Thursday, 18 January 2018

Small Arms Precision

In 1948, it was clear that the PPSh has served its time, and a new, more powerful automatic infantry weapon was necessary, using an intermediate 7.62x39 mm mod. 1943 cartridge. Several weapons were designed to Tactical-Technical Specification #3131 and tested along with their submachinegun ancestor and the German Sturmgewehr for comparison.

Wednesday, 17 January 2018

Nomenclature Confusion

Some nuances in record keeping tend to introduce confusion into history. For instance, here we have reports from the 150th Tank Brigade of a tank called T-16 in their ranks. 

"1st Tank Battalion, consisting of 3 T-26s, 1 T-16, 2 T-40...
2nd Tank Battalion, consisting of 11 BTs, 1 T-16..."

Seems about right. With such a mishmash of vehicles in this unit, some T-16s taken out of storage don't seem too far fetched. 

Tuesday, 16 January 2018

Sharpshooters on the Eastern Front

"Experience of using snipers in combat in the 289th Red Banner Rifle Division

1. The current organisation of rifle units and formations does not define requirements for either sniper teams or lone snipers, so snipers are chosen by commanders at regimental and divisional levels.

Depending on the number of reinforcements that arrive during battle, the distribution of snipers varies, and usually consists of 1-2 men per platoon.

Monday, 15 January 2018

American Steel

"To: comrade Malyshev, Zaltsmann, Korobkov, Petrosyan. Discuss together and reply with a proposal.

December 10th, 1942

To the Chairman of the Council of People's Commissars of the USSR, comrade V.M. Molotov

Analysis of American armour supplied to the USSR by the People's Commissariat of Tank Production factories and Institute showed that 35 mm thick armour place, produced from steel that is chemically similar to our 8-S steel, does not meet the present requirements of toughness.

Saturday, 13 January 2018

T-60 from Sverdlovsk

The Urals became a center of Soviet tank industry in 1942. A year before, Chelyabinsk was the only place where tanks were built, but the number of tank-producing cities grew significantly towards the end of 1941. One of those cities was Nizhniy Tagil, where factory #183 was evacuated. Another such city was Sverdlovsk. Here, T-30 and T-60 small tanks were built.

Friday, 12 January 2018

Science Fiction

Sometimes, inventions that are sent in to the military seem pretty impressive. Like this one!

"Comrade Lyadov proposes a super-speedy anti-tank rifle, where the propellant burns as fast as possible, and the bullet is propelled primarily through adiabatic expansion of gases. In order to achieve acceptable pressures, the inventor uses low propellant density. With heavy projectiles, the inventor hopes to maximize the Pcp/Pm ratio and achieve muzzle velocity of 3400 m/s.

Thursday, 11 January 2018

Weapons Intel

"Information about the enemy. Translated from German.

December 30th, 1942

Overview of the enemy's operations on the front of the 9th Army
3. New types of weapons
d) Russian magnetic mine

This mine easily sticks to cars and tanks. In addition, it even sticks to painted iron and tin surfaces.

Description: the round is presumably of English make. The shape is a 14 cm long semi-cylinder. The case is full of explosives, and surrounded with surrogate. There are four magnets on the top. There are approximately 8 deep openings in each semi-cylinder for a fuse and a detonator. The fuse is held with a clamp. A standard fuse is 11 cm long, 1 cm in diameter. The delayed timer goes off in 1 hour to 3 days.

Tuesday, 9 January 2018

Ammunition Capacity

No doubt, you've seen the words "ammunition loads" in various combat journals on my blog. You may have asked yourself: how much is an ammunition load, exactly? For tanks, that's pretty easy, it's the amount of ammunition you can carry on board, but what about things like rifles and artillery? Thankfully, the 1st Tank Army has your back, having issued a useful memo on June 24th, 1943.

Monday, 8 January 2018

Engine Prejudice

By 1943, it was clear that the Canadian Ram tank could not keep up with the Sherman. The AFV Users Committee of the First Canadian Army was willing to switch to the Sherman, but their requirements were clear.

