Friday, 30 September 2016

World of Tanks History Section: Sagopshin Tank Battle, Prokhorovka in the Caucasus

The Wehrmacht offensive towards the Caucasus in 1942 had two goals. The secondary was to cut the line of Lend-Lease supplies, but the primary goal was to reach the local oil supply. At the time, Caucasian wells accounted for 70% of the USSR's oil. It's not hard to imagine what a loss of these wells would mean for the USSR, which was already doing poorly in 1942, or what a godsend it would be for the fuel-starved German army.

On September 2nd, 1942, the Germans crossed the Terek river and wedged themselves into the Soviet defenses. Fierce battles were fought around Malgobek. This village and others nearby cut off the Germans from the Alkhanchurtskaya Valley, from where the precious oil was a stone's throw away. The Germans picked the Sagopshin settlement (modern day Sagopshi), just south of Malgobek, to deliver their decisive strike. The elite 5th SS Motorized Division "Viking" was chosen to attack here.

Thursday, 29 September 2016

Horsing Around

"A soldier who has been disciplined in the past was appointed as a watchman. Before he took his post, he drank wine, and took his post in an intoxicated state. The controlling patrol took notice of this soldier's behaviour, as he was loudly asking horses for the password."

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

T-46 Teletank

"Order #003 from the Chief of Armament and Technical Supplies of the RKKA
June 2nd, 1936

In order to ensure the timely production of the T-46 telemechanical tank this year, I order that:
  1. The Chief of the RKKA Technical Directorate, Divisional Engineer comrade Bordovskiy, must manage technical assistance and cooperation from the Kirov factory and Voroshilov factory in Leningrad, as well as the Leningrad branch of the Budyonniy Military Communication Academy in the development of prototypes.
    For this, send Military Engineer 1st Class comrade Belov, and Military Engineer 2nd Class comrade Saharov to Leningrad on June 1st, instructing comrade Belov to manage technical aid during design and production of the prototypes.

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Second Five Year Plan

"To the Chief of the Scientific-Technical Directorate of the GAU, comrade Zheleznyakov
February 10th, 1934

For the benefit of the 1st Department of the Scientific-Technical Directorate, I provide a list of armament necessary for tanks, armoured cars, railroad fighting vehicles, and APCs according to the Second Five Year Plan Tank Armament system.

Monday, 26 September 2016

A German View of Teploye: Tanks

"103rd Artillery Regiment, 4th Tank Division
1st Squadron, Squadron commander

Tactical experience of artillery in offensive and defensive battles south of the city of Orel from July 5th, 1943, to August 18th, 1943

1. Overall tactical experience

1. The battles were characterized as very fierce, with a large amount of vehicles. Both sides used powerful aircraft and tank units, and the Russians had especially powerful artillery. Neither side achieved decisive success on the offensive.

However, on the defensive, both sides managed to achieved significant success. Just as the offensive actions of the division before July 11th led to a sudden and unexpected decrease of our infantry's fighting ability, the Russians, despite their notable advantage in tank, infantry, and artillery units, took heavy losses. The cause of this, in my opinion, is because neither side had in their possession decisive offensive weapons.

At the moment, neither the PzIV with the long gun or the T-34 demonstrates an advantage over the other.

Sunday, 25 September 2016

L-60: Scandinavian Tank Revolution

Having fought its last war in 1814, Sweden ended up one of the few European countries that avoided participating in either World War. Nevertheless, the Swedes always paid careful attention to their army's weapons. Despite its neutrality, Sweden often preferred weapons of German origin. This applied to tanks as well. Even the Strv fm/21, the first Swedish tanks, were really German LK.IIs. Ten of these tanks were built at AB Landsverk in Landskrona, which became the Swedish tank development center for decades to come. The Landsverk L-60 was born here, some elements of which were a real revolution for tank development in the 1930s.

Friday, 23 September 2016

World of Tanks History Section: The British Devil and His Brothers

No one could have guessed on September 15th, 1916 that many military theory books would become obsolete in an instant. The first tank entered its baptism by fire, and an unnamed German's cry "The devil is coming!" announced the coming of the new god of war.

