German Armored Cars

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In the German concept of mobile war, wheels were only marginally less important than tracks. That said, the first example was unimpressive: an open-topped scout car built on a civilian truck chassis, with a two-man crew, 8mm of armor, and a light machine gun. Entering service with the cavalry, by 1939 it had devolved to the infantry’s reconnaissance battalions as one step above bicycles. Next step was a two-step: the development and introduction of the Leichter Panzerspähwagen Sonderkraftfahrzeug (SdKfz) 221/222—a Teutonic mouthful that translates as Armored Reconnaissance Car Special Purpose Motor Vehicle 221/222, and thankfully shortens simply to Armored Car 221/222. The latter, definitive version began joining reconnaissance battalions during 1938. A four-wheeled, five-ton vehicle, with a 20mm cannon or a light antitank rifle in an open-topped turret and a two-man crew, it could do 50 miles per hour on roads, half that across country, thanks to its four-wheel drive and a relatively powerful engine. The 222 was popular in service and easy enough to manufacture that a number were exported to Nationalist China, where it was also well liked.

The 222 is best understood as an upscale version of the Daimler scout car coming into British service about the same time. It could gather information but was ill-suited to fight for it. Apart from that, the German army had enough of a tradition of heavy wheeled vehicles to encourage the simultaneous development of the SdKfz Heavy Armored Car 231—Six-Wheeled. The 231 could trace its origins to a civilian-developed vehicle whose initial version was too heavy and too expensive. Rejiggered into a six-wheel design built, initially, around a Daimler-Benz truck chassis, the 231 first entered service in 1932. Its ancestry was both visible and problematic. It looked like a civilian automobile, in that unlike the 222, its engine was up front and vulnerable even given the well-sloped 14.5mm armor. At almost six tons, the weight was too heavy for the chassis, and the suspension was a constant source of concern despite the good road speed of 40 miles per hour. Like the 222, it was easy to manufacture—a thousand were created by the time production ceased in 1935. But even more than the Panzer I, the Armored Car 231 was used as a training vehicle and relegated to second-line service as fast as a replacement could be made available.

That replacement kept the designation, but was an entirely different vehicle: an eight-wheeled, rear-engineered design built on a Buessing-NAG chassis. It could do over 50 miles per hour on roads, 30 miles per hour off road. With dual steering, all-wheel drive, and independent suspension, its cross-country capacity even through sand and mud exceeded any wheeled, armored vehicle in any army, despite its relatively heavy weight. Its turret-mounted 20mm cannon and 15mm armor were adequate for the scouting mission that was its fundamental purpose, and from its first entry into service in 1938, the Achtrad “eight-wheeler” was popular with its crews. The complexity that made it difficult and expensive to manufacture was an acceptable tradeoff, especially given the increasing quality of unit-level maintenance in the Panzer arm. The new 231’s major tactical drawback was its size. At seven feet eight inches and 8.3 tons, it was not exactly suited for “sneak and peek.” For “shoot and scoot,” however, the Achtrad was unmatched during the war’s first half, and its size enabled the inclusion of a radio system that added “communication” to its long list of positives.

The 222 and 231 spawned a long list of modifications. Most were specialized radio vehicles. The 222 in particular was too small to carry both a radio and a cannon. Its near-sister SdKfz 223 was distinguished by a smaller machine-gun turret and carried a third crew member. Both six- and eight-wheel versions of the 231 also had radio versions with frame aerials. These, perhaps because of their distinctive appearance, are disproportionately featured in illustrated works despite their relatively small numbers.

As a footnote the design staffs, after years of work, finally developed the war’s best armored car. The SdKfz 234/2 Puma[1] had it all: high speed, a low silhouette, and a 50mm L39 still effective against tanks in an emergency. Unfortunately, by the time the Puma and its variants entered production, the panzers’ need for a long-range reconnaissance vehicle was itself long past. Now their enemies all too often found them.

Sd Kfz 222

The Sd Kfz 222 design was a modified version of the Sd Kfz 221, with a larger turret designed to carry an automatic gun. Seven series were ordered and completed, each entailing minor modifications. Production ceased in mid 1943, but the proposed new four-wheel armoured car was not put into production because of changing requirements. It was felt that the heavy eight-wheel Sd Kfz 234 would be more suitable for reconnaissance operations in the future.

The first five series of the Sd Kfz 222 had the sPkw I Horch 801 chassis with the 3.51it engine. In May 1942, an improved chassis, the sPkw I Type V, was introduced, incorporating hydraulic brakes and a 3.81it engine. At the same time, the armour on the hull front was increased to 30mm, but the rest of the armour plate thicknesses remained unchanged. The 2cm automatic gun was mounted coaxially with a machine-gun in the turret, and could be elevated to an almost vertical position for engaging enemy air- craft.

