Lesson Eight: Industry Mutual Aid
The patriotism of the Soviet industrial elite was combined with joint responsibility for the final result.
Intersectoral interaction at all times - in the Russian Empire, in the USSR, and today - did not belong to the strengths of the domestic industry. Unlike Germany or the United States, where contractual obligations have been and are immutable and almost sacred.
Take, for example, the relationship of Russian metallurgists and machine builders. In the second half of the 19th century, new transport engineering plants and shipyards did not receive the necessary amount of industrial metals from Ural mining companies. The latter considered it unprofitable to make a lot of relatively cheap steel, because the same profit provided a much smaller amount of expensive roofing iron. The missing metal for wagon axles, engine shafts and ship linings had to be purchased abroad. Only by the end of the century the problem was solved by the South Russian metallurgical plants, founded by Belgian or French industrialists. In the Urals, the French also built one plant - Chusovskoy.
It would seem that in Soviet times there could be no talk of such whims. In addition, metallurgical plants built in the 30s as a whole provided the country with metal. However, every time when machine builders requested new complex grades of rolled metal, metallurgists mastered them for years or even decades.
Turning to stories Uralvagonzavod. Already in its first projects, as it reached its design capacity, solid-rolled steel wheels were used under four-axle cars, which were planned to be supplied by the nearby Novo-Tagil Metallurgical Plant. However, the latter was erected by the metallurgical department, but it transferred the construction of the wheel mill to 1938 – 1942 years, and not in the first place. As a result, before the war it never began. Even after the war, wheel rental was not too interested in metallurgists. Result: right up to the middle of 50, the Tagil cars left the factory on short-lived cast-iron cast wheels instead of steel ones. It brought huge losses to the railroad workers, but there was no choice: either such cars, or none.
The same thing happened with the introduction of low-alloy steels in the car-building industry. They promised a noticeable reduction in their own weight of rolling stock, while maintaining all service characteristics. The designers of Uralvagonzavod began designing cars of low-alloyed metal at the end of the 30-s, but their mass production began only in the second half of the 50-s, since the metallurgists did not give the appropriate rolled products or ferroalloys for casting parts.
It must be said that the virus of departmental feudalism also struck machine builders themselves. In the summer of 1937, a curious story took place that characterized the interagency relationship of the time. The General Directorate of Metallurgical Enterprises sent an outfit to Uralvagonzavod for five thousand tons of blanks for the newly commissioned bandage mill of the Novo-Tagil plant. The General Directorate of Transport Engineering was indignant at the encroachment on a subordinate enterprise. 11 July, the Deputy Chief of the Head Office G. G. Aleksandrov sent a letter to the UralVagonzavod and the Uralvagonzavod with the following statement: not even a copy of the outfit sent by Uralvagonzavod was sent. I ask to establish a firm procedure for issuing blanks to our plants only by agreement with us and through Glavtransmash. ”
As a result, in the bandage steel, the metallurgists were allegedly refused due to the technical impossibility of casting high-quality ingots in the open-hearth shop of Uralvagonzavod. Meanwhile, already in 1936, an axial disc was cast here, and in 1937, ingots for rolled sheet were cast. Therefore, the ingots for the bandage mill, located a few kilometers from the UVZ, had to be transported from the Vyksa and Kuznetsk plants. Moreover, the quality of them left much to be desired and the supply volumes were insufficient.
In 1938, the story repeated. The Molotov (that is, the Perm) artillery plant became the main consumer of the UVZ ingots, which at the end of the year received a batch of leaf blanks. And only a small number of them went to the retaining shop, which again had to deliver the missing metal in two to two and a half thousand kilometers. Industry interests in the distribution of Uralvagonzavodskaya steel clearly prevailed.
The departmental disease did not spare the defense industry either. Numerous publications on the history of Soviet tank construction are replete with examples of how the construction of prototype machines or the deployment of mass production was delayed due to non-delivery of metal, especially armor.
Even today, industry self-interest has not disappeared, it only changed its shape. Requests for new shaped forms of hire simply beat off exorbitant prices. On the agreed policy and can not speak. After the collapse of the ruble exchange rate at the turn of 2014 – 2015, metallurgical companies raised prices for car hire at 30 – 60 percent. And then they began to complain to the machine builders for the equipment that had risen in price, because the machines are manufactured in Russia and are not tied to the dollar rate.
