Purpose of this blog

Dmitry Yudo aka Overlord, jack of all trades
David Lister aka Listy, Freelancer and Volunteer

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

[WoTB] ASAP Video for Blitz

New ASAP video for Blitz dedicated to 1.3 update.

And answering some of the questions to it.

Q. What about British tank line? :(
A. Will come later this year after we add Maus branch for Germans.

Q. When will we see the android version of it...
A. Android is now at beta testing stage on RU region. Release date is not set now and will depend on testing results. Just make sure you've got a solid device, not smth outdated.

Q. When will the 1.3 update be ready?
A. The update is now undergoing Apple review. Should be ready soon.

Q. When do we get camos?
A. They are in plans for future updates in 2015.

Q. When we get french tech tree?
A. Still not decided regarding balancing of high tier autoloader tanks with no armour. Blitz gameplay is different from PC version, and the absence of armour may be crucial. We gonna add Brits first.

Q. When wot blitz is coming to samsung devices?
A. Samsung devices are the ones with high-to-highest priority for Android. See above. 

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Boots over Italy

Living in East Anglia (the bulge on the southeast side of the UK, to the north of London) you're quickly struck by the sheer number of airfields around, all built during the Second World War.  This has lead to the suggestion the UK was one of the worlds largest aircraft carriers during the Second World War, from which a constant stream of aircraft bombarded the German war machine. If this is the case then an escort carrier would have been Malta.
Its well known that planes operating out of Malta caused massive havoc amongst the supplies heading for the North Africa. And that the dogged resistance and perseverance of the people of Malta in the face of overwhelming bombing, drought and starvation led to the island receiving a well deserved George Cross. However there is a lesser known story to be told.  When the Italians opened the siege their front line fighter was the CR.42, which at first glance was utterly outmatched by the Hurricanes of the RAF. However the first few engagements went the CR.42's way as the nimble biplanes were easily able to out turn the Hurricanes, and they were built well enough to take a burst or two from the Hurricanes. However tactics quickly changed and the tempo of the air war stepped up, and the humble CR.42 found itself pushed to one side.
The CR.42 then found itself in another role. From the outbreak of the siege British bombers flew from Malta to attack targets on the Italian mainland and Sicily. Often these would be lone aircraft marauding around the countryside making nuisance raids. Here speed wasn't needed to catch the lumbering bombers. The planes robust construction allowed them to survive the bombers guns and the twin nose mounted 12.7mm machine guns could potentially do serious damage if well aimed.
An example is the battle between Maresciallo Vincent Patriarca, an Italian American serving with the Italian Air Force, and Pilot Officer D. F. Hutt, an Australian serving with 40 Squadron.
40 Squadron had only recently been converted to Wellington's, starting out the war in Blenheim's. A month after their conversion in October 1940 they deployed to Malta. At 1845 on the 5th of December 1941 twenty Wellington's took off from RAF Luqa. Their target was the Royal Arsenal in Naples. Upon learning of their approach Maresciallo Patriarca took off from Capodichino airfield.

Maresciallo Vincent Patriarca
He spotted PO Hutts Wellington at around 2130, and began an attack. There followed a long protracted fight where he fired nearly all his ammunition before he finally shot the Wellington down. When he landed he found his tail plane had been shredded by return fire, and he was almost out of fuel.
PO Hutt and his flight engineer, Pilot Officer J.E. Miller, were seen to bail out of the crashing Wellington, and later taken prisoner. Of the other four men of the crew nothing is known, however one of the other Wellington's on the raid reported seeing distress lights off the coast, and despite a SAR operation being launched from Malta no trace of them was ever found.