The Sd Kfz 222 was issued to the Panzerspahwagen squadrons of the Aufklarungs battalions. With only a short-range radio, it accompanied the armoured cars with long-range sets, in order to provide covering fire and engage enemy armoured reconnaissance vehicles. The Sd Kfz 222 served in all campaigns on all fronts from 1939 until the end of the war.

Sd Kfz 231 6-Rad

The development of an armoured car based on the chassis of a 6 x 4 truck was ordered in 1929. The three companies involved in the manufacture of the trucks were given contracts to modify their truck chassis to adapt them to a six-wheeled armoured car. Thus, these early armoured cars were basically an armoured body fitted to a slightly modified truck chassis.

The engine was still mounted in the front as in normal trucks. The chassis was strengthened to take the additional weight, and a second steering control was added at the rear. The Sd Kfz 232 was the same model as the Sd Kfz 231 except for the additional long-range radio and its large frame antenna. The Sd Kfz 263 had a fixed turret with a single MG 13, a long-range radio set and a large frame antenna together with a telescoping mast antenna. The engines ranged from 3.61it to 4.51it and developed between 60PS and 70PS at 2,000rpm.

The Sd Kfz 231 and 232 were issued to the motorized Aufklarungs detachments of the developing motorized forces in the German Army. The Sd Kfz 263 was issued to the motorized Nachrichten (signals) units. Taking part in the marches into Austria and Czechoslovakia and the campaigns in Poland and France, the six-wheeled Panzerspahwagen were withdrawn from front-line service in 1940 because of their very limited mobility off the road.

Sd Kfz 231 8-Rad

The development of a schwerer Panzerspahwagen with improved cross-country mobility was ordered in 1934. Designated Versuchskraftfahrzeug (experimental vehicle) 623 and 624, an eight- wheeled chassis was developed to carry the armoured body and turret. The designation changed to Sd Kfz 233 and 234 in mid 1937 and, finally, to Sd Kfz 231 and 232 (8-Rad) in October 1939. Only the Sd Kfz 232 version was produced after May 1942. Sd Kfz 232 production ceased in September 1942 to be replaced by the Sd Kfz 234 series.

All chassis were produced by Bussing-NAG, and featured steering and drive for all eight road wheels. Double controls were installed to allow rapid maneuvering, advancing and retiring. The engine was located in the rear, which gave adequate protection together with adequate cooling. Early in 1940, an 8mm armour shield (Pakschutz) was added to the front of many of the Sd Kfz 231/232 already produced, and this practice continued until early 1942. From May 1942, this temporary solution was eliminated from production vehicles, since the hull and turret frontal armour thickness was increased to 30mm. The weight then increased to 9.1 tons.

Six Sd Kfz 231 and 232 were issued to the heavy platoon of the Panzerspahwagen squadron of each motorized Aufklarungs detachment. The entire platoon was not usually employed together, but was split up to accompany and give support to the smaller, four-wheeled armoured cars. The Sd Kfz 231 and 232 were employed in all campaigns throughout the war.

Sd Kfz 234/1/2/3/4

In September 1943, an order was given that fifty per cent of the Sd Kfz 234 production was to mount the 2cm KwK38 following the completion of the 100 Sd Kfz 234/2. In June 1944, this was increased to 75 per cent to be produced in conjunction with the Sd Kfz 234/2 and later Sd Kfz 234/4. The Gerat number 95 was that formerly allocated to the Sd Kfz 263 (8-Rad) which was no longer available by June 1944.

The Sd Kfz 234/1 had the same hull as the Sd Kfz 234/2, but mounted a different turret. The turret for the Sd Kfz 234/1 resembled the short, open-topped turret mounted on the Sd Kfz 222, but was of simpler, six-sided construction with thicker frontal armour. The designation for this turret was 2cm Hangelafette (swinging mount) 38.

Nineteen Sd Kfz 234/1 were included in the organization of the Panzerspahwagen company (d) of the Panzer Aufklarungs battalions. Issued to the Panzer and Panzergrenadier divisions, the Sd Kfz 234/1 saw action on the collapsing fronts in the East and in the West, from July 1944 until the end of the war.

On 5 August 1940, the order was given to design an eight- wheeled armoured car similar in design to the Sd Kfz 231. Instead of the previous design, where the armoured body was bolted to a chassis, the Sd Kfz 234 armoured hull was to serve as the chassis. This s pz Sp W 9 8-Rad TP (Tropen == tropical) was to have heavier armour and a 12-cylinder air-cooled diesel engine designed to operate in the hot climate of North Africa, and in the Steppes of Russia. Two trial vehicles were built and an initial order for 500 was later in- creased to 1,500. The initial order was for a vehicle carrying the 5cm KwK 39/1 which was given the designation Sd Kfz 234/2. In January 1944, the order was cut to limit the Puma production to 100 vehicles and to continue the series by mounting .the 2cm KwK and 7.5cm KwK.

