Translated Articles from Archive Awareness

It’s time to catch up with the Archive Awareness blog and see what articles they have translated over the past month.  Click on the article headline to read the entire piece.
 

TK-3 and TKS: Poland’s Armoured Cockroaches

1-d2434dd8b0a09371b6a0c14552a7f6b8By pure numbers, Poland had an impressive amount of armoured vehicles in WWII: about 870 units (against approximately 2700 German tanks in Army Group North and South). However, three quarters of them were rather unusual vehicles: TK-3 and TKS tankettes. What were the machines that formed the backbone of the Polish armoured forces like?
 

Char B: On France’s Backburner

charbp2s01-daec49e54611565ac9645a90ebe6aca8On May 13th, 1924, a demonstration of medium tanks built according to the Char de bataille program took place in Rueil-Malmaison. FAMH, FCM, Renault, and Schneider each built a prototype. The plan was to pick the most successful design and split up the contract for 120 tanks between the companies. However, it turned out that none of the tanks completely satisfied requirements of the military. As a result, General Estienne, the originator of the Char B program, was forced to create new requirements in March of 1925 for an improved tank which would use the most successful technical solutions from its predecessors.
 

Char B: A Difficult Beginning

charbp1p1s04-a87d0bae33f0f74bb642ae32c29f3c09The Char B1 and its improved version, the Char B1 bis, stand as the symbol of French tank building in WWII. At the start of WWII, these were the best medium tanks, combining shell-proof armour and serious armament, capable of destroying any tank in the world. Meanwhile, several elements of the Char B1, such as its suspension and its short barreled 75 mm howitzer in the hull, were rather archaic. Naturally, there was a good reason for this. Even though the Char B1 was accepted into service in 1934, five years before the start of the war, its story begins more than a decade and a half prior…
 

Combat Car T4: Christie Style

christietype01-eba0ddbbbc0d9eb15c5571a844812c5dOn March 25th, 1931, the US Wheel Track Layer Corporation and Bureau of Ordnance signed a contract to build five Christie M.1931 tanks, later expanded to seven. American infantry received three Convertible Medium Tanks T3 and cavalry received four Combat Cars T1. It seemed that the long struggle between Christie and the American military finally ended with Christie’s victory, and a large order will follow the first batch of tanks any day now. However, history took a different path, and the Christie suspension was a dead end for the American tank building school. However, the evolution of American convertible drive designs led to several interesting vehicles, one of which was the Convertible Medium Tank M1, which was standardized for service.
 

Light Tank M2: Two-Headed Light

m2light01-92f327964ca403f4482a32ff6560649fIn January of 1935, the Light Tank T2E1 arrived at Fort Benning for military trials. This vehicle was the result of nine years of trial and error, which began with the design of the Light Tank T1. Over time, the concept of the light tank changed radically. It transformed from a two man tank with an engine in the front and a 37 mm gun as the main armament to a 4 man tank with a rear engine, front transmission, and machineguns in a two man turret. As a result of the trials, the Light Tank T2E1 was accepted into service as the Light Tank M2A1.
 

World of Tanks History Section: Panfilov’s Last Step Back

kryukovoThe front line passed near Kryukovo in late November of 1941: a settlement and a railway station. The Red Army and the Wehrmacht pushed against it like two boxers. One, more vicious and more experienced, was still attacking, but his blows lacked the crushing strength they had at the start of the bout. The other, forced to keep his guard up, was barely standing. He missed hits, spat blood, fell down. But every time he got up again and kept fighting.
 

Medium Tank Mk.II: Interbellum Long-Liver

mediummk2s01-01c7317bf58f674aa675de59dff4d43dThe Light Tank Mk.I, later renamed to Medium Tank Mk.I, entered production in 1923 and left a notable mark in not only British tank building history, but tank building history in general. Its excellent maneuverability and armament for the time set a trend for the later part of the 1920s. Nevertheless, its lifespan was brief. Two years later, it was replaced by the most numerous tank of the 1920s: the Medium Tank Mk.II.
 

T-62: Return of the Smoothbore

02_%d1%83-8%d1%82%d1%81In the late 1950s, the Soviet government received information that NATO nations developed and adopted new 105 mm tank guns, which made the T-54 and T-55, the most common types of Soviet tank, vulnerable. The 100 mm rifled gun on the T-55 could not penetrate the front of the M48 Patton III, and the Americans were already developing the M60 Patton IV. In case of a duel, the T-55 would be at a disadvantage.
 

