1. Date is from 21 May 1942 – late 1943. The guy on the phone has a Ssh39 helmet, less common than the predominant Ssh40.
    Thanks Ian, I haven’t seen this one before.

    • My appraciation for the ability to distinguish between the two models.
      Speaking of which – what were the symbols for the predecessor of both, the Russian helmet that generally resembled the Swiss helmet?
      Thanks, Andrzej

      • Ssh39 has 3 rivets high on the shell (pictured)
        Ssh40 has 6? rivets low on the shell.
        Guards badges were only introduced after a certain date, and they are not wearing shoulder board insignia which were phased in throughout 1943.

        The Ssh36 had a totally different shell, flared at the front and sides and with a ridge on the crown for air flow.

  2. SVTs were available right from start of war and were of good practical use. I recall one novel by Russian author who made mention of that. They seem to be ahead of their time (after all we see traced of their gas system on many current weapons).

    Soldiers in picture 9probably take fro movie) may be ethic Russians (or Belarusians or Ukrainians), but in true war scenario, probably up to one third were no-Russian – Kazakhs, Uzbeks and many other no-Europeans. As matter of fact it is on record, that Hitler himself ‘blamed’ Stalin for not previously declared huge human reserves Soviet Union had and which were used during the Great Patriotic War.

    • “SVTs were available right from start of war and were of good practical use. I recall one novel by Russian author who made mention of that. They seem to be ahead of their time (after all we see traced of their gas system on many current weapons).”
      The SVT-40 was properly working self-loading rifle. It is doubtless superior reliability-wise to German G41(M) and G41(W) rifles, but the SVT-40 was not optimised for mass-production, two quotes from SVT-40 in wikipedia – https://ru.wikipedia.org/wiki/Самозарядная_винтовка_Токарева
      “19 января 1939 г. Симонов доложил ЦК ВКП(б) о том, что он ликвидировал все обнаруженные недостатки своей винтовки. 20 мая 1939 г. была создана комиссия для сравнения и оценки в производственно-экономическом отношении самозарядных винтовок Симонова и Токарева[3]. Комиссия пришла к заключению, что винтовка Симонова (СВС) более проста в изготовлении, требует меньшего расхода металла и материала и дешевле. Вопрос о самозарядной винтовке рассматривался на заседании Комитета Обороны. В отличие от симоновской винтовка Токарева уже дважды прошла полигонные испытания, показав неплохие результаты, и её производство начало развёртываться.”
      19 January 1939 – Simonov inform Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union that he deleted all known drawbacks in his rifle [i.e. develop improved rifle from AVS-36]; 20 May 1939 commission was formed to evaluate self-loading rifles designed by Tokarev and Simonov manufactury-wise and economic-wise. The result was that Simonow rifle was simpler, need less metal and other materials and is cheaper. That fact was considered by State Defense Committee but unlike Simonov the Tokarev design passed field trials with not-bad results, and the preparations for production of Tokarev’s were in progress.

      “как отмечал нарком вооружения Д. Ф. Устинов, СВТ-38 состояла из 143 деталей (из них 22 пружины), для производства которых требовались 12 марок стали (в том числе две специальные)[23]. Этим объясняется высокая себестоимость СВТ (выше, чем ручного пулемёта ДП(…)”
      The People’s Commissar of Armaments F.D.Ustinov noticed that SVT-38 contain 143 parts (in this 22 springs), for production 12 brands of steel was needed (including 2 special). It result in high price of SVT (bigger than DP machine-gun)

      • I was not aware of SVS-36….interesting. Here is what wiki says in part of text:

        “In 1938 Tokarev’s SVT-38 was also adopted for service (after SVS-36 was – my note). In 1939 a politicized dispute erupted within the Soviet elite as to which design, that of Simonov or that of Tokarev, should prevail. Simonov’s rifle was lighter and contained fewer parts, while Tokarev’s rifle was considered sturdier, although this mainly due to firing pin breakages on Simonov’s rifle. Both guns had their supporters and detractors among the Politburo. Stalin ultimately sided with Tokarev, with whom he had a good personal relationship. By a decision of the Defense Committee dated 17 July 1939, mass production was to concentrate on the SVT-38.

