Direct work on tanks began in the second half of the 1920s at three engineering plants in secret workshops. After the Nazi party came to power, the process went much more intensively.
The beginning of the second stage coincided, in fact, with the transformation of the Reichswehr into the Wehrmacht. In tank building, the customer was Oberkommando des Heeres (General Command of the Ground Forces, OKN). According to the rules adopted at that time, the design, delivery of orders, acceptance weapons, ammunition and military equipment, development of plans for the mat. providing your own production program. Regulatory functions were vested in the Waffenamt (Armaments Department), which included acceptance, design, and WaPruf-6 (testing), engineering and inspection departments. The Armaments Directorate was supposed to finance the tank industry, and also to transfer the purchased units, assemblies, corps, towers, motors, transmissions, armament, optical instruments, radio and electrical equipment to tank collecting enterprises.
By the end of the 1930s. German tank building was under the jurisdiction of at least nine large concerns that were engaged in the supply of armored hulls and tanks. They controlled 32 businesses owned by 27 different companies. It is characteristic that these firms specialized in several areas at once. For example, out of eight Daimler-Benz enterprises, only one was engaged in the production of tanks. The other four were engaged in car manufacturing three more - aviation motors. During the war years, the situation practically did not change.
Workshop for the production of gun barrels of the German factory Rheinmetall-Borzing (Rheinmetall-Borsig) on the eve of the war
The beginning of the third and, probably, the most interesting period is 1940 year. The Second World War, which unfolded in Europe, demanded adjustments in industry. The formation of new parts suffered greatly from a lack of equipment and weapons. Production of tanks lagged behind the needs of the Wehrmacht in them. Yes, it probably could not have been otherwise, since the mobilization of the economy was limited. Moreover, almost all areas of the economy used a rather peculiar way: they switched endlessly from the release of one product to another. At the same time, planning, as a rule, was adjusted to the priorities of military-strategic measures. In addition, it was necessary to urgently solve many other organizational issues related to improving the efficiency of the use of production capacity, labor productivity and the redistribution of labor forces.
A way out of this situation was found. 17 March 1940 created the Reichsministerium die Waffe und Munition (Special Imperial Ministry of Arms and Ammunition), headed by engineer F. Todt. He is better known to Russian readers as the founder and leader of the national construction organization Todt. It was thanks to his efforts that the famous Reichsautobans were built. The same energy pressure was probably necessary in the military industry. However, Todt soon died in a plane crash.
After him, the ministry was headed by an equally talented organizer - architect Speer. In a rather short period of two years, Speer managed to increase the production of armored vehicles three times. Therefore, it is not surprising that the time of his leadership of the ministry is often called the “era of Speer.”
The German tanks Pz.Kpfw. V Ausf. D "Panther" and Pz.Kpfw. VI ausf.H "Tiger" in the courtyard of the plant of the company "Henschel"
Now the Ministry of Arms and Ammunition was engaged in supply planning, issuing orders, and managing experimental work through the commander in chief of tank construction. The scrupulousness of the approach can be judged by the structural subdivisions of the main committee: the production and repair of tanks, the design and supervision of production, the improvement of armor, the manufacture of lightly armored vehicles, engines, supplies, and others.
Consider the new scheme of "birth" of armored vehicles. The General Staff of the ground forces, taking into account the wishes of practitioners from the front-line units, gave an approximate tactical and technical task to the weapons control (the General Staff also determined the necessary amount of equipment). In WaPruf-6, the task was worked out in detail, after which it was transferred to the commander-in-chief for tank construction, who, in turn, selected two or three design companies. A special commission consisting of representatives of stakeholders studied the finished projects from which the best was chosen. The design office that submitted the selected project was designated as the lead for this design, although the enterprise itself could not receive an order for the serial production of its own offspring.
Prototypes were subjected to a comprehensive run-in at the Kummersdorf Central Test Site, located near Berlin. Also, tests were conducted in the branches of the landfill: at the mountain testing site in Thuringia, as well as in the Tyrolean Alps at the so-called snow training ground. And only after that the question of the transfer of a self-propelled unit or tank to the stream was decided. The total output was determined by the high command of the German army. The distribution of orders among factories and firms was carried out by the Ministry of Arms and Ammunition. Armored vehicles in the ministry were in charge of the main tank production group. If the plan for the production of tanks was more or less stable, then the programs for the production of towers, logging for self-propelled guns and armored hulls, which were also drafted for a year, could be repeatedly adjusted.
