This is not a Pz-II, which is completely funny, but also does not inspire awe.
Oleg Egorov had an article not so long ago "On the massive use of tanks"... I have one big question for her: "Is it really massive?" The question may seem strange, because everyone is used to discussing how tank divisions of the Wehrmacht were superior to the huge tank corps of the Red Army in organization. I have no questions about the Wehrmacht, but as for the armored forces of the Red Army, the level of organization there was the same as it should be in the then historical realities. It was formulated extremely concretely by Elena Prudnikova: "With the provision of spare parts at the level of 2%, it can be stated that we have no tank troops." Prudnikova cannot be accused of anti-Sovietism; she simply states the facts reflected in the documents. How did this disgusting situation come about? And why should it have developed somehow differently? The Tsar-Father did not leave us with general education, it had to be created from scratch. And for the equipment to function in the troops, you need:
1. Produce it. If not, then we do not proceed to the next points. This requires specialists.
2. Organize the production of spare parts and logistics. This also requires specialists.
3. Repair. And this also requires specialists. Moreover, the same Prudnikova correctly notes that the tractor driver on collective farms did not know how to repair equipment, this was done by the MTS. And this is correct for the agricultural sector, as Khrushchev destroyed the MTS, and machine building in the USSR reached unprecedented heights in terms of tractor units with not too impressive grain production volumes. Because you can endlessly supply the collective farmers with equipment. Tellingly, the situation with spare parts in the USSR continued to remain disgusting even years after the Second World War. The quality was such that even if the part was in stock, it would not necessarily fit. And only large repair shops with a powerful machine park could modify it on their own, or even more so make the part on their own. Which, by the way, again demonstrates how important the MTS were and that their elimination in terms of the level of idiocy is comparable only to the Chinese "big leap". For the army, this means that even tractor drivers who already have the skills to work with tracked vehicles also need to be trained in repair.
It is possible to organize production, while the plant is a place of concentration of specialists. For the rest, there are not enough specialists (so be it, we will buy machines in the USA, which, due to the Great Depression, were ready to sell anything to anyone). And the production itself is not enough. The plan for the production of the T-34 in 1940 was completely overwhelmed, instead of 1000 vehicles, only 150 were manufactured.That is, the tanks are disposable. Inevitably, it is necessary to produce a lot of them, since in the field their serviceability will be maintained with great difficulty. And the creation of huge mechanized corps in such conditions is quite justified, since it allows organizing large repair bases, which, again, are places for training specialists. At the same time, do not forget about the weak development of individual units, in this regard, the possibilities and approaches to design in the 1930s and 1970s are fundamentally different. In the post-war years, the tank was designed from used components with the expectation that it would not have to be disassembled before overhaul, and the level of l / s training was higher. In the 1930s, the tank was designed to be easy to repair. That is, in the specific Soviet conditions of the 1930s, mass production had no alternative. Specialists at the plant with difficulty, but we will concentrate, they will not be enough for battalions, I can only imagine repairs in such conditions in such a way that instead of a failed tank, a spare is taken, and the broken one will have to be dragged for repairs, since the mechanic drive itself is often not able to fix even simple breakdowns. Of course, when we had to fight, many tanks were abandoned due to minor malfunctions.
What is surprising here is the level of thinking of the army command, which managed to demand such units as the T-35 and T-28, apparently having a poor idea of the problems associated with their operation. Of course, by the standards of World War II, the T-28 still does not go beyond a reasonable weight, but theoretically the Red Army could instead get a normal medium tank with a 76-mm gun and weighing about 20 tons. And it would not only be cheaper than the T-28, but also more reliable. Weight is not only tons in the performance characteristics table and steel consumption, it is a headache for designers: how to make sure that nothing breaks, and how to squeeze additional horsepower from the motor to move this weight. Of course, such multi-turret nonsense suffered not only in our country, but in the 21st century with our afterthought we are "very smart" and we know for sure that multi-turret is bad, but the global passion for multi-turret only shows that in the 1930s the world as a whole was, for the most part, a village, what can we say about the USSR, which at the time of the emergence of 85-90% of the rural population. Educated Germans built the "Mouse", although the discussion about its development should have ended after the question of how exactly this monster should be delivered to the front line.
But even if we assume that the repairs have been established, how effective would the armored troops be? When it comes to tanks, the imagination immediately draws something like the T-72 or T-34-85 in Berlin, but Yegorov correctly points out that the Germans in the French campaign had mostly tankettes. A total of 280 Pz-IVDs with a 75 mm cannon. I want to look at this situation not from the side that the French had better tanks, but how big a role German tanks could play at all. For 280 tanks with 75-mm stumps, the Germans had thousands of guns of the same and larger caliber. That is, the ability of the Germans' tanks to inflict damage to the enemy is negligible against the background of the ability to inflict damage with artillery alone. Moreover, the Germans in 1918 perfectly took any rows of trenches without any tanks, artillery and assault groups did their job perfectly. It is unlikely that the presence or absence of armored vehicles with 37-mm guns by the Germans could have any serious effect on the course of the operation.
