Showing posts with label allies. Show all posts
Showing posts with label allies. Show all posts

11 June 2014

Let the Cannon Speak !

Artillery galore! Project "Let the Guns Speak"

(or Get your artillery finished! -  Written before my Bagration photos)

I built quite number of artillery pieces for the D Day landing scenario we played a few weeks ago. Did not have time to get everything based, so I have been beavering away at these. Also have quite a few that were un-built or part built from the Kursk battle last year. Artillery crew needing painting and basing too.

Bases built and some flocked, in my current habitual autumn colour scheme, and allowing some snow for the Russki's. I obtained a number of JB Post-war 105mm Howitzers at bargain basement price, so I decided to bend time a bit, and employ these as medium artillery during WW2. Would also be useful for post-war / Korea / Cold war scenarios. I had purchased a Korean war set off Trade Me some time ago, and have some Persing Tanks that would do just fine for a Korea Battle. All to often that is a forgotten war, overshadowed by WW 2 and Vietnam.

So on my workbench now we have:

Russians:
5x Zis 3 guns (Italeri); to make a total battery of 11 when added to the fully built ones. - done



Italeri's Zis Gun and Crew (Photo WW2 Plastic Soldiers)

The box always brings a smile to my face. The Crew are called "Servants" - good old google translate!


4x M 30 122mm Howitzers  (Zvezda) - done
2 x 37mm Antitank Guns (Zvezda); battery of 4 - done
2 x 37 mm AA Guns (Zvezda) - pending

Western Allies:
2 x 17 Pounder Antitank guns, another 2 on the way off TradeMe (NZ Ebay equivalent) (Matchbox, me thinks) - base-coated



This kit has become quite hard to come by. 


7 x 25 Pounder Guns (Airfix and Matchbox) - done
7 x 6 Pounder antitank guns (Airfix) - done
2 x Bofors AA Guns (Airfix) - 1 done, one built
Un-built: 3 more Bofors, - all built
5 x 5.5 inch Field guns w Matadors - guns built, base-coated, Matadors 2 halfway built, 3 base-coated; (Another 2 models are in the post as I write) Tractors for the Bofors guns halfway through building process: Still need loading trays and wheels

Germans: 2 x LeFH 18s (Armourfast) Only to be based, the portly crews to be based and painted




Portly Armourfast German Artillery officers. Obviously life was good for them in occupied Europe
They would have lost that tube around the middle quite rapidly in a Soviet PoW Work Camp
Photo Plastic Soldier review

2 x Nebelwerfer (Hasegawa) 1x Pak 40 (Matchbox)

Quite handy: Many of the artillery pieces come with tractors and limbers, all of which have many other uses

As usual I have been side-tracked to research the history...

The Zis-3:


76 mm Divisional field gun model 1942 (Zis-3)

The design work on the ZiS-3 started in the end of 1940 at the  the Artillery Factory No. 92 under supervision of V. G. Grabin, the chief designer of medium caliber Soviet guns. There was no order for this work; moreover, at this time the attitude toward such development programs on the part of artillery commanders, such as Marshal Kulik, the head officer of Soviet artillery, was extremely negative. So the project was run purely on the initiative of Grabin, his design bureau and the Artillery Factory No. 92 head and his deputies. None of them informed state authorities (i.e. Marshal Kulik) about the ZiS-3 project.

It was a combination of the light carriage from the 57 mm ZiS-2 anti-tank gun and a powerful 76.2 mm barrel from the previous divisional field gun F-22 USV. In order to decrease the gun's recoil a muzzle brake was installed. This allowed the barrel to be mounted on a relatively light carriage without the risk of mechanical damage when firing. In comparison with the F-22USV gun, the ZiS-3 utilized better production technology. Many parts of the gun were cast, stamped or welded in order to reduce the amount of machining work. As a result, the amount of work required to construct a single ZiS-3 gun was three times less than that of the F-22 USV gun, and the cost only two thirds that of an F-22 USV.

The first ZiS-3 gun was hidden from the watchful eyes of state authorities, who continued to ignore the Red Army's need for light and medium field guns. The  main argument was that German heavy tanks carried exceptionally strong armour. Germany did not have such tanks in early 1941 and this misinformation was actually the result of successful Nazi propaganda. Kulik had believed the propaganda and stopped production of light 45 mm anti-tank guns and 76.2 mm divisional field guns.


The beginning of Operation Barbarossa showed that the early German tanks had weaker armour than anticipated. Some were even vulnerable to large caliber DShK machine guns. Pre-war models of 76 mm divisional guns penetrated German vehicles with ease, but almost all these guns were lost or destroyed.

Some were later used against Soviet forces as Panzerj√§ger self-propelled guns, built on captured or obsolete chassis.  Kulik ordered that mass production of 76.2 mm divisional field F-22 USV guns be relaunched. Grabin and the head staff of Artillery Factory No. 92 decided to organize the mass production of ZiS-3 guns instead of F-22 USVs. They succeeded, but ZiS-3 was not officially tested and adopted for Red Army service.

