Sunday, 28 December 2014

AK Precision

"Characteristics of dispersion for Kalashnikov assault rifles (AK-74 and AKS-74)
Bullet with a steel core
Shooting in short bursts, while prone"

The table is split into two sections. The section on the left is for a well trained shooter, the section on the right is for an average shooter. For each section, the dispersion is first given for the first bullet in the burst (height, then width), then for the subsequent bullets. The first two columns in the subsequent section are for the bullet itself. The second two are for the average point of impact between all hits. The last two columns are the total dispersion.

The notes in the bottom remark that the table is also valid for shooting at night, within the range of the night vision scope, and when firing single shots, the dispersion in the first two columns (first bullet of burst) is valid.

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Sturmgewehr Usage

Some of you may have wondered when the Soviets noticed that the Sturmgewehr has joined the arsenal of German infantry. Wonder no more! Via kris-reid:

"To the People's Commissar of Defense, Marshal of the Soviet Union, comrade I.V. Stalin:

Since the Spring of this year, forces of the Kalinin, and then Volkhov and Leningrad Fronts have captured, among other weapons, several specimens of new German automatic 7.92 mm carbines, which are a new type of infantry weapon that has not been previously used by the Germans in large amounts until recently."

The date on this document is April 16th, 1943. Here's the intel obtained on this mysterious weapon:

"Enemy tactics and technology
Engineer-Captain Ya. Krutik

1. New German handheld machinegun

The German army has recently adopted a new handheld machinegun, using an intermediate round (an average between a rifle round and a pistol round). The machinegun's designation is "MK belash 42 (H)". The automatic mechanism is driven by redirection of gases through an opening in the barrel.

The machinegun can fire automatically or in single shots, for which a switch is present in the trigger guard, next to the pistol grip.

The machinegun is fed with a box magazine, which holds 35-38 rounds.

  • Caliber: 7.9 mm
  • Length: 935 mm
  • Mass: about 5 kg
  • Round mass: 16.8 g
  • Bullet mass: 8.2 g"
The translator was a little presumptuous. "MKb" stands for Maschinen Karabiner, or machine carbine. Also, the magazine capacity has grown somewhat from the 30 rounds it actually contained. Otherwise, this intelligence is correct.

Saturday, 25 October 2014

High Capacity

I am sure that many of you have seen those comedic 100-round magazines for AK assault rifles that can barely feed 5 or 6 without jamming up. What you probably didn't know is that the idea isn't exactly new.

These photos are from magazine trials of 30, 40, 50, and 100 rounds. 

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Precision Comparison

In 1948, it was clear that the PPSh has served its time, and a new, more powerful automatic infantry weapon was necessary, using an intermediate 7.62x39 mm mod. 1943 cartridge. Several weapons were designed to Tactical-Technical Specification #3131 and tested along with their submachinegun ancestor and the German Sturmgewehr for comparison.

The columns represent the radii of dispersion for bursts while prone and single fire while prone. R100 gives the full radius, and Ч50 gives the mean radius. The rifles are as follows:
  • AS-44 type 7 (with 3 vent openings)
  • AS-44 (no changes)
  • Kalashnikov assault rifle
  • Dementyev assault rifle
  • Bulkin assault rifle
  • Korobov assault rifle
  • Submachinegun model 1941 (PPSh)
  • MP-44 (Sturmgewehr)
And the last row is the precision requirement. The summary reads:
"The AS-44 with vent openings (type 7) surpasses all other assault rifles: in Ч50 by 2-4 times, and in R100 by 2.3-7 times. The precision when firing in full auto mode matches requirements."

It is also interesting to note that the famous Kalashnikov made the list. Despite being less precise than the modified AS-44 and failing TTT#3131, the weapon surpasses the Sturmgewehr in all criteria except single fire mode while prone, where the latter has a slight advantage.

Sunday, 13 July 2014

Science Fiction

Sometimes, inventions that are sent in to the military seem pretty impressive. Like this one!

"Comrade Lyadov proposes a super-speedy anti-tank rifle, where the propellant burns as fast as possible, and the bullet is propelled primarily through adiabatic expansion of gases. In order to achieve acceptable pressures, the inventor uses low propellant density. With heavy projectiles, the inventor hopes to maximize the Pcp/Pm ratio and achieve muzzle velocity of 3400 m/s.

In order to achieve a chamber large enough, which the inventor says will need to be bigger than the size of the rifled section of the gun, the inventor proposes a two-piece chamber. One of them is a regular chamber, another, connected to the first, is underneath the barrel. The propellant, as can be assumed from the proposal, all fits in the first chamber."

3400 m/s! Pretty impressive. Of course, there is always a catch.

"When evaluating comrade Litvinov's proposal, it must be noted that the aforementioned muzzle velocity (3400 m/s) was obtained after making critical mistakes in the calculations, which makes the ballistic portion of his project a sad misunderstanding."

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

AK Trials

  1. The 7.62 mm Kalashnikov assault rifle with a model 1943 round satisfies requirement #3131 in reliability of the automatic system, lifespan of components, usage characteristics, and overall, and can be recommended for mass production and subsequent military trials.
  2. The Kalashnikov assault rifle does not fully satisfy requirement #3131 in the category of precision. However, as when firing single shots it greatly surpasses the model 1941 SMG, and is equivalent when firing in fully automatic mode, the Kalashnikov assault rifle can be recommended for military trials with existing precision. 

  1. Assault rifles, produced according to requirement #3132, which were composed according to military suggestions after AS-44 trials and previous proving grounds trials, are a step forward compared to the AS-44 as assault rifles matching modern requirements.
  2. The best performance of all was by the Kalashnikov assault rifle, which, due to its reliability, component lifespan, and overall, satisfies the requirements, and can be recommended for mass production and military trials with its existing precision, as it is not less than the precision of the AS-44, and the assault rifle surpasses the PPSh-41 in all characteristics."
Tezka also has some more details on the trials. The comparison was between the new Kalashnikov, Bulkin, and Dementyev rifles, compared with the PPSh, PPS, and MP-44. Also, more results:

"When firing in bursts while prone, all assault rifles are equivalent, do not satisfy requirement #3131, and are inferior to the model 1941 submachinegun.
When firing in single shot, all are superior to the model 1941 submachinegun, and likewise equivalent."

Additionally, he states that, ergonomically, all assault rifles were superior to the PPSh-41. 

Friday, 27 June 2014

DP Autoloader

Ever tried loading Degtaryev disk magazines by hand? I have, and it's not exactly a pleasant experience. Various devices exist to ease this process. Sadly, they weren't perfect.

"Photo #5: Overall view of Abramov's loader without the feeder or disk.
Photo #6: Filling of a magazine using Abramov's loader. The feeder is disconnected (rounds are fed by hand)
Photo#7: Damage to rounds that jammed in the magazine during loading.

Damaged rounds when loading DP magazines with Koshin's loader.

And another fun one (no indication of what system it "belongs" to):

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Shooting from Horseback

Yuri Pasholok got his hands on a pile of old military manuals recently, including Shooting from Horseback. It's a somewhat lengthy book, so I'm not going to translate all of it, just interesting bits.