But to close this article I want to talk about a much more daring incident. Earlier in the campaign a pilot called Ken Rees (who was shot down in 1942 and was sent to Stalag Luft III from where he participated in the Great Escape), was flying a solo mission against Naples. On the night of November the 6th over Naples Rees rear gunner spotted a CR.42 in the bright moonlight,  closing on them. Rees immediately reacted by throwing his plane into a dive, only to be caught and dazzled by searchlights. By the time he'd regained his vision he was hurtling above the city at 500 feet. Whilst his wild dive had lost the night fighter, the searchlights still had him pinned, so he took the only course open to him, he flew lower. At roof top height he finally lost the searchlights, at this point in his account Rees remarks about how wide the streets of Naples are, so you can imagine how low he was. Suddenly they flashed out into the middle of the harbour, Rees took them down even lower hoping to sneak out to sea and escape.
Suddenly in the gloom loomed a battleship, and they would pass to starboard. The battleship let fly with everything they had, however the surprise of finding a heavy bomber skimming the waves at practically point blank range meant that all of the Italians fire went wide. Rees' front gunner began to rake the battleship, and in Rees own words:

"As we shot past it full throttle, I could see Joe’s .303 Brownings blazing away. Silly bugger was trying to sink a battleship with a pair of .303s."

Despite this hair raising incident the bomber made it back to Malta safely.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

[WoT] Ensuring Fairplay

Hi again! 0.9.3 update for World of Tanks is now live.

Your feedback on the new things is welcome. Especially interested in the following this time:

A new automated system to ensure fair play

With this update we will be introducing a new feature to deal with unsportsmanlike behavior, such as:

  • Frequent AFKing 
  • Leaving the battle

Sunday, September 21, 2014

The new iTank

 Apologies, Bit of a short one today, as I'm off on Honeymoon, and don't have much time.

Earlier in the year I was combing the Archives and tucked away in the back of a document about the FV201 series, unseen for a number of years due to miss-filing, I found a few pages talking about a tank I'd never heard of.  Having a lot to do that day I quickly took some photo's and got on with it.
Under later review I realised I'd found documents talking about a brand new infantry tank, a replacement for the Churchill. Which would make this mystery vehicle the Infantry Tank MKV, if it made it off the drawing board. In the documents it was only known by the initials "WB1".
(When discussing this find with a few others I jokingly claimed the right of naming my discovery, and named it after my fiancée. It fits British tank naming conventions, her name is Claire)

Myself and Vollketten from the US server have been plugging away at this problem since then and we have a few more sources to check, but we've generally drawn a blank. No one, and I mean no one has heard of it. Even the librarians at Bovington haven't heard of it. 
Googles contribution to searching for WB1 Tank, and that's a propaganda poster with a Churchill MKII
So here's what we know at the moment.

On 14th of May 1948 the General Staff issued a specification for a new 70 ton tank. The date is interesting when you consider that the Black Prince had already been halted, and had previously carried a 17 pounder gun. The specification called for a tank with a speed of 20 mph and an engine giving a power to weight ratio of 0.75 BHP per ton! It was required to have a 100 mile operational range.

A43 Black Prince
The performance was largely decided by its armour. The specification called for 400mm basis through the frontal 60 degree arc. The specification talks a lot about sloping, so its safe to assume that the tank would be well angled. Roof armour was to be immune to guns up to about 5.5" calibre if the shell was to detonate within two feet of the roof, and the belly was to be resistant to 25 pound mines.

Armament was to be a gun of at least three inches and capable of penetrating 125mm of armour at 30 degree's of slope at the range of 2000 yards. You'll remember in my earlier article about the Conqueror that the British were having trouble rationalizing what to do about guns on tanks, although the choice of a three inch weapon was made at the start of this period of indecision.
The HE and smoke capabilities were to be at best the same level as the current 77mm gun. 80 rounds of ammunition was to be carried along with a single co-axial machine gun.

Another oddity was the requirement to have full climate control and protection against chemical and biological weapons, along with infra red equipment for night time driving.

On the 22 of June 1948, A.E. Masters, the Chief Engineer at the FVDE replied having reviewed the specifications. His first conclusion was that the armour requirement of 400mm was impossible, and the best that could be obtained was only 350mm basis. Side armour was to be about 100mm.