The hull design, similar to that of the Sd Kfz 231, had better frontal protection, provided by thicker plates laid at a greater angle. A large, fully-enclosed turret with curved side plates was provided to mount the 5cm KwK 39/1 and the coaxial MG42 in the ‘Saukopf’ (sow’s head) gun mantlel.

In September 1943, 50 per cent of the Sd Kfz 234 production was ordered to mount the 7.5cm KwK37. This was decreased to 25 per cent in June 1944, reflecting an organizational change by the reconnaissance troops. In late November 1944, Hitler ordered that, from December 1944, the 7.5cm PaK40 be mounted on the Sd Kfz 234. Therefore, production of the Sd Kfz 234/3 ceased in December 1944, but production of the Sd Kfz 234/4 continued until March 1945.

The Sd Kfz 234/3 and 234/4 both consisted of the basic Sd Kfz 234 hull without a turret. The superstructure roof was open, with the 7.5cm KwK51 in a gun shield at the front of the superstructure, and the 7.5cm PaK40 mounted with its original gun shield and carriage on a pedestal mount.

Six Sd 234/3 made up a platoon of the Panzerspahwagen company (d) to support the nineteen Sd Kfz 234/1. They were also issued to the armoured reconnaissance companies during the closing months of the war, to give anti-tank support to the other armoured cars.

[1] Puma was used as a popular soldier’s name for ALL 8 wheeler German armoured car whether Sd Kfz 231 or 234 of all sub-types.

Patria AMV (Armored Modular Vehicle)

AMV in an Infantry Fighting Vehicle configuration with a turreted 30 mm autocannon

AMOS Twin Barrelled 120 mm Mortar System Mounted on a Patria Chassis

AMV Fire Support vehicle mounting a 105 mm turreted main weapon

The Patria AMV (Armored Modular Vehicle) is a Finnish designed and built APC developed during the early 2000s for the Finnish Defense Forces. The Patria AMV is an 8×8 multi-role vehicle which is offered in a range of configurations. The AMV is of a modular design which permits many variants or configurations to be produced using the same base chassis, making it suitable for the development of a standardized ‘family of vehicles’. A range of turrets, weapons, sensors and communication systems can be integrated onto the vehicle platform. Though not all proposed configurations have been manufactured to date, design details have been developed for a number of APC and IFV variants, a command and control vehicle, ambulatory vehicle, fire support vehicle and a heavy mortar variant.

The weight of the Patria AMV ranges between 35,000 and 65,000 pounds (16 to 27 metric tonnes), depending upon vehicle configuration. It is 25 feet (7.7 meters) long, 9 feet (2.8 meters) wide and 7.5 feet (2.3 meters) in height. The vehicle is operated by a crew of either 2 or 3, with a driver and commander and an optional gunner, depending on the variant. The AMV can accommodate and transport between 8 to 12 combat troops, depending on vehicle configuration. The vehicle is powered by a either a Scania DI 12 or DC 12 diesel engine, producing 543 hp and 480 hp respectively. The 8×8 wheeled vehicle is supported on an independent hydropneumatic suspension, can attain speeds of up to 60 mph on roads and 6.2 mph in water, and has a range of between 370 to 530 miles (600 to 900 km). The vehicle is considered to possess excellent mobility capabilities, providing both speed and agility during off-road travel as facilitated by the independent suspension system.

The three primary vehicle configuration are a basic flat roofed platform, a raised roof platform and a vehicle configured to accommodate the integration of heavy weapons. Through the modular design approach of the AMV these three basic platforms can be configured into a wide number of variants, including an Armored Personnel Carrier (APC), Infantry Fighting Vehicle (IFV), Command and Communication (C2), Ambulance, Reconnaissance, Mortar Carrier (MC), Patria AMOS 120 mm twin mortared turret, Fire Control Vehicle (FCV), Anti-Tank Guided Missile (ATGM) and Mobile Gun System (MGS) vehicles. Further enhancements of the baseline AMV platform have been integrated into the AMV-XP, the XP designation indicating Extra Payload / Extra Performance / Extra Protection.

The vehicle first entered service with the Finnish Army, which ordered 24 turreted twin mortar tube (AMOS) variants and 62 APCs with Protector RWSs. The Protector RWS can mount either the .50 calibre M2HB QCB heavy machine gun (HMG) or the GMG grenade machine gun. Poland then ordered 997 of the vehicles in a range of configurations. These vehicles have reduced armor to accommodate an amphibious capability. 313 of the vehicles were of the IFV type and mount an Italian 30 mm Hitfist-30P turret, designed and built by Oto Melara. Vehicles are also being sold to Croatia (126 vehicles), Slovenia (135), Sweden (113) the Czech Republic, Macedonia, South Africa (238) and the United Arab Emirates (15) for delivery of vehicles. The South African vehicle is equipped with an underfloor armor package and is being designed as APC, Fire Support, Mortar, Command and Control and ATGM variants.