"Peculiarities of firing from horseback

If firing a rifle from horseback is done mainly during patrols and other cases when there is no time to dismount, firing a revolver or pistol is often done by a cavalryman.

In battle, commanding fire from horseback is either very difficult or downright impossible. The soldier must rapidly and independently determine how to act, with a blade or revolver, and if the latter, fire, select targets, find an aiming points, etc. Actions of a cavalryman are further complicated by allied cavalry mixing with enemy cavalry. The cavalryman must fire in a way that does not injure his allies.

These peculiarities must be considered when teaching soldiers to handle their weapons. A soldier's ability to fight independently or in a group, display creativity and initiative, and knowledge of ballistics of his weapons are fundamentals of his training.

The issue of shooting from horseback was first explored in the Manual for Shooting from Horseback, published in 1935. That manual demands that every cavalryman must master techniques of firing from horseback with a rifle, pistol, or revolver.

In this work, we make it our objective to share with the writer the practical and theoretical conclusions we have reached as a result of trials.

Trials show that the most effective rifle fire is at a target 100-150 meters away from the rider. Individual riders may effectively engage targets at larger distances. Fire from a revolver is effective at 50 meters when stopped and 35 meters on the move. A group of shooters may engage a target 75 meters away when stationary and 50 meters away on the move.

Precision of firing from horseback is affected by many factors that firing from the ground is not. It is dependent on, for example, the behaviour of the horse. The horse often impedes its rider's ability to shoot precisely, which is why every cavalryman must dedicate much attention to the training of his horse."

The next section has to do with preparation and training of the horse, which isn't particularly relevant. The next section, however, is: loading!

"Loading, preparation, and readying to fire from a pistol or revolver

In all cases, when the cavalryman's weapon is unloaded, load it according to NSD-3 when the command "Load!" is given. Keep your left hand on the reins and do not loosen its grasp.

While reloading on the move on horseback, the rider, without letting go of the reins, moves the revolver to his left hand, and with the index finger of his left hand, presses the magazine release. With his right hand, he catches the empty magazine and places it in his pocket or under his belt. Then he extracts a full magazine and inserts it into his pistol, all the way forward until a click is heard.

After that, the rider puts his right index finger and thumb on the rear of the slide, pulls it back quickly, and releases it (the finger should not be inside the trigger guard during this process). If there is no need to fire immediately, the rider puts his safety on and places the revolver in his holster."

A revolver with a magazine? This is a peculiarity of the Russian language in the interbellum period. Revolvers (namely the Nagant) have been the name of the game for a very long time, and self-loading pistols have only started appearing relatively recently. The term "revolver" is applied even to the Mauser C96 pistol in some Russian language manuals of this era. Delays in this new term spreading led to strange Finnish propaganda leaflets during the Winter War, talking about "self-loading revolvers" (pistols) and "fast-firing revolvers" (submachineguns).

"When the command "Ready to fire from horseback!" is given, the rider extracts his pistol or revolver from the holster, bends his right arm at the elbow, and holds it muzzle up to the right, at about chin level. The safety is off (fig. 1).

The positions for firing from a pistol or revolver are as follows: front (half-turn left and right) and back (half-turn left and right). In the event that the rider shoots forward, the rider gathers up the reins and sends the horse in a wide gallop. He then lifts himself up, puts his body forward, and raises the pistol or revolver above the horse's head (fig 2).

If it is necessary to shoot at a lying target, the rider points his gun downward on the right or left side of the horse. In order to not deafen the horse, the hand must be kept as far away from the horse's head as possible (fig. 3).

When shooting half-turned, the rider gathers the reins, braces his left hand against his horse, and increases the pressure on the stirrups. He then turns towards the target and sends the horse into a wide gait (up to 8 m/s).

When shooting left or right, the rider gathers the reins and sends the horse forward. With his left hand, he braces against the horse, increases pressure on the stirrups, and leans towards his target (fig. 4).

Of all the above positions, the most comfortable ones are shooting right, half-turned, or forward. The most difficult ones are shooting to the left and backwards. This leads to the conclusion that when shooting from horseback with a pistol or revolver, the rider must always position himself favourably against the enemy. If necessary, he must change the direction of movement. When shooting from a stationary position, rotate the horse into an advantageous position for firing.

Aiming and Pulling the Trigger of a Revolver of Pistol

The success of a shot depends on a smooth, and, at the same time, swift pull of the trigger. Shooting from a horse is shooting with open sights, which must be practiced with long and systematic training, both on horseback and on the ground.

When shooting from a stationary position, aim just as you would on the ground, through the center of the sights to the target. Here, the rider must only be careful to ensure that the shot coincides with the horse's exhaling.

Shooting from a horse in motion has its own problems, and differs greatly from shooting on the ground. Constant movement of the horse does not let the rider to line up his sights, as they jump around.

Due to these causes, aiming should be done not through the sights, but using the upper surface of the barrel. The sight line with this aiming will go above normal aiming. This is caused by an angle forming between the sight line and the barrel. At various distances, the deviation changes."

The rest of the chapter is simple math to figure out how low you have to aim, but there is a handy summary.

"The following diagram indicates that the vertical aim point should be as follows:
  • Pistol:
    • Ground target: groin
    • Horseback target: horse's chest
  • Revolver:
    • Ground target: knees
    • Horseback target: horse's knees"
The chapter after this is composed of mathematical tables for compensating for the horse's speed when moving. Basically, aim a little bit in front of the target, since the horse will have moved you over to the proper place by the time you pulled the trigger. The revolver and pistol in question are obviously the Nagant and Tokarev. You will have to do your own calculations for other handguns.

There is also the dispersion for the Nagant. There is no table for a pistol, but the book promises that it is not more than 2-3 cm different.

Distance in meters 15 25 35 50
In place Dispersion in cm Best half (50%) 8 11 15 21
Full dispersion (100%) 14 20 30 42
While moving Dispersion in cm Best half (50%) 18 41 52 75
Full dispersion (100%) 38 63 99 135

Readying, Loading, and Holding a Rifle

Ready your rifle when the "Rifles!" command is given. When this command is given, the soldier grabs the strap with his right hand and slips his elbow under the rifle (fig. 16). Then, he grabs the grooves, moves the rifle up, and flips the strap over his head. Having removed his rifle, the soldier puts its stock on his right thigh, moves its barrel upwards, loosens his reins in his left hand, and grabs the rifle with that same hand (fig. 17).

In cases when the rifle is not loaded, the soldier loads it when the "Load!" command is given according to rules in NSD-1. He must be careful to not point the rifle downwards at any time. After shooting is finished, the soldier takes the rifle strap in the middle with his right hand, flips it over his head with a swift motion, and lowers his hand (fig. 18).

Shooting from a rifle is done when half-turned right, to the right, half-turned left, to the left, and to the rear. The most comfortable positions are half-turned to the left and forward. When preparing to fire half-turned to the right or left, the rider sits deeply in his saddle, turns his waist left or right (figs. 19 and 20), puts his stock to his shoulder, grabs the rifle with his right hand, and lifts it to his shoulder. The left hand holds the rifle underneath the sights and holds the lengthened reins. Do not loosen the reins too much, as the rider must feel the horse after a shot, and control him in case of unruliness."