On the gun front he states that he used the current 77mm gun in his review, and checking other sources you can see that APDS from a 77mm has the required performance against armour.
The reply from Mr Masters highlights something interesting. He was having trouble fitting all the components into the tank. First off the biggest engine they could get in due to the weight requirement was something about the size of the Centurions engine, and so the top speed would be limited to about 17 mph. Equally the good cross country performance ate into the size of the crew compartment, which meant they were looking at a rather cramped interior.

After that, there's not a lot else on the subject. We're still looking though!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Tower Defence

Today I'm going to veer a little off track. Up until now I've kept my stories to the period of modern mechanical warfare, say after 1900. There are many good reasons for it, not least its of interest to you, and its easier to find sources.
However last Friday (the 12th of September) is the anniversary of a battle, that is almost unknown in the West. The soldier who mentioned where I could read it last year stated "[...]made the 300 Spartans look like a bunch of girl guides." He's not wrong either. So lets cast our minds back to September 1897.

Regions of Asia, from Afghanistan down through northern Pakistan, have always been a problem for military forces. Go as far back as you like and you'll find tales of armies and governments failing to control the border areas by force. In the late 1800's it was no exception, the area was called the Northwest Frontier, and was still causing issues as late as the 1930's (and it had a small part in tank development that I hope to cover at a later date). The Tirah Valley stretches south from the Khyber Pass, and as such is a main trade route. In 1897 the local Afridi tribesmen began attacking merchant caravans travelling this route. To stop these attacks the 36th Sikh Regiment was deployed to the area. At the base of the valley ran the Samana mountain range. On top of this were two British built two forts, Lockhart and Gulistan. These forts were several miles apart and separated by bad terrain. Each fort had roughly a regiment (200 at Gulistan and 300 at Lockhart) in it. As they lacked the ability to communicate a signals fort was built in between. This fort was called Saragarhi. A tower in the middle of the fort housed a heliograph to communicate with its neighbours.
36th Sikh's
Through out August some minor skirmishing happened with local tribesmen taking the forts under fire once or twice. On one occasion a large attack was launched against Fort Gulistan on the third of September. A relief column left Fort Lockhart, but by the time the column had arrived the attack was defeated. As it made its way back a small detachment of men was left to reinforce Fort Saragarhi.

On September the 12th the local tribesmen were back, reinforced themselves they numbered between 10,000 and 14,000 men. To sever communication between the two forts they launched an all out attack on Saragarhi. Inside the fort were 21 men, carrying nothing more than their personal weapons. At this time it would have been a lever action rifle, the Martini Henry (the gun from the film Zulu).
Local Tribesmen from the region
Upon seeing the horde approach the regiment's commanding officer gave permission for the 21 defenders to retreat. However if they retreated it would mean that the route between the two forts would be severed, and Fort Gulistan would have been cut off. To a man, all 21 soldiers volunteered to hold their position to the last.

Havildar Ishar Singh was in command, he and 19 of his men took up firing positions around the wooden gate. One soldier was dispatched to the heliograph tower to maintain communications. At 0900 the first assault began. Havildar Ishar let the initial rush come within 300 yards before ordering his men to open fire. They then kept up a constant, steady and deadly volume of rifle fire. The Sikh's inside kept up a withering hail of gunshots that kept the horde of tribesmen from closing with the fort.

The stiffness of the defence held despite some casualties from return fire. The man up in the heliograph tower kept to his duties despite his exposed position. After a long and protracted gun battle the attackers fell back, but tried a new tactic. They called for surrender making lavish promises including survival. The Sikhs refused.
At Fort Lockhart a relief column was formed and moved out. However by now the attackers had taken up blocking positions and the relief column was forced to turn back.
Saragarhi after the attack
Throughout the morning attacks continued, each one forced back by the defenders. By midday around seven separate assaults had been bloodily repulsed. However the strain was beginning to tell on the defenders and only ten men remained including the injured Havildar Singh. By 1400 the defenders were almost out of ammunition. At 1500 the attackers tried a new tactic, they set fire to the scrub to create a smoke screen, under the cover of the smoke they began to get into some dead ground on the side of the fort and managed to create a breach.
Fort Lockhart was higher than Saragarhi and could see what was happening, and flashed a warning to the defenders. Two men and the wounded Havildar Ishar moved to cover the breach. Utterly out of ammo now the three of them fixed bayonets and charged the attackers whom had made it through. But overwhelming numbers meant it was hopeless. With the manpower thinned at the main gate the attackers mounted a final assault that forced through the weakened line.
Havildar Ishar tried to hold his ground while the rest of his men retreated to an inner defensive line however the surge of attackers swept over them. One man whom had been wounded earlier in the fight was holding the Guardroom. He managed to fight off four attackers, despite bleeding heavily from his wounds. Rather than lose any more men the attackers set fire to the guardroom.

