For those looking for an introductory video on “what is a tank”, Nick Moran from World of Tanks provides one in this new video.
It’s time to take a look at some of the recent Russian language tank articles translated into English over at the Archive Awareness blog. Click on the headline to read the full article.
The mittlerer Traktor (m.Tr., medium tractor), given the more widely known index Neubau Fahrzeug (Nb.Fz., newly designed vehicle) on October 3rd, 1933, began trials in 1933. The tank, an evolution of the Grosstraktor concept (Gr.Tr., large tractor) was supposed to become Germany’s medium tank. However, even as the tank began its trials, it was clear that the German military missed its mark. While the Grosstraktor was overcomplicated over its five years of development by three companies (it’s enough to say that it was also amphibious), the Nb.Fz. was in an even bigger hole.
In December of 1936, the German military signed a contract with the Krupp conglomerate for a batch of 35 Begleitwagen tanks. This tank was designed to fight as a direct fire support tank, as its name suggests. The tank’s main targets were going to be enemy infantry and light fortifications. Ironically, this vehicle became Germany’s most numerous medium tank by the start of WWII. Later, the PzIII became more numerous, but only for a short time. By 1943, the Begleitwagen, known as the PzIV, retook the lead. The Pz.Kpfw. IV was the only German pre-war tank that never went through a radical chassis modernization.
The German army entered WWII with a rather strange system of armament. The PzIII medium tank, which was built as Germany’s main tank, ended up being the least numerous in the Wehrmacht. As for the other medium tank, the PzIV, it was designed as a support tank, but ended up outnumbering the PzIII four to one. German industry could only equalize the number of both tanks by the end of 1939. By then, a new version of the support tank was in production, the PzIV Ausf. D, which was in a way a return to the original concept.
The appearance of John Walter Christie’s Medium Tank M1931 caused a revolution in tank building worldwide. A new type of tank appeared: the fast tank. Thanks to their speed, these tanks could carry out a number of other tasks in addition to infantry support. Many countries began working on conceptually similar tanks. The PzIII, Germany’s main tank in 1940-43 could be considered one of these tanks. What is the history of its creation?
The PzIII, the main German tank for the first half of WWII, was at the same time its most problematic tank. Even though the PzII also had problems with its suspension, it was only seriously redesigned once. The PzIII, on the other hand, used five (!) different types of suspension, all of which went into production. Today, we will focus on the “intermediate” PzIII Ausf. B, C, and D. Even though none of these tanks were made in large numbers, they managed to see battle, and some of them remained on the front lines for a long time.
In the late 1930s, Czechoslovakia was the second largest exporter of tanks in the world. A small Eastern European country that only obtained independence in 1918 began to catch up with Great Britain, the world leader in arms exports. Of course, such impressive leaps in only 20 years of independence didn’t start with nothing. The first steps were made with inspiration from the British and German tank building schools. This experience resulted in a series of experimental vehicles and the mass produced LT vz. 34 light tank.
By the middle of the 1920s, the British army received a new generation of medium tanks that served for a long time. The Medium Tank Mk.I and Medium Tank Mk.II became the first turreted medium tanks in the world. A good design and high reliability guaranteed a long life for these tanks, but by 1926, the British military was already thinking about their replacement. A Vickers design, the Medium Tank Mk.III, was suitable for the job. Even though the rather interesting design became the ancestor of a series of later tanks, including Soviet and German ones, its life in the British army was a difficult one.
By November of 1942, the 5th Tank Army walked a long and not so successful road. It began in the summer, when the newly formed army was sent to attack the flank and rear of the German forces rushing towards Voronezh. Due to poor reconnaissance and incorrect evaluation of the enemy’s goals, our tankers were instead forces to engage the enemy tanks head on and took heavy losses.
The name Nikolai Pavlovich Simonyak is closely connected with the Red Army’s successes in the Battle of Leningrad. In the winter of 1943, when the blockade was punctured, his 136th Rifle Division was fighting in the main assault, and its actions brought greatest success to the Red Army on January 12th. Here is where N.P. Simonyak earned the nickname “General Breakthrough”.
In the winter of 1942, a noose tightened around over 200,000 men in the German 6th Army at Stalingrad. Hermann Goering, the commander of the Luftwaffe, beat his chest promising that aircraft could provide everything the encircled soldiers needed. However, German generals were not as optimistic. Too many men needed food, ammunition, and other necessities. Many kilometers of snowy steppe separated the airstrip at Morozovsk and Tatsinskiya from Stalingrad proper.
