New Issue of ARMOR: SU-122-54 Article

armor-july-sept-2016The July-September 2016 issue of ARMOR, the Professional Bulletin of the Armor Branch has been posted online.  Of particular interest to those interested in historic AFV development will be the article by Jim Warford titled “Armored Vehicle Development Behind the Curtain: the Secret Life of the Soviet SU-122-54 Assault Gun.”  The title of the article is pretty self-explanatory, it examines the history of the Soviet SU-122-54 Assault Gun, a weapon system that received little attention in the West during the Cold War. The new issue of ARMOR can be downloaded here.

Article excerpt:

su-122-54In September 1967, the Soviet military launched Exercise Dnepr, one of the largest exercises in Soviet military history. Most observers and military analysts focused both on the size of the exercise and the large-scale use of airborne forces. The Soviet army actually dropped two complete airborne divisions with all their equipment in support of a front-level offensive during the exercise.

Almost unnoticed, however, the Soviet army also deployed a previously unseen new assault gun. This new assault gun, known as the SU-122-54 (to distinguish it from the SU-122 Self-Propelled Howitzer of World War II fame), has been the subject of controversy since this first appearance.

Throughout its lifetime, the SU-122-54 has been surrounded by a very high level of secrecy (even by Soviet standards), and it is a good example of the amount of effort the Soviets (and more recently the Russians), have historically put into keeping their most secret weapons developments secret. Over the years, this effort has proven to be especially true regarding Soviet antitank weapons.

Read the full article here.


From the Vault: the Secret Museum at Kubinka

This article by Jim Warford originally appeared in the Sept-Oct 2001 edition of ARMOR magazine and it takes a look at the captured US  made vehicles that found their way into the collection at the Kubinka tank museum outside of Moscow.  Of particular interest is the information on the Israeli Magach 4 tank which was captured by Syria in 1982.  It was recently announced that this vehicle will be returned by Russia to Israel.  We have also included in the gallery below a copy of a letter written by Steven Zaloga with appeared in the Nov-Dec 2001 issue of ARMOR in which he provides some additional information on the Museum as well as a response from Jim Warford  from the Jan-Feb 2002 issue.  To download PDF copies of the full ARMOR issues mentioned, just click on the hyperlinks in the text.

From the Vault: The Secret Testing of Israeli M111 “Hetz” Ammunition

Today we present an article from the Sep-Oct 2006 issue of ARMOR by Jim Warford titled “The Secret Testing of Israeli M111 “Hetz” Ammunition: A Model of Failed Commander’s Responsibility.”  This article looks at the capture of an Israeli Magach-4 (M48) along with its brand new M111 Hetz ammunition by the Syrians during the 1982 “Operation Peace for Galilee” incursion. This tank and its ammunition eventually made there way to the Soviet Union were the M111 ammunition was evaluated, an event which contributed to the development of the T-72M1 variant.  This particular Magach-4 is now on display at the Kubinka tank museum outside of Moscow.

After this article was published, ARMOR published a letter in response to the piece which was also followed by a letter in answer by Jim Warford.  They may be read below.

Jim Warford was kind enough to provide us with some additional information and images relating to this article:

When I was visiting Kubinka in 2012, I had a tour guide arranged by my Russian travel agent who met me upon my arrival at the collection. He vaguely said that he worked for various governmental agencies and that he was happy to guide me through the collection. After awhile, I started to sense that he was there as much to keep an eye on me, as he was there to be my guide. Everything was going along very well (I was literally thrilled to be there), when we got to the captured Israeli Magach tank (that provided the M111 Hetz APFSDS ammunition to the Russians). I was looking forward to asking some questions about this tank, but before I could say a word, he quickly went into a speech about how they got the tank and that any reports that the tank arrived from Syria with the personal belongings and even the remains of the Israeli crew members on board, were completely untrue. While I suppose it’s possible that he gave that same speech to all his tours, I think it’s equally possible that he knew who I was and was aware of my 2001 ARMOR Magazine article “The Secret Museum at Kubinka,” where I reported the following:
“…a “victory parade” was held in Damascus, Syria, that included a captured Israeli Magach 4 flying Syrian and Palestinian flags. Several sources reported that the tank’s Israeli crew was also on display during the parade. Three of these crewmen are now listed as MIA by the Israeli government. According to the International Coalition for Missing Israeli Soldiers (ICMIS), there is reason to believe that this captured tank and the Magach 4 at Kubinka are one in the same. In January 2001, the ICMIS asked Israeli officials to request that an upcoming trip by the Israeli President to Russia include an examination of the Magach 4 at the museum. Reportedly, the Israeli tank (with turret serial number 94866 and hull serial number 817581) arrived at Kubinka still containing human remains, personal belongings, and documents belonging to the tank’s crew.”
Magach_Captured from IDF_Driving in Russia_1

Captured Magach 4 driving in Russia


Magach 4 on display at Kubinka

From the Vault: T-72B Turret Armor Exposed

t-72bJim Warford has shared with us a copy of a piece from 2002 that was originally published in the Journal of Military Ordnance.  The article is titled “T-72B MBT – The First Look at Soviet Special Armor” and it contains some of the first published photos of the armor layout of the T-72B “Super Dolly Parton.”  According to the author, this article made quite a splash, becoming a much read item in defense circles.  The author based the article on a unclassified version of the source report which was dated January 1999.  The report documented an inspection of the configuration of the ERA package as well as the armor package inside the turret frontal armor lobes of the T-72B.  No information is given in the source report about where the two T-72B tanks that were examined came from, nor was any information given as to armor performance or capabilities of the armor packages examined.  One of the more interesting conclusions of the evaluation is that the construction of the cavities inside the T-72B turret provides the ability to change the makeup of the special armor package either during production or during a depot-level rebuild of the tank.  For people interested in late cold war Soviet armor, this article should prove very interesting!

Q & A with Jim Warford about Soviet/Russian Armor

T 90 armor magTank and AFV News recently had the chance to do a Q & A with retired US Armor officer and writer James M. Warford.  Mr. Warford was commissioned in Armor in 1979 as a Distinguished Military Graduate from the University of Santa Clara, Santa Clara, California. Mr. Warford has held a variety of Armor and Cavalry assignments, ranging from tank platoon leader to brigade S3, and has served as a tactics instructor both at Fort Knox, Ky. for AOAC, and at CGSC, Fort Leavenworth, Kan. Upon retirement in September, 1996, he was awarded the Silver Medallion of the Order of St. George. He has written numerous articles for ARMOR, the official journal of the Armor Branch, many of which focus on Soviet and Russian armor.  He is also a regular contributor at the online forum

T&AFVNews – You served in armor from 1979 to 1996.  Can you tell us what positions you held during your career?  What vehicles types did you command?

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