The traditional military historical reenactment dedicated to the Day of the liberation of Voronezh from the Nazi invaders, was held on the shore of the reservoir at “Diorama” museum on Sunday, January 27. According to the organizers’ estimates, the event in honor of the 76th anniversary of the liberation of the city gathered about 8 thousand spectators. The report by RIA “Voronezh” covers the surprising facts of the 11th reenactment.
The reenactment in 2019 became the warmest in the entire history of the reenactments of the battles for Voronezh: the thermometer showed only 5 degrees below zero, it rained from time to time. Prior to this, the warmest temperature record belonged to 15 degrees below zero. All other reenactments took place when the temperature fell to 20 degrees below zero and even lower. In 1943, the Soviet army, liberating the city, fought heroically when the temperature was 31 below zero.
The organizers registered a record number of participants. In 2019, more than 300 reenactors of 34 military-patriotic clubs from 16 cities of Russia, Belarus and Italy arrived to reenact the episode of the battle for Voronezh. The Italian side was represented by three clubs: La Disperata, Noi Soldati al Fronte 43/45 and Elba Fortificata. The Italians, as in the war years, “fought” for the German coalition.
– It is a great honor for us to welcome the Italian colleagues, Yevgeny Ishutin, head of Nabat Military Patriotic Club, told RIA Voronezh. – The Italian delegation participates in our battles for the second time; in 2017, the club members reenacted the Ostrogozhsk operation in Rossosh, where Italian units were based during the war. Therefore, they are well aware of what the Russian winter is. The delegation included 15 people, there were three real Italians in it. They do not speak Russian, but understand the basic phrases used in the reenactments, and this is enough for professional communication. The Italians have spent three days in Voronezh and will stay here for another two days They want to visit military museums and monuments, they are very interested in this topic.
Earlier, members of Hungarian clubs also participated in the Voronezh reenactments. According to Yevgeny Ishutin, foreign colleagues show great interest in reenactments, but state with regret that financial possibilities do not allow them to come.
Over a million rubles for the reenactment
The cost of this reenactment was about 1.2 million rubles. The major item of expense was the special pyrotechnics, imitating explosions, fire, smoke, as well as accommodation of the participants, rental and delivery of the equipment.
Negligence of the public
The reenactors themselves this time were most struck by the carelessness of the audience. Many citizens took the battle as fun: in order to better see the action, some came to the site not from Leninsky Prospect, but across the ice of the reservoir and tried to hide in the bushes and reeds, in close proximity to the exploding bombs. During the battle, the host twice requested over the speakerphone to immediately leave the danger zone, but the spectators ignored his words. Fortunately, no one was hurt.
Each year, the staged battle for Voronezh takes place under approximately the same scenario: first, the fascists’ outrages against civilians are shown on the battlefield.
Then the offensive of the Red Army begins: a battle with machine-gun bursts, explosions of bombs, machine guns and rifles shots. Then the Katyusha comes to help our soldiers and inflicts a decisive crushing blow on the Wehrmacht army. Wounded soldiers are being carried away from the battlefield by nurses, the surviving Germans are captured by Soviet soldiers.
This time the battle began with the fascist attack on the civilian population. The Magyars took away food and warm clothes from people, because their clothes were completely unsuitable for Russian frosts.
The action shown by the reenactors was based on real events that took place in Voronezh on the territory of Pervoe Maya Settlement on January 25, 1943. The script is based on archival documents and photographs. Historians of the Voronezh State University helped to reconstruct the events from the photographs. In total, the organizers spent about a month on working with the archives and the script.
The reenacted battle lasted 40 minutes. At the end, the club members were awarded with certificates of gratitude. Then the townspeople were allowed to take pictures with the military equipment on the battlefield and pick up the shell casings.
Military equipment and Sheptaevs brothers
The main objects for photo shoots were the legendary Katyusha, as the largest vehicle in this battle, and the BA-64 armored car, as the most compact. It was not difficult to climb it even for the little ones.
The BA-64 was delivered from Belgorod for the Voronezh reenactment. The vehicle belongs to local public organization Poisk. The military SUV was renovated by brothers Mickhail and Alexander Sheptayevs. The eldest, 45-year-old Mikhail, participated in the battle as a driver. The younger brother fought for the Nazis.
The brothers have been mad about cue cars since their childhood. They started with bicycles and mopeds, which were assembled according to the drawings in “Young Technician” magazine. Having matured, they switched to big “toys”.
– When people ask me what my specialty is, I always laugh it off, as it is easier for me to say who I am not. I perform welding, turning, metalworking, used to work as a slinger, crane operator, used to work with construction equipment – bulldozers, excavators. I can fix everything, says Mikhail Sheptayev.
