Monday, 23 December 2013

First Try

"Self-loading carbine developed by Kalashnikov and Petrov, according to technical-tactical requirements from the GAU KA Artillery Committee #2941.

The carbine (right view) is shown on the photo."

Saturday, 21 December 2013

Molotov Cocktails

If you people that know next to nothing of history, they will tell you that Molotov Cocktails are a Russian invention. People that know a little bit more will tell you that they are a Finnish invention. Keep going further, and you will be told that the original use of petrol bombs dates back to the Spanish Civil War.

Turns out, the first group was correct. However, these bombs came around long before Molotov accomplished anything of value, and didn't even have a proper name. In late May of 1915, Stavka's General on Duty wrote to the head of the Chief Military-Technical Directorate:

"The High Command Headquarters received several proposals for measures of repressing the enemy in response to their use of poisonous gases. These measures consist of burning the crops that are currently growing in Germany and Austria. In order to achieve this, we require widespread manufacture of incendiary devices of various weights..."

The answer to this need can be found later, in the GVTU's correspondence with the Office of the Chief of the Organization of Aviation in the Active Army, in a letter complaining about improper alcohol bottles mysteriously appearing.

"In order to produce incendiary devices for burning of crops, the Directorate acquired 100,000 empty wine bottles from the Petrograd Excise, which were prepared by a group of lower ranks under the supervision of the Chief of the Central Air and Sea Warehouse, as well as a specially appointed officer. The bottles were packaged by packagers of government wine warehouses. The GVTU, having developed this type of weapon, notes that the thick wine bottles may not break if they strike soft ground. Therefore, they acquired wine bottles from the Excise, and did not send other wine bottles, or beer bottles. The GVTU does not know how other wine bottles or beer bottles reached the army squads. The chief of Engineering Supplies of the South-Western Front also informed the Directorate that only vodka bottles have been sent out."

Such confusion! It is not surprising that the devices never received a proper name.

Let's skip forward a few decades and look at Soviet application of these incendiary devices.

"Instructions on the use of incendiary bottles", approved by Stalin himself on August 12th, 1941.

"1. The purpose of incendiary bottles.

Incendiary bottles are one of the simplest and most reliable means for destroying tanks, armoured cars, transport trucks, warehouses, landed airplanes, and enemies in cover. In the hands of a brave soldier, they are a fearsome weapon. Skilled and sudden use can not only strike the enemy, but cause panic and compromise enemy organization.
The bottles work as follows: when they hit a solid object, the bottle breaks, and the liquid inside of it ignites, either with a match attached to the bottle, a special metallic igniter, or a capsule inside the bottle.
The Red Army uses bottles with:
  1. Self-igniting "KS" fluid.
  2. #1 and #3 flammable mixes.
2. Properties of flammable fluids

KS fluid

Bottles filled with KS fluid come in two varieties:
  1. Pure,
  2. With additives to make the fluid more viscous (stickier).

The two mixtures vary in colour. Pure KS fluid is yellow-green in colour, and the fluid with additives is dark brown. The unit weight of the first is 1.8, second is 1.4. Both fluids smell like rotten eggs. When exposed to air, they ignite at a temperature of 800-1000 degrees, creating a large amount of white smoke.

The sticky KS fluid, when impacting a tank or car, covers the view ports and glass, and heats up tank parts on impact. The smoke blinds the crew, fluid that seeps inside the tank destroys the engine, and can ignite the gas tanks. The crew is forced to exit the tank. When this fluid comes in contact with clothing, it sticks to it, quickly penetrates, and can cause severe burns. One bottle of sticky KS fluid burns for 2-3 minutes.

Pure KS fluid has similar properties, but sticks less, and does not burn as long (for 1.5-2 minutes). It is very hard to put out KS fluid fires. It can be put out with sand, dirt, and water. Note that in events of insufficient dirt coverage, or when the water evaporates, the fluid can ignite again.

#1 and #3 mixes

Mix #1 is a viscous substance, yellowish in colour, with unit weight of 0.8. It excels at spreading out over metal surfaces and sticking to them. The fluid ignites with special devices (igniters). It burns at temperatures of 700-800 degrees, and lets out small amounts of black smoke when burning. One bottle burns for 40-50 seconds. After burning, a hard and opaque film remains. Properties of mix #1 are identical to the sticky KS fluid.

Put out fires from mix #1 with sand, dirt, water, by covering it with a greatcoat or tent. After putting out the fire, it will not start again by itself.

Mix #3 is less viscous than mix #1, with unit weight of 0.9, and ranging from brown to light lemon in colour. It burns for about one minute. Otherwise, it is identical to mix #1.

3. Bottles with KS fluid

Regular beer bottles, 0.5-0.75 liters in volume, are used (fig. 1). The bottle contains a layer of water or kerosene to prevent the fluid from coming into contact with air. The bottle is closed with a rubber cork. The cork is reinforced with metal wire and tape.

Fig. 1. Incendiary bottle with KS.

