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


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

  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


"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


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

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.

Tuesday, 12 March 2019

Tank vs Train

"To the Chief of the 4th Department of the ABTU, Military Engineer 1st Class, comrade Alymov

I report that at 18:15 on January 11th, 1940, during a QA run, a T-28 tank collided with a passenger train coming from Leningrad. The collision took place at a crossing between Ligovo and Negorelovo in the Baltic sector. The crossing was unguarded. There is no gate bar. There is no sound alarm. Weather condition was strong wind with blowing snow, it was also snowing. Military Technician 1st Class comrade Rozov was driving the tank. The results of the collision were:

Monday, 11 March 2019

Weak Spots 2

I posted a pretty large collection of flyers showing weak spots of enemy tanks before, but here are a couple more.

First, the Pz38(t).

The symbols are the same: a target with an arrow shows where to throw Molotov cocktails, a target with a bullet shows where to hit the tank with an armour piercing bullet or anti-tank grenade.

The image was included on the back cover of a propaganda booklet, which was generously shared here.

Saturday, 9 March 2019

Intermediate IS

Joseph Stalin signed GKO decree #4043 "On the production of IS tanks" on September 4th, 1943. This was the end to a long process of the creation of a new Soviet heavy tank that could replace the KV-1 in production. While it was being developed, Chelyabinsk had time to master both the KV-1S and KV-85. However, such a long journey was not for nothing: the Red Army received a completely new tank, the combined characteristics of which put it among the best heavy tanks in the world at the time. The age of the IS-1 (IS-85) was not long. Very shortly it gave up its first place to its descendant, the IS-2, which became the best Soviet heavy tank of the Great Patriotic War.

Thursday, 7 March 2019

IS-2 Resilience

The IS-2 tank debuted in early 1944, and, judging by collected combat experience, still enjoyed relative immunity on the battlefield until the end of the year, both against enemy tanks and anti-tank weapons.

"The resilience of IS-2 armour allows it to openly engage enemy heavy tanks at a range of 1000 m. Irreparable losses only happen as a result of combat with enemy heavy tanks in ambush at a range of 300-400 meters. There were no losses from Panzerfausts, only minor damage (road wheels, suspension arms, tracks."

Via Andrei Ulanov.

Wednesday, 6 March 2019

Bringing Tractors Back

"Order of the People's Commissar of Tank Production of the USSR #133-Ms
January 21st, 1942

Factory #183 (director comrade Maksarev), having performed the evacuation of equipment to manufacture the Voroshilovets tractor, still has not organized production in its new location. Plant an factory leadership did not pay due attention to rapidly restoring the production of this vehicle alongside the production of the T-34 tank.

The Red Army's requirements for rapid transport for its troops and artillery are not being met. To make up for this drawback in the factory's operation, I order that:
  1. Director of factory #183, comrade Maksarev, must present me with a specific schedule of restoring and organizing Voroshilovets artillery tractor production within ten days. 10 tractors are due in April, 30 in May, and 50 in June.
  2. Director of factory #76, comrade Kochetkov, must supply sufficient amounts of V-2V diesel engines to produce these vehicles.
  3. Deputy Chief of the 1st Department, comrade Davtyan, must establish the list of parts and their amounts that are required by factory #183 from other factories.
  4. Chief Quartermaster comrade Rosin must supply factory #183 with a necessary amount of materials and purchased goods.
  5. My deputy, comrade Kotin, is to present me within 2 weeks a plan to produce a tractor based on the T-34 chassis at factory #183. 
  6. Deputy People's Commissar comrade Stepanov must report on the execution of this order by February 20th.
People's Commissar of Tank Production, V. Malyshev."

Tuesday, 5 March 2019

Wet Ammo Rack Effectiveness

After reading reports of frequent fires in Sherman tanks coming from the British, the Americans decided to investigate. Separate trials were done on tanks cleared of ammunition, and frequent fires did not result from penetrations. However, the story was completely different when the opposite case was tested: the tank had a full loadout of ammo, but no traces of fuel or oil.

90% of penetrations of the fighting compartment and the turret caused a fire! To make things worse, CO2 fire extinguishers proved ineffective, and only large quantities of water could fight this fire.

