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1

Thursday, June 30th 2016, 10:00pm

Meanwhile, in Russia - 1947

Baku Delays Vote on Plan for Azeri Unification
January - In Baku, the Federation Republic of Azerbaijan's Duma voted to reschedule a vote on Aslan Abdullayev's proposal to unify the two separate parts of Azerbaijan. The delay happened as members expressed concern about potential financial repercussions that would result. President Abdullayev was given eighteen months to conduct a study and present a detailed report to the Federated Republic's duma regarding the economic impact. According to sources in Baku, Abdullayev only wrote the unification proposal at the request of the Federated Republic duma, and expressed 'intense frustration' with the legislative body's postphonement of a vote.

Battleships Depart for Atlantic
January - The three newly-completed lineships Retvizan, Potemkin, and Georgii Pobedonosets departed Kronshtadt under escort from the icebreakers Alexsei Chirikov, Shkval, and Solovei Budemirochich, bound for the French Atlantic port of Brest, where they will join their brothership Rostislav in undertaking post-construction working-up duties. Due to considerations of winter weather in Western Europe, the Alexsei Chirikov will accompany the lineships to France.

A spokesman for the Marine-Maritime Fleet of the Russian Federation revealed that the four lineships would not return to Petrograd upon completion of their training regime, but would instead join the Northern Fleet, based on the Murman coast, replacing the four lineships of the Imperator Petr Veliki class, which are being rotated out to the Black Sea Fleet.

Aeroflot Airliner Crashes in Switzerland
February - An Ilyushin Il-12 airliner crashed during takeoff from Zurich airport in Switzerland. According to Swiss authorities, the aircraft, bound from Zurich to Lvov by way of Vienna, hit a patch of slush during takeoff and slid off the runway at approximately a hundred kilometers an hour and eventually impacted a Swissair DC-2 aircraft that was being moved to the nearby maintenance facilities. The Swissair aircraft caught fire. Eighteen of the twenty occupants of the Aeroflot aircraft were injured during the crash, with no fatalities; the pilot and copilot of the Swissair DC-2 suffered minor burns and sprains as they jumped out the cockpit windows of their aircraft. Aeroflot's spokesman indicated that weather played "a major contributing factor" in the mishap.

Meteorite Falls in the Sikhote-Alin Mountains
February 13 - Russians living in Primorsky Krai observed a large and brilliant meteorite that occurred at 10:30 yesterday morning (February 12). The blinding flash and thunder of the meteorite's impact was visible for nearly three hundred kilometers around the point of impact, which is currently believed to be in the vicinity of Luchegorsk in the Sikhote-Alin Mountains. A smoke trail was observed in the sky for several hours. Representatives of the Far Eastern Division of the Russian Academy of Science are reportedly en route to the impact region in order to seek out meteoritic fragments.

Autoroute Approved by Government
February - Minister of Transport Sergey Konstantinov confirmed that his Ministry would use a portion of road-construction funding in order to construct four motorways within the Russian Federation, in collaboration with the governments of the Baltic States. The motorways to be constructed are Moskva-Minsk, Petrograd-Moskva, Petrograd-Riga, and Minsk-Vilnius. Construction will begin following the spring thaw, with all phases of the project scheduled to complete by fall of 1952. According to rumors, the Russian government is endorsing discussions within the Lithuanian government into constructing its own internal network, designed to link Vilnius to the Lithuanian Baltic port of Palanga, connect Kaunas to Riga, and connect Vilnius to the German autobahn network at Konigsberg. A final decision by the Lithuanian government is not expected this year, however.

Motorway construction within the Russian Federation has been a difficult subject. Unlike Western Europe where car ownership is more common and driving distances are lower, internal transportation is dominated by the railways, with barge traffic on rivers and canals second in tonnage. Motorway-style ring roads have been constructed around Petrograd and Moskva, but no major inter-city links have ever survived the proposal process within the Ministry of Transportation. Observers expected that a motorway between Moskva and Petrograd would eventually be built to serve as a test case for whether the Federation as a whole could benefit from motorway construction; however, the scale of this newly approved project, and its international links into the Baltic States, may be part of the larger political effort to counterbalance foreign economic influence in the region.

Russian Ground Forces Testing New Armoured Vehicle
March - The Main Directorate of Armoured Forces (GABTU) announced that they were testing an experimental new infantry carrying armoured vehicle, the Ob'yekt 241, at the testing and training grounds in Shpola, Ukraine. The ten Ob'yekt 241 pre-series prototypes, built in the Putilov Petrograd Factory, are being evaluated for adoption by the Ground Forces as a replacement for aging BTR-35 fully tracked infantry carriers. Like the BTR-35, the Ob'yekt 241 is fully tracked, and will replace BTR-152 armoured trucks in certain elite formations.

Sukhoi Unveils Naval Fighter Jet
March [AV-MF Official Press Release : For Immediate Distribution] - The prototype of a carrier-based jet fighter designed by the Sukhoi OKB (design bureau) conducted its first flight at Ramenskoye airfield.

Iron Processing Plant Opens in Kola Peninsula
March - The first pelletizing test plant in Russia entered operation on the Kola peninsula. Equipped with a new shaft furnace design, the plant produces iron pellets for shipment and use in the steel industry. If proven successful, the new plant design and process could revolutionize the Federation's steel-mining industry.

Rynda Joins the Baltic Fleet
March - The newly constructed air-defense cruiser (kreyser protivovozdushnoy pborony) Rynda entered acceptance trials with the Baltic Fleet at the beginning of March. The cruiser, armed with eight 13cm dual-purpose guns, shall take on duties as the flagship of the Baltic Fleet upon his final commissioning.

Construction Season Begins
April - With the spring thaw, construction has started on two highly-significant construction projects within the western Russian Federation. Petrograd's flood-control project, designed to prevent catastrophic ocean flooding during unusual weather conditions, entered the first construction phase at the beginning of the month. Similarly, crews began clearing ground for the first true inter-city motorway in the Federation, to be constructed between Moskva and Petrograd. The motorway project has already gotten off to a slightly rocky start, however, as the Prosecutor General's Investigative Committee ordered the arrest of two major project bidders on charges of attempting to use bribes to influence contracts.

Growth of Russian Merchant Marine
May - Two more barge carriers of the Anton Arensky class have been ordered by the Baltic Sea Steamship Company in order to replace older vessels soon to be retired. The Anton Arensky himself, the lead ship of the class, is planned to enter service this July, sailing in a special service between Petrograd, Calais, and Amsterdam.

