Military Review

Victory Technologies: Automatic Welding of Tank Corps

37

Automatic bead welding machine tank T-34 with a bottom at the Nizhny Tagil plant No. 183. Source: Russian State Archive of Economics


Taming armor


One of the main problems in the production of hulls and towers of T-34 medium tanks was crack formation in the places of welding of parts. It's all about the high hardness of the 8C armor, when small tears or microcracks form near the weld. The presence of residual stresses after welding for the first time after the production of the armored vehicle did not make itself felt, but over time it came out cracks up to 500 mm long. All this, of course, reduced the impact resistance of tank armor. To solve this problem, immediately after organizing the production of evacuated enterprises, in the second half of 1942, specialists from the Armored Institute (TsNII-48) and the Institute of Electric Welding of the USSR Academy of Sciences were involved. Research was carried out at two enterprises: the Ural Tank Plant No. 183 in Nizhny Tagil and the Ural Heavy Engineering Plant in Sverdlovsk. In total, from July to October, metallurgists and material scientists studied crack formation during welding of about 9500 armor parts. The aim of the study was to find the most optimal chemical composition of the 8C armor. It turned out that the most important component in the armor in this situation was carbon. If its content in the armor was more than 0,25%, the hardness of the hardened zone in the weld area increased sharply, which inevitably led to cracking.

Victory Technologies: Automatic Welding of Tank Corps

Installation for automatic submerged arc welding of the T-34-85 tank body. Plant number 183, 1944. Source: Russian State Archive of Economics

But to ensure such a low carbon content in armored steel in peacetime was not easy, but in wartime it generally seemed impossible. Small “cosmetic” changes in the welding cycle through the use of austenitic electrodes, a multi-roll weld system and low knot tempering after welding made it possible to raise the upper limit of carbon content to only 0,28%. By the way, in the German tank industry they did not hear about such serious requirements for tank armor - on average, the proportion of carbon was in the range of 0,4-0,5%. The solution to the problem of the appearance of cracks in the welding area was the preliminary heating of parts to 150-200 degrees Celsius with subsequent slow cooling of parts after welding to 100 degrees for 30 minutes. For this purpose, special inductors were developed at the Armor Institute that provide local heating of the armor parts in the gas cutting zone or in the weld. At the Ural Heavy Engineering Plant, inductors were used to weld the joint of the frontal part with the sides and the roof, as well as when cutting the balancing holes in the hardened side parts of the tanks. Thus, the problem of cracking during welding of medium-carbon armor plates was solved. Over time, the practice of the Sverdlovsk plant was extended to other tank plants.

Welding machines


In July 1941, by order of the Council of People's Commissars, the Institute of Electric Welding of the USSR Academy of Sciences was evacuated to Nizhny Tagil. That is why the Uralvagonzavod was first introduced automatic arc welding of tank hulls under flux. Of course, this technology was known before, but the group of academician Evgeny Oskarovich Paton and the staff of the Central Research Institute-48 were able to adapt it for welding armored steels. One of the outstanding scientists who contributed to the development of armored welding was Vladimir Ivanovich Dyatlov. He, together with employees of the Komintern Kharkov Plant, solved the problem of cracking in the armor during welding by introducing low-carbon wire into the weld pool (more on this below). In 1942, the scientist, the first in the world, discovered the phenomenon of self-regulation of arc processes with a melting electrode, which made it possible to significantly simplify the design of the feed mechanisms of welding machines. Also, due to this, it was possible to create relatively simple single-motor welding heads, more reliable and cheaper. Without Dyatlov, it would not have been possible to create efficient fluxes based on slag from blast-furnace charcoal furnaces of the Ashinsky Metallurgical Plant, which were called “ShA slag fluxes”. Since October 1943, the scientist headed the laboratory of the welding Uralvagonzavod and stayed in this position until 1944, until he was transferred to the Central Research Institute of Shipbuilding Technologies.

