Saturday, 24 June 2017

T-60 From Stalingrad

The T-34 tanks built in Stalingrad became one of the symbols for the battle there. The last tanks produced where went straight into battle from the factories, crewed by factory workers. T-60 tanks were less noticeable contributors to the breaking of the backbone of the German blitzkrieg. At the outskirts of the city, in Krasnoarmeysk, the T-60 tank remained in production at factory #264 for less than half a year. However, by volume of production, this "unplanned" factory was second only to the Molotov GAZ.

Friday, 23 June 2017

T-60 in Difficult Times

On July 20th, 1941, the State Committee of Defense (GKO) passed decree #222ss "On the production of 10 thousand light tanks". Interestingly enough, the tank that was supposed to be built did not exist even on paper. The tank, later named T-60, was designed in a little over a week. The first tanks were built in September of that year, and full fledged mass production began in October. The Molotov Gorkiy Automotive Factory (GAZ), Kharkov Tractor Factory (HTZ), and factory #37 were tasked with producing these tanks. Meanwhile, reports coming in from the front indicated that the tank was in need of modernization. What problems did the tankers reveal, and how did Soviet engineers try to solve them?

The One Without the Rifle Follows

"Moscow, Kremlin
To Comrade Poskrebyshev

Operational group of the Western Front HQ, Kransodar
December 21st, 1941, 11:30

I ask you to report to the People's Commissar that out of all the weapons bought in Iran (10 million rounds, 100,000 rifles, 600 handheld and 300 mounted machineguns as of December 21st), 21,600 rifles and one million rounds of ammunition arrived to Qazvin.

The shortage of arms on the Western Front, including the three newly forming divisions and one brigade, is 126,000 rifles, 4,750 handheld machineguns, and 2,460 mounted machineguns.

I ask that all weapons bought in Iran be left for the Western Front, which will allow us to arm the newly forming divisions and brigade with domestic weapons and equip rear line units with Iranian weapons.

D. Kozlov

Via kris_reid.

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

ZIS-5, Take One

"May 30th, 1941
To the Central Committee of the VKP(b)
Comrade Zhdanov

According to USSR SNK and Central Committee Decree #1216-502 issued on May 5th, 1941, two experimental T-44 tanks built by factory #183 are supporsed to be armed with the 76 mm ZIS-5 or 57 mm ZIS-4 gun. The main characteristics of these guns is shown in the following table:

Gun model
Caliber in mm
Muzzle velocity, m/s
Shell mass, kg
Penetrates armour
At 0 degrees
At 30 degrees
Thickness in mm
Distance in m
Thickness in mm
Distance in m
Up to 1000
Up to 1000
Up to 1000
Up to 1000
Up to 1000
Up to 1000

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Torsion Bar Trials

"Methodology of Torsion Bar Trials

The trials were split into stages:
  • Motion trials of torsion bars.
  • Lab tests of materials (static and spring fatigue).
  • Lab static destruction tests of torsion bars (by twisting).
  • Analysis of various layouts of torsion bar suspensions and issues connected with them.

Monday, 19 June 2017

KV Gun Upgrades

"The following work is necessary to perform trials of KV tank armament and improvement of blueprints:
  1. Install the F-34 gun instead of the F-32 gun into the KV-1 tank at factory #92 by March 1st, 1941.
    A commission composed of representatives from ChTZ, the Kirov factory, GABTU, and GAU must perform trials and approve blueprints by March 5th, 1941. Factory #92 received a KV tank with a 76 mm F-32 gun on February 2nd, 1941.
  2. Install the 107 mm F-42 gun instead of the M-10 gun into the KV-2 tank by May 1st, 1941. Perform trials and work on blueprints, presenting them to the NKO no later than May 15th, 1941. Factory #92 received a KV tank with a large turret on January 29th.

Sunday, 18 June 2017

Praga LTL and Pzw 39: Tanks for Neutrals

In May of 1935, an Iranian commission signed a contract with CKD for light Praga TNH tanks. At the moment, these tanks did not exist in metal, but the Iranians saw the potential in this design. A prototype was demonstrated in September of that year. The Iranian commission was so impressed that the order was increased to 50 tanks on September 10th. For this time, this was a very respectable amount of tanks for the export market. It's not surprising that representatives from other nations came to Czechoslovakia to find inexpensive and high quality light tanks. CKD's engineers managed to satisfy their new customers, creating new tanks for Lithuania and Switzerland, known as the Praga LTL and Pzw 39.