Russian Ground Forces hosts Army Competition
May - During the month of May, the Russian Ground Forces hosted an international army competition at bases near Moskva, Tver, and Petrograd. A total of 107 different teams from five countries competed in a total of twelve military sporting events. The militariad was sponsored by the Russian Federation Ground Forces and based on a series of friendly competitions that have been held amongst Russian units for the last few years. This year, the militariad was expanded to include several more events, while teams from France, Poland, Bulgaria, and Czechoslovakia were invited to join. Fifty-four Russian teams and twenty-two French teams made up the greater majority of the contestants. The highlights of the militariad were the 250km Offroad Rally for reconnaissance troops, and the Armoured Spearhead challenge for the tank forces. Russia managed to score a win in the Armoured Spearhead category despite a frighteningly strong challenge posed by the French, who came within half a point of winning. Marshal Zhukov indicated his opinion that the event was 'highly successful' and would be repeated in future years, hopefully with more participation.

During the competition, the Russian Army demonstrated the "Avtomat Kalashnikov" rifle prototypes first rumored to be in evaluation last month. The new 6.5mm rifle was carried by a non-competitor team which ran the Alpinist and Grenadier Challenges after the final teams had been judged. According to observers, the new rifle has performed well in initial tests and may be proposed for adoption by special units before next year.

Morskoi Sbornik - Cruisers Begin Sea Trials
June - The light cruisers Novik and Bogatyr began builders trials on the Baltic, joining the new Rynda and Admiral Lazarev. Meanwhile, the four lineships of the Rostislav class have arrived in Arkhangelsk, where they will join the Russian Northern Fleet.

Military-Industrial Commission Reorganized
June - President Fyodorov has signed into effect an order which reorganizes all high-altitude rocketry programs in the Russian Federation into the 3rd Special Bureau of the Military-Industrial Commission (itself part of the Ministry of Defense). However, the bureau will receive special reporting privileges, with its director, Pavlov Polzin, being promoted to the newly-formed post of Assistant Minister of Defense for High Altitude Rocketry. The 2nd Special Bureau will include a design bureau named OKB-1, Research Institute ? 1 in Moskva under Mstislav Keldysh, the KB Khimavtomatika (or OKB-154) under Semyon Kosberg, OKB-456 under Valentin Glushko, and the Kapustin Yar launch site. The administrative reorganization will place all Russian high-altitude rocketry efforts under Polzin's leadership, and make them accountable to the highest levels of the Federation's government.

2

Thursday, June 30th 2016, 10:00pm

Q1

Baku Delays Vote on Plan for Azeri Unification
January - In Baku, the Federation Republic of Azerbaijan's Duma voted to reschedule a vote on Aslan Abdullayev's proposal to unify the two separate parts of Azerbaijan. The delay happened as members expressed concern about potential financial repercussions that would result. President Abdullayev was given eighteen months to conduct a study and present a detailed report to the Federated Republic's duma regarding the economic impact. According to sources in Baku, Abdullayev only wrote the unification proposal at the request of the Federated Republic duma, and expressed 'intense frustration' with the legislative body's postphonement of a vote.

Battleships Depart for Atlantic
January - The three newly-completed lineships Retvizan, Potemkin, and Georgii Pobedonosets departed Kronshtadt under escort from the icebreakers Alexsei Chirikov, Shkval, and Solovei Budemirochich, bound for the French Atlantic port of Brest, where they will join their brothership Rostislav in undertaking post-construction working-up duties. Due to considerations of winter weather in Western Europe, the Alexsei Chirikov will accompany the lineships to France.

A spokesman for the Marine-Maritime Fleet of the Russian Federation revealed that the four lineships would not return to Petrograd upon completion of their training regime, but would instead join the Northern Fleet, based on the Murman coast, replacing the four lineships of the Imperator Petr Veliki class, which are being rotated out to the Black Sea Fleet.

Aeroflot Airliner Crashes in Switzerland
February - An Ilyushin Il-12 airliner crashed during takeoff from Zurich airport in Switzerland. According to Swiss authorities, the aircraft, bound from Zurich to Lvov by way of Vienna, hit a patch of slush during takeoff and slid off the runway at approximately a hundred kilometers an hour and eventually impacted a Swissair DC-2 aircraft that was being moved to the nearby maintenance facilities. The Swissair aircraft caught fire. Eighteen of the twenty occupants of the Aeroflot aircraft were injured during the crash, with no fatalities; the pilot and copilot of the Swissair DC-2 suffered minor burns and sprains as they jumped out the cockpit windows of their aircraft. Aeroflot's spokesman indicated that weather played "a major contributing factor" in the mishap.

Meteorite Falls in the Sikhote-Alin Mountains
February 13 - Russians living in Primorsky Krai observed a large and brilliant meteorite that occurred at 10:30 yesterday morning (February 12). The blinding flash and thunder of the meteorite's impact was visible for nearly three hundred kilometers around the point of impact, which is currently believed to be in the vicinity of Luchegorsk in the Sikhote-Alin Mountains. A smoke trail was observed in the sky for several hours. Representatives of the Far Eastern Division of the Russian Academy of Science are reportedly en route to the impact region in order to seek out meteoritic fragments.

Autoroute Approved by Government
February - Minister of Transport Sergey Konstantinov confirmed that his Ministry would use a portion of road-construction funding in order to construct four motorways within the Russian Federation, in collaboration with the governments of the Baltic States. The motorways to be constructed are Moskva-Minsk, Petrograd-Moskva, Petrograd-Riga, and Minsk-Vilnius. Construction will begin following the spring thaw, with all phases of the project scheduled to complete by fall of 1952. According to rumors, the Russian government is endorsing discussions within the Lithuanian government into constructing its own internal network, designed to link Vilnius to the Lithuanian Baltic port of Palanga, connect Kaunas to Riga, and connect Vilnius to the German autobahn network at Konigsberg. A final decision by the Lithuanian government is not expected this year, however.

Motorway construction within the Russian Federation has been a difficult subject. Unlike Western Europe where car ownership is more common and driving distances are lower, internal transportation is dominated by the railways, with barge traffic on rivers and canals second in tonnage. Motorway-style ring roads have been constructed around Petrograd and Moskva, but no major inter-city links have ever survived the proposal process within the Ministry of Transportation. Observers expected that a motorway between Moskva and Petrograd would eventually be built to serve as a test case for whether the Federation as a whole could benefit from motorway construction; however, the scale of this newly approved project, and its international links into the Baltic States, may be part of the larger political effort to counterbalance foreign economic influence in the region.

Russian Ground Forces Testing New Armoured Vehicle
March - The Main Directorate of Armoured Forces (GABTU) announced that they were testing an experimental new infantry carrying armoured vehicle, the Ob'yekt 241, at the testing and training grounds in Shpola, Ukraine. The ten Ob'yekt 241 pre-series prototypes, built in the Putilov Petrograd Factory, are being evaluated for adoption by the Ground Forces as a replacement for aging BTR-35 fully tracked infantry carriers. Like the BTR-35, the Ob'yekt 241 is fully tracked, and will replace BTR-152 armoured trucks in certain elite formations.

