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  1. 2 points
    The M109A7 with the ERCA and Auto-loader is to be designated XM1299: https://ndiastorage.blob.core.usgovcloudapi.net/ndia/2019/armament/Musgrave.pdf
  2. 1 point
    Ramlaen

    General AFV Thread

    Bulgarian BMP-23
  3. 1 point
    That .pdf went up in late June and I completely missed the upgraded vehicle being called the XM1299.
  4. 1 point
    LoooSeR

    US/Iran flirting with quagmire thred.

    Jesus, people arguing about a drone.
  5. 1 point
    Beer

    Czechoslovak interwar bits

    A bit about the God of War. With Czechoslovak artillery it was exactly opposite than with the airforce. The artillery was very strong and had many very potent weapons, nearly all of them were local design and production. The guns were also widely exported. The field army had some 80 artillery regiments with over 2200 pieces (not counting any fortification guns or auxilliary units). As with most of other weapons large part of them (plus huge ammo stocks - and actually also hundreds of thousands Sudeten Deutsche soldaten) sadly presented a massive gift for the Wehrmacht. A bitter aftermath of Münich. 10 cm Light howitzer vz.14/19 (towed by horses). Very well known weapon used by nearly everyone in the central Europe and during WW2 by Wehrmacht and Italy. In 1938 Czechoslovakia had around 600 pieces. Wehrmacht got 400+, Slovakia 180+. Together with Polish and Austrian ones Wehrmacht later had around 1000 pieces. 10 cm light howitzer vz.30 (for motorized units and so called fast divisions). Very modern weapon for its time based on export Yugoslav model but widely modified for domestic use (not always in the better way due to various compromises such as necessity to allow use of older ammo for vz.14/19). 160+ guns were available in 1938. It was later successfully used by Wehrmacht and Slovakia. The only preserved piece is in USA. 10 cm light howitzer vz.38 (for mechanized units). This modern weapon was never fielded despite it was addopted but too late - the complete order (260 pieces) was canceled after Münich. As with the previous gun it was again based on successful export models F and H (Yugoslavia, Romania, Iran, Latvia, Afghanistan). Germany took 84 guns made for Latvia and sold 57 to Romania and 27 to Finland. Those 27 Finnish guns officially fired 75 thousand rounds during the war and served successfully till 1970'. The prototype of the Czechoslovak version (H3) is on display in Lešany museum near Prague together with one Finnish piece (a place sure worth visiting). 15 cm heavy howitzer vz.15 (usually towed by heavy tractors). This gun was already rather obsolete by 1938 but 40+ pieces were still used. The guns were taken over by Wehrmacht and used on the western front and a half was later sold to Finland. It's on display in Lešany. 15 cm heavy howitzer vz.14/16 (for horse traction). Well known weapon of the WW1. Czechoslovakia used some 180 pieces built after WW1 and they were used till Münich. Hundreds of these guns were used by Italy, others by Austria, Romania, Greece etc. Wehrmacht took around 100 pieces and used most of them in Austrian units which were used to the same weapon. The gun is preserved in Lešany. 15 cm heavy howitzer vz.25 (for horse traction). Czechoslovak army had 340 pieces of this rather light and potent weapon (still pretty good by late 30'). Werhmacht and Slovakia successfully used them till the end of war. You can see this gun in Lešany as well. 155 mm heavy howitzer vz.15/17. This well known French gun was a stop-gap solution in 1919 when the army badly needed whatever it could get to fight the so-called Hungarian Soviet Republic (which was defeated by Romanian and Czechoslovak forces and ceased to exist the same year). Czechoslovakia had 50 pieces but all of them were retired by 1937. Maybe Wehrmacht got them from some storage but there is no record about that. Anyway it used plenty of these guns from French and Polish stocks. 15 cm heavy howitzer vz.37. This weapon was arguably the best of its class by late 30' but as with many other weapons of Czechoslovak production it was largely exported (series K) but not used by the Czechoslovak army itself. When the army decided to addopt this weapon used already by Turkey, Romania or Yugoslavia it was hesitating that long about its modifications (for example whether it prefers a variant for motorized or horse traction) that the first guns were delivered only after Münich. Wehrmacht took a whole batch of 110+ pieces and used them till the end of war. Some sources say that Germany originally signed an order for another production but a lobby from German companies led to its cancelation. The Czechoslovak variant of the gun is on display in Lešany museum. 10 cm mountain howitzer vz.16/19. This weapon was successfully used during the WW1 and extensively modernized by Czechoslovakia in 1920'. It was being transported disassembled into three pieces and with the overall weight 1350 kg it could fire to nearly 10 km distance (the modernized version). It was widely used by Italy, Austria (later Wehrmacht) and in small numbers also by Slovakia and Greece. Czechoslovakia had 66 pieces of which 44 were modernized and dislocated mostly in the mountains of Slovakia. This gun is on display in Lešany. That's it for howitzers. I have omitted many prorotypes, some of which are on display in Lešany as well. Let's continue later with field guns.
  6. 1 point
    Beer