Monday, 4 March 2019

Cessation of T-50 Production

"Order of the People's Commissar of Tank Production
January 7th, 1942

To carry out decree #1114ss issued by the State Committee of Defense on January 6th on the cessation of the production of the T-50 tank due to the organization of production of the T-60 tank, I order that:
  1. Factory #174 director, comrade Kantsellson, must:
    1. Cease production of the T-50 tank after using up all hulls and engines present at the factory.
    2. Immediately begin production of KV tank components for the Kirov factory, production of KV spare parts, and spare parts for the T-26 tank using dedicated tools.
    3. Preserve all special tools, instruments, stamps, technical documentation, etc. relevant to the T-50 tank.

Saturday, 2 March 2019

Long Barrel for Infantry Tanks

At the moment of its debut in 1940, the Infantry Tank Mk.III, later known as Valentine, was the most balanced vehicle in the British army. Its low top speed was compensated by a rather respectable average speed, especially off-road. 60 mm of armour was very good for the time, and even in 1942 not every gun was capable of penetrating this much armour.

Of course, by 1942 the tank was becoming obsolete. While there was no hope of increasing mobility, there was a chance to improve the firepower. Heroic efforts by Vickers-Armstrongs engineers resulted in a significant increase in caliber, while the tank's mass remained unchanged. As a result, the Valentine fought until the end of the war. Individual vehicles even saw victory on German territory.

Thursday, 28 February 2019

Tank Archives Turns Six

Hello, dear readers! Another year of running this blog went by. And what a year it was. I finally got past the medium of text, appearing in not one, but two podcasts by Military History Visualized: one on kill claims back in May, and one more recently on Soviet impressions on the Pz.Kpfw.I tank. In case you missed them the first time around, I'm embedding the videos under the break.

Twitter has taken off pretty well. I'm well over the 1000 follower milestone, sitting at 1322 at the time of writing. The main blog is also doing well, right up against 4 million total views. Seems that my audience demographics have stabilized: USA at a distant first, followed by the UK, Germany, Russia, Canada, Poland, France, Finland, Australia, and Spain.

Wednesday, 27 February 2019

HE vs Tanks

"Due to a shortage of armour piercing shells presently experienced by artillery units, the practice of firing other types of ammunition out of 76.2 mm divisional guns is common.
  1. Armour piercing shot. Penetrates the armour of German tanks from any direction. Insufficient beyond armour effect. Fire and destruction of the tank are only caused if the engine, fuel tank, or ammunition is hit.
  2. Steel cased HE grenade. Can be used in combat against light (in some cases medium) tanks. Aimed at the sides during oblique movement or the turret ring, it destroys or tears off side armour in addition to jamming the turret and destroying mechanisms inside the turret, including optical sights and observation devices. In a number of cases the turret stopped traversing. When howitzers are used, light tank turrets were torn off.

Tuesday, 26 February 2019

Man Hours

"Order of the People's Commissar of Tank Production #117-Ms
January 16th, 1942

Lately, many directors and chief engineers do not dedicate necessary attention to the issues of improving technologies, introducing new progressive technological processes, increasing amounts of instruments, etc, as a result of which time expenditure at various factories is unbearably high, which causes extra demand in tools and manpower.

For example:
  1. The T-60 tank takes 2500 hours to produce at factory #37, but 4700 hours at factory #264, 1.9 times greater.
  2. A V-2 diesel engine takes 2700 hours to produce at factory #76, 1800 hours at the Kirov factory, but at factory #75 the same diesel engine is produced in 600 hours.
  3. The Krasnoye Sormovo factory takes 2500-3000 hours more to make a T-34 tank than factory #183 took in its time and the Stalingrad factory does now.
It is clear that, instead of carefully and systematically working to reduce costs of producing vehicles, instead of getting technologies and use of tools in order, instead of training workers, many directors and chief engineers take the path of least resistance and complete plans only by increasing the number of tools and workers. The People's Commissariat cannot and will not support this kind of extravagance.

I order that:
  1. Chiefs of the production and planning departments must provide me with the standards for time consumption to produce KV, T-34, T-60 tanks, hulls for them, and the V-2 diesel engine, taking the leading factories as a baseline.
  2. After standards are established, calculate the requirements for equipment and workforce.
  3. The technical department (comrades Ginzburg and Rybkin) must transfer the experience of leading factories in lowering the labour requirements to factories that are falling behind.
  4. Directors and chief engineers of tank, hull, and diesel factories must:
    1. Within ten days re-evaluate the excessive time consumption and develop specific measures of improving production technologies with the goal of reducing time consumption.
    2. Force existing technical, technological, and labour calculation departments to work properly. Warn the leaders of these departments that their work will be evaluated based on the reduction in times it takes to produce each vehicle, and not by the number of requests for new equipment or new workers.
Again, I'm warning directors and chief engineers of factories that, in time of war, we need to maintain strictest economy of tools and labour force. Directors who consider their duty to complete the plan "at any cost" must be told off. The plan must be carried out with minimal costs, not "at any cost".