Shooting in other directions is largely the same.

Shooting from a horse is done largely the same as with a pistol, except with a rifle, you use the sights. A difference from normal rifle shooting is that the bayonet is not mounted. When the bayonet is not mounted, keep in mind the deviations of the bullet.

Distance (m)
11 cm
10 cm
22 cm
20 cm

"As you can see from the table, the rider has a small chance to strike a small target with these deviations, but shooting from horseback is done in exceptional cases only, and should not be done against small targets. It is clear that in this case, a rider may be disabled much faster than the target that he is aiming at."

The next chapter deals with leading your shot when shooting to the side, and is largely mathematical tables.


In this book, we aimed to answer questions associated with our investigations. It cannot be said that that we fully solved all questions of shooting from horseback, but practical things can be extracted from the above material.
  1. First of all, your horse must be ready for shooting. Working with your horse must have a systematic and well thought out character.
  2. Training the horse is not enough. The rider must be trained. Only a good rider may shoot well from a horse.
  3. An individual rider may strike a target 50 meters away when still, 35 when. A group of shooters may shoot up to 75 meters. Using a rifle, a single shooter may fire at a target 100 meters away.
  4. Shooting from a horse must be done when there is no time to dismount, an at large targets.
Shooting at large distances is ineffective due to high dispersion."

Sunday, 23 February 2014

Birth of the PPS

CAMD RF 38-11355-806

"To the deputy commander of the Red Army GAU, Major-General of Artillery, comrade Hohlov

Experience shows that the 7.62 mm DT tank machinegun does not provide sufficient volume of fire, due to its 63 round magazine and rapid heating of the barrel. It is desirable to have a belt-fed machinegun, capable of rapidly firing up to 500 rounds.

The PPSh submachinegun is a necessary weapon for tank crews, but is inconvenient to use. The disk magazine is large, and gets in the way. The stock impedes exiting the tank. It is desirable to have a submachinegun with a box magazine that holds 25-30 rounds and a folding stock, like the one on the German SMG.

I ask you to instruct Artkom to begin work on improving firearms for tank crews according to the issues noted above.

Deputy GABTU Chief, Major-General of Technical Forces, Lebedev
BTU Military Commissar, Regimental Commissar Vorobyev"

Saturday, 15 February 2014

Partisan's Companion: The Enemy's Weapons

Earlier, I translated a chapter from the Partisan's Companion dealing with Soviet weapons. This chapter deals with captured German weapons that a partisan group could turn on their previous owners.

"V. Know how to use the enemy's weapons

A partisan must fight not only with weapons adopted by the RKKA, but with the enemy's weapons. Learn to use it, so that you may defeat the German fascists with their own weapons. First, familiarize yourself with the main German small arms.

German Mauser rifle model 1898

Fig. 89. German Mauser rifle model 1898

This rifle is loaded with 5 7.92 mm rounds. It is loaded in the same manner as our rifle, by turning the knob on the right leftwards, and pulling it towards yourself.

The receiver has a slot for a clip with ammunition. The left side of the slot has a groove to press down on the rounds with your finger, pushing them into the magazine.

The rear of the receiver has a flag. In order to put the rifle on safe, raise it. If you turn the flag to the right, the bolt cannot be opened. If you turn the flag to the left, it rifle is ready to shoot.

In order to take out the bolt, turn the handle to the left, use your left thumb to pull back the bolt retainer, and pull the bolt out. When putting it back in, put the extractor above the right groove and pull the bolt retainer to the left.

The sight consists of a front post and a rear sight. The rear sight has four identical scales, measured in meters. Two scales are on the side, and two on the top.

The range of the rifle is 2000 meters. The maximum range of the bullet is 5000 meters.

In order to remove the bayonet, press on the retainer button with your right hand. Fire the rifle without a bayonet. It is mounted on the rifle only in the event of hand to hand combat.

38-40 Submachinegun

Fig 91. 38-40 Submachinegun

The submachinegun has a caliber of 9 mm. A bracket (the stock) is attached to the pistol grip. It can be folded out. This lengthens the SMG, but allows you to fire more comfortably. Here is how to open it: find a button on the left side of the pistol grip, press on it downwards, and the stock will open. 

The end of the stock has a crooked bar that braces on your right shoulder during firing. It is held in place by a mechanical retainer. When you want to open the stock, turn it downwards. Turning it upwards again locks the stock in place. 

Here is how to fire:
  1. Open the stock and shoulder bar.
  2. Brace the bar against your right shoulder.
  3. Grip the pistol grip with your right hand, and the magazine well with your left.
  4. Acquire your target through the sight.
  5. Fire.
Hand Machineguns

All hand machineguns use German and Polish 7.92 mm Mauser rounds.

Know the various Mauser ammunition types

Light bullets have a black rim around the primer. Heavy bullets have a green rim. Armour piercing bullets have a red rim. Incendiary rounds have a black rim, but the tip of the bullet is light or black. Armour-piercing tracer rounds have a red rim, and the tip of the bullet is black.

MG-34 Hand Machinegun

The MG-34 weighs 12 kilograms. Its caliber is 7.92 mm. Effective range is 1100 meters. The machinegun can be fed from a magazine or from a belt. A magazine fits 75 rounds. Belts fit either 250 or 50 rounds. Carefully inspect elements of the the machinegun.

Fig. 92. MG-34 hand machinegun with belt.
Fig 93. MG-34 hand machinegun with magazine.

MG-08/15 and MG-08/18 Machineguns

Rate of fire: 500 RPM. Range: up to 2000 meters. Weight of the MG-08/15 is 17.9 kg, MG-08/18 is 14.5 kg. The design of these machineguns is largely the same as the Maxim machinegun. When dealing with them, follow the directions in NSD-38 "Maxim mounted machinegun model 1910". 

Fig. 102. MG-08/15 machinegun

Fig. 103. MG-08/18 machinegun

Place the ammunition box on a special rail. It can be found on the right side of the gun.

When firing from the MG-08/15, fire in bursts of 7-12 rounds, and 3-5 rounds from the MG-08/18. The latter is air cooled, and therefore you do not need to replace the water or add lubricant to the lubricant reservoir. 

When disassembling, first remove the upper screw, then turn the stock downwards.

MG-13 Hand Machinegun (Dreyse) 

Rate of fire: 550 RPM. Effective range: 1200 meters. Mass: 12 kg. Magazine capacity: 25 rounds.

Fig 104. MG-13 Hand machinegun (Dreyse)

ZB-30 (ZB-26) Hand Machinegun

Rate of fire: 550-650 RPM. Range: 1000 meters. This is the lightest German machinegun, at 9.6 kg. The magazine holds 20 rounds.

Fig. 105. ZB-30 (ZB-26) hand machinegun

S-18 Soloturn Anti-tank Rifle

Rate of fire: up to 10 RPM. Caliber: 20 mm. 

This self-loading rifle is designed to combat tanks, armoured cars, etc. At a distance of 200 meters, its bullet can penetrate 31 mm of armour. The magazine can fit 5-10 rounds. 

