From the Vault: CIA Report on The Tank and Assault Gun Industry of the USSR

From the CIA reading room website comes this 1953 report on the Tank and Assault Gun Industry of the USSR.  This is a pretty substantial report, coming at in over 60 pages.  Given the age and nature of this CIA report, obviously not everything found in its pages will be accurate.  However, it is a rather interesting in piece in that it shows what exactly the US thought it knew about Soviet AFVs and AFV production at the time.  There are quite a few tables in this report, with production numbers as well as charts showing the amounts of different types of metals used in Soviet tank production.  Below is an example of this sort of chart.  The report can be downloaded in PDF format here.

metallic-imputs

From the Vault: The Orion Engine

We recently were given a copy of the 1975 book Some Unusual Engines by LJK Seltright.   This is a long out of print and somewhat hard to find book, with used copies going for $125.00 or more on Amazon.  Several tank engines are featured in this book, including the well known A57 Chrysler Multibank and the Mitsubishi 10 ZF ten cylinder engine.  One tank engine mentioned in the book that we were not familiar with at all was the Orion engine designed by General Motors.  This unusual engine never made it past the prototype stage.  Like the Soviet 5TD of the T-64 and the British Leyland L-60 of the Chieftain tank, the Orion utilized an opposed piston, two stroke design.  However, it was a much more unusual design than either of those two engines.  Rather than having the cylinders arraigned in a row, the Orion engine features six cylinders in two rows of three each on top of each other.  Even more unusual was that engine was combined with a turbine and the turbine actually generated the shaft power.  Below is the description from the book as well as an illustration:

orion-engine-descriptionorion-picture

We did our best to find out any other information on this rather interesting engine.  The only thing we found was a brief description in the document Engine Transmission Power Packs for Tactical Vehicles 1967. Interestingly, this report gives more detail on the Orion project, as well as the name “Rigel” for the 600HP version of the engine intended for tanks. This document also gives a date for the project, noting that the program was cancelled in 1955. Oddly, it credits the engine concept to General Electric, rather than General Motors. Below are the pages from the report pertaining to the Orion program. Unfortunately, the PDF these images came from is not of very high image quality.

orion-engine-report-descriptionorion-project-image-1orion-project-image-2

From the Vault: Trunnions on the Move

Today we present an article from the January-February 1986 issue of ARMOR magazine titled “Trunnions on the Move” by Robin Fletcher.  Although thirty years old, this article is still relevant for those with an interest in tank layout design, particularly issues involved in turret design.  With the end of the Cold War, much of the impetus to produce new MBTs using some of the alternative turret ideas explored in this article was lost.   However, the introduction of the new Russian Armata will no doubt reignite interest in some of these turret and gun mounting concepts.  We have posted the pages of the article in a photo gallery below, or the entire issue can be downloaded as a PDF here.

From the Vault: A Day in the Life of a Tanker – 1918

The recent marking of the centenary of the first tanks used in combat has resulted in an increase in interest in WWI tank crew accounts.  Here is one of an American tank crewman from 1918 that was published in the Sept-Oct 1973 issues of ARMOR.  This two page article recounts the experiences of Sergeant Carl Rosenhagen of Company “C” 301st Heavy Tank Corps.  We have posted the pages as images below, or people may download a PDF version here (article is on page 104).  A longer version of this account is available in the book War Stories of the Tankers: American Armored Combat, 1918 to Today by Michael Green.

 

Video: Security on the March for Mechanized Units

This video showed up on youtube yesterday.  It is a 1943 instructional video on “Security on the March: Mechanized Units”.  Some nice footage showing the exterior and interior of early model M4 and M4A1 tanks.

From the Vault: The Heavy Assault Bridge

With the recent news of the US Army adopting the Joint Assault Bridge system, we got to thinking about the previous program implemented by the Army for a bridging tank, the Heavy Assault Bridge by General Dynamics and and MAN GHH.  The “HAB” went into production as the M104Wolverine, but only 44 were purchased by the US Army out of an initial plan to build 465.  We found in our personal collection a couple brochures for the Heavy Assault Bridge from the 1990’s back when General Dynamics was pitching this vehicle to the army.  We have scanned and posted them below for anyone who may be curious about this particular vehicle.

From the Vault: Lucas Tank Mission

Friend of the site P.M. Knight sent us this rather interesting item, a series of photographs taken of the December, 1943 Lucas Tank Mission report.  This mission consisted of a group of British officials sent to the US and Canada in order to examine the latest advances in North American tank technology as well as to advise US authorities on the progress of British production and development.  The report is fairly lengthy, coming in at over 70 pages, but makes for quick reading.  We have converted the photos into a PDF file which may be downloaded.  Posted below are images of the report index so that readers may be able to see what topics the report addresses.  The full report can be downloaded here.

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