Video: Norwegian Telemark Battalion live fire exercise

From War News Today comes this video showing Norwegian ground forces conducting exercises.

Article declares that T-14 Armata is “Pretty Stale”

download (1)An article from ISH ETH Zurich by Joseph Trevithick attempts to deflate some of the hype surrounding the new Russian T-14 Armada tank, declaring it to be pretty “stale.”  The author of the piece seems to be basing his conclusions on some comments made by noted tank expert Steven Zaloga, who is quoted as saying “A lot of this stuff is really stale” in regards to the new family of Russian armored vehicles displayed during the May Victory Parade.  Zaloga is also quoted as saying that in the end “the Russians are not leaping ahead” and that “this is an attempt to catch up.”  Considering the amount of media hype and nationalistic pride that the Armata has attracted, these comments from one of the worlds foremost tank and AFV researchers are bound to grab some attention.

Article excerpt:

But despite these and other boasts, the Russia’s new fleet is much less impressive when compared to many Western designs, even some that are decades old at this point. The T-14 is lighter and not necessarily any better armed or armored than the American M1A2 Abrams, the British Challenger 2 or the German Leopard 2, according to an infographic originally specifications sheet made up by the Russian TASS news service. The specifications were later translated into English by the U.S. Army’s Foreign Military Studies Office (FMSO). Of course, both Moscow and Washington are generally tight-lipped about the exact details.
In terms of armor protection specifically, the T-14 is probably no more impressive than the tanks Washington and Berlin have had in service for two decades now, based on educated estimates. And while Western engineers have generally focused on passive armor, the Pentagon and others continue to experiment with their own active protection systems. The Armata’s Afghanit system is also just the latest development in a series countermeasures the Russian Army has been using since the fighting in Afghanistan – an experience the new device’s moniker clearly references. Soviet commanders – like their counterparts around the world – have found active protection systems and explosive reactive armor can be very dangerous to ground troops near vehicles equipped with these protective measures too.
As for armament, the range estimates for the T-14 seem generous. However, Leopard 2s can already hit targets at similar distances with the help of Israeli LAHAT missiles. Armata crews would probably have to fall back on gun-launched guided weapons when trying knock out enemies beyond some 5,000 to 6,000 meters too. Not that much of this matters, since the Russian sensors can’t necessarily find the mark much farther away. The “target detection range” is only vaguely “greater than 5,000 meters,” the TASS-provided specs said.

Read the full article here.

Guardian article on British collector Kevin Wheatcroft

The Guardian published an article this week on British collector of armored vehicles and Nazi memorabilia Kevin Wheatcroft.  The article deals primarily with Wheatcroft’s Nazi memorabilia collection rather than with his collection of Tanks and AFVs.  That said, tank and AFV aficionados will still find it interesting, if for no other reason than to learn a bit about the rather media shy man behind the largest private AFV collection in the UK.

Article excerpt:

wheatcroftWe stood beside the muscular bulk of a Panzer IV tank, patched with rust and freckled with bullet holes, its tracks trailing barbed wire. Wheatcroft scratched at the palimpsest of paintwork to reveal layers of colour beneath: its current livery, the duck-egg blue of the Christian Phalangists from the Lebanese civil war, flaking away to the green of the Czech army who used the vehicles in the 1960s and 70s, and finally the original German taupe. The tank was abandoned in the Sinai desert until Wheatcroft arrived on one of his regular shopping trips to the region and shipped it home to Leicestershire.

Wheatcroft owns a fleet of 88 tanks – more than the Danish and Belgian armies combined. The majority of the tanks are German, and Wheatcroft recently acted as an adviser to David Ayer, the director of Fury (in which Brad Pitt played the commander of a German-based US Sherman tank in the final days of the war). “They still got a lot of things wrong,” he told me. “I was sitting in the cinema with my daughter saying, ‘That wouldn’t have happened’ and ‘That isn’t right.’ Good film, though.”

Around the tanks sat a number of strange hybrid vehicles with caterpillar tracks at the back, lorry wheels at the front. Wheatcroft explained to me that these were half-tracks, deliberately designed by the Nazis so as not to flout the terms of the Treaty of Versailles, which stipulated that the Germans could not build tanks. Wheatcroft owns more of these than anyone else in the world, as well as having the largest collection of Kettenkrads, which are half-motorbike, half-tank, and were built to be dropped out of gliders. “They just look very cool,” he said with a grin.

Alongside the machines’ stories of wartime escapades and the sometimes dangerous lengths that Wheatcroft had gone to in order to secure them were the dazzling facts of their value. “The Panzer IV cost me $25,000. I’ve been offered two and a half million for it now. It’s the same with the half-tracks. They regularly go for over a million each. Even the Kettenkrads, which I’ve picked up for as little as £1,000, go for £150,000.” I tried to work out the total value of the machines around me, and gave up somewhere north of £50m. Wheatcroft had made himself a fortune, almost without realising it.

