Picture of the Day – 16.2.2017

Here’s another interesting picture I collected. This time from Syria, 2016.

100mm KS-19 on Kvadrat chassis

This is something pretty strange. What you have here is 100mm KS-19 AA gun on Kvadrat chassis. Never heard of either? I am not surprised – it’s a really strange combination. KS-19 is an ancient Soviet 100mm anti aircraft gun. Built between 1947 and 1957, around ten thousand of these things were built and later exported all over the world, specifically to Soviet-friendly third world countries such as Syria. It can fire HE and AP-T rounds with with performance roughly equal to D-10T. The ammunition is, however, not compatible and I have no idea where the Syrians got theirs.

Kvadrat chassis is even more interesting. 2K12E “Kvadrat” is the export variant of the 2K12 “Kub” anti-aircraft missile system. Syria operated around 200 “Kvadrats” before the civil war. In this case, the Syrians removed the guided missile weapon system and somehow installed the AA gun on top of it. The Kvadrat chassis (designation GM-568/578) is light (weighs some 15 tons), lightly armored against small armos only and can (in intended configuration) drive as fast as 50 km/h. However, the center of gravity shift and the weight of the gun (around 10 tons) assure that the performance of the vehicle will be abysmal and reliability very low. It’s a typical example of war-time rigging.

85mm KS-1 gun on ZRU Kvadrat chassis

Another interesting vehicle – the same Kvadrat chassis but with even weirder gun, the 85mm KS-1 AA gun. As the caliber suggests, this is actually a WW2 gun (in Soviet nomenclature it’s called “85mm anti-aircraft gun model 1944 KS-1″) and I have no idea how it got to Syria or where do they take the ammunition for it. This strange vehicle doesn’t belong to Syrian units or rebels, but to the Hezbollah Lebanese militia supporting the government.

Ironically, both vehicles (built in 2016) would be completely fine in World of Tanks – they are very low tech.

Picture of the Day – 15.2.2017

SMK

This is the SMK experimental multi-turret heavy tank, captured by the Finns during the Winter War in Karelia. The SMK designation stands for “Sergey Mironovich Kirov” – the tank (as well as for example the famous Kirov tank factory in Leningrad) was named after one of the prominent Bolshevik leaders. A single prototype was built and was sent to take part in the Winter War as a part of a Special Tank Company of the 90th Battalion of the 20th Heavy Tank Brigade of the Red Army (along with another experimental heavy tank – the T-100 – and a KV-1).

Its first (and only) battle took place on 17.12.1939 in the Hottinen fortified area where it – leading a column of Soviet armor – ran on an improvized explosive mine. The explosion heavily damaged its suspension, blowing the idler wheel and track off. The T-100 that followed it pulled next to it and the crew spent several hours trying to fix the tank. This is the T-100:

T-100

Their efforts were unsuccessful and the SMK had to be abandoned. The crew was evacuated but the tank itself was stuck. General Dmitry Pavlov was furious at the loss of a precious prototype and on 20.12.1939 an issue was ordered to recover it at all costs. A task force consisting of two infantry companies (one of them combat engineers), seven guns and two T-28 tanks was created for that task. They managed to advance approximately 100-150 meters behind Finnish anti-tank obstacles but got pinned down by heavy machinegun and artillery fire – the force had to retreat with 47 soldiers dead or wounded.

The tank was only recovered two months later, on 26.2.1940, when the Soviet forces finally broke through the Mannerheim line. Six T-28 tanks had to be deployed to tow it away to a Red Army depot at Perk-Jarvi where it was dismantled and sent back to Leningrad. The tank was supposed to be repaired but the war interfered and it never happend. Its wreck stayed at the outskirts of the Kirov plant until the 1950s when it was scrapped. Ironically, it outlived its “savior” General Pavlov, who was executed in 1941 after receiving the blame (along with other commanders) for the early catastrophic losses of the Red Army.

