Soviet opinion on Lend-Lease US tanks


Yuri Pasholok recently published a document from January 1943, giving us further insight into what the Soviets thought of their 1942 American lend-lease vehicles. Here it is:



It says this:

To comrade Mikoyan,

on the question of 1943 delivery of American tanks I report:

1. In 1942, we recieved two types of tanks from America: M3 Light and M3 Medium. Apart from that, 26 tanks M4A2 (medium type tanks) made it to the USSR with convoy 19.
2. In combat, a number of major issues appear on tanks M3 Light and M3 Medium, reducing significantly their combat quality.
3. The main issues are the following:

a) the tanks start burning easily when penetrated by shells
b) large dimensions with significant number of vertical armor plates make these tanks easily damaged from enemy anti-tank artillery fire of even very small calibers
c) little durability of the aircraft-type engines, installed into tanks
d) it’s impossible to shoot the sponson-mounted 75mm howitzer of M3 Medium tank, when the tank is in hulldown position, as the howitzer is located on ground level. It is also impossible to shoot two frontal machineguns that way for the same reason.

These issues of American tanks were reported to you in July 1942. Based on this I consider it pointless to buy M3 Light and M3 Medium in America further. Instead of them we should buy the M4A2 tanks in the same numbers:

The suspension, transmission and lower hull of the M4A2 was taken from the M3 Medium. Upper part of the hull is made with sloped armor. There is a 75mm gun installed in the turret – a howitzer paired with a machinegun. Instead of the gasoline engine there are two linked diesel engines “General Motors” with combined output of 375 horsepower. The M4A2 tank seems to be the latest model of the medium tank and fits the current needs more.

The significant drawback of the M4A2 tank seems to be the burning-through of the nozzle injectors and of the diesel engine pistons. The chief of the American military mission General Faymonville and Lt.Col.Gray know about this drawback. The latter considers this drawback to be easily remedied by installing tractor-type injectors (type “A”), which he asked to be delivered by plane from America in 300 pieces.

The M4A2 tanks have to be delivered with the switched diesel engine injectors, with resin-metallic tracks and with grousers for each track. Apart from that, I’d like to ask you to buy in America:

- halftrack APC’s of the type M-2 (with armament)
- halftrack recon vehicles of the type M3A1 (with armament)
- mobile workshops for tank repair
- special automobile high capacity cranes

Reporting on your command.

Lt.Gen. of tank armies Korobkov
Lt.Gen. of tank armies Biryukov

42 thoughts on “Soviet opinion on Lend-Lease US tanks

    • There are exceptions. In the early years of the war (until 1942), everyone pretty much loved the LT-38 (Panzer 38(t)) variants: they were universally acclaimed. Everyone who served on them preferred it to the other contemporary light tanks, even the Soviets liked it very much. But early American tanks had some serious issues.

    • Well, nobody really appreciated M3 Lee and Grant, not even allies, for those same exact reasons described above

      • The British in North Africa thought otherwise; until upgunned versions of the Panzer IV, and eventually, the Tiger, began to appear in-theater, the M3 Grant (as they called their version of it) was possibly the most effective tank in North Africa.

        The same applies to the Lee in the Pacific (since the Japanese didn’t field any tanks that were a serious threat to it).

        • Actually the Australian Armoured forces in the Pacific didn’t really like the M3 lee/grant (they used both) nor the M3 light and they got used very little in the pacific for the most part, because they were either A. unsuited to the conditions of jungle combat (M3 light) or B. being delivered unfit for service and requiring several months of maintenance to brought to working order for even emergency use. The favoured tank in the pacific was the Matilda mkII which proved excellent in jungle conditions and almost invulnerable to most light Japanese anti-tank weapons

    • No wonder why germans called Shermans “tommy cookers”. :)
      “The significant drawback of the M4A2 tank seems to be the burning-through of the nozzle injectors and of the diesel engine pistons. ” But sure there will be “WW2 myths debunked”…. :/

      • Not everything that reads ‘burning-through’ and is related to the engine necessarily has to cause a fire that harms the vehicle. Nozzles and pistons burning through should lead to a stalled engine first of all, from my understanding. Of course, I’d love to be corrected by someone with more experience in ICE-engineering.