The Red Army was in urgent need of these guns, the guns themselves were fine and numerous due to improved production technology, but all of them were held  in stock at Artillery Factory No. 92, since the military representatives refused to receive non-official guns. After some internal struggle between Grabin's team and military representatives, ZiS-3 guns were finally transferred to the Red Army under personal responsibility of Grabin and Artillery Factory No. 92 head staff.


Combat experience showed the superiority of ZiS-3 over all other types of divisional level field guns. This allowed the ZiS-3 to be presented to a group of state authorities headed by Joseph Stalin and thus obtain all needed approval. After the demonstration was over Stalin said: "This gun is a masterpiece of artillery systems design." There was a five-day official state test run in February 1942. The result of this test was quite clear - ZiS-3 was adopted by the Red Army as Divisional field gun model 1942 .

Grabin and his team soon begun to improve on the technology used in the ZiS-3 mass production. Artillery Factory No. 92 was equipped by conveyor assembly lines, which allowed the factory to produce ZiS-3 in even greater numbers. The young men who worked on Artillery Factory No. 92 were exempt from conscription. By the end of World War II, ZiS-3 was the most numerous Soviet Army field gun. The total number of ZiS-3s produced exceeded 103,000 pieces. The Finns captured 12 units, and designated them 76 K 42.

After the war ZiS-3 mass production ceased. It was replaced by the next model of divisional field gun, D-44, which had a larger caliber (85 mm) and better anti-armour capabilities. But it weighed much more and its mobility was thus inferior to that of the ZiS-3.



Combat history
Soviet soldiers liked ZiS-3 guns for their extreme reliability, durability, and accuracy. It was easy to maintain these guns and train novice crews with them. Light carriage allowed the ZiS-3 to be towed by trucks and heavy jeeps (such as the American lend-leased Dodge 3/4) or even hauled by the crew.

ZiS-3 had good anti-armour capabilities, it could knock out any German light and medium tank with its armour-piercing round. The appearance of the Tiger I and later the Panther, however, made the lives of ZiS-3 crews much harder, for their frontal armour was immune except for some small ballistic windows.

A battery of ZiS-3 consisted of four guns, with three batteries combined into a division, or battalion. Independent anti-tank regiments consisted of six batteries with no divisions. In addition to the gun batteries there was a staff battery which included a fire control section.

The ZiS-3 saw combat service with North Korean forces during the Korean War (1950-1953).

During the Cold War many ZiS-3s were transferred to different Soviet allies, and often resold to Third World countries. Armies of several African and Asian countries still have ZiS-3s in active service today. Moreover, these guns are still used in combat during numerous local conflicts and border skirmishes.

All Soviet ZiS-3s were officially withdrawn from active service. Some of them were scrapped, some were transferred to holding facilities and others were converted to Great Patriotic War memorials. Such memorial cannons are quite common in modern Russia and Belarus. The Russian Army uses some ZiS-3s  as unit and barrack historical decoration in artillery units. Other surviving ZiS-3s are still operable. Sometimes ZiS-3s are used as salute guns or in re-enactment and military shows.

26 March 2014

Crimea in the spotlight: History repeating itself ? Two opinions

Is Putin taking a page out of Hitler's book? Two opinions



Two opinions reposted:

Richard Cohen, Washington Post:
Putin forces us to reconsider poor Neville Chamberlain

Pardon the cliche, but I think we have come upon a teachable moment. I am referring to the crisis in Ukraine and what it teaches us, not just about the future but also about the past. Vladimir Putin has turned us all into Neville Chamberlain. The umbrella, please.

Chamberlain is famous for the Munich Agreement and his statement that, by acquiescing to Hitler’s demands, he had brought Britain and Europe “peace for our time.” He and the French gave Hitler the Sudetenland, which was the name applied to the substantially German areas of what was then Czechoslovakia. Hitler was a monster, but in this case his argument had a superficial appeal: Germans, he contended, ought to be in Germany.


What complicates matters is that we now know — indeed, we soon learned — that for Hitler the Sudetenland represented mere batting practice. He was soon to invade Poland and much of the rest of Europe, faltering only when he disregarded the bitter lesson Napoleon learned and plunged into Russia. It was a very cold winter.

Putin is demanding for Crimea more or less what Hitler wanted for the Sudetenland: Russians ought to be in Russia. No doubt the Crimean Russians agree and, come Sunday, will vote accordingly. That would place a patina of democracy — or at least self-determination — over what is essentially a power grab, but it will be hard to argue that the Crimean Russians aren’t getting the government they want, if not the one they deserve.


So we can see — can’t we? — that Chamberlain was not such a noodle after all. He certainly appeased Hitler. But the Western world — needing Russian gas for Germany, Russian rubles for London flats — over time probably will do the same with Putin. Just as we — especially our European brethren — can see the logic of Putin’s demands, so could Chamberlain appreciate that the Sudeten Germans might be on the wrong side of the border. Hitler’s homicidal anti-Semitism, among other character blemishes, bothered them not a bit. No one’s perfect, after all.


