T-34 Medium Tank Production
The T-34 Medium Tank was built at seven different factories during the Second World War, starting with Factory 183 at Kharkov and the Stalingrad Tractor Factory, both of which would fall to the Germans during the war.
On 5 June 1940 the Central Committee passed a resultion setting the production targets for 1940. Factory 183 was to produce 600 tanks in 1940, and the STZ another 100. In fact only 183 T-34s were completed during the year, all of them at Kharkov.
After the German invasion it became clear that Kharkov was in danger, and so Factory No.183 was evacuated to the east, and Factory No.112 was ordered to begin production. This left the STZ as the most important producer of the T-34 at the end of 1941.
1942 saw the new Factory No.183 begin large scale production, but this was countered by the German threat to Stalingrad. Three more factories were ordered to begin production during 1942, and although none of them reached the same scale of production as Factory No.183, they did produce 12,000 tanks.
Different sources give different figures for the production of the T-34, but the margins of error are all comparatively small. For consistency we will use the figures given in Michulec, T-34 Mythical Weapon. According to his figures a total of 35,595 T-34-76s were produced from new between 1940 and 1944. The relocated Kharkov plant at Nizhniy Tagil was responsible for a third of the total production, building 15,014 T-34-76s and as many T-34-85s.
The urgency of production in the Soviet Union in the second half of 1941 meant that despite all of the disruption caused by the German invasion 2,104 T-34s were completed. In the same period German complacency meant that only 1,388 Panzer IIIs and Panzer IVs were built!
First Factory No.183 - Kharkiv Locomotive Factory (KhPZ), Kharkov
Production of the T-34 began at Factory No.183 at Kharkov, where the tank had been designed. On 5 June 1940 the Central Committee passed a resolution ordering the Kharkov plant to produce 600 tanks in 1940, with another 100 to be produced at Stalingrad. In fact only 183 T-34s were completed during 1940, all of them at Factory No.183. Production stepped up in the first half of 1940, when 553 tanks were produced at Kharkov, and reached a peak in the second half of the year, when despite the rapid approach of the Germans another 939 T-34s were completed. A total of 1,675 T-34s were produced at Kharkov.
By September 1941 it was clear that there was a real danger that Kkarkov would fall to the Germans. On 13 September 1941 the factory was ordered to evacuate to Nizhniy Tagil, east of the Urals. The first of 43 trains left on 17 September, the last on 19 October. Although much of the factory equipment reached the new site, only 10% of the work force and 20% of the engineers followed the machinery.
Second Factory No.183 - Uralskiy Tankovyj Zawod No.183 (UTZ), Nizhniy Tagil
The staff and machinery from Factory No.183 reached Nizhniy Tagil in the middle of winter. The facilities remained primitive for some time – at first parts of the factory were unroofed, despite the low winter temperatures (as low at -40 degrees C at some times). Most of the original workforce had been lost, and much of the burden of production fell on children and women. There was barely enough food and virtually no medical care.
Despite these terrible circumstances production at Nizhniy Tagil began in December 1941, when 25 T-34s were completed. Hardly surprisingly the quality of these tanks was not high, but as the factory became better established many of the problems were ironed out.
STZ Factory – Stalingradzkiy Traktornyj Zawod
The Stalingrad Tractor Factory was introduced into the T-34 production programme in 1940, although the first tanks did not appear until the start of 1941. A massive effort was needed to create a viable tank industry at Stalingrad. The city was surrounded by an un-industrialised hinterland, and so every industry needed for the production of the T-34 had to be concentrated in the city. The tanks were built at the STZ, armour plates were made at the Krasniy Oktyabr steel mill, and chassis were produced at either the STZ or the Stalingrad Ship Yard (Factory No.264).
This effort paid off after the German invasion. In the autumn of 1941 the Kharkov factory had to be evacuated to the east, leaving the STZ as the only major producer of the T-34. Of the 1,250 tanks produced in Stalingrad during 1941, 1,000 were built after the German invasion.
Tanks produced at Stalingrad had a number of identifying features. The front glacis plate and rear armour were interleaved with the side plates, a later used at Factory No.112. The front part of the gun tube recuperator cover was made from a single straight plate, producing a chisel-like profile. The STZ had the worst supply of rubber during 1942, and so was more likely to produce tanks equipped with nothing but steel wheels. STZ tanks also had two observation periscopes on the roof – one for the loader and one for the commander.
By mid-1942 it was becoming clear that Stalingrad too was about to be threatened by the Germans. The last tanks are said to have left the factory unpainted and gone straight to the front line in September 1942, before production was stopped by the German advance.
No.112 Factory – Krasnoye Sormovo, Gorky
The third factory to begin production of the T-34 was the Krasnoye Sormovo Factory No.122 at Gorky. This would become the second most important producer of the T-34, eventually building over 12,000 tanks, equally split between the T-34-75 and T-34-86. The factory was ordered to begin production of the T-34 on 1 July 1941, in the immediate aftermath of the German invasion, and the first tanks were delivered in October. A shortage of diesel engines meant that the first “Sormovo” tanks had to use a M-17F petrol engine, and only 5 of the 161 tanks produced at Gorky in 1941 used the V-2 diesel.
Factory No.112 copied the STZ in using a simplified front glacis plate, with the armour interlocking with the side armour. A combination of the modifications introduced at Stalingrad and Gorky and the general changes to the production of the T-34 meant that the time taken to produce the components for one tank hull was reduced from 200 hours before the war to only 36 hours at Gorky in December 1941, and the time to assemble them into a complete hull went down from nine to two days.
No.174 Factory (Voroshilov Plant), Omsk
The No.174 Factory at Omsk was one of the three plants orders to begin production of the T-34 when the Germans began to threaten Stalingrad, and was the only one of the three to continue producing the T-34 to the end of the war. By the end of the war No.174 Factory had produced 5,867 T-34s, equally split between the 76mm and 85mm armed versions.
CzKZ – Czelyabinskiy Traktorniy Zavod (Czelyabinsk Tractor Factory) then Czelyabinskiy Kirovskiy Zawod
Czelyabinskiy became famous as “Tankograd”, but the city wasn’t a major producer of the T-34. Tank production at Czelyabinskiy began after the Kirov (Heavy) Tank Factory was relocated from Leningrad in June 1941, but T-34 production did not begin until the summer of 1942. Like the Omsk plant T-34 production began at CzKZ as the Germans began to threaten production at Stalingrad. Tankograd had been producing T-34 components since the end of 1941, so it did not take long for production to begin – the first tank was completed on 22 August 1942, only 32 days after the order to start building complete tanks, and 30 tanks were built that month. Production ended in March 1944 after 5,094 T-34-76s had been produced.