The “geography” of Germany’s tank building was mainly determined by strategic considerations. Production facilities to reduce their vulnerability to aerial bombardments were deliberately dispersed. The principle of duplication of deliveries of main units and nodes from various enterprises was also taken into account.
It should be noted that as far as such cooperation was developed, it was just as complicated. For example, for the production of "Panther" 136 subcontractors were involved. The cases were supplied by 6 factories, towers - 5, gearboxes - 3, engines - 2, tracks - 4, optics - 1, weapons - 1, forgings - 15, steel - castings - 14, the rest - finished parts, assemblies and fasteners.
Workshop for the assembly of German medium tanks Pz.Kpfw. III
In connection with the successes that emerged from the results of the first year of the campaign against the Soviet Union, there was a trend towards the movement of Germany’s tank building to the East. A special commission for the production of tanks and spare parts in December 41 year studied the possibility of attracting the industry of occupied Ukraine for their own needs. Excellent prospects for the production of armored tanks opened at the Mariupol plant them. Ilyich captured by the Germans. However, the rapidly changing situation on the German-Soviet front in the region did not allow to realize these far-reaching plans. And after the Wehrmacht suffered defeat on the Volga and Kursk, stopped the production of tank units, even in Poland and Silesia.
From the second half of 43, large tank factories located in Germany became the target of attacks by Allied aviation. For example, until the end of the year, Daimler-Benz production facilities located in Berlin were bombed three times. In 44, MAN's plants were added to them, as well as almost all the enterprises located in the Rhine-Westphalian industrial area and engaged in the production of armored corpses.
In order to avoid failures in the well-established system of tank building, part of orders for important units and parts had to be transferred to small manufacturers. At the large enterprises, however, they began to move some workshops, groups of machine tools together with the personnel to safe places, as well as ... underground. So, for example, in September 44 of the year, almost half of the Daimler-Benz structural divisions, which specialized in the production of control mechanisms, the underside of the box and chassis for the Panther, relocated to the small towns of Falkensee near Berlin, Fitz near Kustrin, Kzeritz in Pomerania, Teltows, Overaprausnitsy in the Sudetenland, and even in the wine cellar of the Deulivag company We considered the placement of production equipment in the potash mines, in the former fortifications in Czechoslovakia, in caves ...
Tank Pz IV was an example of a fairly successful design. Its production at the Reich plants continued until the end of the war. This photo shows a tank of modifications H, which was tested at the Kummersdorf test site in 1944.
The measures taken to shift production, naturally, did not contribute to the realization of the advantages of modern mass-flow production, but only increased the already intense traffic flows. Despite this, Speer presented these circumstances as a virtue, saying that "German arms production does not accept the conveyor method of the USA and the USSR, but relies mainly on skilled German labor." Although it was the absence of large enterprises that did not allow German tank building to withstand competition with the tank building of the countries of the anti-fascist coalition. German serial armor was divided into several groups according to steel grade and thickness. Along with heterogeneous, more homogenous armor was produced. According to the production technology, armor plates were divided into surface-hardened bronelists and uniformly hardened. After the loss of the Nikopol basin, manganese supply to Germany decreased. Nickel was delivered only from the north of Finland.
The result of the constant lack of alloying elements was the deterioration in the quality of serial armor. For example, the front sheets of the Royal Tiger and Panther corps were quite often simply cracked after being hit by Soviet 122- and even 100-mm armor-piercing shells. To get out of this situation, protective screens were hung, increasing the thickness and angles of inclination of the armor plates. Among the armor grades of steels that have a reduced durability of structural material, with satisfactory projectile resistance have not been found.
Now a few words about the contribution of tank construction of the occupied countries to the completion of the fleet of Wehrmacht armored vehicles. About Hungary and Italy will be discussed separately, since these countries were satellites of Germany and armed mostly with their own armies. At the same time, Italian enterprises carried out some limited orders for the German armed forces. Tank enterprises of France and Poland were used for improvised rework, as well as the repair of captured vehicles and the manufacture of spare parts for them. Not a single self-propelled artillery mount or tank was assembled there.
