The last post was meant to be cross-posted to Hive via SteemPress, but SteemPress no longer appears to work, so I added the Exxp.io plugin to do the same thing. This post is nothing more than a test of that plugin. If are reading this on Hive, please check out the previous post to see what I am up to. I had considered setting that post to private and then re-publishing it, but since post updates are also cross-posted to the blockchain, that would unnecessarily complicate this experiment.
This is the first major update to the website since it went public over two years ago. The blog is no longer a collection of featured images with each main model that I offer, and will no longer be the focus of this website. The new focus of this website will be the shop, and in the near future, its appearance will change as well, since I plan to change how products are sold. Currently, I am playing around with a test page for this very purpose:
If you visit the shop, you may see a preview right next to the KV-2-152 model (the most common variant). This page is password-protected, since it is a test of a new ecommerce setup. I hope to consolidate as many products as possible, reducing the number of product pages from 48 to 30. This will further make the website easier to navigate. Meanwhile, all blog posts made prior to this one will be re-purposed to be more informative. The red “Read more?” text on the product page will direct to the repurposed blog posts, for those who are interested in the history and technical aspects of the original war machine. New blog posts, on the other hand, will include new product announcements and website updates, and not simply information pages for tanks or warships (when I start expanding my catalogue, that is).
Finally, since this is the first blog post I’ve made on this website since installing SteemPress, this post itself is something of a test. If you are reading this on my website, you may have noticed the unusual tags #print3d and #creativecoin. On Hive, tags and community names must begin with a letter, though it is possible to add a tag that begins with a number if a user is using the PeakD interface to create a post. Creativecoin, meanwhile, is a Hive Engine token that artists and other creatives use. Other Hive Engine tokens include MEME, Archon, Foodie, and STEM.
Finally, if you are reading this on Hive, here is a link to the original. I wish I could make side-by-side bilingual posts on my website, but I suppose I could use the up-and-down format that, for instance, @andrianna uses for her own bilingual posts.
In 1956, in the wake of the disastrous Hungarian Uprising, Soviet High Command, better known as STAVKA, saw the first proof of what they had known, and had tried to tell Stalin, for years: their heavy tanks were obsolete. Modernisation efforts were begun on several existing designs, such as the ISU-152K, which entered production in that same year. New designs were then drafted by the leading Soviet tank designers, such as Zhosef Kotin, Nikolai Shashmurin, and Lev Trojanov.
Three clandestine tank projects were drawn up to replace the T-10, which was already undergoing modernisation. In spite of the fact that NATO referred to the T-10 as “the monster hiding behind the Iron Curtain,” STAVKA knew that its performance in its original configuration would have been unsatisfactory on a modern battlefield. The first replacement to be drawn up was Object 277, which was very similar, apart from a lengthened chassis and larger turret mounting a 130mm cannon. Object 278 was similar again, but slightly larger, mounting a 140mm cannon. The front of the hull was also changed from a pike nose to an elliptical shape, similar to that of the American M103 heavy tank. However, Lev Trojanov came with a design radically different from any tank before or since: Object 279. This bizarre tank had four tracks supporting a boat-shaped hull, whose aerodynamic shape would prevent it from being flipped over if caught in the secondary blast radius of a thermonuclear warhead. By this time, tanks were already equipped with NBC protection to shield the crew from radiation, but Object 279 was designed for nuclear war. Object 279 had the lowest ground pressure of any tank ever built, and the suspension arms were mounted to hydraulic track pods. The wheels could be retracted for driving on particularly soft ground, or when the tank was parked. At least one prototype was constructed and tested at the Kubinka proving grounds in 1957; some sources claim more than one was built, but only one still exists. As Object 279 weighed 60 tonnes, it was subject to cancellation when Nikita Khrushchëv ordered in 1960 that no tank over 37 tonnes be produced. None of the innovations unique to Object 279 were seen again on a Russian tank until the development of the Armata universal combat platform in 2014.