UZTM – Uralskiy Zavod Tyazhelogo Mashinostroyenya im. Ordzhonikidze or Uralmash (Ordzhonikidze Ural Heavy Machinery Factory)
In numerical terms the least important of the T-34 factories was UZTM, or Uralmash, where only 719 complete tanks were produced during 1942-43. Production of complete tanks at Uralmash began in the summer of 1942, as the threat grew to the factory at Stalingrad, and ended in the autumn of 1943. After that the factory produced a large number of assault guns based on the T-34 chassis. This did not end the involvement of the Uralmash factory in T-34 production. They had developed the stamped hexagonal turret in October 1942, after having problems with the cast version, and between then and March 1944 produced 2,670 of these turrets.
Uralmash had been involved in the T-34 programme since the autumn of 1941, when production of T-34 hulls had begun. Turrets soon followed, and in April 1942 the factory began to produce complete hulls and turrets, which were then sent on to Factory No.183 to be turned into complete tanks. Finally on 28 July 1942 the factory was ordered to begin assembling complete T-34s, and the first one came off the production line on 15 September 1942.
T-34 Overview - T-34 Variants - T-34 Production - T-34-85 - OT-34 Flamethrower Tank - SU-85 tank destroyer - SU-100 assault gun - SU-122 tank destroyer
T34 Soviet Russian Tank (medium)
The ancestry of the T-34 derives from prototype fast tanks built by American tank designer J. Walter Christie, which were sold to the Soviet Union after the American military declined to buy them. In particular the T-34 incorporates the Christie suspension.
|Stalingrad IS-2_Soviet_Tank , ISU-152 , T-35 Soviet Heavy Tank , T-55 Tank , T-62 Soviet Medium Tank , T80 Main Battle Tank , T-90 Main Battle Tank T-72 Tank M60 Patton M1 Abrams M1A1 M1A2 Tank Tank history WW1 WW2 List of tanks WW1, WW2, Modern US Army List of Tanks WW2 M4_Sherman US Tank Production World War 2 WW2 German Tank Production Panzer 3 III , Panzer 4 IV Pz4 , Tiger 1 , King Tiger 2 Maus (Tank) - Panzer VIII WW2 world largest tank Matilda Infantry Tank|
|General Characteristics T34|
|T34 Length:||8 m|
|T34 Width:||3.0 m|
|T34 Height:||2.7 m|
|T34 Speed:||55 km/h (road) |
|Primary armament:||76 mm gun|
|Secondary armament:||two 7.62 mm machine guns|
|Power plant:||370 kW (500 hp) Diesel|
|General Characteristics (T-34 /85)|
|Speed:||55 km/h (road) |
|Primary armament:||85mm gun|
|Secondary armament:||two 7.62 mm machine guns|
|Power plant:||373 kW (500 hp) Diesel|
Development proper commenced in 1936, and a prototype was completed in 1939. Full scale production started in 1940.
Between 1940 and 1944 over 35000 T-34/76 tanks were produced. The T-34 was produced in two major variants, the T-34/76 with a 76 mm gun and a T-34/85 with an 85 mm gun. After the war the T34 was followed by the T-44 and the T-54.
- T-34/76A - Production model of 1940
- T34 /76B - Production model of 1941 with heavier armor and a cast turret.
- T-34 /76C - Production model of 1942 with heavier armor and a redesigned turret.
- T34 /76D - Production model of 1943 with welded turret.
- T-34 /76E - Production model of 1943 with a commanders cupola.
- T-34 /76F - Production model of 1943 with a cast version of the T-34/76D turret.
- T34 /85 - Production model of 1943 with a 85 mm gun and improved turret.
- Panzerkampfwagen T-34(r) - T-34s captured by Germany.
The T-34 chassis was used as the basis for a series of self-propelled guns such as the SG-122 and SU-85.
Some T-34 were fitted as self-propelled gunss by Syria.
Tank T-34, T-34/85
The Soviet economy out-produced the German economy from a far smaller resource base and with a less-skilled workforce. Much of this was down to tile simplicity of production goals and the single-minded concentration on the production of proven types. The Soviet Union only produced two tanks in great quantity. Only towards the end of the war did they imroduce a new tank, the IS (Iosef Stalin), but even that was simply are-designed KV. The (tank) T-34 design was mechanically simple, facilitating quantity production with limited resources in specialized machine tools and skilled labour. It had a great number of parts th at were interchangeable with the other successful design, the KV, including the engine, gun, transmission. and vision devices.
Production Of The T-34
The war on the Eastern Front was a tank war. While large infantry formations were involved in the fighting, and while there was street-fighting at battles like Stalingrad, in which case tanks were of limited use, the war in Russia witnessed the biggest tank battles in history. In the year 1941 alone, Russia produced a staggering total of around 3000 T-34s.
At first the problem was finding crews to man the tanks, as so many Russians had been killed or taken prisoner in the vast encirclements of Soviet defensive positions by the Germans in their initial advance following Operation Barbarossa. The movement of factories and the workers to staff them safely out of the German's reach east of the Urals also meant that many potential recruits were employed in building the T-34 rather than crewing it.
Unlike the German tanks it would come up against. The (Soviet Tank) T-34 was not a sophisticated fighting machine. While the original T-34s exhibited high levels of craftsmanship, the exigencies of war meant that later models were crudely manufactured. As production in creased, many of the hull fittings were simplified, and some features, stich as a second roof periscope for the loader, were simply omitted. Tank T-34 was rugged and simple, and as such seemed to symbolize the whole spirit of the Russian war effort, concentrating on the three characteristics that made the tank so deadly: gun, armour and mobility.
Upgrading The T-34
Battle performance was (and indeed, still is) the ult imate determinant of the effectiveness of any weapons system. The battles in front of Moscow in 1941 had shown the Russians that changes needed to be made to the T-34. As a result, the (medium tank) T-34 went through numerous cosmetic changes as the war unfolded, and the different tank factories adapted their production lines to meet changing battlefield needs.
The overhang of the turret was reduced and the fuel supply was increased the gearbox was also improved. A new style of driver's hatch was introduced, the rectangular transmjssion access hatch on the rear plate giving way to a circular hatch, and the engine grille was simplified. A new, wider 500mm (19,6 in) track with a waffle pattern improved traction (vehicles with these modifications were known as tank T-34 Model 1942). More importantly for the crew, extra armour was welded on to some models (spare track attached to the body of the tank was one way of quickly doing this), while later models came off the production lines with turret protection of 90mm (3,5 in) of armour as standard.
Having said this. a shortage of rubber at many of T-34 tank production planes led to an all-steel wheel being temporarily introduced in 1942. This all-steel wheel was unpopular with tank crews as contact with the metal track at high speeds set up harmonic vibrations that were noisy and unpleasant for those inside, and could cause damage to the T-34 itself by loosening parts. As rubber became available again, rubber-rimmed wheels were used in the fifth and sixth position. With increased rubber supplies in 1943, the all-steel wheel was phased Out. While in 1942, T-34 production jumped to over 5000 tanks, more radical changes needed to be made to the basic design to take into account the newer German models arriving on the Eastern Front. By 1943, the T-34 tank had become a much more effective fighting vehicle. The re-designed turret held a crew of three, vision was improved with the addition of a new cupola, and radios were added as standard. These changes culminated in a to tally new tank T-34 model, which was designated the T-34/85.
