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Mr Wear continues with the notion that the Soviet Union was planning to attack western Europe in the summer of 1941. To do this he proposes the notion that the Soviet military forces of the 1930s were the best in the world. A previous article looked at the Soviet air-force and its so called mastery of the air. This was shown to be absolute rubbish here:

wearswarts.wordpress.com/2017/12/23/stalin-wanted-to-mount-a-massive-air-offensive-followed-by-an-assault-of-nearly-2-million-airborne-troops-just-not-in-1941/

So now we move on to the use of armour. Let’s see what Mr Wear has to say.

“Tanks were planned to be the spearhead for the Soviet offensive against Europe.”

Tanks were built to bring what was a primitive army post Revolution up to similar levels and standards as western armies. There was no plan to invade western Europe when these tanks were designed and built. Their construction did however conform to Soviet military doctrine…a doctrine of deep war where heavy units smashed the front line when lighter, faster tanks broke through and caused havoc in the enemy rear.

“Stalin built and mass-produced the best tanks in the world as he built Soviet industry.”

Indeed, certain tanks and certain aspects of Soviet tanks like suspension and weaponry were deemed as being excellent FOR THE 1930s. Unfortunately most Soviet tanks by the time of the late 1930s were seen to be out of date. Their actual use in battle, especially during the Finish war, was very disappointing in the main.

“The Red Army produced the T-28 tank in 1933. Not a single German, British, American, French, or Japanese tank from the 1930s could match the T-28 in terms of weapons, armor, engine power, or the ability to cross water barriers underwater.”

A late T-28E (upgraded with appliqué armor), available when the German invasion took place in June. 220th Armored Brigade, belonging to the 55th Infantry Division, summer of 1942

Firstly, I have seen no indication that the T-28 ever had the ability to travel short distances under water. Secondly, the original T-28 was proven to have incredibly weak armour, so much so that when it operated in the Finnish war, hundreds were knocked out resulting in the addition of extra armour to ensure vehicle safety. Relative to other Soviet tanks very few were actually built.

Of course, what the tank was like in 1933 had no relation to what the tank was like in 1941. In reality, the production of the T-28 was actually stopped in early 1941 when the Soviets started production on the iconic T-34.

“The Germans started producing the Pz-IVA, the most powerful German tank of the first half of World War II, at the end of 1937. The T-28 tank was superior to the German tank in all respects except one…”

…and so Mr Wear starts his demolition of one of the most successful German tanks of the Second World War…a tank which was still being built late into the war and was the mainstay of the German armored divisions.

Panzer IV Ausf.F1

The Pz-IVA was actually the earliest model of the series, with only a few actually ever being built. By the time we had reached 1941, the tank had gone through a variety of modifications. By 1941 the tank was now into the “F” series. This tank coped easily with the outdated T-28, T-26 and BT tanks. The first time the tank struggled was when it met the T 34 and the KV1 Soviet tanks. At that time, fortunately for the Germans, they found very few in number.

“Despite being outstanding in comparison with all foreign tanks, after the war Soviet historians and generals called the T-28 tank obsolete.”

The T-28 has never been considered “outstanding”. By June 1941, the tank was indeed considered obsolete. That is why the Soviets stopped building it in early 1941.

“On December 19, 1939, the Red Army introduced the T-34 tank.”

A T-34 Model 1940 of the Moscow Rifles Guard Battalion, summer 1941 (with the L-11 76 mm gun). This three-tone camouflage pattern was quite rare and only appears in a handful of photographs.

…but very few were available in June 1941 when the Germans attacked the Soviet Union. Individual tanks were met by the Germans through the summer and autumn of 1941 but there was no meeting of massed tank units until the approach to Moscow in November and December 1941. Only around 900 were available to the Soviets in June 1941.

“However, Suvorov shows that the Soviet Union had 1,400 T-34s at the time of invasion.”

Yet Mr Wear does not tell us how Suvorov arrives at that conclusion. Still, just because the Soviets had 1,400 T-34s available does not mean they were available on the western front. The main threat was perceived to have been the Japanese in the east. Most of the best troops and equipment were based there.

“During the second half of 1941, Soviet industry produced another 1,789 T-34 tanks. More importantly, in 1942 the Soviet Union produced 12,520 T-34 tanks, while in Germany the production of an analogous tank had not begun. The mass production of the T-34 provided the Soviet Union with major advantages over Germany in tank warfare during World War II.”

That would be AFTER the German invasion of the USSR then. The USSR increased its military output. So what?

“The German equivalent of the T-34 was the Panther….”

Panzer V Panther Ausf.D-1

Introduced in 1943. Nothing to do with June 1941. Still, it’s interesting how Mr Wear tries his best to denigrate what is considered one of the best all round tanks of the war.

“The Panther had design flaws compared to the T-34.”

The early Panthers did. However these flaws were soon ironed out. The Panther did use many innovations seen on the T-34. (sloping armour) and rapidly became a feared tank on the battlefield.

“With its dimensions and weight, the Panther was easier to hit, had weaker armor protection, and could not compete with the T-34 in anything related to mobility.”

It is quite obvious that neither Mr Wear nor Suvorov know their military vehicles.

“The Panther’s main flaw, however, was that its complex design made it unfit for mass production. Only 5,976 tanks of this model were produced during the war.”