Fig. 106. S-18 Soloturn Anti-tank Rifle

Parabellum Pistol

The Parabellum pistol is the personal weapon of all German army officers. It is available in two calibers: 9 mm and 7.65 mm. 

Load the Parabellum: take the slide with your thumb and index finger and pull it down (fig 107). Figure 108 shows how to release the slide.

Fig 107. How to pull back the slide.

Fig 108. How to release the slide.

The safety is located on the left side of the pistol. It has two positions, the upper and the lower. When the lever is in the lower position, the gun is safe, and cannot fire. Move the lever is in the upper position, where it says "fire" in German, and the gun can fire.

Rounds can be fed into the chamber when the safety is in any position. Insert the magazine into the lower part of the handle. A magazine carries 8 rounds. It is automatically locked with a button.

The Parabellum has an effective range of 50 meters. Place its barrel on your bent left hand for stability. The maximum lethal range of the bullet is 300 meters. 

M-34 Hand Grenade

Mass: 310 grams
Explosion range: 3-6 meters
Fragmentation range: 10-15 meters
Throwing range: 35-10 meters

Fig. 109. M-34 hand grenade.
Fig. 110. How to throw the grenade.

The German model 1934 hand grenade (fig 109) is an offensive impact-detonated hand grenade. The grenades are armed by quartermasters and issued to the soldiers this way.

Throwing the grenade (fig. 110)

  1. Take the grenade in your right hand, like in the image.
  2. Put your left index finger into the ring. 
  3. Turn your right hand 90 degrees (so the safety bar clears the safety bracket).
  4. Pull the ring out.
  5. Throw the grenade.
The grenade is harmless until the ring with the safety bar is pulled out. The grenade has two safeties. One is pulled out with the ring, the other falls out while the grenade is in flight. The grenade will explode when it hits an object. It is forbidden to attempt to disarm this grenade.

M-24 Hand Grenade

The M-24 is an offensive timed hand grenade. It consists of a cylindrical case, in which the explosive is stored, and the handle with the firing mechanism. The grenade has a special loop for carrying it. The grenade weighs 500 grams, and has no protective casing.

Here is how to arm the M-24 grenade. Screw the handle off the case. There is a cylindrical opening in the lower part of the firing mechanism. Insert the detonator there.

Carefully screw the handle back into the grenade, avoiding shaking or hitting it. The grenade is armed (fig 111). 

When throwing the grenade, put it in your right hand. With your left hand, unscrew the protective cap from the handle. There you will find a porcelain ball. When swinging the grenade, grab the ball, and pull out the cord (fig 111). Throw the grenade immediately, as it will explode in 4.5-5 seconds.

The range of the grenade is 30-35 meters. The fragments of the grenade fly 10-15 meters. 

Fig. 111. M-24 hand grenade.

How to defuse the grenade? Carefully screw off the handle from the casing. Take out the detonator. Wrap it in paper, cotton, or a rag, and put it in your bag so it is safe from being hit or falling out. Reconnect the handle with the grenade.

Always transport the grenades unloaded. Store and transport the detonators separately. 

Model 1939 Egg-shaped Hand Grenade

This is an offensive timed hand grenade. It weighs 220 grams. 

To prepare this grenade for throwing, extract the fuse with the protective cap from the grenade (shown in figure 112 in the left hand) and inspect the fuse housing. Make sure that it is free from debris. Screw off the safety cap from the distance cylinder (fig 112). Replace it with a detonator. The open part of the detonator may contain wood shavings, cloth fibers, etc. In this case, turn the detonator so that they fall out. If they do not, discard the detonator, as it is unusable. Do not attempt to extract debris from the detonator with any object.

If you have a functioning detonator, slide it on the distance cylinder carefully (fig 113). Then, screw the fuse into the grenade and tighten the nut (fig 114). The grenade is ready for use.

Fig. 112. How to remove the safety cap.
Fig. 113. How to put on the detonator.
Fig. 114. How to tighten the fuse with a nut.

Screw off the safety cap, which remains attached by a cord. Take the grenade in your right hand. Grip the cap with your index and middle fingers, and throw the grenade. Remember that it will detonate 4 seconds after you throw.

Some grenades already have a detonator inserted. Know how to disarm them. Pull the fuse out of the grenade. Carefully take the detonator off and wrap it in a rag. Put the safety cap back on and screw the fuse back into the grenade.

Transport grenades separately from the detonators.

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Musical Maxim

Some folks over at VIF2NE discovered a wonderful invention, a Maxim gun hooked up to a record player and a battery. Really? Really really.

Later on, an explanation emerged. A book called "164 Days of Combat" describes how the Hanko (Finnish: Hangon) naval base was defended while cut off from the mainland. As winter approached, the base was gradually evacuated. Remaining soldiers had to somehow hide their numbers from the opposing Finns. From the book:

"On the morning of December 2nd, during the last day of the defense at the Hanko peninsula, a day of psychological warfare against the enemy began. Only 100 men remained in defense by then, two for each machinegun nest of utmost importance, each of which was connected to the command center by telephone. Wire was stretched between the nests, with helmets hanging off it. When a soldier tugged on the wire, it would shake the helmets, creating an illusion of activity in the trenches. There were also wires with tin cans. They were shaken three times per day, during breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and the cans made a noise like spoons hitting plates.

The machineguns should periodically fire short bursts at the enemy, even after the soldiers were gone from the peninsula. Here is where the Hankovites got creative. Five record players were found in the empty houses. The record players and the machineguns, armed with an additional device, were connected to truck batteries. The player and machinegun were connected in series. When the record spun, the needle would touch a contact, and the machineguns would fire a short burst. These machineguns could operate independently for almost half an hour.

Dogs were tied to machineguns in ten pillboxes. Chunks of fresh horse meat hung some distance from them. When the dogs would run to the meat, their chains would pull the trigger. The dog would run and hide from the noise, but repeat the process, firing in short bursts.

The craftsmen also came up with other methods. For example, soldiers from the 335th regiment received permission to leave five mined machineguns in pillboxes, each of which was loaded with a very long belt. Five car batteries were taken out, and connected to alarm clocks with contacts every 10-15 minutes. The minute hand, touching the contact, would close the circuit and fire. The machinegunners were gone, but their machineguns, aimed at the enemy positions, kept firing."

The ruse was successful. The Finns did not notice an evacuation until a day after the peninsula was empty.

Sunday, 9 February 2014

Mayn 7.62 mm Carbine

"To the chief of the Red Army GAU, General-Lieutenant-Colonel comrade Yakovlev

The faculty of aviational armament in the Zhukovskiy Military Air Academy, under the supervision of a lecturer from the department of gun and machinegun armament Colonel comrade P.I. Mayn, designed an experimental self-loading carbine. The prototype was built by Junior Military Technician comrade A.V. Ivantsov and Senior Technical Lieutenant comrade V.S. Usantsev.

The self-loading carbine uses a 7.62 model 1930 pistol cartridge, and demonstrated satisfactory reliability, accuracy, and precision.

The carbine is simple, easy to operate, does not require a special tool to assemble, disassemble, or manufacture, and can easily be manufactured on ordinary equipment with up to a medium degree of wear.