French and German tanks came after British ones, but the "rhombus" was the first of the first. Nine tanks belonged to this family. Some of them made it in time for the war, others remained prototoypes. Episodes collected in this article will briefly describe the "rhomboid" family.

Thursday, 22 September 2016

U-19 Order

"To the Chief of the GAU
CC: Chief of the GABTU
RE: U-19 SPG

In April of this year, under orders from Deputy People's Commissar of Tank Production comrade Kotin, the special design bureau of the Uralmash factory designed a 203 mm B-4 SPG on the KV tank chassis. Work by the Uralmash SKB was completed with working blueprints with copies.

I include the overall blueprints and an explanatory memo for this project.

Chief Engineer Umnyagin
SKB Chief Designer Gorlitskiy
August 12th, 1942"

CAMD RF 81-12038-117

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

BL-39 Trials

"June 23rd, 1942
Scientific Research AA Proving Grounds of the GAU

Report on experiment #982

Subject of the experiment: proving grounds trials of the BL-39 203 mm corps howitzer designed by factory #172.

Goal of the trials:
  1. Testing the ballistic characteristics of the system.
  2. Determining the range, precision, and angle of deviation.
  3. Determining the combat, service, and usage characteristics of the system.
  4. Comparison of the the required and actual tactical-technical characteristics.
  5. Determining the convenience of disassembly and assembly of the system and limber with typical instruments.

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Anti-Tank Rifles in 1943

"Is there a reason to keep anti-tank rifle companies in infantry regiments?

Combat experience shows that keeping an anti-tank rifle company in an infantry regiment as a permanent unit is not sensible for the following reasons:
  1. The summer battles of 1943 are characterized by new types of tanks from the enemy's side. These tanks have thick armour and powerful guns up to 88 mm in caliber. These vehicles include the Ferdinand SPG and Tiger and Panther tanks. Light tanks, armoured cars, and tankettes are used as an exception. The anti-tank rifle is only effective against the Ferdinand and Tiger at a range of 150 meters and closer. Such a close distance allows the enemy to destroy infantry, machinegun nests, dugouts and bunkers at close range, ensuring maximum effectiveness. This situation requires a light weapon that could reliably destroy tanks and SPGs at 600-700 meters. The anti-tank rifle does not meet these requirements.

Monday, 19 September 2016

Narev Foothold

"Conclusions regarding the combat actions of the 80th Guards Idritsa Order of the Red Banner Heavy Tank Regiment from October 4th to 25th, 1944, in battles for the Narev Foothold
  1. In battles at the Narev Foothold, the 80th Guards Heavy Tank Regiment was used in both attack and defense, In defense, the regiment was used for combat with enemy tanks, deflecting their counterattacks. Heavy tanks from the regiment cooperated with tanks from the 17th Tank Brigade. IS-122 tanks fired at enemy heavy tanks from 2 km away, and T-34s fired at closer, less important targets.

Saturday, 17 September 2016

TACAM T-60: SPG, Transylvanian Style

Romania joined WWII with a very marginal tank force, both in numbers and capability. The first battles on the Eastern front showed that their tanks were incapable of engaging Soviet medium tanks, let along heavy ones. The Romanian army was in desperate need of new more powerful anti-tank means. In a very short amount of time, they could only be built on captured platforms.

Romania only have one tank unit in the summer of 1941: the 1st Tank Division. It consisted of the 1st and 2nd Tank Regiments, reinforced by two regiments of motorized infantry, a motorized artillery regiment, a recon battalion, and a sapper battalion. The 1st Tank Regiment was equipped with Czechoslovakian S-II-aR (an export variant of the LT vz. 35), 126 of which were purchased in 1938-1939. These tanks served in the Romanian army under the index R-2. The 2nd Tank Regiment consisted of French Renault R35 tanks. In August-September of 1939, 41 tanks were received from France. 34 more tanks arrived from Poland: these were tanks from the Polish 21st Battalion that crossed the Romanian border on September 18-19th, 1939. If the R-2s could at least fight Soviet light tanks, the R35s with their short barreled guns were helpless against any armoured opponent.