The bottles are placed in wooden crates for transport. The crates are filled with dirt. Use loose, clay-free dirt, so that the package is lighter. The size of the crate should be such that the bottles could be covered with dirt from all sides. The dirt should go up to at least the corks. The top and bottom of the crate should be clearly marked. When transporting the bottles, follow the following precautions:
  1. Do not throw the crates with bottles, or flip them over.
  2. Carefully observe the condition of the package. If it starts smoking, determine which bottle is emitting smoke. Carefully, using rubber gloves, extract this bottle and bury it. Fill the gap with dirt. 
  3. If one or many bottles ignite, bury the entire crate.
Fig. 2. Incendiary bottles in a crate.

When carried, the bottles should be placed in bags with barriers (fig. 3). If no such bags are available, use rags, paper, hay, grass, etc. During normal movement, carry the bag over your shoulder. When running, hold the bag with your left hand and prevent it from hitting anything. 

Fig. 3. Placing incendiary bottles in a bag.

4. Bottles with mixes #1 and #3

Regular vodka bottles, 0.5-0.75 liters in volume are used. The bottles are filled with fluid and closed with a wooden cork. The bottles are equipped with special matches (fig. 4), glass capsules, or metallic igniters. 

Fig. 4. Incendiary bottle with #1 mix.

The match consists of a wooden stick covered in an incendiary substance (fig. 5). Two are attached to the cylindrical part of each bottle with rubber bands. The matches are ignited by friction before throwing the bottle.

Glass capsules (fig. 5) are filled with fluid that ignites when it comes in contact with the incendiary fluid. The capsule is placed in the bottle, and activates when striking a tank or car. In order to make placing capsules in the bottle more convenient, each cork should have a string through a hole in it. 

Fig. 5. A special match (top) and two types of capsules for igniting #1 and #3 mixes. Sizes are in millimeters.

A metallic igniter (fig. 6) is a pipe containing a capsule detonator, a spring with a safety pin, and a firing pin. Before throwing the bottle, the pin is removed. When throwing the bottle, the spring is freed, the firing pin strikes the detonator, and an explosion occurs. The igniters are attached to the bottle with string.

Fig. 6. Metal igniter.

Bottles with incendiary fluid are placed in the same crates as KS bottles. Each crate contains the needed amount of igniters (one capsule or metallic igniter for each bottle, or two matches wrapped in paper), and one strip of sandpaper for every three bottles (for bottles with matches). Transportation rules are the same as for KS bottles.

When issuing bottles with #1 and #3 mixes, each soldier receives one strip of sandpaper, and a necessary amount of matches wrapped in paper. The soldier then inserts the matches into rubber bands on the bottle, leaving the paper on them. The incendiary substance on the matches should be pointed towards the bottom of the bottle. Place the glass capsules inside the bottle. Tie metallic igniters to the side of the bottle. 

5. Uses of incendiary bottles.

In order to destroy enemy tanks with bottles, each soldier should carry 3 bottles, one with KS fluid and two with #1 and #3 fluid. The soldier positions himself in a trench, crack, shell crater, behind a fence, in a hole, a ditch, or any other concealment (fig. 7 and 8), camouflaging himself and hiding from bullets and shrapnel.

Fig. 7. Throwing an incendiary bottle from a roadside ditch.

Fig. 6. Throwing an incendiary bottle from behind a bush.

The soldier observes tank movements. When they approach, the soldier prepares his bottles for throwing. If his bottles use matches, he tears off the paper covers.

When the tank or car is 15-20 meters away, the soldier takes a KS bottle, holds the cylindrical part, and throws it at the tank, followed by one or two #1 and #3 bottles. If the bottles have matches, light them before throwing. #1 and #3 bottles may be held by the neck, if it is more comfortable. Throw bottles with metallic or capsule igniters in the same manner as bottles with matches, after the KS bottle (if several types are available). 

Throw the bottles while standing or crouching (fig. 9), aiming for your target. Aim for the engine (a tank has it in the rear, an armoured car in the front), observation ports, poorly sealed hatches (fig. 10). 2-3 well placed bottles can ignite the tank or car (fig 11).

Fig. 9. Throwing an incendiary bottle while crouching.

Fig. 10. Vulnerable parts of a tank for incendiary bottles.

Fig. 11. A KS incendiary bottle hit a tank.

Directions for a tank destroyer group

A tank destroyer group consists of 2-3 soldiers. One or two have incendiary bottles and grenades. One has a machinegun or a submachinegun, and is the commander. 

After receiving a mission, the commander must:
  1. Pick a position from which incendiary bottles and grenades may be thrown comfortably and stealthily. If necessary, give the order to dig a trench.
  2. Observe his sector.
  3. Ready data for firing from his machinegun.
  4. Ready the bottles for use against the enemy (check the matches and igniters, presence of ampules in bottles).
  5. Check readiness of grenades. Five grenades should be prepared for throwing at tanks, primed and with safety on. Tie them together with string or wire. Four grenades should point one way, one the other. When throwing the grenades, remove the safety of the fifth, take its handle, and throw it at the tracks.
  6. Mark locations 15-20 meters away where the first KS bottle should be thrown.
Groups position themselves as indicated on fig. 12, pointed towards likely directions of enemy tanks. Intervals between groups should be no more than 25-30 meters. Communication is performed right-to-left. 

Fig. 12. Positioning tank destroyer groups. (Б) is a soldier with bottles and grenades, (  ) is the group commander with a machinegun or submachinegun. 

