Thursday, 14 December 2017

Birth of the PPS

"To the deputy commander of the Red Army GAU, Major-General of Artillery, comrade Hohlov

Experience shows that the 7.62 mm DT tank machinegun does not provide sufficient volume of fire, due to its 63 round magazine and rapid heating of the barrel. It is desirable to have a belt-fed machinegun, capable of rapidly firing up to 500 rounds.

The PPSh submachinegun is a necessary weapon for tank crews, but is inconvenient to use. The disk magazine is large, and gets in the way. The stock impedes exiting the tank. It is desirable to have a submachinegun with a box magazine that holds 25-30 rounds and a folding stock, like the one on the German SMG.

I ask you to instruct Artkom to begin work on improving firearms for tank crews according to the issues noted above.

Deputy GABTU Chief, Major-General of Technical Forces, Lebedev
BTU Military Commissar, Regimental Commissar Vorobyev
July 27th, 1942"

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

ZIK-7

"To the People's Commissar of Armament, comrade Ustinov
To the People's Commissar of Tank Production, comrade Malyshev

June 16th, 1942

RE: production of installation parts and cradle for the 76 mm ZIK-7 gun

In accordance with the decision of the Artillery Committee plenum and NKV and NKTP orders, factories #8 and #37 designed a 76 mm light assault gun with the ZIK-5 tank gun on a chassis made from T-70 components.

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

First SU-152s

"To fulfil GOKO order #2883 issued on February 14th, 1943

Deliveries for contract #1489 signed in March of 1943
Customer: GAU UMT and SA
Producer: Kirov factory (Chelyabinsk)

1. SU-14 SPGs

Produce SU-14 SPGs according to blueprints and technical requirements approved by the GAU KA Artillery Committee.

Temporarily, before the blueprints and technical requirements are approved, it is permitted to produce vehicles according to blueprints and technical requirements of the prototype.

Delivery in the 1st quarter of 1943
By month
Amount
Unit cost
Total
Month
Amount
Total
105
265,000
27,825,000
February
30
7,950,000

March
75
19,875,000
Total
105
27,825,000

Kirov factory director, Dlugach
GAU UMT and SA Chief, Engineer-Lieutenant-Colonel Datsyuk

March 18th, 1943"

Monday, 11 December 2017

Information on American Tanks

"To the chief of the Armoured Directorate of the GABTU, Military Engineer 1st Class comrade Korobkov
September 3rd, 1941

I report to you the details about new American tanks and news of American tank building.
  1. The Armoured Car Co. built a new type of light tank that is also an airborne tank. It can be suspended from a DC-4 airplane and transported over the air. There are two variants, 7.5 tons and 10 tons. The design of both tanks is identical: top speed of up to 80 kph, 200 hp Guiberson engine.
    The difference is due to the thickness of the armour, which is 38 mm (front) and 35 mm (sides) thick on the 10 ton tank. There is no data on the armour thickness of the 7.5 ton tank. The armament of both variants is the same: 1 37 mm cannon and 3 7.62 mm machineguns (one of them is AA). Tanks are built with a turret and without a turret. Allegedly, the second kind is the airborne tank. It is said that the new tank has been accepted into service and will be put into mass production. They will also be supplied to the British. Production is being organized at the Pressed Steel Co., which also presently builds the M3 medium tank.

Saturday, 9 December 2017

Super Bazooka: Improved Antitank Fist

During WWII, M1 and M9 "Bazooka" rocket launchers were considered good weapons, although their penetration was inadequate to reliably penetrate medium tanks, and nearly useless against their front armour. American engineers decided to solve this problem by increasing the caliber of the weapon. Work began in 1943, but mass production of the new RPG only got off the ground after the start of the war in Korea, where old bazookas proved ineffective against the T-34-85.

Friday, 8 December 2017

The Father of All RPGs

The American "Bazooka" M1 anti-tank rocket launcher is one of the most famous weapons of WWII. Despite its primitive design, it was a very effective anti-tank weapon, which was imitated by the Germans. The Panzerschreck was based on a captured Bazooka.

The creation of RPGs became possible via a combination of two technologies, which arose in the early 1940s: HEAT warheads and solid fuel rockets. The American infantry adopted the M9 HEAT rifle grenade in Jarnuary of 1941. It was fired from a standard Springfield M1903 rifle, equipped with a special attachment. This weapon could penetrate 32 mm of armour. The more powerful M10 grenade appeared in November of that same year. It could penetrate 50 mm of armour, but was too heavy to be used with a rifle. At first, the Americans tried to turn it from a rifle grenade into a machinegun grenade, firing it from the .50 cal M2HB machinegun, but the recoil still proved excessive. American engineers also experimented with the 13.97 mm Boys rifle and a special 15.24 mm anti-tank rifle, but in every case the grenade threatened to damage the weapon and injure the user. The solution was found by Colonel Leslie Skinner, who worked on rocket ammunition at the Aberdeen Proving Grounds since the early 1930s. He proposed equipping the M10 grenade with a rocket, thus solving the issue of recoil.

Partisan's Companion: Weapons of Combat

The Partisan's Companion is a book distributed among partisans in order to help them combat German forces more effectively. A few sections of the book deal with firearms. This one teaches the user how to handle domestically produced firearms, both military and civilian.

"IV. Weapons of Combat

Remember the main rules of handling weapons

No matter what conditions you are in always keep your weapons ready: clean and functional. Handle them carefully. The weapons must always be ready for battle. Do not plug the barrel, as that will burst the barrel when shooting. Before cleaning a gun, make sure your cleaning equipment is functional and complete (ramrod, rag, screwdriver, mallet, etc).

