Monday, 20 May 2019

T-34-85 Review

"Report on the use of the T-34 in combat during the Patriotic War in the 37th Guards Tank Regiment
  1. The S-53 gun installed on the T-34 tank has a number of design drawbacks, such as:
    1. When firing, the electrical firing mechanism burns out, and until the end of the battle one is forced to use the manual firing mechanism.
    2. The recoil break grease nipples break after 1300-1500 shots, which then need replacing. The factory quota promises 2000 shots before replacement.
    3. The DT machinegun, both in the coaxial mount and in the hull, has a very small brass catcher, and there are frequent stoppages because of it. There is enough room to make it bigger both for the coaxial and the hull machinegun.

Saturday, 18 May 2019

In Search of the Perfect Sphere

The idea of building spherical tanks was born long ago. Spherical tanks were treated as a viable weapon during WWI, but interest in this topic peaked in the 1930s and 40s. Most of the time, work reached the prototype stage, or sometimes only scale demonstration models were built. Nevertheless, spherical machines continued to enchant the minds of engineers. In our time, the "descendants" of spherical tanks are rather common, having lost their drawbacks.

Thursday, 16 May 2019

Bunker Turret

I posted about German bunkers with tank turrets before, but only the drawings. Here are some instructions to go along with them.

"Translated from German
8th Jager Division

January 5th, 1944

21 armoured 38(t) turrets were installed in the division's sector. They are a powerful foundation for a line of defense, impenetrable by a hurricane of enemy fire. 

Wednesday, 15 May 2019

MP-44 in Combat

"Translated from German (excerpts)
563rd Grenadier Division
Quartermaster department

Contents: on the use of the "MP-44" submachinegun

Preliminary instructions from the Supreme Command of the Land Forces give the following directions on using the MP-44 submachinegun:
  1. The MP-44 is a weapon that is used to fire single shots (like a semiautomatic rifle) first and as an automatic weapon second. This weapon meets the requirements for automatic weapons of an individual soldier.
    The value of this weapon is contained in the high rate of fire and precision, as well as in the ability to concentrate fire. Its value is best demonstrated when several shooters fire together.

Tuesday, 14 May 2019

Compatibility

"Order of the People's Commissariat of Tank Production
Moscow
February 16th, 1942
#206-ms

Lately there have been cases of individual factories making design and technological changes to components and assemblies of production tanks. Changes are being made without consideration for interchangeability and without preliminary agreements between factories that build tanks of the same type.

This kind of senseless behaviour results in violations of agreed upon blueprints and technical documentation and disrupts the work of repair bases during restoration of vehicles of the same type that are produced by different factories.

Monday, 13 May 2019

The Myth of the Disposable T-34

This is a claim that I'm sure many of my readers have seen. It's usually worded something like "the lifespan of a T-34 tank on the battlefield was X hours, so the Soviets saw no reason to produce a tank that lasted X+1 hours". The number varies, but the sentiment is generally the same slight rewording of the "human waves" myth, pushing a narrative of disposable soldiers with disposable weapons sent to die in incredible numbers. However, one would consider it strange that an army whose main breakthrough exploitation tank was so short-lived would not only survive in a war characterized by long and deep armoured thrusts measuring hundreds of kilometers, but excel in it. Even a brief glance at contemporary documents demonstrates that reliability was always an important component of Soviet tank manufacturing.

Saturday, 11 May 2019

None More Frightening than the Cat

German industry created three armoured vehicles during WWII that had a significant effect on tank building worldwide. The appearance of the Tiger made Allied tanks obsolete. The few Ferdinand SPGs that were built introduced serious changes into the Soviet tank program. The third tank was the Panther, and its influence was comparable to that of the Tiger.

The tank was a quite unpleasant surprise for the Red Army and its allies when it made its debut at Kursk. Despite its deficiencies, the Panther is a good candidate for the best German tank of the war. The Panther was superior to the Tiger in terms of armament and frontal protection, and was made in significantly higher numbers. Many tank designers were looking at the Panther when they were making the next generation of medium and heavy tanks.

Wednesday, 8 May 2019

Expert Opinion

"Report on the development of the new A-20 tank at factory #183

The A-20 is began development at factory #183 in December of 1937 by designer Koshkin.