The modifications outlined above produced the other main variant of the T-34 tank, the T-34/85, that would cominue as a fighting machine well beyond World War II. The T-34/76 had a two-man turret that was cramped and inefficient. Therefore, the existing T-34 chassis was adapted to take a cast, three-man turret and a more powerful gun. The three-man turret freed up the commander who had previously operated the main gun. The new gun in the T-34/85 was the long 85mm (3,34 in), adapted from an antiaircraft gun. The up-gunned T-34/85 was capable or firing a 9,8kg (21,5 lb) round at a muzzle velocity of 780 m/s (2600 ft/s). This compared ravourably to the German 8,8em (3,46in) on the Tiger that fired a 10,1 kg (22,25 lb) shot at 797 m/s (2657 ft/s). The 7,5cm (2,95 in) on the Panther fired a much smaller shot of 6,8kg (15 lb), but it did compensate for this with a higher muzzle velocity of 920 m/s (3068 ft/s).
The extra armour, turret space and firepower meant an increase in weight for the T-34/85. Having said this, the design team that produced the T-34 with the long 85mm (3,34 in) gun managed to combine the new features without reducing overall efficiency. While the weight or the T-34/85 rose from 27,3 to 32,3 tonnes (27 to 32 tons), and its range fell from 448 km (280 miles) to 304 km (190 miles), the T-34/85 was the most powerful tank in the Allied arsenal when it went into production in late 1943, and or all the tanks on the field, it was only slightly less formidable than the Panther
The T-34/85 also used existing in dustrial production lines, and so the new design could be produced rapidly and in great numbers for the Red Army. In 1943, of the 6000 T-34s built, only a small proportion were the T-34/85. But in 1944, 65 percent or the new tanks rolling out of the tank factories in the Urals were the new T-34s with the 85mm (3,34in) gun. These new T-34s were decisive in providing a counter to the heavier German machines produced by this time. By 1944, production or the T-34/85 dwarfed thar or the T-34/76. Wartime production of the T-34s or both types approached 40.000, making it the most widely produced tank of the war.
The first mass production T-34 came to the tank formations of the Red Army late autumn 1940. However, the planned fighting training has begun only spring 1941. Unfortunately, much reorganization of the tank troops that were conducted last two years influenced negatively on the mastering the use of the
As known, on November 21, 1939, Supreme Military Council of the Red Army decided to disband all existing (four) tank corps that existed in the Red Army by that time. Tanks brigades and mechanized divisions were created instead of them. Less then a year later the Ministry of the Defense makes diametrically opposite decision, and starts forming nine mechanized corps. Finally, in 1941, the deployment of mechanized corps
Unfortunately, army had neither people nor machinery to do it. Nevertheless, the last year endless rearrangements were going on: some formations were deploying, others were eliminated, units of other types of forces were being hand over to the tank troops, etc. All of this was accompanied by shifting of units and formations from one place of distribution to others. Thus, by the beginning of the Great Patriotic War only those corps which were created during summer relatively efficient. But even in them the organization of the fighting training in some cases left much to be desired. In great use was the faulty system of the saving the of the tanks, at which crews were training on machinery of the depot. And the new, better and mostly different from earlier generation machinery was kept in hangars. It was no use of BT-2 tanks for training crews of BT-7 tanks, but it was when outdated T-26s were used to train drivers for newest T-34 tanks.
As a result, crews did not master most of the received T-34s. Mechanics knew the system of the tanks very poorly. This was one of the reasons for high percentage of losses of the KVs and T-34s during first months of
There are many discrepancy of the amount of T-34 tanks in the Red Army by the beginning of the war. More recently we find the information that by June 22, 1941, Soviet factories manufactured tanks. This is not quite right. This number of tanks was calculated during 115) and first six months of 1110), which ended June 30, not June 22. Of this amount of the machinery were accepted in 1941. After adding we get (the difference between manufactured and accepted in one tank is permissible).
There is also no common opinion on the amount of T-34, which were in service in the frontier (western) military districts. The most recent is the number of 967. However, the amount of tanks (and not only tanks) of once or other type on the exact date of June one would count. The reports on the amount of tanks in the troops were released on the first day of
By June 1, 194, Western military districts (Leningrad, Baltic special, Western special, Kiev special, and Odessa Special) had more were in the rear districts (Moscow, Kharkov, Orel). The difference between (some sources say 138), which could be received by the frontier districts
Unfortunately, we cannot talk about the exact amount of T-34 tanks in mechanized corps of the districts. We have only parts of information. The Front was deployed on the base of the Kiev Special Military District. Thus, we can presume that the commander of the tank troops of the front composed the table in the beginning of July retrospect, probably by memory.
As to the Baltic Special Military District, two mechanized 3rd and were distributed there. T-34s were only in 3rd. By January 1, 1941, the amount of them was 50. As it was planned, the 3rd Corps was to receive more. We still don't know the amount of the received tanks by June 22, if the corps received any. Mechanized corps of the Leningrad Military the 1st and the had no T-34 tanks. Eight T-34s were at Leningrad Tanker's Training Courses.
Thus, we can't give the exact amount of T-34 in the frontier military districts. be considered the closest number to the truth. Is it a little or
By the beginning of the war Western frontier districts had corps, including 10,394 tanks of all kinds (other sources 11,000). Taking in consideration tanks in some rifle, cavalry, and separate tank units this amount increases to 12,782 tanks (by information at June 1st). T-34 tanks were only 7.5% of this amount.
However, on June 22, 1941, Germany with its allies deployed 3,899 tanks and assault guns including the Reserve of Supreme commandment of 2nd and 5th tank divisions (originally didn't participate in against our Western frontier. Only 1,404 of them were medium tanks and so tanks (we should consider also KV) were supposed to be
Unfortunately, we couldn't use it in full. Unsuccessful location, shortage of people and equipment, lack of crews' training, reserve parts for tanks and evacuation vehicles significantly reduced fighting efficiency of the Soviet mechanized corps. During long marches (most of the mechanized corps formations were deployed pretty far from the borderline) not only old tanks but also new T-34s and KVs were breaking. Gearboxes and friction clutches were breaking because of inexperienced drivers. The most of breakage couldn't be fixed on the spot. And the provision of the troops with evacuating vehicles was too low. Mechanized corps were provided with tractors in average of 44% including trucks that were used as tractors for artillery but were useless for tanks towing. Even where tractors were available not always they
Agricultural tractors «Stalinets S-60» and « Stalinets S-65» with draught of manufactured in Chelyabinsk were basic evacuation vehicles of the tank units of the Red Army. They could manage towing T-26 and BT, but when trying to move 26-ton T-34 they were literally bristling up. It required two or even three tractors, which was not possible all the time. More than a half of all T-34s (and heavy KVs also) of the frontier districts were located in Kiev Special Military District, at the time when the main impact was at Western Special Military District.