The first military vehicle restored by the brothers was the GAZ-67, a light SUV produced from 1943 to 1953. At the time, the Americans had Willys MB SUV, and we made GAZ-67 in response. The Red Army soldiers called him a “goat”, and the Americans called it “Ivan Willys” for resemblance to their Willys.
– That GAZ was from the Belgorod Region, it was bought by one man from the local collective farm and drove it all his life. Then he sold it. The new owner tried to fix it, but did not manage to do it, and he was already going to send it for scrap, but then we appeared and bought this car. There was no transfer gear or engine in it. We found out the address of the previous owner from the seller and went to him to find out the fate of the factory parts. It turned out that the engine was dusting in the old man’s yard all this time. It was winter, and it was really cold. And we were chipping out this engine out of the ice with a crowbar. We took it out with difficulty, brought it to the workshop and repaired everything, recalls Mikhail.
Over time, the brothers became interested not only in the Red Army equipment, but also in the enemy’s one. Along with the Soviet GAZ-MM, GAZ-AA, three-ton ZIS-5, various American Willys and Dodge, German and Czech tanks, artillery, motorcycles, ammunition wagons, mortar carts passed through their hands.
– We find equipment by ads. People sell spare parts, bodies, motorcycles. We transport them to our workshop by a manipulator, a tow truck, or by Gazelle. It only seems that tanks are heavy, in fact, even armored cars can be easily transported, and artillery and motorcycles can be transported in the back of a Gazelle. Once we went to Vologda for GAZ-AA, got stuck deep in the dirt, looked for a tractor for a long time, then we pulled out our vehicle and this GAZ with the tractor, Mikhail laughs.
All the combat vehicles restored by the Sheptayevs brothers (there are already tens of them) are in running order. But the men do not drive this vehicles for long distances as they take care of them.
– You cannot go to Voronezh from Stary Oskol by tank, it is not designed for such a long journey. I also feel worried about the vehicles, as their service life is short. If you drive 5 thousand km by the GAZ-AA, be ready to repair its engine, it will break for sure. Babbitt lining is used there. It is an antifriction alloy based on lead and tin, which is poured over the body of the bearing shell. The babbitt layer has little strength, so the bearing operation time must be monitored all the time. After each event, either a reenactment or a parade, we put the vehicles onto tow trucks and transport them to the hangar. Unfortunately, we do not have a special room for large vehicles, so tanks, such as the German Pz.Kpfw.III, or the German self-propelled artillery piece StuG III, armored cars are parked in the open air. Our light and wheeled vehicle, which is not moisture-resistant, is kept indoors. In the summer, our vehicles are on display at various exhibitions and participate in movies, said Mikhail.
The lightweight armored car BA-64, which participated in the Voronezh reenactment, was produced in the 40s by the Gorky Automobile Plant. The car was created on the chassis of an all-wheel drive passenger car GAZ-64. The SUV was designed for two people – the driver and the shooter. The vehicle was equipped with a DT-29 machine gun or infantry machine guns, and could fire both on ground targets and airborne ones. However, the BA-64 was mainly used as a reconnaissance vehicle. In 1943, these vehicles were very common on the Voronezh front.
The Sheptaevs brothers assembled the BA-64 according to the original factory drawings of the Gorky Automobile Plant of 1942. The armor case is a replica, welded of sheet steel (although this is not armor, but ordinary metal), and the undercarriage is the original from GAZ.
– The vehicle is small, cramped, two people are placed in it with difficulty. A person who is overweight or tall will simply not get into the tower or behind the wheel. Many people do not understand where the “entrance” is. It is driven like an ordinary car with a wheel. The seat is non-standard – the driver is in a reclining position. The transmission is between the legs, there are three pedals, the brake and gas are on the right. The car is designed in such a way that the engine air flow goes to the salon, so it is warm inside in the winter. But in the summer it is terrible – it is heating up like a stove. Its observability is very poor: you have to look through a slit measuring 10 by 1.5 cm.
The first Soviet SUV has another problem – it’s not easy to refuel the armored car. The car “eats” AI-80 gasoline, and it is rare now at gas stations. Earlier, the BA-64 “absorbed” the 66th, 72nd, 76th with pleasure, it even did not mind diesel fuel with gasoline, kerosene and light oils. But now it consumes only the 80th. For this reenactment, Mikhail poured 20 liters of gas for 800 rubles. In the summer, fuel consumption is less, as you do not need to warm up the car, and it does not have to slip in the snowdrifts.