By 1530 there remained only one defender. Sepoy Gurmukh Singh had been stationed throughout that day on the heliograph tower communicating with Fort Lockhart. His final signal was asking for permission to quit his post, take up his rifle and attack! He was instantly given permission. From Fort Lockhart they watched as Sepoy Gurmukh packed the fragile heliograph into its case, picked up his rifle and launched himself at the enemy. They saw him kill about 20 in his final charge.

The days fighting had brought the rest of the regiment the time it needed. Although the tribesmen attacked Fort Gulistan they'd been delayed too long and a larger relief force arrived, linked up with Fort Lockhart and then broke the siege of Fort Gulistan defeating the attackers.
All 21 defenders (Full list of names and numbers) were given the Indian Order of Merit, the Indian equivalent of the Victoria Cross.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

You Disston my tank?

You are probably all aware of the infamous Bob Semple tank, from New Zealand. They were described in the Evening Post as "Powerful machines".  When first introduced to the public in March 1941 this is what the newspaper had to say:
"[...]and as tanks they have immense power. Not only can they climb a grade of 1 in 2, but they will travel through water over four feet deep, traverse an embankment four and a half feet high, smash through gorse hedges, scrub, and saplings up to six inches in diameter, and move across country where roads do not exist. Their armament consists of a number of quick-firing guns. Each tank has a crew of eight, and normally carries 25,000 rounds of ammunition. In addition there is room for the carriage of troops and ammunition in safety over country that might be under enemy fire."
This attempt at public relations soon failed as the public caught their first glimpse of the Bob Semple. It was an ungainly machine lashed together with whatever materials could be sourced for its armour. The rapid firing guns were nothing more than machine guns.
However mad the idea, it did have some merit. The Bob Semple bodies were stored around the country and could be fitted to any local tractors in short order if the Japanese invaded, and in most cases a moving protected machine gun is never a bad thing to have, as long as one understands its limitations.

The news story however highlights another interesting thing, the Bob Semple wasn't the first of its kind. The article in the news starts out:

"The genesis of these 25-ton tanks was a photograph taken in the United States and given to Mr. Semple."

Now one can't be sure,but I think we can make an educated guess as to what that photograph was of. I believe it may have been a Disston Tractor Tank. However there is, as always, conflicting information on the subject. Originally designed during the Great Depression, lots of companies were considering how to sell to the world when everyone was in a bad way financially.  Sources differ, some say it was the Caterpillar company, others that it was Disston themselves that came up with the idea, however the result was a Caterpillar model 35 tractor with with an armoured body made by Disston, a company well known for quality steel products, with an emphasis on safes.
What may come as a shock is that there were at least two versions of the Disston tank. The first early version had turret. Later models were simplified, used a shorter length track and had the turret replaced by a small gun shield that protected the gunner.
Armament in both cases seems to have been a 37mm M1916 infantry gun (very similar to the gun of the FT17). Along with that the Disston had at least one .30 Calibre machine gun.
What may surprise you even more is that the Disston tank actually found some buyers. From 1923 until 1927 the only tanks the USMC had were single digit numbers of M1917 6 ton tanks. After those were removed in 1927 it wasn't until about 1933 when the USMC brought a number of Disston tanks. Some sources say six, others sixteen.