However, the most dramatic events of the first days of the was related to tank battles in the triangle of took place on the front and still undeservedly poor described in literature.
By the end of June 24, on the Rovno direction, on the junction of the 5th and 6th armies a gap of occurred, where the formations of the 1st German Tank Group of the general (799 tanks) has directed. The threat of break in of the German troops and embrace of the basic troops of the Front from North was created. For liquidation of this threat and rout of the enemy a counter-offensive by forces of 8th, 9th, 15th, and 19th mechanized corps has been put on flanks of German troops on June
The 9th Mechanized Corps (the and the 19th Mechanized Corps (the general accomplished more than march under continuous influence of the enemy's aircraft and now were East of Lutsk and were supposed to attack on Dubno from
The 8th Mechanized Corps (the and the 15th Mechanized Corps (the were attacking on Dubno from the South and the We should emphasize that by the beginning of the war this corps had 286, 279, 858, and correspondingly, so all! them were T-34s and KVs. Up to 50% of this amount didn't participate in the counter-offensive, because of many different reasons. A part of them was lost, a part broke down while going to starting positions, others just didn't come on time: the 7th Motorised Division of the 8th Mechanized Corps, for example, was still marching at that time. Nevertheless, at least were ready to attack the enemy. The forces were distributed unevenly: were attacking from the South and around from the North. And almost all of the T-34s and KVs were in the North formation.
The of our troops has begun on June transformed into a counter-offensive with formations of the 1st Tank Group of the enemy. The especially strong defeat was put on the 48th German Motorised Corps, the 11th Tank Division was completely routed. However, we couldn't finish the operation with encirclement of the enemy because of lack of the precisely adjusted communication and co-operation between attacking corps and their higher staffs.
He's what the commander of the reconnaissance battalion of the 43rd Division of the 19th Mechanized Corps wrote in his memoirs:
«Faint radio communication with long intervals was the reason for late information from the frontline to the higher staffs. That's why the decisions made by staffs and passed to the frontline most of the time were late and didn't answer to the changed situation. For example, evening of June 26, our division smashed the right flank of the 11th German Tank Division and routed one of its tank regiments and got to Dubno. We didn't know that the 8th Mechanized Corps of the general was successfully moving towards us from the South, fighting formations of the 48th Motorised Corps. Same situation has repeated next day, when all three 36th Rifle, 8th and 19th again were attacking on Dubno direction. And again our neighbors, the 36th Rifle Division and us got near Dubno, but we didn't know that 34th Tank Division of the 8th Mechanized Corps under commandment of colonel was already in the city. Thus, July tank wedges twice ran up to into both flanks of German
However, the absence of the connection between these units and mutual lack of information didn't let to finish the attack and encircle the 48th Corps between Brody and Dubno. By the enemy's troops we could see that this encirclement was imminent. Evening of June 26, when we were chasing Germans to Dubno, it was not an organized retreat, but panic escape of the enemy. Units of the 11th Tank Division mixed up and flee in panic. It showed also in fact that besides hundreds of prisoners we captured many tanks and armored personnel carriers and around left in good condition by crews. Approaching Dubno, at twighlight, tankers of the 86th Regiment saw eight German tanks at the end of their convoy, most probably Germans mistook our tanks for German. The crews surrounded with their tanks after the first request of our tankers. Prisoners usually were saying that they're not members of the National-Socialist party (NSDAP), and were gladly testifying. This kind of psychological condition of German depression and I've seen again only after the Battle of Stalingrad and Battle of Kursk. Hence it follows that counter-offensive of the mechanized corps of the Front started on the 5th day of the was had hard moral effect on Germans.»
But according to the note dated June the diary of the commander of the General Staff of Wehrmacht, German troops were impacted not only morally:
«At the right flank of the 1st Tank Group the 8th Russian Tank Corps broke deeply into our position, and got to the rear of our 11th Tank Division. This enemy's breakthrough caused bad confusion in our rear around Brody and Dubno. The enemy threatens Dubno front and its very undesirable to lose Dubno, because of storage of ammunition and properties there».
By September 4, 1941, losses of the 1st German Tank Army were them were irrevocable. This number could increase if 4th Mechanized Corps which had and joined the counter-offensive. But this corps was acting Southern, in the area of the 6th Army. Our losses were also after three days of the operation all four mechanized corps were left almost with
The amount of losses of the Red Army in period of June 22-July 11,712 tanks, among them almost all T-34s. And all of the losses were irrevocable, because it wasn't possible to fix the broken the battlefields were left for Germans.
Huge casualties and machinery losses, sluggishness and inflexibility in the management of the troops led to transfer from corps to smaller brigades, regiments, and battalions.
Brigades of different organization were participating in Battle for Moscow. For example, the 8th Tank Brigade had regimental structure it had and tanks. The 4th Tank Brigade (from November 11, the 1st Guards Tank Division) was formed in September 1941, in Stalingrad by battalion scheme organization, including (16 of T-34s manufactured by STZ). This formation with commander was successfully acting around Orel and Mtsensk, fighting against the 2nd German Tank Group of the general and after 360-kilometer march by itself, got into fight on the Volokolamsk direction. Speaking of the 1st Guards Brigade we should mention the senior-lieutenant Dmitrij Fedorovich Lavrinenko. He fought Three T-34 tanks of his were burned down. At the day of his death for the village Goruny (suburb of Volokolamsk) on December 17, 1941, Lavrinenko shot his 52nd tank of the enemy and became one the most effective Soviet tanker of the WWII (another tank ace was Guards Captain Konstanin Samokhin, during five months he was credited with tanks, AFVs, vehicles. He was killed on the February 23, 1942). Its astonishing and insulting that Dmitriy Lavrinenko wasn't rewarded. Even after
In the defense of Moscow have participated. The 21st Tank Brigade that was acting on Klin direction had about these tanks. In just two October the brigade, acting from ambushes, shot
However, tank units of the Red Army, which were defending Moscow didn't have many T-34 tanks. Light tanks were prevailing, old ones as well as new T-60s. Let's say, that at the beginning of October 1941, the Western Front had only which were T-34s and KVs. By the end of the year the amount of T-34 in the troops increased a little, but didn't exceed 25-30% of the whole amount
The same situation was in well, despite increase in manufacturing of T-34. For example, tank troops of the 61st Army by the beginning of Bolkhov attacking operation in June 1942, had of types. Only them (20%) were T-34.
However there is very interesting to see what the Germans thought about capabilities of the T-34. On General der Schnellen Truppen beim Oberkommando des Heeres distributed the following «Instructions to units on the Eastern Front for Combating the Russian T-34 Tank with our Panzers» (cited from «Panzertruppen»):
« Characteristics of the T34.
