Book Alert: Soviet Lend-Lease Tanks of World War II (New Vanguard)

Tomorrow is the release of the latest entry in the Osprey New Vanguard series, Soviet Lend-Lease Tanks of World War II (New Vanguard).   This is a 48 page softcover with numerous illustrations and photos, following the well established format of previous entries in the series.  As far as we know, this is the first book to deal exclusively with the issue of the Lend Lease tanks sent to the Soviet Union.

Publisher’s Description:

The Red Army suffered such catastrophic losses of armour in the summer of 1941 that they begged Britain and the United States to send tanks. The first batches arrived in late 1941, just in time to take part in the defence of Moscow. The supplies of British tanks encompassed a very wide range of types including the Matilda, Churchill, and Valentine and even a few Tetrarch airborne tanks. American tanks included the M3 (Stuart) light tank and M3 (Lee) medium tank and the M4 Sherman tank, which became so common in 1944–45 that entire Soviet tank corps were equipped with the type. With these Western tanks, the Soviets were finally able to beat back the German tide in the East.

This study examines the different types of tanks shipped to the Soviet Union during the war, Soviet assessments of their merits and problems, and combat accounts of their use in Soviet service using full colour artwork, contemporary photographs and detailed cut-away illustrations.

Photo of the Day: “Covfefe” Paladin

While we try to steer clear of politics here, we couldn’t resist this photo of an M109 SPG with the word “covfefe” stenciled on the gun barrel.

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photo source

Translated Articles from TankArchives.blogspot.com (May)

It’s been a couple months since we looked at what Russian language articles the Tank Archives (formerly Archive Awareness) has translated into English.  There are quite a few, so we have divided them into two posts, one for the articles from May and one for June.  Click on the article headline to go to the full version of the piece.

 

LT vz. 38: Bestseller from Prague

ltvz38s04-977ee030563cb77e6c864a013342687cAfter the victory in the light tank tender for the Czechoslovakian army, CKD received a contract to build its P-II tank, adopted by the army under the index LT vz. 34. Another tender was declared soon after, which resulted in disappointment for CKD. The military did not like the light P-II-a tank. This time, Skoda celebrated victory, whose S-II tank was adopted as the LT vz. 35. However, CKD still managed to grab half of the contract for building the LT vz. 35.

 

Pz.Kpfw.38(t): Prize from Bohemia

pzkpfw38t02-1614789559fcadb7963e8cfcb3bfbff6The LT vz. 38, the best Czechoslovakian inter-war tank, is more famous under another name, since it attained fame in another army. Indexed Pz.Kpfw.38(t) in the Wehrmacht, this tank became a symbol of Blitzkrieg, fighting in the advance guard of the German tank units. In the spring of 1940, tanks built in Prague smashed British and French vehicles who failed to come to Czechoslovakia’s aid two years prior.

 

Imagination Versus Hitler

fakealliedtanks02-cc514c945ecd0ba85a111810fe7ba490As practice shows, the temptation to make up your own tank is great. Sadly (or thankfully), few people are destined to become tank designers. Here is where limitless human imagination steps in to create more “improved” or completely fictional projects than there were real tanks made.  Most of these made up tanks and SPGs belong to Germany. This is not surprising, since German dreams of Wunderwaffen firmly lodged themselves in people’s heads. However, a lot of made up tanks were “invented” for Germany’s enemies.

 

Steel Chimeras of the Red Army

09-084c6f274d682387afc1f8467b49859fScientific and technical progress has always been on the other side of the coin from war. Aiming to obtain instant superiority over the enemy, people who have never thought about the subject were as determined as those whose job was weapons design. In the years of the Great Patriotic War, self-taught designers earnestly believed that their tank or armoured cars can radically alter the course of the war. These designs remained on paper for obvious reasons, but accurately represent the spirit of their time.

 

Hellcat: Highway Tank Destroyer

t70gmcussr03-975057d241b451608b3a1b478ad47dbeThe 76 mm Gun Motor Carriage M18, more commonly known as the Hellcat, is one of the best known American wartime tank destroyers. With a powerful 76 mm gun and high mobility, the vehicle was an effective anti-tank measure. A number of sources mention that several Hellcats ended up in the USSR, but that is usually all information that is offered. This is not surprising, since, unlike the GMC M10, which was accepted into service, the M18 never made it past trials. More precisely, the USSR received the pre-production prototypes, indexed Gun Motor Carriage T70. What was the fate of these vehicles?

 

Light Tank M3A3: American Emigrant

m3a3light01-95ffdf7d17f08979c937c91d2b2225c4The American Light Tank M3A1 turned out to be a strange tank. On one hand, it had several superior characteristics to its predecessor, the Light Tank M3. Some elements of the design were a definite step forward. For example, the Americans began to use welding to assemble it. On the other hand, some design decisions reduced its battle worthiness. The tank became cramped and uncomfortable for the turret crew. It’s not surprising that another modernization quickly followed, which led to the most perfect form of the Light Tank M3 family: the Light Tank M3A3: a tank produced in large amounts, but almost ignored by the US Army.