Saturday, 17 June 2017

LT vz. 35: Steel Fist of the First Czechoslovakian Republic

On April 19th, 1933, the Czechoslovakian army signed a contract with CKD to produce 50 light P-II tanks. This ended the 10 year long quest to build a domestic tank. The tank accepted into service on July 13th, 1935, as the LT vz. 35 was sufficiently modern. However, a year later, the Czechoslovakian military needed a better protected tank. This tank, the LT vz. 35, was destined to become the backbone of the Czechoslovakian armoured forces.

Thursday, 15 June 2017

German Tank Fear

"Anti-Tank Defenses

14. The fear of massed enemy tank attacks still grips the soldiers, especially among the young and inexperienced replacements, to the point of mental breakdown. As a result, soldiers often leave anti-tank foxholes and positions, which lets enemy tanks cause significant losses and the Russian infantry to take our positions without battle.


Training, among replacements as first priority, must harden young soldiers, especially infantrymen, against the mental effect of tank attacks. Every soldier must know that when he leaves his positions or foxhole, he becomes defenseless against tank fire, but a well prepared foxhole or, even better, a deep slit trench offer reliable protection against the weight and fire of tanks. It is necessary to take every opportunity to teach soldiers to let the tank pass above their trench using our tanks, assault guns, tractors, or captured tanks. It's necessary to prove the limited amount of visibility, and therefore precise fire, on the move from a tank. Every soldier must sit in a tank at least once."

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

PzIII Shortage

"June 20th, 1942
To the Deputy People's Commissar of Defense and GABTU Chief, Lieutenant-General of the Tank Forces, comrade Fedorenko
Moscow, 2nd NKO building

An experimental SPG on the chassis of a captured German StuG SPG, equipped with a 122 mm divisional howitzer mod. 1938 "M-30" was built according to orders from the Artillery Committee by factory #592.

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Ultra Gun

The Department of Inventions was flooded with a great deal of proposals from the population, most of which received an answer similar to this one. However, a small fraction of the inventions were actually useful. Even if they were never implemented in metal, the USSR recognized the contributions of its citizens.

"To the Chief of the Central Planning Department of Inventions of the SNK

RE: Decision regarding the issue of a patent for claim #1582s

Having inspected the description, drawings, and all documents related to the request of citizen S.D. Bogoslovskiy, registered at the NKV under #1582s on April 23rd, 1942, under the title "Bicaliber barrel and shell, specially designed for an anti-tank gun", the Inventions Section of the Technical Council of the NKV decided to issue a patent for a gun barrel that fires "Ultra" shells with the following description:

Monday, 12 June 2017

What's in a Name?

There are a few examples where the real name of a tank or gun sinks into the sands of time, replaced by a more popular, yet incorrect one. The Renault FT is another example. More often than not, you see the tank called "FT-17", rarely "FT-18". Looking at production codes at Renault, the number was never included. For example, the Renault FT was preceded by the Renault FS, a car, and succeeded by the Renault FU, a heavy truck. However, even serious sources attach a number to the tank's name. Where did the number come from?

German documents regarding the Renault FT use the extra numbers.

Sunday, 11 June 2017

Renault D2: De Gaulle's Workhorse

The heavy Char B1 tank became the symbol of French pre-war tank building, and General de Gaulle is frequently associated with it. The 36 ton tank might have been the best French tank was indeed the best tank that France had during the fighting of May-June of 1940. The tank's thick armour worked well, even though the concept of the tank was obsolete.

Interestingly enough, mass production of the Char B1 might never have happened, since the French military was considering a different tank for the role of their main tank in the early 1930s, with the same armament, same armour, but more than 1.5 times lighter. This was the Renault D2, the tank that Colonel De Gaulle served in.

Saturday, 10 June 2017

Renault D1: FT on Steroids

Attempts to modernize the Renault FT, the most numerous tank in WWI, gave unexpected results. Initially, only the low speed was unsatisfactory for the French military, but its tastes grew by the mid-1920s. Now, the thin armour, which was insufficient to protect the tank from high caliber machineguns, was also unsatisfactory. The result was the NC-1 tank, which was 2 tons heavier and had thicker armour, while being twice as fast. The tank was a good replacement for the Renault FT, but the army's appetites grew once more, which led to the creation of a new tank, the Renault D1.