Information obtained by the UNKVD of Kharkov oblast reveals that Koshkin is conducting sabotage in the development of the tank. This was confirmed by the former director of factory #183 Bondarenko (convicted), from whose confession it can be seen that Koshkin was intentionally sabotaging the design of the A-20 tank from the very beginning on the orders of an anti-Soviet right-Trotskyist organization.

Tuesday, 7 May 2019

"Tommy Gons"

"From Washington
#11115, 11116
00:45 August 14th, 1941
#3

Immediate priority
To: Stalin, Molotov, Shaposhnikov
  1. The American government officially asks if we need submachineguns currently used by the American military (the so called "Tommy gons"), as well as ammunition for them, and in what amounts. The caliber is 11.53 mm, weight 3.5 kg, effective range of 400 m, the length is about the same as the PPD, top rate of fire is 500 RPM. Three types of magazines: 20, 50, 100 rounds. Muzzle velocity around 300 meters per second. The cartridges are the revolver type. Looks like the Americans have a large stock of this machinegun. It might be good for arming reconnaissance units, paratroopers, cavalry, motorcyclists, and partisans. I request your instruction for the volume of the order.

Monday, 6 May 2019

Production Trials

To establish the qualities of the mass produced T-34, three tanks were picked out at the end of 1940 to be run through large scale trials, including 3000 km of driving, gunnery, and communication tests. The conclusions outlined a number of issues with the design, but only because the Red Army had high hopes for this tank. It was already clear that the T-34 was going to be an exceptional fighting machine.

"Conclusions
  1. Due to its armament, armour, type and power of engine, and cruising range, the T-34 must be the prevailing tank in the Red Army’s system of armament due to the wide range of possibilities of tactical use of this tank. The design of this type of tank must be especially thoroughly polished.

Saturday, 4 May 2019

Light SPGs with Big Guns

The SU-76M SPG, armed with the ZIS-3 76 mm gun, was the second most numerous vehicle in the Red Army. This gun was one of Grabin's best, and had very respectable characteristics. Nevertheless, the idea of installing a more powerful gun was persistent, and some variants, such as the SU-85B, came close to entering production. However, the Red Army never received its domestic Marder.

Thursday, 2 May 2019

Prospective SPGs

"April 14th 1944

Confirmed: Chief of the GBTU USA, Major General of the Tank Engineering Service, Alymov

Plan of the 3rd Department of the GBTU USA for April-May 1944

Work
Executor
Due date
Controlling the completion of 100 mm D-10S gun installation into the SU-100 at factory #9 and the Uralmash factory.
Konev
May 1st, 1944
Organizing and performing large scale trials of the SU-100 from the first batch.
Konev
June 1st, 1944
Taking part in SU-152M trials with an OBM-143 gun and giving conclusions.
Ryabtsev
May 1st, 1944
Controlling the installation of and participation in trials of the 122 mm high power gun into the ISU. Giving conclusions.
Ryabtsev
May 15th, 1944
Controlling the production and testing of the 85 mm high power gun.
Konev
June 1st, 1944
Organizing and execution of trials of the SU-85 (GAZ). Giving conclusions.
Volgushev
May 15th, 1944
Controlling experimental work at factory #38:


·         Testing the installation of the 122 mm howitzer into the SU-76M
Afanasenkov
May 15th, 1944
·         Correction of defects of the SU-37 discovered during proving grounds trials.
Vasilevskiy
May 1st, 1944
·         Organization and execution of SU-37 trials after the prototype is improved. Giving conclusions.
Vasilevskiy, Volgushev
May 20th, 1944
Organization and execution of proving grounds trials of the SU-37 produced by factory #40. Giving conclusions.
Vasilevskiy, Volgushev
May 15th, 1944


Via Yuri Pasholok.

Wednesday, 1 May 2019

SU-57

"Decree of the Committee of Defense #___
__ September 1944
Moscow

Contents: acceptance of the SU-57 57 mm SPG

1. Accept the 57 mm SPG produced on the chassis of the SU-76M SPG into service with anti-tank artillery regiments. Give it the name "57 mm SU-57 SPG model 1944".