People's Commissar of Tank Production, V. Malyshev"

Monday, 25 February 2019

Canadian Shermans Inside and Out

By the time the M4A2E8 entered production, the Americans had no intention of using these tanks in their own army. While WWII continued, these tanks were supplied to the USSR. Afterwards, the remaining tanks were sold to Canada for a pittance, and formed the backbone of domestic tank forces for many years. As a result, there are plenty of M4A2E8 tanks still kicking around in Canada, many of them still running. The LeBreton Gallery in the Canadian War Museum has two: one of them slightly worse for wear than the other.

This is the one that works...

Saturday, 23 February 2019

Romanian Czech with a Russian Accent

The Romanian tank fleet was largely composed of Skoda Š-II-aR tanks (an export version of the LT vz. 35), accepted into service as the R-2. 126 units were purchased in 1938-1939. Fighting on the Eastern Front served as a cold shower for the Romanians. For instance, the 1st Tank Division lost 81 R-2s by the end of 1942. It was clear that these tanks could no longer be used in their initial form. The surviving 40 tanks were pulled out into the reserve.

Thursday, 21 February 2019

Savin's AA Turrets

"Order of the People's Commissariat of Tank Production #26s
January 15th, 1942
  1. To director of factory #174, comrade Katsnelson: immediately stop the work comrade Savin is performing on the T-50 SPAAG.
    Designers from Savin's group are to be moved to factory #183 immediately to perform this work on the T-34 tank. All existing materials and technical documentation is to be immediately sent to factory #183.
  2. To director of factory #183, comrade Maksarev: include Savin's group of designers into the factory's staff. Ensure that comrade Savin's group can complete its work in the following times:
    1. Complete the project and working blueprints by March 15th, 1942.
    2. Produce a prototype by May 1st, 1942.
    3. Begin trials on June 1st, 1942.
  3. To deputy chief of the NKTP technical department, comrade Ginzburg: transfer materials in possession of the NKTP on work performed by Savin's group to factory #183.
Deputy People's Commissar of Tank Production, Kotin."

Wednesday, 20 February 2019

F-34 Installation

"Technical Meeting Minutes
Held on September 8th, 1940, at the State Order of Lenin Comintern Factory #183

  • Factory #183 Chief Engineer, Makhonin
  • Factory #183 Deputy Chief Designer, A.A. Morozov
  • Factory #92 Senior Engineer-Designer, P.F. Muravyev
  • Factory #92 Technician-Designer, B.G. Lasman
  • Factory #183 Senior Engineer, Maloshtanov
  • ABTU Military Representative, Military Engineer 3rd Class, Baikov
Topic: comrade P.F. Muravyev's presentation regarding the possibility of installing the 76.2 mm F-34 tank gun in the T-34 turret and the conversion of the T-34 turret made necessary by the requirement that the F-32 and F-34 be made interchangeable.

Tuesday, 19 February 2019

Factory #183 Experimental Work

"To the Chief of the 4th Department of the BTU, Military Engineer 1st Class, comrade Afonin
December 1st, 1940

Summary of experimental work at factory #183 in November of 1940

Trials of A-7M tank #0314-2 with surrogate parts:
  1. Iron casing of the distributor shaft rather than aluminium alloy.
  2. Horizontal spring rods.
  3. Electrical wiring without liners.
  4. Fuel tanks coated with zinc by schooping rather than tinning.
  5. Gearbox with an iron casing. This gearbox was removed after 353 km after large cracks developing in the casing.
  6. Final drive components.
  7. Idler components and other small parts.
In addition, the following were installed:
  1. Unified main clutch.
  2. Unified oscillating levers of the turning wheels and other small parts.
The vehicle has travelled for 1488 km by December 1st, 1940, trials will continue in December.

Saturday, 16 February 2019

Can Poland Into Tanks?

Having broken away from its collapsing "big brother", Poland recalled its once serious military and political ambitions. In certain people's minds, Poland would rise to the status of a regional superpower at the very least, which meant it needed an army to match. Polish engineers began working on a new generation of airplanes, helicopters, AA systems. Plenty of attention was directed at armoured vehicles as well.

