The Soviet Union produced huge amounts of
military equipment during the Great Patriotic
War, but despite the heroic sacrifices of
the working class, foreign assistance was
still necessary. Britain agreed to supply
equipment on 28 June 1941, six days after
the treacherous Nazi assault, including some
items received from the United States under
the Lend-Lease Act of March 1941. Starting
in November 1941, the U.S. began supplying
the Soviet Union directly.
Battles scenario book for Panzer
Grenadier includes one scenario calling
for two types of Lend-Lease vehicle in Soviet
service: the Matilda II infantry tank and
the M3 Stuart light tank.
The Matilda was the first Lend-Lease tank
received by the Red Army, and entered combat
in front of Moscow in the winter of 1941.
Soviet tankers liked its engine and thick
armor, but the complicated running gear broke
down easily on the appalling Russian roads.
The 2-pounder gun was also ridiculously weak
for a tank of its size (27 tons, slightly
more than a T-34/76a).
The Soviets attempted to mount a bigger weapon
on the tank, but its small turret made this
impossible. Almost 3,000 Matildas were manufactured,
and 1,084 of them went to the Red Army. Deliveries
continued until August 1943, when the Red
Army began receiving the Churchill instead.
This proved much less popular with Soviet
The Matilda was very slow, rumbling along
at a top speed of 15 miles per hour (about
the speed of a man running very fast). But
only 88mm anti-aircraft guns could penetrate
its thick hide. Some of the vehicles were
completed as Matilda CS models, with a low-velocity
3-inch howitzer in place of the 2-pounder
The first American tank received by the Red
Army was the M3 Stuart light tank, which got
mixed reviews. Maneuverability and speed were
good, armament (a 37mm gun) was weak, and
the Soviets disliked the gasoline engine:
Red Army practice dictated use of diesels
to reduce the risk of fire, and the Soviet
economy did not always produce very high-grade
gasoline. Still, the tank arrived in great
numbers (1,665) and the Red Army happily put
it to use. Noteworthy use was in the Black
Sea amphibious landings in 1942.
Its high profile made the tank a ready target,
but its 37mm gun had an effective cannister
round and the M3 sported five machine guns,
making it a useful infantry-support tank.
The later M5 version had only two machine
guns, but better protection and all-welded
construction for more rapid production. This
model was also supplied to the Soviet Union.
Lend-Lease vehicles appear in one scenario
in Tank Battles’ Operation
Mars set (out of 34). But gamers demand, well,
they demand a lot. The counters are available
Desert Rats in British colors,
but we’ve never offered these vehicles
in Soviet garb. Now they’re available
as a free
download here. We’ve also tossed
in a close-support Matilda, which the Soviet
player may substitute for one of the Matilda
pieces if he or she wishes.