Dicker Max

dickermax03-8a99940465f33bfc1dbc898fb5d8866cDuring WWII, the German army became the leader in the amount of SPGs produced. The most numerous armoured vehicle in the German army was not a tank, but an SPGs. The Germans were also the first to use self propelled gun mounts. These SPGs were, as a rule, made from obsolete tank chassis, usually light tanks. However, the Germans had a custom built self propelled gun mount, not converted from an already existing tank, but built from scratch. This unusual vehicle is known as the Dicker Max.
 

World of Tanks History Section: Lieutenant Krysov vs. Leibstandarte

foto_5_bsqrh-jp5daIn the middle of November of 1943, the Germans tried to take Kiev, recently liberated by the Red Army. A powerful strike force struck at Soviet forces in two directions on November 15th, 1943: west of Fastov and south of Zhitomir.  Among others, the 1st SS Tank Division “Leibstandarte” attacked towards the Zhitomir direction. This division included 96 Panther and PzIV tanks and 27 Tigers. The division was tasked with capturing Brusilov. The Germans circled around it and prepared for an offensive from the east. The village of Yastrebenka lay between Leibstandarte and Brusilov, and the Germans had to take it first.

Translated Articles from Archive Awareness

It’s time again to do a round up of the Russian language articles translated to English at the Archive Awareness blog.  Click on the article title to read the full article.

MT-25: The Last Convertible Drive

1-1Difficult battles of the Soviet-German front in 1941-1942 negated the advantages of light tanks. Equipped with relatively weak weapons and mostly bulletproof armour, light tanks as a class were becoming obsolete. The Germans were the first to see the end of the pre-war concept of a light tank, ceasing production in 1942. In the USSR, engineers were still trying to boost the combat performance of the T-70. The result of this work was the T-80 tank, but it came too late.  Meanwhile, proposals for radically new light tanks arrived. A proposal for the MT-25 tank was sent by Chelyabinsk engineers to Stalin on February 24th, 1943. Unlike many proposals, this one contained interesting ideas and was well thought out, and piqued the interest of the Main Armoured Directorate. What were these ideas, and why was the tank never built?

 

World of Tanks History Section: Battle for Dompaire

karta_dyz86elIn the late summer and early fall of 1944, F. Leclerc’s 2nd Armoured Division was confidently leading the Allied offensive in Lorraine. Colonel Paul de Langlade was the leader among leaders. His decisive actions threatened German units south of Nancy with encirclement.  The Germans decided to deliver a counterattack to correct matters. Now de Langlade, having scorned his enemy, had to deal with the consequences of his success.

Ready for defense: The Germans sent elements of the 112th Tank Brigade into battle, commanded by Horst von Usedom. The brigade was well equipped: 45 of its 109 tanks and SPG were the picky but deadly Panthers. Various sources count 600-800 infantrymen. The artillery department was lacking: von Usedom only had six AT guns and five howitzers at his disposal.

 

Toldi: The Hungarian Light Knight

2Sometimes fairly good designs of military hardware don’t reach their true potential because they appeared in the wrong time or in the wrong place. Light tanks, widely in use on all theaters of WWII, disappeared rather quickly from the Eastern Front, freeing up the space for their heavier brothers. The Hungarian Toldi tank, the first mass produced tank for the country, was one of them.  The consequences of the First World War were disastrous for Hungary. The Treaty of Trianon of 1920 which cost Hungary 72% of its territory, 64% of its population, and its access to the sea was seen as a national disgrace. The state of mourning declared after the treaty was signed was one of the longest in world history: state flags remained at half mast until 1938 when Hungary returned some of its lost territory after the First Vienna Award. Some schoolchildren begin the day with singing the national anthem, while Hungarian students began with reading a prayer for the reunification of their country.

 

World of Tanks History Section: Sagopshin Tank Battle, Prokhorovka in the Caucasus

foto_1_stabswache_de_eurosThe Wehrmacht offensive towards the Caucasus in 1942 had two goals. The secondary was to cut the line of Lend-Lease supplies, but the primary goal was to reach the local oil supply. At the time, Caucasian wells accounted for 70% of the USSR’s oil. It’s not hard to imagine what a loss of these wells would mean for the USSR, which was already doing poorly in 1942, or what a godsend it would be for the fuel-starved German army.

