production run of 3000 units, are available at the Communications Directorate of the Red Army.

Attached: a diagram.

Senior Engineer of the 2nd department, Military Engineer 2nd grade, Gulik."
CAMD RF 38-11355-141

And here's the diagram:

"BB" marks the explosives. The things that look like stakes at the bottom are belts for attaching the device to a dog. The dog runs from right to left. A note on the diagram lists the mass of the device as approximately 4.5 kilograms.

This document conveniently dispels two often repeated rumours about anti-tank dogs. One is that they were hurriedly trained in 1941 as a desperate measure against German tanks. As you can see, training and trials began long before the German offensive. Another is that the dogs, smelling familiar diesel tanks, ran towards their own tanks and blew them up. I always suspected that using brand new T-34 or KV tanks for dog training was wasteful, and this document confirms it. Obsolete gasoline powered tanks were used for training, ones that the dogs were not going to see (or smell) on the battlefield.


  1. ...except in '41 the vast majority of the extant Soviet tank fleet consisted of those selfsame obsolete models.
    Apparently the doggies homed in on their intented targets often enough for German infantry to adopt SOP of shooting dogs on sight, which also spawned any amount of typically dark military humour. "Explosive dogs are a Russian specialty and you should not shoot every canine you see when on leave at home..." or something to that effect apparently quickly became a running gag.

    1. The Red Army fleet was not composed of mostly MS-1 tanks since the early 1930s.

  2. Jukka Juutinen11 June 2016 at 15:01

    A perfect example of the bestial sadism of Bolsheviks and Bolshevism.