The T-34 is faster, more maneuverable, has better mobility than our Pz.Kpfw.lll and IV. Its armor is stronger. The penetrating ability of its 7.62 cm cannon is superior to our KwK. and the 7.5 cm KwK40. The favorable form of sloping all of the armor plates aids in causing the shells to
Combating the T-34 with the KwK tank gun is possible only at short ranges from the flank or rear, where it is important to achieve a hit as perpendicular to the surface as possible. Hits on the turret ring, even with high-explosive shells or machine gun bullets, usually result in jamming the turret. In addition, shells fired at close range that hit the gun mantle result in penetrations and breaking open the weld seams. The T-34 can be penetrated at ranges up to with the 7.5 cm PaK well as the 7.5 cm Hohlgranate shells)
Russian Tank Tactics.
In defense and covering a retreat, the T-34 with the turret at six o'clock is often dug in on a commanding height along a road or on the edge of woods or villages. Then after surprisingly opening fire from ambush, the T-34 can be driven out of the concealed position still
In correctly recognizing his technical superiority in weapons, the T-34 already opens fire on German Panzers at ranges from Because the T-34 is faster than the German Panzers, he can choose the range for a firefight.
Our Panzer Tactics.
Because the KwK can only be expected to penetrate the flanks of the T34 at short range, the following tactics have proven been to be correct in combating them:
a. Attract and tie down the opponent frontally by having a Pz.Kpfw.III take up the firefight. Choose a hull down position or drive in a course to make it difficult for the opponent to hit the target.
b. At the same time, utilizing all available cover, two other Pz.Kpfw.llls attempt to circumvent the T34 to the right or left in order to gain a position in the flank or in the rear and knock him out at short range with PzGr40 fired at the hull
c. If a Pz.Kpfw.lV is available among our own Panzers, it is to be employed in front of the opponent. The use of Nebelgranaten (smoke shells) can blind the T-34 or aid the other Panzers in closing in. It is also possible that the opponent will think that the smoke is poison gas and break off the action.
When encountering numerically superior enemy tanks (T-34 and KV), success has always resulted when our Panzer unit builds a fire front and overwhelms the enemy with fire. Even when no penetrations can be achieved, the enemy, impressed by the accuracy and rate of fire of the German Panzers, almost always breaks off the action».
The T-34 became the main battle tank of the Soviet tank troops only by 1943. It's shown on the example of the Center and Voronezh Fronts right before the Battle
|KV||T-34||T-60 and T-70|
Thus, among all tanks of two fronts in July 1943, T-34s were 62% in total and stood the hardest Battle of Kursk, including famous Prokhorovka.
Evening of July 10, commandment of the Voronezh Front received order of Stavka to commit the on German troops attacking in Prokhorovka direction.
For this, the 5th Guards Army of the Lt.Gen. Zhadov and the 5th Guards Tank Army of the Lt.Gen. Rotmistrov were transferred from reserve Steppe Front to the Voronezh Front. The 5th Guards Tank Army was the first army of the uniform compound. The formation of the army has begun February 10, by the beginning of the Battle of Kursk was stated around Ostrozhsk (Voronezh region). The 18th Tank Corps, the 29th Tank Corps, and the 5th Guards Mechanized Corps were parts
11.00 PM July 6, the army received order to concentrate on the right shore of the Oskol river. 1.15 PM the advanced group of the army began moving, and in the main forces went on. It's necessary to mention the immaculate organization of the march. Head traffic was prohibited on all of the routes of the convoys. Army was moving a day, with short stops for refueling. The march was surely covered with antiaircraft artillery and aircraft, and thanks to all of this, the march was unnoticed by the enemy's reconnaissance. Army has moved in three days. And there was almost no broken machinery, which shows increased reliability of tanks as well as competent maintenance of the machinery.
On July 9, the 5th Guards Tank Army concentrated around Prokhorovka. Supposedly, the army with addition of two tank corps (the 2nd and the 2nd Guard) would attack on Germans at 10.00 AM together with the 5th Guards Army and the 5th Guards Tank Army, and the 1st Tank Army, and would destroy the enemy's group on the Oboyan direction, not letting it to retreat South. However, preparation of the counter-offensive, which began on June 11, was wrecked by the Germans, who attacked twice on our defense: in Oboyan direction, and on Prokhorovka. As a result of partial retreat of our troops artillery, which had a major role in counter-offensive, had losses, at the positions of deployment as well as in movements to the frontline.
Early morning of June 12, because of German attack on the 69th Army, a threat for the left flank of the deploying on the of Prokhorovka main forces of the 5th Tank Army has occurred. The 6th and the 19th Tank Divisions (about started attacking from the area of Melichove to Rzhavets.
Thus, two brigades of the 5th Guards Tank Army (tank, motorcycle, antitank, and howitzer regiments) were relocated to the 69th Army frontline. All those troops, were united in a group with (about including T-34s) not only stopped moving North enemy, but threw him back to the
8.30 AM July 12, the main forces of the German troops, including the SS divisions «Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler», «Das Reich», and «Totenkopf», which had up to and assault guns, including started attacking in Prokhorovka direction. At the same time, after 15-min artillery mission the German group was attacked by the main forces of the 5th Guards Tank Army, which led to deployment of the oncoming tank battle, in which about from both sides fought, and the enemy had more medium and heavy tanks than we did. This battle, in defiance of stereotypes, didn't take place at one single field like the Borodino or the Verden, but was on front up to long, and appeared in many single tank battles.
Despite suddenness of the attack, Soviet tanks were net by concentrated fire of the German antitank artillery and assault guns. However, the 18th Tank Corps on a high speed broke into the state farm «Oktyabrskiy» and, with huge losses, captured it. With moving forward the corps met enemy's tank group which had tanks Tiger, fought it for few hours, and by 6.00 PM turned to defense.
The 29th Tank Corps had maneuver fight for the height 252.5 with tanks of LSSAH Division, but after 4.00 PM was driven back by tanks of the «Totenkopf» Division, and after dark also turned to defense.
The 2nd Guards Tank Corps, that was attacking on Kalinin village, at 2.30 PM suddenly met the «Das Reich» Motorised Division SS, which drove it back to the starting point. The 2nd Tank Corps, that was covering junction between the 2nd Guards Tank Corps and the 29th Tank Corps moved back German units a bit, but came under fire of the 2nd echelon's assault guns and antitank guns, sustained losses and was stopped.
Despite the fact that the 5th Guards Tank Army, which was acting in line of could reach density of the attacking troops up to per it couldn't fulfill its mission. Losses of the army, excluding group of general Trufanov, were and self-propelled guns, and together with the attached formations reached 60% of the starting amount.
German troops lost only on the day of July 12, according to the report of the commander of the Voronezh Front. German statistics lowers this number to 218, and even to Anyhow, by the end of July 12, the Germans left the battlefield in Prokhorovka, and by July organized retreating. Incidentally, «Citadel» operation has failed.