Picture of the Day – 14.2.2017

Hello everyone,

during the last two years, I collected a bunch of interesting and/or rare pictures from various sources (usually Yuri Pasholok blog, the LJ pages I am following and several other places) for the purpose of Armored Warfare articles. Since I didn’t get to use most of them, I might as well share them with you along with a short commentary.

Firefly argentina buenos aires 1976 coup

This is a Firefly used during the 1976 coup in Argentina (photo from Buenos Aires), during which a military junta led by General Jorge Rafael Videla, Admiral Emilio Eduardo Massera and Brigadier-General Orlando Ramón Agosti overthrew Isabel Perón, the president of Argentina and the wife of late Juan Perón.

The Fireflies got to Argentina between 1946 and 1947 when Argentina (relatively reasonably) argued that developing its own tank (known as Nahuel) further is pretty pointless when there was war surplus everywhere and available for low, low price. According to some sources, Argentina bought approximately 400 Shermans of which 250 were Fireflies from Belgium. They served until 1974 – a large part was converted to the Repotenciado variant (with 105mm cannon), the rest were likely phased out and scrapped.

CIA’s Lost Tank

Special thanks go to Vollketten for actually finding these documents.

Hello everyone,

This article is going to be a bit different from the past and it will contain a fair amount of speculation, so bear with me. And yes, it’s going to be about a Czechoslovak vehicle so if that’s not your cup of tea, you can move right along. Ready? Okay, here we go.

First, let’s consider the American Central Intelligence Agency. I don’t think I need to explain what CIA is but assessing its effectiveness, now, that’s harder. The public image of the CIA in recent decade or two suffered several major blow. From “finding” non-existent WMDs in Iraq over all sorts of criminal bullshit to watching Trump take a… “shower” and releasing docs about it to public, it would seem like the CIA is incompetence incarnate. Whether it truly is so or not, we probably will never learn (none of us will by alive by the time the documents will be declassified), but the real question that is relevant to this article is, how competent was it in the 1950s?

In the relatively recently declassified CIA records, one interesting note was found – a short report about an unknown tank prototype tested in April 1953 in Milovice. The tank had following properties:

- Crew: 5 (driver, commander, gunner, machinegunner, radioman)
- Gun: 90mm with autoloader
- Engine: 250hp diesel (plus auxilliary)
- Frontal armor: 60mm

The vehicle was supposedly produced by ČKD Sokolovo. But the most interesting part is: the vehicle allegedly had a rear-positioned turret. This is the original layout from the report:

Praga 1

Now… the report contains things that are plausible:

- the testing place sounds correct, Milovice was really a tank proving ground
- 250hp diesel might be referring to one of the post-war experimental diesels produced by both Škoda and Praga
- ČKD is noted is the producer (correctly identifying the plant in Sokolovo), that sounds plausible

But, there seems to be far more bullshit:

- Czechoslovakia never producer or tested a 90mm cannon, the furthest this caliber got were some theoretical considerations during TVP development
- The engine is supposed to be in the back where the turret is, that’s strange
- The vehicle was supposed to use twin machineguns, we never used that design
- There is supposed to be a “radar” in the front, no idea what that is
- Fuel tanks are covered in armor with cement fillers, never heard of that, plus it sounds strange and pointless
- Proximity fuse ammunition in a tank? Never heard of that
- A separate machinegunner from a radioman? Why?

Overall, I have never heard of such a design even theoretically mentioned and would immediately discard this as some bullshit that CIA was fed. The report can be accessed here.

But…

Continue reading

What is a “Dead Game”?

Hello everyone,

Just thought I’d write down a few thoughts about what a “dead game” is. Lately, I’ve seen various players (including streamers) mention that World of Tanks is dead and same goes for Armored Warfare. At first glance, it’s an obvious nonsense for both games. World of Tanks still has, to my knowledge, 100k peaks or so on EU, while Armored Warfare has… aha, you thought I’d tell you. Can’t, sorry. Wish I could. But it’s much more than most people think.