Sukhoi Unveils Naval Fighter Jet
March [AV-MF Official Press Release : For Immediate Distribution] - The prototype of a carrier-based jet fighter designed by the Sukhoi OKB (design bureau) conducted its first flight at Ramenskoye airfield.

Iron Processing Plant Opens in Kola Peninsula
March - The first pelletizing test plant in Russia entered operation on the Kola peninsula. Equipped with a new shaft furnace design, the plant produces iron pellets for shipment and use in the steel industry. If proven successful, the new plant design and process could revolutionize the Federation's steel-mining industry.

Rynda Joins the Baltic Fleet
March - The newly constructed air-defense cruiser (kreyser protivovozdushnoy pborony) Rynda entered acceptance trials with the Baltic Fleet at the beginning of March. The cruiser, armed with eight 13cm dual-purpose guns, shall take on duties as the flagship of the Baltic Fleet upon his final commissioning.

3

Friday, August 12th 2016, 4:37pm

Edited above news to incorporate the following, which I discovered after posting:

Quoted

Meteorite Falls in the Sikhote-Alin Mountains
February 13 - Russians living in Primorsky Krai observed a large and brilliant meteorite that occurred at 10:30 yesterday morning (February 12). The blinding flash and thunder of the meteorite's impact was visible for nearly three hundred kilometers around the point of impact, which is currently believed to be in the vicinity of Luchegorsk in the Sikhote-Alin Mountains. A smoke trail was observed in the sky for several hours. Representatives of the Far Eastern Division of the Russian Academy of Science are reportedly en route to the impact region in order to seek out meteoritic fragments.

4

Friday, August 12th 2016, 8:24pm

Hey. You actually posted about that one. Pretty sure some locals will think that it was a U.F.O. :)

5

Friday, August 12th 2016, 8:44pm

Pretty sure some locals will think that it was a U.F.O. :)

I had three responses and I couldn't decide which to use:
-- In Russian Federation, U.F.O believes in YOU!
-- This is Primorsky Krai, not New Mexico!
-- Headline: "Russian Air Defense Force Positively Identifies Unidentified Flying Object!"

6

Monday, August 15th 2016, 3:31am

All your meteorite are belong to us.

7

Wednesday, September 21st 2016, 5:19pm

Construction Season Begins
April - With the spring thaw, construction has started on two highly-significant construction projects within the western Russian Federation. Petrograd's flood-control project, designed to prevent catastrophic ocean flooding during unusual weather conditions, entered the first construction phase at the beginning of the month. Similarly, crews began clearing ground for the first true inter-city motorway in the Federation, to be constructed between Moskva and Petrograd. The motorway project has already gotten off to a slightly rocky start, however, as the Prosecutor General's Investigative Committee ordered the arrest of two major project bidders on charges of attempting to use bribes to influence contracts.

Growth of Russian Merchant Marine
May - Two more barge carriers of the Anton Arensky class have been ordered by the Baltic Sea Steamship Company in order to replace older vessels soon to be retired. The Anton Arensky himself, the lead ship of the class, is planned to enter service this July, sailing in a special service between Petrograd, Calais, and Amsterdam.

Russian Ground Forces hosts Army Competition
May - During the month of May, the Russian Ground Forces hosted an international army competition at bases near Moskva, Tver, and Petrograd. A total of 107 different teams from five countries competed in a total of twelve military sporting events. The militariad was sponsored by the Russian Federation Ground Forces and based on a series of friendly competitions that have been held amongst Russian units for the last few years. This year, the militariad was expanded to include several more events, while teams from France, Poland, Bulgaria, and Czechoslovakia were invited to join. Fifty-four Russian teams and twenty-two French teams made up the greater majority of the contestants. The highlights of the militariad were the 250km Offroad Rally for reconnaissance troops, and the Armoured Spearhead challenge for the tank forces. Russia managed to score a win in the Armoured Spearhead category despite a frighteningly strong challenge posed by the French, who came within half a point of winning. Marshal Zhukov indicated his opinion that the event was 'highly successful' and would be repeated in future years, hopefully with more participation.

During the competition, the Russian Army demonstrated the "Avtomat Kalashnikov" rifle prototypes first rumored to be in evaluation last month. The new 6.5mm rifle was carried by a non-competitor team which ran the Alpinist and Grenadier Challenges after the final teams had been judged. According to observers, the new rifle has performed well in initial tests and may be proposed for adoption by special units before next year.

Morskoi Sbornik - Cruisers Begin Sea Trials
June - The light cruisers Novik and Bogatyr began builders trials on the Baltic, joining the new Rynda and Admiral Lazarev. Meanwhile, the four lineships of the Rostislav class have arrived in Arkhangelsk, where they will join the Russian Northern Fleet.

Military-Industrial Commission Reorganized
June - President Fyodorov has signed into effect an order which reorganizes all high-altitude rocketry programs in the Russian Federation into the 3rd Special Bureau of the Military-Industrial Commission (itself part of the Ministry of Defense). However, the bureau will receive special reporting privileges, with its director, Pavlov Polzin, being promoted to the newly-formed post of Assistant Minister of Defense for High Altitude Rocketry. The 2nd Special Bureau will include a design bureau named OKB-1, Research Institute ? 1 in Moskva under Mstislav Keldysh, the KB Khimavtomatika (or OKB-154) under Semyon Kosberg, OKB-456 under Valentin Glushko, and the Kapustin Yar launch site. The administrative reorganization will place all Russian high-altitude rocketry efforts under Polzin's leadership, and make them accountable to the highest levels of the Federation's government.

8

Wednesday, September 21st 2016, 5:23pm

Army Competition
Alpinist Challenge
-- Overview: Tests mountain infantry skills in a series of events including skiing, free and rope climbing, and shooting.
-- Teams: Russia (4), France (4), Bulgaria (1), Czechoslovakia (1), Poland (1)
-- 1st Place: France. 2nd Place: France. 3rd Place: Poland.

Grenadier Challenge
-- Overview: Tests the skills of an infantry squad in a series of events including team obstacle course, relay obstacle course, 10km run, and shooting range. Teams had to consist of at least five individuals including one rifle grenadier, one sharpshooter, and one machine gunner.
-- Teams: Russia (8), France (2), Bulgaria (1), Czechoslovakia (1), Poland (1)
-- 1st Place: Russia. 2nd Place: Poland. 3rd Place: Russia.

Presentation
-- Overview: A series of judged events including military marching drill and rifle display team.
-- Teams: Russia (7), France (1), Bulgaria (1), Czechoslovakia (1), Poland (1)
-- 1st Place: Czechoslovakia. 2nd Place: Russia. 3rd Place: Russia.

Frogman Challenge
-- Overview: Tests the skills of combat swimmers in a series of tests including a distance swim in combat gear, demolition of an underwater obstacle, and infiltration of a shore-line.
-- Teams: Russia (2), France (3), Bulgaria (1)
-- 1st Place: France. 2nd Place: France. 3rd Place: France.