On July 12, the troops of the Bryansk Front started attacking. On July 18, a fresh tank the 3rd Guards Tank Army (475 T-34s and got into the battle.
On direction the Soviet troops reached the starting line that they had before German attack by July 23. On August 3, a counter-offensive of the Voronezh and Steppe Fronts has begun. That time tank replenished formations. Thus, the 1st Tank Army had (412 of them were T-34s). After all were used in mass in the Battle of Kursk and in all following operations in 1943.
However, we should mention that their main opponents were not tanks as many history buffs thought, but German antitank artillery. German antitank and tank guns caused 90% of our tank losses in Unfortunately, modern tank «lovers» ignore those facts and keep comparing T-34 to Panthers and Tigers. Ridiculous, and
|20 mm||37 mm||50 mm L42||50 mm L60||75 mm||88 mm||105 mm||128 mm||Unknown|
|Prior September 1942||4.7||10||7.5||54.3||10.1||3.4||2.9||0||7.1|
|Stalingrad operation, 1942-1943||0||0||25.6||26.5||12.1||7.8||0||0||28|
|Kursk Battle, the Central Front, 1943||0||0||10.5||23||40.5||26||0||0||0|
From the table we can see clearly, that in of T-34s were shot by 75-mm and 88-mm tank guns and antitank guns. At the beginning of the war the T-34 had advantage over the enemy's tanks in distance, for its better gun could hit any German tank from a distance up to 1,000 metres. While, the range of firing of enemy tanks usually didn't exceed In 1943, with increase in armor thickness of the German tanks, distance of the effective fire on them decreased and didn't exceed At the same time 75- and 88-millimeter long barreled German guns could hit the T-34 on the ranges of 1,500 metres relatively.
Thus, by the end of 1943, the T-34 was not longer suitable for the given tasks. After detailed examitation of the latest war experience, a special commission stated «the T-34 is no longer match to the current war conditions. It become permeable for Germans guns at all ranges». The modernisation has been needed. As a result the developed. As to the since amount of them in the active army was decreasing continuously. The rest of the tanks was still acting in all operations of the Red Army in including Berlin operation, but in general it was taken out of the first line, and used in rear units as training tanks. T-34s were in some units of the Red Army up to the early 1950s.
Besides the Red Army, during WWII T-34 tanks served in the People's Army of Poland, People-Liberating army of Yugoslavia, and the
In June 1943-January 1945, the Polish Army received tanks, mainly from the factory «Krasnoe Soromovo» and from repair factories. By the end of the fighting in Europe all Polish units had of this type. Some tanks were into armored evacuation vehicles and used even in 1950s.
We cannot give the exact amount of tanks received by the People-Liberating Army of Yugoslavia and by the Czech Corps. Most probably we can talk about few dozens.
The Wehrmacht used captured T-34s also. For example, the «Das Reich» Motorised Division had at the time of the attack on Kursk, summer 1943. Some of them were equipped with German commander turrets. The Germans reconstructed some T-34s into self-propelled antiaircraft guns and evacuation vehicles.
The amount of T-34 in the Finnish Army didn't exceed seven of which served until 1960s.
Some T-34 were used by the Hungarian and the Romanian Armies, as well as the Russian Liberating Army (ROA) of the general
Translation: Valeri Potapov, Leonid Sapronov, Tamara Kheyfets
Sources: «T-34. Operational manual», NKTP, 1941
«T-34. Handbook», Voenizdat, 1944
«About manufacturing T-34 tanks in 1940» AP RF. F.93. Document collection
Bronekollektsiya #3, 1999
«Wozy bojowe», LWP, Warsawa, 1985
«Soviet tanks in combat The T-28, T-34, T-44», Concord publ. company
«T-34 in action»
«Panzer Truppen», Shiffer Military History, Atglen, PA
«Sovetskie Srednie Tanki Dovoennogo Perioda», Armada, 2000:
«Srednij tank T-34. Albom konstruktivnikh elementov», NKTP, 1941
«T-34», Tekhnika i Vooruzhenie 1998
KMDB T-34/85 Medium Tan
KMDB T-34/85 (Kharkov Morozov Machine Building Design Bureau) medium tank. From what I have determined, this particular tank was built after World War II at the J.V. Stalin Factory in Martin (Slovakia). It was restored to its present status first by a Czech crew combining the chassis from one and the engine and running gear from a Czech VT-35 armored recovery tank, and then in the U.S. It is painted as a vehicle which would have fought in Belarus in January 1945. The markings on the turret: the diamond denotes a Soviet tank with the brigade number inside and the text refers to the commander (General Bagramjana). My photos at Flying Heritage & Combat Armor Museum on Paine Field in Everett, Washington where it is operational.
Armament: an L51.5 85 mm cannon (an upgrade from the original 76 mm following the Battle of Kursk) and two 7.62 mm machine guns, and fitted with Notek lamps. Crew of the upgraded T-34/85 consisted of five: commander, driver, gunner, bow machine gunner and loader (earlier versions had four, with the commander doubling as loader). It is powered by a Kharkiv V-12 engine, which was designed at the Kharkiv Locomotive Factory in Ukraine and first fielded in 1940. German troops nicknamed the T-34 “Mickey Maus” tanks because of the distinctive look of the open two top hatches. Many countries operated the T-34 and the North Korean Army operated about 120 T-34’s during the Korean War.
Fallout and Summary
Production of the T-34 went uninterrupted until the end of the European campaign in 1945 to which 57,000 T-34s were in circulation by that time - in fact the T-34 replaced production of all other Soviet combat tank types during peak usage with 42 factories participating - this made the T-34 the most numerous of all Soviet armored vehicles used in the war. Factories included No. 183(Kharkov), No. 183(Nizhny Tagil), the STZ plant, No.112 (Kr.Sormovo), ChKZ, Uralmash and plant No. 174 - each presenting slightly varying end-products due to differences in manufacture. In 1940, only 97 T-34s were produced with 3,000 following in 1941. In 1942, 12,500 were delivered but this was out shown by the 15,700 built during 1943. Production eventually lessened in the final years as "only" 4,000 were added in 1944. The T-34 managed use primarily of the L-11, F-34 and ZiS-4 series guns throughout her career and this existed in 746 L-11 examples, 38,580 F-34 examples and 212 ZiS-4 examples. In terms of powerplants, some 96,182 Model V-2 diesel engines were produced during the war in factories that included women workers.
The tank went on to become the symbol of the Soviet struggle against Germany in the post war years. Though far from the perfect combat tank, it was nonetheless seen as a centerpiece of many monuments to the war. While the T-34-76 largely fell out of favor after the war, the T-34 continued service in its T-34-85 guise as many were delivered to Soviet allies and satellite states. Overall production spanned from 1940 to 1958 to which a total of 84,000 examples were delivered. The chassis also formed the basis for a bridgelayer, self-propelled gun platform and armored recovery vehicle among other types. It was even used as an ad hoc "fast personnel carrier" to the horror of German troops now being swarmed by T-34s laden with Soviet infantry. Other notable variants included a flame tank, mine clearance vehicle and 100mm- and 122mm-armed tank destroyers (see variants listing for full descriptions of marks). As many as 20,000 T-34s were claimed by the Germans in combat - either captured or destroyed.