Friday, 15 February 2019


"Attachment to order #113-Mss
Approved by GKO decree #1148ss issued on January 14th, 1942

Requirements for quality assurance at tank factories
  1. Quality assurance is performed by the military representative of the GABTU.
  2. A tank can be considered accepted after firing the cannon and machineguns, test drive, correction of discovered defects and complete installation of equipment.
  3. The quality assurance process consists of:
    1. A 5 km drive for every T-34 and KV tank and 10 km drive for every tenth T-60 tank, chosen by the military representative.
    2. Firing the cannon on every tenth T-34 and KV tank and on every T-60 tank. Coaxial machineguns are fired on every tank.
      In addition, the military representative can control the quality of individual components and assemblies, as well as the quality of assembly of the tank.
  4. The military representative is permitted to accept tanks without clocks, voltmeters, ammeters (replaced with an indicator light), speedometers, aerothermometers (except one), turret fans (in winter time), turret traverse motors for the T-34, intercom (replaced with signal lights), spare containers, and radios in the event that there is a temporary absence of these parts at the tank factory."
RGAE 8752-4-8 p.169

Wednesday, 13 February 2019

By Any Other Name

The AK is subject to a number of ongoing raging discussions, one of which had to do with its name. Some claim that there was no such thing as an AK-47, with the name of the gun being simply AK, later replaced with the AKM. Sound logic, but it is not confirmed by documents, which use the name AK-47 extensively. For instance, the manual.

Internal documentation uses the indexes AK and AK-47 to refer to the same item interchangeably. From a list of experimental works of the NKV for 1951:

"Increasing production rate and quality of mechanical finish on parts and assembly of new types of weapons. Development of new high production rate processes of finishing parts and assembly of the AK-47 system.
  1. Development and agreement on blueprints.
  2. Development of high production rate technical processes for mechanical finishing and control of AK-47 parts (factory #74 and NITI-40).
  3. Development and distribution in the Q1 of 1950 of technical tasks for design of new equipment and modernization of old equipment. GSPI-7 is to receive a task for design of transport devices and planning (NITI-40 jointly with factory #74) by August 1st, 1950.
  4. Development of transport devices, planning of equipment, and composition of technical-economical metrics (GSPI-7 jointly with the factory).
  5. Production of harnesses, experimental trials and implementation of labour intensive processes (see topic 104-102 for equipment) in 1950.
  6. Development of a project to organize and launch production of a new product (AK-47) and partial execution in 1950 (NITI-40).
  7. Production and implementation of the remaining harnesses and equipment, as well as introduction by NITI-40 of new processes for the production of the AK-47 system, development of guiding materials for the organization of assembly line production.
  8. Composition of a joint technical report."
4 pages later, we see:

"4. Execution of trials of an optical calibration system for the AK, correction of working blueprints, correction of the prototype in metal, correction of the optics, introduction of the device into production, composition of a technical report with trials and acceptance documents."

Tuesday, 12 February 2019

Leaning by Doing

"December 13th, 1939

To the Assistant of the Chief of the General Staff of the RKKA, Corps Commander comrade Zaharov
RE: your #57129s/s

It is not possible to perform battlefield trials of the KV, SMK, T-100, A-20, A-32, T-40, A5, A7M tanks or the BA-11 armoured car in 1939, as the experimental KV, SMK, and T-100 tanks are currently undergoing proving grounds trials.

Experimental prototypes of the A-20, A-32, T-40, A5, A7M tanks, and the BA-11 armoured car passed proving grounds trials, and the factories are now making changes to blueprints based on the results of the trials, in order to produce pilot batches.

Only tanks and armoured cars produced in 1940 will be sent to battlefield trials. 

Modernized T-28 tanks will not undergo battlefield trials, and will be issued to regular Belorussian Military District units. 

The modernized T-26 tank has a new suspension, but the turbocharged engine has not yet arrived, and therefore battlefield trials will be postponed until 1940.

The SBT bridgelayer tank will be transferred to battlefield trials in December of 1939.

On the orders of Assistant Chief of the ABTU, Corps Commander Pavlov Panfilov
On the orders of Military Commissar of the ABTU, Brigade Commissar Kulikov"

Monday, 11 February 2019

Getting Ahead

"To the People's Commissar of Defense, Marshal of the Soviet Union comrade Timoshenko
CC: Chief of the GABTU, Lieutenant-General Fedorenko
November 27th

RE: acceptance of 143 T-34 tanks with 25 degrees of gun elevation

The Ilyich Mariupol factory began producing armoured parts for the T-34 before mass production blueprints were approved, and  built a batch of turrets using the experimental blueprints with the GABTU's permission, i.e. with 25 degrees of gun elevation.