When the tank is 15-20 meters away, the commander gives an order: "At the tank, fire!" On this command, the soldiers throw bottles (fig. 13 and 14) and when the tank catches fire, grenade bundles at its tracks. The commander looks for the enemy crew, and then eliminates of captures it.

Fig. 13. Throwing incendiary bottles from a trench.

Fig. 14. Throwing incendiary bottles from an ambush at a bridge.

When the objective is complete, or when the group is out of ammunition, they stealthily retreat to a previously arranged spot, determined by the unit commander.

Directions for tank destroyer units

After receiving his objective, the unit commander must:
  1. Analyze the situation and determine possible tank routes.
  2. Give his teams their tasks and locations.
  3. Determine the actions taken by teams when tanks arrive.
  4. Determine a signal for throwing bottles.
  5. Determine the resupply procedures for grenades and bottles.
  6. Indicate a rendezvous point after the mission is completed.
  7. Determine the location for a medical aid site and his observation point.
The unit acts in a manner to let the front of the column through, and then strike the whole column simultaneously (fig. 15 and 16).

Incendiary bottles are a powerful weapon. Their success depends on your bravery, agility, and resolve.

Fig. 15. A tank destroyer unit in a settlement. (K) is the unit commander, (Б) is a soldier with bottles and grenades, (  ) is a soldier with a submachinegun.

Fig. 16. A tank destroyer unit on a road. (K) is the unit commander, (Б) is a soldier with bottles and grenades, (  ) is a soldier with a submachinegun.

Safety measures and first aid

In trenches, incendiary bottles, especially KS bottles, should be kept in separate sections. When setting up a storage location, place them in a small pit or a location where they are safe from impact.

Handle with care. Ensure that they do not knock against one another or hard objects. If a bottle breaks, remove all other bottles from the vicinity, and cover it in dirt. Make sure that the fluid does not come in contact with skin or clothing.

If the fluid gets on clothing, immediately remove the affected clothing, or separate it from the body with sand, dirt, water. Until medical aid can be administered, keep a wet towel or rag in contact with burnt skin.

Chief of the Military Chemical Defense Directorate of the Red Army, Major-General of the Technical Forces, Melnikov

Military Commissar of the Military Chemical Defense Directorate of the Red Army, Regimental Commissar Krylov

August 8th, 1941"

Saturday, 7 December 2013


This photograph shows a tank DT-29 machinegun, mounted on a motorcycle. Photographs of motorcycles with infantry DP-27 machineguns are very common, as that machinegun was eventually adopted for this purpose. However, that was not due to the superiority of said gun, but due to a requirement for parts commonality with infantry.

The DT-29 was, in fact, superior to the DP-27 for this task. 63 rounds in a compact disk magazine (compare with 47 rounds in the DP's massive flat disk), and a much better mount. While the DP just had its bipod resting on the sidecar front, the DT-29 had an adjustable mount, resulting in better ergonomics for gunners of all heights. Another benefit of the mount was that it could be easily extended for the purpose of anti-aircraft fire. On a motorcycle equipped with the DP-27, the gunner had to dismount and fire from a crouched position next to the motorcycle if he wanted to achieve very large gun elevation angles.

Sunday, 1 December 2013

Taubin's Grenade Launcher

In the mid 1930s, an automatic grenade launcher made by engineer Taubin was tested in the USSR. There were some good things about it, like a satisfactory shrapnel radius for grenades and a high rate of fire: 436 RPM! However, there were also many problems. It jammed a lot (7.2% of the shots), and the extractor had to be replaced 30 times over 587 shots. The precision, especially on the horizontal axis, was unsatisfactory.

However, Taubin did not give up. He wrote to Molotov, Voroshilov, and Kaganovich, with pleas to produce his mortar, complaining the the Red Army lacks the ability to suppress hardpoints on reverse slopes at a range of 500-1200 meters at the company level. The letters contained such gems as: "The production of an automatic grenade launcher, the value of which was identified by the army in December of 1937, is being held back intentionally... The employees of Design Bureau 16 consider it necessary to create a commission in order to confirm the facts stated in this letter and identification of the parties guilty of artificially delaying the progress of the automatic grenade launcher."

In response to these claims, Division Commander Grendal sent his own letter, remarking that the Red Army possesses company level mortars for such tasks, and "In order to reduce the amount of correspondence between us in the future, it is suggested that your workers ask Artkom in person (available from 14:00 to 17:00) regarding issues they do not understand."

Thursday, 28 November 2013

WWI and WWII Foreign Purchases

A lot of attention is aimed at the numbers for Lend-Lease aid received by the USSR in WWII, but what about the aid received by the Russian Empire during WWI? Despite being a much less discussed topic, the numbers are, in some cases, much greater than the LL ones. RGAE-413-12-8605 has the info we need.

Import to Russia
Import to the USSR

  1. Aircraft (various)

  1. Aircraft motors

  • 76 mm cannons

  • Cannons of all calibers

  1. Bomb launchers and mortars

  • Machineguns (various)

  • AA machineguns


  • Rifles (various)
  • Submachineguns (various) and AT rifles

  1. Shells (various)

  1. Cartridges (various)

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

DPM-36 Machinegun

Yet another experimental Soviet machinegun, this time it's a pre-war one.

