MMK joins international project “Engineers of Victory”
As part of the project, the website of the National Electronic Library (operated by the Russian State Library) will house a section containing the stories of the engineers and enterprises who forged the victory in the Great Patriotic War https://otvinta.rusneb.ru. Dozens of scientific and industrial organisations have already joined the project, including OSK, Russian Helicopters, Roskartografia, GAZ, National University of Science and Technology MISiS, the Central Scientific Research Automobile and Automotive Engines Institute NAMI, as well as hundreds of Russian citizens.
During the War, MMK’s specialists were forced to master the production techniques of armoured and other military-grade steel ‘on the go’. At the recommendation of scientists from Leningrad, the plant began smelting armoured steel using the duplex process from the first days of the war. The process was innovative: it involved the use of heavy-duty open-hearth furnaces, whereas before the war armoured steel was produced only using low-tonnage furnaces. By 23 July 1941, the plant had smelted its first batch of armoured steel.
In the summer of 1941, while the plant lacked a plate mill for rolling tank armour, MMK’s engineers mastered rolling armoured plate on blooming mills, designed only for pressing steel ingots. The risk was immense – such methods were previously unknown in global ferrous metallurgy. However, as early as 28 July the first armoured plate was successfully produced on a blooming mill, and tank factories began receiving MMK’s metal a month and a half ahead of the schedule set by the State Defence Committee. The first tanks produced using Magnitogorsk steel had their baptism by fire during the battles for Moscow.
In the autumn of 1941, MMK once again revolutionised the production process of quality steel, having mastered a technique new to the whole world – smelting armoured steel in heavy-duty furnaces with a “principal” hearth (without the use of the duplex process). This greatly reduced the time spent on its production. Once machinery evacuated from the western regions of the USSR had arrived in Magnitogorsk, MMK was able to speed up production of armoured plate as well: in October, production increased threefold in comparison with August, and in December – sevenfold.
The plant manufactured not only tank armour – in 1941, MMK also introduced and mastered production techniques for machine-guns, axle steel and chrome steel grades. The plant’s production range constantly increased: smelting of turret armour for tanks and armoured cupolas for pillboxes was organised. New lathe and new mechanical shops began producing shell and bomb casings. In the first six months of the war, Magnitogorsk became an industrial powerhouse, vital to the defence of the USSR: 38 facilities of the People’s Commissariat of Ferrous Metallurgy were relocated to the city. 34 of these would be located on the territory of MMK itself.
Having endured the immense pressure of the first months of the war, between 1941 and 1945 MMK maintained the highest level of production, combining steady fulfilment of quotas with modernisation of the plant. During the war years, 2 travelling-grate sintering machines, 4 coke batteries, 2 blast furnaces, 5 open-hearth furnaces, an armoured plate mill, medium-sheet “mill 2350”, a steam-blowing power plant, and a group of special shops were all constructed at MMK. The productive capacity of fireproof facilities doubled. Magnitostroy Trust built new industrial objects in record time and with unprecedented methods: for instance, the blast furnace was constructed using enlarged components. The oven casing was assembled from entire belts weighing up to 14-19 tonnes. This method had never been used before anywhere in the world, and it reduced assembly time by five times.
Between 1941 and 1945, the plant smelted more than 1.2 mln tonnes of armoured steel and supplied the tank factories with 750 thousand tonnes of armoured plate. Half of the T-34 tanks produced in the USSR during the war were built with metal supplied by MMK, as for the armour for Soviet heavy tanks and self-propelled guns, it was produced by MMK exclusively. One third of all shells used by the regular army were cast with Magnitogorsk metal.
Metallurgists, starting with MMK’s director Grigory Nosov and ending with rank-and-file employees, worked at peak capacity. Under wartime conditions, large numbers of women worked at the plant (for example, in early 1943 they accounted for 38.5% of all workers) and young people (during the war the factory schools trained some 27 thousand qualified workers for MMK and Magnitostroy Trust). “For the exemplary fulfilment of the tasks set by the State Defence Committee in supplying the defence industry with quality metal”, the plant’s community was awarded the Order of Lenin (in 1943) and the Order of the Red Banner of Labour (1945).
Pavel Shilyaev, CEO of MMK, said:
“Educational projects like “Engineers of Victory” are very important for the preservation of our country’s history, and we in Magnitogorsk – a City of Labour Valour – are glad to take part in it. The Great Victory of 1945 was made possible, among other things, thanks to the efforts of hundreds of thousands of people who worked in the rear areas and gave their all to provide the Red Army with the best weapons to fight the invaders. MMK remembers this well – during the war Magnitogorsk was one of the USSR’s main arsenals. MMK’s metallurgists swiftly mastered new technologies, overfulfilled quotas, and did everything possible to hasten victory over the enemy. This is their victory. Magnitogorsk’s feat will never be forgotten.”
About “Engineers of Victory”
The “Engineers of Victory” project (http://otvinta.rusneb.ru/) is organised by the International Youth Science Festival “OT VINTA!” (under the aegis of the Ministry of Industry and Trade of Russia) together with the National Electronic Library (operated by the Russian State Library). The project involved the creation of an information website, including documented evidence of the activities of engineers and technical specialists during the Great Patriotic War. Testimony is accepted from both legal and physical entities. Information support for the project is provided by Rossotrudnichestvo and the Federal Agency of Youth Affairs.
About the “OT VINTA!” festival
The International Youth Science Festival “OT VINTA!” (http://otwinta.com) has been held since 2005, under the aegis of the Ministry of Industry and Trade of Russia. The festival became the first comprehensive evented aimed at developing children’s interest in science and youth technological entrepreneurship in Russia. Currently, it is truly a “shopfront of projects and practices” for young designers and developers from across Russia and abroad. Participants aged 5 to 35 present their ideas and projects in various industries. The festival is also associated with the largest Russian and foreign forums and expositions held in Russia, Italy, Germany, Austria, Poland, Slovakia, India, China, Vietnam and other countries. The “OT VINTA!” festival is supported by the Industrial Development Foundation, the Coordinating Council for the Development of Children’s and Youth Science of the Union of Machine Manufacturers of Russia, and the All-Russian organisation “Officers of Russia”.
About the Magnitogorsk Iron & Steel Works
PJSC Magnitogorsk Iron & Steel Works (http://mmk.ru) is one of the world’s largest steel producers, occupying a leading position among Russian ferrous metals industry enterprises. The Company’s assets constitute a major metallurgical plant with a full production cycle, starting with the preparation of iron ore and ending with extensive processing of ferrous metals. MMK has a wide range of metal products, most of which are products with high added value. In 2019, MMK Group produced 12.5 mln tonnes of steel and 11.3 mln tonnes of metal products. MMK Group’s earnings in 2019 totalled $7.566 bln; EBITDA - $1.797 bln.