But back to the legendary T-34, which would never have become such a massive tank, if not for the automatic welding of its armored hulls (towers) at plants No. 183 and UZTM. The use of automatic welding machines made it possible to reduce welding time by 3–6,5 times. At the same time, at least 40 linear meters of welding seams were used for each tank corps.


Academician Eugene Oskarovich Paton. Source: patom.kiev.ua

In addition to the T-34, welding of Academician Paton was used at the armored hull factory No. 200 in Chelyabinsk. With its help, the bottom of the KV tank hull was cooked, which in total was about 15 linear meters of seam per machine. It is also important that automation of armor welding made it possible to attract low-skilled workers to production - welding masters throughout the war were chronically lacking. Since July 1942, a unique tank conveyor has been operating in Nizhny Tagil in which 19 automatic submerged arc welding units operated. Evaluate the scale of the innovation - this allowed to release 280 high-quality welders for other works, replacing them with 57 low-skilled workers. Academician Yevgeny Oskarovich Paton himself, in a memo addressed to the secretary of the tank industry department of the Sverdlovsk regional committee of the CPSU (B.) In March 1942, spoke about the effectiveness of the introduction of automatic welding (quote from N. Melnikov's book “Tank Industry of the USSR during the Great Patriotic War”):

“Due to the high productivity of high-speed automatic welding under flux layers, the terms for welding bodies will be noticeably reduced, and the consumption of labor, electricity and electrode wire will decrease.”

A comparison of the time spent on manual and automated welding can be found in the archives of the exhibition complex of OAO NPK Uralvagonzavod. In accordance with them, for welding, for example, the overhead sector of the T-34 tower, the welder takes a little more than five hours, and automatic welding cope with this in just 40 minutes. The joints of the bottom using manual welding are boiled in three hours, and in automatic mode - in one hour.

Fight for a seam


It cannot be said that automatic welding machines appeared overnight at assembly plants of the Soviet tank industry. Firstly, the share of manual welding was still very high in the production of armored products, and secondly, at first, with the technology itself, not everything was smooth. It was not possible to give the weld the necessary level of ductility - after cooling, it became hard and brittle. This, of course, most negatively affected the projectile resistance of the armor. After analyzing the reasons, it turned out that it was all about exceeding the penetration depth of the welded metal, mixing the metal of the wire with the base metal and significant alloying of the weld metal. Groups from TsNII-48 under the leadership of I. F. Sribny and from the Institute of Welding, headed by V. I. Dyatlov, mentioned above, proposed and tested the following methods of welding the “rebellious” armor 8C and 2P. First of all, this is multi-pass welding, when the machine connects the parts to be welded in several steps. This ensures a small penetration of the joints and the formation of a durable and ductile seam. It is clear that this technique is not the most effective in wartime conditions: nevertheless, multi-pass welding requires a lot of time compared to single-pass.


Installation for automatic submerged arc welding of the roof of the T-34-85 tank tower. Plant No. 112 "Red Sormovo", 1945. Source: Russian State Archive of Economics

The second method from the Central Research Institute-48 and the Institute of Welding was laying wire from mild steel in the cutting of joints to reduce the “fusion” of the armor metal. As a result, the seam after cooling became more plastic, the wire seriously reduced the temperature inside the seam but also doubled the productivity of welding machines. This turned out to be the most effective technique, which was later even improved. A new method of welding "in two wires", in which a second (filler) wire, not connected to a current source, was fed into the seam bath at an angle to the electrode wire. The supply and diameter of the second wire was calculated so that the amount of metal deposited from it was equal to the amount of metal from the deposited electrode wire, that is, the diameter of the second wire should be equal to the diameter of the electrode wire and their feed speed should be the same. However, due to the need to convert the automatic heads from feeding one wire to feeding two, the implementation of this method was postponed and it was replaced by a method with bar stocking. Nevertheless, already in June – July 1942, this method was applied at factory No. 183 when welding a batch of lower sheets of the nose of the tank’s hull with nasal beams.


