The discovery of VK technology through the medium of a captured Axis walker had revolutionised the way that the SSU developed their armoured formations. Newdesigns for heavy tanks and medium and heavy walkers had quickly made the solid T34, KV and JS chassis out dated and virtually redundant. This was seen by manymilitary experts as a waste of valuable resources and ways to use these tanks for the war effort was seen as a priority vital for success. The most popular and accessible way to utilise the tanks was to make them into armoured personnel carriers or APCs.
The Axis forces had used their SDKFZ range of armoured halftracks very successfully in the early years of the Russian campaign and had supplemented them with the new Katzchen; Prinzluther and Sturmprinz. The SSU had a huge manpower pool to draw upon but losses on the Eastern Front alone had been horrendous. These losses were especially heavy amongst the experienced battle-hardened veterans who trained to fight with the new SSU tanks and walkers. High ranking SSU officers wanted another way to support their armoured assets whilst keeping casualties to an acceptable SSU level. It was some unnamed but innovative engineers from the famous Red October tank factory in Stalingrad who came up with the basic APC designs during one of the many battles for the city. These engineers took damaged T34 and KV tanks; removed their turrets, added extra armour, infantry handles and numerous machine guns and sent them back into battle manned by factory volunteers to support their armour in the street battles for the city. Following many interviews with the survivors of these battles SSU armour specialists settled upon the design for the T34 and KV APCs, thus the BTR 100 and BTR 200 were officially designated.
The BTR 100 was a design based upon the T34 chassis and was the most radical of the conversions with the engine moved from the back of the vehicle to the front. Whilst a major change with much work done on the gearbox, the move allowed a relatively spacious infantry compartment with room for 6 fully equipped soldiersinside and 6 hanging onto rails welded along the body of the vehicle. The removal of the heavy turret allowed extra armour to be added to the front and sides making the BTR 100 a vehicle that could survive on most battlefields (T4 D4). The BTR 200 was a much easier design with the removal of the turret and the creation of an infantry compartment with space for 6 fully equipped soldiers. Some additional armour was added to help survivability on the battlefield (T4 D4 with damage resilience). The limited number of KV chassis compared to that of the T34 has ensured that the BTR 200 is used in SSU armoured companies as a command vehicle. The vehicle has been fitted with additional radio equipment designed to keep the numerous and effective SSU artillery constantly in touch and on call.
The limited but ever increasing production of the BTR 100 and 200 will one day see the SSU Armoured and Armoured Infantry Regiments reach the same levels ofprofessionalism displayed by the much feared Axis Panzer Divisions.