The carbine has definite advantages in its tactical-technical capabilities compared to the self-loading model 1940 rifle or model 1891/30 rifle for use by artillery, engineering, communications, airborne, other specialized units, and infantry commanders.

I give you the sample of the carbine and ask you to ask the State Committee of Defense about its adoption into service by the Red Army.

The author of the design, Colonel Mayn, and Chair of the department, Brigade Engineer M.V. Gurevich, are sent for a report.

Attachment: description of the self-loading carbine on 5 pages.

Military Commissar of the Academy, Vakin."

"3 samples of the self-loading carbine developed by the Military Air Academy"

Yuri Pasholok writes that the author of the design was inspired by the prototypes of the M1 Carbine from American magazines (which the cutout of American small arms ammunition definitely suggests). The carbine has a rate of fire of 25-30 RPM, range of 300 meters, a mass of 2.8 kg, and had 20 and 30 round magazines. 

Monday, 3 February 2014

39.M Automatic Carbine

CAMD RF 81-12040-276

"As can be seen from attached results, doubling the length of the barrel (from 250 mm to 500 mm) increases the Parabellum bullet's speed from 396 to 409 m/s, or by 9-17 m/s, and changing the cartridge gives an average increase of another 5 m/s. 

It can be concluded that increasing the power of a Parabellum round by slightly modifying it for the 39.M autocarbine was not achieved.

The lengthening of the barrel gave another almost negligible increase in speed (13 m/s on average), which indicates that the solution is ineffective and a barrel length of 500 mm is excessive.

The 39.M round cannot be considered a high power pistol round at all, as it is weaker than some pistol rounds, like the American 7.62 mm self-loading M-1 carbine. 

For example, the 39.M round is less powerful than the domestic pistol round, as with an equivalent barrel length (55-56 calibers), the 39.M barrel provides the bullet with 72.3 kgm of energy, while the domestic pistol bullet achieves 87.0 kgm, or 20.03% greater.

Overall data on the 39.M carbine

The 39.M carbine is an automatic weapon that works on the principle of bolt recoil.

Photo #3. Overall view of the 39.M carbine (with a bayonet and collapsed magazine)."

Sunday, 2 February 2014


I periodically come across aircraft kills credited to AT riflemen, and wonder how such a thing is possible. Turns out, this is how.

Saturday, 1 February 2014

Extreme Trials

Kris Reid dug up an interesting Soviet method of trials.

"Task #4.
Scenario: A small unit of submachinegunners on horseback is deployed to pursue the enemy and disorganize his rear.
Target: 3 #27a targets (cargo truck)
Ammunition: 10 rounds
Time: Unlimited
Shooting position: from horseback.
Order of trials:

  1. Shooters mount horses 300-400 meters from their targets. SMGs are ready for combat (loaded, safety off), trot up to the target range, and, after dropping their guns on pavement or hard dirt, stop 50 meters from their target and fire in bursts of 5. 
  2. Same, but do not stop the horses.
Sudayev's SMG had the rear sling mount point disconnected, and fell first on the side of the road, then on the pavement. No damage was found. After the last fall, the horse stepped on the magazine catch and bent it. The SMG was found suitable for continuation of the trials. Shooting was performed from horseback, first from 50 meters away from the target, then while the horse was trotting parallel to the targets. Both shooters fired from the same horse (nicknamed Immennoy)."

Thursday, 30 January 2014

Amosov's Commando Carbine

"To Chairman of the Artillery Committee, Major-General of Artillery, comrade V.I. Hohlov

I am forwarding you comrade Amosov's proposal for your consideration. Comrade Amosov, in his letter, proposes the development of a small caliber rifle for use as a support weapon by scouts and partisans. We consider that comrade Amosov overestimates the stopping power of a small caliber rifle, as well as the noiselessness of its shot. We have decided that comrade Amosov's proposal is not worthy of our attention.

If your opinion matches ours, please respond to the author, and send us a copy.

Attachment: letter #8/1916 from February 4th, 1942.

V. Kostygov."

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Action Movies

Sometimes people have creative ideas about things, and sometimes those ideas end up in archives.

"We propose, that the 20 mm caliber would be used much more widely, if the question of its use, and the construction of the weapon that fires it, was approached from a different angle. The mass of the system should be reduced, barrel pressure lowered, recoil reduced, and the gun turned into an infantry weapon: a hand cannon. Of course, the gunpowder charge would be drastically reduced, which will result in loss of muzzle velocity and penetration effect."

The 20 mm autocannon was used in the T-60 tank, as well as on Soviet aircraft. It would take quite a Rambo character to carry one. Although, maybe it was meant for this guy:

"On July 13th, 1941, Red Armyman Ovcharenko was transporting ammunition for the 3rd company in the Pesets region, and was 4-5 kilometers from his unit. In that region, two armoured cars, 50 German soldiers, and 3 officers surrounded him.

A German officer exited the car, and ordered Ovcharenko to raise his hands, took his rifle, and started questioning him. Ovcharenko had an ax in his cart. He grabbed the ax, chopped off the officer's head, and threw three grenades at a nearby car. 21 German soldiers were killed, the rest ran in panic. Ovcharenko pursued a wounded officer through a garden in the Pesets village, caught him, and also chopped his head off. The third officer ran away.

Comrade Ovcharenko calmly collected the documents of the dead, the officers' maps, papers, diagrams, notes, and delivered them to the regimental headquarters. The ammunition was delivered to his company on time. Comrade Ovcharenko continues his combat service, promoted to a machine gunner."

Ovcharenko was recommended for the Hero of the Soviet Union medal, combined with the Order of Lenin.

The Red Army occasionally got Rambo-er than that.

And add a little Commando to the mix.

Wednesday, 15 January 2014


The following document contains a number of pretty tedious administrative problems with the 20th Tank Brigade, regarding arranging repairs, evacuations, paperwork. Yawn. The last point, however, is more interesting.

CAMD RF 3098-1-10

"Lieutenant-Colonel Bobkov still does not fully devote his attention to rations of his subordinate units, does not pay any attention to the taste of the food. There is a lack of any kind of flavour additions (vinegar, pepper, bayleaf, etc), which was pointed out to him multiple times, but no action was taken.

Colonel Prikolotin
July 7th, 1941"

Prikolotin was not the only one that cared about taste. From Zhukov's memoirs "People of the 40s":

"...Katukov suddenly covered the brigade commander with questions.
"What is for dinner today? Borscht, cutlets, rice porridge, sausages for a snack? Let's try it. Excuse me, where is the mustard on the tables? Where is the pepper? Horseradish? It must be present!""

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Infantry vs Tanks

Cross-posted from Archive Awareness.

It's hard enough to be in a tank while fighting another tank, but what if you don't have a tank at all? When you're infantry, you might be unlucky enough to run into enemy tanks without as much as a 45 mm AT gun behind you. You have your rifle, some grenades, maybe an AT rifle squad somewhere nearby. Maybe a heavy machine gun crew. How well is all of that going to work against a tank? Let's find out.

