Home Forums WWII Preparing for tank shooting at Kursk

Viewing 3 posts - 1 through 3 (of 3 total)
  • Author
  • #139734
    John D Salt

    I present yet another sniblet of Russo-tanktical shootechnicalities I tripped over, after which I promise I’ll shut up.

    This bears somewhat on the question of PK ammunition allocation to IPTAPs; it is mentioned that it was issued to them, and accounted for round by round.

    The piece mentions KV-1s carrying 57mm guns, something I have never seen before; it seems to me that these were never officially adopted, but at least one photo exists of a dead one, apparently from combat.

    I thought I knew a little about Russian 76mm guns, but apparently there is still more to know — a note on the “Hartz localizer” appears at the end of the piece.

    The source is http://kursk-battle.narod.ru/equipping.htm and the translation is my own, very largely assisted by Google Translate.

    All the best,


    – – – – – – – – – – – – – snip here – – – – – – – – – – – –

    Material and technical Equipment

    The upcoming battles presented the Red Army command with a number of difficult tasks. First, in 1942-43 German troops reorganized and reequipped with new models of military equipment, which gave them a certain qualitative advantage. Second, the transfer of fresh forces from Germany and France to the Eastern Front and the total mobilization carried out allowed the German command to concentrate a large number of military formations on this sector. Finally, the Red Army’s lack of experience in conducting successful offensive operations against a strong enemy made the Battle of Kursk one of the most significant events of the Second World War.

    Despite the numerical superiority of friendly tanks, they were qualitatively inferior to German combat vehicles. The newly formed tank armies were cumbersome and difficult to manage formations. A significant part of the Soviet tanks were light vehicles, and taking into account the relatively poor quality of crew training, it will become clear how difficult a task it was for our tank men to face the Germans.

    Somewhat better was the artillery position. The basis of the equipment of the anti-tank regiments of the Central and Voronezh fronts was 76-mm division guns of types F-22USV, ZIS-22-USV and ZIS-3. Two artillery regiments were armed with more powerful 76-mm guns model 1936 (F-22), deployed from the Far East, and one regiment – 107 mm M-60 guns. The total number of 76 mm guns in anti-tank artillery regiments was almost double the number of 45 mm guns.

    Although in the initial period of the war 76-mm divisional guns could be successful against any German tank at all practical ranges, now the situation was more difficult. The heavy German Tiger and Panther tanks expected on the battlefield and modernized medium tanks and assault guns were practically invulnerable over the frontal arc at distances over 400 m, and there was no time to develop new artillery systems. By order of the State Defense Committee (GKO) in spring 1943 the production of 57-mm anti-tank (ZIS-2) and tank (ZIS-4M) guns was resumed, which had been halted in autumn 1941 because of its high complexity. However, by the beginning of the battle on Kursk, they had not managed to get to the front. The first artillery regiment armed with 57mm ZIS-2 guns only arrived on the Central Front on July 27, 1943, and on the Voronezh front even later. In August 1943, T-34 and KV-1S tanks, armed with ZIS-4M guns, also known as “tank killers”, arrived at the front. In May-June 1943, it was planned to resume the production of 107-mm M-60 guns, but they turned out to be difficult and expensive for the needs of anti-tank defense. In summer 1943, TsAKB led the development of a 100-mm S-3 anti-tank gun, but it was still far from being adopted. The 45-mm anti-tank gun improved in 1942 was taken ito service in winter 1943 under the designation M-42 in place of the 45-mm gun model 1937, but its use did not give a tangible improvement, as it could only be considered really effective when using sub-caliber projectiles against the side armour of German tanks at close range.

    The task of increasing the armour penetration of friendly anti-tank artillery by summer 1943 came down mainly to the modernization of existing armour-piercing ammunition for 76-mm divisional and tank guns. So, in March 1943, a 76-mm sub-calibre projectile was launched in mass production, which penetrated up to 96-84 mm of armour at a range of 500-1000m. However, output of sub-calibre shot in 1943 was insignificant because of the shortage of tungsten and molybdenum, which were mined in the Caucasus. Shot was issued to the gun commanders of Tank Destroyer Artillery Regiments (IPTAP), and accountable such that the loss of even one round could be severely punished, up to demotion. In addition to sub-calibre ammunition, 76mm guns in 1943 also received a new type of armour-piercing shell, the BR-350B, with the Hartz localizer, which increased the armour penetration of the gun at 500m by 6-9 mm and had a more robust body.