On September 2nd, 1942, the Germans crossed the Terek river and wedged themselves into the Soviet defenses. Fierce battles were fought around Malgobek. This village and others nearby cut off the Germans from the Alkhanchurtskaya Valley, from where the precious oil was a stone’s throw away. The Germans picked the Sagopshin settlement (modern day Sagopshi), just south of Malgobek, to deliver their decisive strike. The elite 5th SS Motorized Division “Viking” was chosen to attack here.

 

L-60: Scandinavian Tank Revolution

8Having fought its last war in 1814, Sweden ended up one of the few European countries that avoided participating in either World War. Nevertheless, the Swedes always paid careful attention to their army’s weapons. Despite its neutrality, Sweden often preferred weapons of German origin. This applied to tanks as well. Even the Strv fm/21, the first Swedish tanks, were really German LK.IIs. Ten of these tanks were built at AB Landsverk in Landskrona, which became the Swedish tank development center for decades to come. The Landsverk L-60 was born here, some elements of which were a real revolution for tank development in the 1930s.  Sweden’s neutral status, its developed industry, and well maintained connections were very useful for the Germans. The Treaty of Versailles prohibited Germany from developing new types of weapons and military vehicles. However, this prohibition did not stop the Germans from secretly re-launching tank development programs in 1925. They also did not miss out on the opportunity to develop tanks in other countries.

 

World of Tanks History Section: The British Devil and His Brothers

1tankNo one could have guessed on September 15th, 1916 that many military theory books would become obsolete in an instant. The first tank entered its baptism by fire, and an unnamed German’s cry “The devil is coming!” announced the coming of the new god of war.

French and German tanks came after British ones, but the “rhombus” was the first of the first. Nine tanks belonged to this family. Some of them made it in time for the war, others remained prototoypes. Episodes collected in this article will briefly describe the “rhomboid” family.

 

TACAM T-60: SPG, Transylvanian Style

2-1Romania joined WWII with a very marginal tank force, both in numbers and capability. The first battles on the Eastern front showed that their tanks were incapable of engaging Soviet medium tanks, let along heavy ones. The Romanian army was in desperate need of new more powerful anti-tank means. In a very short amount of time, they could only be built on captured platforms.

Romania only have one tank unit in the summer of 1941: the 1st Tank Division. It consisted of the 1st and 2nd Tank Regiments, reinforced by two regiments of motorized infantry, a motorized artillery regiment, a recon battalion, and a sapper battalion. The 1st Tank Regiment was equipped with Czechoslovakian S-II-aR (an export variant of the LT vz. 35), 126 of which were purchased in 1938-1939. These tanks served in the Romanian army under the index R-2. The 2nd Tank Regiment consisted of French Renault R35 tanks.

 

World of Tanks History Section: Crushing the Tarnopol Fortress

221091-ebxqje0c1vk04kkw0o0ocwowk-ejcuplo1l0oo0sk8c40s8osc4-thThe main purpose of new IS-2 heavy tanks that appeared in the Red Army in 1944 was the destruction of German pillboxes with their 122 mm guns. Fighting enemy tanks was not a priority. However, plans and forecasts rarely work in war. The IS tanks got a chance to test themselves against enemy armour soon after they arrived on the battlefield.

This happened in the spring of 1944, during the Proskurovo-Chernovtsy operation. In addition to their other objectives, the Soviet forces had to surround the German 1st Tank Army. Colonel-General Chernyakhovskiy’s 60th Army participated in this task. One of the first targets in its path was Tarnopol (modern day Ternopol). Hitler declared it a Festung: a city-fortress that German forces had to hold until the last man. On April 11th, it was time for the defenders to carry out that order.

 

The Last Soviet Heavy Tank Destroyers

10In the days of the Second World War, heavy self propelled guns played an important part on the battlefield. It is not surprising that after the end of the war, heavy SPGs, including tank destroyers, remained a priority for designers from all nations. It’s surprising that only a handful of these vehicles were ever built in metal, and none were mass produced. The Soviet Union and its Object 268 was no exception.

Weight Limit: As with heavy tanks, prospective Soviet heavy SPGs were well protected vehicles with long 152 mm guns. The first requirements for these vehicles were ready in 1945, but work began only a year later. They were designed on the chassis of the Object 260 (IS-7) and Object 701 (IS-4) tanks.