Friday, 16 September 2016

World of Tanks History Section: Crushing the Tarnopol Fortress

The main purpose of new IS-2 heavy tanks that appeared in the Red Army in 1944 was the destruction of German pillboxes with their 122 mm guns. Fighting enemy tanks was not a priority. However, plans and forecasts rarely work in war. The IS tanks got a chance to test themselves against enemy armour soon after they arrived on the battlefield.

This happened in the spring of 1944, during the Proskurovo-Chernovtsy operation. In addition to their other objectives, the Soviet forces had to surround the German 1st Tank Army. Colonel-General Chernyakhovskiy's 60th Army participated in this task. One of the first targets in its path was Tarnopol (modern day Ternopol). Hitler declared it a Festung: a city-fortress that German forces had to hold until the last man. On April 11th, it was time for the defenders to carry out that order.

Thursday, 15 September 2016

Prospective Death Rays

"9. Device for intercepting and jamming foreign radio stations that are broadcasting images. Special Projects Laboratory. A design is in development.

Weapons (Death Rays)

10. Powerful electronic emitters and short wavelength rays. Literature and intelligence has been gathered, theoretical work is underway.

11. Powerful sound waves. Physical-Technical Laboratory and Special Projects Laboratory. Theoretical work is underway. Professor Andreev's device is being finished, which generates short sound waves using quartz."

Via _tezka.

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

T-30 Towing Trials

"Record of 010 tow hook trials

1. Object under trial

The "010" tank with two front tow hooks. The tow hooks are positioned 120 mm away from the side of the hull, as the same height as the existing production tow hook.

Tuesday, 13 September 2016

Nickel-Free Armour

"Decree of the State Committee of Defense #1586
RE: trials of the new nickel-free armour for T-34 hulls

The State Committee of Defense decrees that:
  1. The People's Commissariat of Ferrous Metals (comrade Tevosyan), People's Commissariat of Tank Production (comrade Malyshev), and GABTU are to be informed that trials of nickel-free armour and cast T-34 turrets from MZ-5 gave satisfactory results, matching the technical requirements for MZ-2 nickel armour.

Monday, 12 September 2016

Post-War Production

"State Committee of Defense Decree #9488ss
July 9th, 1945
Moscow, Kremlin
  1. In order to increase the number of tanks in the Red Army to its authorized strength and create a 3000 tank Stavka reserve, it is necessary to preserve the production levels from June of this year for a term to be determined in the future.
  2. Production of heavy ISU-152 SPGs for armament of heavy tank regiments of combined arms armies will be preserved, as their HE performance is much higher than of 122 mm guns.
  3. Refill Red Army units to their authorized strength in the following order:
    1. Occupational forces (comrades Zhukov, Konev, Rokossovskiy, and Tolbukhin).
    2. Border military districts.
    3. Internal military districts.

Sunday, 11 September 2016

The Last Soviet Heavy Tank Destroyers

In the days of the Second World War, heavy self propelled guns played an important part on the battlefield. It is not surprising that after the end of the war, heavy SPGs, including tank destroyers, remained a priority for designers from all nations. It's surprising that only a handful of these vehicles were ever built in metal, and none were mass produced. The Soviet Union and its Object 268 was no exception.

Friday, 9 September 2016

World of Tanks History Section: Battle for Teploye

The Germans understood that the summer offensive against the Kursk salient will not be an easy one. German commanders took their time planning Operation Citadel, moving the start date several times. Meanwhile, the Red Army was digging in, wrapping the terrain in barbed wire and sowing mines. The Germans were also preparing, knowing that their units will be warmly received. Their hopes rested on new types of tanks: Tigers and Panthers, Ferdinand tank destroyers and Brummbar assault tanks.