Saturday, 9 February 2019

SU-100, Czechoslovakian Style

Domestic tank and SPG designs took a downturn in post-war Czechoslovakia. The cause of this was more technical than political. Czechoslovakian engineers could not keep up with the changing requirements of the Czechoslovakian military. As a result, Czechoslovakia began licensed production of T-34-85 tanks in September of 1951. A similar situation took place with medium SPGs. Just under 800 SD-100 SPGs, licensed clones of the SU-100, were built.

Thursday, 7 February 2019

Captured Panzerfausts

"To regimental commanders and their political deputies:

On the initiative of the political department of the 2nd Tank Army, captured Panzerfausts have been widely used in the forces of the 1st Belorussian Front.

The use of this weapon against the enemy led to very effective results on several occasions.

In order to improve the application of this type of weapon against the enemy, I order that:
  1. Spread experience of using Panzerfausts captured from the enemy in battle among your unit or formation.
  2. Organize the collection of Panzerfausts on the battlefield and precisely maintain their inventory. Organize training of personnel in using this weapon against the enemy.
  3. Dedicate at least 2-3 instructors in your unit to train soldiers, sergeants, and officers on how to use Panzerfausts.
Report on your experience in using the Panzerfaust against Germans and the completed work in carrying out this order by March 8th, 1945.

Commander of the 4th Guards Tank Division, Guards Major-General Millerov
4th Guards Tank Division Political Department Chief, Guards Lieutenant Colonel Halimov."

Wednesday, 6 February 2019

L-11 Installation

"To: AU, ABTU, 520, AU Military Representative at factory #183

The installation of the L-11 system in the A-34 tank can be done without changes to the following parts only:
  • Gun barrel
  • Recoil mechanism
As for the remaining parts, all of them must be changed to some degree, largely covered by the following:
  1. Group 02: breech
    1. The semiautomatic cutoff mechanism is removed and the roller cutoff mechanism from the L-10 is installed.
    2. The breech handle is shortened by 20 mm.
  2. Group 03: trigger mechanism
    1. The hand trigger is different, and the attachment point is different.
    2. The hand trigger (pedal) is used from the 45 mm gun.
  3. Group 05: gun shield
    1. The gun shield is completely different, including a coaxial machinegun. The telescope mount from the old gun shield is used, but with changes. The elevation mechanism sector is different.
  4. Brass catcher: a new one with smaller dimensions (on the left side) will be used, with a trimmed stopper and a new carrier.
  5. Frame: the L-11 frame is removed completely. The gun is mounted on two vertical posts welded from the inside to the front of the turret, replacing the frame.
  6. Mantlet: a new one based on the changes to the gun shield and carrier.
  7. Elevation mechanism is used from the L-11, but with small changes.
  8. The periscope link is from the 45 mm gun.

Tuesday, 5 February 2019

A Different Angle

There is a strangely prevalent opinion in some circles that everything there was to know about WWII was already known, and that any new information is completely unnecessary revisionism. Those people are naturally wrong, as illustrated pretty conclusively by Yuri Pasholok. Something as fundamental as a measurement went uncorrected for decades.

Monday, 4 February 2019

Panther's Side

The Panther's thick front armour could not be penetrated by any Soviet tank gun in use in 1943. This immunity, however, did not apply to the side armour, which turned out to be vulnerable to even the rapidly ageing 45 mm gun.

The sloped part of the sides proved a tough nut to crack. The 45 mm gun doesn't work here, and hits from 300 and then 100 meters do not penetrated. However, other parts of the tank can still be penetrated from this side: the turret has two holes in it from 45 mm APCR (300 and 400 meters) and one from 45 mm AP (400 meters). The vertical side of the hull (unfortunately not pictured) can be penetrated from 500 meters. The rear was also penetrated from 300 meters (also not pictured).

The 76 mm gun has no issues with this armour at all, however. Even firing at an angle of 60 degrees, from 600 meters the armour piercing shell penetrated the side armour. The sloped hull did poorly against this weapon, as you can see, forming a fairly sizeable breach. Despite the thick front plate, even an ordinary T-34 would not have to flank very far to be able to destroy its much heavier opponent.