The Patria AMV is able to accommodate a wide range of standardized NATO weapon systems including mounting of 30 and 50 calibre machine guns, grenade launchers, turreted autocannon, assault guns, mortars and ATGMs. The baseline APC vehicle is equipped with a 50 calibre Protector Remote Weapon Station (RWS), the IFV has a turreted 30 mm autocannon and the fire support configured vehicle mounts a turreted 105 mm gun. The AMV can also mount the Patria designed and built Advanced Mortar System (AMOS) 120 mm auto-loading twin-barrelled mortar system. This system is mounted in a turret and computer controlled. AMOS equipped Patria AMVs are currently in service in both the Finnish and Swedish Armies.

The AMOS uses 10 foot (3 meter) long smoothbore barrels to discharge both stub cased and smart guided High Explosive (HE) 120 mm ammunition. The gun recoil is controlled through a hydro-pneumatic suspension system, is able to elevate through -3° to +85° and traverses fully 360°, and is operated by an electrical system with a manual option. It is able to fire at a maximum rate of 16 rounds per minute with a sustained rate of 12 rounds per minute. The system has an effective firing range of 4-6 miles (6 – 10 km), depending upon ammunition type selected. 48 rounds of ammunition are stored in the vehicle and turret. The mortar barrels can also be directed horizontally to permit direct fire on approaching targets for defensive purposes.

The system makes use of both GPS and inertia positioning to direct rounds accurately to targets in association with the electronic Fire Control System (FCS) and integrated digital maps. The weapon is provided with a computer-controlled MRSI (multiple rounds simultaneous impact) feature. This system provides for the ability to drop several rounds onto a target simultaneously, providing the crew the ability to fire and then re-locate before their position is determined and counter artillery fire is directed at them. This capability is achieved by the computer determining the proper sequence of firing angles and propellant requirements. The initial rounds are fired at steep angles and with more propellant. Subsequent rounds are fired at progressively lessening angles and with slightly less propellant. The flight arcs are thereby co-ordinated to ensure that all rounds arrive at the target grouped together at the same time. A maximum of 7 firing sequences can be conducted in a single salvo. With a twin barrelled system therefore 14 rounds can be delivered onto a target simultaneously. As the rounds are in-flight, the AMOS equipped vehicle will typically relocate from its firing position to avoid anti-artillery counterfire, directed by ground mounted radar which determines the originating location of the incoming rounds. The MRSI system permits a single AMOS vehicle to deliver the same effective firepower onto a target as an entire artillery battery.

The AMV is equipped with modular appliqué armor, able to be configured to provide up to 30 mm APFSDS protection over the frontal arc. The vehicle also has a very high level of inherent anti-tank mine blast protection, providing the crew and its compliment of nine combat troop’s effective protection against mines containing up to 22 lbs (10 kilograms) of TNT. As with the South African vehicles, this can be further enhanced with additional add-on belly plates.

The Patria AMV was deployed by the Polish Army to support their efforts in Afghanistan. Known as the ‘Wolverine’, 50 vehicles were transferred to Afghanistan in 2007 to support the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). Designed to accommodate amphibious operations the Wolverine received a reduced armor add-on package compared to typical AMVs. For the Afghanistan operation however additional metallic and applique armor was attached to the vehicles to counter the expected threats levels.

The vehicles were reported to perform well during combat encounters. A 2008 incident involved a Wolverine being struck in quick succession by three RPG-7 rockets. The crew were uninjured and able to return fire upon the threat source. Additionally the vehicle was able to return to base under its own power. Later that same year a Wolverine was struck in its frontal armor by an RPG without being penetrated. Vehicles have also been struck upon many occasions by mines and IEDs with only minimal damage typically resulting and without casualties. Only one fatality in 2009 has been reported as a consequence of one of these attacks. In fact the Taliban fear the vehicle and have been reported as actively avoiding contact encounters with them.

Slovenia also sent the vehicle to Afghanistan in 2010 and vehicles have been sent to Chad in 2008 as part of a European Union force. In October 2010 a platoon of vehicles was sent to Afghanistan to support the Slovenian efforts there.

Soviet Tank Production WWII

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Unlike the United States, the Soviet Union came into World War II with an extensive tank industry-one the Soviets had unashamedly based on American-style mass production. This made sense, since many Soviet factories had been designed and built by Americans during the 1920s and 30s, when the Communists, working to improve the Soviet industrial base, aspired to the American production model. Indeed, Albert Kahn himself had designed the tractor factory at Stalingrad. And the Soviets weren’t just hiring American architects, but also American production engineers and tool manufacturers.

But by mid-1941, the German invasion had badly disrupted Soviet industry. During that disastrous summer, the invaders had captured, besieged, or threatened the Soviet Union’s western industrial cities. In six months, the U. S. S. R. effectively lost 40 percent of its gross domestic product and population, and 60 percent of its coal and steel production. In the face of this disaster, Russia hurriedly rushed equipment and skilled workers from hundreds of factories onto trains and sent machines and men east to the Ural Mountains.

