World War II: Soviet Weaponry and Technology

World War II Soviet submachine gun
Figure 1.--Soviet and German World War II technology contrasted sharply. The Soviets used many relatively crude, easy to manufacture -- but highly effevtive weapons like the PPSh-41 Pistolet-Pulemyot Shpagina (Пистолет-пулемёт Шпагина; --PPSh41). The Shpagin machine pistol was a Soviet submachine gun designed by Georgi Shpagin and introduced in 1941. It was as a cheap, simplified alternative to the PPD-40. The men who used it called it the Pe-Pe-Sha (from its three-letter name and Papasha (папаша), meaning daddy.

Soviet World War II weaponry contrasted sharply with that of the Germans on the all important Easrern Front. The differences boiled down to technology and philosophy. Germany was an extremely advanced industrial and technological powerhouse. They had the rechnical capability to build advanced, often meaning complex weaponry. The German focus was on performance such as rate of fire and narriw tolerances and clearances. Much less attention was given to maintenance requirements and ability to operate in field conditions. No matter how beautifully crafted a weapon is, if it jams or does not operate when it gets a little dirty or will not operate in the cold, it is not an effective weapon. The Soviet Union was much less technically advanced. As a result, Soviet weapons were often much more basic. Soviet wepons often looked crude in contrast to the finely crafted German weapons which Hitler insisted be built. The Soviet philopsophy was to bulld simple, easy to maintain weapons that functioned under field conditions. This meant that Soviet weaponry continued to funcrion even during winter weather and in muddy or other adverse conditions. Crude looking weaons did not upset Stalin. They also had the advantage that they could be built in huge numbers and at low cost. This put the Germans at a disadvantage. Their smaller industrial plant, especially working on complex weaons, could produce only a fraction of the weaponry produced by the Soviets and Allies. The Soviet T-34 probably saved the Soviet Union, arriving on the battle field at a crucial point of the War and shocked the Germans when their shells bounced off the sloping armor. The T-34 had a fine cannon, but the motor and drive train were wht only an b called primitive. The crew had to use a hammar to change gear. Another nasty surprise to the Germans was the Katyusha multiple rocket launchers (Катю́ша) It was a type of rocket artillery. These multiple rocket launchers delivered a devastating salvo to a target more quickly than conventional artillery, but with less accuracy. The Luftwaffe largely destroyed the Red Air Force at the onset of Barbarossa. Gradually the Red Air Force was reconstituted and the Ilyushin IL-2 Shturmovik developed a reputation as a tank killer on the Eastern Front. Generally Soviet weapons were not noted for high technology. nut their ruggedness and low maintennce requirements giving them the ability to function under battefield conditions. On the battlefield, low-tech was often an advantage because it was less affected by mud and dirt and easier to service. High tech German weapons were more difficult to service and maintain.


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Created: 7:44 AM 5/12/2012
Spell checked: 7:49 AM 11/5/2013
Last updated: 6:19 AM 1/30/2015