KV tank 1939. Photo by Wikimedia Commons
On December 19, 1939, the Defense Committee under the Council of People's Commissars of the USSR adopted Decree No. 443ss “On the Adoption of the Red Army tanks, armored vehicles, artillery tractors and their production in 1940. " In accordance with this document, several new models of equipment of a number of classes were adopted for arming and supplying the Red Army. Also, the decree determined the order of their production. In fact, Resolution No. 443cc set the direction for the development of the armored vehicles fleet for the next several years, including for the time that would become the time of World War II.
Sovnarkom decided to adopt the Red Army 11 new products. For the armored forces intended "heavy reservation tank" KV and medium T-34, made on the basis of the existing T-32. Before starting the series, they should have been finalized. They also adopted a BT tank with a V-2 diesel engine, a T-40 amphibious tank and a BA-11 armored car. To ensure the production of new tanks, the V-2 diesel was adopted.
Also, the ZiS-5 truck and the GAZ-61 car were intended for the troops. Tractors-artillery tractors “Voroshilovets”, ST-2 and STZ-5 developed by different plants were taken for supply.
Tanks of pre-war development. Leftmost - BT-7, right - modifications of the T-34 of the 1940s and 1941s. Photo: Wikimedia Commons
The decree had requirements to launch the production of new samples. They also adopted guidelines for various enterprises in the defense and automotive industries, which were to master the production of equipment and components for it. The production of new combat and auxiliary vehicles was required to be launched in the next 1940.
It is easy to notice that most of the listed samples remained in service until June 1941, and then were actively used in the fight against the Nazi invaders. Thus, the decision of the KO under SNK No. 443ss had a great impact on the defense capability of our country in that difficult period. Let us consider in more detail the main results of the decision in terms of production and operation of equipment.
In the context of tanks, the first thing to consider is the latest V-2 diesel engine. By the time of its adoption, five modifications were created for different tanks and combat vehicles. During the war, new options appeared with enhanced characteristics, and for the construction of armored vehicles made several tens of thousands of B-2s of all versions. After the war, the development of the structure continued, resulting in the appearance of a whole family of diesel engines. The later products of this line are still being manufactured and operated.
Fulfilling resolution No. 443ss, the Leningrad Kirov Plant in February 1940 launched the production of the KV heavy tank in its existing configuration. By the end of the year they managed to assemble 139 cars. In mid-1940, the documentation was handed over to the Chelyabinsk Tractor Plant, and at the beginning of the next year he released his first HF.
In accordance with the decree, the tank should be rearmament, replacing the L-11 gun with the F-32 product. Subsequently, new similar upgrades were carried out. The production of KV (KV-1) lasted until August 1942. For all the time the Red Army received approx. 3540 heavy tanks. This technique, having high characteristics, for a long time was a serious argument on the battlefield and made a significant contribution to the fight against the advancing enemy.
Work on improving the T-32 tank and creating a new T-34 took several months. March 31, 1940 there was an order to launch its production at the Kharkov Locomotive and Stalingrad Tractor Plants. The launch of the series was associated with numerous difficulties, but until the end of the year the Red Army received 115 new tanks. Already at the beginning of 1941, the situation changed dramatically, and every month more tanks left the assembly line than for the entire 1940th.
Heavy artillery tractor "Voroshilovets" at work. Photo: Bronetehnika.narod.ru
During World War II, medium tanks T-34 were produced by several plants. The design was constantly improved, deep modernization was carried out with a significant increase in performance. So, in 1942, Nizhny Tagil, Stalingrad, Gorky, Omsk, Chelyabinsk and Sverdlovsk gave the army 12,5 thousand tanks, and in 1943 - almost 15,7 thousand. Production of the T-34 continued until 1945. In total the difficulties of the army were transferred over 35 thousand cars. A successful combination of high combat and operational characteristics, quantity and tactics of use made the T-34, at least one of the best tanks of its time.
The BT-7M light tank with a V-2 diesel engine, also adopted by decree No. 443cc, turned out to be less successful and successful. The first such tanks were assembled already in 1939, and in 1940, by order of the Red Army, a series of 700 units was built. In parallel, made approx. 70 BT-7M tanks with the M-17T gasoline engine for the NKVD troops. In 1941, the BT-7M was not produced.