CAMD RF 38-13355-806

First is a "heavy tank". I have no idea what it is, aside from that it's German. Here are the results with a 14.5 mm AT rifle:
  • Lower front plate (45 mm at 10 degrees): does not penetrate
  • Turret rear (28-30 mm at 10 degrees): penetrates at 200 meters, 100 meters at a 30 degree angle
  • Turret platform side (28-30 mm): penetrates at over 300 meters, 100 meters at a 30 degree angle
  • Lower hull side (28-30 mm): penetrates at over 400 meters, 100 meters at a 30 degree angle
Medium tank:
  • Upper front plate (45 mm at 10 degrees): does not penetrate
  • Lower front plate (45 mm at 12 degrees): does not penetrate
  • Turret rear (34 mm at 8 degrees): penetrates at 100 meters, does not penetrate at a 30 degree angle
  • Turret platform side (29 mm): penetrates at over 400 meters, 100 meters at a 30 degree angle
  • Lower hull side (27 mm): penetrates at over 400 meters, 200 meters at a 30 degree angle
Light tank:
  • Upper front plate (25 mm at 12 degrees): penetrates at 300 meters, 100 meters at a 30 degree angle
  • Lower front plate (40 mm at 10 degrees): does not penetrate
  • Turret (15 mm at 8 degrees): penetrates at over 500 meters at any angle
  • Side (15 mm): penetrates at over 500 meters at any angle
Additionally, the light tank can be penetrated by the Mosin 91/30 rifle with the BS-40 bullet in the turret and side at 150 meters. 

That's it for this document. Let's fish out that 1942 report (CAMD RF 38-11355-832) that we all know and love, and see what it has to say.

The DShK heavy 12.7 mm machine gun (B-32 bullet), makes 4 dents 13 mm deep and 4 holes in the 15 mm rear armour of the Pz38(t). At 150 meters, all 4 hits are penetrations. At 200 meters, aiming at the side (15 mm at 70 degrees), there are 4 penetrations, and 9 13 mm dents. Closing in to 150 meters and firing at the side again leads to 7 penetrations and 2 14 mm dents. Conclusion: "The maximum distance for reliable penetration of the 15 mm side and rear armour is 150 meters."

The same machine gun is pitted against the PzIV. At 100 and 50 meters, it can only make 15-18 mm dents in the turret side. However, at 100 meters, it can penetrate the 20 mm side armour just fine. Aiming at the rear of the turret, it penetrates ones, and makes 4 18 mm dents. Aiming at the rear produces penetrations at 100 meters, but only 17-18 mm dents at 150 meters. Conclusion: "The turret cannot be penetrated by the 12.7 mm B-32 bullet. The side and rear can be penetrated at 100 meters."

CAMD RF 38-11355-778, a report by NII-48 on the quality of German armour, also has results of shooting at German tanks with various types of armament. The part that interests us for this article is the one where they use the DK 12.7 mm bullet. The penetration tests were performed at 700 meters and 50 meters.
  • 10 mm of armour can be penetrated at up to 40 degrees from 700 meters, and up to 60 degrees from 50 meters.
  • 15 mm of armour can be penetrated at up to 20 degrees from 700 meters, and up to 35 degrees from 50 meters.
  • 20 mm of armour can be penetrated at up to 15 degrees from 50 meters.
  • 15+15 mm armour plates can be penetrated at up to 5 degrees from 50 meters, but solid 30 mm armour plates cannot be penetrated at that distance at all.
The same bullet is tested against the PzII.
  • The 15 mm armour on the sides can be penetrated from:
    • 810 meters at 90 degrees
    • 620 meters at 80 degrees
    • 300 meters at 70 degrees
    • not at all from 60 degrees
  • The 15 mm of turret armour sloped at 15 degrees can be penetrated from:
    • 440 meters at 90 degrees
    • 360 meters at 80 degrees
    • 50 meters at 70 degrees
    • not at all from 60 degrees
  • The 15 mm of rear turret armour sloped at 20 degrees can be penetrated from:
    • 300 meters at 90 degrees
    • 220 meters at 80 degrees
    • not at all from 70 degrees
This report also pits the Pz38(t) against the 14.5 mm AT rifle. It can damage it at the following ranges and angles:
  • Front: none
  • Side: 
    • 50 meters: possible to penetrate at 40-140 degrees, likely to penetrate at 47-133 degrees.
    • 150 meters: possible to penetrate at 45-135 degrees, likely to penetrate at 50-130 degrees.
Ok, so these rifles and machine guns can take out 20-30 mm of armour no problem. But what about when you're faced with a Tiger? Then, you need to use explosives! CAMD RF 38-11377-12 has us covered.

First is the KB-30 Directed Impact Hand Anti-Tank Grenade. This mouthful weighs 1.1 kilograms. The grenades were thrown from behind a T-34 tank at a Tiger from 15 meters. Here are the results:

"Target: side. Angle: 50 degrees. Effect: 87 mm deep dent, 30 mm in diameter. Bump with crack on the inside.

Target: side. Angle: 90 degrees. Effect: breach 25 mm in diameter. On the inside, a fragment 100 mm in diameter and 12 mm thick was knocked out.

Target: side. Angle: 40 degrees. Effect: 85 mm deep dent, 35 mm in diameter. No damage on the inside.
Target: side. Angle: 40 degrees. Effect: breach 20 mm in diameter. On the inside, a 65-90 mm fragment was knocked out, following an existing crack. 
Target: turret. Angle: 25 degrees. Effect: 65 mm deep dent, 40 mm in diameter."

Conclusion: "The grenade can penetrate 65-85 mm of the tank's armour." Obviously, as with any armour piercing device, the closer the grenade hits to 90 degrees, the better. 

The next device is an anti-track TMD-B mine. The mine weighs 5 kg. The effect is as expected: "The T-VI hull was towed by a KV-1 tank. When the right track hit the mine, the mine detonated. As a result, the track was torn and the right drive wheel pins were damaged. A hole 600 mm deep and 1000 mm in diameter formed underneath."

The next weapon is a bit unconventional, a jumping mine, developed by factory #627. "Type: rifle grenade with a directed charge. The mine was placed close to the hull and detonated. As a result, the 28 mm thick bottom of the hull was penetrated. The breach was irregularly shaped, with torn edges, 27 mm by 35 mm. The jumping mine produced by factory #627 penetrates the bottom of the T-VI hull."

A number of AT rifles were tried, mostly ineffective, except the 43P Blum AT rifle. Firing a 14.5 mm bullet at 1500 m/s, it got some pretty impressive results. At 100 meters it penetrates the lower side hull of the Tiger at every attempt. When shooting at the thicker upper side hull, it penetrated once, and made 3 dents, 43-50 mm. 

Results of shooting the side of the Tiger with various AT rifles. The penetration from the 14.5 mm Blum bullet is #13. 

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Soviet Body Armour

Cross-posted from Archive Awareness.

Popular history treats Soviet infantry as expendables that overwhelm quality with quantity, but examination of actual historical evidence suggests otherwise. Attempts to lengthen the life of the regular soldier (or, in this case, policeman) predate the USSR, beginning with the Russian Empire. "A catalogue of armour invented by Lieutenant-Colonel Chemerzin" describes his inventions, dating back to 1905:

"The armours vary in mass, the lightest are 1.5 pounds, the heaviest are 8 pounds. They are unnoticeable under clothing. Anti-rifle bullet plates weigh 8 pounds. The plates cover the heart, lungs, stomach, sides, as well as the spine and back over the heart and lungs. Each plate is tested for impenetrability in front of the customer."