Nothing too weird about it, except maybe a slight resemblance to a certain Czech design. 

It also took Maxim cloth belts. A little strange, but not too abnormal.

Saving the best for last, the paratrooper version! Of course it comes with a bayonet, why would it not?

Saturday, 23 November 2013

MG-42 Guide

"Translation of a German document captured 3 km east of Rosino on December 1st, 1942, among documents of the 10th infantry company, 174th infantry regiment, 81st infantry division.

Directions on shooting from the MG-42 machinegun

The high rate of fire of the MG-42 results in a large consumption of ammunition. Use it with great discipline, and remember the following:

MG-42 as a hand-held machinegun

The high rate of fire of the MG-42 results in difficulty while aiming, due to the shaking after firing. Fire in short bursts. The best amount appears to be 5-7 rounds, as the machinegunner is capable of holding the gun in the direction of the target for that long. After 7 rounds, the dispersion cone deviates from the target, resulting in a larger amount of wasted ammunition.

Conclusion: short bursts with re-acquisition of the target.

In order to prevent the stock from slipping off your shoulder, do the following:

  • Place the bipod well
  • Press the stock firmly to your shoulder
  • Place your feet well
When firing on the move, the machinegunner needs to lean forward. The machine gun must be held by the belt, and must be firmly pressed towards the body with the right hand.

MG-42 as a mounted machinegun

Sustained aimed fire is not possible due to the high rate of fire and shaking of the gun. The dispersion cone moves away after 70 shots. Bursts longer than 70 rounds in length result in a waste of ammunition. Because of this, bursts should be limited to 70 shots, with rapid re-acquisition of the target afterwards. 

The resulting rapid heating of the barrel requires replacing the barrel after 200 rounds. 

In order to impede the shifting of the dispersion cone while kneeling or sitting, it is recommended to place two ammunition boxes on the middle leg of the gun mount.

Signature illegible

Send to:
  1. Army headquarters: 1
  2. All regiments that received MG-42s: 10
  3. All regiments that have not yet received MG-42s: 1
Note: The tactical-technical data on the MG-42 is missing. According to an interrogation from December 4th, 1942 (Bryansk Front), the MG-42 is allegedly a modernization of the MG-34. 

The MG-42 is heavier by one kilogram than the MG-34. Externally, the MG-42 differs little from the MG-34. Allegedly, the rate of fire of the MG-42 reaches 1600 RPM. Verification is required.

Confirmed: Senior assistant of the Chief of the 1st Department of the 3rd Directorate of the Red Army GRU, Colonel Dubenko."

Friday, 22 November 2013

Full Auto SVT

"Conclusions on the proving ground trials of 7.62 mm automatic rifles, converted from semi-automatic rifles, with 10-15 round magazines showed that:
  1. Groups at 100 meters when firing in bursts increase by 3-3.5 times.
    At 300 meters, only 25-30% of the bullets strike a 3x3 meter target.
    At 500 meters, up to 30% of the bullets strike a 3.5-4 meter target.
    While shooting with a 15 round magazine, grouping gets worse, and it is difficult to fire while prone due to the protruding magazine.
  2. When shooting at targets, only the first bullet hits.
  3. The ability to aim is limited to 50 shots over the span of one minute. After that, the barrel overheats, and a mirage effect is achieved, which impedes aiming.
  4. The automatic rifle jams:
    1. With thick grease: 2-4% of the time
    2. With dry parts: 12-14%
    3. In dusty conditions: 14-50%
    4. While aiming up or down: 8-12%
  5. The barrel life is 6000 rounds when firing 50 rounds per minute, after which the rifle was allowed to cool. Continuous fire brings the life down to 150-200 rounds.
As a result of trials, it was concluded that:
  1. Is is not viable to create an automatic rifle from a semi-automatic one by modifying the trigger group.
  2. It is only possible to aim with such an automatic rifle when using a thickened barrel and lightened bipod.
  3. When converting a semi-automatic rifle to fully automatic by only modifying the trigger group, its combat usefulness decreases to less than that of a submachinegun.
  1. Due to the decreased combat usefulness, conversion of a semi-automatic rifle to a fully automatic one is not rational.
  2. In order to reach required density of fire with a high probability of hitting the target, it is better to use submachineguns, which have the advantages of simpler production, higher reliability, compactness, high magazine capacity, larger stocks of ammunition, etc."

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Mallet Time

Here are some document excerpts regarding the PTRD bolt-action anti-tank rifle, that a lot of modern milsurp collectors might feel empathy with.

"Recent reports from the fronts, regions, and armies remark on cases where Simonov and Degtyaryev ATRs do not work
Experience shows that when using PTRs in summer conditions, even when maintaining them according to section 1, there are rifles that do not extract freely. In order to continue use of the weapon, authorize soldiers to apply wooden mallets."