Parachute Raid
-- Overview: Tests the skills of military special parachutists. Teams parachuted from an aircraft into a designated drop zone 40km from a target area where shooting exercises were held. Teams had to consist of at least five individuals including one rifle grenadier, one sharpshooter, and one machine gunner.
-- Teams: Russia (4), France (2), Bulgaria (1), Czechoslovakia (1), Poland (1)
-- 1st Place: Russia. 2nd Place: France. 3rd Place: Russia.

250km Offroad Rally
-- Overview: Tests the skills of motorized reconnaissance troops. A team of four men with up to two 4WD utility vehicles cover a 250km course with eighteen checkpoints, using unimproved tracks and cross-country terrain. Competitors could either bring a vehicle of their choice or be provided with a Russian NAZ-67 4WD vehicle.
-- Teams: Russia (7), France (2), Bulgaria (1), Czechoslovakia (1), Poland (1)
-- 1st Place: Russia (NAZ-67). 2nd Place: France (Peugeot VLR). 3rd Place: Russia (NAZ-67).
-- Note: Winning team receives a gold medallion and five thousand rubles prize money.

250km Raid
-- Overview: Tests the skills of motorized reconnaissance troops. A team of four men with motorcycles cover a 250km course with eighteen checkpoints, using unimproved tracks and cross-country terrain. Teams need to consist of at least four men, with either two motorcycle-sidecars or four motorcycles.
-- Teams: Russia (4), France (1), Bulgaria (2), Czechoslovakia (1), Poland (2)
-- 1st Place: Russia. 2nd Place: Czechoslovakia. 3rd Place: France.

Armoured Spearhead
-- Overview: A team of four medium tanks and their crews conduct a timed cross-country drive through obstacles including hills, water obstacles, tank traps, and rough terrain, ending on a shooting range with pop-up targets. Teams could bring tanks of their choice or be provided with Russian T-44-76s.
-- Teams: Russia (8), France (3), Bulgaria (1)
-- 1st Place: Russia (T-47 Tsiklon). 2nd Place: France (AMX-40B2 Tigre). 3rd Place: Russia (T-47 Tsiklon). [1]
-- Note: Winning team receives the gold Tukachevsky's Medallion, a silver trophy contributed by the French Army, and ten thousand rubles prize money.

Flying Column
-- Overview: A team of two armoured infantry carriers and mounted infantry squad conduct a timed cross-country drive through obstacles, ending on a shooting range for the embarked infantry (teams had to consist of at least five individuals including one rifle grenadier, one sharpshooter, and one machine gunner). The vehicles had to be armed with a machine gun and be armoured against small arms fire. (Tracked, half-tracked, and wheeled vehicles were permitted equally.) Teams could bring vehicles of their choice or be provided with Russian BTR-152s.
-- Teams: Russia (3), France (1), Bulgaria (1)
-- 1st Place: Russia (BTR-152). 2nd Place: Russia (BTR-152). 3rd Place: Russia (BTR-152). [2]
-- Note: Winning team receives the gold Dragun's Medallion and five thousand rubles prize money.

Pioneer's Challenge
-- Overview: Tests the skills of combat engineers in building a four-span pontoon bridge (capable of bearing tanks), clearing a roadway through a forested area, and constructing a defensive trenches, a (dud) minefield, barbed wire obstacles, and a bunker to a set of specifications.
-- Teams: Russia (3), France (1), Bulgaria (1), Czechoslovakia (1), Poland (1)
-- 1st Place: Russia. 2nd Place: France. 3rd Place: Russia.

Sapper's Challenge
-- Overview: Tests the skills of combat engineers in demolishing a series of barbed wire obstacles, a tank trap, and a concrete bunker, followed by sweeping a (dud) minefield.
-- Teams: Russia (2), France (1), Bulgaria (1), Czechoslovakia (1), Poland (1)
-- 1st Place: Russia. 2nd Place: Czechoslovakia. 3rd Place: Russia. [3]

Thunderbolt / Artillery Biathlon
-- Overview: Tests the skills of artillerists in transporting a field howitzer across unimproved terrain and then firing at a target 7km away. Teams could bring their own equipment or be provided with a Russian truck and 76mm regimental howitzer.
-- Teams: Russia (2), France (1), Bulgaria (2)
-- 1st Place: Bulgaria. 2nd Place: Bulgaria. 3rd Place: Russia.

Equestrian Patrol
-- Overview: Tests the skills of military horsemen in a patrol, obstacle course, and team relay. Team had to consist of at least ten horses and riders.
-- Teams: Russia (2), Poland (2)
-- 1st Place: Poland. 2nd Place: Russia (Cossacks). 3rd Place: Poland.

Totals
1st / 2nd / 3rd Placings
-- Russia: 8 / 4 / 8
-- France: 2 / 6 / 3
-- Bulgaria: 1 / 1 / 0
-- Czechoslovakia: 1 / 2 / 0
-- Poland 1 / 1 / 2


Notes
-- Note [1]: The French team came within half a point of winning.
-- Note [2]: Russian bias!
-- Note [3]: A third Russian team withdrew shortly before the start of the event. The French received a verbal warning for using excessive amounts of shaped and satchel charges, which resulted in a two-day delay as the course was rebuilt.

9

Wednesday, September 21st 2016, 5:26pm

Buying an Automobile in Russia
by John Q. Franklin

What to buy?

This is the question I find myself mulling over as I sit at my kitchen table, leafing through a set of catalogues and brochures given to me by eager salesmen. My recent acceptance of a part-time position as a professor with the Southern Federal University in Rostov-on-Don has resulted in an increase in my travels - often to places served irregularly by the bus or tram lines, or at awkward times of the day. While I am not adverse to a good brisk walk - for there are few activities more suitable for an English gentleman - the time has come for me to buy a car in order to move more freely around Russia.

While automobiles are hardly unusual in Russia, statistics indicate (depending upon the sources you wish to believe) that between one in seventy-five or one in a hundred Russians actually owns or has regular access to a personal automobile. Car ownership definitely remains the domain of the upper and middle classes. Lower class Russians, by contrast, almost always use the various municipal-operated transport options - buses, trams, or subways - or move around on bicycle or by foot. However, in the seven years I've lived in Rostov-on-Don, I have seen a new trend of automobile ownership emerging within the lower and middle class.

Some years ago, the Renault company, with a great deal of cost, set up a manufacturing concern known as the Moscow Compact Car Factory (or MZMA), which produces a local variation of the French 4CV. Citroen similarly acheived an entry into the Russian market with their associate VAZ (Volga Automobile Plant), locally manufacturing a variant of their comic-looking but even cheaper 2CV. To the surprise of most Russian industry leaders, MZMA and VAZ aimed their design and sales efforts not at the upper and middle class, but at the lower class - a decision ridiculed at the time by many financial experts, myself included. Fortuitously for Renault and Citroen, I was not a member of their executive board!