    Czechoslovak interwar bits

    Let's move from the fortification system to the something a lot less bright... the airforce. The airforce was quite clearly the weakest point of the Czechoslovak army mostly due to the too conservative approach of the MOD. Nevertheless some interesting designs saw the daylight. Here are couple of those not very well known... Aero A-102. This plane was originally a bi-plane similar to Polikarpov i-15 (top wings connected directly with the fuselage) and one of the competitors to the Avia B-34. It was never built and lost the bid already in paper phase. Nevertheless Aero redesigned the plane to a braced low-wing. It was year 1934 and the MOD was rather conservative and refused such design. A new itteration came in summer 1934 with a shoulder wing configuration similar to Polish PZL P.11 but more aerodynamically clean, better armed and with much stronger engine. Despite the plane had weaker engine than Avia B-534, it was much faster simply because it was no bi-plane. The top speed with locally produced 800 Hp Gnome Rhone Mistral Major 14 Kfs engine was 430 km/h (B-534 had locally produced 860 Hp Hispano Suiza 12Ybrs but the license owner Avia, part of Škoda company, was doing everything it could to prevent other companies to use it). The armament was made of four 7,92 mm MGs vz.30 in the wings and optionally with light bombs. The plane actually flew and went through extensive testing and showed very good haracteristics However in the end it was rejected due to too high landing speed because it had no flaps (140 km/h). That was a real pity because otherwise it was clearly superior design to bi-plane Avia B-534. Avia B-35. OK, not that unknown but neverthless interesting. Czechoslovakia found late that the speed will be crucial in the future air battles. It tried to obtain Hurricanes from GB but the negotiations were not successful. The prototyp of the modern B-35 first flew on 28th September 1938 which is basically all you need to know about the future fate of it. Aside of that the plane was up to date. It had an eliptic wing made of wooden structure with an "armoured plywood" panels (plywood with 0,2 mm aluminium layer). The fuselage was made of steel tubes covered by magnesium-aluminium alloy panels. The engine was supposed to be 1000 Hp Hispano Suiza 12Y-1000C, three-blade adjustable propeller, retractable gear and flaps. The armament was made of one 20 mm Hispano 404 canon and two 7,92 mm MGs vz.30. The theoretical top speed was around 570 km/h. However the first prototype had fixed gear, two-blade wooden propeler and 860 Hp 12Ydrs engine. Despite it had the same engine as the B-534 and not yet the retractable gear it was roughly 100 km/h faster than the B-534 (485 km/h was achieved already in the very first flights). After the occupation the development went pretty slow and in the end 12 B-135 planes were delivered to Bulgaria in 1942 when they were already obsolete. B-135 had the retractable gear but it still had the old 860 Hp engine and the wooden two blade propeler (it achieved 550 km/h with it), moreover the canon was never installed in them. Despite that there are records that on 30th March 1944 one B-135 shot down a Liberator during an atack on Ploesti. Aero A-300. The funy thing about Czechoslovak air force is that in the fall of 1938 it was about to go in the war with Germany with its fastest planes being bombers. The airforce had roughly 60 fast Soviet Tupolev SB-2 bombers eqiped with Czech-made Hispano engines) and a licence production was just starting in the Avia factory with a name Avia B-71. Except that the rest of the bomber air force isn't worth talking about as it was hopelessly obsolete. The MOD knew that and tried to obtain a locally produced modern plane heavier than the Tupolev. The Aero A-300 first flew in spring 1938 but the testing was not finished until after Münich when it was officially adopted without the production ever started. It was a very fast (450-460 km/h) low-wing twin engine bomber with a capacity of up to 1000 kg of bombs. The crew of four had three 7,92 mm MGs (retractable dorsal, and belly posts plus one in the glass front). The engines were 830 Hp Bristol Mercury IX with De Havilland-Hamilton adjustable three-blade propellers. The fuselage was made of steel tubes with aluminium and textile cover. The wings were wooden and the plane had retractable gear and flaps. Letov Š-50. A recon and light bomber plane (with tasks similar to FW-189). Due to some issues in the development it first flew only in September 1938 and shortly after that the development was stopped. The plane had again tubular fuselage structure with aluminium cover but this time even thew wings were of steel tubular design. The engines were 420 Hp Avia Rk-17 equipped with two blade adjustable Hamilton propellers. The gear was fixed. The crew of three had three 7,92 mm vz.30 MGs (one in the Armstrong Withworth turret, one in the belly firing post and one forward firing in the wing). The plane could carry various photocameras, radio station and up to 600 kg of bombs. Aero A-304. This plane was originally a passenger plane ordered by Czechoslovak Airlines but they didn't want to wait and bought Airspeed Envoy isntead. The airforce liked the plane and let it be modified to a recon/light bomber plane. Nineteen were ordered and few of them were probably delivered before Münich (only one confirmed). Luftwaffe used them later as training planes. The fuselage was made of steel tubes covered by plywood and textile. The wings were wooden with plywood cover. The engines 430 Hp Walter Super Castor worked with wooden two blade propellers and the plane could reach 325 km/h with them. The gear was retractable. The crew had three 7,92 mm vz.30 MGs (one in the dorsal turret, one in the belly and one in the frontal post). It could carry 300 kg of bombs. One curiosity at the end. Have you known that interwar Czechoslovakia was using special fuel to decrease the dependence on oil import? It used a fuel called Bi-Bo-Li which had two variants - aviation and vehicle one. The aviation one was made of 44% ethanol, 44% benzene and 12% of kerossene. The vehicle one was made of 50% ethanol, 30% benzene and 20% petrol. The Czechoslovak army and the airforce collected rather large fuel and ammo supplies, in fact reasonably larger than Wehrmacht and Luftwaffe had in late 1938 (not in overall volume but in the time it could use them).
  7. 1 point
    Jagdpanzer IV/70(A). Not a lot of wartime pictures of this where it's not blown to smithereens or captured.
  8. 1 point
    Beer