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

G43 Trials


"Trials results

The precision of the semiautomatic G-43 rifle at ranges of 100, 300, and 600 meters, is less than that of the German G-41 rifle and domestic AV-40 rifle. Disassembly and reassembly has no effect on precision and accuracy. 

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

HEAT Protection

Conventional internet wisdom dictates that WWII era standoff armour was, at best, ineffective against the Panzerfaust, or even accentuated its effects by improving the standoff distance. However, there was no internet back in the day, so tankers had to make do with experimental data.

Let's start with the Soviets. In 1942, when researching protection against 75 mm HEAT, it was discovered that 4-5 mm mild steel screens 100-600 mm away from the armour worked in protecting the lower side of the T-34. In Berlin, so called "bedspring armour" (in reality, purpose made anti-Panzerfaust mesh screens that were made from 0.5-0.8 mm wire, positioned 200 mm from the armour) was, according to Soviet reports, effective in combat. 

Monday, 4 December 2017

Tank Archives in Print

My name already appeared in print next to that of Thomas Jentz, and now it's time for a long-time inspiration and a source of many materials posted on this site: Yuri Pasholok.


The original plan was to publish a translated and lengthened version of my Panther article, but the editor selected an older piece of mine for print instead. That just means that you, my dear readers, have another few months to pre-order your copy of the Armor Journal magazine.

Sunday, 3 December 2017

Unlucky KV

Cases where vehicles that never reached mass production become milestones are common in tank building history. The Soviet KV-13 tank is one of those cases. This tank is often referred to as a "heavily armoured medium tank", which is incorrect. The KV-13 was designed as a heavy tank from the very beginning. The revolutionary vehicle satisfied the requirements of the Soviet military completely. This was the first maneuverable heavy tank that combined impressive armour with small mass, and, most importantly, high mobility.

The KV-13 appeared at a difficult time, which is a part of the reason why it did not enter production. Nevertheless, further Soviet tank development was influenced by the last design of the talented Nikolai Valentinovich Tseits.

Saturday, 2 December 2017

Less Armour, More Mobility

The gradual increase of a tank's mass is a normal and logical occurrence. Mass grows, first of all, due to thicker armour. During WWII, the thickness of tank armour grew several times over. However, there was one case where designers had to sacrifice armour. This case was the Soviet KV-1S tank, which was, in many ways, a necessary compromise, taken to resolve serious issues with the KV-1's reliability. The vehicle left a mark in the history of Soviet tank building. The KV-1S appeared as a result of a change of perspective in Soviet heavy tank doctrine. Mobility started to play a more important role. The new tank was not just a lighter KV-1, but had a large amount of new technical solutions. What is the history of the KV-1S, and why was its journey into production so difficult?

Friday, 1 December 2017

Little Tank, Great Success

Czech-made weapons were popular since the start of the 20th century. Skoda's artillery was in demand even outside of Austria-Hungary, which Czechia belonged to until 1918. Weapons exports continued after the formation of the First Czechoslovak Republic. As a rule, their excellent quality was accompanied by a very agreeable price.

Tanks joined cannons in the mid-1930s. Czechoslovakia managed to take second place in tank exports worldwide, coming up just behind Great Britain. The first and most popular export item was the Praga AH-IV tankette.

Thursday, 30 November 2017

Fashion Police


"Excerpt from an order of the 1st Mountain Infantry Division

Item #3. On the wearing of ties.

A red rag is the sign of a communist. Wearing red ties and armbands is forbidden. Wearing a brightly coloured tie is unsuitable for a German soldier.

General Lantz
Translated by Intendant 3rd grade Skormorovskiy"

Wednesday, 29 November 2017

IS Bug Report

"To the Deputy Chair of the Committee of Defense, comrade Molotov

I report that, in accordance with GOKO decree #2943ss, issued on February 24th, 1943, Kirov factory and factory #100 produced two experimental prototypes of IS tanks:
  1. IS-1 tank with a 76 mm gun (F-34)
  2. IS-2 tank with a 122 mm gun (U-11)

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

Panther Armour Quality

Long-time readers of this blog are no doubt already aware of the poor performance of German armour in British and Soviet trials, but you can never have too much evidence. Here's another log for the fire.


"(a) 17 Pr v Glacis

Gun performance is appreciably better than forecast and it must be therefore be concluded that German plate is not up to the standard of our Homogeneous M.Q. tank armour.

In point of fact the German plate appears far too brittle and large cracks develop from any penetration. These became so bad during the course of the trial that whole sections fell away and it was difficult to find a target in the later stages.

This fault is not confined to this particular plate as the tank used as a target had been knocked out by penetration of the turret side, by 75 mm AP, and from here the cracks had developed to the side of the plate."

Mediterranean Area A.F.V. Technical Report No. 23 - Part II Enemy Equipment - Panther
14th September 1944

Monday, 27 November 2017

T-34 Armour Research

January 25th, 1940

"
  1. When researching armour for 25-50 mm plates, the Ilyich Research Laboratory made the correct decision to explore highly hardened steel while preserving the necessary degree of ductility. Despite existing opinions that thick tank armour (40-75 mm) must have lower hardness (3.4-3.6 mm), the Research Laboratory developed hard armour (2.9-3.1 mm), finding a successful combination of alloying components, which gave the armour satisfactory ductility.