Tuesday, 23 January 2018


"Conclusions regarding Engineer-Colonel comrade Barykov's proposal

Comrade Barykov proposed:
  1. The installation of 45 mm guns instead of 76 mm guns into some KV-1S tanks. The freed up space is to be used for housing a forward observer. He will have two observation periscopes and a place to put his map.
    To disguise the 45 mm gun as a 76 mm gun, an armoured sleeve will be installed over it.

  2. The author insists that the commander's station in the KV-1S and T-34S is cramped, it's difficult to operate the elevation mechanism on the KV-1S, and impossible to fire the main gun and the rear machinegun at the same time.
  3. Comrade Barykov remarks that the absence of signal hatches in the T-34 and KV-1S makes it impossible to communicate with signal flares or flags.
  4. The driver's observation device on the T-34 gets dirty, which means the driver must get out and clean it.
  5. The T-34 turret makes it difficult to use rear observation devices.
The author proposes resolving the issue of visibility by using MK-IV, M-4, or T-3 type observation devices.

Comrade Barykov makes these proposals to satisfy NKO order #325.

Comrade Barykov's proposal in section 1 is unacceptable due to the following reasons:
  1. The installation of a 45 mm gun on the KV-1S will drastically reduce the firepower of the KV-1S tank.
  2. It is unreasonable to create a dedicated forward observer tank. Any radio-equipped tank can and must perform the role of a forward observer.
  3. In the cases when the tank carries a forward observer, he must be placed in the loader or gunner's position. He will have access to the PT-1 or PTK periscope, with which he can observe the battlefield and send his observations through the radio.
  4. The author's requirement for two artillery correction periscopes is confusing. The PTK periscope has 360 degree rotation. As mentioned above, the use of existing observation devices allows for fire correction.
    One can also observe through a rangefinder, which can be extended from the existing turret hatch. Existing prismatic or block-type observation devices can also be used for observation.
The aforementioned issues mean that comrade Barykov's proposal for a special forward observer T-34 or KV tank is unreasonable.

Regarding section 2.

The author correctly points out that the crew conditions in the KV-1S and T-34S are difficult due to crampedness. The placement of a third crewman (commander) in the turret confines the gunner, and the commander's location is uncomfortable. Work on more comfortable placement of three men in KV-1S and T-34S turrets is ongoing, but has not given results yet, and our tanks will have this drawback for the time being.

The author's comment regarding tough aiming is fair. The increase of aiming speed of tank guns is an important task.

Work on altering the turret ring, carefully balancing guns and turrets, and improvement of elevation and turning mechanisms is necessary. There is no satisfactory solution yet, and these drawbacks are going to be present in our tanks as well. The KV-1S specimen at the NI proving grounds that comrade Barykov refers to has an unusually tough elevation mechanism, which is caused by unsatisfactory production at the factory, and loose quality control on behalf of the military representative.

The author's remark regarding the inability to shoot the rear machinegun and main cannon is correct.

Regarding section 3.

The author raises the issue of improving the tank's communication with infantry and artillery.

Currently, communication is established via radio and signals (flares). Comrade Barykov points to the absence of signal hatches on the KV-1S and T-34S. The KV-1S has such a hatch to the right behind the commander. The T-34 does not have such a hatch. 

Presently, signalling from the T-34 happens through the turret hatches, and signalling on the KV-1S happens through the signal hatch. Radio is presently and will remain the main method of communication, which the author does not mention. The use of flags on the battlefield is undesirable, as it reveals the commander's tank. Radios must be installed on all tanks.

Regarding section 4.

The author correctly remarks that the T-34 driver's observation device gets dirty and must be cleaned. However, the author remarks incorrectly that the driver must exit the tank to clean it. To clean the device, it is removed, and replaced by a clean one. Wipers that were installed earlier did not give the required results, since they made the device dirtier instead of cleaning it. Based on the increase in the production of optical devices, a spare can be installed while the main device is being cleaned.

Regarding section 5.

Comrade Barykov correctly remarks that observation to the rear on the KV-1S and T-34S is insufficient. Commander's cupolas impede looking backwards through the periscope. It is impossible to resolve this issue with the current cupola design, since the periscope would have to be elevated above the cupola.

The author's remark about it being impossible to use the rear observation devices in the commander's cupola of the T-34S tank is fair. This cupola is experimental, and has not been put into production yet. In addition to the T-34 cupola at the NI proving grounds, factory #183 has presented another wider design, which has not been approved by the GABTU BTU.

All issues commented on by comrade Barykov in his letter, aside from the installation of a 45 mm gun in the KV-1S, have been presented to the industry multiple times, and resolved in one way or another.

The value of comrade Barykov's letter is significantly decreased due to a lack of practical advice on how to resolve the mentioned defects and insufficient thought put into his proposals. The NI proving grounds is meant to develop practical solutions to remove or mitigate defects, instead of giving general criticism on issues that are already known.

GABTU BTU Chief, Engineer-Colonel Afonin
GABTU BTU 6th Department Chief, Engineer-Lieutenant-Colonel Kovalev"


  1. Nice information. Both the German and British armies made us of dedicated artillery forward-observer tanks that typically (not always) had their main guns removed.

    US forward observer tanks kept their main gun, but, the Sherman was a roomy tank.

    Both US and Brits used armored halftracks in this role also.

    1. I've seen a photo of an observer T-34 with a gun removed, so presumably this sort of thing was done, just not officially.