The Soviets relocated the salvaged equipment to four towns: Nizhny Tagil, Omsk, Sverdlovsk, and Chelyabinsk. Each possessed an existing railroad equipment or tractor factory; the arriving equipment expanded those facilities. As workers set up the machine tools again, sometimes in the naked elements until buildings could be constructed, existing plants at Gorky and Stalingrad “kept the lights on” through 1942, producing enough vehicles for the Red Army to continue fighting. By the time the Stalingrad factory finally fell to the Nazis in October 1942, the new Ural plants were going full tilt.

This massive industrial exodus left the Russian railroad system on the brink of collapse by 1942. Overtaxed track had gone without proper maintenance; rolling stock and engines needed repair or replacement. This led to an effort to minimize railway freight tonnage, which in turn powered an emphasis in Russian factories on centralization and vertical integration- meaning that the Russians concentrated more of the entire process, from manufacture of subcomponents to final assembly, at individual factories. Doing so reduced efficiency, as even the largest factories couldn’t achieve the economies of scale that, say, an engine provider like Germany’s Maybach or the United States’ Ford could. But it helped keep the Soviet Union’s transportation network functioning.

The Ural facilities were huge: the largest in the world, in terms of manpower committed. The Chelyabinsk tractor works, for instance, was known simply as Tankograd: “Tank City.” Tankograd could fabricate nearly everything needed to make an AFV except the gun. It cast steel and armor; produced the engine, transmission, and other components; and assembled the vehicle. It even produced ammunition. The number of workers at the new facility skyrocketed: from 21,000 in 1937 to 40,000 in 1942. By 1944, while Chrysler had 19,500 workers engaged in tank production at the Arsenal and subsidiary plants, Tankograd had 60,000 people under its roof, most of them women, teenagers, and old men. Working conditions were primitive: hot, smoky, cramped, and dimly lit. But Tankograd and the other Ural facilities poured out vehicles.

One principle the Russians adopted with a vengeance from the Americans was planned obsolescence. In a manufactured product, it makes no sense to have subcomponents that last longer than the product itself. The Soviets weren’t dummies. They had carefully studied battlefield data and realized that the average lifespan of a tank on the Eastern Front was less than six months. In combat, tank lifespan was about 14 hours. These were disposable vehicles, with disposable human beings inside. This brutal insight clarified everything about vehicle design, leading the Soviets to embrace a methodology that might be called “The Zen of Shoddiness.”

Viewed this way, there was no sense in building a tank engine or transmission good for more than 1,500 kilometers (932 miles); the tank would be dead by then. The Soviets realized they could machine those components to looser tolerances, using lower-quality metals. And they replaced machined parts with stamped metal components whenever possible. Paint jobs were lamentably bad; welds often crude-although the Soviets did experiment with innovative technologies. At Nizhny Tagil, welding tank hulls underwater hastened cooling and sped up the manufacturing process.

At the same time, the Soviets did everything possible to reduce cost. They standardized Soviet tanks and self-propelled guns on just three chassis: the KV-1 heavy, T-34 medium, and T-70 light. And they kept production runs long and design changes to a minimum, implementing a change only if it made a vehicle simpler or cheaper to manufacture. With the T-34 medium tank, for example, manufacturers simplified 770 parts and eliminated more than 5,600 from 1941 to 1943. During that period the tank’s cost fell by half, from 269,000 rubles to 135,000. While everyone knows that time is money, the inverse is also true: less money meant less time on the line. Components were machined more quickly. And as workers learned the intricacies of assembling the same vehicle over and over, assembly time went down, too. Taken together, the overall labor cost of the vehicle plummeted.

None of this should imply that Soviet tanks were poorly designed. Quite the opposite: the T-34 was a great tank. Its firepower, protection, and mobility surpassed any AFV the Germans fielded until the end of 1942. Cosmetics and comfort simply didn’t concern the Soviets; natty paintjobs and ruler-straight welds didn’t kill Germans; the T-34’s 76mm gun did. That component of the vehicle worked very much as advertised. True, the tank’s loader had to scramble around inside the hull, because the T-34 had no turret basket in which he could sit. In Russian tanks, the things that mattered worked well enough; the things that didn’t were afterthoughts.

While it’s easy to ridicule the simple, sometimes shoddy, weapons the Soviets cranked out, it’s difficult to escape the conclusion that the philosophy underlying the Russian manufacturing approach was nothing less than brilliant. From an emasculated industrial base that left the Soviets under-producing Germans in coal and steel by a ratio of one to four, Soviet factories turned the tables, out-producing Germany nearly three to one in tanks during the vital 1942-1943 period. This monumental achievement was crucial to the war’s outcome.