Thursday, 8 June 2017

KV-1 Engine Compartment

Details of the famous Aberdeen test are still not fully available online, all we have are scraps and rumours. However, user Makarov from Tiger's Corner shared a little bit of it with us. These high resolution photos of the engine and transmission compartments are sure to delight any dedicated scale modeler.

Fans of the "JS" vs "IS" debate will also both certainly be shocked at the new name the tank received in this report: KB.

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Tukhachevsky on Tanks

A man like Mikhail Tukhachevsky needs no introduction, as he is one of the most famous military minds of the 20th century, having come up with the very effective Deep Battle doctrine. However, some of his ideas were rather odd, even for their time.

"In my note on tanks, I wrote: "If we take Magdesiev's calculations as 50%, then with our plans for tractor production in 1932/33 of 197,000 units, the annual tank production can be 100,000. If we consider one year of war to consume 100% of tanks (this is an arbitrary number), then we can maintain a park of 50,000 tanks."

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Cromwells in Normandy

"Remarks regarding the use of Cromwell tanks in Normandy

1. Exhaust fumes, exhaust system, sparkplug fouling

A. The tank's users discovered that the exhaust fumes of the tank gave away the tank's position in moist weather. 

In order to immediately prevent this from happening, a protective cap for the exhaust pipe was designed. It is easy to install and it's made from scrap metal and refuse. The latter is used as stuffing.
This cap has the following advantages:

Monday, 5 June 2017

KV-3 Evolution

"To the BTU Chief, Military Engineer 1st Class, comrade Korobkov

I report that the Kirov factory made the following decisions on the KV-3:
  1. The KV-3 will be based on the Object 221 with a future plan of increasing the side armour once an 850 hp engine is received.
  2. The armament, front, and turret armour will be increased according to State plans.
  3. Since the hulls of the Objects 220 and 221 are identical in dimensions, the transmission from the 220 will be installed in the KV-3 with the V-5 engine (700 hp) with the intention to replace it with an 850 hp engine.
  4. Trials of the V-5 engine, transmission, and KV-3 suspension will be performed on the Object 220.

Sunday, 4 June 2017

Canon 25 mm S.A. Mle 1934: A "Baby" Gun for a Grown Up War

An old military saying states that "every army prepares to fight the previous war". That is how the French generals acted when planning new anti-tank guns. Thinking about enemy tanks, they envisioned clumsy boxes, crawling across the battlefield at a pedestrian's pace, protected with several centimeters of armour. To fight them, a small gun was needed, one that could be easily hidden on a crater-pocked field and pushed around with just the strength of the crew. The result of this line of thinking was the 25 mm anti-tank gun model 1934, Canon 25 mm S.A. Mle 1934.

Saturday, 3 June 2017

Renault R 40: Incorrigible

The Char leger Modele 1935 R that was accepted into service by the French army on April 25th, 1935, was a compromise. Created as a replacement for the Renault FT, it did not surpass its predecessor by much in speed, and the armament remained the same. Of course, the new tank had more powerful armour, but experience showed that you could not rely on it. The French infantry began looking at the FCM 36, an expensive tank, but one that was more suitable for the infantry tank role. The Renault R 35 could only be rescued with a modernization of its weakest link: the suspension. A new tank with a superior suspension and a longer gun received the index R 40. It finally satisfied the requirements of the customer, but it was too late.

Thursday, 1 June 2017

SS Professionalism

"There's an interesting moment at the start of the Vienna operation that should be remarked on, regarding the issue of highly trained SS units. The Germans saw the preparations. Even though the weather was bad, their reconnaissance aircraft were flying and saw a concentration of cars, tanks, artillery, and tracked it. They could precisely predict that an offensive was about to start. The first round of fighting was with the Fuhrer, who was told that the Spring Awakening had to end, now the Russians are going to hit us and that's it, the front will collapse, we're going to have an "awakening" with hangover, as they say. They tried to convince Hitler for a while, convinced him in the end (it was still Guderian then as the Chief of Staff). Guderian convinced Hitler to wrap up Spring Awakening since it didn't achieve any results. The Fuhrer agreed that it had to wrap up to prepare for the Russian offensive. With a load off his shoulders, Weller, the Commander of Army Group South calls Dietrich's HQ and says "That's it, the Fuhrer allowed it, we can retreat, now the Russians will attack", to which he received a cold answer: "Well you see, it's already evening (March 15th), we can't get in touch with our people and pull them back, let's do it tomorrow, tomorrow night, to conceal our movement." A whole day was lost purely out of exceptional incompetence, I have no other word for it, on behalf the 6th SS Tank Army staff."