It seems that in our country there is only one cure for inter-sectoral problems: the creation of vertically integrated systems, where the ore extracted with its own resources is first converted into metal and then into finished machines.
There is still a short period in our history when industry interests receded into the background. It is about the Great Patriotic War. The undoubted patriotism of the Soviet industrial elite at that time was combined with the joint responsibility of all those involved in defense production for the final result. That is, the director of the armored rolling mill was responsible not so much for the volumes of smelted and rolled steel as for the number of constructed tanks.
The main step in this direction was made by the director of the Scientific Research Institute-48, A. S. Zavyalov. In the first days of the war, he appealed to the government with a proposal to entrust the institute with the introduction of technologies for the production of special steels and armor constructions at enterprises in the east of the country, first attracted to the manufacture of armored vehicles. At the beginning of July, a brigade of specialists from SRI-48 headed the technological restructuring of the largest enterprises in 14. Among them were the Magnitogorsk and Kuznetsk Metallurgical Plants, the Novo-Tagil and Chusovoy Metallurgical Plants, the Ural Heavy Machine Building Plant, the Gorky-based Krasnoe Sormovo, the Stalingrad Tractor Plant, the Stalingrad Red October and No. 264. Thus, Zavyalov violated the pre-war taboo: after all, the list of companies of three commissariats was on his list.
Patriotism and the forced suppression of departmental egoism provided Soviet metallurgy with unprecedented rates of assimilation of defense products in either the prewar or postwar period. In a matter of months, in the east of the country (primarily in the Urals), the production of ferromanganese, ferrosilicon, ferrochrome, ferrovanadium and other alloys was organized, without which it is impossible to get armor steel. After the loss of the western regions, the only ferroalloy plant in the USSR remained Chelyabinsk. On it, in a short time, the smelting was increased two and a half times. Produced 25 varieties of products, but most of all different types of ferrochrome. The smelting of ferromanganese was set up in blast furnaces, not only in the low-tonnage old blast furnaces of the Nizhny Tagil and Kushvinsky plants, but also in the large modern furnace of the Magnitogorsk combine. Contrary to all pre-war ideas, ferrochrome was smelted in the second half of 1941, in its blast furnace, by metallurgists from the Nizhny Tagil and Serov plants, and scientists from the Ural Branch of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR provided great help in creating the new technology. Later, they mastered ferrosilicon smelting in serov blast furnaces.
There were no armor camps in the Urals or in Western Siberia before the war; they had to be hurriedly transferred from the enterprises in the combat zone.
In the summer of 1941, the evacuated equipment was still on the way. And then the chief mechanic of the Magnitogorsk industrial complex, N. A. Ryzhenko, suggested rolling armor on a blooming mill. Despite the big risk, the idea was implemented. And in October, the armored camp, brought from the Mariupol plant, came into operation. It was mounted in just 54 of the day. According to the pre-war standards, it took a year.
Novo-Tagil plant got the camp from Leningrad. Preparation for its reception began in July, initially it was assumed that it will be mounted on the site of the bandage. The bandage camp was disassembled, but it turned out that the old bed was not enough to install an armored camp and needed to be placed elsewhere. The war forced us to do something that was recently considered impossible: just a year ago, attempts to conduct industrial construction with a complex “speedy” method had partial success in Nizhny Tagil at best, and in the summer of 1941, the most complex construction operation went almost perfectly. On September 10, the first Tagil steel sheet was rolled a month ahead of schedule. In total, 13 650 tons of sheet metal were obtained before the end of the year, including about 60 percent of armor (the mill was tested on carbon steel, and in October-December, carbon rolled rolled out if there was a shortage of armor ingots). As a result, in January 1942, the monthly issue of armor plates in the Ural factories exceeded half a year in the whole pre-war Soviet Union.
No less surprising events took place at other little-known enterprises. Zlatoust Metallurgical Plant during the war in terms of steelmaking and rolling steel was inferior to the Magnitogorsk plant, but it was significantly superior to its product mix — about 300 grades of alloyed and carbon steel were produced here. Without deliveries from Zlatoust, the production of many types of weapons, primarily tank engines, would stop.