CAMD RF 38-11469-40 p.22

Saturday, 2 February 2019

Modernization, Polish Style

The 7TP, a Polish modernization of the Vickers Mk.E, was the pride of Polish tank building in the interwar period. Skilfully combining products of the Swiss Saurer company (who made the engine) and the Swedish Bofors company (who made the gun), Polish designers significantly improved the characteristics of the initial tank. The 7TP design also included a number of Polish creations, including the excellent Mk.IV periscope. Polish tanks fought German tanks as equals in the 1939 campaign, and many of them later served in the German army. A number of the tanks ended up in the USSR as trophies, where they were studied.

Thursday, 31 January 2019

T-64's Birthday

"Central Committee of the CPSU and the Council of Ministers of the USSR
Decree dated December 30th, 1966
Moscow, Kremlin

On the acceptance of a new medium tank into service with the Soviet Army

The Central Committee of the CPSU and the Council of Ministers of the USSR decree to:

1. Agree with the proposal of the Ministry of Defense of the USSR and Ministry of Defense Industry to accept into service with the Soviet Army a new medium tank, equipped with the 5TDF engine, 115 mm smoothbore D-68 gun with HEAT, HE, and subcaliber armour piercing ammunition, a 2318 two-plane stabilizer, a TPD-43B rangefinder sight, and a PKT coaxial machinegun developed in accordance with CC CPSU and Council of Ministers decree #141-58 dated February 17th, 1961 and matching tactical-technical requirements given in attachment #1.

Name the aforementioned tank T-64."

"Comrade N.A. Kucherenko 

Copy into the order.

V. Bakhirov
January 4th, 1967"

Wednesday, 30 January 2019

PzIV Penetration Trials

I previously posted about some dodgy quality armour the British found in PzIII tanks. Samples obtained from various tanks tended to behave in a similar fashion, but other trials showed that this performance was not exclusive to just one type of German medium tank. The performance of the PzIV's armour against the British 2-pounder was so disappointing, that the British theorized the Germans are saving all of their high quality plate for prospective heavy tanks.

"Firing trials by a 2 Pdr. gun mounted in a Mark IVA Cruiser tank have recently been carried out against a captured German PZKW IV 22 ton tank in the Middle East.

The armour basis of the German tank is:
  • Turret:
    • Front: 30 mm (1.181 inches)
    • Side: 20 mm (.787 inches)
  • Hull:
    • Front superstructure: 60 mm (2.362 inches)
    • Rear: 40 mm (1.57 inches)
    • Side Centre plates: 40 mm (1.574 inches)
    • End plates: 20 mm (.787 inches)

Tuesday, 29 January 2019

Trial and Error

"To the Chair of the Committee of Defense of the Council of Commissars, Marshal of the Soviet Union, comrade Voroshilov
November 6th, 1940

Experimental exercises held by tank and mechanized units and formations show that issues of controlling tank units are quite complicated. After the first stage of battle, cooperation and communication between tank units and individual tanks breaks down.

Results of lengthy marches and trials of tanks, as well as studies of foreign tanks show that tactical-technical requirements of the SP, T-34, and KV tanks need some corrections.

Commanders of individual tanks and up require the ability to fully and constantly observe the battlefield, the situation, and subordinate tanks, being freed of the requirement to also be the gunner or loader. Presently, observation devices and observation methods for the commander are limited, and there is a need to increase 360 degree vision for individual tanks.

At the same time, it is necessary to reduce the effort on levers and pedals of the tank.

In order to increase the combat quality of the SP, T-34, and KV tanks, add the following items to the list of tactical-technical requirements:
  1. Install 360 degree vision cupolas on the SP, T-34, and KV tanks
  2. Revise the number of crewmen.
  3. Clarify the armament and amount of onboard ammunition.
  4. Install the KRSTB radio for external communication, as it is smaller and simpler to set up than the 71-TK-3.
  5. Use throat microphones instead of bulky microphones for internal communication.
  6. Replace the observation devices of the driver and radio operator with improved ones. The driver also needs an optical observation device.
  7. Demand that the warranty period of a tank be 600 hours before refurbishment.
  8. Replace the T-34's suspension with individual torsion bars, which will free up room inside the tank used up by suspension springs.
  9. In the first half of 1941, factories must develop and prepare for production a planetary transmission for the SP, T-34, and KV tanks. This will increase the average speed of tanks and make turning easier.
Authorized by Marshal of the Soviet Union S. Timoshenko"

Monday, 28 January 2019

New Year, New Weapons

"Decree #443ss of the Committee of Defense of the Council of Commissars
December 19th, 1939
Moscow, Kremlin