Aleksey Isayev, "The Nazis' Last Counteroffensive"

Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Rough Handling

It's no secret that the F-34 gun was also tested out on the KV-1 as a part of the various efforts to improve its firepower in 1941. After the gun was tested, the tank was converted back into its original form.

Experimental KV-1 with an F-34 gun.

Here's a little more about the tank's post-trial fate:

Tuesday, 30 May 2017

T-60 Applique Armour

"To the 3rd Department
January 19th, 1942

I am sending you the numbers of T-60 hull parts that will have applique armour applied to them. The same armour thickness will be used in hulls with single-part armour.

Part name
Part number
Main thickness (mm)
Applique armour thickness (mm)
Upper front plate
Driver’s hatch
Cabin front plate
Cabin side plate
Turret bustle, right
Turret bustle, left
Turret front, right
Turret front, left
Turret middle, left
Turret middle left and rear right
Turret rear left
Turret rear
Lower front turret plate
Mantlet shield

Monday, 29 May 2017

KwK 43 and the Schmalturm

Fantasizing about what might have been if the war in Europe continued past May of 1945 is not just a widespread hobby, but a profitable business. One of the vehicles frequently depicted laying waste to hordes of Allied tanks is the Panzerkampfwagen Panther mit 8,8 cm L/71 KwK 43, combining the firepower of a heavy tank and the mobility of a slightly less heavy tank. Yuri Pasholok wrote previously about how the gun, while technically fiting in the Schmalturm turret, didn't make the crew's life particularly pleasant. Let's take a look at a blueprint.

Saturday, 27 May 2017

Renault NC: Destined for Export

The Renault FT ended up being not only the best tank of WWI, but the most numerous one. Its production continued after the end of the war, and 3728 tanks were built by 1921. Meanwhile, the French army was no longer satisfied with the Renault FT. Even the infantry, which inherited the tank, was not thrilled with a vehicle that had a top speed of 3 kph off-road. To replace this "pensioner", Renault designed a new tank called the Renault NC. Why were foreign armies more interested in this tank than the French?

Friday, 26 May 2017

Char B in German Service

The mistake of choosing a "battle tank" (Char de bataille) as a main tank became obvious during the campaign in France in May-June of 1940. The French tank industry did not manage to shift its gears for war. As a result, by the time the German invasion began, the availability of Char B1 bis tanks was far from what was planned. In addition, some French tanks were lost to either technical problems or because of poor supplies of fuel and ammunition. Many of them fell into German hands. How did the German army use the Char B1 and vehicles on its chassis?

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Leopard Tracks

While the West seems to have had a very foggy idea of what Soviet tanks were like during the Cold War, Soviet tank designers enjoyed a more accurate picture of their competitors. For example, here is a very thorough analysis of the tracks of Leopard 1 and 2 tanks.

Fig. 1: Leopard-1 tank track
1 - track link, 2 - track pin, 3 - track tooth, 4 - spring ring. 5 - pad, 6 - rubber shock absorber, 7 - supporting plate, 8 - directing plate, 9 - rubber pad, 10 - bracket. A-A and B-B cutaways are turned.

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

T-40 Tank Destroyer

"To the Deputy Chair of the Council of Defense of the USSR, comrade Voznesenskiy

SNK and VKP(b) decree #1749-756ss issued on June 25th, 1941, removes the T-40 tank and Komsomolets tractor from production as of August 1st, 1941.

GAU is sending Military Engineer 1st Class comrade Komarov and GABTU is sending Military Engineer 3rd Class comrade Kulikov to perform one-day trials of the experimental ZIS-2 SPG on the Komsomolets tractor chassis and investigation of a ZIS-2 SPG on the T-40 tank chassis on July 10th, 1941.