For a number of reasons, the French have enjoyed a privileged position within the Russian economy as a whole ever since the beginning of the Federation era. When Russia defaulted on wartime loans made by British financiers, London's financial influence and their confidence in Russian markets waned sharply, and even over the past twenty-five years, little has changed. American wartime loans, although lesser in value than their British equivalents, suffered a similar fate. With the German economic engine badly damaged by the Great War, the Paris Bourse - and to a lesser extent, Cleito's financial sector - stepped into the gap, establishing lasting financial ties that remain in place to this day. Petrograd's view of economics, as a rule, is both protectionist in nature and given to regular fits of socialist railing - which rarely comes to much, fortunately, but often rattles the nerves of the unprepared or inexperienced investor. The current investment situation favors entrenched businessmen who have forged longtime personal ties and the degree of personal fortitude necessary to ignore or overturn the vagaries of the government - and the French financiers are the only foreigners who have consistently stayed in the game. Along the way, they cultivate a deeper knowledge of the enigmatic (and, frankly, often obtuse) Russian economy.

Despite this depth of experience, it was the American Ford company which first broke into the Russian automobile market through a cooperative venture that formed NAZ (Nizhegorodsky Avtomobilny Zavod), located in the city of Nizhny Novgorod. NAZ built Russia's first passenger car - the unreliable NAZ-A, a variant of the Model A - before eventually upgrading to the much more modern and now iconic NAZ-M1, or "Emka". These vehicles, while relatively inexpensive to the eyes of Western Europeans, sold best to the upper middle class, which had few other purchasing options at the time.

Discerning Russian buyers have always had the alternative of imported British or German cars, but imported vehicles have their own associated costs. Many years ago, a protectionist left-wing Duma passed a law to charge import tariffs on foreign automobiles, regardless of manufacture, with the rates left to the control of the Auto Manufacturing Import Control Board, a bureaucratic body associated with the Ministry of Transport, but not placed under its direct control. This bureau, insulated from oversight, charged such a hefty rate on imported automobiles that foreign-built cars could never compete with their Russian equivalents in terms of price (with the taxes often coming to three or even four times the price of the vehicle itself). A foreign car thus became a powerful status symbol, and a lucrative black market rose to provide foreign (predominantly British and German) automobiles to Russian buyers. Indeed, for a period in 1941, automobile smuggling became the single largest source of income for the Russian mafia, and the government estimates that up to half of the foreign automobiles on Russian roads have been illegally smuggled into the country.

Although the anti-corruption crusaders have staged multi-prong attacks on the power of the Auto Manufacturing Import Control Board, it was Renault and Citroen (acting through the agency of their respective Russian subsidiaries) who launched the coup de main. Russian drivers now had the ability to buy "foreign" cars for domestic prices - or better. The well-equipped factories in Moscow and Volgograd are extremely busy filling orders.

Importantly, it's not just the upper-middle class who are buying cars now. Some enterprising Russians have pooled their resources in order to purchase a car which is shared jointly by multiple families. As a case in point, a year ago my closest neighbor bought a VAZ 2CV, sharing ownership with three other neighbors, including a pair of twin brothers who just finished their term with the army. The other three partners all claim a 20% stake, and share 20% of operating costs. Individually, none of them would have the money to buy and operate a car on their own, but by pooling their resources they have acquired a degree of mobility never before available to lower-class Russian workers. Their partnership is simplified since they all work the same shift at the shipyard, and can commute to work together each day - which in turn saves the four of them significantly in bus fares. They negotiate with each other for who gets the car on weekends; since my neighbor owns two of the five shares, he usually gets the first pick.

The rise in ownership and purchasing has sparked an occupation never before seen in Russia: that of the car salesman. There are now two working in Rostov-on-Don, and in my search for my first car, I visited them both. At the office of Ivan Miloradovich & Associates, the owner's younger brother Dimitri opened up to me for several hours about a number of topics. The Miloradovich brothers, Ivan and Dimitri, are salesmen affiliated with MZMA, and primarily offer Renault's Russianized variant of the 4CV, the so-called "Moskvitch." However, they also offer other vehicles, including the new "Volga" brand (by NAZ), imported German and British automobiles (for a price) and a range of motorcycles. Dimitri laughingly offered me a good deal on the most fastest motorcycle currently permitted for sale in Russia, an imported Vincent. "Perfect for an adventurous Englishman like yourself!" he joked. I demurred, recalling my many bicycle accidents in the country lanes of Northumberland. "In any case, I want something to keep out the weather," I pointed out.

The Miloradovich brothers have a garage filled with possibilities, and Dimitri assured me that, once I selected a vehicle, he could have it delivered within thirty days - even a Moskvitch, which still has a waiting list. "I have friends in Moskva," Dimitri acknowledges, "And between that and our affiliation, I can get you a Moskvitch in thirty days." Dimitri showed me a four-door Moskvitch sedan awaiting delivery to its owner, and let me sit in the driver's seat - but no test drive, since the vehicle only had thirty kilometers registered. My inspection showed that the Moskvitch was spartan and designed for the working man, but not being an automotive journalist let alone a mechanic, I had very few other observations about the quality. Dimitri sent me on my way with a dozen glossy brochures, all in Russian.

The next day I visited the Miloradovichs' competition and talked with young Fyodor Baratynsky and his wife Elisaveta, whose English was better than my Russian. Like the Miloradovichs, the sales group is a family affair. Fyodor's father Iosef started out as a truck mechanic, and in the early 1930s started selling NAZ-A vehicles on the side. As time went by, the elder Baratynsky took on a partner - Elisaveta's father, Ivan Yegorov - to sell more cars while he himself worked on the mechanical side. The elder Baratynsky has since retired, leaving his mechanic shop in the hands of Fyodor's cousin, while Fyodor himself prefers selling cars to fixing them.

Fyodor started by showing me the NAZ N20 'Rodina', a new four-door sedan that's part of the new Volga brand, and the VAZ 2CV, the Russian-built variant of the French Citroen - simpler, even, than the Moskvitch I'd looked over the day before. I drove them both to evaluate their performance, and preferred the Rodina; but the low price of the 2CV was tempting. It's easy to see why this simple vehicle has sold so well in Russia, particularly due to the absence of easy competition from Austin and Auto Union. The 2CV's low price makes it a viable alternative to a mule and cart, thus tempting the Russian peasant farmers who would never have dreamt of owning a personal automobile.

After the test drive, Fyodor showed me several other vehicles, including a secondhand Austin. I asked him whether the car had been smuggled into Russia or not. "Probably not," he said. "With foreign vehicles, you'd need to look close at Skodas and anything from Germany. The mafia buys those cars legitimately from dealers - in Poland, Czechoslovakia, sometimes even Germany itself - and then changes the tags and registrations before driving them across the border. German cars are believed to be highly reliable, and are thus very desirable to smuggle. British cars have about the same desirability, but they're harder to buy in Eastern Europe." Fyodor showed me a trick to distinguish between them. "The Import Board issued legitimacy certificates like this ones; the mafia copied them, but used better paper. After a few years, the government certificates fade and yellow, but the faked mafia certificates are still white." He showed me the Austin's faded import certificate, which claimed the car was imported to Russia in 1942 for a price that I found staggering.