By 1935 the worst ravages of the Great Depression were receding, and the Disston company had to alter their marketing. They now pitched their tank as something that could be assembled in under two hours, implying that it didn't need to remain as a front line vehicle. Again this seems to have been aimed at less affluent countries. One order was placed by China, although the order seems to have been cancelled in 1935. In the same year the first deliveries were made to Afghanistan. The exact number delivered isn't known, but at least five can be identified in photographs. Some sources suggest completed tanks and a smaller number tank bodies were delivered.
Four Disston's in Afghanistan
Despite Afghanistan's turbulent history at least two Disston's still survive and as far as I can tell are still awaiting rescue in Kabul scrap yards.
There is one other group of tractor tanks left to talk about from the period. However sources for them are even harder to find than stuff on the Disston. In Russia during Operation Barbarossa a factory at Odessa is reported to have converted several tractors into tanks, which had mixed effects on the German invaders. The sources are so sparse, and have so little detail its almost impossible for me to verify it. So what I think I'll do is link to the Wikipedia page on the subject and you can make your own mind up.
What is certain is there are a large number of photographs of Soviet tractor tanks, of different models. So its likely that some did see combat to some degree.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

[WoTB] Draft Specs for Android

While we are getting ready for WoT Blitz testing on Android, below are draft specs to launch the game on devices that run Google's operating system:

  • OS: Android 4.0+
  • GPU: Mali-400MP, Adreno 320, PoweVR SGX544, Tegra 3 or better
  • CPU: 2-core @ 1200 MHz or better
  • RAM: 1GB or better

Especially at this early stage meeting the minimum requirements doesn't guarantee smooth play. So the more powerful your device, the better.

Sunday, August 31, 2014


Sorry to say, today I'll be talking a bit about World of Tanks, I know some of you might be put off by this, but bear with me. There's plenty of history and new research! All this comes from documents held at the national archives at Kew.
 As you know World of Tanks is transferring to HD at the moment, and with that the tank's armour gets reviewed and brought as close as possible to its historical level. Well at the moment the FV214 Conqueror is undergoing its HD treatment, and so we were tasked with looking for armour values. Some of you might already be reaching for Google, muttering about having already seen an armour profile for the Conqueror, well yes and no. There are plenty of guesses about the Conquerors armour level, but nothing exact. Equally there's some evidence to suggest that the turret casting isn't a uniform thickness, with the armour basis (The LOS thickness) being constant, but the actual thickness being varied depending on the slope.
A naked Conqueror turret
Of course the usual answer is to dispatch someone to spend a fun day crawling all over a Conqueror with a thickness gauge and measure the armour. Here's where it gets interesting. Wargaming has tried at least three (maybe more) times to measure the Conqueror's front turret. Each time it was a different person, on a different Conqueror with a different thickness gauge. These are not people who are new to the job either. Each time they've not been able to get a reading. Something in the way the turret is cast has been preventing an accurate measurement being taken.

That's where I came in, Although I do have a local Conqueror, I've not got a thickness gauge or any experience of using it, so the likelihood of me being successful is nil, but what I could do was start combing archives for a primary source answer. I did find some interesting stuff but no armour value. Again the mystery deepens. There isn't a given value. Even on documents that list all the other armour thickness, the frontal turret thickness isn't given, just the level of protection it is required to give.