The fly in my Sudeten ointment is that, as with Chamberlain in 1938, we are not sure with whom we are dealing. Hitler soon announced himself, making Chamberlain appear the fool then and forevermore. But what of Putin? Will he stop at Crimea or, after a pause, plunge into the rest of eastern Ukraine, which has many Russian speakers? And then, what next? Will he endeavor to protect ethnic Russians in, say, Estonia? Almost 25 percent of that country is ethnic Russian. How about Latvia, which is about 27 percent Russian. These are healthy numbers; if these Russian minorities become endangered — or are merely said to be — a Russian ruler has an obligation to act, da?

Hitler made things easy. By 1938, he had already purged (murdered) the hierarchy of his vaunted brown shirts, instituted the anti-Semitic Nuremberg laws and, a bit more than a month after he signed the Munich Agreement, launched the vast pogrom known as Kristallnacht. By then, too, he had ruthlessly suppressed all dissent, created the first of many concentration camps and lit the German night with bonfires of unacceptable books.


Putin is no angel, but he has concentrated power without widespread violence or murder. While the gulag remains mostly a memory, he has sent his opponents to labor camps, such as YaG-14, where the oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky was eventually sentenced. Putin is autocratic and kleptomaniacal, but he is not Hitler or Stalin. He has a keen ear for the 24-hour news cycle and must have noticed that the Ukraine story has slipped off Page 1 and, on TV, is not as important as the weather.

It would be wrong to allow Putin’s seizure of Crimea to fall into some sort of memory hole. Putin got away with the seizure of Abkhazia and South Ossetia in 2008 (George W. Bush was president then) and now he seems poised to retain Crimea — at the very least. In the long term, he knows we are short-term thinkers.

This teachable moment has many students. Around the world, there are nations that suffer the grievous loss of this or that strip of land, even worthless rocky islands in the middle of nowhere. What have they learned? I hope it’s not that the rest of us have learned nothing.

Matt Vasilogambros, National Journal:
It's Too Early to Say Putin Is Using Hitler's Playbook


Crimea is not Sudetenland, Putin is not Hitler, and Obama is not Chamberlain.

"I believe it is peace for our time," Neville Chamberlain said, standing outside 10 Downing Street on Sept. 30, 1938, upon returning from a meeting with Adolf Hitler in Germany.

Those infamous words by the British prime minister, which followed a deal to give Nazi Germany a part of Czechoslovakia in return for a promise of no war, have been repeated for more than 75 years as the example of appeasing to a dictator in modern history.

And now, a growing choir of politicians and pundits, warning of the consequences of Russian aggression in Ukraine, are using it too.

 On the same day that Hillary Clinton said that Vladimir Putin's claims of protecting ethnic Russians was "reminiscent" of Hitler's claims for ethnic Germans living in Sudetenland, Rep. John Shimkus, an Illinois Republican, told the House floor that the world was acting like Chamberlain "as Russia continues to gobble up sovereign states."

Comparisons to Hitler are overdone and often inappropriate. The man did kill 6 million Jews and brought the world to war. But in this case, those on the left and right seem to be comfortable suggesting that Crimea is the new Sudetenland.

So, what actually happened in that slice of the former Czechoslovakia in 1938?

Sudetenland is a thin region in the northwestern, western, and southwestern parts of what's now the Czech Republic, bordering Germany. At the time, it was mostly inhabited by German speakers who were particularly vulnerable to unemployment and poverty during the 1930s—making it easier for some to cling to political extremism.

As Hitler expanded his reach in Europe, annexing Austria and looking to enlarge the Third Reich, he started coordinating with the local Nazi Party to pressure the Czechoslovakian government for more minority rights for ethnic Germans. Those rights were granted, but Hitler pushed further. He wanted to annex Sudetenland, and he threatened to go to war to secure the region.

Fearing a second major conflict in their lifetimes, Britain and France met with Germany and Italy to find a solution. Czechoslovakia was not included in the meetings. After several rounds of negotiation and threats of military force from Hitler, the four parties met in Munich to agree to a solution that would let Germany annex Sudetenland and immediately occupy the territory militarily. Later, this would make Germany's invasion of the rest of Czechoslovakia five months later easier, because Hitler had taken away any sort of border defense.

Chamberlain, Hitler, Italian dictator Benito Mussolini, and French Prime Minister Edouard Daladier signed the Munich Agreement on Sept. 30, 1938, labeled as a victory for peace.

Right now, it's fair to say that Vladimir Putin is making similar claims of protecting ethnic Russians in Crimea. Crimea, like that region of Czechoslovakia, is also strategic militarily and plagued by a weak central government.

But the position that the world finds itself in now is completely and utterly different than in 1938. Putin is not Hitler, in neither intentions nor actions. Ukrainian government leaders are at the table and involved in international discussions. And Western leaders have not signed Crimea over to Russia for a promise of peace.

Could Crimea for Putin, like Sudetenland for Hitler, be "batting practice," as The Washington Post's Richard Cohen said in a Tuesday column? Will Putin now go after countries in the region with large Russian populations like Estonia, Latvia, or Lithuania, as Hitler did in Czechoslovakia and Poland? Or is this an isolated instance?



There are similarities between that infamous moment in modern history and what we face today, and leaders should want to prevent such atrocities again. But these questions remain unanswered. It is just too early to call Putin Hitler and Obama Chamberlain.