Russian tanks

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BIGpanzer
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Russian tanks

Post by BIGpanzer » 02 Mar 2007 23:58

I've read recently several sources about development of tanks in Russia during WWI.

One of the projects was armored fighting vehicle with framed box-liked hull based on tractor chassis - so called tank of Rybinsk factory (1915). The tank arrangement was quite similar to French medium tank St. Chamond. The project of "armored tractor of high power" was given to the General military technical directorate of Russian Army on 10 August 1916, but didn't get necessary support.
Specifications (project): weight - 20 tons; dimensions - 5 m x 2 m x 2 m; armament - 107mm gun + heavy-caliber machinegun (in the rear); armor - 10-12 mm; gasolene engine - 200 hp; speed - 7 km/h; crew - 4 men. Tank should have elastic suspension.

Also the 2nd project was developed in the end of 1916 by engineers from Rybinsk factory ["Russian Renault", produced aircraft engines and shells during WWI] - 12 tons; 12 km/h; 75mm gun + MG; tractor chassis.

The pictures is from http://www.waronline.org/write/his-magesty-tank.html
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Post by tjohn » 03 Mar 2007 00:18

Obviously the technology was there to build tanks before WW I. I suppose it is a matter of luck that some German engineer didn't think up the idea of using direct fire AFVs to deal with the Belgian fort system. Certainly, there were inventors trying to sell the idea of AFVs to the various European armies before the war, but there wasn't much interest. From what I have read of the Belgian forts, they would have been vulnerable to direct fire weapons on moderate caliber.

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Post by BIGpanzer » 03 Mar 2007 00:59

As for possible tank technology in Russia before WWI - I think that Russian industry could produce such AFVs [but there was no interest that time]. In principle, three things were necessary for tank development: good and light armor [ex. armor production by P. Obukhov and V. Pyatov in Russia], rapid-fire guns or MGs [ex. rapid-fire guns of V. Baranovsky] and petrol engine + tracks.
Interesting facts about track development in Russia: first patent was given to staff-captain D. Zagryazhsky in 1837 for the project of vehicle with metal tracks, road wheels and track adjuster. In 1839 Russian inventor V. Terter received the patent for vehicle with tracks also. In 1876 patent for "steam locomotive for usual roads" was given to staff-captain S. Maevsky by Russian Department of trade and manufactory; Maevsky developed track adjuster also as well as transmission for his steam tractor with single wide track.
In 1881-1887 (patent from 1878) Russian peasant and Volga steamship mechanic F. Blinov built and tested the world's first serviceable tractor [he called him "samokhod" = self-act] with metal tracks, track steering device and two steam engines, 12 hp each using oil as fuel [the tractor was shown on agricultural exhibition in Saratov in 1889 and on all-Russia industrial exhibition in Nizhni Novgorod in 1896 where tractor won a letter of award]. Blinov's tractor had speed 3.2 km/h, drawbar pull 1.3 tons and crew of 2 men [driver and steam engines mechanic]. Russian merchants didn't understand the importance of Blinov's tractor as agricultural and transport vehicle, but German businessmen asked him to sell the tractor [paralyzed Blinov who needed in money for his small leased factory repeled the offer, answering that he worked for Russia only]. Blinov wanted to install newest petrol engines of native design on his tractor but he died in 1902, what happened with the first world's track tractor - is unknown.
Tractor ["locomotive for country roads", 1884-1887] of F. Blinov which was built by iron and mechanical factory in Balakovo, Saratov province [pictures are from http://www.tankmuseum.ru/images/history and http://armor.kiev.ua/Tanks/WWI/blinov ]

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Blinov's follower - engineer Ya. Mamin developed first airless injection engines with compression ignition in 1903 (25 hp and 45 hp) and installed them on original 4-tons wheeled agricultural tractors ["Russian tractor"] in 1910-1912, 4 diesel tractors were produced by Mamin's factory of oil engines and tractors in Balakovo [picture is from http://www.avtomash.ru/pred/ ].
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Post by Alex Yeliseenko » 03 Mar 2007 06:38

The known facts speak, that Russian empire lagged behind in development of manufacture AFV the western states a little. In 1917 was planned to begin license manufacture of tanks Renault-Russkiy (Russian). It it was planned to organize at a factory to Rybinsk. Falling of Provisional government has stopped these plans.