BT tanks of all modifications, including diesel BT-7M, were actively used in the initial period of the war. They could effectively solve the main combat missions, but opposing the enemy led to losses. In addition, over time, the obsolescence of the structure affected more and more. As a result, by the final stage of the Great Patriotic War, only small amounts of BTs of different versions remained in the troops, and often they were transferred to the training category.
STZ-5 on Red Square. Photo: Bronetehnika.narod.ru
The decree stipulated the release of a light floating tank T-40. Its production was entrusted to Moscow plant No. 37 with the beginning in 1940. A plan of 100 vehicles was set for the first year of production, but only 41 were handed over to the army. In the fall, it was possible to complete the modernization of production capacities, which led to an increase in production rates. However, already in the summer of 1941, plant No. 37 was ordered to curtail production of the T-40 to prepare for the production of a more advanced T-50. As a result, the company managed to build only 960 light tanks in about two years.
In the battles, the serial T-40s proved to be ambiguous. They coped well with the tasks of reconnaissance of enemy rear lines or of guarding convoys - for which they were created. However, the use of the front line as a means of supporting infantry often led to unjustified losses. Moreover, the initial period of the war with its deficit of armored vehicles forced the use of the T-40 precisely in non-optimal conditions. As a result, the floating tank quickly showed its shortcomings, and they began to replace it with other equipment of close classes.
The least successful model from the decree No. 443ss can be considered the armored car BA-11. It was created on the basis of the ZiS-6 cargo chassis and equipped with protection and weapons that meet the requirements of the Red Army. Tests of an experienced armored car took place in 1939, and in 1940 a small series started. Various problems led to a delay in work, and after the outbreak of war, production was canceled in favor of higher priority projects. In total, they managed to build 17 BA-11s. With all its advantages, such a small equipment could not significantly affect the course of battles.
Tractors and vehicles
At the very end of 1939, the KhPZ began assembling serial Voroshilovets heavy artillery tractors. The following year they entered a full-fledged series. Production in Kharkov continued until August 1941, when the production line was evacuated. By this time they managed to build 1120 tractors, and about 1000 were already in operation in the Red Army. After the evacuation of the plant, the production of tractors did not resume.
In accordance with the decree No. 443ss ChTZ received a task for the production of ST-2 tractors. Until the beginning of 1940 it was required to assemble 10 prototypes; in 1940 - 1500 serial. The work was faced with various problems, because of which the start of the supply of the army was delayed. In addition, the industry failed to meet customer requirements for the number of equipment.
The STZ-5 transport tractor has been in series since 1937, and at the end of 1939 it was adopted as a light artillery tractor. Thanks to this, the Stalingrad Tractor Plant was able to easily deploy equipment for the Red Army. Production of the STZ-5 continued until September 1942 and was stopped only in connection with the approach of the enemy to the manufacturer. In total, almost 9950 tractors were produced.
Together with the tractors, the ZiS-5 truck with two driving axles was adopted. The car of the three-ton class ZiS-5 in a number of modifications has been produced since the mid-thirties and was one of the main vehicles of the Red Army. Decree of the Council of People's Commissars No. 443ss ensured the further development of the fleet due to more advanced equipment. In total, several hundred thousand ZiS-5s of all modifications were built.
Staff car GAZ-61. Photo: Wroom.ru
Simultaneously with the truck, a GAZ-61 off-road passenger car was adopted. From 1940 to 1945, less than 240 of these machines were built. But they also made a significant contribution to the victory - this technique had the opportunity to carry the highest command of the Red Army. Light artillery tractors based on an SUV were also limitedly produced and used.
Artillery tractors, trucks and staff cars, adopted for service in December 1939, began their service in 1940 and remained in service until the very end of World War II. The equipment suffered losses, but the crews and mechanics did everything possible so that it continued to work, bringing victory closer.
It is easy to see that in the KO decree under the SNK No. 443ss, several samples of military and auxiliary equipment were mentioned at once, which were of particular importance for our army during the Great Patriotic War. Some of them not only received high marks, but also became symbols of future victory.
Thus, the decision of the Defense Committee under the Council of People's Commissars “On the Adoption of Tanks, Armored Vehicles, Artillery Trucks and Their Production in 1940 for the Red Army” was of particular importance for the development of our army’s fleet and predetermined a lot of further events. Fulfilling the instructions of the Council of People's Commissars was not easy, and far from all the plans were implemented. However, everything possible was done, and this became one of the prerequisites for our victory.