But first, lets talk about the Conqueror's early life. In the late 40's the British opinion was that armour had the upper hand in the armour vs gun battle, and looking at Soviet tanks of the time they were concerned about tank armament. The British were facing a dilemma. On one hand they needed a weapon with a high enough rate of fire to "suppress" enemy positions during an attack, this of course was entirely suited to guns such as the 20 pounder or the US 90mm. But both those guns were deemed inadequate against the latest Soviet armour. The answer was obvious, looking back at the Second World War they could see a system that had worked, the Sherman Firefly and 75mm armed Sherman's that had made up a large chunk of the British armoured force.
So the plan was formed to give Centurion regiments a 120mm armed Centurion. Initial trials resulted in the FV4004 Conway, and it was foreseen that over time the tank could be developed into something with a lower turret.
As an aside, its curious to note that despite the perceived issues in 1948 the British were looking at developing a new infantry tank with utterly ridiculous armour (400mm-350mm) and only a 77mm gun.
Now I need to quickly explain the way the British armour organisation was seen in this period. Armoured regiments were seen as mobile striking units, used for the attack. RAC regiments were viewed as defensive in nature.
The Conqueror was to be grouped into RAC regiments, with Cromwell's as command tanks, and armoured regiments would be equipped with Centurions with 20 pounders and FV4004 Conway's. However the Conqueror production and development went a lot faster than had been foreseen, and therefore the plan changed to one squadron in each RAC regiment and one troop in each armoured squadron would be converted into Conquerors. This resulted in a total requirement of 250 tanks needed.
Right from the start the Conqueror came under fire. First was the army in 1949 complaining about the protection levels and the poor ballistic shape of the Conqueror's turret. One proposal was to remove the gunner to improve the shape of the turret but this was thrown out for two reasons, first of all two man turrets were a bad idea. Secondly it would remove one of the Conqueror's big advantages, it was one of, if not the first tank to have hunter/killer ability. If you don't know what that is I'll explain. While the tank's gunner is engaging an enemy tank, the commander is free to look about and select a follow on target, as soon as the gunner has finished with his target he can instantly and effortlessly switch to the target the commander has highlighted. This allows for a much faster and rapid engagement of targets.

Note the direction the Commanders cupola is facing.
The next attack was the other services whom started complaining about the cost of the Conqueror program, and it took the defence Minister's personal intervention after a meeting with the army to lay that issue to rest.

But back to the armour values. The first big surprise was a 14mm Burster plate attached to the hull. This stand off armour was for the role of detonating HEAT and HESH warheads away from the hull. Some of you might ask why you've never heard of this before? Simply because it wasn't fitted in peacetime but was held as a theatre reserve to be deployed in the time of war. The other obvious question is how would that effect gun depression over the front hull? One suggestion was to shave 10mm of armour off the front slope to improve the depression, but that was never implemented. On the Conqueror although the gun could depress to -7.5 degrees, beyond -5.5 degrees a limiter kicked in that prevented the gun from being laid or used. This was in place because the Conqueror had a nasty habit of sticking its gun barrel into the ground. This was caused by the huge length of the L1 120mm barrel, which swung about a lot preventing it from firing on the move. See this video for an example, notice how much the gun barrel bounces around:
(video should start at 20 seconds in, if not that's where you want to be)

But what of the turret armour, the thing that set me off on the trip. Well the requirement was to be immune from the Soviet 100mm gun at point blank range through an arc of 60 degrees (30 degrees either side of the gun barrel). However after testing the best that could be achieved with the turret was that level of protection through half the required arc. This does allow us the ability to make a guess on the required thickness, as the documents helpfully included a table of Soviet gun performance.

But the issue remained that the turret wasn't very well armoured. That's when I hit gold. There was a proposal for a new better shaped turret, with drawing!
The gunner has been moved to the enlarged cupola, so the gunner and the commander are side by side. You'll note that the cupola is actually very well protected with a steeply sloped chunk of armour. The armour thicknesses are also given. Frontal protection is 13.5" with the sides offering 7" of protection.

And to close off, here's some follow on data on the Conqueror, that's just to help you to form a picture of the technical abilities of a Conqueror.
Turret traverse speeds were measured and found to be between 22-24 seconds for 360 degrees. Maximum elevation of the gun was 15 degrees. Reloading the gun took seven seconds and the road speed was 21.3 mph.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

[WoTB] Version 1.2 is Now Live

Version 1.2 for World of Tanks Blitz (iOS) is now live for RU, EU, NA, Asia regions.

Monday, August 25, 2014

[WoTB] Weed for Blitz

Upcoming 1.2 update for World of Tanks Blitz is to feature a set of visual improvements, the biggest of which is realistic grass. In 1.2 it will grow only on tutorial map, while the rest of the maps will be fully planted in 1.3. New grass will be supported by the following devices: iPad Air, iPad mini Retina, iPhone 5s.