Tuesday, 30 April 2019

SU-76M Successor Requirements



"Tactical-technical requirements for the design of experimental light SPGs with a rear fighting compartment

A. Main requirements
  1. Type of SPG: tracked, rear fighting compartment
  2. Weight: no more than 25 tons
  3. Crew: 4
  4. Dimensions:
    1. Width: 3000 mm
    2. Height: 2300 mm
    3. Clearance: minimum 450 mm

Monday, 29 April 2019

Tank Destroyer Ace

"Award Order
  1. Name: Kurochkin, Viktor Aleksandrovich
  2. Rank: Lieutenant
  3. Position and unit: SU-85 commander, 1893rd Fastov Self Propelled Artillery Regiment
    Is nominated for the Order of the Red Banner.
  4. Year of birth: 1923
  5. Nationality: Russian
  6. Party affiliation: VLKSM
  7. Participation in the Civil War, subsequent combat in defense of the USSR, and Patriotic War: from August 1943 until present on the 1st Ukrainian Front.
  8. Wounds and contusions in the Patriotic War: none
  9. In the Red Army since: 1942
  10. Recruited by: Ulyanovsk Recruitment Office, Ulyanovsk Oblast
  11. Prior awards: none

Saturday, 27 April 2019

The Second Generation of the Stahlhelm

After WWI, the role of infantry changed. Trench warfare was left behind, mobility increased, and new requirements were demanded of the infantry helmet. This resulted in the development of a new generation of the Stahlhelm, which, in general, inherited the shape of its predecessors.

Thursday, 25 April 2019

Reinheitsgebot

"Translated from German
44th Infantry Regiment
Regiment HQ

To the quartermaster company of the 44th Infantry Regiment

Due to an incident that occurred recently, I must order that:

All personnel are forbidden from producing moonshine by distilling rye flour etc., as well as consuming such vodka produced by Russian civilians. Such use of bread grain is prohibited in Germany, and consumption of such vodka, produced in the most primitive manner, bears a serious danger to one's health.

In the future, I will issue strict punishments for the smallest failures to obey this order. I hope that commanders of all ranks will do everything to follow this order. Familiarize all personnel of the quartermaster company with this order. Confirm this familiarization and report to the regiment HQ.

Commander of the regiment, Sudau

Translated by Sr. Lieutenant Renzin"

Wednesday, 24 April 2019

T-34 with Torsion Bars

"Decree #___
Committee of Defense of the USSR
Moscow, Kremlin

On the transition to T-34 tanks with a torsion bar suspension

Instruct the USSR NKSM (factory #183) to produce two experimental T-34 tanks by April 1st, 1941, with the following changes:
  1. Replace the spring suspension of the T-34 with an individual torsion bar suspension.
  2. Install wheels with internal shock absorption.

Tuesday, 23 April 2019

Armour Order

"To Washington
#7835
Sent: 9:00 August 7th, 1941
Copy 1

CC: comrade Stalin, comrade Molotov, comrade Mikoyan, 10th dept.

New York
Priority

We are in great need of armour plates for tanks. They are needed more than several important types of armament. I very much ask you to get the American embassy to send 127,700 tons of armoured plates, hardened and cleanly cut.

Monday, 22 April 2019

T-34 Shipments

"To GABTU Regional Engineer at factory #183, Kharkov

I send you the directions for shipping T-34 tanks, which are to be strictly followed.

Until June 1st, 1941, you delivered the following T-34 tanks:
  • Kiev Military District:
    • Lvov: 241
    • Striy: 20
    • Kremenets: 34
    • Zlochev: 38
    • Darnitsa: 22
    • Kiev Tank Academy: 8
    • Total: 363
  • Western Military District:
    • Belostok: 72
    • Chizhov: 50
    • Total: 122
  • Baltic Military District:
    • Alitus: 50
  • Odessa Military District:
    • Kishenev: 50
  • Leningrad Military District:
    • Leningrad Armoured Command Academy: 5
  • Orel Military District:
    • Orlovsk Tank Academy: 15
  • Kharkov Military District:
    • Kharkov Tank Academy: 11
  • Moscow Military District:
    • Military Academy of Mechanization and Motorization: 2
  • Volga Military District:
    • Academies: 21
  • Factories #174 and 92: 2
  • Total: 641

Saturday, 20 April 2019

From the Pickelhaube to the Stahlhelm

Many years after the World Wars, the infantry helmet has become a symbol of war. A descendant of bronze and iron helmets used by legionnaires, gladiators, knights, and other warriors of the past, the steel helmet is one of the few elements of a soldier's equipment that hasn't changed its initial function in our days, despite significant technological progress. The most memorable such helmet of the first half of the 20th century was the Stahlhelm (steel helmet). Its aggressive and predatory form is easily recognizeable: a combination of a cylindrical portion, protecting the head, a cone-shaped portion protecting the back, neck, and ears from shrapnel raining from above, and a protruding visor. The Wehrmacht soldier's visage with a stark shadow cast by the helmet's visor was a staple of propaganda. What is the history of this helmet?

