“Bulletin of the tank industry”. Tank technology classified as “top secret”

The very first issue of the Tank Industry Bulletin

“Death to the German occupiers!”
Before getting acquainted with the unique materials of a specialized Soviet scientific and technical journal, it is worth briefly highlighting its history. The first issue of the magazine was published in 1944, when it became necessary to summarize the vast experience of tank builders and exchange views. All numbers were classified, which began to be removed after more than 40 years. Thus, the first issue of the Tank Industry Bulletin became available to a wide range of readers only on November 27, 1987. And from copies of the 80s, the secrecy regime was removed only four years ago.


Joseph Kotin, the first editor of Vestnik. Source: ru.wikipedia.org

The order to organize the magazine was signed by People’s Commissar Malyshev back in September 1943. The leading scientists and designers of the Soviet tank industry were included in the editorial board. The editor-in-chief was Joseph Kotin, heavy tank designer and lieutenant general of the technical forces. Nikolay Sinev, deputy chief designer of the Kirov plant, worked as a scientific and technical editor and deputy Kotin in the editorial office. The editorial board, among others, included metal scientist Andrei Zavyalov, founder and director of the famous Armored Institute; Major General of the Engineering and Tank Service, Engineer-Engineer Yuri Stepanov; deputy head of the test site in Kubinka for scientific and testing activities, engineer-lieutenant colonel Alexander Sych. The editorial office was located in Moscow on Sadovo-Sukharevskaya street, house number 11; now this building houses the reception room of the Ministry of the Interior. The motto of the magazine is “Death to the German occupiers!”

It should be noted that the “Bulletin of armored vehicles” was not the only specialized tank publication in the country: since 1942, the “Journal of armored forces” was published in the USSR. It was a popular magazine without the stamp of secrecy, which published materials on the combat use of technology, the experience of maintenance and operation (or, as it was then customary to say, “exploitation”). If “Vestnik” was published by the People’s Commissariat of the Tank Industry, then “Journal …” was published under the auspices of the Military Council of the Armored and Motorized Rifle Forces of the Red Army. Running a little ahead, we will mention that in the very first issue of the secret “Bulletin” there were brief announcements of materials published in the “Journal of armored forces”. In particular, readers were informed about articles devoted to “the organization and combat use of self-propelled artillery in the German army”, “evacuation of emergency tanks”, “shooting from a tank at night” and even “tactics when breaking through enemy defenses in a wooded swamp area.”


Over time, the publication evolved into a voluminous magazine “Bulletin of Armored Equipment”

The first January issue of “Vestnik” (signed to print on 01/21/1944, circulation 1000 copies) publishes the appeal of the staff of the Nizhny Tagil plant No. 183 “to all workers, women workers, engineers, technicians and employees of the tank industry.” From a small text saturated with emotions, you can learn that the plant refused in 1943 from 800 workers who were allocated to fulfill the plan, mobilized and by December 25, ahead of schedule, fulfilled the annual production rate of tanks. The growth rates of the plant’s labor productivity are striking: in 1943, compared with 1942, the growth was 28%, and the cost of production fell by one-fifth! At the same time, in Nizhny Tagil, they still managed to restore the Kharkov plant and sent 304 metal-cutting machines, 4 units of foundry equipment, a 150-ton press and more than one and a half thousand units of tools in a year. Tank builders solemnly promise in the new 1944 to work even harder and take on a lot of new obligations. By February 23, the factory workers are ready to give the Motherland a column of tanks in excess of the plan, and by the end of the first quarter – another one. Also, during the first three months of the new year in Nizhny Tagil, they were obliged to additionally organize at least 10 production lines of tank production and put into operation 25 new machines. In circulation, a separate item of the plan sets a 5% rule – they plan to increase productivity and reduce rejects for this share in the first quarter. In 1943-44, the Kharkov Tank Plant was sponsored by plant number 183 (Nizhny Tagil). It was decided to block the plan in the supply of equipment to the Ukrainian enterprise. In addition, they pledged to ship 60 units of foundry equipment and machine tools, 260 electric motors, one oxygen plant, 120 units of equipment for the “measuring” (especially the Russian language of that era) and metallurgical laboratories. And in the end, the plant workers undertake to provide comprehensive assistance in organizing the sowing campaign, as well as provide material and technical support to the three sponsored MTS.

Through the pages of the edition

In the first issue of the Bulletin of Tank Industry, the editorial board acquaints readers with the tasks facing the publication and invites all interested parties to send publications. A few quotes:

“The pages of the magazine will cover the issues of the design of tanks, self-propelled guns, tank engines and units of tank equipment. A special place will be given in the journal to the consideration and analysis of the tank and anti-tank equipment of our enemy.
The magazine will also acquaint Soviet tank builders with the experience and achievements of the tank building of our allies.
The main issues of the organization and technology of large-scale and in-line production of tanks, tank units and engines and the experience of the leading factories of the tank industry will occupy a certain place on the pages of our magazine.
The magazine will cover issues of armored hull production, the choice of metal grades used in tank building, as well as their processing technology. “

As the authors “Vestnik” saw “engineers and technicians, leaders and commanders of the tank industry.” Articles were accepted only in printed form on sheets of one side with two intervals. From images, drawings and graphs, they were asked to remove all unnecessary things that might not be clear.