        • What its referring too more than likely is the Injector Nozzles. Since a diesel is much higher compression than a gas engine the fuel must be compressed and injected into the combustion chamber. The wear item in this case is the injector nozzle, as it suffers the fuel being injected through it with high pressure, and the stress of ignition. Back then fuel was basically rotgut yak butter, thus even with filters, contaminants would get into the fuel system and pass through the injectors. Today, with proper heat treating and alloys this isn’t a issue but back then it would be like someones sandblasting the injector to a bigger size, causing the engine to run poorly.

      • *sigh*
        It obviously means that the parts mentioned get burned through and damaged during normal exploatation. Using your logic my dad’s car is an oven, because the muffler gets burned through every now and then.

      • It is funny because most people believe that the M4′s GASOLINE engine was the cause for fires, due to the “wonderful” people at History Channel and Belton Cooper. The primary reason for fires in American M4s were ammunition fires. American reports state that only 5-10% of M4′s with wet ammo storage caught fire after being hit compared to 60+% of their dry counterparts. Still this report shows a flaw in the M4A2 variant.

        I also believe the “Tommycookers” refers to the British M4s who never adopted wet storage. Could be wrong here.

      • Really, this shit again? It’s like people don’t know what cordite is or why wet stowage was implemented or why armor panels are on the sides of A2s.

        But lets talk about the Panzer IVs 80% burn rate. I think we should come up with a suitably awful nickname for it as well.

      • Dipshit…

        All that is the engine fucks up..

        The only tanks considered “tommy cookers” were the M2′s, and most of the myth was created after the war…

        The M3 wasn’t wanted even at the design board by anyone, it was simply a stop-gap measure to throw something at the germans until the newer M4′s were coming off production.

        • 2 possiblities
          1. the pistons are unsuited for the high octane diesel being used and are literally melting away (EXTREMELY UNLIKELY)

          2. Burning through refers to the injectors and pistons becoming corroded. This is highly likely given that they have to be transported thousands of miles through a salt water environment. The new injectors therefore would be constructed out of a less corrosive metal, which would make them much less susceptible to corrosion

          Not sure how this affects the pistons though, unless there was leakage through the injectors.

          • An injector with a defective spray pattern will burn a hole in the piston due to spraying fuel directly onto a spot on the piston.

          • What is meant is that the normal injectors used weren’t standing up to the stress of being run in a tank engine. Notice the part about “tractor type injectors.” Farm equipment is meant for more use and abuse than road equipment, like the Detroit 6-71 in the M4A2.

      • All I Know Of ICEs I Learned From Wikipedia(tm) and even so I can tell your interpretation of the paragraph is total bullshit, John mah boi…

  1. Could there be a follow-up article to this SS? I remember reading someplace that Ivan hated the M4A4 for some reason :) Even going as far as to request the Americans to keep delivering the M4A2

    • The soviets had a hard in for the m4 e 2 if you got a source that says otherwise you can be assured that it is shit

      • It was also a gasoline engine, whereas most Soviet vehicles used diesel, this causes logistics headaches for no real advantage offered by the vehicle relative to its contemporaries.

  2. In other report soviets had placed 14 infantrymen into M3 Lee and recomended it as makeshift APC.

      • Post & document is in russian ofc, so someone need to translate it. My english is too bad for it.

        Google-translated relevant part:

        “Internal dimensions of the tank M-3 medium allow to place inside the tank, in addition to the crew, 10 people armed with PPShs. When placing and transportation of the specified number of gunmen firing from all arms of the tank is possible. As a result, we consider it possible to recommend the tank M-3 medium as a means to transport infantry “

        • I hope they mean doing this after stripping out the 75mm……..otherwise, I can’t see how you would fit 10 infantry inside….

    • That gives a whole new definition to the term “Clown Car Tank” (the term being one of two personal nicknames I had for the T-50-2 before it was replaced, the other being “motorcycle”, which is now applied to the Panzer IC)

    • The funny thing about the M3 tank, is that in video games they tend to be very OP (well none historical accurate balanced games)

      I remember in BF1942 Road to Rome you can just lay waist to everything with it.

      • Well it kinda depends on what it’s up against. Do recall that when the first ones hit the field in Africa the Germans promptly ranked them a sufficiently high-priority threat to merit committing their scarce Pz IV ausf. F’s (which invariably drew much attention from Allied artillery and aircraft when spotted) as a counter – the improvement in protection and firepower over the kinda puny Brit stuff of the time was *that* great.

  3. lol gotta love russian conclusions. “when hull down, we can’t fire the hull-mounted gun!!! TERRIBLE TANK”

    strange, considering how fond they were of self-propelled guns/TD’s