Thursday, 18 April 2019

From Each According to Ability...

"To the Chief of the Armoured Forces of the 7th Guards Cavalry Corps
CC: Commander of the 16 Guards Cavalry Division

I report that out of 10 MK-2 (Matilda) tanks received by the regiment, only two were equipped with radios. An investigation discovered that the radios were "redistributed" at the 201st Tank Brigade prior to sending their tanks to a different unit.

The 1st Tank Battalion of the 201st Tank Brigade was especially guilty of illegally taking parts from the tanks, as it was done at night without the tank commander present.

I consider these disorderly and criminal actions of commanders who allowed the "parting out" of fully functional combat vehicles.

I ask you to petition the Front commander to discover the culprit and return the radios for installation into our tanks.

Commander of the 32nd Tank Regiment, Guards Lieutenant-Colonel Galkin
Chief of Staff, Guards Major Shuderman"

Wednesday, 17 April 2019

Reuse and Recycle

"January 17th, 1945
To commanders of corps artillery
To commanders of army artillery units
To commanders of fire support units

A large amount of guns and ammunition has been captured during offensive operations, which few generals and officers thought about using, despite complications with delivery of domestic ammunition.

Tuesday, 16 April 2019

T-44 Prototype #2 Rate of Fire Trials

"Results of firing

Firing from standstill at an angle of 0 degrees. 

Target
Range
# shots
# direct hits
# of hits within 30 meters
Time spent
Rate of fire
Notes
Panther. Aiming was done using manual traverse.
900
10
8
2
1 min 5 sec
9.2 RPM
All rounds in turret rack
Panther and PzIII in a 30 deg arc. Aiming was done using manual traverse.
800
5
5
-
1 min 25 sec
7 RPM
5 rounds in the turret rack, 5 rounds to the right of the driver
1000
5
5
-
Panther tank, PzIII tank, 3x3 meter target in a 40 deg arc. Aiming was done using manual traverse.
800
3
3
-
1 min 40 sec
5.4 RPM
All rounds stored to the right of the driver
1000
3
3
-
1500
4
4
1
Panther tank, PzIII tank, 3x3 meter target in a 40 deg arc. Aiming was done with electric traverse.
800
5
5
-
2 min 40 sec
3.7 RPM
1500
5
1
2

Monday, 15 April 2019

Book Review: German Self-Propelled Artillery Guns of the Second World War

Artillery in general is often left by the wayside in discussions of armoured tank-on-tank clashes, but the importance of artillery in warfare cannot be overstated. The history of German mechanized artillery is interesting in two ways. One is from the technical point of view, an exploration of evolution from howitzers rolled up on hastily cobbled together riveted boxes on tracks to specialized multi-purpose tracked chassis developed specifically for the role. The other is the quick reaction to a doctrinal need, the requirement to supply quickly moving tank and mechanized infantry units with artillery that did not have to rely on slow and vulnerable horses. Craig Moore's book German Self-Propelled Artillery Guns of the Second World War offers a look at this fascinating and often overlooked facet of WWII armoured warfare.


Saturday, 13 April 2019

Kalashnikov's Predecessors

A boom of intelligence about the enemy's weapons came during the summer of 1943. Compared to captured German aircraft and tanks, an "automatic carbine" captured at Kholm, as it was called in the reports, didn't seem as impressive. However, the consequences of its capture for the Soviet small arms industry were not just significant, but, without a shadow of exaggeration, grandiose. 

Thursday, 11 April 2019

Master of Disguise

"Translated from German

11th Infantry Division
Counterintelligence dept. #9/44
Top Secret!
Division HQ, January 3rd, 1944

RE: combat against enemy agents and partisans

As mentioned in telephone dispatches ##2539 and 2540 on December 12th, 1943, an unknown person wearing the uniform of a German officer successfully attempted to discover information on our positions and the units occupying them within the sector of the fusilier battalion. Some personnel freely reported information without asking for any documents, despite orders. The enemy agent was not apprehended.

