It’s time for another list of articles translated from Russian by the Archive Awareness blog. As always, click on the title to read the full article.
On the second day of Operation Bagration, June 25th, 1944, the Red Army took the Bogushevsk settlement, located between Vitebsk and Orsha. As a result, the Germans lost a vital stronghold. Soviet command sent Major-General N.S. Oslikov’s motorized cavalry group into the breach. The group was tasked with developing the Red Army’s offensive towards Senno and Lepel, with the eventual exit to Berezina river.
The Czechoslovakian industry received a number of advanced military technologies after the end of the Second World War as the result of German orders, but their inheritance didn’t end here. A large amount of formerly German tanks were left in the country. Even though Czechoslovakia preferred Soviet tanks and SPGs, nobody was going to say refuse the wealth of German vehicles. As a result, the country ended up with a colourful tank park, including domestic pre-war LT vz.35 and LT vz.38, British Cromwells and Challengers, Soviet T-34-85s and IS-2s, and many German vehicles, including the StuG 40.
On June 23rd, 1944, a mad steamroller entered the territory of Belarus. Thundering westward at a speed of twenty kilometers per day, it crushed and ground up German forces in its way. In mere days, Army Group Center was reduced into pitiful shreds. The demolition of German forces was unprecedented, to the point where the Western Allies were doubting Soviet reports. The only solution was to gather up foreign correspondents and hold the famous prisoner of war march. 19 German generals and 45,000 soldiers and officers became a convincing confirmation of the Red Army’s success. But where did this skepticism come from?
American tank building fell behind those of other nations during the interbellum period, but rapidly closed the gap. In May of 1940, mass production of the Light Tank M2A4 began, a tank that caught up to other members of its class, and surpassed them in speed and armament. At the same time, the Americans realized that the war in Europe will last a long time, and tanks and guns grow obsolete quickly. This was the trigger that resulted in the Light Tank M3, the first American tank to result in more than a thousand mass produced vehicles.
The USSR was the second country, after Great Britain, to receive tanks from the United States. Among them were M3 light tanks. According to American data, 1336 tanks of this type were sent to the USSR, a quarter of the overall volume of Light Tank M3 production. Out of all tanks sent, 440 (including M3A1 tanks) were lost during transport. Domestic literature often calls the M3 weakly armoured and poorly armed. This evaluation is surprising, especially when you compare the tank to the Soviet T-70. In order to truly evaluate the American tank in the Soviet Union, we must consult archive documents.
The Kiev Offensive Operation was not going smoothly for the Red Army. After penetrating the first line of enemy defenses, Soviet forces traveled 5-12 km, encountered German reserves, and started losing momentum. Nevertheless, on the second day of battles, November 4th, 1943, it was already clear that the Germans will not hold the city. The enemy started withdrawing westward. The Red Army attempted to prevent this, encircling the enemy and cutting their supply lines. The city of Fastov, some 70 kilometers south-west of Kiev, was among key positions that had to be captured for this plan to work. Tankers from P.S. Rybalko’s 3rd Guards Army hit the city.
1916. For many months, endless trench warfare raged on along the fronts of the First World War. Attacks into a storm of enemy shells and bullets, thousands of dead men to push the enemy back hundreds of meters. Day after day, week after week. The way out of this dead end was coming. A new, never before seen weapon, a demon of technological warfare, was already coming to life within British arsenals. Its name was “tank”. In order to bring this fighting machine to life, four technical inventions were necessary, as well as one condition to bring them together. Here they are.
75 year passed on Sunday July 17th 2016 since the decision to produce the T-30 small tank. This tank remained in obscurity for a number of reasons. Born at a time of difficult for its country, it was overshadows by its “older brother”, the T-40, and “younger brother”, the T-60. In addition, the tank was indexed T-60 for some time, complicating the process of figuring out what tank is mentioned in reports. Lost among almost 6000 “real” T-60s, this tank played an important role on the battlefield in the fall and winter of 1941.
The First T-60
The history of the T-60 tank is atypical for Soviet tank building. The tank was accepted into service before even the first blueprint was prepared, and thousand of units were ordered immediately at three factories. Even though the final results were a lot more humble, more than 5500 completed vehicles is a very impressive number. Remaining in production for just under a year, from September 1941 to July 1942, the T-60 became the most numerous small tank in history. These vehicles appeared on the front lines during the most heated part of the Battle for Moscow, and made a noticeable contribution to the war during its most difficult point. On July 20th, 2016, the T-60 turned 75 years old.