The T-34/85 was essentially categorized as an "up-gunned" version of the successful base T-34 medium tank designed and built in large numbers by the Soviet Union during World War 2. The Germans had invaded the Soviet Union in June of 1941 and the Panzer III and Panzer IV series had formed the backbone of their armored assaults up to now. However, things quickly changed when the Soviets unleashed their heavily armored and armed T-34 medium tanks alongside their KV-1 and KV-2 series heavy tanks.
The base T-34 mounted a capable 76mm main gun which proved effective against the Panzer III and Panzer IV series tanks fielded by the Germans in bulk up to this point in the war. In response, the Germans delivered their Panther and Tiger series tanks featuring bigger guns and more armor. The T-34/85, therefore, came at a time when Soviet authorities were looking for a bigger tank gun option to contend with the German 75mm and 88mm offerings - two proven tank killers in their own right. The T34/85 also featured an entirely new five-speed transmission, a new three-man turret design to house an additional crewmember, electric turret traversal to speed up gunnery response and a useful cupola for the tank commander. These additions - at the cost of a little bit of speed - benefitted an already excellent base design, particularly since the T-34 was most effective when fielded in massed numbers against German forces.
Initial designs of the T-34/85 called for a heavy-penetrating main gun platform with sufficient mobility with good armor protection. An 85mm anti-aircraft gun was already in trials on the tank chassis of the KV-85 heavy tank at the time so the choice to field this same armament in a new T-34 was logical. The new T-34/85 would also feature two DT general purpose machine guns with limited traverse - one fitted coaxially in the turret and the other embedded in the front right hull (bow) portion of the tank. The turret itself was new to the T-34 line, it being developed from the one used in the KV-85. The T-34 chassis, in general, proved highly adaptable and ideal for other production variants that turned the medium tank into improvised dedicated tank destroyers and anti-mine vehicles among other forms. The vehicle was crewed by five personnel made up of the driver, commander, loader, gunner and radio operator, the latter doubling as the bow machine gunner. Operational range could be extended through the use of external fuel drums. Power was derived from a single W-2-34 V12 diesel engine outputting 500 horsepower. Top speed was listed at 34 miles per hour and the vehicle's weight reported at 32 tons.
The T-34-85 was first delivered to Soviet tank crews - namely guard units - in late 1943 and early 1944 through a short initial production batch run. Early forms fielded the D-5T 85mm gun system and were known under the designation of "Model 1943". A follow-up version was released to production soon following and was known simply as the "Model 1944". This became the definitive T34-85 mount and were fitted with the ZiS-S-53 series 85mm main gun - an armament that was simpler to mass produce for the Soviet war effort. The radio suite was also relocated from the bow to the turret in these models and a new gunner's sighting device was installed. Some 12,000 T-34/85 examples were delivered by the end of the war in Europe in May of 1945 and captured samples were pressed into service by the desperate German Army.
Even after World War 2, the T-34/85 existed in greater numbers and delivered to some Soviet-friendly nations - North Korea and China being key recipients considering the upcoming Korean War (1950-1953). North Korea itself fielded about 150 of the T-34/85 variant at the beginning of the Korean War and several T-34/85s are still believed to be in operational frontline service even today, a testament to both the successful design of the T-34 as a whole and the lack of forward-thinking on the part of the North Koreans.
In all, over 55,000 T-34/85's were built by the end of production and a bulk of that - roughly 40,000 - were produced during the war years alone. Nevertheless, the tank system proved to be the most successful Soviet tank design up to that time, setting the design stage for Cold War tank influence that has lasted up to today. The T-34, at its core, was efficient to produce and easy to maintain once in the field. Her use of sloped armor, large road wheels and a powerful main gun proved to be a collectively efficient end-product for decades - her value proven by her actions in World War 2.
Major modernization programs followed the T34/85 during the Cold War years, these taking place in 1960 and 1969. Regardless of changes, many retained their general base appearance and were only discernable to experts of the T-34 lineage. Czechoslovakia mass-produced the T-34/85 and distributed them widely across the Soviet sphere.
T-34 Model 1943 (1942)
The high ground clearance and proven Christie suspension of the T-34 medium tank made it ideal for mobile warfare across the vast Russian steppes as the Red Army pursued the Germans westwards towards Berlin in 1944 and 1945.
An aerial view of a T-34 Model 1942, with its cast two-man turret. The main difference between the Model 1942 and Model 1943 was the the larger turret of the latter. The hull and chassis remained essentially the same for all models.
The T-34 medium tank is one of a few weapons that may, quite literally, be credited with winning World War II. The T-34 reached the battlefield in large numbers in 1941 and quickly evened the odds for the Red Army against German tanks.
Perhaps one of the most iconic images of World War II is that of a Red Army T-34 medium tank, soldiers aboard and on foot nearby, speeding westward toward the frontier of the Third Reich and the Nazi capital of Berlin. Indeed, the T-34 medium tank, which first entered production in 1940 and the service of the Red Army in the same year, changed the course of the war in the East.
Until the T-34 reached the battlefield in large numbers, German armour, particularly the PzKpfw III and IV, had reigned supreme. The appearance of the T-34 proved shocking to the German tankers who encountered it for the first time in November 1941 near the Russian village of Mzensk. However, the tank itself had been in the design and prototype phases of development since the mid-1930s. While it was intended to replace the outmoded T-26 and BT series tanks, the T-34 bore an unmistakable family resemblance. Its sleek profile with the turret forward and its low silhouette with sloped armour were true to the design perspective that would rule Soviet production for decades to come.
While it borrowed from earlier Soviet tank designs, the T-34 broke new ground with speed, mobility, firepower and armour in a lethal combination. Its V-2-34 V-12 38.8-litre (8.5-gallon) diesel engine generated 375 kilowatts (500hp) and enabled the 26.5-tonne (26-ton) tank to reach a top speed of 53km/h (33mph). It maintained the Christie suspension of the earlier BT series, which was already proven superior in cross-country operation over broken terrain. Armour protection ranged from 15mm (0.59in) on the bottom of the hull to 60mm (2.4in) on the turret front. The effectiveness of the hull armour was increased by its slope, reducing penetration and sometimes deflecting enemy shells.
The four-man crew included a commander, driver, loader and gunner. Early production T-34s were armed with the 76.2mm (3in) ZIS5 F 34 gun and the commander was still required to serve the weapon. Radios were in short supply and only command tanks received them – all other tanks still communicated with flags. The interior of the T-34 was painfully tight, restricting the combat efficiency of the crew. The driver, for example, was the lone occupant of the forward hull compartment and his visibility was quite restricted in early-production T-34s.