Wednesday, 10 April 2019

Torsion Bars for the T-34

"December 30th, 1940
#18239ss
To the Chair of the Committee of Defense of the Council of Commissars, Marshall of the Soviet Union, comrade Voroshilov

In carrying out the Committee of Defense decree #428 issued on November 19th, 1940, I present to you my thoughts on moving the T-34 to a torsion bar suspension.

The coil spring suspension currently used on the T-34 is reliable in its function, but has the following drawbacks:

Tuesday, 9 April 2019

Limiting Reactant

"February 11th, 1941
#144613

To the Chairman of the Committee of Defense of the USSR SNK, Marshal of the Soviet Union, comrade K.E. Voroshilov

Factory #183 under-supplied the GABTU with 1086 friction clutches for the M-5 and M-17 engines in the following amounts: 327 in 1938, 267 in 1939, 492 in 1940.

Due to these missing supplies and 1000 M-17 aircraft engines transferred to the GABTU from the GUVVS, GABTU warehouses and repair bases now hold 2500 engines (2000 M-17 and 500 M-5) which cannot be used to repair BT tanks or replenish spares stocks without friction clutches.

The only factory producing friction clutches is factory #183, which aims to produce 200 M-5 clutches and 270 M-17 clutches, which satisfies the GABTU's requirements by 20%.

I ask you to instruct the People's Commissariat of Medium Manufacturing to include production of 2500 friction clutches into factory #183's production program for 1941 to fully satisfy the GABTU's requirements.

Marshal of the Soviet Union, G. Kulik."

CAMD RF 38-11355-225 p.41
Via Dmitry Shein

Monday, 8 April 2019

T-34s in England

Russia, of all places, recently had to import a number of T-34-85 tanks from Laos, due to a shortage of functional ones to show off in parades and shows. Interestingly enough, when I was in England there appeared to be no shortage of this type of tank at all. In fact, there were probably more of them per capita than in Russia. Let's take a look.

Saturday, 6 April 2019

HMC M8: Quick Support for Light Tanks

The idea of a specialized SPG for supporting tank and infantry units came to the Americans in the early 1930s. However, attempts to build such a vehicle ended up with nothing. As a result, the US Army began WWII without an SPG. The HMC T30, built on the M3 halftrack, entered trials in January of 1942. The SPG was launched into production in February of that year. Even though a large number of these halftracks was built, 500 units in all, the Americans saw it as only a temporary solution. Requirements for an SPG with a 75 mm howitzer on a tank chassis were still not met.

Thursday, 4 April 2019

Gaining Weight

"December 20th, 1940
#SO6913
To GABTU Regional Engineer,
 Military Engineer 2nd Class, comrade Kozyrev

RE: your letter #652s dated November 19th, 1940

A cast turret weighs 2035 kg.
A rolled turret weighs 1885 kg.

The increase in mass of the A-34 from 25,600 kg to 26,700 kg happened for the following reasons:

Wednesday, 3 April 2019

ZIS-30 in Battle

"To: Deputy GABTU Chief, Major-General of the Technical Forces, Lebedev
CC: Deputy Chair of the Automotive and Armoured Vehicles Council South-Western Direction, Lieutenant-General of the Tank Forces, Tamruchi
April 5th, 1942

The 57 mm anti-tank gun installed on the Komsomolets tractor showed itself in battle as a fearsome weapon against all types and brands of enemy tanks.

Positive and negative sides were discovered during use in combat.

Tuesday, 2 April 2019

ZIS-S-53 Gunnery Trials

"VII. Trials of armament
Firing the 85 mm mod. 1944 ZIS-S-53 gun

1. Determining accuracy and precision of fire

Accuracy and precision trials were performed using steel HE grenades. Aiming was done with the stock TSh-15 sight.

Ambient temperature: +32 degrees C.
Visibility: good
Range: 1000 meters
Angle of the tank: 0 degrees
Time for firing: unlimited
Fire correction was performed after every shot

Results:
Conditions
Distance to target
Shots fired
Shots hit
Dispersion radius, cm
100
50
Firing from standstill at a vertical target initially.
1000 m
10
10
95
45
After mobility trials and 230 shots
1000 m
10
10
54
36

Monday, 1 April 2019

The New T-34

"Decree #428ss of the State Committee of Defense of the Council of Commissars of the USSR
November 19th, 1940
Moscow, Kremlin

On changes and additions to the tactical-technical requirements of KV, T-34, and T-40 tanks
...
On the T-34 tank, in addition to tactical-technical requirements approved by Committee of Defense decrees #45ss on February 27th, 1939, and #443ss on December 19th, 1939, introduce the following changes and additions:
  1. The total mass of the T-34 tank is limited to 26 tons.
  2. The approved armament of the T-34 tank is the 76 mm L-11 gun with the coaxial DT machinegun in the tank's turret, a second DT for the radio operator, and one submachinegun (PPD) in the turret to fire from hatches. Begin arming the T-34 tank with the F-34 gun starting with January 1st, 1941.