 

Char B in German Service

charbp5s01-397690fcb22a4378e2e2da899b344b73The mistake of choosing a “battle tank” (Char de bataille) as a main tank became obvious during the campaign in France in May-June of 1940. The French tank industry did not manage to shift its gears for war. As a result, by the time the German invasion began, the availability of Char B1 bis tanks was far from what was planned. In addition, some French tanks were lost to either technical problems or because of poor supplies of fuel and ammunition. Many of them fell into German hands. How did the German army use the Char B1 and vehicles on its chassis?

 

Renault NC: Destined for Export

renaultnc02-443d3e06338d521fd07a1522740eb6a6The Renault FT ended up being not only the best tank of WWI, but the most numerous one. Its production continued after the end of the war, and 3728 tanks were built by 1921. Meanwhile, the French army was no longer satisfied with the Renault FT. Even the infantry, which inherited the tank, was not thrilled with a vehicle that had a top speed of 3 kph off-road. To replace this “pensioner”, Renault designed a new tank called the Renault NC. Why were foreign armies more interested in this tank than the French?

Translated Articles from TankArchives.blogspot.com (June)

It’s been a couple months since we looked at what Russian language articles the Tank Archives (formerly Archive Awareness) has translated into English.  There are quite a few, so we have divided them into two posts, one for the articles from May and one for June.  Click on the article headline to go to the full version of the piece.

 

Renault R 40: Incorrigible

renr35mod01-27066893659794e134d30f0540f9fe4e.jpgThe Char leger Modele 1935 R that was accepted into service by the French army on April 25th, 1935, was a compromise. Created as a replacement for the Renault FT, it did not surpass its predecessor by much in speed, and the armament remained the same. Of course, the new tank had more powerful armour, but experience showed that you could not rely on it. The French infantry began looking at the FCM 36, an expensive tank, but one that was more suitable for the infantry tank role. The Renault R 35 could only be rescued with a modernization of its weakest link: the suspension.

 

Canon 25 mm S.A. Mle 1934: A “Baby” Gun for a Grown Up War

25_3-f385561b3e54bcd4d7db4938fbceee4fAn old military saying states that “every army prepares to fight the previous war”. That is how the French generals acted when planning new anti-tank guns. Thinking about enemy tanks, they envisioned clumsy boxes, crawling across the battlefield at a pedestrian’s pace, protected with several centimeters of armour. To fight them, a small gun was needed, one that could be easily hidden on a crater-pocked field and pushed around with just the strength of the crew. The result of this line of thinking was the 25 mm anti-tank gun model 1934, Canon 25 mm S.A. Mle 1934.

 

Renault D1: FT on Steroids

rend1s01-29f35a1497d1dd501ecf1407fd557348Attempts to modernize the Renault FT, the most numerous tank in WWI, gave unexpected results. Initially, only the low speed was unsatisfactory for the French military, but its tastes grew by the mid-1920s. Now, the thin armour, which was insufficient to protect the tank from high caliber machineguns, was also unsatisfactory. The result was the NC-1 tank, which was 2 tons heavier and had thicker armour, while being twice as fast.

 

Renault D2: De Gaulle’s Workhorse

redd2s03-672be2529b963ab92a4992ae0e3b92c6The heavy Char B1 tank became the symbol of French pre-war tank building, and General de Gaulle is frequently associated with it. The 36 ton tank might have been the best French tank was indeed the best tank that France had during the fighting of May-June of 1940. The tank’s thick armour worked well, even though the concept of the tank was obsolete.  Interestingly enough, mass production of the Char B1 might never have happened, since the French military was considering a different tank for the role of their main tank in the early 1930s, with the same armament, same armour, but more than 1.5 times lighter. This was the Renault D2, the tank that Colonel De Gaulle served in.

 

LT vz. 35: Steel Fist of the First Czechoslovakian Republic

ltvz35s01-275b254ab4e5f479d3137448fe9fa299On April 19th, 1933, the Czechoslovakian army signed a contract with CKD to produce 50 light P-II tanks. This ended the 10 year long quest to build a domestic tank. The tank accepted into service on July 13th, 1935, as the LT vz. 35 was sufficiently modern. However, a year later, the Czechoslovakian military needed a better protected tank. This tank, the LT vz. 35, was destined to become the backbone of the Czechoslovakian armoured forces.

 

Praga LTL and Pzw 39: Tanks for Neutrals

pragaltl03-594e1fe0a44c19dd860045a624205b5cIn May of 1935, an Iranian commission signed a contract with CKD for light Praga TNH tanks. At the moment, these tanks did not exist in metal, but the Iranians saw the potential in this design. A prototype was demonstrated in September of that year. The Iranian commission was so impressed that the order was increased to 50 tanks on September 10th. For this time, this was a very respectable amount of tanks for the export market. It’s not surprising that representatives from other nations came to Czechoslovakia to find inexpensive and high quality light tanks.

