|The first page in the history of
domestic tank construction was written over seventy years ago, on August 31, 1920, when
the first-born Russian tank emerged from the Krasnoye Sormovo plant and was subjected to
test runs, launching this essential branch of the defense industry.
Paradoxes are frequent in history. The tank had been invented as a combat weapon by Russian engineers well before 1920. However, its subsequent development did not follow.
Tank construction necessitated the advancement of science, special metallurgy, motor engineering, which was a privilege of developed countries, but Russia was not such a country at that time.
Although a pioneer in inventing the tank, Russia lagged behind Western countries in tank construction at the start. England and France employed tanks against German troops in offensive operations during World War I. The first-born Russian tank, frankly speaking, was an improved prototype of a captured French Reno tank.
The tank weighed seven tons and was armed with the naval Gochkis gun and manned with two crew members. During test runs the tank developed a speed of 8.5 km/h, levelled the ruins of a building and negotiated a barrier half a meter high.
In this way the Russian tank construction originated. However, this fact enables the contemporaries to understand tremendous developments since this modest start.
People are right to say: "A man is famous for his deeds". Fitter Mikhail Koshkin was one of the first people to organize tank production at the Krasnoye Sormovo plant. He also did his best in the production of the first combat armored vehicles. Who could foresee that this young worker, who had come from Vyatka to Nizhni Novgorod, possessed exceptional "design intuition" and that after twenty years Koshkin would, together with A.A. Morozov, develop the best tank of World War II, T-34 and would be honored as a Hero of Socialist Labor and win the State Prize.
According to English writer D. Ordgill, the "T-34 was not the inspiration of a genius but the result of common sense. Its advent was due to people who could have seen the battlefield in the middle of the 20th century better than anyone in the West."
There is no more severest trial for the designers creation than wars. Our planet has seen quite enough.
Tank construction and tank battles are exceptional chapters in the chronicle of World War II against Hitlerism and their contribution to the victory is of paramount importance. Anyone who remembers those years can readily imagine what would have happened to Russia and the world as a whole, if we had not set up, based on the industry, powerful tank construction centers in Leningrad, Kharkov, Nizhni Tagil, Nizhni Novgorod, Chelyabinsk and had not involved such men of design gifts as M. Koshkin, A. Morozov (designers of T-34) and Zh. Kotin (KV and IS heavy tanks).
Remember the July-August 1943, the battle of Kursk and its remarkable daySour victory in the greatest tank battle on the Prohorovka field. In this battle tanks fought Nwall-against-wallO: one power had to crush the other. On July 12, 1,200 tanks and self-propelled guns participated from both sides on a relatively small patch of land. The enemy lost 400 tanks in one day alone.
The vaunted Panthers and Tigers, tanks created by German designers specially for the battle of Kursk, could not hold out against the Koshkin and Morozov T-34s and KotinOs heavy tanks.
"...And Russian tanks were everywhere! We stumbled on them at every step, "evidenced German sergeant major Gyupso who was taken prisoner on July 12, 1943 in the battle near Prokhorovka. "Clanks of caterpillar tracks alone made one sick at heart and they seemed to crush you at once. No, our nerves could not stand such amount of fire and metal. When we saw the Russian tanks we were lost as soldiers..."
The tradition of creating state-of-the-art models of armored material was maintained by our designers during the post-war years. The Kharkov design bureau headed by A.A. Morozov, developed and produced unique tanks designated T-54 and T-55. They were the first in the world to mount an NBC system and snorkel system for deep wading.
A revolution in tank design was marked by the advent of the T-64 tank created by the A.A. Morozov design bureau in the late 1960s. The tank was the first to employ missile-gun armament (even now no foreign tank can boast such weapons) and automatic gun load.
Further tank development was undertaken in the city on the Neva River, where the design bureau headed by N.S. Popov created a tank with a gas turbine engine, designated T-80U. In Nizhni Tagil, General Designer V.N. Venedictov developed the T-72. These tanks are still considered the world's best models.
In 1970s, an infantry combat vehicle designated BMP-1 (General designer P.P. Isakov) was developed at the Chelyabinsk Tractor Plant. This vehicle was further modified and produced at the Kurgan Engineering Plant where the world's best prototypes BMP-2 and BMP-3 (General Designer N.A. Blagonravov), were created. A whole generation of armored personnel carriers, including the BTR-80 (General Designer A.G. Mosyagin), was brought to a commercial level at the Gorky Automotive Plant.