Sunday, 7 January 2018

Second to Last Step

The first prototype of the KV-13 heavy tank entered trials on September 26th, 1942. The vehicle was quite unusual. With the protection of a heavy tank, it had both the size and weight of a medium. This later caused many hypotheses about a "medium tank with heavy armour". In reality, the KV-13 was never a medium. It was developed as a heavy tank from the very beginning, and the small size and mass were a direct consequence of the requirements issued by the GABTU. For a number of reasons, work on the KV-13, which also earned the name IS-1 during its design, did not continue past a second prototype. However, it was an important milestone towards the creation of a next generation Soviet heavy tank.

Thursday, 4 January 2018

AK Trials

  1. The 7.62 mm Kalashnikov assault rifle with a model 1943 round satisfies requirement #3131 in reliability of the automatic system, lifespan of components, usage characteristics, and overall, and can be recommended for mass production and subsequent military trials.
  2. The Kalashnikov assault rifle does not fully satisfy requirement #3131 in the category of precision. However, as when firing single shots it greatly surpasses the model 1941 SMG, and is equivalent when firing in fully automatic mode, the Kalashnikov assault rifle can be recommended for military trials with existing precision. 

Wednesday, 3 January 2018

King Tiger Intel

"To chiefs of staff and unit commanders
Personally to the chief of operations.

September 8th, 1944

Attached is information on the new German heavy tank "King Tiger" (Konigstiger) and methods of combat against it.

The Army commander ordered that the information is to be distributed to all officers and tank/SPG crews.

Deputy Chief of Staff of the Army, Colonel Ganshin
Chief of the Army Staff Office, Captain Romanovskiy

Tuesday, 2 January 2018

Stalin and Ventilation

There is a story that is encountered in memoirs about Soviet tank building, describing how Stalin climbed up on the SU-152 during an inspection of new vehicles in the fall of 1943, and personally ordered that an additional ventilation fan be installed in the roof of a SU-152 after speaking to the vehicle's driver. The story may be apocryphal, but such an order was issued soon after the demonstration either way.

"To the Senior Military Representative of the GBTU USA, Engineer-Lieutenant-Colonel comrade Markin

I report to you that, as of September 23rd, 1943, each SU-152 SPG produced must have extraction fans installed.

The factory will receive orders from the People's Commissar of Tank Production in the near future.

Chief of the GBTU Self Propelled Artillery Directorate, Almoz
Chief of the 1st Department of the GBTU USA, Engineer-Lieutenant-Colonel Demyanko"

Monday, 1 January 2018

120 mm HESH vs 125 mm HE

Proxy wars during the Cold War weren't just a one way shipment of resources. For example, the USSR managed to obtain a functional Chieftain tank in Iran, allowing them to perform thorough trials of its various components. One of the more interesting ones was the evaluation of the L31A7 HESH shell. The Russian name for it was "armour piercing-high explosive", not to be confused with the Western style APHE.

Saturday, 30 December 2017

Mistimed Improvement

A notable event in the history of Soviet tank building took place in December of 1942. The SU-35, the first Soviet medium SPG, was put into production. There was the SG-122 that predated it, but it was a conversion of the German StuG III. The SU-35, however, was an entirely domestic design. Due to the urgency, the SU-35 was put into production without a second prototype. The SPG went into production straight from the drawing board. Nevertheless, the issue of modernization was raised at the highest levels in January of 1943. The result of the ensuing work was the SU-122M. However, this assault SPG's fate was not as fortunate: it never made it to production.

Friday, 29 December 2017

Assault Gun from the Urals

December of 1942 was a key month in the history of Soviet SPGs. Work on light and medium SPGs reached the stage of preparation for production. The Ural Factory of Heavy Machinebuilding (UZTM) was chosen to produce medium SPGs. There were two reasons for this. In addition to the fact that development of the U-35 SPG was coming to an end in Sverdlovsk, there was a strong manufacturing base here. Local production of T-34s, which started here in late September of 1942, ensured a supply of chassis for SPGs.

Taking into account the factory's abilities, GKO decree #2559 "On organization of production of SPGs at the Uralmash factory and factory #38" was signed on December 2nd, even before the start of U-35 trials. According to this document, UZTM was expected to deliver the first two SU-35 SPGs (later renamed SU-122) in December of 1942.

Thursday, 28 December 2017

DP Autoloader

Ever tried loading Degtaryev disk magazines by hand? I have, and it's not exactly a pleasant experience. Various devices exist to ease this process. Sadly, they weren't perfect.