Installation for automatic submerged arc welding of the roof of a T-34-85 tank tower at Nizhny Tagil plant No. 183. 1944 year. Source: Russian State Archive of Economics

Difficulties with the automation of the welding of tank corps (towers) were also organizational plan. It is worth remembering that never before welding machines were not assembled in series and were, in fact, products of the pilot production of the Institute of Welding. This explains some slowness in the development of new technologies in the tank industry. So, by the end of 1942, there were only 30 to 35 automatic welding machines at the tank factories, which, naturally, were not enough. Therefore, the People's Commissar I.M. Zaltsman ordered by order No. 200c dated March 28, 1943 to order at the factory No. 183 additionally 7 automatic welding units by mid-May, 1 automatic machines in the Ural Heavy Engineering Plant until June 8 and demanded 15 units to be delivered to the Chelyabinsk plant by June 5 No. 200. This step was one of many that allowed the domestic tank industry to reach the planned production figures for the much-needed front of tracked armored vehicles.

To be continued ...
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  1. Uncle lee
    Uncle lee 17 March 2020 06: 13 New
    +12
    Our grandfathers were brainy! hi
    1. Bar1
      Bar1 17 March 2020 07: 57 New
      +15
      you need to somehow tell readers who discovered the method of joining metal samples by welding.
      These were two Russian inventors.
      -Benardos N.N.
      -Slavyanov N.G.
      in 1881
      https://ru.wikipedia.org/wiki/Сварка
      1. AK1972
        AK1972 17 March 2020 12: 42 New
        +5
        Bravo, Timur! But the Swedes believe that it was their Kelberg, although he simply patented the coated electrode, invented by N.N. Benardos.
  2. Same lech
    Same lech 17 March 2020 06: 34 New
    +11
    The working conditions of the hard workers were terrible ... look what workshops were ... working in sub-zero temperatures and giving a plan ... it was really labor heroism for those years.
    1. Blacksmith 55
      Blacksmith 55 17 March 2020 10: 15 New
      +16
      It disturbs me when I hear or read the word "hard workers." There is a normal word WORKER.

      Indeed, the titanic labor of workers and engineers who began production not only of tanks, but of all other equipment for the front, broke the back of the Nazi army.
      1. Operator
        Operator 17 March 2020 17: 05 New
        -1
        Which, damn it, workers are engineers and technologists under the direction of Dyatlov (and not Paton, by the way) plus welding machines.
  3. rocket757
    rocket757 17 March 2020 07: 06 New
    +4
    Great things, real technological breakthroughs were made by our scientists, our engineers ...
    Everything for the Country, everything for victory.
    1. Reptiloid
      Reptiloid 17 March 2020 08: 38 New
      +3
      All for Victory! I read about the work in aircraft factories during the Second World War scientist Keldysh. They solved the problem of vibration, for which later awards were awarded. In 1942, the Stalin Prize was jointly with another scientist, Grossman. A year later, the Order of the Red Banner of Labor.
      1. rocket757
        rocket757 17 March 2020 08: 52 New
        +3
        By the way, to the question of awards ... then they were not given in vain .... almost, to be precise.
        People worked, did great things ... not for awards, but for their country, for their people!
        1. Reptiloid
          Reptiloid 17 March 2020 09: 21 New
          +4
          Yes, everyone in their jobs tried for Victory, for the country.
          There were also discoveries of our scientists during the Second World War in medicine, about which there were articles.
          Remembered! Also, there were results for the prevention of influenza. ...
        2. Mikhail3
          Mikhail3 18 March 2020 16: 54 New
          +2
          About the awards. You see, you think that the reward is something like you to me - I tell you. You work for me, I’m your order. Actually, the award is, firstly, a sign that the state sees you and appreciates your work. Not a barter equivalent. And secondly, this is for the rest - look, this man is marked with a sign of valor!
      2. Aviator_
        Aviator_ 17 March 2020 18: 56 New
        +3
        It was not just vibration - it was flutter when the elasticity of the structure and high-speed air pressure lead to explosive destruction of the machine. A limited number of test pilots managed to land the device on the ground after the start of the flutter, usually the plane simply collapsed.
        1. Reptiloid
          Reptiloid 17 March 2020 19: 03 New
          +1
          Thank you for the addition. good hi I did not dare to retell in my own words, I read for a long time, for this were the first Stalinist and the first Order of the Red Banner of Labor
  4. Dedok
    Dedok 17 March 2020 07: 26 New
    +3
    Quote: The same Lech
    The working conditions of the hard workers were terrible ... look what workshops were ... working in sub-zero temperatures and giving a plan ... it was really labor heroism for those years.

