[Lone Sentry: Tanks of the Red Army, WWII Tactical and Technical Trends]
  [Lone Sentry: Photographs, Documents and Research on World War II]
Home Page | Site Map | What's New | Intel Articles by Subject

"Tanks of the Red Army" from Tactical and Technical Trends

The following U.S. intelligence report on the Russian KV-1, T-34, T-60, and T-26 tanks was originally published in Tactical and Technical Trends, No. 5, August 13, 1942.

[DISCLAIMER: The following text is taken from the U.S. War Department publication Tactical and Technical Trends. As with all wartime intelligence information, data may be incomplete or inaccurate. No attempt has been made to update or correct the text. Any views or opinions expressed do not necessarily represent those of the website.]


The New Heavy Tank. Twelve months of war have brought substantial changes in the design of tanks of the Red Army. The new heavy tank has been named the Klementi Voroshilov, commonly referred to as the "KV", is 22 feet long, 10.9 feet wide, 8.9 feet high and weighs 51.2 tons. It has a road-clearance of 1 foot 4 inches, and can ford streams 5-5 1/2 feet deep. Its length permits it to span trenches 12-14 feet wide.

The "KV" is suspended on each side by six slotted wheels which give the outward appearance of double wheels. Each wheel is independently sprung on a rocker arm; the fin of the track is guided through the slot which prevents lateral distortion of the track. There are three return rollers and one idler wheel.

Improvements have been made in the track plate as well as in the method of interlinking them. There are no projections on the outside edges of the track plates on which snow or mud can become firmly lodged. The tread of the track has a grid pattern which insures a firm grip in snow and mud, and reduces sideslipping. Thus snow and mud cleats are not required.

A new method of joining the track plates has been devised. Each section or plate of the track has nine links which are interlocked by a full-floating pin. The pin itself is held in position by small disks or lock washers, these in turn held in place by a spring collar fitting in a recess between each of the nine links of the plate (see sketch). A broken track pin is thus prevented from working out of the links and causing the track to separate and immobilize the tank.

[New Russian Heavy Tank (Klementi Voroshilov)]
New Russian Heavy Tank (Klementi Voroshilov)

The contoured turret, cast in one piece, weighs approximately 10 tons. The frontal armor of the turret is 3.54 inches thick, making it exceptionally rugged and capable of withstanding sustained enemy fire. It can be revolved 360 degrees either by power or by hand. Heavy steel bars laid on edge are welded at the base of the turret to deflect shells which might cause it to jam.

Following are the data on armament and armor of this tank:

(a) Turret armament:   76-mm. long-barrelled gun, (in some models of the KV a 152-mm. gun is installed in a specially designed turret).
One 7.62-mm. MG coaxially mounted with the gun.
One 7.62-mm. MG in rear of turret.

(b) Hull armament:   One 7.62-mm. MG forward.
Two spare 7.62-mm. guns as replacements for the turret or hull guns; or one may be mounted on top of turret for antiaircraft fire, or even used on a tripod for dismounted action.

(c) Armor:   Front                  90 mm. (3.543 inches)
Sides                  75  "  (2.952   "   )
Top                    40  "  (1.574   "   )
Engine hatch           30  "  (1.181   "   )
Turret sides           75  "  (2.952   "   )
Rear end               40  "  (1.574   "   )
Under sheathing  30 to 40  "  (1.181 to 1.574 inches)

Ninety rounds of AP and incendiary shells are carried for the cannon, the former being stacked behind the loader, the latter being distributed around the turret, under the floor boards, and in the driver's compartment. 3,000 rounds of machine gun ammunition in drums are carried in the turret.

The "KV" is propelled by a 600-horsepower 12-cylinder V-type diesel engine driving through a transmission and final drive to the sprockets at the rear of the tank. The motor is reported to be very noisy. The tank is equipped with both electric and compressed air starters.

It has five forward gears (four regular and one emergency), and one reverse gear. The tank carries 158.5 gallons of fuel inboard and can carry an additional supply in saddle tanks which can be discarded when empty, or prior to going into action. The normal range of action without saddle tanks is 110 to 125 miles across country. A maximum speed of about 21 miles per hour can be attained on an improved road.

The "KV" carries a crew of five consisting of the commander, driver, loader, gunner, and radioman. A mechanic sometimes makes a sixth member of the crew. The posts of the commander, loader, and gunner are in the turret. The driver and radioman ride side by side in a forward position.

The radio is in front on the left of the driver. The antenna is a vertical type mounted forward on the tank. Communication within the tank is by telephone. Inter-tank communication is visual, by either arm-signals or flags.

