Home Forums WWII Data gobbets on Russian APCR

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    Avatar photoJohn D Salt

    In the recent thread on Soviet tank-destroyer artillery, I speculated that IPTAPs would receive priority in the issue of APCR (Russian PK, “podkaliberniy”) ammunition. While I have not yet found confirmation of this speculation, I have recently tripped over some snippets on Russophone web sites that were new to me. As is my weak-willed habit, I pass these along in the fond belief that they might be interesting to fellow enthusiasts, rather than doing the sensible thing of hoarding them until I have enough to write a book.

    The first gobbet concerns the norms for ammunition loads (Russian boekomplekt, BK) for tanks of various kinds. The source is https://topwar.ru/160633-stalnoj-golod-rejha.html, a mysterious page 38 copied from unidentified book.

    Ammunition natures are:
    OF Oskolochniy-Fugasniy HE-frag
    BR Broneboiniy AP (usually APHE)
    PK Podkaliberniy APCR
    Sh Shrapnel’ Shrapnel

    Shrapnel could be fired “Na kartech'”, as canister, to burst on leaving the barrel, and canister rounds, where issued, are included under this heading. I am aware of canister being issued only in 45mm and 57mm calibres.

    Norms according to NKTP order of 01 Dec 43
    PK (APCR) rounds issued to heavy and medium tanks only if expected to repulse a tank attack, but carried routinely by tank destroyers and light tanks

    Tank	OF	BR	PK	Sh	Total
    KV-1S	74	20	15	 5	114
    T-34/76	65	20	 5	10	100
    T-34/57	20	40	20	10	 90
    T-70	56	22	12		 90
    T-26	78	34	 8		120

    Actual norms for March-May 1944

    Tank	OF	BR	PK	Sh	Total
    KV-1S	74	30		10	114
    T-34/76	67	21	 4	 8	100
    T-34/57	28	44	 8	10	 90
    T-70	52	26	12		 90
    T-34/85	33	10		 8	 51
    IS-85	35	12		12	 59
    IS-122	20	 8			 28

    The next morsel concerns the penetration capability of 57mm and 76mm PK rounds. The source is 2 copied sheets posted in comments on page https://topwar.ru/160633-stalnoj-golod-rejha.html of which the originals are instructions from the Directorate of Combat Training dated 20 Jun 43 signed by General Starshinov.

    It was directed that PK (APCR) ammunition only be fired at enemy heavy tanks, such as the “Tiger”.
    It was forbidden to fire 57mm PK at ranges above 1000m, or 76mm PK above 500m.

    						      Range (m)		
    Calibre	Length	Projectile  Angle (deg)	100	300	500	700	1000
    57mm		BR-271P		 0	175	160	140	120	 95
    57mm		BR-271P		30	130	115	100	 90	 75
    76mm	30	BR-345P		 0	117	102	 86		
    76mm	30	BR-345P		30	 95	 83	 67		
    76mm	40	BR-345P		 0	128	110	 92		
    76mm	40	BR-345P		30	105	 89	 75		
    76mm	50	BR-345P		 0	132	114	 96		
    76mm	50	BR-345P		30	109	 92	 79

    As I’m sure every schoolboy knows, 30-calibre 76mm guns include the M-1902/30, 40-calibre guns the M-1939, M-1939 USV, ZiS-3, ZiS-5 and F-34, and 50-calibre guns the F-22.

    All the best,


    Avatar photoWhirlwind

    Very interesting.  Did it happen to give any figures for how many T-34/57s were knocking around in 1944?

    Avatar photoJohn D Salt

    Did it happen to give any figures for how many T-34/57s were knocking around in 1944?

    Oh, come on, d’you think I wouldn’t have told you if it said?

    I was surprised at the idea there would be any, I’d have thought T-34/85s were the thing by then.

    All the best,


    Avatar photoWhirlwind

    Yes, exactly, amazing what gets thrown up – many thanks!

    Avatar photoIvan Sorensen

    Wiki suggests only 10 T34 with 57mm gun were produced, though I’m not sure if that’s accurate.
    It does suggest, and another book I’d read a while ago suggested as well, that they went back to the experiment but I don’t know if that resulted in more tanks being produced before being scrapped.

    Avatar photoNorm S

    T-34, The Red Army’s Legendary Medium Tank – Images at War, by Anthony Tucker-Jones, published by Pen and Sword and available on Kindle deals with the subject in a single paragraph and says ……. 324 57mm armed T-34’s were fitted out as ‘tank hunters’ and that the gun performed better than the 76 against armour, but that the high explosive charge was too small for use against non-armoured targets. They give the dates of  1941  AND 1943 (I have highlighted AND as it seems more precise than ‘to’ i.e. two separate build programs … maybe!).

    Avatar photoIvan Sorensen

    Thats a lot more! Certainly enough to warrant painting one for the odd scenario 🙂

    Avatar photoJohn D Salt

    It’s all very mysterious.

    My most stalwart sources, Zaloga and Grandsen’s “Soviet Tanks and Combat Vehicles of WW2” and Karpenko’s “Obozrenie otechestvennoi bronetankovoi tehniki, 1905-1995” (of which I have only the German translation) both make no mention whatever of 57mm guns being mounted, even experimentally, in T-34s.