On the acceptance of tanks, armoured cars, and artillery tractors into service in the Red Army and production in 1940

Based on the results of trials of new types of tanks, armoured cars, and tractors, produced in accordance with Committee of Defense decree #198ss issued on July 7th, 1938, and #118ss, issued on May 15th, 1939, the Committee of Defense of the Council of Commissars decrees that:
  1. The following are accepted into service in the Red Army:
    1. KV tank: heavily armoured, produced by the Kirov factory based on NKO tactical-technical requirements, with the correction of all defects discovered during trials. The tank must be armed with:
      1. An F-32 gun with a coaxial 7.62 mm machinegun in the gun mantlet.
      2. A separate 7.62 mm machinegun operated by the radio operator.
      3. One 7.62 mm machinegun in the turret bustle.
        Proved for full visibility from within the tank.
    2. T-32 tank: tracked, with a V-2 diesel engine, produced by factory #183, with the following changes:
      1. Increase the thickness of the main armour plates to 45 mm.
      2. Improve visibility from the tank.
      3. Install the following armament:
        1. F-32 76 mm gun with a coaxial 7.62 mm machinegun.
        2. A separate 7.62 mm machinegun for the radio operator.
        3. A separate 7.62 mm machinegun.
        4. An AA 7.62 mm machinegun.
          This tank will be named "T-34".
    3. BT tank: with a V-2 diesel engine, produced by factory #183.
    4. T-40 tank: amphibious, with a torsion bar suspension, high caliber machinegun, coaxial 7.62 mm machinegun, produced by factory #37.
    5. V-2 engine: 450 hp, produced by factory #75
    6. Voroshilovets tractor: artillery tractor with a V-2 diesel engine, produced by factory #183.
    7. ST-2 tractor: artillery tractor with a V-2 diesel engine, produced at the Chelyabinsk Tractor Factory.
    8. STZ-5 tractor: produced by the Stalingrad factory.
    9. BA-11 armoured car: on the ZIS-6-K chassis, 90 hp engine, produced by the Izhora factory.
    10. GAZ-61 light 4x4 truck produced by the Molotov Gorkiy Automotive Factory.
    11. ZIS-5 4x6 truck.

Saturday, 26 January 2019

Valentine With a Long Gun

In the spring of 1943 the variety of British tanks sent to the USSR dropped radically. Matilda tanks were no longer sent, the Churchill nearly vanished from shipping manifests. The Valentine remained the only type of tank sent by the British in large numbers. Even though the British themselves nearly stopped using it by the spring of 1943, they were still in demand with the Red Army. This was especially true for the Valentine IX, the version with a 6-pounder cannon, which had to revert to the two-man turret.

Thursday, 24 January 2019

Radio Trucks

"To the People's Commissar of Defense, comrade I.V. Stalin
August 5th, 1941

I report on the execution of NKO order #0243s issued on July 23rd, 1941, on the issue of producing armoured carriers for Army (Front) radios and armouring of the divisional radio.
  1. The Stalin Automotive Factory (ZIS) developed and produced prototypes (models) of RAF type armoured carriers for Army (Front) radios. The radio is installed in two armoured carriers produced on the chassis of the ZIS-5 truck.
    The armoured carrier was approved by the GABTU and US for mass production on July 30th.
  2. The Podolsk Ordzhonikidze factory covered one prototype RSB type divisional radio in armour, which was approved for mass production by the GABTU and US on July 28th, 1941.
  3. Presently, neither the armoured carrier nor the armoured radio are put into production due to a lack of armour production base designated by the Central Plan.
Deputy People's Commissar of Defense, Lieutenant General of the Tank Forces, Fedorenko
Deputy People's Commissar of Defense, Peresypkin"

Wednesday, 23 January 2019

Acceptance of the T-34-85

"State Committee of Defense Decree #4776ss
December 15th, 1943

On the production of the T-34-85 tank with an 85 mm gun at factory #112

The State Committee of Defense decrees:
  1. TheT-34-85 tank designed at factory #183 with the 85 mm gun designed at factory #9 built according to tactical-technical characteristics in attachment #1 is accepted into service with the Red Army.
  2. The People's Commissariat of Tank Production (comrade Malyshev) and director of factory #112 in Gorky (comrade Rubinchik) to organize production of the T-34-85 tank in the following amounts:
    1. In January of 1944: 25 units
    2. In February of 1944: 75 units
    3. In March of 1944: 150 units
      starting with April of 1944, completely switch to T-34-85 production instead of T-34 tanks."