 

World of Tanks History Section: Battle for Teploye

ru-a7300-18_3The Germans understood that the summer offensive against the Kursk salient will not be an easy one. German commanders took their time planning Operation Citadel, moving the start date several times. Meanwhile, the Red Army was digging in, wrapping the terrain in barbed wire and sowing mines. The Germans were also preparing, knowing that their units will be warmly received. Their hopes rested on new types of tanks: Tigers and Panthers, Ferdinand tank destroyers and Brummbar assault tanks.

 

ZIK-20: Assault Alternative

2-2On April 15th, 1942, the plenary assembly of the Artillery Committee of the GAU met to discuss further development of self propelled artillery. The decisions worked out in this meeting became key in wartime development of Soviet SPGs. Among others, requirements were confirmed for a heavy SPG that would replace the 212 bunker buster. Work began on this SPG on the KV-7 chassis at UZTM, headed by L.I. Gorlitskiy. By the fall of 1942, the U-18 project was ready, but by that point, a competitor was developed at Sverdlovsk.

In February of 1942, artillery production from the Ural Heavy Machinebuilding Factory (UZTM) was transferred to factory #8, which was evacuated in the fall of 1941 from Kaliningrad (modern day Korolev) to Sverdlovsk. The factory director was B.A. Fradkin, same as before the evacuation. F.F. Petrov was appointed chief engineer of the new factory.

 

Czech from Russia

1By the end of the Second World War, T-34-85 tanks became one of the most common type of tank in the Czechoslovakian army. The first tanks of this type were received by the Czechoslovakian corps in early 1945, and up to 130 tanks of this type were received in total. They took part in the liberation of Prague and later became the backbone of the post-war Czechoslovakian army. Shipments continued after the war. Photos show tanks that were clearly made after May 9th, 1945. T-34-85 tanks became the first to receive the famous tricolour insignia.

The T-34-85 was a very modern tank at the end of WWII, but it was no secret that the tank would soon be obsolete. The Czechoslovakian military realized this too. On October 17th, 1945, a meeting of the General Staff was held where its commander, Divisional General Bohumil Boček approved the tactical-technical requirements for the Tank všeobecného použití (TVP), a main battle tank. The requirements were clearly inspired by the T-34-85, but the implementation details varied significantly.

Translated Articles from Archive Awareness

It’s time again to do a round up of the Russian language articles translated to English at the Archive Awareness blog.

 

World of Tanks History Section: Nina Bondar

shiryaeva,_nina_ilinichna2Flying was all the rage among Soviet youth in the few years preceding the Great Patriotic War. “Komsomol, to the skies!” the slogans called. Among the many young men and women who answered the call was a citizen of the city of Biysk named Nina Ilyinichna Bondar. In the late 1930s, while still in school, she joined and aero club and learned to fly the light U-2 biplane.

A month after the start of the Great Patriotic War, Nina came to the Biysk military commissariat and volunteered to join the Red Army. It was hard to refuse an officer’s daughter, and one who could fly a plane at that. The young woman was directed to the Moscow Anti-Air Defense, where her familiar U-2 became a weapon of war. However, history clipped her wings.

 

17-Pounder: Britain’s Long Arm

17pdr-3The development of anti-tank artillery followed more or less the same process in many countries. This resulted in the USSR creating a 100 mm BS-3 gun in 1944 and the Germans with the 88 mm Pak 43 gun, a weapon with excellent characteristics that forced Soviet tank designers to rethink their requirements for armour protection. However, the British arrived at the best solution, creating the Ordnance Quick-Firing 17-pounder, which had the most balanced characteristics. You can familiarize yourself with the gun in detail by viewing these photos and read about its creation and trials in the Soviet Union here.

 

PzKpfw I: Panzerwaffe’s First

pz1-11German generals often call PzKpfw I and PzKpfw II tanks “training” tanks in their memoirs. This is true in some way, as many converted PzKpfw I tanks were used to train crews. However, during the development of these tanks, there wasn’t a word uttered about training as their main function. The Wehrmacht’s first tanks were created as typical light tanks of the early 1930s, which mostly had machinegun armament. With this design, the Germans aimed towards the ideal concept of a German tank, setting the foundation for all subsequent vehicles of the Third Reich. The first member in the family that would become the weapons of blitzkrieg was the PzKpfw I Ausf. A.