    Czechoslovak interwar bits

    Possibly last post dedicated to the fortification but a very long one dedicated to the heavy fortifications. I hope that a lot of those peculiar details are new for you. Most of the info comes from very knowledgeable staff of heavy infantry casemate N-S-82. If you ever want to visit some object of Czechoslovak fortification system you must not miss this one because this is the only one fully equipped as it shall have been (in fact it's a bit better equipped than in September 1938 then it was not totally finished inside). All photos are from my phone (it's allowed to take photos inside). N-S-82 is a stand alone infantry casemate located in a line on a slope upon the border crossing Náchod-Běloves. It was built in 1938 in a resistance class II. Which means that it had 2,25 m thick frontal wall (with a stones and earth cover). The roof was 2 m thick and the side and rear facing walls were 1 m thick. The border crossing is down bellow while roughly 1,5 km away on the hill there is an artillery fortress Dobrošov. It was guaranteed to withstand 240 mm artillery shells and 250 kg bombs (according to many authors Luftwaffe had no 500 kg bombs fielded at September 1938 yet) however during weapon testing on a casemate Jordán (experimental one used for fortification and weapon development) which had same resistance class even 305 mm heavy mortar hit didn't penetrate the roof (there were volunteers inside during the test fire!). It is said that there was some damage to the equipment but I don't know more details. On the same picture you can see also a combined anti-tank/infantry obstacle made of steel U-shape profiles welded together and stuck in a concrete base. Behind them there is anti-infantry barbed wire and a line of steel hedgehogs. Anti-infantry barbed wire could have been placed also in front of those rods. At certain place with high danger of tank attacks concrete anti-tank moats wete built too (sometime they can still be found). In 1938 you could find also these older concrete hedgehogs in the area. Those were used only earlier because they had two importnat drawbacks. The first one was that they offered better cover for the attacking infantry and the second was that their large area made them easier to move by shockwaves from artilery. A historical image showing how such line looked like in the September 1938 (where it was finished). This picture shows a heavy object K-S-35. N-S-82 was armed with one 47 mm AT gun, 5 HMG and 5-6 LMG. AT gun with coaxial HMG and a twin HMG were pointing down the valey towards the border crossing. On the opposite side (uphill) there were two single HMGs. LMG were used only in observation cupolas and for close defence of the object (normally the priority was to defend the neighbouring object with primary weapons). Let's go inside. There are three door covered by 2 LMG fire posts and one fire post for personal weapons directly in the entrance which alone had S-shape to prevent any direct fire into the object and on the main door. The first cage door are 200 kg heavy and on the left side behind them there is a fresh-air intake. On the right side there is armored door 600 kg heavy. Behind another corner there is third presurrized door 450 kg heavy. Both heavy door had emergency hatches in them so that the crew could get out if the door were deformed and stuck. The casemate has two floor. The top floor is combat and the bottom one is technical and living one. Every single heavy object had its own water source which must have been able to deliver at least 1,5 litres per minute. In this particular case it was around 4 litres per minute. This is the electric generator which was pretty noisy. It's in fully working state. It's cooling was used for heating the interior but even in summer the inner temperature didn't get upon 17°C and the soldiers often suffered from respiratory or rheumatic issues. This is the filtering and air venting room. On the left side there is the ventilator with back-up handles for manual operation (I tried it myself and it's quite tough). On the right side there are filters which were used only in case of gas attack. The whole object had an overpressure in it which was used also for extracting the fumes from gunnery rooms. This particular object had 32 men crew (only the commander was an officer). The soldiers had one bedroom (see bellow). The sub-officers had their own room with own bed for each one and the commander