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Tank Experience

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"Report on the use of tanks in the Patriotic War of 1941-1945
1st Tank Battalion, 3rd Guards Minsk-Gdansk Order of Lenin Order of the Red Banner Order of Suvorov Tank Brigade
  1. The armament and ammunition of the T-34 tank are of high quality.
    To make it easier to use the commander's cupola, we consider it necessary to remove the periscope.
    Practice shows that nonstop observation from a tank has a great effect in combat. This is especially true in the last part of the war in 1945 when the Germans used the Faustpatrone in large quantities. Soldiers armed with the Faustpatrone hiding in thick forests, enfilades, or settlements dealt great damage to tanks firing suddenly from concealment. To successfully combat the Faustpatrone and discover them in due time, it is necessary for all crew members to observe the battlefield in all directions. The existing observation devices do not allow this. To improve vision we consider it necessary to introduce a periscope in the front plate for the machine gunner and side vision periscopes for the driver.
    The TSh-15 sight should have 5x magnification.
  2. The most common case of malfunction when firing from the gun and machine guns is the electric trigger. The cable adjustment often slips.
  3. There are no extra weapons in the tank. It is necessary to have a PPSh or PPS in every tank for self defense.
  4. It is desirable to have the following distribution of ammunition in the tank:
    1. HE: 52%
    2. AP: 30%
    3. APCR: 10%
    4. Canister shot: 8%
  5. Practice shows that it is preferable to arm the crew with TT pistols instead of Nagant revolvers. It is easier to handle the pistol and to carry it. The pistol is also easier to source ammunition  for and reload. Extra ammunition can be carried in magazines, which cannot be done with a revolver.
  6. The commander usually observes through the vision cupola slits. The driver and gunner observe through periscopes. Due to a lack of vision devices and to have a better understanding of the battlefield, the commander periodically rises from the turret and observes through the open hatch.
  7. Tracer shells, tracer bullets, and flares are most often used to mark targets.
  8. The effective range of firing is:
    1. From standstill: 1000 meters
    2. On the move: 400-600 meters
  9. In combat crews usually fire 1-2 shots from short stops.
  10. The speed of the tanks when firing on the move depends on the terrain. In poor terrain crews can drive at 7-8 kph to increase the effect of fire, on good roads firing on the move can be done at a speed of 15 kph.
    In combat for liberation of Belarus in 1944 along the Moscow-Minsk highway and in combat in Pomerania in 1945 tanks fired on the move at a speed of up to 25 kph.
  11. The T-34-85 tank forms a lot of smoke when firing that prevents observation of the bursting shell for some time. In this case, the commander and loader observe the fire out of open hatches.
  12. The rate of fire of the gun and machine gun is good, matching the norms set in the manual.
  13. The radio is most commonly used to direct fire within the platoon or company.
  14. In practice, fire of tanks in a platoon, company, or even the battalion can be concentrated on one target. In battle in East Pomerania on March 8th near Poganits the battalion opened fire at a retreating armoured train at a range of 2 km. As a result, the train was stopped and destroyed. Its crew fled.
  15. At night it is impossible to fire precisely on the move or in place. Before firing 1-2 illumination flares must be fired to light up the terrain.
  16. Firing using the turret clinometer, traverse indicator, and panoramic sight was not performed.
  17. The typical means of dialling in the sight are:
    1. Adjusting the sight settings.
    2. Moving the sight crosshairs to a burst.
  18. The main type of firing by tanks is from a short stop.
  19. Tanks fired at a range of up to 2500 meters, but it is hard to judge the effectiveness.
  20. In cases of concentrated anti-tank defenses and large amount of concrete or armoured strongpoints a lot of ammunition can be expended. For instance, on March 24th near Danzig in the region of Weisshof the battalion used up all ammunition in 1.5-2 hours of fighting.
    The tanks were restocked with ammunition twice during that day.
  21. To improve mobility of the loader in the turret, make his seat foldable with springs, since it takes up space in the horizontal position.
    Also the commander's cupola hatch door should be made in one piece instead of two, and definitely add balancing springs, as the commander can only open his hatch with difficulty.
    There were cases where the two piece door injured crewmen's hands.
Commander of the 1st Tank Battalion, Guards Major Pristupko
Senior Adjutant of the 1st Tank Battalion, Guards Captaion Portoreskul"


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