On the north side, the Orel direction, Walter Model's 9th Army formed an armoured club. On July 5th, 1943, he sent his infantry into battle, supported by tanks, SPGs, and aircraft. Model held his main armoured force in reserve, hoping to exploit a breakthrough. On the first day of battle, the Germans reached the second line of Soviet defenses. By July 6th, main events were unfolding in two paces: near the Ponyri railroad station and in the Teploye-Olkhovatka sector. The events of the latter are, unfortunately, not as studied as well as the former.

Thursday, 8 September 2016

70th Anniversary of Tanker's Day

70 years ago, on September 8th, 1946, elements of the 4th Guards Kantemirovka Tank Division drove across Red Square in the first Tanker's Day parade.

In the documentary footage of the parade, all mentions of Stalin were edited out, including the name of the IS-3 tank, but interestingly enough, not the name "Stalingrad".

Wednesday, 7 September 2016

T-40 Tow Hooks

"To the Chief Engineer of Ordzhonikidze factory #37, comrade Kozyrev
CC: BTU 3rd Department Chief, Military Engineer 1st Class Afonin

RE: T-40 tow hooks

There has lately been an increased frequency of cracks when towing using the front tow hook.

We ask you to consider the replacement of the front tow hook. Instead of attaching it to the front plate, use the sides as a foundation like on the T-20. In parallel, perform additional testing of the current design.

Send your ideas regarding this issue and the results of any additional testing to us.

Chief Engineer Shuvalov"

CAMD RF 38-11355-251

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Tank Improvements

"To comrade I.V. Stalin
comrade V.I. Molotov

In accordance with State Committee of Defense decrees ##1878ss and 1879ss issued on June 5th, 1942, the Kirov factory and factory #183 completed trials of improved KV-1 and T-34 tanks.

As a result of production and trials of prototypes, the following data was obtained:

Monday, 5 September 2016

Iron Discipline 2: Discipline Harder

"1st Mountain Infantry Division
11th Army

Division headquarters, August 8th, 1941

Divisional Order
Based on Corps order #47 issued on July 31st, 1941
  1. Discipline
    Several times, I have witnessed the following scenario: a covered up light car passes traveling troops or drives towards them, paying no attention to the dust that is being kicked up, which makes movement of troops difficult.
    The car is packed with a disorganized pile of briefcases, covered with a stolen mattress, with bottles of wine and other goods sticking out.
    It is obvious that these scenes offend and enrage fighting units.
    I demand that all commanders combat this behaviour in a decisive manner.

Sunday, 4 September 2016

ZIK-20: Assault Alternative

On April 15th, 1942, the plenary assembly of the Artillery Committee of the GAU met to discuss further development of self propelled artillery. The decisions worked out in this meeting became key in wartime development of Soviet SPGs. Among others, requirements were confirmed for a heavy SPG that would replace the 212 bunker buster. Work began on this SPG on the KV-7 chassis at UZTM, headed by L.I. Gorlitskiy. By the fall of 1942, the U-18 project was ready, but by that point, a competitor was developed at Sverdlovsk.

Saturday, 3 September 2016

Czech from Russia

By the end of the Second World War, T-34-85 tanks became one of the most common type of tank in the Czechoslovakian army. The first tanks of this type were received by the Czechoslovakian corps in early 1945, and up to 130 tanks of this type were received in total. They took part in the liberation of Prague and later became the backbone of the post-war Czechoslovakian army. Shipments continued after the war. Photos show tanks that were clearly made after May 9th, 1945. T-34-85 tanks became the first to receive the famous tricolour insignia.

Thursday, 1 September 2016


"To comrade I.V. Stalin

A group of designers at SKB-36 of the People's Commissariat of Oil (comrades Ostrovskiy and Grigoryan), under orders from the GAU, designed and tested an 82 mm anti-tank rifle and the rocket propelled HEAT projectile for it: the RBG-82.

During proving grounds trials, experimental prototypes of RBG-82 grenades demonstrated satisfactory precision at 200 meters and were capable of completely penetrating 150 mm of armour at 30 degrees.