"Experimental PTRD from factory #74. 610 rounds were fired in various conditions, and 189 extractions (31%) had to be performed with a mallet. The report stated "This PTRD works unsatisfactorily in any conditions". Another PTRD from the factory earned the review "This PTRD works exceptionally unsatisfactorily in any conditions". Out of 275 shots, 264 needed a wooden mallet (96%).
The third PTRD managed to surpass that result. "The lifetime of the rifle was 43 shots. Every extraction needed the mallet. After extracting the 43rd casing, the bolt handle fell off.""

Saturday, 16 November 2013


Here's some Austrian body armour from 1918. Looks kind of silly, right? There is a reason for that.

Bam! The infantryman is now a pillbox!

A sort of mobile pillbox, even. I wonder how well that assembly would move if it didn't have any snow to slide on.

Monday, 11 November 2013

Lend-Lease Gun Supplies

While flipping through a report on Soviet SPG design, I came across a table of Lend-Lease weapons, including some small arms.

CAMD RF 38-11369-1

The first column is the item name. The following 4 columns are the amounts to be shipped along with vehicles (numerator) and the amounts to be received (denominator). The 6th column is the total sum. The 7th column is the missing number. The items themselves are as follows:

76 mm howitzer
76 mm gun
75 mm gun
57 mm gun
40 mm gun
37 mm AA gun
105 mm mortar
50.8 mm mortar
25.4 mm flare gun
13.97 mm Boys ATR
12.7 mm Browning MG
11.43 mm Thompson SMG
7.92 mm BESA MG
7.7 mm Bren MG
7.62 mm Browning MG

Interestingly enough, the amount of weapons shipped as spares for the vehicles is on a different spreadsheet, and in a different order. In this table, the numerator is how much was received, denominator is how much was distributed, and last column is how many extras they have.

105 mm mortar
50.8 mm mortar
13.97 mm Boys ATR
12.7 mm Browning MG
7.62 mm Browning MG
11.43 mm Thompson SMG
7.92 mm BESA MG
7.7 Bren MG

"The table shows that the spare weapons arrived unevenly. For example, BESA MGs and Thompson SMGs arrived in such amounts as to completely satisfy the need for them, and some remained in warehouses: 419 BESAs and 2872 Thompsons.

12.7 Browning MGs came in insufficient numbers. We only received two spares in this period, and many M4A2 tanks that came back for repairs had to be shipped out without them."

And here is another spreadsheet, for spare barrels. This table also lists delivered and used numbers, with leftovers in the last column.

76 mm howitzer
76 mm gun
75 mm gun
57 mm gun
40 mm gun
37 mm gun
12.7 mm MG
7.62 mm MG
7.92 mm MG
7.7 mm MG
11.43 mm SMG

Saturday, 9 November 2013

SMG Tests

In December of 1941, the Soviets decided to test a bunch of SMGs. The SMGs were as follows:
"Model 1940" (PPD)
"Model 1941" (PPSh)
Bergman BMP-34 #260
Schmeisser 18/28 #77598
(They also had something called an Esti, but no ammunition for it).

The first column is the distance (100 meters). The second column is the SMG name (same order as above). The third column is the type of fire, alternating between single shot and burst. The fourth column is the radius for 100% of the shots. The fifth is for the most precise 50% of the shots. The sixth and seventh are for the center of the groups, relative to aiming.

Conclusions: the Neuhausen SMG shows best results, PPD SMG shows the worst.

Monday, 4 November 2013

More on proper gun cleaning procedure

Some choice excerpts from a 1940 report on the readiness of the Kiev Military District.

"There is a lack of respect for proper storage and maintenance of weapons. Some units have very poor understanding of their automatic weapons and their disassembly, to the point where AVS automatic rifles and Degtaryev SMGs turned out to have active rust in the gas system, which spread to the barrel, and many other parts. The condition of DP machine guns is the same."

"Out of rifles owned by elements of the 79th infantry division, after 4 months of use, 29% developed rust in the barrels. 14% of DP machine guns have poor condition barrels."

"139th regiment: the command staff are not confident enough to disassemble new model rifles for removal of dirt and rust.
496th division: does not know the purpose of cuts on the screwdriver tip, does not know how and why lye is used. The timetables do not dedicate time to learning small arms.
41 division: command staff do not know the meaning of different colours of bullets, does not know the rules for inserting rounds into belts.
253rd regiment: is not proficient with the self-loading rifle or PPD. Does not know how to clean firearms and does not know the meaning of cuts on a screwdriver.
10th regiment: artillerymen insist that lye is not used when cleaning firearms.
97th division: the command staff are not proficient with the optical sight for the Maxim gun, optical sight for the sniper rifle, and various new types of firearms. Several commanders do not know how to remove the bayonet from the model 1891/90 rifle.
The junior command staff also have poor knowledge, but better knowledge of weapons used in their units.
Knowledge of cadets is poor. They do not know automatic rifles at all, and are only capable of carrying a rifle and pulling the trigger. Knowledge of firearms is poor, and artillerymen completely do not know DP machine gun and revolver parts. Machine gunners do not know rifle parts and how to disassemble one. To my great shame, cadets of regimental schools know firearms worse than privates, and still manage to graduate as junior commanders.

I do not have to mention the junior commanders' knowledge of rules of cleaning weapons. This is the only possible outcome, as a commander that does not know anything about his weapons cannot pass on his knowledge to his subordinates."

