National Armored Vehicles 1945-1965 Part I – Light, Medium and Heavy Tanks
by M.V. Pavlov and I.V. Pavlov
Reviewed by Cookie Sewell
While some of these historians realized they were highly saleable products as both national and foreign readers were eager to purchase them, few Russian publishers felt it even remotely worthwhile to offer them in foreign languages, particularly English. This tended to limit the circulation and readership of the new materials and in some cases caused problems when foreigners who did not read the language attempted to interpret them without any translation. But they were still out there for sale and flourished up until the early 2000s. At that point the FSB, Russian state security, started tamping down on the release of so much information to free access and foreign sales.
The other major problem that began to develop was simply jealousy and disagreement among members of the various communities working on these publications. Some of the more prolific historians are Baryatinskiy, Kolomiyets, Suvorov and Svirin. Also, two authors, Ust’yantsev and Kolmakov, were selected as the factory historians for the Ural Wagon Building Factory (Uralvagonzavod or UVZ) in Nizhniy Tagil and produced a series of authorized factory histories. None of them want to share info with the others and the result is different sets of drawings, photographs, and cited archival documents.
But in 2002 four authors produced the first part of what appeared to be a four volume set covering the entirety of Soviet armor development in detail. The four authors – Solyankin, Zheltov, M. Pavlov and I. Pavlov – began with Otechestvennye Bronirovannye Mashiny XX Vek: Tom 1 - Otechestvennye Bronirovannye Mashiny 1905-1941 (Exprint, Moscow 2002 (ISBN 5-94038-030-1)) and then followed it with Otechestvennye Bronirovannye Mashiny XX Vek: Tom 2 - Otechestvennye Bronirovannye Mashiny 1941-1945; Exprint, Moscow 2005 (ISBN 5-94038-074-3). Both of these were extremely well done for their time and provided a wealth of new information direct from either state or factory archives on the vehicles within those time periods.
But apparently there was a difference of opinion and focus on where to go next, as a result when the third volume appeared in 2010 ( Otechestvennye Bronirovannye Mashiny XX Vek: Tom 3 - Otechestvennye Bronirovannye Mashiny 1945-1965; Tseykhgauz, Moscow 2010 (ISBN 978-5-9771-0106-6) it was with a new coauthor, K.N. Kudryashov. This volume covered all of the tanks and also APCs and BMPs in 670 pages. Even so, currently all of these books are sold out and prices on the used book market in Russia are skyrocketing with prices of R7-8.000 (US$89-102).
Now, at the end of 2021, the Pavlovs have achieved their idea of what Volume 3 was supposed to look like with this new book and unlike the Solyakin/Zheltov effort it dedicates all of its 1100 pages to just tanks. It does follow the same format – development and history of the industry in that period, development of subsystems such as engines, running gear, guns and electronics, and then three sections on light, medium and heavy tanks broken down into development, series production tanks, prototype vehicles, and modernization of previously produced vehicles.
All of the sections are heavily illustrated with photos, drawings, and extracts from the service manuals with lengthy tables included for comparative purposes. Much of the material is new and even when you have had all of the previous books and magazine articles a lot of different information is presented.
As an example, the book covers the developmental history of the IS-5 heavy tank. This vehicle, which we know from other sources morphed into the IS-8, IS-10 and then spawned the T-10 series, began with a new hull design of seven road wheels per side with a turret derived from the IS-3 but as shown here used the engine bay and engine deck from the IS-4; it was not until later that it was fitted with the ejection cooling system used in the production T-10. Conversely, a prototype of the IS-4M was trialed with the later system in place of the twin fan four radiator system of the IS-4.
A large number of prototypes are covered, and for many serious historians of Soviet armor it shows that the Soviets were doggedly trying to get new subsystems into their tanks even back in the 1940s. Items which show up here include bar armor, radar target acquisition sights, rangefinder sights, smoothbore guns in large calibers (e.g. stripping out a 130mm rifled gun to make it a 140mm smoothbore weapon), multiple turbine engine arrangements, hydro-mechanical (e.g. automatic) transmissions and steering, and more.
In summary, this book is a great investment for both historians and modelers but if you do not speak Russian it is going to be harder to get the most out of it. If you do, tracking down a copy will be worth it; through a good friend with contacts in Moscow I picked this one up for US$85.
You can check on “Gur Khan’s” site (Gur Khan attacks!) to see if you can possibly order from him or try the UVZ factory store, but at the moment I believe the latter is closed and offline.
Text and Images by Cookie Sewell