Disruption of the tower. Expert opinion of the Bulletin of Armored Vehicles on the tanks of the Cold War

M-48. Exposition in Kubinka. Source: ru.wikipedia.org

The secret journal of tankers

The previous part of the article dealt with the secret edition of the Bulletin of Armored Vehicles, which has now become an invaluable historical source.

Tank troops have always been at the forefront of the Soviet Army, and it is quite natural that the industry publication only gained popularity in the post-war years. In the 50s, the organ of the Main Directorate of Tank Production of the Ministry of Transport Engineering was listed as the publisher. And 10 years later, the journal is considered scientific and technical and is published under the auspices of the USSR Ministry of Defense Industry. To be precise, the publisher was the Leningrad VNIITransmash of the 12th Main Directorate of the Defense Industry. However, the cover of the magazine invariably featured the inscription: “Moscow”, and there was a simple explanation for this: the editorial office was located in the capital at ul. Gorky, 35.Since 1953, for 20 years, the famous tank designer, laureate of three Stalin prizes Nikolai Alekseevich Kucherenko became the editor-in-chief of the magazine.

In 1961, a secret publication asks readers for a timely subscription. At that time, the pleasure of reading such a magazine cost 180 rubles a year. “Bulletin of armored vehicles” came to subscribers every two months. Naturally, only persons with the appropriate clearance were allowed to use such literature. The situation with the circulation of the edition is interesting. In the post-war period, information on the number of copies issued appears sporadically (from 100 to 150 copies). The level of secrecy of “Vestnik” is evidenced by the fact that a serial number of a copy was affixed to each journal.

Nikolai Aleksandrovich Kucherenko, laureate of three Stalin prizes, famous tank builder, editor-in-chief of Vestnik from 1953 to 1973. Source: ru.wikipedia.org

At the end of the 60s the following sections of the magazine were drawn up: “Construction. Tests. Research ”,“ Armament. Equipment. Devices “,” Technologies “,” Materials “,” From the history of armored vehicles “and” Foreign military equipment and industry. ” The last section is of greatest interest.

Evolution of the covers of the “Bulletin of armored vehicles” magazine

The fact is that in the twenty years after the war, this section published almost exclusively the results of its own research by VNIITransmash, VNII Steel and military unit No. 68054. The latter object is currently the 38th Scientific Research Testing Institute of the Order of the October Revolution, the Red Banner Institute named after Marshal of Armored Forces YN Fedorenko, or NIIBT “Polygon” in Kubinka. Research engineers carried out, on the basis of these institutions, a detailed study of foreign samples of armored vehicles that came to the USSR in various ways. In particular, the light tank M-41, which entered the country from Cuba, was studied in detail (it will be discussed in the following publications). But some of the research was purely theoretical.

American armor in theory

“Bulletin of armored vehicles” in 1958 (No. 2) publishes an interesting article by engineer-lieutenant colonel AA Volkov and engineer-captain GM Kozlov about the armor protection of the American tank M-48. It is worth recalling that this armored vehicle entered service in the United States only in 1953, and a few years later it was “fired upon” in Kubinka. The tank, by the way, had not yet had time to fight properly. The authors were impressed by the one-piece hull and turret of the tank, as well as the heavily reinforced armor compared to the predecessors M-46 and M-47. Due to the serious differentiation of the thickness of the armor, on the one hand, it was possible to increase the projectile resistance, and, on the other, to reduce the mass of the tank (in comparison with the M-46). As the authors note,

“Manufacturing of the M-48 tank hulls was organized in the USA by the flow method with extensive use of mechanization of such heavy and laborious work as packing of flasks and casting. The quality of the castings is controlled by a powerful betatron installation. The production capacities of the American industry, in particular, the presence of specialized foundries, allow, in turn, to increase the productivity of tank enterprises. “

This frees up some of the rolling and pressing equipment, and also reduces the consumption of armor steel and electrodes per unit of production. All these factors, according to engineers, are very important in wartime conditions, when it is required to ensure mass production. It also discusses the issue of organizing such a thing in the USSR. Taking into account the realities of the Soviet industry at the end of the 50s, the authors propose not to cast the entire body, but to weld it from separate cast elements.