Friday, 1 November 2013

Poor Procedure

"From 6th to 26th of December 1940, the Artillery Department of the Army performed a check of technical condition, storage, and safety of their inventory...

...135th infantry division: the condition of the weapons is unsatisfactory, aside from the 791st regiment. 13-40% of the weapons require repairs...The storage conditions and maintenance are unsatisfactory, 10%-79% of rifles have pitting in the barrels. The commission was shown rifles and revolvers with rust in the barrels: 497th regiment: 8 rifles, 3 revolvers. 791st regiment: 6 rifles, 1 DP, 11 Nagants. 276th regiment: 23 revolvers. 119th brigade: 28 rifles, two Nagants.

There are, sadly, commanders like Jr.Lt. XXX from the 791st regiment whose unit only has 6 rifles, and, when inspected, all were rusted, as was his personal Nagant revolver, which had three empty casings in the drum. The lieutenant claims he did not clean it since he last fired it 3 months ago.

Lubrication is often done improperly. External parts are thickly lubricated, while the barrels remain dry, or lightly oiled. Gas systems of DP, DT, and SVT-38s are frequently improperly cleaned...

...In October, a junior commander of the 9th company, 497th regiment, comrade YYY left rifle #VD 6486 (1939) in the city of Kovel outside of a washroom, and when he returned, it was not there. The fact that the rifle was missing was only discovered in December of 1940 by this commission. Cook ZZZ lost rifle #LE 3483 (1938), nobody knows where and when. 

The division lost 70% of their cleaning tools and materials. Political chief comrade NNN moved a sniper rifle and a Nagant revolver to another unit without any documents. 497th regiment lost 3000 rubles worth of inventory. None of these facts were investigated, and the commander of the 497th regiment did not report them to anyone. 
Inventory of armament and ammunition is maintained in a discretionary fashion. Inventory in warehouses of the division is absent. The division's inventory does not match that of its units. The biggest difference is in the 497th regiment (18 rifles, 1 revolver, 1 ammunition crate, 34703 rifle rounds, 148 76 mm shells, 1410 TT rounds.
January 14th, 1941
The division has rusted weapons. The first battery has 7 rifles with rusted barrels..from the 30 inspected revolvers, 13 were rusty. Personal weapons of Lieutenants XXX, YYY, ZZZ, and starshina NNN were also rusty.

February 28th, 1941
During inspection, the following had rust in the barrels, on external parts, or had dirt and scum, debris, or even hay and oats: 1019 rifles, 381 Nagant revolvers, 24 DP machine guns, 13 Maxim machine guns, 15 50 mm mortars, 4 120 mm mortars."
CAMD RF 326-5109-12

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Sniper SVT Trials

"Description of the issue:

Proving grounds and battlefield tests of self-loading sniper rifles developed by factory #314 based on approved and prototype blueprints revealed unsatisfactory shot groups, and significant deviations of the first and second bullets from the dispersion ellipse.
Both drawbacks are caused by design flaws in the rifle and scope mount.
Attempts by the factory to improve groupings with small design proved fruitless, as reducing dispersion and preventing the 1st and 2nd bullet from deviating too much requires significant changes to the rifle and scope mount.
Since, currently, the 7.62 mm model 1891/30 sniper rifle with the PE scope is being manufactured, and a scope mount for the PU scope for the same rifle is under development, it is reasonable to cease production of 7.62 mm self-loading rifles with the PU scope, provided that proving grounds trials of the model 1891/30 rifle prove satisfactory.

Decisions of the Artillery Directorate of the Red Army:
1. Finish trials of the PU scope mount for the model 1891/30 sniper rifle no later than August 20th, 1942.
2. If results are positive, cease production of self-loading sniper rifles starting on September 1st.
3. If the self-loading sniper rifle is removed from production, increase production of model 1891/30 sniper rifles."

Via Andrei Ulanov.

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Mosin Suppressor

"This suppressor, designed by comrades Barnas and Glinin, has a cigar-like shape (see photo #1) and consists of two parts, connected with a tread at the point of the suppressor where the diameter is the largest.

Photo #1 shows the suppressor."

Monday, 28 October 2013

Soviet Supplies

When I posted the article about museum quality rifles in stock in Moscow, people were surprised at the variety of available equipment. They shouldn't be, Soviet stock-keeping was exemplary!

"When my grandfather fell out of favour, he was thrown out of Moscow and appointed as a chief of some engineering warehouse somewhere at the end of the Earth, but, thanks to his past achievements and wartime service, still in the European USSR.

The unit was "castrated", there was nothing for entertainment except hunting and vodka, and most importantly, nothing for even a Supply Commander to steal (rock bottom, as I understand it), even though the warehouses were colossal, left over from the Tsarist army. Everything was already arranged, and my grandfather just kept order.

For example, there is some perfectly fine hemp rope. Look at the tag (issued by the Tsar's General Staff!), and it says "keep for 50 (fifty) years". It was 1966, so they got rid of it all. The officers carried it home almost in tears, a perfectly good thing, wonderful condition, but there is nothing to use it for at home. Something could be used, we had an excellent axe produced in 1917 and, naturally, written off in 1967. I suspect that it is still lying there somewhere.