A conclusion regarding restarting production of the Komsomolets tractor or T-40 tank for ZIS-2 SPG production will be ready depending on the results of the trials on July 14th, 1941.

GAU Chief, Colonel-General of Artillery, Yakovlev
GABTU Chief, Lieutenant-General of the Tank Forces, Fedorenko"

CAMD RF 38-11355-10

Monday, 22 May 2017

Svetlana Death Ray

"USSR - People's Commissariat of Aircraft Production
Factory #454
July 26th, 1941



About three months ago, during a conversation with Doctor of Technical Sciences, G.I. Babat, who was working at the "Svetlana" factory in Leningrad, comrade Babat and I decided on boundaries to a solution to the issue of an effective offensive death ray.

Saturday, 20 May 2017

Light Tank M3A3: American Emigrant

The American Light Tank M3A1 turned out to be a strange tank. On one hand, it had several superior characteristics to its predecessor, the Light Tank M3. Some elements of the design were a definite step forward. For example, the Americans began to use welding to assemble it. On the other hand, some design decisions reduced its battle worthiness. The tank became cramped and uncomfortable for the turret crew. It's not surprising that another modernization quickly followed, which led to the most perfect form of the Light Tank M3 family: the Light Tank M3A3: a tank produced in large amounts, but almost ignored by the US Army.

Friday, 19 May 2017

Hellcat: Highway Tank Destroyer

The 76 mm Gun Motor Carriage M18, more commonly known as the Hellcat, is one of the best known American wartime tank destroyers. With a powerful 76 mm gun and high mobility, the vehicle was an effective anti-tank measure. A number of sources mention that several Hellcats ended up in the USSR, but that is usually all information that is offered. This is not surprising, since, unlike the GMC M10, which was accepted into service, the M18 never made it past trials. More precisely, the USSR received the pre-production prototypes, indexed Gun Motor Carriage T70. What was the fate of these vehicles?

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

ZIS-30 Production Plans

"Decree of the People's Council of Defense of the USSR

Contents: On the production of the 57 mm ZIS-2 gun on the Komsomolets tractor, on the production of 76 mm mod. 1939 (USV) guns on the ZIS-2 mount
  1. People's Commissar of Armament, comrade Ustinov, and the GAU Chief, General-Colonel of Artillery, comrade Yakovlev, must test the 57 mm ZIS-2 SPG on the Komsomolets tractor chassis designed by Stalin factory #92 within 5 days at the Sofrino proving grounds.

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Phantom French Tanks

As you've seen many times on this blog, foreign intelligence can have some rather amusing turns. However, after fighting a war for 6 years you'd think that the German "Department for Study of Western Foreign Armies" would have a better idea about who they are fighting than... this:


Old French tanks are so obsolete that they can only be used for training. It is necessary to completely refresh their tank fleet.

The Americans supplied the French with light, medium, and heavy tanks, although there was no information on heavy tanks until January of 1945. "General Sherman" and "General Les" (or something like that) are types of American tanks. Light tanks weigh 18 tons, medium tanks about 30 tons.

Armament: 10 cm guns, medium tanks had, if I'm not mistaken, 12 or even 12.4 cm guns.

I don't remember the amount of tanks the French had, but I think they had about 80 tanks."

CAMD RF 500-12480-31

Monday, 15 May 2017

Artillery Committee Conclusions on the SG-122

"April 6th, 1942


On the draft project of the 122 mm SPG called "122-SG"

1. Contents of the project

The GAU Artillery Committee received a draft project of a 122 mm howitzer on the chassis of a captured StuG from the OKB-16 independent design group. The proposal was met with a question (letter #537868, March 17th, 1942) regarding the utility of replacing the German 75 mm gun with a domestic 122 mm M-30 mod. 1938 howitzer.

The NKV Technical Council had a positive reaction towards this proposal and offered the OKB-16 independent design group, led by comrade E.V. Sinilshikov, to execute the project.

Saturday, 13 May 2017

Steel Chimeras of the Red Army

Scientific and technical progress has always been on the other side of the coin from war. Aiming to obtain instant superiority over the enemy, people who have never thought about the subject were as determined as those whose job was weapons design. In the years of the Great Patriotic War, self-taught designers earnestly believed that their tank or armoured cars can radically alter the course of the war. These designs remained on paper for obvious reasons, but accurately represent the spirit of their time.