The only reason for the relatively low numbers of Panther tanks in relation to the production of Allied tanks was the fact that the Allies were bombing German factories that were building them. It had nothing to do with issues regarding mass production.

“The Soviet Union was the first country in the world to produce a heavy tank. The first Soviet heavy tank, the T-35, was produced in series and entered the ranks of the troops in 1933.”

Actually only around 60 were ever built. They were known to be unreliable and lightly armoured. They were mainly seen on public display as a show to the people of Soviet might. Very few of them saw action and most simply broke down.

“Despite being in a class by itself compared to all other foreign tanks, Western and Soviet historians declared the T-35 tank to be obsolete and did not mention it in statistics.”

Indeed. That is because…it was obsolete and not a very good tank.

“The T-35 tank was replaced by the KV-1 and KV-2 heavy tanks…”

KV-1 model 1939 with welded turret. Central front, summer 1941.

Far superior to previous Soviet heavy tanks like the T-35  but also not seen in great numbers on the battlefield in June 1941. Around 530 were on the front line at that time.

“The KV later turned into the IS-1 and then the IS-2, the most powerful tank of World War II.”

Just not available in June 1941.

“The German failure to design a good tank for mass production inevitably led to defeat in World War II.”

Seriously Mr Wear? The fact is that it was allied bombing of German factories that put a cap on military output. The Germans as well as the Soviets produced some of the most feared and respected tanks of the war. The Soviets simply made more of them.

“The German invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941 resulted in the destruction or abandonment of thousands of Soviet tanks. The Communist historians explained this catastrophe very simply: the tanks were obsolete and therefore useless.”

That…and the fact that the Germans had more experienced crews, better systems of communications and a more experienced leadership. Soviet equipment in 1941 was in the main out of date and in many cases simply not fit for combat.

“The “obsolete” Soviet medium T-28 and heavy T-35 tanks far surpassed every other tank outside of the Soviet Union.”

“Not in June 1941 they didn’t. Neither were there enough of them to hinder the German Blitzkrieg.

“The Soviet T-34 tank is widely regarded as one of the best tanks of all time. The Soviet KV tank was the most powerful tank in the world during the first half of World War II.”

But none of them were available in the numbers needed to push back a German invasion…nor carry out any mythical Soviet invasion in June 1941.

“The Soviet Union also built an entire family of BT tanks—the BT-2, BT-5, BT-7, BT-7A, and BT-7M.”

BT-2 of the reserve force, 1940

Camouflaged BT-5 model 1934 of an unknown unit, summer 1941

BT-7 model 1938, invasion of Iran, summer 1941

BT-7A, an infantry support variant equipped with a modified T-28 turret and 75 mm (2.95 in) short barreled howitzer.

All light tanks designed as reconnaissance vehicles and hit and run vehicles meant to hinder the enemy deep behind their lines. This conformed to military doctrine in several countries in the 1920s and 30s.

“The BT tanks were well designed, heavily armed for their times, had standard bullet-proof armor, and used a diesel engine which made the tanks far less vulnerable to fires.”

No they weren’t. The BT-2 armour was weak…barely stopping a bullet. It was certainly possible to set a BT-5 on fire with a Molotov cocktail. The BT-7 was a better tank but it suffered horrendous losses against the Germans. The only advantage these tanks had was speed.

“The disadvantage of BT tanks is that they could only be used in aggressive warfare on good roads such as the autobahn in Germany.”

Except that tanks like the BT-2 and BT-5 were designed and built BEFORE  the autobahns in Germany had been built. The BT-7 came out in 1935, the same year as only the very first part of the German autobahn system was opened…a 14 mile stretch!

It appears the Soviets could see into the future.

“The Soviet Union also built an outstanding family of amphibious tanks: the T-37A, T-38, and T-40.”

T-37A of the 172nd Reconnaissance Separate Battalion attached to the 142nd Rifle Division. It has prewar unit markings denoting a tank from the 2nd company/1st battalion. Northern front, July 1941.

Pre-war standard T-38, unknown unit, 1938.

T-40 of a composite brigade in the summer of 1941.

Little more than amphibious machine-gun carriers.  They were used for reconnaissance and infantry support. The T-40 was rarely seen as so few were built. The other vehicles were decimated by the Germans in 1941.

“When Germany invaded the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941, it had a total of 3,350 tanks on the Eastern Front, all of them inferior to the Soviet tanks and none of them amphibious.”

Wrong. So Wrong. As history showed us.

“The Soviet amphibious tanks in 1941 became unnecessary and played no role in the war.”

They did…and were wiped out.

“But the question remains: Why were the amphibious tanks developed and built? Why did Stalin need 4,000 amphibious tanks which could not be used in a defensive war?”

Simply because they suited Soviet military doctrine of the time.

All information on Soviet and German tanks come from

http://www.tanks-encyclopedia.com/

Pictures are from the  1941 period (Panther: 1943) or as near as possible to that year.

Conclusion

Had Stalin being planning on an invasion of western Europe he would have made sure that his best tanks would have been available in massive numbers. In June 1941, those tanks only existed in very small numbers. Most tanks available in numbers were out of date or in poor mechanical order. Poor training, morale, communications and leadership also added to Soviet problems. The Soviets were no where ready for any invasion.

The Germans were.

 

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