    Hollow-charge 76-mm and 122-mm shells tested in the autumn of 1942 began to enter service in April-May 1943. They could penetrate armour up to 92 and 130 mm thick, respectively, but, due to defects in the fuses, could not be used in long-barreled divisional and tank guns (most often the shell exploded in the barrel). Therefore, they were included only in the outfit of regimental and mountain guns and howitzers. For the armament of the infantry, production was started of hand-held hollow-charge anti-tank grenades with a drogue, and new tungsten carbide cored anti-tank bullets were introduced for anti-tank rifles (PTR) and heavy machine guns DShK.

    Especially for the summer campaign, in May 1943, the People’s Commissariat of Armaments (NKV) was given a large over-plan order for armour-piercing (and semi-armour-piercing) shells for guns that had not previously been considered anti-tank: 37-mm anti-aircraft guns, as well as 122 mm and 152 mm long-range guns and gun-howitzers. NKV works also received an additional order for KS Molotov cocktails and FOG fixed-position flamethrowers.

    In the artillery workshops of the 13th Army in May 1943, 28 “portable rocket guns” were made, which were individual rails from the Katyusha mounted on a light tripod.

    All available light artillery (calibre from 37 to 76 mm) was focused on fighting tanks. Heavy gun-howitzer batteries, heavy mortars, and Katyusha rocket-propelled mortar units also learned to repel attacks by tank units. Additional memos and instructions for firing at moving armoured targets were specially issued for them. Anti-aircraft batteries, armed with 85-mm guns, were transferred to front reserves to cover critical areas from tank attacks. It was forbidden to conduct fire on aircraft with batteries allocated to anti-tank duties.

    The rich trophies captured during the Battle of Stalingrad were also prepared to meet their former owners with fire. At least four artillery regiments received trophy materiel: 75-mm PaK 40 guns (instead of 76 mm USV and ZIS-3) and 50-mm PaK 38 (instead of 45 mm guns). Two anti-tank artillery regiments, handed over to the fronts for reinforcement from Stavka reserve, were armed with captured 88-mm FlaK 18 / FlaK 36 anti-aircraft guns.

    But it was not only the material component that occupied the minds of the command. To no less an extent, this also touched upon (for the first, and, apparently, for the last time) issues of organization and thorough combat training of personnel.

    First, the war establishment of the principal anti-tank defense unit, the tank destroyer artillery regiment (IPTAP), which consisted of five four-gun batteries, was finally approved. The larger unit – the brigade (IPTABr) – had three regiments and, correspondingly, fifteen batteries. Such an enlargement of anti-tank units made it possible to counteract large numbers of enemy tanks and still maintain an artillery reserve for operational maneouvre by fire. In addition, the fronts also included anti-tank brigades of the combined arms type, which were furnished with one light artillery regiment and up to two battalions of anti-tank rifles.

    Second, troops who were successful in the fight against new German tanks were selected in all artillery units (not only the Tiger and Panther were new; many gunners did not meet the new PzKpfw IV modifications and StuG 40 assault guns until the summer of 1943), and were appointed commanders of guns or platoons in the newly formed units. At the same time, detachments that were defeated in battles with German tanks were instead withdrawn to rear units. For two months (May-June), a real hunt for “gunner snipers” was conducted among the artillery units of the fronts. These gunners were invited to the IPTAP and IPTABr, which, by order of the Headquarters, in May 1943 increased pay and rations. In addition, up to 16 combat armour-piercing shells were allocated for additional practical training of IPTAP gunners.

    Training units made mock-ups of Tigers from captured medium tanks by welding additional armour plates on the front of the hull and turret. Many gunners, practicing shooting at moving mock-ups (towed on long ropes behind artillery tractors or tanks), achieved the highest skill, managing to get hits with a 45-mm or 76-mm gun on a gun barrel, cupola or vision device on a tank moving at a speed of 10-15 km/h (this was the real speed of the tank in battle). Detachments of howitzers and large-caliber guns (122-152 mm) also passed compulsory training in firing at moving targets.

    A note on the “Hartz localizer”:

    Source: http://tsushima.su/forums/viewtopic.php?pid=1364527 post dated 18:02:08 on 11.06.2019 by KV-14:

    When attacking armour, it turned out that the shells crack on penetrating into the plate. To eliminate this phenomenon, the designer Anatoly Andreevich Hartz proposed to make an annular groove on the outside of the projectile (“undercut”, “Hartz localizer”). When such a projectile hit the armour, the outer layer of the projectile collapsed, without destroying the body itself.

    Andrew Rolph

    Well that’s rather excellent, John. Thank you. Thx too for the contribution on my query on WWI specialists, which you posted minutes prior to my own acknowledgement of contributions.

    Please continue with the sniblets, gobbets and dribbles.



    Yes, thank you John this is really good stuff.


Viewing 3 posts - 1 through 3 (of 3 total)
  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.