The Islamic Republic of Iran Army III

The modern Iranian military first saw action during the joint Soviet-British invasion of Iran in 1941, which led to a five-year occupation. Though it performed poorly in 1941, the Iranian military was well on its way to becoming one of the most sophisticated forces in the region during the reign of the Shah. This proud force was to be undone, however, with the advent of revolution in Iran. Facing extensive military purges, uprisings in Kurdish areas, and MKO terrorism, the country was in a state of post-revolutionary chaos when Iraqi invaded in 1980.

In spite of these handicaps, the Iranian military and volunteers of the Revolutionary Guards, the Basij, and the Pasdaran forces first repulsed and then took the war to the Iraqis. Although Iran had obtained vast amounts of US armour, APCs, and trucks, British Chieftains and Scorpions, and large numbers of Soviet trucks and artillery, their forces were initially disorganized and it would take time for them to be organized into manoeuvre formations. In many ways, the most serious problem for Iran was the innate tensions between the secular army and religious volunteers. This would last throughout the eight-year conflict with Iraq. As well as using all the equipment purchased during the time of the Shah, Iranian forces would make extensive use of captured Iraqi equipment, including T-55s, T-62s, Type 69s and T-72s, along with trucks and other Easternbloc equipment. The only really new equipment in terms of combat vehicles purchased during the war came from North Korea. Though of dubious value, such North Korean systems as the Koksan M1978 helped Iran maintain its struggle against Iraq.

Large amounts of Iranian equipment would be lost throughout the war, much of it ending up in the hands of the Iranian MKO. Today, much of the remaining equipment is still in use with the forces of the Islamic Republic, updated with new parts and gaudy camouflage. With international attention again focused on the straits of Hormuz, the ages-old Sunni-Shi’a cold war and tensions between the US and Iran may well erupt into a new regional conflict.

The Islamic Republic of Iran Army IV

The modern Iranian military first saw action during the joint Soviet-British invasion of Iran in 1941, which led to a five-year occupation. Though it performed poorly in 1941, the Iranian military was well on its way to becoming one of the most sophisticated forces in the region during the reign of the Shah. This proud force was to be undone, however, with the advent of revolution in Iran. Facing extensive military purges, uprisings in Kurdish areas, and MKO terrorism, the country was in a state of post-revolutionary chaos when Iraqi invaded in 1980.

In spite of these handicaps, the Iranian military and volunteers of the Revolutionary Guards, the Basij, and the Pasdaran forces first repulsed and then took the war to the Iraqis. Although Iran had obtained vast amounts of US armour, APCs, and trucks, British Chieftains and Scorpions, and large numbers of Soviet trucks and artillery, their forces were initially disorganized and it would take time for them to be organized into manoeuvre formations. In many ways, the most serious problem for Iran was the innate tensions between the secular army and religious volunteers. This would last throughout the eight-year conflict with Iraq. As well as using all the equipment purchased during the time of the Shah, Iranian forces would make extensive use of captured Iraqi equipment, including T-55s, T-62s, Type 69s and T-72s, along with trucks and other Easternbloc equipment. The only really new equipment in terms of combat vehicles purchased during the war came from North Korea. Though of dubious value, such North Korean systems as the Koksan M1978 helped Iran maintain its struggle against Iraq.

Large amounts of Iranian equipment would be lost throughout the war, much of it ending up in the hands of the Iranian MKO. Today, much of the remaining equipment is still in use with the forces of the Islamic Republic, updated with new parts and gaudy camouflage. With international attention again focused on the straits of Hormuz, the ages-old Sunni-Shi’a cold war and tensions between the US and Iran may well erupt into a new regional conflict.

The Islamic Republic of Iran Army I

The modern Iranian military first saw action during the joint Soviet-British invasion of Iran in 1941, which led to a five-year occupation. Though it performed poorly in 1941, the Iranian military was well on its way to becoming one of the most sophisticated forces in the region during the reign of the Shah. This proud force was to be undone, however, with the advent of revolution in Iran. Facing extensive military purges, uprisings in Kurdish areas, and MKO terrorism, the country was in a state of post-revolutionary chaos when Iraqi invaded in 1980.

In spite of these handicaps, the Iranian military and volunteers of the Revolutionary Guards, the Basij, and the Pasdaran forces first repulsed and then took the war to the Iraqis. Although Iran had obtained vast amounts of US armour, APCs, and trucks, British Chieftains and Scorpions, and large numbers of Soviet trucks and artillery, their forces were initially disorganized and it would take time for them to be organized into manoeuvre formations. In many ways, the most serious problem for Iran was the innate tensions between the secular army and religious volunteers. This would last throughout the eight-year conflict with Iraq. As well as using all the equipment purchased during the time of the Shah, Iranian forces would make extensive use of captured Iraqi equipment, including T-55s, T-62s, Type 69s and T-72s, along with trucks and other Easternbloc equipment. The only really new equipment in terms of combat vehicles purchased during the war came from North Korea. Though of dubious value, such North Korean systems as the Koksan M1978 helped Iran maintain its struggle against Iraq.

