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. 

Monday, 6 January 2014

Partisan's Companion: Weapons of Combat

The Partisan's Companion is a book distributed among partisans in order to help them combat German forces more effectively. A few sections of the book deal with firearms. This one teaches the user how to handle domestically produced firearms, both military and civilian.

"IV. Weapons of Combat

Remember the main rules of handling weapons

No matter what conditions you are in always keep your weapons ready: clean and functional. Handle them carefully. The weapons must always be ready for battle. Do not plug the barrel, as that will burst the barrel when shooting. Before cleaning a gun, make sure your cleaning equipment is functional and complete (ramrod, rag, screwdriver, mallet, etc).

When checking your weapon, check:
Do the metallic parts have rust, scratches, dents, are mechanisms clean?
Are there cracks or dents in wooden parts?
Do the main mechanisms function correctly (bolt, sight, trigger, etc), is the barrel clear?
Know the main signs of a damaged barrel. You will see them when looking through it at the light:

  1. Rust: dark scum on the barrel. If you run a clean cloth through your barrel and see brown spots, it is a sure sign of rust in the barrel.
  2. Rash: scattered spots of rust around the barrel.
  3. Bulging: a perpendicular ring-shape (continuous or interrupted) along the barrel.
Inspection and handling ammunition

The ammunition should be clean and free of dents or cracks, burrs, patina. Check that the primer is not too deep, the bullet does not wobble, and is not sunk too deep into the casing. Wipe the functional ammunition with a clean cloth dabbed with grease. This will keep them from rusting.

Cleaning and lubricating your gun

Timely cleaning and correct lubrication make it function perfectly. If the gun is not used often, clean it no less than once every ten days. After shooting, clean the barrel and parts of the weapon that are affected by gases. When possible, clean the weapon completely, and lubricate it. In the following 3-4 days, wipe the barrel with a clean white cloth. If you see rust or fouling, clean it again. If not, lubricate the barrel.

Carry clean and soft cloths for cleaning, as well as soft hemp fibre. Only use the hemp for cleaning. 

Use a base compound for cleaning the gas system. Lubricate parts after cleaning them. Remember that excess grease dirties the gun, and makes it misfire. Wash hardened grease off complicated parts with gasoline or kerosene, then wipe them dry and lubricate them.

Cracks and other places where it is hard to insert a ramrod should be cleaned in the following way: sharpen a stick of the necessary size, wrap it in a rag saturated in a base, lubricant, or kerosene.

In the winter, use winter lubricant. Apply the lubricant in a thin layer with a cloth. A thick layer of grease will freeze, and the gun will not work.

If you don't have winter lubricant, use kerosene or liquid from #1 or #3 incendiary bottles, as it contains kerosene or gasoline. 

Always carry your gun with you and do not leave it unattended. Never disassemble all the unit's guns at once, cleaning should always be done in turns.

Fig. 40: Rifle model 1891/30
Fig 44: Self-loading rifle model 1940

Rifle model 1891/30
Purpose: a partisan's main weapon for striking the enemy with fire, bayonet, and stock.
Combat characteristics: best range is 400 meters. Combat rate of fire: 10 shots per minute. Maximum range: 2000 meters.

Self-loading rifle model 1940
Combat characteristics: best range is 400 meters. Combat rate of fire: 25 shots per minute. Maximum range: 1500 meters.

Fig. 43. Small caliber TOZ-8 and TOZ-9 rifles. 1 - stock; 2 - stock grip; 3 - barrel assembly; 4 - sight; 5 - barrel; 6 - front sight; 7 and 9 - barrel bed; 8 - trigger guard.

Small caliber TOZ-8 and TOZ-9 rifles
Combat characteristics: the small caliber rifle does not make a loud sound and has very weak recoil, simple to use, is disassembled easily, and is flawless in operation. These characteristics allow the TOZ rifles to be widely used in partisan squads.
The TOZ-8 rifle is single-shot, and the TOZ-9 has a five round magazine. The TOZ-8 has a rate of fire of 7 shots per minute, the TOZ-9 - 10 shots per minute.
The maximum range is 250 meters. 

Fig. 46: Grenade model 1933.

Grenade model 1933
Purpose and combat characteristics: to strike the enemy with fragments in defense and offense. Throw at a range of 30-40 meters. Radius of shrapnel: 25 meters with safety casing, 5 meters without safety casing.