After looking over the cars with Fyodor, I spent another hour talking to his wife Elisaveta, who wanted to practice her already excellent English. Educated for two years in England, Elisaveta now keeps the books while her father and husband focus on sales. Elisaveta told me about some recent developments with the Russian automobile market. In several regions, particularly Karelia, Estonia, and the city of Petrograd, the Russian government has made an unorthodox agreement to remove all but a few minor import tariffs on Nordish-built Saabs and Volvos. The senior director of the once-mighty Auto Manufacturing Import Control Board protested - and was summarily dismissed. "The government is using Estonia as a test market for the entire Federation, evaluating whether or not Russian manufacturers can compete with foreigners without any protective tariffs," Elisaveta pointed out. "The exciting news is that it appears we can."

At the forefront of the defense is NAZ, one of the first companies to mass-manufacture cars in Russia. The new N20 Rodina that I test-drove is aimed at the buyers who want something more than rebadged French 'cars for the masses': it is the first car sold in Russia with turn signals, electric wipers, an FM radio, and an electric heater. It directly addresses the concern, widely held in Russia, that indigenous vehicles are somehow lacking in quality or modernity compared to their foreign counterparts - particularly German vehicles, and to a lesser extent Nordish and British cars. AMO ZiL - the firm responsible for manufacturing Russia's vast fleet of military trucks - is similarly responding by upgrading the quality of its civilian offerings, but focuses on the high-end market share, well outside the limit of my savings.

After counting my rubles and weighing all the options, I returned to meet with the Baratynskys and put my money down on a VAZ-built 2CV - although I was sorely tempted by that N20 Rodina. For my purposes, it ought to serve me well, even if it has only basic amenities. Once it's delivered two weeks from now, I'll join the new generation of Russians on the increasingly-busy roads.

John Q. Franklin is an English writer and financial expert living and working in Rostov-on-Don. He is part of the Faculty of Economics at the Southern Federal University.

10

Thursday, September 22nd 2016, 9:44am

Nice work on Buying an Automobile, I enjoyed reading that.

11

Thursday, September 22nd 2016, 1:52pm

I am curious... how receptive would the Russian market (and the Russian Government) to a Russo-German automotive venture to manufacture one or more German vehicles inside Russia?

12

Thursday, September 22nd 2016, 3:29pm

Nice work on Buying an Automobile, I enjoyed reading that.

Thanks. I really enjoy writing those "foreign correspondent in Russia" articles, too; and the format lets me dig in a little deeper to topics I'd normally just skim over in the news. My goal's to write at least one of them per year.

I am curious... how receptive would the Russian market (and the Russian Government) to a Russo-German automotive venture to manufacture one or more German vehicles inside Russia?

Difficult to ascertain without more information.

I'm presuming you'd want to propose a joint venture similar to the Renault-MZMA and Citroen-VAZ equivalency, where the foreign parent does much of the engineering work and equips the factory, and the local partner 'Russianizes" the product, builds, and distributes with their own badge. If that's the case, then there would be a cautiously optimistic response from the powers-that-be.

At the moment, the Germans would probably be treated with kid gloves, because a lot of the higher-ups in the Russian automakers and the very powerful workers groups have an unhealthy respect for what the Germans can do if they got easier access to the Russian market. :P This is why the Federation government turned instead to the Nordish and Saab+Volvo for their 'can we actually compete' experiment. The Nordish are similarly well-regarded for quality, but they aren't seen as having the economic power necessary to completely crush the Russian automotive industry. (That wouldn't happen, but the very protectionist workers groups have nightmares about it anyway.)

I'd be more interested what specifically you have in mind, because I would have my own recommendation as well...

13

Friday, January 27th 2017, 5:02pm

Morskoi Sbornik - Russian Navy Day and Operation Trikolor Showcase the VMF Rossii
July - On July 27th, the Military-Maritime Fleet of the Russian Federation celebrated its annual Navy Day. In Petrograd, the VMF Rossii held a major exhibition at Kotlin Island. During the exhibition, six cruisers of the Baltic Fleet fired a simulated main-battery anti-aircraft drill, three thousand Russian Marines stormed ashore from landing craft, and three hundred torpedo and dive bombers from Naval Aviation staged an overflight. A number of foreign warships were hosted in Russian ports as part of the celebrations. Other ceremonies, of lesser scale, occurred at other major Russian naval bases around the Federation.

Among the more reserved participants was the Baltic Fleet Admiral Lazarev, which made his first public appearance since commissioning into the VMF Rossii earlier this year. The ship holds the unique designation of "Bol'shoy Raketny Korabl'" (Large Rocket Ship). While also armed with 130mm guns, the Admiral Lazarev reportedly also carries the experimental Amur air-defense rocket, which holds the promise of revolutionary changes to naval warfare. Every Russian heart should swell with pride at the unparalleled, pioneering progress and devotion to technical excellence that has yet to be equaled anywhere else in the world! [1]

Abroad, the 3rd Cruiser Squadron (Baltic Fleet) and the 4th Cruiser Squadron (Black Sea Fleet) were dispatched for Operation Trikolor in order to represent the Russian Federation at the July 14 Bastille Day celebrations in Brest and Marseilles. The cruiser squadrons paid their respects to one of the longstanding allies of the Russian Federation.

Construction on Lena River Tunnel Ahead of Schedule
August - The dedicated and industrious Russian laborers and engineers responsible for the construction of the Lena River Tunnel, a double-track railway tunnel under the five-kilometer wide Lena River, have reported that they are two weeks ahead of schedule. The railway tunnel shall permit the Baikal-Magadan Mainline to cross the most formidable of the water obstacles along the railway's planned construction route. Construction began in early May after the end of the spring floods.

Has Russia Broken the Sound Barrier?
August - The Russian Ministry of Defense categorically denied rumors that the experimental Lavochkin La-160 jet aircraft, publically demonstrated at Tushino last month, had broken the sound barrier. According to the Ministry's statement, the aircraft is neither designed for nor capable of breaking the sound barrier, although its 35° swept wing design allows it to achieve great speeds. When asked for clarification about how fast the La-160 actually goes, the Ministry spokesman reiterated "very fast" and then added "slower than the Lavochkin La-174."

