From the Vault: Motorized Combat Transport (1921)

ordnance May Jun 1921 motorized transport croppedToday we dive back into the May-June 1921 issue of Ordnance Journal to showcase an article on “Motorized Transport.”  Written by Colonel Lucien Moody, this piece looks at one of the earliest attempts by the US Army to develop a tracked troop and supply transport vehicle.  Oddly, the article contains several pictures of a small, square shaped tracked vehicle being put through a series of tests but does not provide a description of this particular vehicle in the body of the text.

Click on the individual images below to view the article page.


Yuri Pasholok on the T-10 “The Last Soviet Heavyweight”

last soviet heavyweightRussian tank researcher Yuri Pasholok has written an article chronicling the development of the Soviet T-10 heavy tank for a Russian language blog.  Peter Samsonov at Archive Awareness blog has provided an English language translation of the article.  It can be read here.


The Last Soviet Heavyweight

 The last fighting machine named after Stalin would be the last Soviet heavy tank. It appeared at a time when the trend of constant increase in the weight of tanks came to a stop. Without the ability to grow protection and armament of tanks at the expense of weight, the designers of the IS-8 (T-10) used a number of creative solutions.

The end of an era of giants

Starting from late 1943, Soviet tank designers steadily increased the mass of their heavy tanks. Eventually, the initial stages of tank projects stepped over the psychological limit of 50 tons. The IS-3 was an exception, but it was essentially a deep modernization of the IS-2. Interestingly enough, there were doubts at the very top of the Main Armour Directorate (GBTU) about the suitability of the IS-3 for service. The Object 701, which hit a mass of 55 tons during the prototype phase, seemed much more desirable. Development of the future IS-4 was moving slowly: the first prototypes were ready for the summer of 1944, but the tank was constantly changed, and, despite being designed as an answer to the Ferdinand, only reached mass production in 1947. By that time, production of the IS-3 not only started, but also ended, netting a total of 1555 tanks.

Merkava II retired from IDF Armored Corps

tank_colorThe Jerusalem post is reporting that the IDF Armored Corps has officially started retiring the Merkava II tank from service in the conscripted brigades.  All battlefield missions will be handled by Merkava III and IV tanks from here forward with the Merkava II only being used by reserve units for border patrol during times of war.  As has been reported elsewhere, many of the Merkava II hulls will be converted into armored personal carriers and armored ambulances and transports.  The article notes that by the end of 2016, the Seventh Armored Brigade, the last conscripted brigade to use the Merkava II, will switch to the Merkava IV.

“We have ended training for the Merkava II tank,” Lt.- Col. Dvir Edri, commander of the Armored Corps training school, told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday. “From now on, draftees will be trained only on the newer tanks.”

Edri said his training center, located in the Shizafon military complex in the northern Negev, had spent many months preparing for the transition from the Mark II.

“This can only be good for us. From now on, we will train only using advanced tank technology,” he said.

Police M113 Gallery

The M113 APC has been in the news recently as new rules from the Federal government have declared that tracked armored vehicles are no longer to be used by police departments.  Over the past two decades, the M113 armored personnel carrier has been among the surplus military items that the DOJ distributed to police departments as part of the 1033 program.  Due to concerns about the militarization of police forces, the Obama administration issued restrictions this year regarding specific pieces of military equipment currently owned by police departments.  One of the now forbidden items are “tank-like armored vehicles that move on tracks.”  The M113 is the primary vehicle that falls into this category.  As far as we know, this rule does not apply to the various MRAP vehicles that have been distributed to police.  Reaction to the new rules have been mixed, some police departments saying the tracked APCs were costly to maintain and seldom used while other departments have spoken out against the ban saying it jeopardizes office safety.

Here is a gallery of M113 vehicles in police markings.  It is interesting to note the different styles of track and drive sprocket on some of these vehicles.

From the Vault: MBT Steering and Transmissions circa 1972

In the second of our transmission themed “From the Vault” posts today, we present a 1972 article from International Defense Review titled “The Modern Battle Tank: Steering and Transmissions.”  Contrasting this article with the previous post from 1921 should give the reader a pretty good idea of just how far AFV transmissions advanced in 50 years.

Click on the thumbnails below to view the article image full size.

From the Vault: Final Drive for Combat Vehicles circa 1921

For those interested in the automotive components of early tanks and AFVs, this article may be of interest.  “Final Drive for Combat Vehicles” is from the May-June issue of the Ordnance Journal and it examines the transmissions and final drives that were in service in 1921.  Despite the use of the term “combat vehicle” in the article title, the authors seem more interested in artillery tractors than tanks.  Having looked through a number of early 1920’s issues of Ordnance Journal, it seems there was much more work and interest shown to artillery tractors and self propelled artillery development than to tanks in the immediate post WW1 era.

Click on the thumbnails below to view full size page.


Upgraded Arjun II undergoing trials

Arjun_Mk-2_Mark_II_main_battle_tank_India_Indian_defence_industry_military_technology_007The Times of India is reporting that the upgraded version of the series of Arjun Mark-II tanks are undergoing trial at the Indian Army core level excercise at Pokhran field firing range.  The article mentions two series of tests, the first to examine its missile firing ability, while the second one will look into tank’s automotive aspects.  A defence source said successful testing will pave way for the production of upgraded Arjun. In all, 124 tanks of the first series have been produced so far. Indian Army has two armored regiments, both deployed in western desert sector, which comprise of Arjun-I tanks.  The Arjun program has been beset with numerous delays and setbacks and it has been noted that the Indian army may actually prefer the Russian built T-90.  The article quotes a source who says:

“The major upgrades would be missile-firing capability against long-range targets, panoramic sight with night vision to engage targets effectively at night, containerization of the ammunition, enhanced main weapon penetration; additional ammunition types, explosive reactive armor, an advanced air-defense gun to engage helicopters; a mine plow, an advanced land navigation system and a warning system which can fire smoke grenades to confuse laser guidance. Other upgrades are an enhanced Auxiliary power unit providing 8.5 KW (from 4.5 KW) and an improved gun barrel, changes in the commander’s panoramic sight with eye safe LRF, night vision capability including for driver, digital control harness, new final drive, track and sprocket.”

Nicholas Moran on WoT tank research

While we don’t usually present items on tank themed video gaming, this presentation by Nick “The Chieftain” Moran may be of interest to those interested in how World of Tanks conducts their vehicle research.

US Marine Corps selects final two competitors for ACV program

baes_178500Multiple news outlets are reporting that the USMC has selected BAE Systems and SAIC as the two finalists for the engineering and manufacturing development phase of the Amphibious Combat Vehicle Phase 1 Increment 1 (ACV 1.1) program.

The two companies were selected from five competitors, and each was awarded a contract to build 13 vehicles now, with an option to build three additional vehicles each at a later date. BAE Systems’ contract is for $103.8 million, while SAIC’s is for $121.5 million.

Vehicle delivery is scheduled to begin in the fall of 2016, with testing starting around January 2017 and lasting about a year.

For further information, please check out these articles:

USNI News   Defense News   Washington Post


Tank Chats #11 Valentine

The eleventh in a series of short films about some of the vehicles in the Bovington Tank Museum collection presented by historian David Fletcher MBE.