Following the mediocre test results of the IS-4, as well as the tentative rejection of the IS-5, Soviet tank designers decided to experiment with German design elements in their next heavy tank. The IS-6, while similar to the IS-4 in most respects, had additional angles on the rear of the hull, more severe angles overall, and two main differences in the running gear. The first experiment, Object 252, used large road wheels and eliminated the return rollers. This was similar, not only to the late-war German heavy tanks, but also to the contemporary medium tank T-54. An alternative design was drawn up with a pike nose, but this was never built. The second experiment, Object 253, kept the same type of running gear as on the IS-4, but with a diesel-electric transmission, similar to the petrol-electric drive that the Germans had experimented with on multiple occasions. Without the inconvenience of their factories being bombed, the Soviets believed that they would have more success with this type of drive than the Germans did, but test results were, once again, mediocre.
The M26 was the product of an effort to replace the M4 Sherman medium tank, but went in an entirely different direction. The first iteration of the effort was the T20, a more compact version of the M4 developed in 1942. The T20E3 had the old HVSS replaced with a torsion bar suspension, and looked like a smaller version of the Pershing. Further developments included the T23 and T25, alternating between HVSS and torsion bars as the designs became heavier and heavier. The T26 was the first model to be field-tested in Europe in February 1945. The T26E3 was the first production variant, the result of field modifications to the T26E1 prototype. After receiving great praise from U.S. Generals, the tank was re-designated M26, and named in honour of World War I U.S. Army General John J. Pershing in March.
The next variant of the M26 to be fielded was the T26E4 “Super Pershing,” a stop-gap tank with additional armour plates mounted to the front of the hull and turret. The T26E5 also had thicker armour, but built into the hull design, rather than externally mounted, thus it didn’t have a noticeably different appearance, as the E4 did. The M26E1 was a further development of the T26E4, and the last variant of World War II. Subsequent variants served in the Korean War, by which time the M26 was reclassified from a heavy tank to a medium tank, given that the U.S. Army was fielding much heavier tanks at the time. The M26 was developed into, and ultimately replaced by, the M46, M47, and M48 Patton tanks.
The IS-3 suffered from a number of shortcomings, both in terms of design and execution. For instance, it had no headroom in its turret and a mere 3 degrees of gun depression. It was also unreliable, something that its predecessor was not. However, there were too many advantages to both the frying pan turret and pike nose hull to simply give up. Zhosef Kotin, therefore, redesigned the tank from the ground up, lengthening the chassis and making the turret a bit taller, increasing the gun depression to 5 degrees. This design, originally called IS-5, was ready for production as Object 730, but it was shelved in favour of a few alternatives, most notably Nikolai Shashmurin’s Object 260.
Object 730 was not revived until after the rejection of the IS-7, and it was re-named IS-8 as a result. After a few minor tweaks to the design, it was finally approved for production as the IS-10 in 1953, but in the wake of Stalin’s death that same year, it was renamed T-10. Initially, the T-10 had the same 122mm D25T rifled tank gun as all its predecessors, with the exceptions of IS-1 and IS-7, but later versions introduced a semi-automatic breach block and a bore evacuator to clear out the fumes faster. A modernised version of the T-10 entered production in 1957, which was equipped with the longer M-62-T2 rifled tank gun, a 750HP engine, and NBC protection. The T-10M was produced as Object 734 at the Chelyabinsk tractor factory, and as Object 272 at the Kirov Plant in Leningrad. Hilariously, tanks produced at different factories had incompatible parts, at least until Object 272 was made the standard in 1962. In 1967, the T-10M was supplied with APDS and HEAT ammunition in a vain attempt to make it as powerful as the T-62 medium tank, but nothing could change the fact that heavy tanks had already been obsolete for a while. The T-10M was the last heavy tank to serve in the Soviet Army, though it was not actually retired until 1993, two years after the Soviet Union collapsed, making it one of the longest-serving tanks of all time, and certainly the longest serving heavy tank of all time (unless you count the IS-3 that rebel forces commandeered during the Donbass war).