 

German from Iberia

pz1-16The Spanish Civil War began on July 17th, 1936. By the end of the month, the rebels gained the support of Italy and Germany, who promised, among other things, supplies of military hardware. In mid-August, Italian L3/35 tankettes arrived in Spain. German tanks arrived much later: 32 PzKpfw I Ausf. A tanks and one command vehicle were received in October of 1936. At approximately the same time, the first Soviet T-26es arrived in Spain and became the main opponents of the rebel tanks. As for the “Spanish” PzKpfw I Ausf. A, one of them became a Soviet trophy and was run through a whole spectrum of trials. What did the Soviet testers discover and what conclusions did they make?

 

Easy Modernization: T-45 and Others

7GABTU had to reach a compromise on many issues when it accepted the T-60 tank for service. It was obvious that this tank is inferior to the T-50 in nearly all characteristics, but its production could be set up very quickly and it could be produced by the thousands. However, GABTU was seriously worried about the tank’s armament. Trials of the 20 mm TNSh gun showed that its penetration was equal to the DShK high caliber machinegun. It is not surprising that the issue of improving its armament was raised even before the first prototype was built. This modernization went in several directions, one of which resulted in the T-45 tank.

 

Schwere Panzerbüchse 41

1In 1942, the Allies captured an interesting anti-tank weapon designed for the German army and actively used on all fronts of WWII since 1914. Its distinguishing feature from other anti-tank rifles and cannons was its conical barrel, the caliber of which was larger at the breech than at the muzzle.Officially, the gun was called 2,8 cm schwere Panzerbüchse 41 (2,8 cm s.Pz.B. 41). German nomenclature placed it into the small arms category, but both the Red Army GAU and the military ministries of Great Britain and the United States classified it as artillery. The difference in classification comes from the fact that this weapon has all the characteristics of a cannon: carriage (upper and lower), shield, mount with a recoil brake, but the aiming was done by hand, by moving the gunner’s body and moving the barrel up and down.

 

World of Tanks History Section: Battle at Lukhanino

destroyed_panther_russiaThe Voronezh Front, protector of the south flank of the Kursk salient, found itself in the way of a powerful German offensive. However, this scenario played out quite unlike what German commanders expected. Most problems were faced by the 48th Tank Corps, which got stuck at the first Soviet line of defense on July 5th, 1943. Even 200 Panthers, thrown into battle near Cherkasskoye where Grossdeutschland division was spinning its wheels did not improve the situation.

Only late in the evening, having joined forces with the 3rd Tank Division, the German unit managed to enter Cherkasskoye. Soviet forces were fully expelled only by the next morning. The offensive had to be developed further, along the Belgorod-Oboyan highway, right through Lukhanino.

Translated Articles from Archive Awareness

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.

World of Tanks History Section: Nighttime Storm Over Senno

soviet-shermansOn 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.

Steel Inheritance

stug40-3The 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.

 

World of Tanks History Section: Breakthrough at Bogushevsk

isu-152_2On 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?

 

Light Tank M3: America’s First Thousand

m3-1American 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.

 

An American Yankee in GABTU’s Court

m3ussr-9The 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.

 

World of Tanks History Section: Liberation of Fastov

kiev_nast_operThe 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.

 

World of Tanks History Section: 100 Years of Tanks

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.

 

T-30: Simplicity Itself

t-60-275 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

 

T-60: A Small Tank in a Big War

T-60-16The 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.

 

 

 

Translated Articles from Archive Awareness

Here is a round up of Russian language articles translated by Archive Awareness blog.  Click on the title to red the full article.

World of Tanks History Section: Taming the Panthers

1298322852_114-445On January 26th, 1944, the second day of the Korsun-Shevchenkovo Offensive, the contours of the pocket in which Army Group Center would be caught in were already being drawn on the map. The German response was a powerful counterattack in the zone of the Soviet 2nd Ukrainian Front. If it was successful, P. Rotmistrov’s 5th Guards Tank army would be encircled instead of the Germans.

In this battle on the snowy fields of the Ukraine, shiny new Panthers from the 1st battalion of the 26th tank regiment were supposed to be the ace up the German sleeve. Even though the unit only entered battle on January 28th, its adventures started much earlier, on the way to the USSR.