But this product, capable of destroying a house with one shot, inspires fear! The picture shows a real blitzkrieg instrument, a 15 cm sFH 18 howitzer. About its Soviet counterpart ML-20 historian. A. V. Isaev said: "Where is ML-20, there is victory"
But anti-tank weapons did not stand still. Maybe a light tank with a small-caliber cannon is not the king of the battlefield, but if rifle bullets do not penetrate it, then it is very unpleasant for the infantry. In World War I, artillery was mainly dispersed in the rear, in the 30s anti-tank rifles and small-caliber anti-tank guns began to appear en masse. The first bell rang back in Spain. And then there were battles on Khalkhin Gol. On August 20, 1939, the Soviet troops opposing the Japanese on Khalkhin-Gol had 498 tanks, and there was a well-thought-out system for evacuating and restoring damaged vehicles. The ground phase of the battle ended on September 8, that is, it lasted less than 3 weeks, but practically everything was over by the end of August, that is, the active phase lasted 10 days. Victory in a small war cost the Red Army 253 tanks. Half of the tanks in 10 days against the enemy, who had almost no own tanks either in terms of quantity or in terms of quality. 3/4 losses - from 37 mm anti-tank guns. In the two-week Berlin operation, with the breakthrough of serious fortifications, city battles and other delights like German heavy tanks and 88-mm anti-aircraft guns, only T-40 and SU-34 lost up to 76%; heavy tanks and self-propelled guns located in the second echelons of combat formations suffered much less.
Estimates of the size of the Japanese army at Khalkhin Gol vary from 20-30 thousand to 75 thousand.If we accept the upper estimate, it turns out that we needed 500 tanks with bulletproof armor to defeat a technically relatively poorly equipped group of 75 thousand people, having suffered loss of 50% materiel. If we increase the scale 10 times, we get 5000 tanks for 750 thousand. And to fight against a 1,5-million force, we need 10000 tanks! The German invasion army numbered 4 million against 2,8 million of the Red Army in the western districts. The claim that the Red Army had a huge number of tanks is beginning to look dubious. Simply because if we are going to fight on the scale of millions of armies, then we will need tens of thousands of tanks. And 10 thousand tanks for an army of 1 million is 1 tank per 100 people. In general, even in 1945, 80% of the armies consisted of infantry divisions. You can look from the other side, for example, we exchange 1 tank like T-26 or BT for 20 Wehrmacht soldiers, which seems to be very optimistic. Then the advantage of 20 thousand tanks will allow us to knock out 400 thousand people. The numerical superiority of the Germans over the western districts does not even come close.
After that, there should be no question how our design idea jumped so briskly from 10-15 tons of late T-26 and BT-7 to 26 tons of the first T-34. Soviet light tanks of the 30s became obsolete not relatively light tanks of the Wehrmacht, they were outdated relative to anti-tank infantry weapons. And their use even against a technically weak enemy led to unreasonably high losses. And here you can at least competently plan and conduct counter-attacks, when any infantry battalion has a large number of effective anti-tank weapons, losses in tanks will inevitably be very high. Tank like weapon in the 30s it faced a survivability crisis. The appearance of the T-34 and its analogues made battalion anti-tank weapons practically useless (and later light tanks, like the T-70 with 35-50 mm frontal armor, cannot be taken from the ATR). And if there were 41 thousand T-10s in the 34st, with the design at least to the level of 1943, then very many combat episodes would end for the Red Army tankers much more favorably, and the Germans would advance more slowly, who knows, maybe they stopped if not along the Dnieper, then they would be 200 kilometers further from Moscow than it happened in reality. More powerful anti-tank weapons like the PAK-40 are not only fewer in number (T-34s cannot be customized in numbers of T-26s either), but are also much less mobile. At the BT bypassed from the flank, the Germans will simply shout the German analogue: "They're piling up, guys!" and deployed a 37 mm mallet on tanks. This will be more difficult with a 50mm gun. The PAK-34 battery bypassed by the T-40 is doomed, it is impossible to deploy the one and a half-ton gun by the crew, and if it has already fired, the beds will bury itself in the ground so that it will not move without a tractor. And nothing like modern anti-tank guns with a circular fire and often with self-propelled mechanisms, and even more so ATGM, then did not exist. (When they appear, the tanks will experience a new survivability crisis, the way out of which will be composite armor.) The tanks themselves were not armed with a battalion (37-45-mm cannon), but quite a regimental level. A 6 kg 76 mm projectile is a much more serious argument than a 45 mm grenade weighing less than one and a half kilograms.
The conclusion can be drawn as follows: the tank fleet of the Red Army in 1941 is not so huge in terms of the needs of a big war. It could not be maintained in good condition due to the objective lack of qualified personnel. At the same time, tanks developed before 1939, except for the relatively few T-28s with 76-mm guns, had a very low combat value both in terms of firepower (battalion-level cannon) and in terms of survival on the battlefield. saturated with small-caliber artillery. And it should not be surprising that after the start of the war with the enemy, who had a large numerical and qualitative superiority, all these tanks did not show themselves in any way. Nevertheless, whatever the exchange of light tanks for the German infantry, it meant the exchange of iron on our side for the lives of soldiers on the side of the Germans.