had also his own room but located on the combat floor. Only Czech or Slovak nationals were allowed to serve in the permanent boarder units manning the heavy fortifications (no German, Poles or Hungarians because low loyality was expected with them). This is part of the bathroom (it's difficult to take some photos inside because it's quite cramped and I don't want to post gazillion of photos, rather only millions). The lavatories had a water filtration station used to prevent pollution of the main water source and a ventilation preventing methane acumulation). Down bellow there was also a food storage, hand granade storage (275 pieces) and a telephone room (on the picture). The bunker had several external telephone lines leading to the neighbouring objects and to the sector command post. As a backup a ground telegraph was used with cable antenas dug underground. Depending on the particular soil composition it was capable of morse communication to the range of 5-10 km. Ground radio antenas for voice communication were not installed by September 1938 (the radio was developed and tested but not fielded). Here you can see some internal communication means in the gunnery room. A simple speaking tube and a telephone. There was another way how to communicate between the observation cupolas and the gunnery rooms and that was a color code (in case of big noise from bombardning for example). With that we got onto the combat floor. This is the LMG firing post for the defence of the rear side. You can see observation insert on the left side which was interchangeable with the LMG. The LMG is vz.26 which I don't need to introduce to you for sure. There were 120 ready-to-fire magazines for each LMG in the object! Here is similar firing post with the observation insert mounted and a removable periscope to the right side of it. That was used to observe the close surroundings and the moats at the weapons. Under the periscope there is a tube for hand grenades used for close defence. A view inside the observation cupola from bellow. The very peculiar thing here is that the floor worked similarly to the office chair and the soldier could very simply adjust the floor position to his height. The middle column was also used for evacuation of spent cartridges. The cupola is made of 200 mm thick cast steel and the inner diameter is 1,35 m. This is a periscoipe which could have been errected through the cupola roof for 360° observation. A simple lift was used to transport LMG mags to the cupola. Some more details before we get to the main weaponry. These are JIGs for MG loading. Top is belt-loading JIG for HMG vz.37 and bellow is a one for mag loading of LMG vz.26. This is the kitchen, gentelmen. Yes, for 32 people! The bunker had food reserves for 14 days but I can hardly imagine to fight 2 weeks inside without getting crazy. This is one very peculiar detail. When the bunker was bombarded by heavy weapons the ceiling could elastically deform. To prevent internal much thinner walls from collapsing they had on top of them a cork layer which worked like a spring reducing the pressure on the walls. Except for the grenades all ammo was stored in the combat department close to the weapons. The capacity of this object was 600 47 mm shells and 600 thousand 7,92x57 rounds. Now imagine that 263 heavy and nearly 10000 light objects were actually built before Münich. What an insane amount of ammo stored in the fortification system! In reality around 3/4 of the ammo was delivered at 28th September but I would say that it's still huge achievement of the army logistics. On the picture you can see AP and HE-FRAG round of the AT gun (from later war production). A third anti-infantry round was being developed but wasn't fielded. I don't know how it's called in English when the round is filled with steel balls. Can you help me? This is the right gunnery room with two single HMG vz.37 and one LMG vz.26 for close defence. Notice that all frontal and side walls and also the ceiling had metalic anti-spall and anti-vibration layer. All main weapons (AT gun and the HMGs) had sights with 2x zoom (upon the gun there is a drawing of the surroundings). Unfortunately not a single original support for the single HMG was preserved and the plans shall be dug somewhere in the German archives. Therefore these are just approximate replicas. The HMG vz.37 (ZB-53) alone is basically what the Brits know as BESA (rechambered to 0.303). Each single HMG had 2 