 

Object 257: The First IS-7

257-1The IS-7 heavy tank is well known to armour enthusiasts. A combination of impressive armour, a powerful gun, and an engine that could propel the 70 ton tank at 60 kph made it the pinnacle of its class. At the same time, no less than 7 vehicles existed under the IS-7 index, and three of them were called “Object 260”. The creation of this vehicle is shrouded in mystery, partially due to the conditions of secrecy created at the factory #100 design bureau. Thanks to recently discovered archive materials, we can now see how the IS-7 (back then, still Object 257) developed in its early stages.

 

World of Tanks History Section: Defense of Fastov

fastov-1The aim to return what was lost in battle with a swift and powerful counterattack is common to any army. However, one must remember that haste is only necessary when hunting fleas and will lead to no good in war. This is what happened to the first German counterattacks at Fastov.

On November 7th, the Red Army took this important road junction about 70 km south-west of Kiev. Tankers of P.S. Rybalko’s 3rd Guards Tank Army delivered serious damage to their enemy and captured many trophies: vehicles, fuel, supplies. In the same day, the German command ordered the 25th Tank Division to retake Fastov. The division’s actions are a canonical example of haste.

 

IS-3: The Tank with a Piked Nose

kirovets-1The order to produce a new tank under the index IS-3 was received by Chelyabinsk factory management on December 16th, 1944. By January 25th, 1945, eight of the ten planned tanks had to be built. It took a fairly long time to build and “tune” the tanks, and they arrived in the army only by the time that the Second World War was at an end.

 

IS-3 in Combat

17The first time IS-3 tanks took part in any fighting was in Hungary, in 1958. A Soviet military force was maintained there to keep communications with forces stationed in Austria. In 1955, the troops in Austria were withdrawn, and in May of that same year Hungary joined the Warsaw Pact. The Soviet troops remained, now as allies, under the name “Special Corps”. It included the 2nd and 17th Guards Mechanized Divisions, 195th Fighter and 172nd Bomber Air Divisions, and auxiliary units. There were no Soviet forces within the capital, Budapest.

 

Rheinmetall’s Fighting Tractor

loltraktor-4German tanks of the first half of the 20th century are commonly associated with Tigers and Panthers, light and medium “Panzers” designed in the 1930s, and the first German tank, the A7V. Meanwhile, the work of German tank designers in the 1920s remains in obscurity, although many interesting designs were developed during that time. For various reasons, German designers were forced to work abroad. Nevertheless, secret work on domestic tanks began in Germany in the late 1920s. One of those tanks was the Leichttraktor.

 

Krupp Leichttraktor: Rival with no Future

krupp-4During the First World War, a special technical commission presided over all German tank development, headed by General Friedrichs. The commission appointed a captain from the automobile forces, Joseph Vollmer, to direct design work. When Germany lost the ability to develop and produce tanks after the war, a part of their engineers left the country and began building tanks for other nations. However, several years later, work on new vehicles resumed, and companies who were left during WWI had their chance. The Krupp conglomerate was one of those companies.

 

World of Tanks History Section: Pattons in Korea

m-46pattonbcompany6thtankbattalion24thinfantrydivisionmunsan-nicoreamarzo19512_-_kopiyaIn February of 1945, American forces in Europe received the Pershing tank. The reaction of the soldiers was positive: finally, something to fight Tigers and Panthers! The application of Pershings in combat was fairly successful, but there were some complaints about the new tank, one of which was about the poor mobility.

 

Dawn of Mechanization

birch-5The British were pioneers in creating not only tanks, but self-propelled artillery. The Gun Carrier Mk.I was developed back during WWI, not only the first SPG, but the first gun carrier. The gun could be removed from the chassis and used as towed artillery. The positional nature of the Western Front led to the Gun Carrier Mk.I mostly acting as an artillery tractor. After the war, a decision was made to focus on tractors, but the British did not forget about SPGs. In the 1920s, a small family of these vehicles was created, characterized by the Birch Gun.

Strv 74: Europe’s Last Medium Tank

74-9The Swedish post-war Strv 74 medium tank is interesting due to the fact that medium tanks died out as a class after the end of WWII. They evolved into main battle tanks, built by all leading tank building nations at the time. The Strv 74 was designed and accepted into service at the same time as the Soviet T-55, American M60, and a little earlier than the German Leopard. The Strv 74 was also the last Swedish tank with a classical layout, as it was replaced by the exotic turretless Strv 103. How was the last European medium tanks created and what was it like?