Large amounts of Iranian equipment would be lost throughout the war, much of it ending up in the hands of the Iranian MKO. Today, much of the remaining equipment is still in use with the forces of the Islamic Republic, updated with new parts and gaudy camouflage. With international attention again focused on the straits of Hormuz, the ages-old Sunni-Shi’a cold war and tensions between the US and Iran may well erupt into a new regional conflict.

The Islamic Republic of Iran Army II

The modern Iranian military first saw action during the joint Soviet-British invasion of Iran in 1941, which led to a five-year occupation. Though it performed poorly in 1941, the Iranian military was well on its way to becoming one of the most sophisticated forces in the region during the reign of the Shah. This proud force was to be undone, however, with the advent of revolution in Iran. Facing extensive military purges, uprisings in Kurdish areas, and MKO terrorism, the country was in a state of post-revolutionary chaos when Iraqi invaded in 1980.

In spite of these handicaps, the Iranian military and volunteers of the Revolutionary Guards, the Basij, and the Pasdaran forces first repulsed and then took the war to the Iraqis. Although Iran had obtained vast amounts of US armour, APCs, and trucks, British Chieftains and Scorpions, and large numbers of Soviet trucks and artillery, their forces were initially disorganized and it would take time for them to be organized into manoeuvre formations. In many ways, the most serious problem for Iran was the innate tensions between the secular army and religious volunteers. This would last throughout the eight-year conflict with Iraq. As well as using all the equipment purchased during the time of the Shah, Iranian forces would make extensive use of captured Iraqi equipment, including T-55s, T-62s, Type 69s and T-72s, along with trucks and other Easternbloc equipment. The only really new equipment in terms of combat vehicles purchased during the war came from North Korea. Though of dubious value, such North Korean systems as the Koksan M1978 helped Iran maintain its struggle against Iraq.

Large amounts of Iranian equipment would be lost throughout the war, much of it ending up in the hands of the Iranian MKO. Today, much of the remaining equipment is still in use with the forces of the Islamic Republic, updated with new parts and gaudy camouflage. With international attention again focused on the straits of Hormuz, the ages-old Sunni-Shi’a cold war and tensions between the US and Iran may well erupt into a new regional conflict.

British Anti-tank guns in the Desert

The portee of guns is a pretty basic and, generally, an ad hoc technique.  While it was often used in NA owing to the need for longer ranged mobility and lack of concealed gun positions, the British did use it in Europe.

The first British portee weapons in WWII occurred in France in 1940.  They were augmenting their 2-pdr AT guns with French 25mm guns.  They were so flimsy that high-speed cross-country towing was impossible so they were carried by lorries.

Starting in 1941, the British developed the “en portee” method of mounting an anti-tank gun (initially a 2 pounder) on a truck. This was to prevent the weapon from being damaged by long-distance towing across rough, stony deserts, and it was intended only to be a carrying method, with the gun unloaded for firing. However, crews tended to fire their weapons from their vehicles for the mobility this method provided, with consequent casualties. This undoubtedly inspired their Morris C9/B (officially the “Carrier, SP, 4×4, 40 mm AA”), a Bofors 40 mm AA gun mounted on a chassis derived from the Morris “Quad” Field Artillery Tractor truck. Similar types, based on 3-ton lorries, were produced in Britain, Canada and Australia, and together formed the most numerous self-propelled AA guns in British service.

Lorry-mounted 2-pdr anti-tank guns on a practice shoot in the Western Desert. 3 May 1942.The 2-pdr antitank gun equipped RA anti-tank regiments and later infantry battalions for much of the Desert War. This 10mm-calibre weapon was mounted on an ingenious three-legged carriage, giving it a low profile and which allowed the travelling wheels to be lifted clear of the ground so that the gun could easily traverse through 360 degrees. An armoured shield fined with an ammunition box protected its 5-man detachment and it weighed 1,760 lb. in action. Many were carried portee on the back of lorries during the Desert War. but when used this way often proved vulnerable to both small arms and shrapnel. Firing a solid AP round and with a penetration of ’40mm at I,000m, the 2-pdr was highly effective against lightly armoured cars and tanks, but as the Desert War progressed it was quickly outclassed and could only engage with a hope of success from the flank at close range.

The 2-pounder was given a new lease of life by putting it on a lorry-the Portee mounting. This mounting used a 15cwt truck with the sides taken off the back so that it had a flat bed. Using two long ramps a 2-pounder was hauled up and set down on its platform. The wheels were removed and bolted on the sides of the truck. The gun could be fired from the flat bed or it could be unloaded and emplaced. By reversing the truck up to the emplacement and throwing down the ramps, it could be evacuated quite quickly, although it could not be done with safety by daylight. The idea gave the little 2-pounders some much-needed mobility and the Portee gunners soon evolved a technique in which they lay up behind a low mound with only the top of the shield and the barrel emerging round the side of the cover. This was safe enough until the tank moved to a flank whereupon the unfortunate truck began to catch the shot and the gun had to move. One anti-tank regiment lost almost a complete battery in one day early in 1942. When the first of the 6-pounders arrived, they too were mounted as Portees, though they were getting a little heavy for continuously pulling up and down the ramps.

