Translated articles from Tank

Here are an assortment of Russian language articles covering WWII era armor translated into English by Tank  It’s been a couple months since we last checked in on them so there are quite a few.  Click on the link to go to Tank and view the full article.

Medium Tank M3 – by Yuri Pasholok

m3medium01-d71ea925f5cc00c844913c10cdf7485bThe American army had only a handful of medium tanks at the start of WWII. That does not mean that American designers ignored vehicles of this class. In the summer of 1939, the Medium Tank M2 entered production. Only 18 units were built, but it turned out to be the start of a new era for American tank building. The layout of its chassis became the foundation of American medium tanks. In 1940, the superior Medium Tank M2A1 was built, although it was already obsolete at the time.

Light Tank M5: The Peak of Evolution –  by Yuri Pasholok

m5light05-dde23b5bad317050a9ec00440fb8951dRapid advances in armoured vehicles during WWII meant that even very good designs did not stay at the top for long. This was especially noticeable in American tank building. In 1939, the Light Tank M2 and Combat Car M1 were at the top of technical progress, but they were replaced with the Light Tank M3 by the time the USA entered the war in late 1941. In 1942, the Light Tank M3A1 entered production, but it did not last long as America’s main light tank. At the end of 1942, the Light Tank M5 was there to replace it, the last of the descendants of the Light Tank M2.

Through Adversity to the SU-122 – by Yuri Pasholok

u35s15-784c4d20669b29376a985112489949afIt was clear by the spring of 1942 that work on a medium SPG on the T-34 chassis with an 85 mm gun in a rotating turret hit a dead end. The result of this work, which started back in the summer of 1940, was the U-20, which the military considered unsatisfactory. The project didn’t leave the drawing board. Later, development of Soviet SPGs took a different path. A significant influence was the study of a captured StuG III Ausf. B. Later, factory #592 built a Soviet version on its chassis, called SG-122. It was clear, however, that converting foreign vehicles was not the end.

SU-26: Blockade Long-Liver – by Yuri Pasholok

t26sau09-7fe88a7694ebcfd1b92ccc5004f40442The start of the Great Patriotic War in the summer of 1941 forced many changes onto the prospective designs of Soviet SPGs. Many branches were cancelled, and work on the ZIS-30 SPG on the Komsomolets tractor platform was urgently started. Until then, it was not considered as an SPG platform at all. However, one SPG that was designed according to pre-war plans was not only built, but mass produced. This is a vehicle best known under the name SU-26. Its real name, T-26-6, was buried deep in the archives.

Light Paper SPGs (SU-31 and SU-32) – by Yuri Pasholok

zik7s09-174660916cbe3269722286fd12c7f318As with many other Soviet SPGs, the path to the SU-76 was not easy. Initially, the two-turreted T-26 tank would be used as the chassis for an infantry support vehicle. Later, the T-50 joined in the plans. The situation after the start of the war forced the concept of the SPG to change urgently. Instead of a light infantry support SPG, the ZIS-30 appeared, a tank destroyer on the Komsomolets tractor chassis. Designers only returned to the topic of a multipurpose SPG towards the end of 1941. The SU-12, the first production variant of the SU-76, did not come about on the first try. This article tells the story of vehicles that were dead ends, without even being produced in metal.

The Road to SU-76 – by Yuri Pasholok

su32s04-08fc3907c10f0dbcf050f8ce12f46fcdThe T-50 tank was considered the highest priority platform for light SPGs in the pre-war Soviet Union. However, a proposal for an SPG chassis based on the T-40 amphibious reconnaissance tank was made at a meeting on June 9th, 1941. The idea was quickly abandoned, and, a few weeks later, the USSR was too busy for the T-50 SPG. Suddenly, the first wartime light Soviet SPG turned out to be the ZIS-30, which used the chassis of the Komsomolets artillery tractor. Due to the cancellation of artillery tractors, the idea of building an SPG using T-40 components came out of retirement. The result was a small family of experimental vehicles, such as the SU-31 SPAAG and SU-32 SPG.