However, the accursed Tsarists did not establish a tag for the cannonballs - there was no tag, and that's it! My father says that my grandfather had a pair of soldiers whose main duty was to dust, oil, and paint them. There were many of them, they were very heavy, and took up a lot of space. This went on until my grandfather managed to write them off above quota. It is a scary thing to think what would have happened if the Tsarist intendants wrote down "keep forever".

PS: I talked to the communications officers in the Russian army a few weeks ago, and asked if the TA-57 (Telephone Apparatus model 1957) was still in service. The people confirmed that it was."

Original here.

Sunday, 27 October 2013

GVG Machinegun

The Red Army started WWII with two infantry machineguns: the light magazine fed handheld DP and heavy belt fed mounted Maxim. Both were quite aged designs by the time, so a replacement was considered.

"Photo #1. Magazine fed GVG machinegun in combat position (bipod with limiters)
Photo #2. View from the right. GVG machinegun in transport position."
"Photo #3. Belt fed GVG machinegun in combat position with rollers.
Photo #4. View from the left. Belt fed GVG machinegun in transport position."


Based on the results of trials, NIPSVO KA concludes the following:

Positive qualities of the machinegun

1. Simplicity and convenience of use (loading, clearing jams, moving firing positions with rollers, etc).
2. Simplicity and low cost compared to the DP machine gun.
3. Satisfactory shot groups, equivalent to the groups of the DP with the Starovoytov mount.
4. Two feeding mechanisms, belt and magazine (stock).
5. Reliability of the magazine feed, both with brass and steel casings (out of 4594 rounds fired, the machinegun caused jams 0.13% of the time), and the belt feed with steel casings (out of 16717 rounds fired, the machinegun caused jams 0.3% of the time).
6. Satisfactory life span of machinegun parts.

Negative qualities of the machinegun

1. Low reliability when using belt feed with brass casings due to bullets falling out.
2. The rate of fire with magazine feed is high for a hand-held machinegun (660-765 RPM).
3. Unreliable operation of the machinegun with an unevenly loaded belt (when rounds are loaded too deeply).
4. Small design flaws, unsatisfactory magazine latch, backplate pin, barrel retention wedge, etc.


Based on the above, NIPSVO KA decrees that:

1. Due to the sufficient simplicity of manufacture, ease of use, and combat quality of the machinegun (groups, parts lifespan, mechanism reliability), it is reasonable to produce several experimental prototypes for the final solution to the question of mass producing this machine gun.

2. When producing experimental prototypes, resolve the aforementioned defects."CAMD RF 81-12040-29

Saturday, 26 October 2013

Armoury of the Moscow People's Militia

In September of 1941, things weren't looking so good for the Red Army. The possibility of the German army reaching, and even taking, Moscow was on the horizon. A People's Militia was formed to defend the city if necessary. At the same time, an inventory of obsolete weapons was taken, to see what they could be equipped with if the regular army consumes all of the currently produced guns. Numbers of functional guns and those in need of repairs are given, the latter in brackets.

Any modern collector would be envious of the result:

"7.7 mm English rifles and carbines: 8992 (11911)
7.92 mm rifles and carbines: 24897 (13188)
8 mm Lebel rifles and carbines, model 86/93 16380 (2890)
8 mm Lebel rifles and carbines, model 907-15-16 21630 (5100)
7.62 mm Finnish rifles and carbines 2406 (8190)
6.5 mm Japanese rifles and carbines 3260 (5554)
6.5 mm Italian rifles and carbines 1777 (1455)
8 mm Mannlicher rifles and carbines 15096 (1481)
8 mm Steyr rifles 1194 (928)
11 mm Gras rifles 3906 (1303)
10.4 mm Vetterli-Vitali rifles 1080 (296)
6.5 mm Fedorov submachineguns 882 (67)

7.62 mm Finnish Suomi hand-held machineguns 38 (261)
7.7 mm Hotchkiss hand-held machineguns 71 (0)
7.7 mm Lewis hand-held machineguns 0 (514)
7.92 mm Lewis hand-held machineguns 64 (0)
7.92 mm German Bergmann machineguns 86 (115)
7.92 mm German Maxim hand-held machineguns with no bipods, unsuitable for use 800 (0)
7.92 mm Polish Browning machineguns 40 (97)
7.92 mm German hand-held Maxim machineguns 37 (424)
8 mm Chauchat hand-held machineguns 673 (983)

7.62 mm Colt mounted machinegun 1796 (0)
7.62 mm Vickers machinegun on a tripod 172 (0)
7.62 mm Finnish Maxim machinegun (no mount) 25 (339)
7.62 mm Colt machinegun (no tripod) 0 (603)
7.7 mm Vickers machinegun (with tripod) 280 (0)
7.92 mm Vickers mounted machinegun 112 (0)
7.62 mm Browning mounted machinegun 503 (0)
7.92 mm Polish Hotchkiss mounted machinegun 209 (42)
7.92 mm Maxim mounted machinegun 62 (0)
8 mm Schwartzlose mounted machinegun 133 (14)
8 mm St. Etienne mounted machinegun 815 (0)
8 mm Hotchkiss mounted machinegun 964 (141)