15 CWT truck with Breda 20/65

During WW II Canada produced well over 850.000 military motor vehicles which includes one of the most widely used types: the 4 x 2 type Chevrolet 15 CWT. This vehicle was the backbone of the Australian, British and Canadian Forces but was also supplied to many of the other Allies including the Soviet Union, China and India. The truck was used or transporting troops, ammunition and other war material. The design was based on a British Army design and the vehicle was built by General Motors of Canada as well as in Australia. The engines were also supplied through American manufacturers.

BEDFORD QL with 6 PDR.AT GUN

In 1939 the British War Office placed an order with VAUXHALL MOTORS Ltd of Luton, a British subsidiary of General Motors to design a 3-ton 4×4 truck chassis which would form the basis for various vehicles. Originally this vehicle was built for the transport of 6-pound-guns type M-1 and therefore it was also called Gun-Portee. The gun was placed on the platform of the truck and thus it could not be identified. Thus the Bedford QL truck was created and from 1941 until 1945 a total of 52,245 chassis were produced. The QL was an excellent vehicle and soon became the most numerous tactical 3-tonner of the British armed forces. These models were used on almost all fronts during the Second World War and later served in Korea and the Middle East. In the British forces it was gradually replaced by the model RL.

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It is important to note that in any battle a significant proportion of the AT fire suffered by British tanks did not come from other tanks at all, as perhaps British tacticians liked to assume, but from towed (ground-mounted) AT guns. The German 5cm gun was particularly potent, and their famous 8.8cm Flak gun even more so, although it was available in far smaller numbers. British tank crews often imagined that they were being hit by tank fire when in fact they were being hit by something much more serious; the literature is crammed with examples of this misconception. This led them to make a false comparison between the supposed power of the Axis tank guns and the perceived weakness of their own – which in turn reinforced the British belief that they did not particularly need to fire HE shells at the enemy. High explosive was not a good weapon against tanks, but was ideal against AT guns. Since the British doctrinal mindset was pre-occupied with tanks fighting other tanks, it simply did not take account of the need to shell AT guns with HE – in diametrical opposition to the German perception of what was needed.

The British believed that they themselves possessed an adequate antitank defence, although it was split into five distinct and different elements. The first was the infantry platoon’s 0.55in Boys AT rifle, which could be useful against very light armour, or sometimes against the flank or rear of heavier tanks, but for nothing much else. The next were the 2-pdr guns fitted on tanks, and the ballistically identical 2-pdr towed guns on ground mountings or portee vehicle mounts. While these guns were recognized as being the best in their category, by 1942 that whole category had become practically obsolete. The fourth prop of British AT defences was provided by the Bofors 40mm quick-firing AA gun, which in practice did some good service with AP shells, but was not often available at the key time or place. Finally and most importantly, there was the incomparable 25-pdr gun-howitzer. This was in fact almost precisely an 8.8cm weapon, although its muzzle velocity was considerably lower than that of the 8.8cm Flak. There were many occasions on which 25-pdrs in the AT role did succeed in beating off the Panzers. A major disadvantage, of course, was that as long as they were firing AP ammunition they could not be firing HE; their dual role thus served to reduce the availability of HE to the British in a ‘tank battle’ still further.

A sixth potential British AT weapon was the 3.7in (92mm) AA gun, which was ballistically better than the German 8.8cm Flak. The question has often been asked why it was not widely used in the same way, to which the answers are many and complicated. There were problems with sights – of which three different types were tried before an effective AT sight was developed – and with the production of AP ammunition. It took about ten minutes to remove the wheels and unfold the static firing platform; and the sheer height of the beast, which did not have a gunshield, made it a more vulnerable target than its German equivalent (although firing both guns kicked up a 100-foot dust cloud). There were also ‘political’ pressures for it to be kept nearer to the Army, Navy and RAF rear base areas than to the front line where it might encounter Panzers. All of these difficulties had been solved in theory by the summer of 1942 (notably by the energetic efforts of Brig Percy Calvert, commander of the 4th Heavy Anti-Aircraft Bde), but with very few exceptions the 3.7in was still not used against tanks.

It is hard to avoid the conclusion that this was ultimately because British doctrine saw all AT guns as defensive and static weapons, and therefore not really appropriate to take part in a mobile tank battle. If friendly tanks were defeated and forced to fall back upon their AT guns, then all well and good; but pushing the guns forward to accompany an armoured thrust somehow went against the grain. The Germans, by contrast, regarded the deployment of AT guns – including even the heaviest – as an integral part of all tank movements, in the advance no less than the retreat.