The old Ural plants were indispensable in the production of small batches of especially high-quality steel. For example, the metal of the Serov Metallurgical Metallurgical Plant, the main producer of calibrated steel, was invested in each Soviet tank. Nizhnesaldinsky plant switched to the smelting of nickel cast iron and steel. This list can be continued endlessly - during the war years, wherever there was at least one cupola, they melted weapons metal.
A curious story with fluxes for automatic welding. Before and at the beginning of the war, they were smelted at one of the enterprises of Donbass, after the occupation of which centralized deliveries ceased completely. At the end of 1941, employees of the Electric Welding Institute of the Academy of Sciences of the Ukrainian SSR began searching for substitute materials available in the Urals in more or less usable condition. And they found them - in the form of blast furnace slag from the Ashinsky metallurgical plant. Only minor improvements were needed: the blast furnace workers enriched their slags with manganese and thus turned them into quite suitable flux. The equipment necessary for the tests was brought from Nizhni Tagil directly to Asha.
Very illustrative are examples of local cooperation between tank and steel plants. Prior to launching of own capacities, heat treatment of tank parts of the Ural Tank Plant No. 183 was carried out at Nizhny Tagil Metallurgical.
The help of the neighboring Nizhny Tagil chamotte plant, which started producing high-quality refractory stopping flint plugs, contributed to the successful work of the UTZ foundry workers to a great extent. This made it possible to produce trouble-free casting of heavy armor steel melting into shaped castings.
UTZ open-hearth furnaces in 1942 – 1945 worked mainly on coke and blast furnace gas of the Novo-Tagil Metallurgical and Nizhny Tagil Coke and Chemical Plants. The gas pipeline has operated since February 1942. Own gas station of plant number 183 provided no more than 40 percent of needs.
Sometimes simple advice was enough to solve a problem. Survive a few weeks before the start of the supply of ferromanganese without stopping the casting of tank trucks to the plant number 183 helped the information of local metallurgists about a small manganese mine, developed in the 1870-ies.
Another example: with the increase in the production of armor steel, the open-hearth workshop did not keep up with the smelting of metal for the heads of air bombs. It was not possible to get it from the outside. Director Y.Ye. Maksarev reproduced the course of further events in his memoirs: “When I was at one of the meetings in the city committee, I met the director of the old, more Demidov factory and asked me to take the casting of the heads of bombs from me. He said: I cannot help with steel, but with advice I will help. And when I came to his factory, he showed me a half-ton Bessemer medium-blown converter. He gave me blueprints and said that he knows that we have a good mechanized iron foundry, and your converters will weld ”. So there was an order for the plant from 8 September 1942 of the year about the organization in the wheel shop of Griffin a Bessemer section of three small converters (one and a half tons of metal each). The project already for 25 September prepared the design and technological department of the capital construction management, the specialists of the chief mechanic department quickly welded converters and boilers - accumulators of liquid iron. A trial launch of the Bessemer Branch and the casting of an experimental batch of five items of parts took place at the turn of October-November 1942. In late November, mass production began.
At the end of the topic: cooperation of metallurgists and tank builders in wartime acted in both directions. Installers of the Ural Tank Plant participated in the launch of many new units of the Novo-Tagil Metallurgical Plant. In May 1944, a significant number of lining plates were produced in the armor tower casting shop to repair the blast furnace.
But the main assistant to metallurgists remained, of course, the Ural Heavy Machine Building Plant. The books of orders on UZTM for 1942 – 1945 years are literally packed with documents on the production of spare parts and devices for metallurgical purposes, both for the needs of the tank industry and for the enterprises of the People's Commissariat for Ferrous Metallurgy. In the autumn of 1942, a special unit for the production of equipment for metallurgical plants was officially restored at UZTM. It received the cipher "15 Division" and was subordinate to the deputy director for procurement workshops and corpus production.
Successes at the intersection of industries
The cooperation of metallurgists and tank builders led to the creation of a number of technologies, which without exaggeration can be called real scientific and technological breakthroughs.
Having melted and rolled armor steel into sheets, metallurgists transferred their products to armored hull production. Here the metal is cut in a pattern into the corresponding parts. In the production of "thirty-four" especially a lot of trouble delivered two parts of the body: fenders (sloping side) and the vertical side sheet. Both of them were long, even in width stripes with sloping edges along the edges.