    m-daaaa
    The question was about survival, not about working conditions.
    1. Mordvin 3
      Mordvin 3 17 March 2020 07: 42 New
      +5
      Quote: Dedok
      The question was about survival, not about working conditions.

      Well, that means we still survive somewhere.
  5. Undecim
    Undecim 17 March 2020 08: 11 New
    +10
    In July 1941, by order of the Council of People's Commissars, the Institute of Electric Welding of the USSR Academy of Sciences was evacuated to Nizhny Tagil.
    The Electric Welding Institute of the USSR Academy of Sciences did not exist. Until 1991, the Institute of Electric Welding of the Academy of Sciences of the Ukrainian SSR existed, created in 1934 on the basis of the welding laboratory of the Electric Welding Committee and the Department of Engineering Structures of the Kiev Polytechnic Institute.
    E.O. Paton proposed to evacuate the Institute of Electric Welding in Nizhny Tagil to Uralvagonzavod, since this factory had accumulated experience in the use of automatic welding, there was a large welding laboratory with a staff of qualified specialists, and there was a production base for the production of welding equipment and welding materials.
    Automatic submerged arc welding was used not only in the tank industry. The Institute introduced automatic welding in other factories. With the help of high-speed automatic submerged arc welding, in-line production of high-explosive bombs, rockets for Katyushas, ​​and also many other types of weapons and ammunition was organized.
  6. Dedok
    Dedok 17 March 2020 08: 16 New
    0
    Quote: mordvin xnumx
    Quote: Dedok
    The question was about survival, not about working conditions.

    Well, that means we still survive somewhere.

    yes - no, now we agree with this:
    - there is a feeder with sausage,
    - there is a “box”,
    - sofa "darling" is standing, waiting ....
    and as it was wisely said - "what else is needed to meet old age?"
  7. Olgovich
    Olgovich 17 March 2020 08: 34 New
    +4
    academician welding Paton

    Evgeny Oskarovich Paton, a great Russian engineer, scientist and teacher, was born in 1870 in a family of b. military engineer captain of the life guard Horse Pioneer Division.

    Professor and teacher in Imperial Moscow Engineering School of the Ministry of Railways и Kiev Polytechnic Institute of Emperor Alexander II

    In addition to welding, he worked in the field of bridge construction (theory calculation and design of riveted bridges) and structural mechanics

    Paton, 1910 g
    1. AK1972
      AK1972 17 March 2020 12: 49 New
      +3
      Quote: Olgovich
      In addition to welding, he worked in the field of bridge building

      Entering Kiev from Chernigov, you will certainly pass along the welded "Paton Bridge", all of whose seams are made by automatic welding.
    2. Looking for
      Looking for 17 March 2020 13: 27 New
      -6
      .without the USSR, he would be an ordinary engineer.
      1. Alexey Z
        Alexey Z 20 March 2020 18: 47 New
        0
        It is interesting, but who in the USSR would be the "academician" of Kadyrov?
  8. 123456789
    123456789 17 March 2020 09: 30 New
    +2
    But back to the legendary T-34, which would never have become such a massive tank, if not for the automatic welding of its armored hulls (towers) at plants No. 183 and UZTM. [b] The use of automatic welding machines reduced welding time by 3-6,5 times. [/ B] At the same time, at least 40 linear meters of welding seams were used for each tank corps.