Translated Articles from Archive Awareness

Here is a round up of articles from either researcher Yuri Pasholok or World of Tanks EU translated into English and posted on the Archive Awareness blog.  Click on the article title to read the full piece.

 

Tetrarch in the USSR

tetrarch-1The British light Tetrarch tank is most often remembered in connection with the landing in Normandy. While it was the first tank used for this purpose, initially the Tetrarch was designed for something else. The adventures of the Tetrarch in the British army are well known, unlike the use of the tank in the Red Army. That story is still full of omissions.

 

AMX 38: A Tank Between Classes

amx38-6The results of the French competition for a new light tank in the mid 1930s were unclear. On one hand, the army made a deal with Renault to produce 300 light Renault ZM tanks. The tank entered service with the name Char léger Modele 1935 R,or Renault R35. A year later, the FCM 36 was accepted into service, which was more promising according to the infantry commanders. Doubt was cast on the production of the R35, but it was never cancelled, and it became the infantry’s most numerous tank. Right before WWII began, the AMX 38 appeared, another tank that could have been accepted into service with the French army.

 

World of Tanks History Section: Udalov, from Raseiniai to Silesia

is_2.2e9nntd5fr284koo00sow8wgg.ejcuplo1l0oo0sk8c40s8osc4.thThe summer of 1944 was coming to an end, but the Sandomierz foothold was still hot. The sun was beaming from above and battled raged on the ground. A German attack at dawn of August 13th failed, but the enemy started anew during the day, hoping that the long guns of the King Tigers will do their job. Their path was blocked by IS tanks from the 71st Guards Heavy Tank Regiment. Among them was a company commanded by Senior Lieutenant V. A. Udalov.

 

FCM36: Ahead of its Time

fcm-3The FCM 36 was the least lucky French tank created in the interbellum period. Its design was progressive: it was the first tank with sloped armour to be put into production. While other French tanks were put together with bolts or rivets, FCM made its hull welded. In addition, the FCM 36 had a diesel engine. Alas, the fate of this interesting tank was a difficult one.

 

Medium Paper Tank Destoyers

medium-tds-3Of all German E-Series (Entwicklung, development) only the E-100 ever reached the stage where it was ready to be built in metal. This did not stop other vehicles in the series from becoming very popular. These vehicles included not only tanks, but also tank destroyers, including the medium E-25 tank destroyer. Let us look deeper into its history and familiarize ourselves with other “paper” vehicles of its class.

 

World of Tanks History Section: Last Stand

last-stand-1A grenade and a bottle with incendiary fluid: this was the most widespread armament of a Red Army infantryman in late 1941. It was most effective where it was used with another powerful weapon: heroism. A well trained soldier could throw a bottle 20-30 meters, a heavy grenade bundle would fly even less. The bravest men closed in to this distance or even less, often paying with their life for a disabled or burned tank. On paper, this looks like a good trade, but in real life this is a tragedy.

 

World of Tanks History Section: Rifle Grenades

rifle-grenades-1The range of a hand grenade is very short. In WWI, many methods were tried to solve this problem. One of those was a special rifle grenade. A cup was attached to the muzzle of a rifle, which fired a grenade with the aid of a blank cartridge. This method was not very effective: the range was barely a few hundred meters, the fragmentation effect of the grenade was weak, and there was no accuracy to speak of. Due to a low muzzle velocity, the shots had to be fired at a large upward angle. Despite poor reliability and questionable effectiveness, the idea of rifle grenades not only survived until the Great Patriotic War, but continued to evolve.

 

Cruiser IV: A Bit More Armour

cruiser-4-5The adoption of the Cruiser Tank Mk.III in 1938 didn’t mean that the British were fully satisfied with it. Armour that was only 14 mm thick made the tank vulnerable to anything bigger than a rifle. High caliber machineguns that were one of the most popular anti-tank weapons during the Spanish Civil War made the military seriously think about improving protection. It was impossible to do anything radical with the Cruiser Tank Mk.III, since a whole new tank would be needed. It was decided to go down the road of minor modernization. The resulting tank became one of the best and longest lasting pre-war British tanks.

