Inside the Chieftain’s Hatch: Strv 103C part 1

Nicholas “The Chieftain” Moran of Wargaming examines the Swedish Striv 103C part 1. This first part looks at the exterior of the vehicle.

Unofficial High-Speed Tour of Saumur, Part 2

Nick “The Chieftain” Moran posts part 2 of his quick video tour of the French tank museum at Saumur.

The Matilda Diaries Part 12

Episode 12 of The Matilda Diaries chronicling the restoration of the Matilda infantry tank at the Bovington Tank Musuem is now online.  This clip looks at the restoration of the turret interior.

Article on Tank 785

The Daily Mail recently posted an article on the WWI era Mark II tank identified at tank 785.  This tank currently resides at the Tank Museum at Bovington.  According to the article, this tank was unwittingly sent into combat despite being built not out of armor plate but of untreated steel, leaving it vulnerable to rifle fire.

3FCD142B00000578-4462368-image-m-57_1493637716986British tank crews unwittingly went into the first ever major tank battle in vulnerable unarmoured vehicles, historians have revealed 100 years after the event.  Researchers have found that the 45 Mark II tanks that went into action at the Battle of Arras in May 1917 were training vehicles which had no armour.  Experts believe the crews were not informed the steel the tanks were made from was untreated and therefore could be penetrated by rifle fire.  The weakness of the vehicles actually ended up helping the British war effort after one was captured by the Germans, who then abandoned plans to develop more advanced armour-piercing weapons.  But it was actually mechanical issues that proved the most costly, with just 11 of the tanks eventually crossing No Man’s Land due to breakdowns.

Read the full Daily Mail piece here

 

Translated Articles from Tankarchives.com (April 2017)

Here is part two of our post bringing us up to speed with the translated Russian articles from Tankarchives.com.  Click on the headline to read the full article.

 

Halftrack Experiments

zis41s03-02690271982d6ac26600456ac3b6e667Ever since their appearance in the mid-1910s, halftracks have been considered as a chassis for armoured vehicles, especially SPGs. Better off-road performance than wheeled vehicles and stability made these vehicles an attractive chassis for artillery. Halftrack SPGs were popular in Germany and the United States. The heroes of this article, Soviet ZIS-41 and ZIS-43 halftracks, are not as well known.

 

Medium Tank M2: Last Place in the Arms Race

m2medium02-eb9a5efac887bcff19fda8051f7411d4The late 1930s were a time when armoured vehicles were developing rapidly. The start of WWII in September of 1939 gave an even bigger push to the flywheel of progress. Designs that were considered revolutionary suddenly fell behind. There were cases where tanks became obsolete soon after coming out of the factory. The American Medium Tank M2 is among those unlucky ones. You can read a lot of mockery of the combat abilities of this tank, but they are unreasonable. American engineers made a decent medium tank, but by the time it entered mass production there were already other tanks with more armour and better armament.

 

Light Tanks T1E4 and T2E1: Experiments on an Ideal Platform

t2light07-11db1761b0741fc4e9c1088ed4197ddaThe idea of a light tank with a front engine that the American Ordnance Department insisted on was at a dead end by 1932. Trials of the Light Tank T1 family and later the Medium Tank T2 showed that the idea was unacceptable. Poor visibility, excessive mass, bad crew conditions, and, most importantly, the limits of further development, put an end to such tanks. Designers moved on to working on other tanks with different layouts. Harry Knox, the father of the front engine American tanks, did not abandon his idea, and kept looking for a place for his idea. Stooping down to plagiarism, he crossed his Light Tank T1E1 with the Vickers Mk.E, its overseas competitor. The resulting “hybrid” Light Tank T2E1 was not that bad.

Combat Car M1: Armour for American Cavalry

m1combatcar01-58fd2c9380fbf5aabb682a4b180a0fcaTraditionally, cavalry occupied a very strong position in the American army. As soon as there was an opportunity to obtain its own tanks, the cavalry took it. Since, officially, the cavalry was not allowed to have tanks, the name “combat car” was used, even though these vehicles were actually tanks. The Combat Car M1 and several similar vehicles on its chassis are typical representatives of the small family of interbellum cavalry tanks.