men crew, the shooter and the loader. This is one of only three preserved heavy barrels for the HMG vz.37 in Czechia. This barrel would be used exclusively in fortifications. This is a view into the left gunnery room with an AT gun with coaxial HMG and a twin HMG. Both weapons and supports are original. Both the HMGs and the AT gun could have been quickly aimed by the body force alone without using elevation and traverse screws (that was also a possibility). The twin HMG vz.37 on the picture had a crew of three (one shooter and two loaders). I believe the most interesting thing is the AT gun Škoda vz.36. This particular gun was moved to Atlantic Wall in Norway and in 2002 returned back into N-S-82 and moreover with a spare barrel. There are only around ten of such guns preserved worldwide and very few spare barrels (only one or two in Czechia) and these two have matching serial numbers (173 + 2173; 2173 means second barrel for 173) and moreover they originally belonged to this particular bunker! The gun was capable of very rapid fire. Normally 20-30 aimed shots per mimute (depending on the skill of the crew) or up to 40 rounds per minute in autofire mode. That meant that it fired automatically once it was loaded (this was possible max. for 3 minutes and after a water cooling up to 6 minutes long was needed). The shooter could fire both the AT gun and the HMG by the same hand and he could use his second hand and his body to aim like with a gigantic rifle in a ball joint without using traverse and elevation screws. The gun had three loaders - two for the AT gun and one for the HMG. The gun penetration values vary in sources I saw but it shall be around 50 mm of cemented steel at 500 meters and 30°, i.e. more than enough for 1938. Later in the war special ammo with claimed double penetration values was developed by Škoda but I don't know if ever used anywhere. Well, that was N-S-82. Now some more peculiar things from other objects. This is a 15 cm Röchling shell still being stuck in a frontal wall of N-S-91. This object was built in class III therefore the wall on the picture is 2,75 meters thick and if the object was fully completed it would be covered by stones and earth (those would have likely little effect against the Röchling anyway). The wall was not penetrated. Czech fortifications were used for Röchling development just like later also the Belgian ones. However there is an important difference. I believe there is no Röchling hit in the roof in any Czech object while in Belgium the Germans tried the indirect fire and they achieved some very spectacular penetrations. The direct fire used against Czech fortifications was much less effective in terms of penetration but with the indirect fire it was close to impossible to actually hit something. I believe that this is another Röchling hit in the wall of N-S-49. Maybe a larger calibre for 21 cm guns, honestly I can't recognize. This is an object of an unfinished artilery fortress Skutina and the wall is 3,5 meters thick. It was too high to actually see inside and the object is not accesible from inside for public but it looked like it's not a penetration. Fun fact about this unfinished fortress. The guys who take care of it plan to connect the underground corridor betwen the existing objects where 27 meters were missing by the time when it was abandoned. Last thing is a replica of .380 ACP SMG vz.38 which was never fielded (on display in the object N-S-84). The SMG was basically developed in one month! It had two magazines, straight for 24 and drum for 96 rounds. 3500 pieces were ordered by the fortification command to be used to protect the entry door or in some light objects which were close to each other in difficult terrain instead of the LMG. The SMG was roughly 4x cheaper than the LMG. Only 15 were made before the order was canceled after Münich. Strangely Czechoslovakia which was very successful in small arms development never fielded an SMG in the interwar period. When the army realised it would be good to actually have one it was too late and moreover it had no money for it (at least the cavalery and artilery wanted it). Under the SMG You can also see Czechoslovak handgrenades from 1930'.
  9. 0 points
    David Moyes

    Britons are in trouble

    https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/armys-tank-upgrade-plans-unachievable-says-official-report-wdfm3w6wv Next day:
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