A little more on trials:
"In the presence of HIS IMPERIAL MAJESTY, on June 11th, 1905, in the city of Orienbaum, a company of machine gunners performed tests. 8 machine guns fired at a plate made from an alloy created by Lieutenant-Colonel Chemerzin, from a distance of 300 paces. It was hit 36 times. The plates were not penetrated, and did not crack. All non-permanent personnel of the infantry school were present."

The Moscow Capital Police, who ordered the armour in the first place, tested it at 15 paces, from unspecified arms. The performance proved exemplary: "[the armour plates] are impenetrable, and do not produce fragments. The first batch is satisfactory."

The St. Petersburg Capital Police report was more thorough: "The results of the trials were as follows: after firing at the front and back plates, one that weighed 4 pounds and 75 zolotniks [a zolotnik is 4.26 grams] and the other 5 pounds 18 zolotniks, composed of steel and wrapped in thin silk fabric, with a Browning bullet, the bullet penetrates the silk, and makes a dent in the plate, but does not penetrate it, and remains in between the silk and steel. No fragments of the bullet fly out."

The Ust-Izhor training proving grounds achieved positive results when testing the plates with "3 line rifles of the infantry type, from 200, 150, 100, 50, and 8 paces."

The archive file further mentions 4791 sets of body armour, 340 shields, and 200 helmets made of this alloy sent to the Warsaw fortress over the period of 3 months.

The invention made a mark on media. The "Rus" newspaper (#69, 1907) wrote: "I saw a miracle yesterday. A young man, thirty years of age, in a military uniform, stood still in a room. A Browning was pointed at him from half a pace, a frightening Browning, aimed right for the chest, for the heart. The young man waited, smiling. A shot struck, the bullet bounced off.
"See," said the military man. "I barely felt anything.""

"Novoye Vremya" wrote on February 28th, 1908: "The invincible armour and new breastplates are wonderful inventions of our century, and surpass the knight's armour of the past. The scale layers remain the same, but the alloy is different. It is the inventor's secret. A. A. Chemerzin only explained the main idea behind his discovery. A. A. Chemerzin is a Lieutenant-Colonel of engineering forces. He finished a degree in mathematics, then an engineering school. He taught mathematics, while studying chemistry, and a series of experiments led him to exploration of nickel-chromed steel. The alloy was created under high temperature and pressure. Precious metals like platinum, silver, iridium, vanadium, and many others were added to the mix. This led to a very ductile and strong metal, that is 3.5 times tougher than steel. As a result, at three paces, the Mauser bullet could not penetrate a half-millimeter plate. Armour and breastplates were made that were impenetrable for revolver and rifle bullets, which deformed without giving off fragments. The danger of concussions and ricochets was solved.
The armour is expensive, but life is costs more. Putting on the 5 pound armour that covers the front and back, I did not consider it heavy. It is entirely unnoticeable underneath a suit. 7000 breastplates, helmets, and shields were sent to the army in the Far East, but sadly, too late..."

Indeed, the invention did not come cheap. 1500-1900 rubles would buy you a standard set of armour. 5000-8000 could buy you a custom-made set, tailored to your body. Chemerzin also offered the armouring of a carriage (20,000 rubles) and a car's engine compartment (15,000).

In 1916, Chemerzin's armour was tested for pilots. While it performed admirably, a cheaper armour was chosen, manufactured at the Petrograd mechanical and metalworking factories.

I don't have anything about the interbellum period, but the question of protecting infantry was explored during the Winter War.

CAMD RF 81-12040-69

"In 1939, NKV NII-13 manufactured trial batches of steel SN-39 (150 units) breastplates and SNSh-39 (100 units ) breastplate-shields, which were then tested in combat (on Karelia). 

As is stated in our previous report for 1940 (report T-06-77), the breastplate received good reviews from the commanders of the 7th army, but the issue of increasing the strength of the armour in order to ensure bullet protection in close combat was raised. 

To resolve this issue, we have created a new (thickened) breastplate, SN-40A. According to the orders from GAU KA, a decision was made to mass produce the SN-40A, with the following goals in mind:
  1. Manufacture 100-150 SN-40A breastplates, providing protection from model 1908 bullets fired from a rifle or machine gun from 150 meters at 0 degrees and from any distance at 30 degrees.
  2. Manufacture the breastplates in three sizes. Previously, breastplates were produces in one size (small).
  3. Explore the requirements for production of the breastplates and develop blueprints for equipment to mass produce the breastplates.
  4. Conduct proving ground and battlefield trials to determine if the breastplates can be accepted by the Red Army.
The aforementioned mass production of the SN-40A is the topic of this report."

SN stands for Stalnoy Nagrudnik (steel breastplate). 

CAMD RF 81-12040-69

"The manufacturing of the SN-40A was done at the "Industria" factory in Lysva. The breastplates were produced in 3 sizes, and in two thicknesses and weights. The blueprints of the the breastplate are shown in figure 2."

Trials of the SN-40A were performed in the fall of 1941. The results were unsatisfactory. At 5.2 mm (one batch was 4.2 mm), the breastplates were too heavy. Even the air force did not want to use them. One would not immediately expect a heavy breastplate to matter in an airplane, but it does. "Uniform of the Russian Air Force 1935-1955" writes "The medical corps frequently equipped pilots with army type steel helmets. For example, in 1943, elements of the 4th Air Army made it mandatory for Il-2 and Pe-2 gunners to wear "a metallic helmet and special breast shields". However, in practice, when breaking away from a steep dive, the rear gunner was subjected to unacceptable forces, which lowered his capacity of defending the plane from enemy fighters." However, the specific breastplate in question was almost certainly not the SN-40A, but its successor, the SN-42.

The SN-42 was developed in the spring of 1942 and tested in August of the same year by airborne troops. It was composed of 36 SGN type steel, and was 2 mm thick. 500 units were manufactured, and sent to be tested in the army.

Overall view of the breastplate

Breastplate used as a shield

Breastplate used as a shield while prone

The results were as follows:

CAMD RF 81-12040-109

"In 1942, according to the orders from the GAU of the Red Army, the Scientific-Investigative Institute #13 of the USSR NKV, developed a steel breastplate 3.3 kg in mass, 2 mm thick, that protects the main organs of the human body against German submachineguns at all distances, and rifles and machineguns at 300 meters. 
According to GOKO order #2160ss from August 8th, 1942, the steel breastplates were sent to the army, and received positive reviews. The reviews mention the following:
  1. The steel breastplates provide reliable protection from German submachineguns, as well as fragments of mines and hand grenades.
  2. The maneuverability of soldiers with breastplates is almost unimpaired.
  3. Aside from providing protection for the soldier, the breastplate also increases the soldier's morale when performing his duties.
The technical documentation on the steel breastplate was accepted by the GAU of the Red Army on August 7th, 1942, after which the breastplate was mass produced at factory #700 (city of Lysva). At this time, 85,000 breastplates have been produced, distributed as follows:
  1. South-Western Front: 5,000
  2. Stalingrad Front: 3,000
  3. Leningrad Front: 1,000
  4. Volhov Front: 1,000
  5. Don Front: 5,000
70,000 units remain at the warehouse. "

The benefits of the SN-42 breastplate are outlined in more detail in a letter from the deputy commander of the artillery of the 68th Army to the head of the GAU KA, Major-General Hohlov.