Tank warfare has taught the Russians lessons which have influenced their tank design. The turret is located well forward to permit tank infantrymen (desyanti, see Tactical and Technical Trends No. 3, page 44) to use it as a shield while riding atop the tank. Every provision has been made to prevent unwelcome riders from getting aboard. There is a lack of external fittings, tools, sharp projections, etc.; this meets the double purpose of eliminating hand grips for enemy hitch-hikers and the chance that a fire bomb or other missile could lodge on the tank. The fender of the tank is very narrow so that "tank hunters" who seek to jump aboard run the risk of being caught in the track. The newer American sponson-type tanks have no fenders as such and have solved these problems largely through basic design. As a further protective measure for the tank crew, the hatch in the top of the turret is so constructed that it cannot be opened from the outside. A special tool is required to open the hatch from the inside.

The Medium Tank - T-34. High maneuverability and relatively spacious interior arrangement have made this tank a favorite of Soviet tank crews. The Germans themselves have expressed the opinion that the T-34 was the most effective tank they have encountered.

The T-34 is a modified Christie-type tank. It has an overall length of 19 feet 1 inch and is 9 feet 8 inches in width. The low silhouette of the tank (8 feet 6 inches), beside maintaining 1 foot 3 inch road clearance, is an obvious advantage. The tank weighs 29.7 tons and has a maximum speed of 28-34 miles per hour on roads and 18.5 miles per hour across country. It can surmount the same cross-country obstacles as the "KV" except that its length limits the width of the trenches it can jump to about 11 feet. (See sketch.)

[Russian Medium Tank (T-34)]
Russian Medium Tank (T-34)

The turret is of the built-up, welded type, equipped with two rotating periscopes mounted on top. Two visors, fitted with bulletproof glass are located on the sides of the turret. The turret may be revolved 360° to permit all-around fire.

The T-34 is powered with a 500-HP diesel motor similar in design to that in the "KV" and can be started either by electricity or compressed air.

The track also is similar to that used on the "KV." It is narrower (21 1/2 inches wide) but has the same design and method of interlinking the plates.

Carrying its normal capacity of 120 gallons of diesel oil, the radius of operation of the T-34 is 150-175 miles. However, this range may be extended by carrying extra fuel tanks strapped to the hull above the fenders.

The tank is manned by a crew of four. The commander, who also acts as loader, and the gunner take stations in the turret. The driver and radio operator are in the forward seats of the hull.

Radio is used only to communicate with higher echelons. Inter-tank communication is by visual signal, while telephone and laryngophones are used between members of the crew.

Following are data on the armament and armor of this tank:

(a) Turret armament:   One 76-mm. gun (for which 77 rounds of AP and HE shells are carried).
One 7.62-mm. MG mounted coaxially on the right of the gun.

(b) Hull armament:   One 7.62-mm. MG in front on the right of the driver (ball mounted).
One spare 7.62-mm. MG.
3,780 rounds of ammunition for the machine guns are carried.

(c) Armor:   Front             50 mm. (2.00 inches)
Sides             20  "  ( .77   "   )
Top               20  "  ( .77   "   )
Engine hood       20  "  ( .77   "   )
Turret sides      52  "  (2.04   "   )
Rear end          45  "  (1.77   "   )

The Light Tank - T-60. The Soviet Light Tank (T-60) is essentially a gun carrier. It weighs 5.9 tons, carries a crew of two, and is powered with a heavy six-cylinder gasoline engine. It has a radius of action of from 75 to 100 miles and a maximum speed of 24 miles per hour. Its armament includes one 20-mm. automatic cannon and two 7.62-mm. air-cooled machine guns. The armor ranges from .6 to .8 inches in thickness.

The Russian Light Tank - T-26B used as a Flame Thrower. Many experiments have been conducted by the Red Army to determine the advisability of converting the T-26B (8.4-ton) tank into a flame thrower.

This tank normally carries two 7.62-mm. machine guns, or one 37-mm. anti-tank gun and one 7.62-mm. MG. If the tank is converted to a flame thrower only one machine gun can be carried.

On the experimental model of the T-26B, the (106-gal.) fuel tank for the flame-throwing apparatus was mounted on the tank instead of being towed on a trailer.

Various tests on flame throwers using crude oil (or some similar fuel) show that 10 gallons of fuel per second are consumed under high pressure through a 1.25-inch nozzle, to obtain a range of 100 yards. At this rate, the blast could be expected to last about 10 to 11 seconds. By lessening the pressure, the range is reduced to 25-40 yards and the stream of flame lasts longer.

The question arises whether it is worth-while sacrificing the fire-power of one machine gun for such a short-lived flame.


[Back] Back to Articles by Subject | Intel Bulletin by Issue | T&TT by Issue | Home Page

Web LoneSentry.com