 

T18 HMC: Quick Howitzer

t18hmc01-608c1135334e018fbcc68d997973af85The American army began thinking of motorizing their artillery back in WWI. For a long time, attempts were made to build an SPG on the chassis of the light tracked Holt tractor. In parallel, John Walter Christie was working on a similar vehicle. Neither project satisfied the US Army for various reasons. A second attempt at an SPG was made in 1930, but the Howitzer Motor Carriage T1 remained an experiment. The next opportunity to obtain self propelled artillery came a decade later in the form of the Howitzer Motor Carriage T18.

 

Gun Motor Carriage M10

m10gmcussr01-01624a4b384f4eba2ee6dce9c1ef6a55Unlike many tanks, few tank destroyers arrived in the USSR within the Lend Lease program. The Gun Motor Carriage T48, or SU-57, built on the chassis of the M3 halftrack, was the only exception. Initially, they were built by the Americans for a British order, but the British barely used them. The USSR gave them a completely different reception: they were used actively and showed themselves as an effective anti-tank measure. As for tank destroyers on a tank chassis, the only Western vehicle that was accepted into the army was the Gun Motor Carriage M10, known widely under the British nickname “Wolverine”.

 

Infantry Tank Mk.I: the First Infantry Tank

infantrymk1s01-64e78e66aeb81b5b3394c2f146a819e9There are many tanks in the history of armoured warfare that were simply unlucky. The British Infantry Tank Mk.I is one of them. Even its name was lost when it became the Matilda due to some historian’s error, even though that name applies to a completely different vehicle. As Britain’s first infantry tank, it was hopelessly obsolete by the start of the war. Even its thick armour was not enough to survive in a war that it was simply not suitable for.

 

Hummel: Bee with a Long Stinger

hummel02-432ab111a90b761d1a30aaa29304f8e9German engineers invented the “self propelled gun mount” class of artillery. The first work in this area was done during WWI, but it truly became a mass event 25 years after it ended. The recipe was simple: take a light or medium tank and use its parts to to build a chassis with bulletproof armour. A slightly modified version of a towed gun was installed on that chassis. Thanks to this phenomenon, the mobility of German artillery grew significantly. The Hummel became the post powerful of German “self propelled gun mounts”. This SPG earned its position as one of the symbols of German self propelled artillery.

 

E-50 and E-75: A Story of Failed Unification

e50e75photo12-235c9c8156d3ec8de3ec4bd536ee09ceTanks that could have been built are often discussed within certain circles. Aside from the superheavy Maus and E-100, there are the light and medium E-10 and E-25 tank destroyers. Despite very incomplete data about these vehicles, the overall characteristics are known, including the armament.  Meanwhile, the core of “Panzerwaffe-46” was going to be composed of the medium E-50 tank and heavy E-75 tank, at least in the minds of fans of alternative history. The story with these tanks is a lot more complicated, since work stopped at an early stage, and a good half of the information available on these tanks is divination at best. Let’s try to figure out what about the E-50 and E-75 is true and what is blatant misrepresentation.

Translated Articles from Tankarchives.com (Feb-Mar 2017)

It’s been a little while since we checked in with tankarchives.com (formerly known at Archive Awareness.com) to see what articles from Russian tank researchers they have translated into English.  Since there have been over two months worth of articles, we have broken them up into two separate posts.  As usual, click on the article headline to go to the full piece.

SR Tanks

02Like many nations, Japan wanted to have a light amphibious reconnaissance tank. The idea came up in the 1920s when the country purchased the French AMP amphibious half-tracked armoured car. In 1928, two amphibious armoured cars based on the Vickers-Wolseley were built, but what Japan needed was specifically an amphibious tank. This is where the sad story of the SR series of tanks begins.