 

T-60 in Difficult Times

t60gaz42s01-48650ecc7204d2ed9d2f3cf6fd58f3cbOn July 20th, 1941, the State Committee of Defense (GKO) passed decree #222ss “On the production of 10 thousand light tanks”. Interestingly enough, the tank that was supposed to be built did not exist even on paper. The tank, later named T-60, was designed in a little over a week. The first tanks were built in September of that year, and full fledged mass production began in October. The Molotov Gorkiy Automotive Factory (GAZ), Kharkov Tractor Factory (HTZ), and factory #37 were tasked with producing these tanks. Meanwhile, reports coming in from the front indicated that the tank was in need of modernization.

 

T-60 From Stalingrad

t60factory264s04-562d9543b005eceb356a3766738b53edThe T-34 tanks built in Stalingrad became one of the symbols for the battle there. The last tanks produced where went straight into battle from the factories, crewed by factory workers. T-60 tanks were less noticeable contributors to the breaking of the backbone of the German blitzkrieg. At the outskirts of the city, in Krasnoarmeysk, the T-60 tank remained in production at factory #264 for less than half a year. However, by volume of production, this “unplanned” factory was second only to the Molotov GAZ.

 

How Not to Drive a Tank: Minsk Edition

This video recently appeared on youtube showing what appears to be a T-72 going down Independence Avenue in Minsk, Belarus and doing an unintended drift into a tree and light pole.  Several photos of the incident have also appeared online, including a rather amusing one of a police officer issuing a traffic citation to the tank crew.

 

Photos:

Photo source

Book Review: Forgotten Archives 2: The Lost Signal Corps Photos

Over the past two decades, the Panzerwrecks series of books has become known for quality books showcasing photos of WWII armor.  Founded by Lee Archer and Bill Auerbach, Panzerwrecks has became both a book series and a publishing house focusing on  armored warfare in WWII.  Unfortunately, co-founder BIll Auerbach passed away in 2015, but Panzerwrecks has soldiered on, both with the original Panzerwrecks series andForgotten-Archives-2-Jacket-600px with titles by a new generation of authors.  One such writer/researcher is Darren Neely.  Last year Panzerwrecks released his book Forgotten Archives 1: The Lost Signal Corps Photos.  This month saw the release of the follow-up book, Forgotten Archives 2: The Lost Signal Corps Photos in the UK with release in the US coming this July.

We had a chance to examine a copy of this latest book and it is a very handsome volume indeed.  This is a large hardcover volume of 240 pages.  Primarily a photo book, the pages are printed on high quality glossy paper and the photo quality is excellent.  The black and white photos, of which there are 252, are generally printed one to a page making it very easy to see the details contained in the images.  There are also a small number of nicely done color illustrations by artist Felipe Rodna.

The subject matter of the book is, of course, WWII armor, specifically US and German armor in the ETO 1944-45.  This ground has been covered extensively over the years by numerous authors and publishers.  Probably everyone with an interest in WWII armor has had the experience of getting a new book on WWII tanks and upon cracking it open, finding the same familiar photos that get recycled year after year.  Fear not, this is not the case with Forgotten Archives 2.  What makes this new book unique is that the author was able to work with the families of eight former US Army Signal Corps photographers, going through the photo collections that these men brought back from the war.  Each photo is accompanied by the original caption written by the wartime photographer as well as a caption by the author, noting any errors or discrepancies in the original captions.  The book is arraigned by photographer, each chapter dedicated to a particular Signal Corps soldiers’ collection.  In organizing the book this way, each chapter tells the story of that particular photographer, marking the places they passed through and the things they saw and experienced.  Being presented in this way, the book becomes a tribute not just to the fighting men captured in the images, but also to the men who risked their lives behind the camera.

For those looking for original, never before seen photos of US and German armor in the ETO, we highly recommend this book.  Both the content and the presentation are top notch and should prove a valuable reference for both tank historians and model builders.  The book is currently available at the Panzerwrecks website.

pages samples and images below:

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From the Editor: Sherman Tanks of Northern Ohio

On our drive back from the MVPA convention in Cleveland this weekend, we had a chance to check out some of the armored vehicles on display in various towns along the way.  Our stops included three examples of Sherman tanks, all M4A3 models.  These tanks are located at Port Clinton, Parma Heights, and Walbridge Ohio.  We snapped a few pictures of each tank with our Samsung phone, the photos are included in some galleries below.  All three tanks are “small hatch” M4A3 tanks with the narrow gun mantlet.  The Walbridge tank is interesting in that it is a M4A3E9.  This particular Sherman variant had a suspension and drive sprocket that was spaced out from the hull to allow for duckbill extenders to be used on both sides of the track.

According to the US AFV Registry, there are two other Sherman tanks in Northern Ohio that we did not have the time to visit. One is housed at a veterans home facility in Sandusky that requires registration in order to gain access to the grounds.  The other is at a National Guard Armory in Cleveland.

M4A3

American Legion Post 703 Parma Heights OH

 

M4A3E9

Ohio Army National Guard Armory, Walbridge OH

 

M4A3

Camp Perry Military Reservation, Port Clinton OH