The human mind does not stand still in a critical time, but invents curious designs. Most of these ideas do not even reach paper, but there are those who go even further and send their projects to ministries and directorates that, according to the inventor, should take interest in their creation. These people are motivated by many reasons, which are outside of the scope of this article.

The torrent of proposals during the Great Patriotic War was vast, and, following the principle of quality from quantity, some inventions were useful. Each commissariat and directorate had its own department of inventions, which reviewed the project and evaluated it. The Main Automotive and Armoured Directorate of the Red Army (GABTU KA) was no exception. Here is a small portion of the projects reviewed by the GABTU in the years of the GPW. Some are absurd, some are feasible, and some were ahead of their time.

Friday, 12 May 2017

Imagination Versus Hitler

As practice shows, the temptation to make up your own tank is great. Sadly (or thankfully), few people are destined to become tank designers. Here is where limitless human imagination steps in to create more "improved" or completely fictional projects than there were real tanks made.

Most of these made up tanks and SPGs belong to Germany. This is not surprising, since German dreams of Wunderwaffen firmly lodged themselves in people's heads. However, a lot of made up tanks were "invented" for Germany's enemies. There are a few of these vehicles in World of Tanks, but this article is not only dedicated to them. There were plenty of authors around the world, including during the war. Of course, some of these tanks were only partially fictional.

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Hellcat Mobility Trials

" Table #5

Speed in kph
Braking distance in m
Time to brake in sec

When driving at 50 kph, the SPG drifts to the side when brakes are suddenly applied. When the brakes are applied gradually the SPG does not drift, but the braking distance is very long (70-80 meters).

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

ZIS-6 Characteristics

"To the Director of the Kirov Factory, comrade Zaltsmann,
GABTU Chief, Lieutenant-General of the Tank Forces, comrade Fedorenko

On the issue of installing the ZIS-6 into the KV-3 tank

We accompany the design for installing the ZIS-6 gun into the KV-3 tank with the following characteristics:
  1. Muzzle velocity: 800 m/s
  2. Recoil resistance: 20,000 kg
  3. Mass of the recoiling parts: 1600 kg
  4. Mass of the oscillating part with the gun mantlet: 2600 kg
  5. Recoil length: 640 +/- 40 mm
  6. Ammunition: one piece
  7. Breech: semiautomatic
  8. Coaxial DT machinegun
  9. The horizontal range of the gun is from +20 degrees to - 5 degrees.
  10. The recoil mechanisms allow firing from +40 degrees to -15 degrees.
  11. The gun will have a fume extractor.
  12. The length of a shell casing is 625 mm.
  13. The length of the full round (HE) is about 1200 mm.
  14. The initial pressure in the recoil brake is 50 atm.
  15. The TD telescopic sight is installed.
  16. The armour layout will be of the same type as in existing KV turrets.
  17. The experimental prototype of the gun will be tested in the KV-2 tank turret.

Monday, 8 May 2017

Cheating at Statistics 20: Precision at Pechenegi

The alleged long-range supremacy of German weapons is a common trope in popular history. The dreaded "Flak 88" sets up on a hill and fires at hordes of incoming T-34s or Shermans, racking up a large amount of kills despite being hard to hide and having limited range in practice. I already picked apart claims of these guns excelling at 3500 meters, but Forczyk brings even more impressive claims by the SS-men for us.

"...the rest of Koptsov's 15th Tank Corps reached Pechenegi on 4 February and was shocked to find that elements of the SS-Panzergrenadier-Division Liebstandarte Adolf Hitler (LSSAH) were already defending the heights on the far side of the Northern Donets.
The Germans emplaced a few 8.8cm Flak guns on the heights and they were able to engage Koptsov's tanks at distances up to 6,000 meters and succeeded in setting nine tanks on fire."

Nine tanks knocked out at ten times the recommended engagement range? Sounds fishy. Let's take a closer look at what was happening at the banks of the Donets on that day. 