The idea of rolling a measuring strip equal in width to finished parts naturally came to the fore. It was first formulated by the armored cars of the Mariupol plant in the summer of 1941. For the experimental rolling, we chose a slab of the Zaporizhstal combine, where we sent two trains of armor ingots. But they did not have time to get down to business: the advancing German troops captured both trains and Zaporozhye itself.
At the turn of 1941 – 1942, during the evacuation and mastering of the production of armor in the new plants, it was not up to the measuring line. However, in May, the 1942-th Commissariat of Ferrous Metallurgy again received an order to hire it - for the T-34 and KV tanks. The task was not easy: the width tolerances should not exceed -2 / + 5 millimeters, crescent (bending) on the total length of the part - 5 millimeters. The edges were not allowed cracks, sunsets and delaminations so that you can weld without machining or fire trimming.
Experimental work began simultaneously in the rolling shops of the Magnitogorsk and Kuznetsk metallurgical plants, at first, without any special achievements. The rental of parts for KV tanks was soon abandoned, but in the end the T-34 finally succeeded. The group of authors, G. A. Vinogradov, Head of the Metallurgical Department of the Scientific Research Institute-48, L. E. Weisberg, KMC Chief Engineer, and S. E. Lieberman, an engineer at the same plant, received a qualitative strip from November 1942 to January 1943, using a crimper The 900 cage of the rail and structural mill is a completely new method of on-edge rolling. In January, 1943 bands were issued to 280, in February - 486, in March - 1636 units. In April, after all the required tests, the development of gross production of measuring strips for fenders of T-34 tanks began. Initially they were supplied to UZTM and the Ural Tank Plant, and then to other plants - manufacturers of T-34 tanks. The marriage, which was originally 9,2 percent, by October 1943 year decreased to 2,5 percent, besides off-standard strips were used for the manufacture of smaller parts.
The corresponding report of the CRI-48 from 25 December 1943 gives a complete and accurate assessment of the year: “A fundamentally new, developed to the gross production, which was considered to be unreasonable until recently in the USSR and abroad, has been developed, tested and implemented into the gross production. The receipt of a calibrated (dimensional) strip with the width of the finished part of the armored hull of the T-34 tank enabled the NKTP plants to adopt a new high-performance manufacturing technology for armor details without trimming the longitudinal edges. Due to the application of the new method to one of the main armored details of the T-34 tank (fenders), a very significant time saving (of the order of 36%) was achieved when cutting them. Achieved savings of armor steel 8С to 15 percent and oxygen saving 15 000 m3 on 1000 bodies. "
By the end of 1943, the rolled strip was mastered for another part of the T-34 hull - the vertical part of the board. It only remains to add that the authors of this invention were awarded the Stalin Prize for the 1943 year.
In the same 1943, the joint efforts of the laboratories of the Ukrainian Institute of Metals (headed by P. A. Alexandrov) and the workers of the Kuznetsk Metallurgical Combine and the Ural Tank Plant developed and developed a special periodic rolled product profile for producing mass and critical parts of T-34 axes of balancers. The first pilot batch of a periodic profile was obtained at KMK in December, at the beginning of 1944, mass production began. By October, the Ural Tank Plant had completely switched to the manufacture of balance axes from a new blank, at the end of the year UZTM joined it. As a result, the performance of the stamping hammers increased by 63 percent, and the number of breakdowns of the part decreased.
The success of the tank builders was greatly facilitated by the distributors of the retaining mill of the Novo-Tagil Metallurgical Plant. Starting from the spring of 1942, they supplied rolled billets with reduced allowances for processing, and in 1943, the allowances were once again reduced. In conjunction with the new cutting tool, this made it possible to perform time-consuming stripping of shoulder straps strictly on schedule and without much stress. A rarest case: V. A. Malyshev, Commissar of the Tank Industry, in his order from September 28 of 1943 found it necessary to express special thanks to the Tagil metallurgists.
And finally, the last example: in 1943, T-34 support tanks were first manufactured at the Chelyabinsk Kirov Plant, and then began to be manufactured at special plants from special profiled steel. This success was also noted in the order of V. A. Malyshev.
It remains to add that the specialists of the American company Chrysler, having studied the T-34-85 tank captured in Korea, particularly noted the perfection of the steel blanks from which the combat vehicle was made. And also the fact that they often surpassed the products of US metallurgical enterprises.