Bratsk Hydroelectric Plant Completed
September - Russian laborers completed their work on the world's largest hydroelectric plant at Bratsk, on the River Angara. The dam, measuring 120 meters in height and 4.4 kilometers in length, shall produce more electricity than any other hydroelectric plant in the world, and shall create the world's largest manmade reservoir once it finishes filling, a process that will take some time. Three-quarters of the plant's electricity shall be used to power an aluminium smelter with a design capacity of a hundred and fifty thousand tons per year, increasing the Russian Federation's aluminium production by 144% by 1950. [2]

Russian Merchant Fleet Achieves New Milestone
September - According to the government, the Russian merchant marine briefly achieved a milestone 5.5 million gross register tonnes during June, although it fell slightly a month later as a number of antiquated ships were retired. Although no figures were available, it is estimated that 1.5 million gross register tons of this figure are found in the Russian riverine cargo fleets.

Ob'yekt 241 Delayed; AK-46 Prioritized
September - The Main Directorate of Armoured Forces (GABTU) rejected the initial version of the Ob'yekt 241 fully-tracked armoured infantry carrier, requesting four thousand engineering changes to be made by the designer at Putilov Petrograd Factory. The upgraded vehicle is to be returned to GABTU in November for further evaluation.

While the Ob'yekt 241 project has suffered a setback, a project to upgrade Russian small arms has been awarded a higher priority. The Avtomat Kalashnikov Model 1946 submachine gun was ordered into a low-level production in order to arm four companies of an experimental parachute infantry battalion. Each company will evaluate a variant chambered for a different cartridge, including an experimental 7.62x39 round, the German-designed 7x40, 7x43 Angliyskiy, and 6.5x51 FAR. A procurement decision on the submachine gun is expected before the end of the year. [3]

*****


Notes
-- Note [1]: System 65% designed and 80% built in France.
-- Note [2]: Historically, this would mean Russia is responsible for approximately 1/3rd of the worldwide aluminium production in 1950 (which was about 1.5 million tons).
-- Note [3]: This ain't your daddy's AK.

14

Friday, January 27th 2017, 5:04pm

Russians Don't Smile: Cultural Differences Between West and East
by John Q. Franklin

Whenever I meet another Western European travelling through my little corner of Russia, I'm often greeted with the relieved comment "It's so good to finally see a friendly face!" Travelers, particularly if they have little experience dealing with the Slavic character, find themselves surrounded by grim, unsmiling faces. In October, one of my longtime college acquaintances visited Russia for the first time in his life, and wrote to me in exasperation. "I don't know how you can stand it there in Russia; it must be a terrible and gloomy place to live. Nobody ever smiles!"

I shared this comment with one of my co-workers, Vitaliy, a language professor who had just returned from a year at Cambridge. "Of course we don't smile at strangers. Why should we? At least when we do smile, you know it's genuine." He shared how, over the year he'd lived in England, he'd grown uncomfortable at the amount of times a perfectly random stranger had smiled at him. "The first few days," Vitaliy said, "I thought the English were very friendly, because so many people smiled. But then I realized a smile meant absolutely nothing. When even strangers smile at each other, it is not genuine."

Vitaliy pointed out that in Russian culture, a smile is something reserve for a special occasion, usually shared best with close friends and family. With a straight face Vitaliy joked, "If a Russian smiles at you on the subway, it's probably because we've noticed that you're wearing your shirt inside out."

John Q. Franklin is an English writer and financial expert living and working in Rostov-on-Don. He is part of the Faculty of Economics at the Southern Federal University.

15

Friday, January 27th 2017, 6:07pm

Quoted

Every Russian heart should swell with pride at the unparalleled, pioneering progress and devotion to technical excellence that has yet to be equaled anywhere else in the world! [1]

As indicated in the note, it is equaled in France... or better yet, this should apply to France and not Russia... but better not tell the Russian peasants or they will riot. :)

Quoted

Has Russia Broken the Sound Barrier?

... and here I thought that in Russia, Sound Barrier breaks you. :D

Quoted

This ain't your daddy's AK.

... so that would mean that everything that made the AK great would no longer be part of this weapon. I guess that here in Wesworld, "The right arm of the Free World" will become THE weapon of choice across the world. King AK is dead, long live King FAL! :D

16

Friday, January 27th 2017, 9:48pm

Quoted

This ain't your daddy's AK.

... so that would mean that everything that made the AK great would no longer be part of this weapon. I guess that here in Wesworld, "The right arm of the Free World" will become THE weapon of choice across the world. King AK is dead, long live King FAL! :D

That depends on what you think made the historical AK-47 great.

I haven't finalized the design I want to use for the WW AK-47, but overall, the action remains the same, while the caliber and certain minor peripherals change. I'd argue that the Russian Federation's AK-47 is actually going to be a significantly better weapon than the Soviet Union's design - "the AK perfected", as it were. As much as the AK can be perfected. But it is true that Wesworld is definitely not going to see the AK-47 in the hands of every two-bit revolutionary the world over.

Neither the FAL nor the AK-47 were really available for regular production in the 1940s; the FAL was still in design until the end of the decade, while the Russians were solving manufacturing issues with the AK, such as switching from milled to stamped receivers and things like that. The AK-46 I referenced in posts above is actually a milled receiver 6.5x51-chambered "production prototype", too expensive for mass production but with a few thousand built for field experimentation. With the earlier-than-historical introduction of the FN FAL in Wesworld, I'm still a bit uncertain about how I want to run the timeline for the AK-47.

It's also worth noting that the FAL has already lost one of its principle historical customers: the British produced it under license, and in Wesworld Britain's already green-lighted the EM-2. That means Canada,Australia, and likely the rest of the Commonwealth will probably follow suit rather than adopting their own FAL variant. Germany's not even showing their historical interest in the FAL, nor is the US (which in the end snubbed the FAL for the M-14). Worse, at the moment there are no sub-Saharan African states to sell to, and most of the European powers aside from France insist on home developments... so I'd argue that the Right Arm of the Free World actually has a tougher market than it did historically.

...

I've actually also considered the possibility of Russia just picking up the FAL for themselves, and then loudly proclaiming "Pravaya ruka svobodnogo mira!" just for the sake of the great historical irony.

17

Friday, January 27th 2017, 10:07pm

Well, I was kidding... but I guess Japan will have to buy one for each of its citizens to make the FAL "the Wrong Right Arm of the Imperial Free World". :D

18

Friday, January 27th 2017, 11:55pm

Well, (spoilers) it's almost certainly going to be the right arm of the Francophone world, at least. :)

19

Friday, June 9th 2017, 2:32pm

Fire Damages Russian Submarine
October - A defective and obsolete lead-acid battery caused a fire on the M-8, a vessel of the Project 23 "Molchkom" type that is part of the 7th Submarine Flotilla stationed in Murmansk. The submarine, built in 1928, was tied up at dockside at the time the fire began. Although no crewmen were killed, sixteen men were treated due to smoke and the submarine sustained heavy damage. The boat had just returned from participating in Exercise Almaz-8 in the Barents Sea.