Tuesday, 22 January 2019

New Year, New Valentines

"December 30th, 1942

To the Deputy Chief of the GABTU, Major-General of the Tank Forces, comrade Korobkov

Our representatives in England say that 70 Valentine-9 tanks are being sent with the next caravan. The armament of these tanks is as follows:
  1. One 6-pounder gun with elevation of +15 degrees and depression of: forward and to the sides of 8 degrees 30 minutes, to the back 2 degrees 30 minutes. The tank holds 49 artillery shells. Only armour piercing shells are provided.
  2. Bren AA machinegun.
  3. Thompson SMG.
I ask you to give conclusions.

Deputy Chief of the NKVT Engineering Directorate, Colonel Khryaev"

Monday, 21 January 2019

T8 Periscopic Sights

"Periscopic T8 sight

The principle of the T8 periscope does not differ from previously examined periscopes. It combines an observation periscope with a telescopic system. This design is a further step towards the perfection and development of these types of sights.

The significant difference between the T8 sight and other sights of the first and second group is that the degree of magnification is significantly increased, and a collimator device is with a sighting grid is introduced. Thanks to this, the T8 sight and other sights of its type can be called a variable magnification sight.

Saturday, 19 January 2019

A Turret for Three

The first project of a light infantry tank, which later transformed into the Valentine, was presented to the War Ministry on February 10th, 1938. The tank that Leslie Little developed was rejected by the British at least once. One of the reasons for the rejection was the two-man turret, as the British wanted to have it house three crewmen. Leslie Little won that time, and in April of 1939 the Infantry Tank Mk.III was approved with a two-man turret. However, the War Ministry returned to the idea of increasing the crew size of the turret, which led to the Valentine III and Valentine V with three-man turrets.

Thursday, 17 January 2019

Spring HEAT

"State Committee of Defense 
Decree #GOKO-1537ss issued on April 4th, 1942
Moscow, Kremlin

On armour-burning shells

To perfect armour-burning shells, perform the following:
  1. Order the NKV (comrade Vannikov) to produce 50 units of HEAT armour-burning shells  for the 76 mm regimental gun according to existing Artillery Committee and NII-6 blueprints within 10 days.
  2. Order the NKChM (comrade Tevtosyan) to issue 5 units each of 40 mm, 50 mm, and 60 mm armour plate for trials of the aforementioned shells.
  3. Order the GAU (comrade Yakovlev) to perform trials of the aforementioned shells against the plates and give conclusions within 5 days.
  4. Order the NKV (comrade Gamov) to organize a group within the NII-6 for the perfection of thermite type armour-burning shells, delivering the first results to the GOKO by May 5th, 1942.
    Include academic Semyenov (Academy of Sciences) and Professor Maksimenko (Leningrad Chemical Technology Institute) into the group.
  5. Order the NKVD (comrade Kravchenko) to supply a group of specialists that previously worked with armour-burning shells to participate in the NII-6 group.
Chair of the State Committee of Defense, I. Stalin"

Wednesday, 16 January 2019

Day by Day

"Order of the People's Commissariat of Defense #80-Mss
December 27th, 1941

Referring to the decree of the State Committee of Defense #GKO-1043ss issued on December 19th, 1941, I order to:

1. Establish the following schedule for daily production in January of 1942 of tanks, hulls, and engines between the NKTP factories:
Total in January 1942
10-day intervals of January 1942
Tank production
Kirov factory
KV tank
Factory #183
T-34 tank
T-34 tank
Factory #112
T-34 tank
Factory #174
T-50 tank
Factory #37
T-60 tank
Factory #38
T-60 tank
Factory #264
T-60 tank
Engine production
Kirov factory
V-2 engine
V-2 engine
Factory #76
V-2 engine
Hull production
Izhora factory
KV hull
Factory #200
KV hull
Factory #264
T-34 hull
Factory #37
T-60 hull
Factory #38
T-60 hull
Kulebaki factory #178
T-60 hull
Murom factory #176
T-60 hull
Vyksa factory #177
T-60 hull
Factory #183
T-34 hull
Factory #112
T-34 hull
Saratov factory #180
T-50 hull
2. Consider that the schedule for January 1942 includes one holiday.
3. All directors of tank, hull, and engine factories must send me encrypted messages regarding the production of tanks, hulls, and engines in January of 1942 daily.

People's Commissar of Tank Production of the USSR, Malyshev"