    Well, here we begin to "dig" to the root causes of the Victory! Of course, not the only, but certainly one of the indigenous! It would be nice to summarize them all at the end of the series of articles. Useful for the future.
  9. Undecim
    Undecim 17 March 2020 10: 06 New
    +8
    But to ensure such a low carbon content in armored steel in peacetime was not easy, but in wartime it generally seemed impossible.
    Steel was cooked in small open-hearth furnaces with acidic hearth: either a monoprocess of pure charcoal iron, or a duplex process (main + sour furnace) from ordinary coke iron. A monoprocess on high-performance large open hearths with the main hearth was considered impossible because of the strict requirements for the chemical composition of steel .. Since there was not much charcoal in the USSR, the duplex process dominated. Nevertheless, in the case of wartime, a number of pilot melts were carried out in the main furnaces at the Izhora, Mariupol and Kulebak plants in 1936-1940. The accumulated experience turned out to be enough for the transition to work as the main process in the first months of the war at the Magnitogorsk Iron and Steel Works (on the initiative and under the guidance of scientists of NII-48). The first heat was obtained on July 23. In September, the main open-hearth furnace of high power at the Kuznetsk Metallurgical Plant issued armored steel. In October, by order of the People's Commissar of Ferrous Metallurgy, the entire production of armored steel grades in the USSR was transferred to the main process. Bottom line: the performance of existing units has almost doubled.
    By the way, in the German tank industry they did not hear about such serious requirements for tank armor - on average, the proportion of carbon was in the range of 0,4-0,5%.
    Such a carbon content in German armor steels is determined not by “frivolous” requirements for armor, but by a different production technology and a different set of alloying additives.
  10. Irbenwolf
    Irbenwolf 17 March 2020 13: 45 New
    0
    but over time it came out cracks up to 500 mm long.

    Long half a meter(!) truth ?!!!