Some authors of researches about russian armor approve, that actually Russian army had « Lights tanks ». It were to a floor-caterpillar? (floor- tracks) armored cars. For example, Austin-Cegress.

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Post by BIGpanzer » 03 Mar 2007 10:01

Thanks for the photo, Alex!
Yes, I also found a mentions that half-tracks "Russian Austin-Kegresse" described as "tanks of Russian type" sometimes [for example, by Heigl]. Of course, they were armored cars in reality but had good combat value similar or even better than of light tanks of the period.

Frenchman and Russian warrant officer Adolphe Kégresse worked as the chief mechanic and driver of Russian Imperial garage in 1906-1916 and he developed different models of snow tracks for the cars of Nicholas II [Rolls-Royce, Mercedes, Packard, Russo-Balt, etc.] since 1909 [got a patent 31.05.1914 for "car-sled with endless belts"]. In 1915 Kégresse suggested to use light rubber-textile tracks for Russian armored cars ["Austin"s - purchased in Britain and produced later in Russia also as "Russian Austin-Putilov" with improved armor, diagonal turrets and gable roof of the hull] and his idea was supported by General military technical directorate. Russians planned to reequip in such easy way all their armored cars and army trucks into half-trucks since autumn 1916 but those plans were not realized. A. Kégresse returned back to France after the Russian revolution where his system was used by Citroën between 1921 and 1937 for off-road and military vehicles.

Photo is from http://www.tsar-auto-club.spb.ru/static/history/kegress
Imperial Packard SIX 3-38 with Kegresse "snow tracks" [January 1917]
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As for half-track armored car "Russian Austin-Kegresse" or "Austin-Putilov-Kegresse" - that vehicle was already Soviet and Kégresse prototype was improved by Red engineer Ermolov [produced by Putilov works in 1919-1920, 12 were built + 22 half-track chassis; several armored cars were equipped with special turrets allowing AA fire]. Kégresse very successfully tested his world's first half-track armored car "Austin" in August-September 1916 by run between Tsarskoye Selo and Mogilev through fields and bogs sometimes [also he developed tracks for armored cars "Fiat" and "Packard"; 60 half-tracks "Austin" + 200 for reequipment from wheeled armored cars were ordered in autumn 1916, but Putilov works could built only 12 "Russian Austin-Kegresse" after revolution]. AFAIK they were used quite active during the repulsion of general Yudenich's offensive to Petrograd and during Soviet-Polish war [two were captured by Poles], Red army still had 4 armored cars of that type in March 1931.
Specifications: 5.5-5.8 t; dimensions 4.9 x 1.8 x 2.4 m; 2x7.62mm MGs "Maxim" with 4000-6000 cartridges; 6-8 mm armor; 50 hp gasoline engine "Austin"; 25-40 km/h; 100 km range; ground pressure 0.3 kg/sq.cm; crew 5 men. Izhora works also made experiments with two 37mm guns instead 2 "Maxim" MGs.
Those half-tracks had low noise and excellent cross-country ability because of rubber-textile tracks [24-35 cm width with friction action], additional cylinders on front wheels for mud/snow crossing and cylinders in front of hull and behind the tracks for trenches crossing and track protection, it was possible to use skis for front wheels also. Half-tracks had additional rear steering post. "Austin-Kegresse" was a reliable AFV also [during tests performed 1500 km run]. Its combat specifications were better than of FT-17 [AFAIK one of the largest car factory began to built in Rybinsk in May 1916 as "Russian Renault", the half of all buildings were built till summer 1917 and France started to deliver the equipment already but Russian revolution stoipped collaboration; Rybinsk factory repaired cars during Russian Civil war].