Saturday, 6 May 2017

Pz.Kpfw.38(t): Prize from Bohemia

The LT vz. 38, the best Czechoslovakian inter-war tank, is more famous under another name, since it attained fame in another army. Indexed Pz.Kpfw.38(t) in the Wehrmacht, this tank became a symbol of Blitzkrieg, fighting in the advance guard of the German tank units. In the spring of 1940, tanks built in Prague smashed British and French vehicles who failed to come to Czechoslovakia's aid two years prior.

Friday, 5 May 2017

LT vz. 38: Bestseller from Prague

After the victory in the light tank tender for the Czechoslovakian army, CKD received a contract to build its P-II tank, adopted by the army under the index LT vz. 34. Another tender was declared soon after, which resulted in disappointment for CKD. The military did not like the light P-II-a tank. This time, Skoda celebrated victory, whose S-II tank was adopted as the LT vz. 35. However, CKD still managed to grab half of the contract for building the LT vz. 35.

In parallel, the company was working on tanks for export, where it saw much greater success. The work on export tanks led to the LT vz. 38, Czechoslovakia's best pre-war tank. CKD's creation became the most numerous and widely known Czechoslovakian tank. Nevertheless, it appeared far too late to help its own country's army.

Thursday, 4 May 2017

Sherman Infantry

I previously presented an instruction manual regarding how many infantrymen got to ride on one tank. In it, the Soviets only fit 6 men on a Sherman. Seems like the Americans came to the same conclusions.

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Improved Gearbox

"To comrade V.M. Molotov

On the timeline of producing improved T-34 components at the Kirov factory

In connection with the increased production of T-34 tanks and start of their production at the Kirov factory, it is necessary to make decisions regarding starting production with improved components (5-speed gearbox, improved idler, turret with a commander's cupola) before the deadline given by GOKO decree #1879ss (June 5th, 1942).

The most complicated of these components, the gearbox, went through 1700 km trials in June flawlessly in addition to 2000 km of trials last year.

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

100 mm Tank Gun, First Attempt

"To the director of the Kirov factory, Leningrad, in response to letter #838s sent on January 31st, 1941
CC: GAU UVNA Military Representative at the Kirov factory
NKTM Military Department Chief
March 13th, 1941

Having examined these projects developed at the Kirov factory under its own initiative:
  • 412-1V, 100 mm tank gun, and
  • 412-2V, 107 mm tank gun
the GAU UVNA has come to the conclusion that:
  1. Both guns are equivalent and modern, both in their ballistics and armour penetration.
  2. Out of the two presented variants, the 412-1V is not recommended for production, because:

Monday, 1 May 2017

Anti-Tiger Manual

I posted a brief manual on dealing with Tiger tanks in my post on anti-tank manuals, but here is an extended version.

"The most vulnerable and easily damaged places of a German T-VI tank and methods of combat against it."

The left side of this sheet of the pamphlet is from the back of the book, where the methods of knocking out the tank are illustrated. "Hit the wheels with an anti-tank grenade, and the tank will stop!"

Saturday, 29 April 2017

E-50 and E-75: A Story of Failed Unification

Tanks that could have been built are often discussed within certain circles. Aside from the superheavy Maus and E-100, there are the light and medium E-10 and E-25 tank destroyers. Despite very incomplete data about these vehicles, the overall characteristics are known, including the armament.

Meanwhile, the core of "Panzerwaffe-46" was going to be composed of the medium E-50 tank and heavy E-75 tank, at least in the minds of fans of alternative history. The story with these tanks is a lot more complicated, since work stopped at an early stage, and a good half of the information available on these tanks is divination at best. Let's try to figure out what about the E-50 and E-75 is true and what is blatant misrepresentation.

Friday, 28 April 2017

Hummel: Bee with a Long Stinger

German engineers invented the "self propelled gun mount" class of artillery. The first work in this area was done during WWI, but it truly became a mass event 25 years after it ended. The recipe was simple: take a light or medium tank and use its parts to to build a chassis with bulletproof armour. A slightly modified version of a towed gun was installed on that chassis. Thanks to this phenomenon, the mobility of German artillery grew significantly. The Hummel became the post powerful of German "self propelled gun mounts". This SPG earned its position as one of the symbols of German self propelled artillery.