Now about the resistance of the American tank to Soviet shells. The authors relied on both technical intelligence data and the “Proceedings of the Stalin Academy of Armored Forces”, which indicated that the armor of the “American” was homogeneous of low hardness. It is practically no different from the armor of the M-26 and M-46 tanks, which were examined in reality in Kubinka. And if so, the results can be quite extrapolated to a new tank. As a result, the M-48 was “fired at” with 85-mm, 100-mm and 122-mm shells. The caliber 85 mm turned out to be, as expected, powerless in front of the cast hull and the M-48 turret. But 100-mm and 122-mm coped with their task, and in the first case, the most effective was a blunt-headed armor-piercing projectile. Further, a quote from the article:

“However, neither a 100-mm blunt-headed projectile when fired from a cannon with an initial velocity of 895 m / s, nor a 122-mm blunt-headed projectile from a cannon with an initial velocity of 781-800 m / s provide penetration of the upper frontal part of the M-48 hull. To penetrate this part of the hull at a course angle of 0 ° with blunt-headed projectiles, the impact velocity of a 100-mm projectile must be no less than 940 m / s, and a 122-mm projectile must be no less than 870 m / s. “

It is worth noting that the authors directly write in the article that the calculations are approximate.

Tactical diagram of the anti-cumulative resistance of the American tank M-48

And if you hit the tank with a cumulative projectile? Here the authors had to take a two-year time-out. Only in 1960 did they publish in Vestnik an article “Anti-cumulative resistance of the armored hull of the American M-48 medium tank”. In this case, the “shelling” was carried out with 85-mm and 76-mm cumulative non-rotating shells, as well as mines MK-10 and MK-11. According to the theoretical calculations of Volkov and Kozlov, these anti-tank weapons penetrate a tank from any angle and from any range. But with cumulative grenades PG-2 and PG-82 (from the RPG grenade launcher ammunition), the authors were unable to penetrate the upper frontal part of the tank. In fairness, we note that from all other projections the M-48 was successfully hit with grenades.

Teardown of the tower

If such an article were published now, and even a youth edition, it would be called “How to rip a tower off a tank?” But in 1968, Vestnik published a material with the long title “Comparative Assessment of the Possibility of Disrupting the Towers of Some Tanks of Capitalist States under the Impact of a Nuclear Explosion Shock Wave”. Then no one aspired to flashy headlines. Obviously, the authors (engineers O. M. Lazebnik, V. A. Lichkovakh and A. V. Trofimov) considered the failure of a tank turret to be the most important consequence of a nuclear strike, if the explosion energy was not enough to turn the car over. During the study, not a single tank was injured, and there were quite a few of them: the French AMX-30, the American M-47 and M-60, the Swiss Pz-61, the British Centurion and Chieftain, and the German Leopard. The resistance of the T-54 tower was taken as a starting point, which it breaks down at a load of 50 tons. All the authors’ calculations were built around this value, they assumed that the turret of foreign tanks would also be ripped off at a 50-ton load.

M-60 in Kubinka. Archival photo of the 80s. Source: andrei-bt.livejournal.com

Theoretical calculations showed that the “Americans” with their large side and frontal projections of the towers will have the worst of all. M-47 and M-60 will receive 50 tons in the tower with an overpressure in the forehead of about 3.7-3.9 kg / cm2 and board – 2.9-3.0 kg / cm2… This is where the shortcomings of the tanks of the capitalist states end. For the rest of the armored vehicles, the durability of the turret was higher than that of the domestic T-54. If we extrapolate according to the graphs presented in the article, then the turret of the Leopard, Pz-61 and AMX-30 will be blown off by a 60-ton, or even 70-ton impact. Naturally, the pressure of the high-speed head in this case will be the same as for the T-54. The British Chieftain and Centurion are somewhat weaker, but still more stable than the Soviet tank.

It is quite possible that these theoretical calculations could have an impact on the tactics of using Soviet atomic weapons, as well as on the growth of its capabilities.

To be continued…

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