To read the entire article, go here.

To go to the website for the Wheatcroft Collection, go here.

Book Alert: Huns on Wheels

10999361_1580549845526448_6657401214891285569_oFor those wanting to learn more about Hungarian mobile forces in WWII, a new hardcover book on the topic was released earlier this month.  Titled “Huns on Wheels: Hungarian Mobile Forces in WWII”, this is a self-published work by author Peter Mujzer.  The book is described as A4 hardbound format, with 264 pages containing 385 black and white original photos, AFV scale drawings, 14 maps, 34 Order of Battle lists, and 16 pages of colour references for armored vehicles’ profiles and uniforms drawings.  The book is available directly from the author who has a facebook page for the book, or he can be contacted at hunsonwheels@yahoo.com.

Archive Awareness on Finnish Impressions of T-34/85

archive awarenessThe blog Archive Awareness posted an interesting article earlier this week reporting on Finnish impressions of the T-34/85 tank compared to the earlier model 1943 version.  The Finns seem generally impressed with the vehicle, noting that the quality of the armor is better than on previous versions and also that while the engine is the same as found in previous models of T-34, the quality of construction has improved leading to a slightly higher power output and engine lifespan.  The 85mm gun is praised in the report as being “identical to the German 88 mm tank gun in main parameters.”  The Finns also praise the refractive telescopic sight on the T-34/85, noting that is “greatly superior to the sight of the model 1942-1943 T-34 tank.”

Read the full article here.

New Issue of ARMOR released

armor issue coverEarlier this week the January-March 2015 issue of ARMOR was released in PDF format.  The cover story for this issue has the rather scintillating title of “Regional Alignment of Forces and Reconnaissance and Surveillance at Echelons Above Brigade.”  The casual AFV enthusiast will probably not find much to catch their eye in this issue, although the article “The Tank is Dead! Long Live the Tank!’ (pg 121-127) may be worthwhile for those with an interest in future US tank development.

Download the issue here.

The Research Squad

research squadFor those interested in the technical aspects of WWII tanks, check out the website for The Research Squad.com.  The Research Squad are a group who share a common passion towards the preservation and restoration of historical items of interest. Their aim is to professionally document, research and publish studies on significant subjects in a variety of media, for the wider public to enjoy.  In addition to their books, they plan for the site to contain large amounts of information in the form of galleries, drawings, diagrams and research projects for free use of wider communities.

To this end they are currently working in close co-operation with The Wheatcroft Collection, a privately owned collection of some 200 plus major military and civilian items. The intention is to publish a series of books on important items within the collection, whilst also working with the collection to raise its public profile via its website.

To check out the Research Squad website, click here.

Panzer wrecks from the Bulgarian Border

4654_thank_in_museum_of_battle_gloryLast month War History Online ran an update to a story that first appeared way back in 2008 about WWII German tank wrecks on the Bulgarian border.  The Bulgarian government had buried more than 40 former Nazi tanks on their southern border as stationary pill boxes during the cold war.  In 2008 the Bulgarian government announced that they were unearthing the vehicles and selling them at auction.  Over the years, many of the vehicles had fallen prey to scrap metal hunters who removed many of the smaller bits off the tanks.  The Bulgarian government cancelled the auction before it happened, deciding instead to keep the vehicles.  Currently, these vehicles reside at the Museum of the Battle Glory.  Several of the tanks have been partially restored, getting sandblasted, primed and repainted.  According to the article, 7-8 vehicles are on display with the rest in storage.

The full article from War History Online can be viewed here.

Here is a video showing these vehicles prior to restoration.

One of the stranger vehicles shown in the photos and the video is what appears to be a Panzer IV turret modified to fit the cannon and mantlet from a SU-76m! (the vehicle on the right painted dark green)

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Video footage of Tank vs Infantry fighting in Yemen

This video appeared on youtube this week showing footage of Yemeni Houthi forces in combat with tanks from the Army of Saudi-Arabia.  The Saudi tanks appear to be of two different types, US built M60 tanks or French built AMX-30.

From the Vault: Tanks and Industry: The Detroit Arsenal, 1940-1954

Tanks and IndustryFor those with an interest in U.S. World War II tank production, we would recommend taking a look at the book “Tanks and Industry: The Detroit Arsenal, 1940-1954” by Kevin Thornton.  The book gives a nice overview of the history of the Detroit Arsenal, the first manufacturing plant in the US built specifically for the purpose of tank construction.  Owned by the US Government and operated by Chrysler Corporation, the Detroit Arsenal was designed by famed architect Albert Kahn on built on an 113 acre site in Warren, a suburb of Detroit.  During the course of the war, the Tank Arsenal built about a quarter of the 89,568 tanks produced by the United States.

Published in 1995 by TACOM, this book can be viewed in it’s entirety at the Hathi Trust Digital Library site.  Click on the image below to go to the Hathi Trust website and view the book.

Tanks and Industry chapter 1