The main reason is the weird “in queue” number that doesn’t work properly and does not represent the game situation because it only shows players waiting in queue and even that is as far as I know not correct. The real number is much higher but I can’t release it because of production decision. But the servers are still running, the PvE mode is still viable and there are no plans to pull the plug despite the doomsaying of some players. We have plans for the future and all that, but honestly, I don’t really want to talk about Armored Warfare. If you are interested, check the portal.

The second meaning of the word is more interesting as it involves development direction. For Armored Warfare, it was disclosed already plus we have something pretty big (perhaps too big since I am trying to finish the content connected to it since Christmas already) that will not be directly announced next week, but it might be mentioned first off hand in some other article (so I’d pay attention if you are interested).

But what’s the direction for World of Tanks?

I must admit that I haven’t kept in touch with World of Tanks since Rita practically abandoned her blog (to be clear, that’s not blaming her, I think that she got what she wanted in life, any of us would make the same choice) but I did check recently some of the stuff going on in the Sandbox server.

Honestly, I can see some of the Armored Warfare (Obsidian) thought processes in the changes – well, before we decided that the system can’t be recovered and moved on to Balance 2.0. It’s tweaking of existing mechanisms that in the end won’t make a difference. We have yet to see what they have in store for artillery, but it won’t be anything massively drastic (unless they decide to copy the old AW system we are moving away from).

Personally, I don’t think that will happen for two reasons:

- SerB
- shareholders

From what I know, SerB had a massive influence on WoT 2.0 (that thingie with modern tanks reported a few months back – dead in the water by the way) and I seriously doubt he’d just relinquish the reins to someone who thinks completely differently. Second thing is that World of Tanks is no longer a game. It’s a machine. A well-oiled money making machine. That’s meant neither as a praise nor as an insult – it’s simply a fact. There’s merchandise, there’s their expo in Moscow, they are opening branches all over the place – hell, they are even opening a branch in Prague now.

World of Tanks is one of the most successful products in its category (PC games) in the last decade. But that means one thing. The shareholders or whoever acts on their behalf won’t let anyone touch their golden goose. Why would they when it’s all working so beautifully and unpopular ingame changes (RU players might remember the infamous Rubezh and Rubezhon patches) have an actual significant effect on Wargaming income.

And that, my friends, is the true meaning of game death for me. World of Tanks has nowhere to go because of its success in its current form. Sure, World of Tanks could introduce something completely unexpected like some sort of storyline campaign (that would be cool, a PvE mode like that playing as a tanker in WW2) but I think they won’t. Why risk a big change or an unpopular feature when the game makes so much money?

Now, you might be asking, what made me write this.

gnome

A couple of players reached out to me on AW forums asking whether this is true. It isn’t, but it got me thinking. There is nothing to return to, there is nowhere to go. I achieved what I wanted in World of Tanks by the introduction of Czechoslovak branch so unless I end up by some weird twist of fate (which I honestly can’t imagine) working for Wargaming, then no, I don’t plan to start writing about WoT or related stuff.

I mean, I tried, just check a couple of last posts on FTR. But it’s not the same anymore. Plus, honestly, I am writing whole day and as a hobby (slowly finishing the book, I can’t believe it’s been two years since I started) and the last thing I want to do in the evening at the moment is write some more. Usually I just sit down and play some Skyrim. Stealth archer FTW!

Something Old, Something New: A Glimpse into the Past

Silentstalker: When we today take a look at some of the 20th or even 19th century predictions of how the 21st century world would look like, we can’t help but laugh at the naivety of our ancestors, born from a different world. But… were they really so off all the time?

Author: CaptianNemo

CaptianNemo: All of the following is a direct word-for-word transcript from Army Ground Forces: Equipment Review Board (Part I Board Study and Annexes) June 1945. aka the Cook Board. Headed up by Major General Gilbert R. Cook. Specifically this transcribe is from Annex “A” Pages 1-3. No edits have been made.