Fig. 49. F-1 grenade.

Purpose: for striking the enemy only in defense. 

Impact type anti-tank grenade
How to throw the grenade: figure 52.
Take the grenade in your right hand, so that the safety is firmly pressed against the handle.
With your left hand, open the slider, and insert the fuse gently. The fuse should enter the grenade freely.
Remove the safety pin.
Throw the grenade and hide. The grenade will explode when it hits the target.
Do not touch a grenade that did not explode. Destroy it with another grenade or with a rifle.

Fig. 52. How to throw an anti-tank grenade.

Fig 53. SMG model 1940 PPD and SMG model 1941 PPSh

SMG model 1940 PPD and SMG model 1941 PPSh
Purpose: an SMG strikes the enemy with fire at close range. An SMG can fire single shots or in bursts (short bursts of 2-4 rounds or long bursts of 20-25 rounds).
Combat characteristics: maximum range: 500 meters. Rate of fire: single shot - 30 RPM, short bursts - 70 RPM, long bursts - up to 100 RPM.

Fig. 67. DP hand-held machinegun.

DP hand-held machinegun
Purpose: the DP hand-held machinegun is the main automatic weapon for destroying groups and important single targets up to 800 meters away, and aircraft up to 500 meters away.
Combat characteristics: rate of fire: 80 RPM. Fire in short bursts (3-6 shots). Maximum range: 1500 meters."

The next few pages are for mortars, which I will skip, as they fall outside the scope of this blog.

"Anti-tank rifle
The anti-tank rifle is a fearsome weapon against enemy tanks and armoured cars. The Red Army uses two anti-tank rifles: a single shot and a semi-automatic. Both use a 14.5 mm armour piercing bullet. Firing at tanks 150-200 meters away is best, but their bullets can penetrate armour even further.

Fig. 74. Single shot Degtyarev anti-tank rifle.

Single-shot Degtyarev anti-tank rifle
Weighs 16.5 kilograms, and is 2 meters long (fig. 74). The rifle is served by a crew of two: a gunner and an assistant. The single-shot rifle can make 5-6 aimed shots per minute. The rifle is loaded manually. Insert a bullet into the opening on the top and ram it in. Close the bolt with an energetic motion forward. If the bolt does not lock, you will get misfires. If there is a misfire, fire again after pulling back the firing pin once more. If there is one more misfire, extract the round and insert a new one. If there is a misfire again, check the firing pin and firing mechanism for dirt or damage.  

To carry the rifle, activate the safety. Pull the bolt far back and turn it up-right 90 degrees. When the firing pin enters the safety box, the rifle is on safe. 

To remove the bolt when cleaning, press the release button underneath the left side of the barrel assembly.

Make sure the rounds are slightly oiled. Dry rounds may cause misfires.

Fig. 75. Simonov anti-tank rifle.

Self-loading Simonov anti-tank rifle
Weighs 20.3 kg, 2.2 meters long (fig. 75). Practical rate of fire: 15 RPM. The rounds are loaded from a five round box magazine, into which a clip of five rounds is inserted. It is possible to insert the clip from the top without removing the magazine.

To remain invisible to the enemy, conceal yourself before battle. A reliable hiding place for an anti-tank rifle crew can be made in a simple anti-tank ditch. Hide in it if the tank is close, then emerge after it goes over and fire at its engine compartment. 

Also fire at the lower part of the turret, where there is usually ammunition, and at tracks next to drive wheels. When firing at an armoured car, aim for the engine and lower turret. If you hit the engine group, gas tank, or ammunition, the AP-I bullet will ignite or explode the tank or armoured car.

You may also fire at other targets: concentrations of enemy soldiers, guns (the bullet can penetrate their shields), machinegun nests, and airplanes.

Fig. 76. Anti-tank rifle grenade. Grenade warhead, stabilizer, fuse, striker, ramrod.

Anti-tank rifle grenade
The Serdyuk model 1941 anti-tank rifle grenade (VPGS-41) is used in cases where it is impossible to get closer than 40 meters to the enemy tank. The grenade consists of five parts: the warhead with an explosive substance, the striker mechanism, the fuse, the ramrod, and the stabilizer. The grenade is usually stored in parts. Assemble it before battle, as shown in figure 76. Put the stabilizer on the ramrod. Screw the ramrod into the striker casing, and then the warhead. In this condition, carry the grenade into battle.