The images of "Austin-Putilov-Kegresse" are from http://www.waronline.org/write/his-mage ... pter5.html , http://www.tsar-auto-club.spb.ru , and http://www.waronline.org/write/his-magesty-tank

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http://www.waronline.org/write/his-mage ... /pic55.gif [blue-prints]

Regards, BP
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Post by BIGpanzer » 03 Mar 2007 10:15

Alex, do you know about the heavy armored car [armored tractor] of colonel N. Gulkevich? AFAIK colonel of artillery and famous inventor N. Gulkevich developed it in summer 1915 using chassis from US half-track tractor "Allis-Chalmers" [10 were purchased by Russia in spring 1916], planning to arm them with 1x76.2mm + 2x37mm guns and 2xMGs. The first heavy armored car of that type had name "Ilya Muromets" [built in November 1916 by Putilov works, successfully tested], second armored car had the name "Akhtyrets" [built in March 1917 by Putilov works]. No more armored cars of that type were produced because of pressure of business at Putilov works, also all US half-track tractors "Allis-Chalmers" [it was planned to start their production in Bryansk since 1917] were given to heavy artillery units. Both Gulkevich heavy half-track armored cars were used during Russian civil war by the Red army.

Specifications: 12 tons; crew 7 men; armament - 76.2mm gun [in the rear] + 2 MGs ["Maxim"s in special Gulkevich ball mounts in rotating turret] ; armor 6.5 mm; 68 hp engine; speed 12-15 km/h. Armored car had track and wheel drives, independent suspension of tracks and additional stern driver seat.

Photos [1917-1918] of half-track heavy armored car of Gulkevich are from http://militera.lib.ru/tw/svirin_mn1

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Image of "Akhtyrets" is from http://armor.kiev.ua/Tanks/WWII/tractor
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Post by Alex Yeliseenko » 03 Mar 2007 10:29

BIGpanzer wrote:Alex, do you know about the heavy armored car [armored tractor] of colonel N. Gulkevich? AFAIK colonel N. Gulkevich developed it in summer 1915 using chassis from US half-track tractor "Allis-Chalmers". The first heavy armored car of that type had name "Ilya Muromets" [built in autumn 1916 by Putilov workshops], second armored car had the name "Akhtyrets" [built in spring 1917]. Both were used during Russian civil war by the Red army.

Specifications: 12 tons; crew 7 men; armament - 76.2mm gun [in the rear] + 2 MGs ["Maxim"s in rotating turret] ; armor 6.5 mm; 68 hp engine; speed 12-15 km/h. Armored car had track and wheel drives, and stern driver seat.

Photos [1917-1918] of heavy armored car of Gulkevich are from http://militera.lib.ru/tw/svirin_mn1

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Yes, I know about these half-track armoured cars. Red have renamed armoured cars. Ilya Muromets has received a name Red Petersburg and all time of Civil war was to Petrograd. Akhtyrets has kept a name. It participated in Civil war. In January 1920 it arrive on repair to Moscow. In 1922-1923 these surprising HT ArmCars have been destroyed - there were no spare parts for repair.

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Post by BIGpanzer » 03 Mar 2007 11:33

Thanks for the info, Alex!
I found a mention that "Ilya Muromets" was given to Petrograd Reserve armored squadron in April 1917 after successful tests, and renamed into "Krasny Peterburg" in October 1917. That half-track defended Smolny in Petrograd [used by Armored department of General war engineering directorate of Red Army till 1922]. "Akhtyrets" together with three other armored cars was sent to Moscow 29.10.1917 where it supported Red guard units during strong street combats with white forces. In September 1918 "Akhtyrets" was sent to Kazan [3rd armored division of Red Army] and participated in combats during 1918-1919 on Eastern Front, was sent back to Moscow for repair in January 1920. Both half-tracks were scrapped in 1923.

I know that Guard colonel N.A. Gulkevich wrote to the chief of General artillery directorate on 14 July 1915 about need in development of track AFVs armed with light gun and MGs. Gulkevich especially mentioned track vehicles for their excellent cross-country ability and ability to destroy wiring. Colonel Gulkevich asked to start the serial production of such vehicles for Russian army and provided each army corps with 40 such "self-engines", Gulkevich also developed the tactics of use AFVs during offensive earlier than it was made in Britain [he also suggested to tow 107mm guns by some tanks during offensive].
But colonel Gulkevich realized that serial production of tanks in Russia was impossible that time, he asked for US track tractors "Holt" with 80 hp engines to armor them against light artillery shells but didn't get such tractors also [Russia had a few foreign track tractors that time - 20 "Holts" were purchased in 1915 and it was planned to purchase 70 track tractors and 340 wheeled tractors in 1915]. So Gulkevich developed and built half-track heavy armored cars, based on two 7-ton "Allis-Chalmers", which were purchased by him in USA. Both Gulkevich heavy armored cars were given to Alternative armored division in Petrograd in spring 1917.