At present one should name our best scientists and designers, organizers of the production of tank weapons and systems: V.I. Golubev, E.N.Nudelman, A.G. Shipunov, V.P. Gryazev, V.V. Nekrasov, B.S. Galushchak, P.V. Zyl, A.I. Goyev, N.K. Ryazantsev, V.I. Butov, B.G. Yegorov, S.P. Izotov, A.A. Sarkisov.
The domestic school of tank construction and our armor products have gained prestige all over the world. The Russian tanks and armored vehicles rival and even surpass their foreign prototypes.
Our domestic tank construction is 75 years old. Although it is not a long period historically, a great deal has been achieved. The Russian school of tank construction was created. Thousands of gifted scientists, engineers, designers, technologists and organizers were educated and trained following new traditions. On the initiative of the State Committee for Defense Industries, Special Engineering and Metallurgy joint stock company and Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation this jubilee was widely and uncommonly celebrated on August 31, 1995.
On a sunny summer day the Kubinka proving ground in the suburb of Moscow, where the Military Science and Research Institute and Museum of Armored Materiel and Weapons are located, saw a colorful festival.
A grand rally was presided over by the Industry and Defense Ministry leaders, heads of Defense Ministry departments, general and chief designers of tanks and separate systems, directors of enterprises.
The former Chairman of the State Committee of the Russian Federation for Defense Industries, Victor Glukhikh made a speech and congratulated the tank constructors and tankmen, and read out a message of welcome from President Yeltsin addressed to the designers, workers and employees of the tank industry, veterans of tank construction and tankmen: "...I sincerely congratulate the designers, workers and employees, veterans of the tank industry, tankmen on the important event-the 75th anniversary of the domestic tank construction. During this time it followed a long and hard path, from light tanks and armored cars to up-to-date tanks, infantry combat vehicles and armored personnel carriers-well-protected, driven by powerful engines and equipped with missile and gun armament.
Our tank constructors performed great services for the Motherland during the Great Patriotic War.
Outstanding equipment, unsurpassed in many aspects, such as the T-34, KV and IS tanks were created by the efforts of gifted designers M.I. Koshkin, A.A. Morozov, Zh.Ya. Kotin, L.N. Dukhov and others and the hard labor of engineers and workers.
This formidable weapon constituted a tremendous contribution to the Great Victory.
Now the armored equipment meets modern requirements. As the world practice shows, it is unequal in terms of many characteristics, fitted with unique systems and capable of operating in the most adverse conditions. The State will continue to maintain the Russian tank industry at high potential and engineering level..."
Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of Russia, M.P. Kolesnikov, a tankman by training himself, made a speech and emphasized that the tanks remained as before the main striking power of the Armed Forces. Former Ministry of Defence Industry, P.V. Finogenov, recalled the contribution of the tank constructors to the Victory over fascism and greeted the present generation of tank developers.
General Designer of the T-80U tank N.S. Popov told of the prospects and new developments of his design bureau.
Director General of the Uralvagonzavod Association, V.S. Seryakov, expressed concern for the tendency to lag in the industry.
All those present at the Kubinka festival saw the models of armor equipment of various years, both domestic and foreign, displayed in the Military Historical Museum. The proving ground witnessed a show involving firing from up-to-date tanks, negotiation of water obstacles, etc.
The Kubinka festival will be remembered by the participants for a long time.
This day is dear to the people who linked their life with the creation and implementation of such powerful combat weapons.
It is a good tradition for the Industry and General Armor Department to work in close cooperation to create new equipment and ensure its high characteristics and performance.
The design bureaus and research institutes of the Industry and Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation possess great potential for further development of the armor materiel, which will permit domestic standards to be superior to their foreign prototypes during the current decade.
The tanks were, are and will remain the armor shield of the State. Their development must always be in the foreground.
In parallel with the development of modern weapons, the State Committee of the Russian Federation for Defense Industries cooperates closely with the Special Engineering and Metallurgy joint stock company in implementing a number of conversion programs involving those included in the Federal program of conversion of the defense industry for 1995-1997. Currently, the Special Engineering and Metallurgy Joint Stock Company is increasingly interested in effective conversion projects, including the creation of a range of unique equipment for deep-penetrated hydraulic seam fracture in oil and gas wells. This approach provides for an increase in the oil recovery of inefficient wells twofold or threefold.
The Special Engineering and Metallurgy Joint Stock Company is open to cooperation with foreign investors and partners and joint efforts to create technical means for the fuel and power complex, produce consumer goods and implement other programs.