The grenade should be armed in battle. Screw off the striker, and insert the fuse, making sure that the ends of the striker safety pins are 3-4 mm apart. Screw the striker into the warhead. Slide the stabilizer up the ramrod until the hull of the grenade.

The grenade is ready for battle. All you have to do is insert it into the rifle. Load the rifle with a round with no bullet. With you right hand, pull the safety pin from the grenade. You may fire.

Fire directly, at a range of 60-70 meters. Conceal yourself in a trench or behind a tree. If there is a group of tanks, fire at it indirectly from 120-140 meters, at an angle of 40-50 degrees.

Revolver and Pistol

Revolver model 1895
Purpose: to attack and defend at close range, and during hand to hand combat.
Combat characteristics: 7 shots in 15-20 seconds, caliber: 7.62 mm
Cleaning: A cleaning rod is used to clean and lubricate the barrel and cylinder. Thread hemp fibre or a cloth through the cleaning rod so it will enter the barrel with light pressure. Saturate it with a base solution. Put the rod into the barrel and move it back and forth 7-10 times, turning it in the direction of the rifling."

Fig. 77. How to remove the cleaning rod.

The copy of the Partisan's Companion that I have access to is, sadly, missing several pages from this section here.

"Know how to precisely strike the enemy
Aim at vulnerable places: chest, stomach, head. To aim properly, hold your head straight. Put your fingers on the pistol (revolver) handle like shown in figure 84, freely, without too much pressure.

Fig. 84. How to hold a pistol while shooting.

Press on the trigger with the first joint of your index finger. Your thumb should be parallel to the barrel. When shooting while standing or kneeling, hold your hand in the air gently and relaxedly. When shooting while braced, keep your hand with the pistol or revolver in the air. For additional stability, brace your left hand against something and hold your right hand at the wrist.

Know how to wield a shovel

Learn how to fortify your position during enemy fire. For this purpose, carry a shovel (small shovel, sapper's spade, pickaxe). If you don't have one, use any shovel with the handle shortened to 40-50 cm.

How to fortify

Before digging, examine your location and determine if it will be convenient to shoot from. If no, crawl to the side to find a better place. Then, begin digging.

Fig. 85. How to dig a personal trench lying down. 1) Put your rifle to the right. 2) Strike the dirt under you with your shovel. 3) Hold your head close to the ground.

Fig. 86. Using your personal trench.

Put the rifle with the bolt handle down to the right, at arm's reach. This way, it won't get in the way of your digging, and will be close enough to grab. 

Turn on your left side, without raising your head. Take the shovel with your left hand up and your right hand towards the blade and cut at the ground under you. First, throw the dirt forward, building up a parapet, giving you protection from enemy fire. Then, throw the dirt to the side. while digging, keep your legs apart, and keep your head to the ground (fig. 85).

When your hole is 20-25 cm deep, crawl back a little and deepen it for your torso and legs (fig. 86). 

Fig. 87. Required parapet thickness from various types of dirt. Sand, agricultural dirt, clay, swampy dirt, compressed snow, loose snow.

An open trench should be camouflaged using dirt, grass, and branches. Since different types of dirt resist a bullet differently, the parapet thickness depends on the type of dirt (fig. 87).

Digging in the snow

Remember, that if the snow is 40-50 cm deep, you can dig to the ground underneath. If it is deeper, you don't need to dig all the way down. Compress loose snow so that your cover is no less than 40 cm tall. Snow that you dig out should be thrown forward to thicken your parapet. When digging, make sure the snow is clean. Dark spots will reveal your position.

Use your surroundings

The forest, trees, ditches, stumps, bushes, etc, can protect you. You can use weaved or wooden fences as camouflage. Remember to make portholes in them. You can also use a building to hide from enemy bullets. Dig a trench inside the building, and use the dirt to reinforce the wall outside (fig. 88). 

Fig. 88. A trench in a building.

If you must use residential houses in battle, use lower and basement floors. Cover the windows with sand and dirt bags. Leave narrow portholes for observation and fire.

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Fashion Police

"Excerpt from an order of the 1st Mountain Infantry Division

Item #3. On the wearing of ties.

A red rag is the sign of a communist. Wearing red ties and armbands is forbidden. Wearing a brightly coloured tie is unsuitable for a German soldier.

General Lantz
Translated by Intendant 3rd grade Skormorovskiy"