 

Self Propelled Artillery on a Tractor Chassis

zis30s02-66d6a8a56a69bff90768b4776d2e4c52The idea to use tractors as a chassis for SPG was born in the USSR in the 1930s. The SU-2 and SU-4 prototypes were built, but the projects did not move past the prototype stage. On the other hand, the Germans achieved different results. Taking captured French Renault UE tractors, they created SPGs with 3.7 cm Pak guns. The resulting vehicle wasn’t the best, but could be produced in large amounts at a small cost. A year later, the ZIS-30 was built in the USSR, the first mass production SPG of the war.

 

HTZ-16: Improvisation on an Industrial Scale

khtz16s03-1c7dc29b7b4c90e51e4853bbcc0127ceImprovised armour vehicles appeared during WWI, but the phenomenon became truly commonplace during the Spanish Civil War. The most common type of vehicle was the improvised armoured car, but armoured tractors were also built. Less mobile than wheeled armoured cars, they were not in high demand in Spanish conditions. WWII triggered a resurgence of improvised armoured vehicles. The USSR built the largest amount of armoured tractors, and one of them, the HTZ-16, was accepted into production and built on an industrial scale. On July 20th, this vehicle turned 75 years old.

 

Char B1 bis: General Estienne’s Legacy

charbp3s07-2c16253ff000d24c50cbd4262b6d30d8On March 16th, 1934, after almost 13 years passed since the medium Char B program was launched, the French infantry command ordered the first seven Char B1 tanks. This decision was controversial. Yes, the French army was in need of a new tank. However, not only did its mass reach twice that of the initial requirements, but the tank came out very expensive, and there could be no hope of truly mass production. Paradoxically, the Char B1 bis, an improved version of the Char B1, was one of the causes of French defeat in the summer of 1940.

 

Char B1 ter: Pointless Modernization

charbp4s03-90a33289c38bf480dae464c76cd39aecIn 1936, only two years after a decision was made to put the Char B1 into production, work on its modernization began. Mostly, it entailed improving the armour and armament. In April of 1937, the first modernized tank, indexed Char B1 bis, left its Renault assembly plant. It was destined to become the most numerous medium tank in the French army, although many of its parameters put it in the heavy class. Nevertheless, even before it entered production, discussion about a deeper modernization that would create an even heavier vehicle began. This vehicle was called Char B1 ter.

 

World of Tanks History Section: Star Over Kharkov

An enormous breach formed in the Soviet-German front after the encirclement and defeat of Paulus’ 6th Army at Stalingrad. Another breach formed soon after, as a result of the Voronezh-Kastornaya Operation in January of 1943. This second breach was very tempting for the Soviets as it opened up a route to liberate Kharkov and the Donbass.

 

The Amazing Strv 103

strv103dev10-96777cc1f2c013853b7d8ccec2e27c13The Strv 103, also called the S-Tank, is Sweden’s trademark tank. A lack of turret, fixed gun with an autoloader, active suspension, three driver positions (one per crewman), these are only some of its unusual features. Swedish tank designers managed to surprise the world. However, the Strv 103 didn’t come out of nothing, and a significant portion of the components that went into the tank came from experimental vehicles. How did Sweden assemble this industrial “Lego set”?

 

02SS Aerosan: A Tank in the Snow

ckb50erosledges04-b5a1598135115dc8cb594c9a261eb6a6The history of the aerosan in Russia and then the USSR is old and varied. The first mass produced aerosans were built in 1912, were actively used in WWI and then the Russian Civil War. Development of aerosans received great attention due to the geographical features of our country. It was not surprising that the Red Army had the largest aerosan fleet in the world during the Great Patriotic War. Meanwhile, the widely used NKL-26 reconnaissance aerosan was a pale shadow of what was initially planned for production. The wishes of the Soviet military materialized as the 02SS battle aerosan which had no equivalent in any country in the world.