7.92 mm Polish Browning aircraft machinegun 70 (0)
7.92 mm Polish aircraft machinegun 82 (0)
7.92 mm Polish Vickers synchronized aircraft machinegun 0 (132)
7.92 mm German Vickers turret aircraft machinegun 33 (0)
7.92 mm Hotchkiss aircraft machinegun 42 (0)

76 mm model 1902/30 regimental gun 279 (45)
76 mm model 1900 gun 0 (48)
76 mm French model 1897 gun 12 (208)
76 mm model 1933 gun 89 (112)
76 mm mountain gun model 1909 1 (51)"

Thankfully, the militia received proper modern firearms, and didn't have to go into battle with this museum. Andrei Ulanov provides the following excerpt:

"3. People's Militia divisions were re-armed and are equipped with domestically produced weapons:
  • With small arms, 50 mm mortars, and 76 mm divisional guns: completely
  • 82 mm mortars: 39%, 120 mm mortars: 15%, 45 mm guns: 15%, 76 mm regimental guns: 32%, 122 mm howitzers: 100%
  • Communications equipment: 20-45%
4. To fully equip the People's Militia divisions, the following must be issued:
  • 396 82 mm mortars, 122 120 mm mortars, 98 76 mm regimental guns
  • 30% of regularly issued pioneer tools
  • Main communications equipment (radios, telephones, cable).
September 3rd, 1941 (signed: Schadenko, Artemyev, Yakovlev)."

Friday, 25 October 2013

Mosin Penetration

My other blog talks a lot about how much armour a cannon can punch through, but there are many things other than steel on the battlefield. The archives of the Komsomol's youth magazine, Smena, contain a penetration table for the Mosin rifle (sadly, they do not specify which one, but I can't imagine the ballistics are too different).

Brick: 20 cm
Sand: 70 cm
Clay: 100 cm
Dirt: 140 cm
Bushes: 150 cm
Compressed snow: 350 cm
Straw: 425 cm
Loose snow: 450 cm

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Lend-Lease .45 SMGs

"ArtKom GAU #12132, Secret

On March 31st, 1942, the shooting range at military base #36 conducted a test of American 11.43 mm pistol rounds, after receiving 3 million such rounds from Murmansk. The tests were conducted by the Senior Assistant of the Chief of the 5th Department of ArtKom GAU KA military engineer 2nd grade Ohotnikov N.S. and Assistant of the Chief of the 5th Department of ArtKom GAU KA military engineer 2nd grade Karagodin G.K., following the program outlined in this document.

The purpose of the tests was to establish the condition of the received rounds. Rounds were taken from 10 crates, 100 rounds each. The results were as follows:

1. External inspection of the rounds

300 rounds were visually inspected. The inspection shows that the rounds have scum on the casings, and dirt in the casing base. Some rounds have a stamp, some do not. Most rounds have primers sticking out, but some have primers sunk in very deeply.

The bullets are red brass, the casings are yellow brass, but five rounds (1.7%) had a red metallic casing (probably red brass). Most of the cartridges are produced by Remington (with a stamp on the case "REM-UMC.45ACP), but there are others:

Western: 6 (2%)
WRA Co: 4 (1.4%)
FA-34: 2 (0.7%)
FA-40: 6 (2%)
RA-41: 2 (0.7%)

During visual inspection, the following defects were found:

Dented primer: 6 (2%)
Ragged primer edges: 40 (13.3%)
Impacted primer: 46 (15.3%)
Crooked primer: 10 (3.3%)
Weakly housed bullet, removable by hand: 1 (0.3%)
Total: 103 (34.4%)

II: Testing by firing from a submachinegun

The rounds were fired from a Reising SMG #5073 and Thompson SMG #S-152550. 970 rounds were fired. The following defects were found:

Escaping gases (casing ruptured): 6 (0.6%)
Tough extraction of the casing: 3 (0.3%)
The bullet remains in the barrel (no gunpowder): 2 (0.2%)
Misfire (Reising): 59 (6.1%)
Misfire (Thompson): 4 (0.4%)
Casing stuck on extraction (Reising): 25 (2.6%)

Rounds that failed to fire in the Reising could be fired from the Thompson.

III: Inspection of casings

After firing, 300 casings were examined. The following defects were discovered:
Ruptures around primer: 16 (6%)
Penetrated primer: 6 (2%)
Primer fell out: 2 (0.7%)


1. 11.43 mm rounds that arrived at Murmansk were produced by various companies, and in various years.
2. Many rounds have defects, mainly of the primer, which results in escaping gases, rupture of the casing, misfires, poor extraction, and other anomalies.
3. The received shipment of rounds can only be used after removing 100% of defective items, and even that will not stop escaping gases and bullets getting stuck in the barrel.



Welcome to Soviet Gun Archives! A lot of you may already know me from my blog about tanks. If so, then this will be exactly the same thing, but for firearms.

If you aren't familiar with my work, definitely click the link above (tanks are fun!). The objective of these blogs is to bring Soviet archive documents out into the light for the enjoyment and education of the general masses. As with Tank Archives, I have been posting translated archive documents on specialized forums for some time, and there is enough of a positive reception that they deserve to see a larger audience.

Read, comment, and definitely hook me up with some sources if you know any that I don't.