A few days ago we had posted about “Houston-Kid II”, a composite hull M4 105mm gun tank that appeared in some ads for World of Tanks during the Superbowl. We had asked if anyone knew any details regarding this particular tank. Thanks to a tip from Wargaming’s North American tank expert Nick Moran, we now know that this tank is from South Africa. This tank originally came from the South African Defense Force School of Armour in Bloemfontein. By 2007, it had been handed over to the Sandstone Heritage Trust who went to work making the tank mobile again. By 2008 the tank was up and running, although with a modern engine not original to any M4 variant. For details of the restoration, go to the Sandstone Estates website here. Below is a excerpt from the site explaining the changes made to the vehicle. The picture below shows the alterations made to the rear deck to accommodate the new cooling fans.
This example has been modified locally, by fitting a large V8 Mercedes Benz / Atlantis Diesel Engine 442 twin-turbo diesel engine, rated at 400 hp @ 2100 rpm. Max torque is 1600 nm @ 1100-1500 rpm. Fitted directly to the engine is an Allison AC740 CR (close ratio) 4-speed automatic gearbox with the prop-shaft running into the original gearbox which now acts as a transfer box. This in effect gives the vehicle a total of 24 forward and 6 reverse gears.
Top speed is 45 kmh. Fuel consumption is now +/- 2.5 litres per km compared with 9 litres per km with the Continental engine!
Further modifications to this vehicle include the fitment of electronically operated turret turning motors (which were not standard on this specific type) and the fitment of modern optical equipment and sights.
The other major modification on the vehicle was the fitment of twin radiators with accompanying cooling fans. These radiators are fitted in such a way that the complete radiator pack swivels open in less than a minute for easy engine access.
Here is a collection of tank videos that have appeared on youtube over the past few days. There is no connecting theme with these other than that they all contain footage of tanks.
Digging up a Convenantor Cruiser tank:
US Amphibious landing of Abrams tanks:
Having fun with a Leopard I in the snow:
Archival footage of East German Schützenpanzenwagen SPW 40, SPW 40 P, and SPW 40 P2:
Cleaning up a recently recovered T-34 hull:
For those that like to keep track of the various armored vehicles on public display in the US, the M60 MBT on display outside the VFW on Route 104 in the town of Hannibal NY is due to be relocated. According to an article in the Buffalo News, a location near the Town Hall was considered, but the final destination for the vehicle has yet to be determined.
A few details remain before West Seneca adds a U.S. Army tank on the Town Hall campus, including where it will go.
Plans show the tank, which saw action in the Middle East, displayed between Town Hall and the West Seneca Library in the Walkway of Freedom complex, once construction on the library addition and renovation are completed.
But Supervisor Sheila Meegan said Monday the proposed spot for the tank might be too close to Town Hall.
“I think we’ll discuss putting the tank on the hill,” she said. “Right now it doesn’t look like the tank will work out.”
“The plan was always to put it in front of Town Hall,” said Jim Manley, chairman of the West Seneca Veterans Committee. “There’s plenty of room out there.”
While the article does not note the model of the tank, it appears to be an M60A3 based on the photos of the vehicle available here.
This past weekend World of Tanks video game released a number of somewhat amusing advertisements. These short ads all follow the same format, starting out as a parody of an unrelated commercial which is rudely interrupted by a Sherman tank. Normally we don’t post about video game stuff, but these ads did bring one question to mind. Namely, whose Sherman tank did they use in the ads and how did it get the name “Houston-Kid II”? By looking at a still shot from one of the ads, we can see that this vehicle is a composite hull M4 armed with a 105mm howitzer. It also has an unusually long machine gun barrel protruding from the gun mantlet. The tank has “Houston-Kid II” painted on the side. From what we can tell, there actually was a Sherman tank used in World War two with that nickname, although it was a M4A3, not a composite hull M4. A tank named Houston-Kid II is pictured on page 316 of Hunnicutt’s book Sherman: A History of the American Medium Tank. According to various internet sources this particular tank belonged to the 756th Tank Battalion which was part of the Seventh US Army . If anyone knows any details about the particular Sherman tank used in the ads, we would be interested to know where this vehicle is located and to whom it belongs.
The World of Tanks ads can be viewed below.
Another “Tank Chats” video from the Tank Museum at Bovington.
The thirty first in a series of short films about some of the vehicles in our collection, presented by The Tank Museum’s historian David Fletcher MBE. The First World War Mark IX, the first armoured personnel carrier, was designed to solve the problem of moving infantry across the battlefield with the fighting tanks.