Also the inventor A. Vasiliev developed the project of track AFV and built its model in the beginning of 1915. But Technical committee of General military technical directorate rejected the project 17.03.1915 as "impracticable". A. Vasiliev saw the photos of British tanks in January 1917 and wrote to the Russian Minister of War to investigate his project and explain why Russian inventions were rejected at home but foreign similar inventions made a sensations....

Imperial Russia couldn't organize the native tank industry during WWI despite the great attempts of Russian inventors and some army officers [nevertheless, Russians produced many good models of armored cars during WWI]. The reasons were the following: poor judgement of Russian high-ranking bureaucrats, insufficient development of Russian heavy industry in 1910s, confusions and unpreparedness of Russian military industry to the large war and foreign business influence on Russian industry which tried to get Russian money but deliver parts of poor quality often [for example, 36 armored cars "Armstrong-Fiat" delivered to Russia in spring 1916 were of very poor quality and absolutely unreliable].
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Matter of luck that some German engineer didn't think up the

Post by Dave Bender » 03 Mar 2007 13:31

http://www.doppeladler.com/kuk/burstyn.htm

The Austrians and Germans considered armored fighting vehicles in 1911 but rejected them as inpractical at that time. History has proven their decision correct. Without a decent power to weight ratio and reliable automotive components the early model tanks were expensive death traps.

Had WWI been delayed until the 1920s I think you would have seen Austrian and German tanks and half tracks.

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Post by BIGpanzer » 03 Mar 2007 15:41

Sure!
Or to use and develop quite successful half-tracks as they had similar combat value to light tanks of that period and much better mobility. Half-track heavy armored cars of Gulkevich had some even better specifications than French and British heavy tanks of the period and valued high by foreign specialists as "Russian type of tanks".
The Austrians and Germans considered armored fighting vehicles in 1911 but rejected them as inpractical at that time.
The Austrian wheel-track AFV by lieutenant Günther Burstyn is quite famous but I agree with the sources that Austrian army HQ just didn't understand the importance of the design [the official answer was "...lieutenant Burstyn is crazy person..."], otherwise Austria could be the first country introduced tanks on battlefields. The same situation [or even worse] was in Russia, as several real projects of the tanks were rejected as "unnecessary" in 1911-1916 [the first proposal of "ground armored locomotive" was sent in 1856 even]. For example, tank of Rybinsk works ["Russian Renault"] based on "Holt" chassis [see above] with elastic suspension, 107mm gun and power-to-weight ratio 10 hp/ton [French Schneider had only 4.5 hp/ton and St. Chamond even 3.9 hp/ton, German A7V had 6.25 hp/ton and British heavy tanks - 3.7-4.4 hp/ton] was possible to built and test without any doubts, but that was not done.