Saturday, 30 March 2019

Modernization on Paper

Technical progress moves in giant leaps during large wars. This rule applied to nearly all types of weapons and armament during WWII, including tanks. Every year of war raised the bar of requirements, and even the newest fighting machines quickly became outdated.

The heavy IS-1 tank was created as a response to the Tiger, but was obsolete by the time it entered production. The IS-2 that came to replace it had a much more powerful gun, but it too would need to be replaced soon. Today let us remember the tanks that were supposed to replace the IS-2 in 1944. Not a single one was ever built in metal, but work on these projects resulted in the creation of the IS-2 with straight upper front hull armour and the IS-3.

Thursday, 28 March 2019

Financial Gratitude

One of the biggest issues with T-34 production was the use of new austenitic electrodes, which welders were not skilled at working with. A group of instructors from the NII-48 research institute had to be dispatched to teach them how to work this this new type of welding, which radically reduced the amount of defective armour components.

"March 19th, 1941
#145189s

To the Chief of the 3rd Department of the NKSP, comrade Yushin
Director of NII-48, comrade A.S. Zayalov

Workers from the 3rd department of the NII-48 resolved a series of issues, which radically increased the quality of armour (austenitic electrodes, repair of armour, welding of thick armour, assistance to factories) by travelling to Podolsk factory and factory #183 to assist in mastering welding of armoured pats.

Wednesday, 27 March 2019

Demobilization and Amnesty

"Encrypted message #909

From: Leningrad Front
Submitted: 2:10 July 15th, 1945
Received: 3:10 July 15th, 1945
Submitted for decryption: 3:20 July 15th, 1945
Decrypted: 4:00 July 15th, 1945
Decryptor's signature: Kuznetsov

To the Chief of Staff of the 10th Guards Army
To the Chief of Staff of the 41st Guards Rifle Corps

In compliance with the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR decree issued on July 7th, 1945, on the amnesty in connection with victory over Hitler's Germany, the Front Commander orders that:
  1. All military personnel sentenced to penal companies by courts in execution of NKO order #413 dated August 21st, 1943, are freed from further punishment, and directed to:
    1. Privates and NCOs: to their unit for continued service.
    2. Officers: to the Army personnel department.

Tuesday, 26 March 2019

New Turret, Old Gun

The 85 mm gun and enlarged turret for the T-34 were developed as separate projects. I already wrote about what happens when you put the 85 mm gun in the standard hex turret, but there was also the option for the opposite: an enlarged turret with the same 76 mm F-34.

T-34 with the F-34 gun (left) and D-5 gun (right)

Monday, 25 March 2019

Future of Soviet Tanks

"February 21st, 1938
To People's Commissar of Defense, Marshal of the Soviet Union, comrade Voroshilov
...
Using existing tanks in the Red Army
  1. Existing 862 T-18 tanks should be used as mobile anti-tank guns in fortified regions in the event that modernization results in satisfactory results. Modernization work is currently being performed. If the modernization is unsuccessful, the T-18s should be removed from service and melted down. There are no spare parts for the T-18, and they are not being produced.

Saturday, 23 March 2019

Struggle for the Assembly Line

The experimental Object 240 tank was accepted into service with the Red Army on October 31st, 1943. This was the end of the history of the KV, which started in 1939. The last touch applied to the new tank was the 122 mm D-25T gun, which was capable of defeating any German tank. Soviet designers did not only catch up to the German Tiger tank, but surpassed it. This article will cover the production of the IS-2 and development of its design from late 1943 to mid-1944.

Thursday, 21 March 2019

Up, Up, and Away!