Assembling the undercarriage of the tank Pz.Kpfw. VI "Tiger" at one of the plants in Germany
COMPARATIVE DATA OF MANUFACTURING BRONETANK TECHNIQUE
Production of tanks, assault guns, tank destroyers and self-propelled guns in 1934 — 1945 was: in 1934-1937. - 1876 units, 1938 g. - 804 units, 1939 g. - 743 units, 1940 g. - 1743 units, 1941 g. - 3728 units, 1942 g. - 5496 units, 1943 g. - 12052. units, 1944 g. - 18821 units, 1945 g. - 3945 units. In total, 34 units were produced between 45 and 49208 in the year.
In total, 75513 armored vehicles were produced in Germany (or on its orders).
In addition, many commander tanks (guns were absent), repair and evacuation vehicles, artillery mobile posts and other equipment were released. Given this technology, the total number of armored vehicles was 89266 machines.
To this number, you must add the captured technique, which entered the Wehrmacht - 1577 units.
Thus, the armed forces of Nazi Germany received and used during the Second World 90843 armored vehicle object.
Union of Soviet Socialist Republics
The production of tanks and self-propelled guns in the Soviet Union during World War II was: 1940 y. - 2421 tank; 1941 g. - 6542 tank; 1942 g. - 24445 tanks and 59 ACS (total 24504 units); 1943 g. - 19892 tank and 4194 ACS (total 24086 units); 1944 g. - 16923 tank and 12061 ACS (total 28987 units); 1945 g. - 16295 tanks and 9640 ACS (total 25935 units.). In total, in the period from 1940 to 1945, 112475 tanks and SPGs were launched.
UK and USA
Production of tanks in the UK during the Second World War was: 1939 g. - 315 units; 1940 g. - 1399 unit; 1941 g. - 4841 unit; 1942 g. - 8611 unit; 1943 g. - 7476 unit; 1944 g. - 2474 unit; 1945 g. - 612 units The Canadian industry also worked in the UK, producing 5807 tanks. The total production of tanks - 31534 machines.
Production of tanks in the United States during the Second World War was: 1939 g. - 96 units; 1940 g. - 331 unit; 1941 g. - 4052 unit; 1942 g. - 24997 unit; 1943 g. - 29497 unit; 1944 g. - 17565 unit; 1945 g. - 11558 units For the United States, 43481 ACS must be added to the number of tanks. The total number of armored vehicles issued by the US industry during this period was 131577 units.
In 40 — 41, German tank-building companies on the orders of mines. Arms and ammunition ordered some parts to small machine-building firms in Belgium, France, Romania, Denmark. Attempts were made to conclude contracts in Switzerland, Sweden, Yugoslavia.
About the two countries should be said separately. In March, the 39 of the year under the protectorate of Germany passed the most developed areas of Czechoslovakia - Moravia and the Czech Republic. The ČKD tank factories located in them in Prague (the Germans renamed VMM) and Skoda in Pilsen until the end of the war first produced light tanks and later self-propelled self-propelled guns based on them. For political reasons, the leaders of the Third Reich did not dare to develop the production of heavy or medium tanks of German design there.
The heaviest serial tank of the Second World War "Tiger II". Launched into mass production at Henschel’s plants in January 1944.
Austria suffered the same fate. She was annexed to Germany in 1938. Even before the beginning of the Second World War, on the basis of the Styrian mines, located near Linz, they began the construction of a large metallurgical plant to meet the growing needs of the German tank industry. Soon at this enterprise appeared workshops engaged in the production of armored hulls. At the same time, similar workshops in Kalfenberg started working at the old Beler plant. This made it possible to build heavy and medium tanks in St. Valentine at the Nibelungen plant. The products of this company, as well as the Czech VMM and Skoda, have always been listed as German.
What is the result of the production activities of the German tank industry in 34 — 45? It is logical to take data that is the most objective, given by reputable researchers, therefore, and the least corrected for moral, ideological and other reasons.
In this regard, preference should be given to the German author Müller-Hillebrand, although the third volume of the book “Ground Army of Germany 1933 — 1945”, translated into Russian and published in 1976 in the Military Publishing House, differs from the original in the absence of a single application. It contains information of interest to us.
There are other sources. However, most of them were published in the West and to a wide circle of Russian readers are still unavailable.
According to the materials of the article by Igor Shmelev, the magazine "Equipment and weapons"