        So it looks it was dead-locked race.

        • “Simonov’s rifle was lighter and contained fewer parts, while Tokarev’s rifle was considered sturdier, although this mainly due to firing pin breakages on Simonov’s rifle.”
          Notice that later Simonov’s self-loading designs – PTRS-41 anti-tank rifle and SKS worked properly, so I suspect also the Simonov rifle could be debugged.
          However, even if the choice of Tokarev design was not optimal, it was not total flop.

          • Yes, it looks Simonov took his lessons – and learned in process.
            Übung macht den Meister – says one well known proverb. And, he became one.

        • https://www.forgottenweapons.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/Soviet-Rifles-and-Carbines-Identification-and-Operation-English-1954.pdf

          Page 48
          “A loaded weapon may be discharged by a jolt. This is due to the peculiar construction of the sear and sear spring, and the failure of the designer to provide the necessary safety features.”

          Page 50
          “The care and cleaning of this rifle is extremely important because the rifle is of complex and fragile construction. Wear and breakage of parts are common causes of malfunction.”

          So the US were not so keen on the AVS-36 either.

    • The aspect ratio and relatively coarse grain structure suggests that the images were taken with a 35mm (Kodak size 135) camera, which would be somewhat unusual for a fully staged shot during WW2. Staged shots were usually shot with a large (typically 4×5″) or medium (6×6 cm) format cameras. On the other hand it’s of course possible that a 35mm camera was used to make the images seem more authentic. Soviet films were also somewhat lower quality than Kodak or Agfa films I am more familiar with, so it may have been taken with a medium format camera after all (6×9 cm frame size).

      The classically “perfect” composition (rule of thirds / Golden Cut) does suggest staging, but on the other hand a good photographer could pull that off in combat conditions unless he or she was directly under fire.

      • 1) Photo meet the following high quality, and this requires expensive equipment. A majority of these same military photos, meet the following cheap cameras and therefore are of poor quality.
        2)Form for the soldiers in good condition. During these combat identities form of deteriorating rapidly and within 1 hour after the attack soiled. This can be seen in most photographs of military archives.
        3)Telephonist foreground armed SVT, which is unlikely. Who will be the human arm in communication so expensive and rare weapons? He would have given a rifle Mosin Nagant, or PPSHa.
        4) The presence of at least 3 photos of the same group of soldiers from different angles. In uslovyaih relno fight, in my opinion it is also unlikely.

        Perhaps my arguments will seem ridiculous and stupid, but that’s my opinion. I am not a military historian and like all people could be wrong)

        • All of the above (you are clearly better photographers than I am) makes me suspect a matte shot; the soldiers posing in front of the broken wall, and the background beyond it, including the explosion, being matted in later.

          Among other things, an explosion that large in the vicinity would cause serious ground vibration, which would be shaking dust or debris from the brick wall.

          It would also shake the men, including the cameraman. A tripod mounted camera would shake even worse. I’m seeing no camera shake.

          I’m calling “staged and ‘enhanced’ propaganda photo from (the original) Sovfoto or RIA Novosti” on this one.



          • I tend to agree it’s staged, but…

            If we assume 35mm film, presumably with a Soviet Leica clone, we can have a shutter speed up to 1/500 second.

            Assuming bright daylight, and we see some blur from depth of field on the far soldier, we can guess a fairly open aperture.

            And thus probably maximum shutter speed, 1/500.

            I wouldn’t expect significant visible shake from vibration at that shutter speed, in any case.