"To director of factory #183, comrade Lyash
CC: ABTU Chief, comrade Bokis
NKOP Secretariat Chief, comrade Kryukov

We send you tactical-technical specifications based on the personal orders of the People's Commissar of Defense, Marshal of the Soviet Union, comrade K.E. Voroshilov and People's Commissar of Defense Industry, comrade M.L. Ruhimovich, for the experimental BT-7-B-IS tank that is capable of city fighting.

Wednesday, 20 March 2019

Panzerfaust Shortage

"Recently, I have observed a senseless and completely unjustified expenditure of flares and Panzerfausts in the division. Despite a number of orders and directives regarding conservative use of ammunition, no measures have been taken. For instance, just on March 28th, 1945, 60 Panzerfausts were used.

Tuesday, 19 March 2019

Heavyweight

"To Chief of the 8th Department, Military Engineer 1st Class comrade Afonin
November 18th, 1939

Summary
  1. A-34 vehicle (as of November 16th, 1939):
    1. Blueprints for 31 groups have been sent to the plant.
    2. Blueprints for 3 groups have not been sent to the plant completely.
    3. Blueprints for 4 groups are not yet ready: the driver's seat, the radio equipment, the turning mechanism, the instruments.
    4. 307 parts have been produced out of 1229.
  2. Parts for convertible drive trials on the A-20 will be ready no sooner than December 1st, 1939. Delays are caused by plant #500 being overloaded with orders for other tanks (A-7, D-3, D-5).
  3. Trials of the A-32 (loaded to the weight of an A-34) are complete. The tank drove for 1230 km, including 200 km on the highway. Mechanisms functioned in a satisfactory manner during the tests. During trials on the highway the drive sprockets wear heavily. Special trials (grades and slopes) are still to be performed on the A-32.
Senior Military Representative of the ABTU, Military Engineer 2nd Class, Kozyrev
Military Representative of the ABTU, Military Engineer 3rd Class, Baikov"

Monday, 18 March 2019

Wishlist

"Decree of the Committee of Defense of the Council of Commissars of the USSR
November 1940 
Moscow, Kremlin

Contents: on additional tactical-technical requirements for SP, T-34, and KV tanks

The Committee of Defense decrees:
  1. To increase effectiveness of the gun crews on the SP, T-34, and KV tanks, widen the turret and install a special commander's cupola with all-around vision.
  2. Establish the crews of the SP, T-34, and KV tanks to be the following:
    1. SP: four man crew, of which the driver sits in the front and the commander and two gun crewmen sit in the turret.
    2. T-34 and KV tanks: five men, of which one commander and two gun crewmen are in the turret and the driver and radio operator in the front of the hull.

Saturday, 16 March 2019

IS with a Heavy Gun

The tank that went into production under the name IS-85 was only a temporary solution. By the time GKO decree #4043 "On the production of IS tanks" was signed, the military already considered the 85 mm D-5T gun insufficiently powerful. Experience in fighting new German tanks at Kursk confirmed this. Because of this, the IS-85, also known as IS-1, was produced in limited quantities of just over 100 units. The role of the main heavy tank of the Red Army in the concluding period of the war fell to the IS-122, also known as the IS-2. Interestingly, work on this tank began long before Kursk.

Friday, 15 March 2019

Vampires

Some documents contain interesting information all on their own, some raise more questions than give answers. Then there's something like this.


"Intelligence Department of the Western Front
November 19th, 1942

To the Military Censor of the 33rd Army

Activist's notepad #7.

It is forbidden to cite, publish, refer to, etc. the article titled "The Germans cut prisoners and drink their blood".

Red Army Military Censorship Telegram #13861

Military Censor, Major Lavrentyev."

Wednesday, 13 March 2019

Anti-Tiger Tactics

"Directorate of Armoured and Motorized Vehicles of the 6th Army
July 21st, 1943
#0694

Only to: 212th Tank Regiment

In battle on the Voronezh Front on July 5th-6th the enemy used T-6 tanks in large amounts. Combat showed that the T-6 is vulnerable to not only 76 mm, but 45 mm guns. The following preliminary conclusions can be made from the experience:
  1. The tank can be knocked out with a 76 mm armour piercing shell when hit in the side or turret from 800 meters.
  2. With a subcaliber armour piercing shell, the tank can be knocked out with a hit to the side from 1 km. The front is not always penetrated from 800 meters.
  3. When using the 45 mm gun, best results are achieved by hitting the side, suspension, or engine group with a subcaliber shell from ranges of up to 200 meters. Maximum range is 500-600 meters.