Some additional info: half-track armored cars "Russian Austin-Kegresse" [12 were built by Putilov works based on improved wheeled "Russian Austin" with better engine, armor, turrets and chassis frame + 22 half-track chassis] were used by Red Army in October-November 1919. Three "Kegresse"s quite successfully supported brigade of Red 2nd infantry division [from 7th army] during the combats near Petersburg/Petrograd against White North-western Army units 25.10.1917 [two of them were damaged by artillery fire]. Several "Kegresse"s were used by Red armored detachments of 7th and 15th armies during the combats with the units of general Yudenich and Estonian units in 1919 [Estonians captured two half-tracks and used them till mid1930s]. Reds attached big importance to half-tracks "Austin-Putilov-Kegresse" in 1919 [Lenin personally asked for 4 half-tracks for Southern Front]
"Russian Austin-Kegresse"s were used also during Soviet-Polish war in March-April 1920 [Red 6th armored detachment had 4 half-tracks of that type - "Ukrainets", "Piterets", "Putilovets", ?]. Poles captured two such armored cars - one was repaired and used in "Dziadek" platoon during the rest of the war, the second was used in "Zagloba" platoon. One of cars was named "Lis" (from "Zagloba" platoon). Most probably the other one was later given a number 4953 (or 4993). They were withdrawn from service in the late 1920's, before one was repaired in Warsaw in 1925, used by Modlin tank school in 1930s [Poles valued those half-tracks (called "half-tanks") as very successful and Polish army suppotted the idea of half-tracks till 1939]. Four Soviet "Russian Austin-Kegresse"s were in use by RKKA [43nd armored detachment of Moscow district, 2nd armored detachment, 1st armored division of Caucasian Red Banner Army] till 1931-1933 [it was planned to reequip them back to wheel armored cars because of bad condition of old tracks, that wasn't done] -
http://mk-armour.narod.ru/1997/01/Photo_52.jpg
http://mk-armour.narod.ru/1997/01/Photo_51.jpg

I. The photos of captured half-track armored cars "Austin-Putilov-Kegresse" by Poles are from http://derela.republika.pl/auskegr1.jpg

Damaged [during combat with Polish heavy armored car "Dziadek" which damaged two Red half-tracks] and abandoned half-track "Ukrainets" ["All the Power to the Councils", from Red 6th armored detachment], captured by Polish units 21.03.1920 near Zhitomir.
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Second half-track, captured by Poles 26.04.1920 in Zhitomir - "Putilovets" ["Death to the bourgeoisie"], renamed as "Lis" ["the Fox"]
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Photo of Polish "Austin-Kegresse" as monument, taken by Germans in Armored Units Training Centre in Modlin, October 1939
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AFAIK White Russian forces developed, built and used several heavy armored tractors during Civil war in Russia also [those "tanks" were built in 1919 in Revel and Novorossisk, based on US "Holt" and "Bullock-Lombard" artillery tractors and armed with 4-5 MGs, the idea was similar to Gulkevich AFV]. Two armored tractors "Bullock-Lombard" were used by 2nd armored division of Caucasian Voluntary Army very successfully against Red forces but they were captured by Reds in autumn 1919 [it was planned to rearm them with 47mm Hotchkiss gun, that was not done and armored tractors were in use till 1922-23 and then used as civil tractors]. Also one armored tractor "Astrakhanets" was built by Revel workshops and sent to 3rd Don Army of White Forces in April 1919 [tractor had two MG turrets but was not reliable and was sent back]. Also several more armored tractors were built, including large tractor "Colonel Bezmolitvenny" [based on "Clayton" tractor chassis], armed with 1 gun and 6 MGs with crew 11 men [used as training vehicle because of bad maneuvrability]. Also White Caucasian Army [6th tractor division of heavy sea artillery] used several heavy 120mm guns mounted on tractor chassis, all were captured by Reds in spring 1920 [used by 34th mixed division of heavy howitzers of 9th Kuban Red Army].

II. The photos of half-track armored cars built by White Russian forces are from http://armor.kiev.ua/Tanks/WWII/tractor

Tests of armored "Bullock-Lombard" built by Novorossisk shipyard, 1919 [Russian White Forces]
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Captured by Reds armored "Bullock-Lombard" [Moscow, 1920]
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Captured by Reds armored heavy "Clayton" [1920]
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III. Here are some additional photos of Gulkevich half-track heavy armored cars from http://armor.kiev.ua/Tanks/WWII/tractor

US half-track tractors "Allis-Chalmers" of Russian Officer rifle school in Oranienbaum, summer 1916
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Heavy armored car "Akhtyrets" during the combats in Moscow [Red Guard units, November 1917]
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Heavy armored car "Krasny Petersburg" after scrapping by Reds [1923]
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Regards, BP
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Post by BIGpanzer » 04 Mar 2007 14:14

One of the most detailed and interesting projects of Russian tanks was the project of super-heavy tank of V.D. Mendeleev [developed during five years in 1911-1915]. V.D. Mendeleev [1886-1922] was the Russian naval constructor and son of famous chemist D.I. Mendeleev. Russian sources claim the Mendeleev tank [so called “bronekhod”, “armored self-propelled vehicle”] as the first world’s idea of the real heavy tank. The project was introduced in 24.08.1916 and was not accepted by General military technical directorate of the Russian Army.