A brief overview of new books on tanks, published in the first issue of the Tank Industry Bulletin, is also of considerable interest. In 1943 and early 1944, the USSR published not only manuals for the “operation” of the T-34, KV-1s, SU-122, SU-152 and SU-76 (for official use), but also quite fundamental works. Thus, in Tashkent a 786-page book “Tanks. Design and calculation “. It was the work of the team of the Military Academy named after V.I. I. V. Stalin. Professor N. A. Yakovlev published in February 1944 the textbook “Design and Calculation of Tanks” in the Moscow publishing house “Mashgiz”. And this is not the whole list of theoretical works of domestic scientists on the topic of tank building, which were published during the war. The domestic industry was gaining momentum, and with it a huge amount of materials was accumulated that required comprehension.

Potential enemy technique

From the very beginning of the publication of the magazine and until the end of the 40s, the key topics related to reviews of foreign technology were German armored vehicles and Allied equipment. There was an abundance of materials for describing German technology – trophies provided engineers with a lot of interesting things. So, until 1949, they dealt with the device of the German 600-mm mortars and the super-heavy Maus tank. The editorial board regularly got acquainted with foreign magazines related to the tank building industry – the most important thing was published under the heading “Through the pages of foreign magazines.” These were not translations, but only a very brief description of the topic of the article. Among the journals that were tracked by publishers were Automative Industries, SAE Journal, Automobile Engineer, and SAE Quarterly Transactions. For each interesting article, the output was indicated: the name of the journal, volume, number and page. What attracted special attention of domestic tank builders? For example, “Five Difficulties with Diesel Engine Valves”, “The Effect of Altitude on the Operation of Two-Stroke Diesel Engines” and even “Damping the Noise of Aircraft Engines”.

In 1946, the magazine was transferred under the wing of the Main Tank Directorate of the Ministry of Transport Engineering (the People’s Commissariat was abolished), and two years later it became a two-month scientific and technical magazine.


Foreign equipment in Kubinka. Photo of the 80s. The studies of the museum’s military engineers often became articles in the “Bulletin”. Source: andrei-bt.livejournal.com

For the first time, tanks of a potential enemy appeared in the “Bulletin of Tank Industry” in 1952, when the American M-46 captured in Korea was examined up and down in Kubinka. Voluminous articles about the car were published for a year and a half; they did not form a good opinion of the tank. Regarding the undercarriage, the publication wrote that the M-46 does not contain anything fundamentally new and is essentially a repetition of the design of the undercarriage of previously produced American tanks. The layout of the tank, in the opinion of Soviet designers, cannot be considered successful. Among the minuses, they also highlighted large dimensions, weak armor protection, a small power reserve and, surprisingly, the inconvenience and crampedness in the fighting compartment (especially for the loader).


The authors of the “Bulletin” “dissect” the captured M-46 in Korea.

Naturally, the armor protection of the tank, assessed in comparison with the M-26 Pershing, was not ignored either. Evaluate the reports in one of the articles of the “Bulletin”:

“The main alloying elements of the armor of American tanks M-26 and M-46 are molybdenum and manganese. Under shell fire, American armor shows good toughness: there were no cracks, splits or spalling. The welded joints of the armor parts of the hulls of the M-26 and M-46 tanks are characterized by significant strength during shell fire. Despite the high slug load, no cracks were observed in the welded seams. The welded seams of American tanks are multi-roll. For welding, the edges of the parts to be joined were subjected to “K” and “X” -shaped grooves with groove angles close to 45 degrees. In this case, the gaps between the mating parts vary from 7 mm to 22 mm, depending on the thickness of the parts. Welding of the main armor parts of American tanks was carried out with an austenitic electrode wire with a significant amount of molybdenum. The applied thicknesses of armor, the configuration of the cast parts, especially the turret, as well as the structural arrangement of the parts are not optimal. “

But the ejection device M-46 has earned high marks from domestic engineers. According to the most preliminary data, after a shot, such a system reduced the gas content of the fighting compartment by 2-3 times. Researchers from Kubinka unequivocally hint to domestic designers that “this principle, combined with a ventilation system for powder gases, will undoubtedly reduce the percentage of concentration of powder gases in the fighting compartment of the tank, thereby reducing their harmful effect on the condition of the crew.” We must pay tribute to the designers: they read the “Bulletin” and understood the hint.

To be continued…

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