Big Dreams, Small Chassis (T40) – by Yuri Pasholok

t40spguns01-f18ea71cb513688976f9990fddf50528Despite the difficulty with which the Soviet T-40 amphibious reconnaissance tank entered production, designers considered the platform quite promising. The T-40 chassis would be used to produce the GAZ-22 artillery tractor, which would eventually replace the Komsomolets. The fact that the T-40 was also seen as an SPG platform was less well known. Most of the designs remained on paper, but at least one was produced in a small batch.

Metamorphoses of an Amphibian Scout (T-37 and T-38) – by Yuri Pasholok

t38rearm04-6a7919577b4ec397fd90782dfdfec544An unusual modification of the T-38 can be seen in the outdoor display of the Central Museum of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation. This vehicle is distinct from its brothers: instead of one DT machinegun, its turret houses a 20 mm TNSh autocannon and a coaxial DT machinegun. Some Russian historians spread the myth that this tank was experimental. In reality, not only was this not an experimental tank, but these tanks had the chance to fight. This article will cover modifications of T-37 and T-38 amphibious tanks.

Israeli Sandwiches – by Yuri Pasholok

sandswichidf01-7f3b5be80cfc2780353972dd2a3d0b68When Israeli armoured vehicles are mentioned, one often thinks of Merkava tanks first. Without a doubt, these vehicles are a point of pride for Israel. However, the backbone of the Israel Defense Force (IDF) was composed of converted foreign vehicles for a very long time. The Israelis spent several decades fine tuning the art of adapting vehicles to suit their needs. Everything started with improvised armoured cars, which played an important role in the war for Israeli independence.

Marder II: Light Tank Destroyer -by Yuri Pasholok

marder2s02-4afc0abfec61886e130b800c8594673bBy the end of 1941, the Germans began to understand that the time of light tanks was over. This also applied to the PzII tank. By that time, it’s main enemy was medium tanks with shellproof armour, against which the 20 mm autocannon was useless. Production of light tanks ended in Germany in the summer of 1942, but that doesn’t mean that the PzII chassis was done for. Work on light SPGs on its chassis began in the spring. One of them was a tank destroyer that is best known as the Marder II.

An Aryan From Poland – by Yuri Pasholok

pz2cussr02-3cb55f2bc6c28eee12822eeee90ff340The Red Army GABTU had a very vague idea about the armoured vehicles of its potential enemy at the start of World War II. The same could be said about the other members of what would become the Allies. For obvious reasons, there was very little available information about tanks made by Germany and its allies. Mainly, it could be obtained from encyclopedias, which were full of errors. The ability to properly study the foreign tanks was only possible after combat began. In this respect, the USSR was ahead of the rest of the world. The first trophies began arriving from Spain: a captured PzI Ausf. A and an Italian L3/35. In the summer of 1939, a Japanese Ha-Go tank was captured in the Far East. The list of trophies grew with the start of WWII. The German PzII Ausf. C was among them.

Pz.Kpfw.II Ausf. F: Third Time’s the Charm – by Yuri Pasholok

pz2f03-c79000eaf8b94c14804881db27290938There are few cases when a tank that is accepted into service is replaced by a modification that is inferior to it. In Soviet tank building, one example of this is the KV-1S, a necessary measure. It was lighter than the KV-1, and had thinner armour, but as a result of its lower mass and improved gearbox, it was a lot more reliable and mobile. The tank itself received a large number of improvements.  With the Germans, the most clear example of such a paradoxical course of action was the PzII Ausf. F. Here, the Germans returned to an older version of the PzII (Ausf. C, albeit with some improvements) than the one that was already accepted into production (Ausf. D).

Pz.Kpfw.II Ausf. D-E: Unlucky Torsion Bars – by Yuri Pasholok

pz2d05-21c58c47aba5abd78f9e6bf3d505f5feWorldwide tank building progressed rapidly in the second half of the 1930s. This can definitely be said about Germany’s tank industry, which developed tank suspensions, along with everything else. Various experiments in this area led to widespread use of torsion bars. However, there is a tank in the history of Germany’s tank design that was produced in large numbers, but it is rarely remembered. It ended up in a paradoxical situation where, instead of a technically superior tank, a tank with an old suspension returned into production. This was the PzII Ausf. D: a light tank that fought in its initial configuration for only a month.


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