Mendeleev super-heavy tank had many original, impressive and progressive features 8O : pneumatic adjustable individual suspension which allowed to ground the tank before gunnery and to decrease the clearance in combat for track protection [such pneumatic suspensions were introduced during WWII only by Germans and Britons], mechanical/pneumatical loading of the gun, swing of the gun barrel with the help of electric servo, electric and pneumatic servo of transmission, extensible [pneumatically] rotating MG small turret, pneumatic track adjuster, antiprojectile differential armor, four steering posts [every crewmember could control the tank if the driver was killed], powerful engine driven compressor for tank pneumatic systems, location of fuel tanks [2580 l of fuel] in the rear of the hull under bottom in closed compartments for fireproof reason, ammunition load located also in special compartment. It was possible to transport that super-heavy tank by rail [using special railroad wheels] as super-heavy tank had large weight.

But I would like to note that Mendeleev tank [always valued very high by Russian historians] was an armored track self-propelled bunker for defense of Finnish Gulf coast or destruction of enemy fortresses, but not for offensive, and didn’t exhibit a true and correct view of the Russian army needs. Tank with 150mm armor, powerful naval gun, huge weight [complicated transportation] and very bad cross-country ability couldn’t be used on WWI battlefields. Mendeleev tank had excessive and maximum possible specifications, but the project and blue-prints of super-heavy tank were developed, calculated and described very carefully indeed [V.D. Mendeleev developed submarines and diesels as talented naval engineer in 1908-1916].
That tank could be built in WWI-period Russia without doubts but pneumatic systems could cause technologic difficulties and electric equipment should be purchased abroad.

Specifications (project): weight 173.2 tons [86.46 t of armor]; dimensions – 10 m [13 m with the gun] x 4.4 m x 3.5 m [4.45 m with the extensible turret armored with 8mm armor]; clearance 0.0-0.7 m because of pneumatic suspension; track width 520 mm; ground pressure 2.5-2.8 kg/sq.cm; armament – 120mm naval gun Cannet [51 shells] + 1x7.62mm machine-gun “Maxim” [in extensible rotating turret]; armor 70 – 150 mm; ship diesel or gasoline engine 250 hp [with reverse crankshaft rotation]; speed 24.8 km/h; crew 8 men.

V.D. Mendeleev developed the second project of super-heavy tank also [with 127mm gun, two MG turrets and 50 mm side armor instead of initial 100 mm]

The images are from http://www.waronline.org/write/his-mage ... /pic53.jpg and http://armor.kiev.ua/Tanks/WWI/Mendeleev

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Post by BIGpanzer » 04 Mar 2007 23:24

Some more Russian tank projects of WWI period but there is a few info about them:

V. Kazansky [inventor] - suggested the project of cross-country vehicle [tractor] with three wide wheels of large diameter and shell-proof armor in the beginning of 1915. The project was rejected.

V. Konovalov [engineer-mechanic of Sestroretsk armoury] - developed the detailed project of "armored autowaggon" [armored personnel carrier]. The project was rejected.

Bykovtsev [lieutenant of Russian Army] - suggested heavy armored tractor with 8 running wheels for crossing wiring in December 1915. The project was rejected.

Some inventors were mentioned earlier:
Fedor Blinov (1827-1902): http://armor.kiev.ua/Tanks/WWI/blinov/blinov.jpg
Vasily Mendeleev (1887-1922): http://www.tankmuseum.ru/images/history/mendeleev.jpg
Adolphe Kégresse (1879-1943): http://www.tsar-auto-club.spb.ru/static ... ss/001.jpg

Russian Army had 13 armored squadrons in the middle of 1917 and used them very active [the most active use of armored cars among all involved armies] during WWI. Russian engineers and army officers watched over Allied tank development very carefully [Russia asked for 390 tanks during Allied conference in spring 1917 - it was planned to purchase medium "Schneider"s at first but light "Renault"s seemed to be more useful since September 1917, also Russian specialists paid attention to heavy British tanks with relatively good cross-country ability in October 1917]. But only White Russian Army received ~130 tanks [Mk V, Mk A, Mk B, FT-17] during the Civil war against Reds [who captured 83 tanks] - White Guards used British tanks against Reds in March 1919 in Ukrainian Front for the first time. At the moment five Mk.V(!) are preserved in Russia.