Duma Approves Stricter Mining Regulations
October - The Duma voted on a five-year plan to help increase the efficiency of coal-mining and oil-drilling operations within the Russian Federation. Industry experts have expressed increasing concern that obsolete extraction methods at a number of government-owned coal mines and oil wells have resulted in a great deal of waste. A proposal to privatize the industry was rejected at this time. Foreign observers knowledgeable in the industry noted that the plan was a good start, but that more would need to be done to catch back up to European and American methods, which are believed to be about five years more advanced on average.

New Truck Factory in Tatarstan
October - Work is completing on the new Kamskiy Avtomobilny Zavod (Kama Automobile Factory) manufacturing center in Naberezhnye Chelny, Tatarstan. The new plant shall construct trucks for military, industry and agricultural uses. Rumours of a possible partnership with the German Mercedes-Benz company and its Unimog line have not been substantiated at the present time.

"Bonnie and Clyde" Rob Ukraine Banks
October - Police in the Federation Republic of Ukraine are hunting for a gang of robbers who have so far held up four banks in the vicinity of Kiev. The gang, well-armed and believed to number up to eight people, are led by Oleksandr Ivanovski and Nataliia Layevska. Police believe the couple and their fellow gang-members may be motivated by Ukrainian ultra-nationalism.

Three Rockets Launched in One Day
November - The Russian high-altitude rocketry program achieved a signal success by launching three R1 rockets in the course of a single day from the Kapustin Yar rocketry center. All three rockets achieved an altitude of more than one hundred kilometers and a range of three hundred fifty kilometers.

Lab Accident Results in Deaths
November - An October accident at the Laboratory No. 2 of the Russian Federation Academy of Sciences was blamed for the death of one French and two Russian technicians, who were working on an experimental energy project. The lab was closed while safety procedures were reviewed.

Volvo and Saab Selling Well in Estonia
November - Nordish-based automakers Volvo and Saab indicated their overall satisfaction with recent import sales in select parts of the Russian Federation. A special deal negotiated last year allowed the two automakers to import cars directly into the Federation, exempt from the normally high import taxes. President Fyodorov, in remarks to the press, said that permitting foreign manufacturers access to the Russian market will help lower prices and increase the competitiveness of Russian industry, particularly in the export markets.

New Jet Fighter Flies
December - The Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-15 jet fighter, designed by Artem Mikoyan and his OKB, had its first flight on December 30th. The MiG-15 is proposed as a cheaper alternative to the I-174 jet fighter, designed jointly by Hans Multhopp (German BFW firm) and Semyon Lavochkin, of which a hundred and fifty aircraft are currently in service. It remains to be seen if the MiG-15 will offer sufficient benefits to merit an order. The aircraft is powered by an indigenous 26 kN turbojet, designed by the Klimov Design Bureau with technical assistance from the French Rateau-Anxionnaz firm.

* * * * *


Report of the Hungarian Military Attaché, Petrograd, Friday, 4 November 1947
Although not yet announced in the press, it is confirmed that the Russian Ground Forces have ordered another two thousand T-47A Tsiklon tanks, to be delivered in 1948 and 1949 by Uralvagonzavod (Nizhny Tagil). This will bring total T-47 production to 5,250 vehicles by the end of 1948. Another five hundred tanks, believed to be T-47s, are currently on order with Kharkov-Transall. This order was apparently only done to keep Kharkov-Transall working at good capacity until design of the Ob'yekt 241 tracked infantry carrier is finalized. This is expected to happen soon. As reported previously, there is no firm information available on the Ob'yekt 241's specifications, other than the fact that it re-uses several automotive components (engine, transmission, road-wheels, etc) from the T-60 Smerch and T-47 Tsiklon light and medium tanks.

It appears that most if not all work on heavy tanks, including the proposed Ob'yekt 703, has been slowed or halted entirely. Most officers of GABTU feel content that the T-47 Tsiklon has sufficient armour protection and firepower, and heavy breakthrough tanks like the Ob'yekt 703 are not expected to offer any substantial benefits at this time. The tank OKB working at Chelyabinsk has been instructed to redirect the majority of their efforts towards Shashmurin's Ob'yekt 740 amphibious light tank and other projects.

According to rumours within the defense establishment, the recent accident at the Laboratory No. 2 of the Russian Federation Academy of Sciences has affected a joint program underway between the French and Russian navies, who are jointly funding a project to produce an alternative method for powering submarines in order to permit them to remain submerged for longer periods of time. Further information does not appear to be available at this time, as the GRU are taking responsibility for the project's security.

Significant expectation is being placed upon a planned test flight of the new Mikoyan jet fighter toward the end of this year. According to my sources, the Russian Ministry of Defense is dissatisfied with the manufacturing costs associated with the Russo-German I-174, and the Russians have apparently had some issues with its engine. It remains unclear at the present time if the Russians are license-building Heinkel turbojets, or assembling them from German parts, or buying engines direct from Heinkel. It is rumored that some of the delivered aircraft have been built or modified to use either the less powerful Lyulka TR-2, a French Rateau-Anxionnaz A.65 turbojet or a somewhat similar Russian engine designed by Klimov, which is expected to appear on the new Mikoyan design as well.

A report has apparently been circulated amongst Russian aviation officers analyzing the effects of the Japanese strategic bombing campaign against China during their recent war. The report apparently was suppressed for six months by a senior member of the Military Air Forces (VVS)'s Long-Range Aviation unit, who felt it undermined the Russian strategic bomber arm's position in regards to strategic bombing. The report indicates that Japanese strategic bombing did not offer proportional results to the amount of effort expended to carry them out, and probably served more to harden Chinese will-to-fight. This seems to confirm the primary opinion held within the Russian military air services, which focuses on tactical battlefield aviation, with level bombing primarily intended as a means to attack communication and transport hubs in order to hinder enemy operations in a ground campaign. Strategic bombing of enemy population and industrial centers thus retains a significantly lower priority than in British or American thought.

Senior Russian politicians and military thinkers continue to anticipate a military confrontation with China in the next few years. It is the studied opinion of senior-level military personnel that a war against either Japan or China would be "catastrophic and foolhardy", and would require the sustained commitment of all major Western allies in order to conclusively defeat either in a military contest. Peterhof currently seems to favor polite diplomatic engagement with Japan, while the military-political doctrine on China seems to be in a state of uncertainty. Certain Russian military officials have expressed concern about the announcement of a contract for a Chinese factory to modernize two dozen Russian-built T-35 medium tanks which were provided to Mongolia in 1939; these vehicles, used by the Mongolian Army Tank School, represent the sole mechanized force available in the Mongolian Army. Some of my contacts have expressed the belief that the Chinese perhaps hope to exploit the declining health of the Bogd Khan in order to subvert the independence of Outer Mongolia.

20

Friday, June 9th 2017, 2:59pm

My ears prick up at the sound of the word MiG.

That's a nice round-up of news Brock.