 

Pz.Sfl.IVb: Halfway to the Hummel

pzsfl4b03-768293453622d870c161c85350e50f6eGerman wartime SPGs are well known. However, it took some time to develop the “selbstfahrlafette” concept of a large open casemate, like the one used on the Hummel. Initially, the idea was to built medium SPGs instead of light ones, and their layout differed noticeably from the vehicles that showed up on the battlefield in 1943. Even though German SPGs developed along a different path, the Pz.Sfl.IVb was built and even got to fight.

 

CKD Export Tanks: An Offer You Can’t Refuse

prahatnh03-53a25e379dd1d66010f3c67e08b2ed2eCzechoslovakian tank manufacturing caught up to world standards in the mid-1930s. The P-II, CKD’s first light tank and the first mass produced domestically designed tank, was close to the world’s leading designs. The LT vz. 35 that won the tender for a new cavalry tank caught up with the rest of the world’s leaders. It’s not surprising that Czechoslovakian tanks were considered for purchase in countries without a domestic tank design program. This caused the design of the CKD TNH and LTP (Tanque 39); excellent tanks that became the backbone of the Iranian and Peruvian tank fleets.

 

Sweden’s Autoloaders

krv10-ad33c137e235faf17d5acab34254ae4aSweden’s tank industry was in crisis in the second half of the 1940s. On one hand, the middle of this decade was a time when Swedish self propelled artillery thrived. That is when the Swedish army finally received assault guns, tank destroyers, and SPAAGs. However, the tank program lagged behind. Sweden’s luck ran out with the Strv m/42. Pricken, LS 46, Leo, all of these projects remained on paper. Attempts to build a new tank weighing between 25 and 30 tons encountered various problems. A way out of this dead end appeared in the early 1950s, which led to two interesting heavy tank projects: the EMIL and the KRV.

 

Light Tank M3A1: Basket into Battle

m3a1light03-e0ec737a65d4fbd8656fb9c1732c4df8History knows many instances when an attempt to improve a design led to, if not a worse one, then at least an equivalent. The American M3A1 light tank is one such example. Even though its modernization improved some characteristics, the well-intentioned modifications had some unintended consequences. Let us go through them in order.

 

First Soviet Tanks

01_МС-1The first tank built in the young Soviet Republic was the “Russian Renault”, a poor copy of the most numerous and probably best tank of WWI. It is also known as “Freedom Fighter Comrade Lenin”, after the name of the first tank of the batch. There were 15 Russian Renaults built in total at the Krasnoye Sormovo factory in Nizhniy Novgorod under the supervision of visiting engineers from the Putilov and Izhor factories. This group was headed by Sergei Petrovich Shukalov. The Putilov and Obukhov factories were pioneers of the Russian Empire when it came to mastering complicated machinery, and the Izhor factory specialized in producing armoured plates and parts for the Imperial army.

 

LPP-25: Light, Simple, and Unwanted

1-35f10252adffe1bb98f157c6559fe16aThe light LPP-25 anti-tank gun was built as an answer to the German s.Pz.B.41 anti-tank rifle. As a result of information that reached Soviet designers from the front lines, a weapon was born that did not lose out to the German gun, but without the complex and short-lived conical barrel. What was this LPP-25 like?

 

Provornov’s Light Tank: T-34 in Miniature

ltps01-339727aabeee5c05e3b9fdc7fa7eb6a8Hundreds of tank-themed proposals were sent to the Main Automobile and Armour Directorate of the Red Army during the Great Patriotic War. There was a wide spectrum of ideas and inventors. There were workers, scientists, engineers, ordinary citizens. A significant percentage was made up of military men of all ranks and branches. One of these men was Lieutenant Provornov, who proposed a light tank in July of 1942 with a number of original solutions. It was never built in metal, but fans of World of Tanks know it as LTP.

Video: High-Speed tour of Saumur

Nick “The Chieftain” Moran from World of Tanks gives a high speed tour of the French tank museum at Saumur in this 25 minute video.