Welcome to the 14th Q&A! A reminder as to how this works: send me questions about Soviet tanks and related topics, and I will answer them here (unless I forget, in which case you’re welcome to send them again).
Q: Were there any prototype or experimental tanks with double barreled guns?
A: Of course! A favourite of mine is the ST-II, with two 122 or 100 mm guns in one turret. Sadly, it was never built. Its half-assed implementation is currently present in the game. The extra loader is there, but the second gun is not, and the ROF has been drastically reduced. There was also the SU-2-122, which was a SU-122 with two guns instead of one, KV-7 (one version had 2 76 mm guns), and many double barreled SPG prototypes, currently terminating with the double barreled Russian Koalitsiya 152 mm SPG.
That’s just for tanks with two cannons of equal calibers. A great deal of tanks were equipped with dual machine guns, and with a smaller caliber gun or autocannon instead of a coaxial machinegun.
Q: What is the difference between the Soviet 122 mm guns (A-19, D-25T, D-30, D-25-44, D-2-5T)? How do they differ in performance?
A: The A-19 was a corps level artillery piece, with a screw breech and two-piece ammunition. The D-2 gun was an attempt to “tankify” the gun, by giving it a muzzle brake and other such features. The result was combined with the mount from the 85 mm D-5 gun to give us the famous D-25. The D-30 combined parts of the D-25 and D-10, combined with a fume extractor. The D-25-44 was a D-25 customized to fit into what the game calls “T-44-122″, but has a real mouthful of a full name: “T-44, first modification, with D-25-44 cannon”. Subsequent T-44 tanks did not use the D-25. The D-25 for the T-44 was slightly weaker than the rest of the guns (2-4% reduced propellant size) and used single piece shells. The rate of fire was only up to 3 RPM, as the shells were heavy and there was no room for the IS-2′s loading assist equipment in the smaller turret.
Q: Were any Sherman Fireflies sent to the Soviet Union under the Lend-Lease program?
A: No. The vast majority of Fireflies were built on M4A4 hulls, a tank the Soviets weren’t all that fond of.
Q: What can you tell us about how Russian armor improved over the course of the war? And also the Russian thinking on plate vs cast armor?
A: Hardness changed in reaction to larger caliber shells. For example, IS tanks from late 1944 had much more resistant armour than ones from early 1944, not only due to the straightening of the upper glacis plate, but also due to the superior composition of the steel to counter higher velocity 88 mm shells from the Pak 43. Also, a great deal of care was put into improving the welding seams, resulting in armour of the same thickness and composition, but effectively additional strength.
The Soviets liked cast armour, and used it extensively when possible. Early T-34-76 turrets were welded, later ones were cast. IS-2 mod. 1944 hulls were also cast at all factories, except at UZTM, which was experiencing shortages.
Q: What are your thoughts on the accuracy of the “battlefield.ru” website?
A: As always, the articles are as good as their sources. Theirs appear to be pretty well done, largely from reputable literature and archive sources. The English version of the website is very limited, sadly.
That’s it for this round! Email me more questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.