    Definitely not a guardian?
    1. Yamato1980
      Yamato1980 18 March 2020 09: 16 New
      +1
      No Unfortunately. On archived photos of wrecked tanks, such cracks quite often meet.
  11. Mikhail Drabkin
    Mikhail Drabkin 17 March 2020 14: 36 New
    +4
    Thanks to the author for an interesting and well-written article! I look forward to continuing.
    Author +++
  12. maksbazhin
    maksbazhin 17 March 2020 14: 58 New
    +2
    It is interesting how in those days the percentage of alloying elements and carbon was determined, and even at different depths of the metal, how much time is needed for some experiments. Respect for scientists.
  13. Operator
    Operator 17 March 2020 17: 09 New
    0
    Who knows how the Germans got out with welding their high-carbon armor steel?
  14. dgonni
    dgonni 17 March 2020 20: 08 New
    +2
    There is such a saying. Laziness is the engine of progress. And if the case. It was precisely the lack of competent welders in the required numbers that forced me to look for an alternative that was found in the form of automatic welding machines.
    In the same Germany they knew about such machines. But they did not see the need for them. Since the general technical level of workers was an order of magnitude higher. Well, the technology and welding technique was different.
    If anyone thinks that they’ve not grown to such technologies, then this is not a true view of things. They reached the control of fluoroscopy of welds in the submarines of the last series. And after fluoroscopy under pressure, hull structures were not tested! The same with sectional assembly and saturation of sections to all before docking.
    Respect for our engineers for solving a non-trivial task. For they made a significant contribution to victory in a total war.
    That de Stalin in a solemn speech in honor of the victory said a meaningful phrase. We won with steel!
    1. Elturisto
      Elturisto 18 March 2020 10: 19 New
      -3
      Oh, another witness of the German genius ... Logic is on the verge of fiction, where does the submarine’s hull generally exist? Are there other types of steels used there. Soviet engineers established mass production that surpassed the German one both quantitatively and qualitatively. This is all you need to know to the fascist propagandist ...
  15. Elturisto
    Elturisto 18 March 2020 10: 14 New
    +1
    Excellent article. Thanks to the author. This article is once again confirms the thesis-Soviet Engineering School has surpassed the capitalist-fascist.
  16. ser56
    ser56 18 March 2020 17: 11 New
    0
    Interesting ... There are memoirs of Academician Paton - very interesting, I read, though a long time ago ...
    1. beeper
      beeper 21 March 2020 21: 18 New
      0
      hi Yes there the whole Institute of Electric Welding named after E.O.Paton, with its advanced world-class achievements, is very interesting! good
      Such hardware exhibits operating in the institute museum were a sight for sore eyes and an object of envy for all techies (I don’t know how it is now, after many decades of "nezalezhnitsky" driban everything and everything was under the Union)!
      But from the outlandish Patonian splendor (literally from the deep sea to the cosmic heights!), I honestly admit that I was most struck by the miniature gas-powered welding apparatus based on electrolysis of water ... later I saw a similar apparatus in our Soviet magazine Modelist-Constructor. yes
      If the Kiev Museum of the Institute is still not stolen, “decommunized” and preserved in all its technical glory, then excursions to it, at affordable ticket prices, could become very popular with domestic and foreign residents, and be a visual “live advertisement” in promotion world-class first-class Paton products!
      I remember funnyly the original notion of Paton’s, sensitively (at the level of "dog reflexes" by Professor Pavlov smile ) protecting the exhibits from too curious visitors who like to “touch and twist everything with their own hands” (I, too, despite the warning, it was hard to resist this, looking at such delightful welding devices and tools that do not leave indifferent any of the professionals winked )! wink
  17. Alexey Z
    Alexey Z 20 March 2020 18: 49 New
    +1
    But now there are new academics, "academician Kadyrov" for example.
  18. Petrol cutter
    Petrol cutter 25 March 2020 22: 38 New
    +1
    "It's all about the high hardness of the 8C armor, when small tears or microcracks form near the weld"
    In common people, this is called undercutting. As a rule, they are formed due to improperly selected current / insufficient qualifications of welders. This is observed to this day, for example, with us, shipbuilders.
    . "First of all, this is multi-pass welding, when the machine connects the parts to be welded in a few steps. This ensures a small penetration of the joints and the formation of a strong and ductile weld."
    For such thicknesses, the same applies to the joints of the submarines the most optimal of the methods I know.
    Comrade Paton! Arch is a respected figure in welding circles. It is unfortunate that his merits are assigned to the purely unitary state of UA. Today.
  19. Petrol cutter
    Petrol cutter 25 March 2020 23: 22 New
    +1
    However, you must add a fly in the ointment in a barrel of honey.
    Automata are certainly good on planar, geometrically regular structures.
    On "zagogugulins" without options, the welder will sculpt manually.
    "Handbrake" whether, "semi-automatic" whether. And how professionally he brews, that's how armor will be strong and our tanks are fast.
    There are a lot of welders (including me), and there are only a few serious professionals. I won’t even compete with these guys ....
    Serious guys cook so that the soul rejoices!
    You look at the ceiling, this is not a seam, this is a poem!
  20. geologist
    geologist 26 March 2020 17: 01 New
    0
    Paton was born in Nice, and studied in Germany - Dresden. At the end of the institute, he designed a bridge and a railway station in Germany. Ahead was a brilliant career in Europe, but he preferred Russia, which he loved immeasurably. He possessed an extraordinary simply mystical intuition and therefore it was no coincidence that the day before the war he turned out to be in the Urals as a harbinger of the miraculous salvation of our Motherland at the expense of a backup industrial area .. If he had stayed in Germany, then German tanks would have cooked it with automatic welding machines. Even the Americans created a similar technology based on Russian workflows, and the Germans simply would not have had the time, even if they wanted to. In Europe, in my opinion, in the 30s there was even a legislative ban on welding after the collapse of several bridges.