CAMD RF 81-12040-109

"In November of 1942, the 57th army received 5000 steel breastplates to test. After the army established the reliability of the breastplates by shooting them from 100 meters with rifles, they issued a small amount (500 units) on a trial basis.
The breastplates were met with distrust, but commanders requested the breastplates in maximum available numbers after testing them in battle. All breastplates available in the warehouses were given out. In battles for Stalingrad, they were exhaustively tested.
Comments by unit commanders and soldiers say that the breastplate, in addition to the steel helmet, is a good and reliable method of protection from bayonets, bullets, and shrapnel.
It is also necessary to point out the morale value of the breastplate. Soldiers equipped with the breastplates that have experienced their reliability go into battle calmly and assuredly.
The artillery supply units are constantly receiving orders for additional breastplates. All these factors combined lead me to believe that the breastplates live up to expectations and are a worthwhile investment.
Please issue 15000 units to the 68th army."

Popular history dictates that only specially formed assault groups were equipped with SN-42 breastplates, but you may already be suspecting that it was not so. The breastplates were not meant for any one kind of soldier, as their instruction memorandum reveals:

CAMD RF 81-12040-69

"A memo on the use of SN-42 steel breastplates
  1. The steel breastplate safeguards the chest and stomach of the soldier in combat from 1) bullets of a German submachinegun at any distance 2) bullets of rifles and machineguns at 300 meters 3) fragments of mines and grenades.
  2. The steel breastplate, thanks to its construction, does not stifle the soldier's movement while walking, running, or crawling.
  3. The breastplate weighs 3.3 kg. To maintain the soldier's endurance and maneuverability, the soldier must be lightened at the cost of his backpack load.
  4. The breastplate can be used by:
    1. scouts, out on a mission.
    2. sappers, while out scouting, making breaches in barbed wire, defusing explosives under enemy fire, etc.
    3. infantry teams during scouting by combat.
    4. submachinegunners, sneaking through the enemy lines, riding as tank infantry, and laying in ambush.
    5. assault teams, attacking a pillbox.
    6. soldiers fighting in city streets.
    7. communications personnel, checking and fixing telephone lines under enemy fire.
    8. any other situation where the commander deems that the breastplates can be usefully applied.
  5. The breastplate can be used in 3 ways.
    1. The breastplate is attached using straps and covers the chest and stomach during movement.
    2. When crawling, the breastplate can be used as a shield.
    3. When removed, the breastplate can be used to cover other parts of the body (right side, left side, head).
  6. The breastplate consists of:
    1. a hull, with the upper and lower plates.
    2. soft lining, attached to the hull with a snap pin.
    3. belts for attaching the breastplate: one on the waist and two on the shoulder
  7. The breastplates are made in three sizes. The breastplate is 2 mm thick.
The breastplates are handed out by the Front Commanders, and are to be used by those armies where they can be usefully applied. Army and Front Commanders should send their feedback on using the breastplates and suggestions to the General Staff of the Red Army, and send a copy to the GAU of the Red Army.

November 11th, 1942"

At the same time as the SN-42, the SShN-42 (steel shield-breastplate) was developed. 

CAMD RF 81-12040-69

The SShN-42 was thicker than the SN-42, at 4.9 mm. Only 25 SShN-42s were produced. The design passed trials, but their subsequent fate is unknown. Is is probable that they joined their regular breastplate cousins in the 5th Army for testing. 

CAMD RF 81-12040-69

In 1942, NII-48 developed its own batch of a spin on breastplates: bulletproof vests. The armour was composed of four plates: two in the front, and two in the back. The vest tied in the front with two bows, like a lifejacket. 

From minutes #215 section 40 of the Sverdlovsk Regional Committee, on August 30th, 1942 (TsDOOSO 4-18-15): 

"On the manufacturing of a trial batch of personal methods of protection for riflemen and machinegunners

The Regional Committee of the All-Union Communist Party of Bolsheviks approves of the initiative of the NII-48 in developing a design of personal armour protection and its mass production, and decrees that:
  1. The director of the Uralmash factory comrade Muzrukov and director of NII-48 comrade Zavyalov must ensure the production of 200 units of personal armour and 50 units for personal armour for Maxim machinegunners by September 20th, 1942.
  2. The VIZ director, comrade Radkevich, must provide to the Uralmash factory 3 tons of rolled 30 HGS steel for production of trial personal armour sets.
  3. NII-48 director comrade Zavyalov is urged to manufacture a trial batch of armour sets and send them to the Red Army for practical tests. In the event that the tests pass and the armour is accepted for mass production, send the proposal to the Regional Committee.
  4.  The General Secretary of the Sverdlovsk All-Union Communist Party of Bolsheviks must provide all necessary resources to factories in order to produce the personal amour sets for riflemen and machinegunners.
Regional committee secretary Andrianov"

500 vests were produced in total. They all were sent to the 5th Army, but did not saw very limited combat. It did, however, see enough that the Germans captured one unit.

"The picture was attached to a message from an intelligence officer in the headquarters of the German 35th Panzer division, informing the command of the 9th Army Corps that the enemy is using new defensive gear on October 2nd, 1942 called an "armoured vest", drawn based on an inspection of the unit captured during a battle."

The picture on the right is also of interest to us.

"Another picture from an intelligence officer in the 35th Panzer division, composed based on the statements of POWs from the 1158th regiment, which revealed that the regiment assault group used this second model of defensive gear on October 2nd, 1942, obtained with the purpose of evaluating its usefulness in battle. Based on the sketch, it was probably a prototype of the SN-42."

Based on reports from the front lines, NII-48 gave their bulleproof vest another try.

CAMD RF 81-12040-69

The change is pretty self-evident: two more plates were added to the front to protect more of the soldier's body. 

CAMD RF 81-12040-109

Here is another breastplate design, this one is a little different. Instead of one lower plate, there are three. The upper plate is composed of two pieces. The back also has a full shirt, not just straps. Its index was PZ-ZiF-20. As its name suggests, it was produced at the Frunze factory (#7). It did not perform as well as the SN-42, but was produced in large numbers anyway, as the army needed all the breastplates it could get. These breastplates were first issued in 1943. 

While the SN-42 was, no doubt, the best Soviet breastplate of the war, work did not stop with it. The financial plan for the second quarter of 1945 of the 6th Department of the Tank Directorate of GBTU KA (CAMD RF 38-11355-2756) mentions the following: 

"An experimental batch of bulletproof vests is being manufactured by the NKTP and NKLP factories. The vests are a new type of protection for Red Army soldiers. The contract is still being processed. The approximate cost is 500,000 rubles."

It is hard to judge how much 500,000 rubles is worth in today's money, but it is no small cost. For example, in 1941, developing the SPG-212 (more commonly known as Object 212) cost only 100,000 rubles.