Thursday, 27 April 2017

Zhukov and Minefields

There's a very common myth about Zhukov prevalent in popular culture, both Russian and Western, about his unparalleled cruelty and disregard for human life. Historian Aleksey Isayev read a radio lecture dispelling common myths about the commander. I'm not going to transcribe the whole thing, since it's over an hour and a half long, but I will tackle one particularly prevalent myth: the allegation that Zhukov marched his men to their death over minefields. Isayev discusses the myth at 1:33:05.

"There's a very famous story, allegedly coming from Eisenhower, about how if Soviet infantry encountered a minefield, it would advance as though there was no minefield there. This is a retelling over a broken telephone. In reality, Zhukov insisted that regular ordinary infantry should undergo sapper training, because simple mine disarmament, removal of simple minefields, can be performed by a person who has certain combat experience, and the implementation of this in ordinary rifle units, so they would not be stalled in front of minefields waiting for sappers and deal with minefields that they could handle by themselves, moving forward, and not remain in place, vulnerable to artillery attack."

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Repair Bill

"Preliminary calculations of capital repairs of the A-34 vehicle

Proposed replacement of mechanisms:
  • V-2 engine: 72,386
  • Electric motors (set): 2610
  • Radiators: 2013
  • Tires: 10,000
  • Ball bearings: 3325
  • Gearbox: 12,000
  • Main friction clutch: 5000
  • Final drives: 4740
  • Tracks: 6612
  • Normalizing parts: 1128
  • Tarp parts: 1275
  • Felt parts: 664
  • Rubber parts: 933
  • Liner: 100
  • Total cost: 122,786

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Valentine Improvement

"To the Chief Engineer of TsAKB and TsAKB Chief, Lieutenant-General of the Technical Forces, comrade Grabin

April 18th, 1944

Valentine tanks armed with a 40 mm gun continue arriving from England in the USSR.

The penetration of this gun is low and, as experience shows, it cannot fight against modern German tanks in battle. In addition, the ammunition used with the 40 mm gun does not include a high explosive shell, making these tanks ineffective against infantry.

I ask you to determine the possibility of designing and producing an experimental Valentine tank with an 85 mm S-53 gun.

It is necessary to include a 7.62 mm machinegun with 360 degree range to combat enemy personnel.

GBTU USA Chief, Major-General of the Engineering Tank Service, Alymov."

CAMD RF 38-11369-284

Monday, 24 April 2017

Kirov Experiments, June 1941

"Report on completion of experimental works on armoured vehicles from May 20th, 1941, to June 20th, 1941

Object 220 (KV-3 base)

As of June 20th, the tank traveled 1979 km in total, 584 km after reassembly. The 850 hp V-2SN engine #2(1193-03) installed on May 30th worked for 27 h. 21 m. During trials, the following defects were discovered:
  1. 3 sets of exhaust collectors burned up over the course of 284 km.
  2. 4 final drive ferodo ribbons burned up. Cause: improper installation and adjustment.
As of June 12th, the existing defects are:

Saturday, 22 April 2017

Infantry Tank Mk.I: the First Infantry Tank

There are many tanks in the history of armoured warfare that were simply unlucky. The British Infantry Tank Mk.I is one of them. Even its name was lost when it became the Matilda due to some historian's error, even though that name applies to a completely different vehicle. As Britain's first infantry tank, it was hopelessly obsolete by the start of the war. Even its thick armour was not enough to survive in a war that it was simply not suitable for.

Friday, 21 April 2017

Gun Motor Carriage M10

Unlike many tanks, few tank destroyers arrived in the USSR within the Lend Lease program. The Gun Motor Carriage T48, or SU-57, built on the chassis of the M3 halftrack, was the only exception. Initially, they were built by the Americans for a British order, but the British barely used them. The USSR gave them a completely different reception: they were used actively and showed themselves as an effective anti-tank measure. As for tank destroyers on a tank chassis, the only Western vehicle that was accepted into the army was the Gun Motor Carriage M10, known widely under the British nickname "Wolverine".

Thursday, 20 April 2017

Party Hard

"To the commander of the 61st Radom Rifle Corps

I report that at 23:00 on May 6th, 1945, American correspondents Captains Robert Ruben, John McVane, Victor Berstein, Richard Hotslet, escorted by Sr. Lieutenant Bruce Feshenden and driver Corporal John Doyle were detailed near Hohenwarthe village while headed across the Elbe.