Beginning in 1945, several new tank designs were drawn up to replace the IS-2. Object 703 was not the first new design, but it was the first to enter production, hence its designation of IS-3. The title of IS-4, meanwhile, went to Object 701, which took longer to develop. This tank had an overall design much more similar to that of the IS-2, simply larger. The chassis was lengthened, having an additional pair of road wheels, and the angles on both the turret and hull front were more severe. However, the IS-4 offered no significant advantage over the IS-2 other than a faster rate of fire, and was a much more complicated machine to produce. Two experimental tanks were drawn up that used the exact same hull, but with different running gear to support a heavier turret: the ST-1, which had the further advantages of greater gun depression and magazine capacity at the cost of increased weight, and the ST-2, which was the same but with two guns. Neither left the drawing board before Zhosef Kotin started yet another project.
Before its involvement in World War II, the United States had very little in the way of armoured fighting vehicles. There were a few tanks, or “gun motor carriages,” as they were officially known, that the Americans supplied to the British, such as the hastily cobbled-together M3 Grant, but nothing impressive otherwise. Development of what would become the M4 Sherman proceeded slowly, enough that a lengthened version was developed alongside it as a comparable heavy tank: the M6. The first version of this was known as the T1E1, but other prototypes were built as well before the project was scrapped, as the 56-tonne tank was not nearly as heavily-armed or armoured as comparable German or Soviet designs. Toward the end of the war, modified M6 prototypes were used to test large tank guns under the designation M6A2. One dilapidated M6 is still preserved, though missing its tracks, and the only remains of the others are a few vintage photographs.
With Germany’s rather abrupt defeat in 1945, the Wehrmacht simply abandoned most of their equipment, leaving whoever came across it to do with it as they pleased. The French took advantage of all the abandoned panzers, particularly the Tigers, as well as the self-propelled guns based on them, and used them as a basis to make their own new generation of “Auto-Canon,” beginning with a 100mm turretless vehicle to complement a newly-developed tank with a 90mm gun. As the need arose to develop larger and more powerful vehicles, the AC was up-gunned to 120mm before the concept was abandoned entirely when a tank mounting a 120mm gun was finally developed.
Some experimental tank projects in the Soviet Union went in bizarre directions once there was no longer wartime pragmatism to consider. One such example is the SU-100M, a compact, solid, yet lightweight tank destroyer. It had nearly twice the armour protection of the T-34, but weighed only 24 tonnes compared to the 27-tonne T-34-76. All four crew members sat inside the turret, two on each side of the 100mm gun, but this meant that the turret could not rotate more that 74 degrees in either direction while the vehicle was moving. One must wonder if this would not have been a problem if the tiny tank destroyer was built later than 1950 and had drive-by-wire technology. Regardless of the advantages this design had, the difficulties of its operation and its lack of gun depression meant that it never left the prototyping phase, with only one vehicle having been built.
In March 1944, the U.S. Army began developing a new tank to counter the Panzer 6B “King Tiger,” as the M26 Pershing was rightly seen as inadequate to properly deal with it. The T29 had a larger 105mm gun mounted in a turret with a coincidence rangefinder (hence the “ears”), and its hull was a lengthened, up-armoured version of the M26. Since the war was over before trials could be completed, the T29 never saw combat, but continued to serve as a test-bed for heavier weapons and more advanced automotive components, leading to the T30 and T34 heavy tanks, and, ultimately, the M103 heavy tank.
The ISU-122 was produced at the same time as the IS-1 and IS-2 heavy tanks, and had the advantages of being much simpler to construct, while also carrying more ammunition. This was a significant wartime advantage, but the ISU-122 simply didn’t have the versatility of a tank. A second version, the ISU-122S, had a semi-automatic breech block, and thus a faster rate of fire, but it still offered no significant advantage once the war was over. Unlike its contemporary, the ISU-152 self-propelled artillery gun, most of both variants of the ISU-122 were converted into engineering tanks or mobile command bunkers.