          • I don’t see any matte effects on the full resolution image (accessibly through clicking). I agree with Sigivald that there 1/500 seconds should be enough for no shaking. Also, the mushroom cloud from the explosion has already formed with a visible stem, which means that the shockwave has passed the photographer at such a close distance. Of course it could be a pyrotechnic explosion as part of the staging, in which case the shockwave would have also been much smaller to begin with. I agree that having such an explosion in the background was very lucky if the photo was not staged.

        • I appreciate your observation, Dmitriy. The words “gvardia” and “gvardoviy” were well entrenched in Red Army terminology. I did not know it was highlighted by mentioned distinction.

          • Article about Gvardia units (in context of Red Army): https://ru.wikipedia.org/wiki/Советская_гвардия has a table of Guard Units in Red Army in 1941-45. Assuming that the photo is not later than 1943 and the radioman on photo is member of one Guard Unit we can say that the photo depict part of one of following units:
            1-я гвардейская стрелковая дивизия (1st Guard Rifleman Division)
            2-я гвардейская стрелковая дивизия (2nd Guard Rifleman Division)
            3-я гвардейская стрелковая дивизия (3rd Guard Rifleman Division)
            4-я гвардейская стрелковая дивизия (4rd Guard Rifleman Division)
            7-я гв. армии (7th Guard Army)
            13-я гв. армии (13th Guard Army)
            35-я гв. армии (35th Guard Army)
            51-я гв. армии (51th Guard Army)
            1-я гвардейская мотострелковая дивизия (1st Guards Motor Rifle Division)
            1-я гвардейская танковая бригада (1st Guard Tank Brigade)
            49-я отдельная гвардейская разведывательная рота (49st independent Guard reconnaissance Company)
            1-я гвардейская железнодорожная бригада (1st Guard railroad Brigade)
            30-я гвардейская стрелковая дивизия (30st Guard Rifleman Division)
            39-я гвардейская стрелковая дивизия (39st Guard Rifleman Division)
            75-я гвардейская стрелковая дивизия (75st Guard Rifleman Division)
            76-я гвардейская стрелковая дивизия (76st Guard Rifleman Division)
            237-й гвардейский стрелковый полк (237st Guard Rifleman Regiment)

          • Связист гвардии рядовой Александр Егорович Ильченко (1913—1944) из 73-го гвардейского стрелкового полка 25-й гвардейской стрелковой дивизии у полевого телефона во время уличных боев в районе Воронежа.
            Signalman Guard soldier Alexander Ilchenko Ye (1913-1944) of the 73 th Guards Rifle Regiment of the 25th Guards Rifle Division in the field telephone during street fighting in the Voronezh area.

            That’s what I was able to learn about the connections of the troop to which the soldiers depicted in photos.

    • I agree Denny, it doesn’t look particularly strong, the spring acting on it would push it down also, how is it lifted up?

      • That would be me question too. I suspect it is the spring you mentioned; unless there is some other means to activate it, which is not apparent. If that is the case (spring), than that would put concept into question – big time.

        • Should have some camming construction at sides. Sole spring actuation for lock action should not be accepted as reliable under field and battle conditions. Spring seen on the cross section should be an added enforcer like Mauser C96 and Nambu 14 pistols.

          • I agree Strongarm and also think along that line. Spring should never be trusted for locking function.

    • I think that’s a field telephone, since there is no broadcasting antenna. The communications guy is probably leaning on his own coat. Maybe he said “Nemets are the worst roommates.”

    • Противогаз МО-2(малый общевойсковой, тип-2) разработан в 1940 г.
      принят на вооружение в 1941 году.


      In a canvas bag is telephonist gas mask. Since not see the front of the bag is not possible to accurately set the pattern mask. Maybe this “mask MO-2 (small combined arms type-2)”

  3. There were more SVT40s made than Garands so it was a reasonable sucess. I owned one back in the late 80’s and it was a nice rifle to shoot compared to a Moisen Nagant. A bit fragile would be my observation the gas system seemed very “delicate” .

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