Andrev appreciates his position as they are screened from the potential approach of the enemy. They are nicely concealed by a copse of trees. His gunner remarked that this just makes them a more prominent target for artillery, for where else would they naturally conceal their armor. Andrev just shook his head at that; old Romanov was being his usual self.
“Sarek,” he shouts down into the interior of their gun, “I am moving forward to recon the woods.” A muffled acknowledgment from Romanov is the reply to his call.
Andrev gives a quick glance to the rear to see what the Major is doing. Major Sankovsky seems to be talking on the radio. Andrev points into the trees and gives a hand signal that he intends to move forward. An impatient hand wave is thrown his way from the Major. Andrev then does the same for Captain Malek. The Captain appears busy too but acknowledges Kovalenko’s signals with a smile.
Kovalenko leaps down from the massive upper superstructure of his tank onto the back engine deck and then deftly springs to the ground. He moves forward just a bit and then looks back to view their position.
His tank is squat ugly, that is for sure. The tank has a unique profile though, and there is something very dangerous about the tank’s looks. It looks low and hungry. His command is a new SU-152, essentially an artillery piece grafted onto a tank chassis and surrounded by an ugly steel box.
As these tanks were designed to hunt and kill the Tigers that the Germans are using, his gun is now unofficially known as the Animal Hunter. With the giant 15.2-cm gun they are told they can kill anything the Germans dare throw against them. This is a good feeling, he thinks, but also realizes that if this is the case, then the Germans will be sure to target them first, in every case.
His crew is fairly new, not overly familiar with their gun, but they held up well yesterday, taking long shots at the enemy. They have now been moved to a new location, this Hill 257, because the Fascists have been pushing steadily into their defenses.
The young crewmen all wanted to name their gun something heroic and dashing. He had to shut them down a bit, as their suggestions were silly. He felt it unnecessary to name a tool they were using to kill the enemy. “Would you name the hammer you use to bash the pins into the treads?” he admonished them. They had to sheepishly agree.
However, he also recognized the need for morale, so he suggested they call their tank “Stalker.” They were happy with that and accepted this honor.
“Andrev,” said his gunner Romanov quietly, “Come here with me for just a minute.”
Kovalenko followed his gunner to the rear of their gun, and then about 15 meters further behind it, curious now as to why his gunner wanted a private audience with him out of ear-shot of the others.
“Yes, Sarek, what is it?” he asked. “Why the secrecy?”
“Andrev, it should be plain as the nose on your face,” replied his gunner. Sarek was pointing at the rear of their tank.
“What? What are you talking about?” Kovalenko was confused and slightly annoyed.
“Our tank, our gun, is definitely a she. Your name is all wrong. Can’t you see it now? Her ass is as wide as my beloved Grandmother. It is as if she is balancing two produce baskets on each hip. Our gun crawls along as if she is heavily laden and dragging her way to the market. Her name is clearly Babushka!”
As the nuances of Romanov’s bombastic explanation are realized by him, Kovalenko’s eyes widen in surprise and he bursts into laughter despite his normally quiet and professional demeanor. He notes the mischievous grin on Romanov’s face.
“You can call her what you like,” he announces, “but I think you have a very good point.”
Much to the chagrin of the crew, commander and gunner have called their tank Babushka ever since.