    A useful post from Scott Fraser on Armchair General https://forums.armchairgeneral.com/forum/historical-events-eras/world-war-ii/armor-in-world-war-ii/soviet-armor/154615-t-34-57-tank-destroyer gives what seems to be a pretty definitive account of the 1941 programme, and gives the fate of each of the ten tanks in the programme, together with their chassis numbers.

    According to tank archives http://www.tankarchives.ca/2013/07/soviet-57-mm-guns.html there were four vehicles in the 1943 programme, based on the 1942 model of the T-34. They do not seem to have seen action.

    It seems quite a jump from 14 vehicles to 324, so I wonder where Mr. Tucker-Jones got his information. It would, however, make sense of bothering to lay down boekomplekt norms for the vehicle. One might perhaps explain the 1943 directive as being the result of a keen staff officer thinking ahead to a programme that did not in fact materialise, but it is harder to see why anyone would have bothered in 1944.

    You will see from the piece I posted on preparing for tank shooting at Kursk that there was also a claim of 57mm guns being fitted in KV-1s, and the author gives no source for the claim. In support I have been able to find only an entry by Henk of Holland https://henk.fox3000.com/t34-2.htm which also contains the useful note that Factory 92 manufactured 172 ZIS-4M guns in 1943 before switching over to the 85 mm, and in 1944 turned out a further 19 ZIS-4Ms. That seems to put an upper bound on 57mm gun tanks about half that claimed by Anthony Tucker-Jones — I’d be interested to know his sources. Of course some of the guns fitted might have been ZiS-2s, as I believe was the case for the 1941 batch, or ZiS-4s.

    Unfortunately the web now seems to be awash with witterings from “World of Tanks” and “War Thunder” whenever one attempts to google on questions like this, and things are not helped by the lamentable failure of many writers to quote their sources.

    I’ve seen photos of both 1941 and 1943 models of 57mm-equipped T-34s, but have never yet seen a piccy of a KV-1 so armed.

    All the best,


    Avatar photoTactical Painter

    This is excellent stuff. I’m a follower of Tank Archives who also supply some great information. They, like you, use Russian primary sources and quote them (Tank Archive often reproduce the entire original document too). Zaloga remains a very reliable source in English. As always the information is only as good as the source. I’d suggest a writer with no track record in this area who doesn’t supply evidence of primary source material is quite literally worthless.

    Wikipedia can be a very flakey source (I note that high school students here in Australia are told that Wikipedia does not qualify as a valid source to quote for any assignments). Forums are full of opinions posted as fact. If they have any basis it is so often in outdated secondary sources, which is why these posts here are so good and informative.

    The Tactical Painter - painting miniature armies for battles on the table top.

    Avatar photoJohn D Salt

    More evidence against there being more than a very few 57mm-armed tanks to see service comes from the Russian-language wikipedia entry on the ZiS-2 and 4 gun, again translated with the assistance of Google Translate (which did a really good job, needing only a tweak here and there):

    Tank gun ZiS-4 and ZiS-4M

    At the end of 1940, the design bureau of Plant No. 92 on its own initative designed the 57-mm tank gun ZiS-4, a 76-mm tank gun F-34, the barrel of which was replaced by a barrel ZiS-2. As the new barrel was longer, counterbalance weights were added to the lower part of the gun’s cradle to restore balance; In addition, instead of the TOP sight, the TMFD sight was installed. The gun was installed on the T-34 tank and tested in April – May 1941, following which it was recommended for production, provided that the identified deficiencies were eliminated. Repeated tests of the modified version of the gun were successfully carried out in July 1941, and the gun was put into production. The exact number of ZiS-4 guns produced is unknown, but does not exceed 30, of which 10 were installed on T-34 tanks in September 1941. These tanks entered service with the 21st Tank Brigade, which participated in battles in the Kalinin area from October 15, 1941. By the end of this month, all 57-mm armed tanks of the T-34 brigade were knocked out [5]. By the end of 1941, series production of the ZiS-4 was discontinued, and the existing stock at the factory was mothballed.

    In spring 1943, as part of the continuing campaign to develop means of combating new, well-armoured German tanks and self-propelled guns (primarily the Tiger heavy tank), production of the ZiS-4 was restored. Already in May, Plant No. 92, using the reserve of 1941, shipped 5 guns, 4 of which were installed on T-34 tanks in July 1943. After conducting field tests, three tanks from August 21 to September 5, 1943 were tested at the front, which passed satisfactorily. Plant No. 92 produced an installation batch of 170 new guns (in a slightly modernized version under the designation ZiS-4M), but by September 1943 it was decided to abandon the production of T-34s with 57-mm guns in view of the successful progress of work on 85-mm tank guns D-5T and ZIS-S-53, which had a much more powerful high-explosive fragmentation shell, extremely important for Red Army’s forthcoming offensive operations, and the guns produced were not installed in tanks [5].

    [5] Kolomiets M.V. T-34. The first complete encyclopedia. – M .: Yauza, Eksmo, 2009 .– 496 p. – ISBN 978-5-699-30569-8.

    All the best,


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