Russians developed the detailed anti-tank instruction during WWI after detailed analysis of use of British and French tanks in Europe. Red Army accepted this instruction and printed it in 1918.

In my opinion Gulkevich half-track heavy armored cars [only two were built, see above] could be the beginning of Russian tank industry if military department supported the talented colonel much more. Tractor chassis "Allis-Chalmers" and 68 hp engines could be purchased in USA or produced in Russia under license. Russia produced 201 serial armored cars in 1914-1917 [only 24 were based on native "Russo-Balt" chassis] and purchased 496 armored cars [many of them were rearmed and rearmored in Russia], but Russian Army got only 2 very successful Gulkevich half-tracks, some combat specifications of which were better than of British [Mk.I-III] and especially French [Schneider and St. Chamond] tanks.....One of the most successful Russian armored cars of WWI were AFVs of captain Poplavko [based on all-wheel drive US 2-t trucks and armed with 2 MGs, also equipped with wiring-cut nose device], 31 were built and used since 1916. The planned large-series production of half-track armored cars "Austin-Putilov-Kegresse" could be also very useful for Russian Army as well as production of 20-tons tanks by Rybinsk factory ["Russian Renault" in Rybinsk on Volga river] armed with 107mm gun. That was not done because of complicated situation in Russia in 1916-1917.
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Post by BIGpanzer » 05 Mar 2007 20:40

Any opinions? :roll:

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Post by BIGpanzer » 06 Mar 2007 07:50

I found the info about one more Russian project - so called "self-propelled armored tower for 8-inch howitzer" of 2nd lieutenant Drizhenko. Drizhenko was a marine architect of Admiralty shipyard and he suggested his project to Central military technical directorate in the end of 1916. That heavy AFV represented 203.2-mm howitzer installed in waggon with 10mm armor [seats of commander and driver in front equipped with armoured turrets, gun crew and ammunition located in the middle, two gasoline engines 180 hp each - one per track - located in the rear]. AFV had two MGs on the roof. Chassis represented track wheels [270 mm in diameter] grouped by four in five groups [20 wheels per side, ground contact area - 6 m], pneumatic suspension with communicated pneumatic barrels of one side, rear drive sprocket, tracks ["sleepers connected with chains"] were 800 mm width. One of the tracks decelerated and corresponding farthest wheel group lifted automatically during steering [such technical solution was used by Swedes in 1960 only]. AFV of Drizhenko should have electric lighting, ventilation with dust covers.
The project was examined in details at Military automobile school at first, it was reported that project was complicated with undeveloped transmission and pneumatic systems. Then it was sent to Central military technical directorate in July 1917. Russian military engineers compared the project with known British and French tanks, and soundly answered that heavy howitzer was not an optimal weapon for short-range field combats, it was better to tow it by tractor.....
Specifications (project): weight 46 tons, dimensions 8.1 x 3.8 x 3.4 m, 360 hp, 12 km/h, ground pressure 0.5 kg/sq.cm, crew 6 men.

Regards, BP

tjohn
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Post by tjohn » 06 Mar 2007 14:24

A lot of these ideas were before their time in the sense that the logistical tail of a motorized army is much greater than that of an infantry army. If one of the Great Powers had the vision for a motorized army well before World War I started, then some of the manufacturing and logistical infrastructure could have been put in place.

Also, it doesn't seem that tracked vehicles really had the operational reliability necessary to make them useful in combat prior to WW I.

In 1914, the Germans certainly could have used armored vehicles with direct fire guns to subdue the Belgian forts. And, technically at least, armored car units with machines guns and small cannons could have been used to disrupt command and logistics far beyond the front lines.

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