 

World of Tanks History Section: New Life for Rockets

38-11355-829-p03aUsing a rocket against a tank is very tempting. Rockets can carry a powerful warhead and can be launched without an expensive barrel: all you need is a rail. In the 1930s, Soviet pilots were already using rockets to fire at enemy planes.

During the Great Patriotic War, an attempt was made to use rockets to destroy German tanks, but it turns out that this wasn’t so simple.

Translated Articles from Archive Awareness

Over at Archive Awareness blog they have posted a number of translated articles from WoT History Section and Warspot.  Click on the title to view the entire article.

 

IS-7: a Titan Late for the War

001The IS-7 was born in a strange time for the Soviet tank industry. The raising of the Red Banner over the Reichstag marked not only the glory of victory, but the problems of rebuilding for peace. Cities had to be rebuilt, factories returned from evacuation, defense industry re purposed.

 

Halfway to the Hellcat

T49-6 In late 1941, design of a new light tank destroyer on the Light Tank M3 chassis began in the USA. Work on equipping the T56/T57 GMC with a 76 mm gun game to a dead end. It turned out that the M3’s light chassis is unsuitable for such vehicles. By the time the T56 arrived at Aberdeen, the T49 was already undergoing trials. Even though it also never made it to production, further development of its design resulted in one of the best known American tank destroyers of WWII.

 

 World of Tanks History Section: Odd Grenades

navord_op_1665_hawkins_grenade123Those who saw the movie “Saving Private Ryan” likely remember the unusual method with which American soldiers planned to defeat German tanks. They planned to destroy their track with “sticky bombs”. This weapon could be made in several minutes from a soldier’s sock stuffed with explosives and coated in grease. This bomb should stick to a tank if thrown. As one of the characters in the movie says: “Think of a better way to knock out the tracks, I’m all ears.”

 

Fastest Gun Alive

bandkanon-6The post-war program to create a Swedish SPG lasted more than 10 years over the initial estimates, but the resulting vehicle, the Bandkanon 1, was anything but obsolete, as it often happens with projects that drag on like this. This heavy artillery system equipped with an automatic loader could fire with a speed that some rocket artillery systems would envy.

 

Stalin’s Maus Killers

107mm-10Gun design is driven by the desire to be at least half a step ahead of its opposition. The creators of tank armour aim to provide tank crews with maximum possible protection from all existing weapons, and gun designers aim to create a gun that would penetrate the armour of any modern tank. In the spring of 1941, work on a new 107 mm anti-tank gun began in the Soviet Union, a gun that would not see a worthy adversary for several years. Both these guns and their likely enemies were built in metal, but neither one ended upon the battlefield.

 

World of Tanks History Section: Ersatz Artillery

ersatz-1There is a simple rule: cheap, good, fast, pick two. AT guns are long and expensive. What do you do when fighting enemy tanks with a log is foreseen in the near future? British Ersatz Grenade Launchers.  When the British were expecting the Germans to invade the British Isles, Major Harry Horthover came up with the so called Northover Projector. This solution was cheap indeed: only 10 Pounds Sterling apiece.

 

World of Tanks History Section: Halfway to Prague: Taking of Brno

su100_7In April of 1945, Soviet Marshal Radion Malinovskiy was faced with new battles in Czechoslovakia. The Red Army already knocked their enemy out of Bratislava and now had to develop its success to take Brno.

The Brno industrial center was of great significance for Germany since the occupation in 1939. Brno was the home to Zbrojovka Brno, one of the largest small arms manufacturer in Europe, as well as a Skoda factory.

 

Captain Bekker’s SPG

geschutz-1The Battle of Leningrad became a proving grounds for new weapons. From the middle of 1941 to the summer of 1944, the battlefield here saw the newest and most extraordinary creations from both side of the front line. Finding armoured vehicles here was most surprising, as the conditions did not make it easy to use tanks and SPGs. One of the most unusual vehicles that could be found here was a German 105 mm SPG on the chassis of a British light tank.

 

World of Tanks History Section: Canadians in Germany, Battle for Binnen

foto_7_2.bHaving broken the resistance of the German divisions, the Allies reached the Rhine by February-March of 1945. This river could reach 500 meters in width and was the last serious barrier before the industrial regions of Germany and its capital, Berlin.

The objective of the 21st Army Group commanded by the British Field Marshal Montgomery was to encircle the Ruhr industrial area from the north.