SECTION I

GENERAL

1. It is difficult to predict the nature of warfare of the future. When one considers the advances in weapons and means of’ transportation that have taken place during the past twenty years, or even during the four years we have been in the present war, the magnitude of the task and the degree of imagination required in setting up characteristics tor weapons and transport for the next war become apparent. These advances apply not only to increases in calibers, weights, and fire power of conventional weapons, improved self-protective features, ability to move, by air, water and on the ground, weapons of weights hitherto considered immobile, but also to the extensive, uses being made, w1th the prospects of greatly enlarged uses, of such weapons and equipment as radar, free rockets, guided missiles, recoilless guns, television, and others.

2.

a. During the early phases of the next war, it is not unlikely that this country will be on the defensive. Destruction of our war potential will be the first objective of a hostile country. We must be prepared to meet massed saturation attacks from every conceivable type of airborne weapon, as well as by concentrated attacks from very long range, highly destructive guided missiles launched from land, sea, or air platforms.

b. Planes will be armored, will fly at speeds up to 1000 miles per hour and will be able to bomb accurately in all kinds of weather and under all conditions of visibility from altitudes up to 60,000 feet, And to place accurately guided bombs on a ‘seen target.

c.   Improvement in the science and the means for conducting airborne and amphibious operations will make these the accepted rather than the excepted methods of operation during the next liar. This country must have the weapons and the other means to fend off attacks of this nature during the critical phase when we are mobilizing for offensive warfare.

3.

a.   The final phase will be a struggle for mastery on the battlefield. The infantry soldier, as in all past wars, will remain the primary agent for taking and holding ground. In this mission, he will be supported by greatly improved weapons of ground and air types. Super-heavy tanks, super-velocity highly mobile anti-tank guns and greatly improvedindividual anti-tank weapons of the bazooka or recoilless types, rocket weapons and improved weapons of the conventional artillery type, and guided anti-aircraft missiles will be among the weapons necessary to permit the infantry to advance without unnecessary losses.

b. As a means of presenting an actual picture to what is transpiring on the ground, ground units will be equipped with low speed, low performance aircraft carrying television sets.

c. Radar will be used to locate ground as well as air targets, to obtain firing data, to guide projectiles to the target and/or to explode them when they come within lethal distance of the target.

d. Electronic equipment will provide the ground force commander with a means of determining at all times the location of his units and supporting units, will provide means for identification, and will provide position-determining and homing devices for moving units.

e. The trend thus far has been toward the development of increasingly high speed aircraft. It is within the realm of possibility’ to visualize new types of aircraft for use by ground troops in supporting operations on the ground. Highly armored and heavily armed aircraft, subject to control from the ground, and capable of hovering in position which will enable an observer to see and to bring accurate tire on ground targets, could perform the role of flying artillery and flying tanks.

f. In addition to using the conventional types of troop-carrier aircraft, ground troops in the future will utilize small, slow moving and landing planes, for quick vertical envelopment by relatively small units. Planes of this type organic to ground force units will also be utilized extensively for battlefield supply and evacuation purposes.

4.

a. Armament is in the most fluid and progressive period of its long history. This fluidity will continue for the-foreseeable future.

b. Since for each weapon developed, there is eventually developed a counter weapon, it fallows that weapons are primarily offensive or primarily defensive. This, however, does not interfere with their use in a role opposed to that for which they were designed.

5. The Board has endeavored to foresee and to indicate trends for development, and, where possible to set up firm characteristics for weapons for the next war. It fully realizes the risks in such an attempt at long range, prediction. Progress must not be blocked by rigid adherence to any program which may become outmoded by advances in technological developments. To obviate this possibility it is recommended that this program be reviewed and revised where necessary, at least every five years.

6.

a. The normal instrument for accomplishing the mission of the Ground Forces on the battlefield is a force of, the combined arms and services, organized and equipped for a specific task. The tactical, development, and supp4r agencies must work together closely to the end that each task force of the future will be so trained and equipped that it can, accomplish its mission with the minimum unnecessary loss of human life. This objective will be attained if each task force is properly trained and has, at the proper time, equipment suitable for its mission, in adequate quantities, and substantially superior in quality to that of the enemy.

b. To provide, on the highest level, the integration of effort necessary to attain the objectives listed in the preceding paragraph, there should be established a unified Department of National Defense.

END OF SECTION I.