Model 1943 (T-34/76D, E, and F) – This production model was built from May 1942 to 1944, with a cast or pressed hexagonal turret. It was nicknamed “Mickey Mouse” by the Germans because of its appearance with the twin round turret roof hatches open. Official Soviet military designation was Model 1942. Turrets manufactured in different factories had minor variations, sometimes called “hard-edge”, “soft-edge”, and “laminate” turrets, but in military service these details did not warrant different designations.
Earlier production is sometimes called Model 1942/43, and was designated T-34/76D by German intelligence. Later production variants had a new commander’s cupola. This variant was referred to as T-34/76E by the Germans. Turrets produced at Uralmash in Sverdlovsk (Yekaterinburg) had a distinctive rounded appearance because they were made in a special forge. Tanks produced with these turrets there and at Chelyabinsk were called T-34/76F by the Germans.
By early 1944 the T-34/85 had incorporated several improvements, such as a more spacious three-man turret, relieving the commander of responsibility for laying and firing the main weapon. The newly-installed 85mm (3.35in) ZIS-S-53 provided the Soviet tank with greater range against the heavy German PzKpfw V Panther and PzKpfw VI Tiger, mounting high-velocity 75mm (2.95in) and 88mm (3.5in) guns. The ZISS-53 gun influenced Soviet tactics, allowing Red Army tank commanders to rely less on the need to rapidly close with the Germans in order to get within range for their main guns to fire effectively. The T-34/85 still lacked a rotating turret basket on which the gunner and loader could stand during combat, negatively impacting the tank’s rate of fire.
In total more than 57,000 T-34 medium tanks were produced in Soviet factories during World War II, which is a remarkable achievement considering the disruption of heavy industry after the Germans launched Operation Barbarossa on 22 June 1941, and many facilities were dismantled and moved to safety east of the Ural Mountains. During the war, over 22,500 T-34/85 tanks were produced and better efficiency cut production time in half and sharply reduced the overall cost per unit. During the pivotal battle for the city of Stalingrad on the Volga River, some tanks were said to have rolled directly off the factory floor and into active combat against the Germans. While Soviet tactics were refined slowly and many T-34s were lost during mass charges against German armour and anti-tank weapons, the Red Army could make good its combat losses with numbers the Germans could never hope to match. The over-engineered German Tiger and Panther tanks were plagued by mechanical failures, costly to build and never available in sufficient numbers to sustain a protracted war effort.
T-34 variants included self-propelled assault guns and flamethrower, bridging and recovery vehicles. The T-34 continued in production until 1958. Some upgrades continued into the 1960s and a few T-34s are said to continue in service today.
The T-34-76 had proven a tremendous challenge to destroy on the battlefield in 1941. The conventional anti-tank equipment of the Germans was simply not up to the task. The Soviets deployed a considerable number of the medium T-34s in five of their twenty-nine mechanized divisions at that time, along with the heavy KV tanks.
It must be recognized too, that the T-34 in those early days of the war was a very considerable challenge for its crews, who, when deployed on a lengthy road march, tended to lose many of their number to mechanical breakdown, an early problem that plagued the Soviets to a greater extent than it did the Germans. And the upside of the T-34 was diluted to some extent for the crews by its internal layout, poor crew comfort and vision devices.
Testing of the T-34 at the Aberdeen, Maryland, proving ground by the Americans resulted in their unconditional rejection of the Christie suspension system for tanks. The Russian tank utilized this coil-spring system, designed by the American engineer Walter Christie, which enabled considerably longer movement than conventional leaf springs systems and greater cross-country speed. The Christie system employed large, rubber-rimmed road wheels which, when less rubber was available due to wartime shortages, meant a reduced amount of rubber on the wheels. The contact with the tracks at high speeds set up noisy, unpleasant harmonics for the crews. The harmonics could also damage the tank by loosening parts. Certain deficiencies in the tracks resulted from the lightness of their construction. They were subject to damage by small-calibre weapons and mortar rounds. Basically, the pins used were made of poor-quality steel and were poorly tempered, causing them to wear out quickly and the tracks to break. Russian crews often brought spare parts and tracks with them into combat situations. One Russian tanker recalled: “The caterpillars used to break apart even without bullet or shell hits. When earth got stuck between the road wheels, the caterpillar, especially during a turn—strained to such an extent that the pins themselves couldn’t hold out.”
Other conclusions from the Aberdeen evaluation were: In their tank production, the Russians were apparently not very interested in careful machining or finishing, or the technology of small parts and components, a negative aspect of what is otherwise a well-designed tank. In comparison to the then-current American tanks, it was found that the Russian tank had many good features, good contours in the design, diesel power, good and reliable armament, thick armour, wide tracks and more. But it was thought inferior to the American tank in manoeuvring, speed, ease of driving, firing muzzle velocity, mechanical reliability, and ease of maintenance. The Aberdeen technicians found many problems with improper radio installations and shielding in the 1941 T-34. Commenting on the turret design: “The main weakness of the two-man turret of the T-34 of 1941 is that it is very tight. The electrical mechanism for rotating the turret is very bad. The motor is weak, very overloaded and sparks horribly, as a result of which the device regulating the speed of the rotation burns out, and the teeth of the cogwheels break into pieces. We recommend replacing it with a hydraulic or a simple manual system.”
The uneven build-quality is called into question when considering the armour of the T-34, in particular on the plating joins and welds. The use of too-soft steel and the shallow surface tempering was also noted by the Aberdeen technical personnel. They noted too, that the various chinks and cracks resulting from relatively careless build-quality tends to admit a lot of water when it rains, which can disable the electrical system and negatively affect the ammunition.
What was operating the T-34 like for the crewmen? The driver sat either on a hard bench seat or on shell storage containers, an arrangement that adversely affected his operation of the tank due to the frequently severe vibration and shocks in combat situations over rough terrain for extended periods. Other negative aspects included poorly made transmissions that were prone to mechanical failure and whose operation could be nightmarishly difficult. The Russians’ use of low-quality, poorly finished steel side clutches further contributed to the breakdown rate of the tank. But the main complaint of those who had to take the T-34 into battle was the low-set, very cramped two-man turret. It could only accommodate the commander and the loader, thus making the job of the commander far more labour-intensive and distracting him from his primary role. A further restriction imposed by the design meant that the turret gun could not be depressed more than three degrees, creating a shooting problem at close range or on a reverse slope.
Another somewhat dysfunctional arrangement in the T-34 was that of the ammunition storage for the main gun, making the job of the loader more difficult and less efficient than it should have been. The turret lacked a rotating floor that would move as a part of the turret when the turret was rotated. The small spare ammunition boxes were stowed on the floor under the turret and covered with a rubber mat. Nine rounds of ammunition were stowed on the sides of the fighting compartment and when these rounds had been used, the loader and / or commander had to pull up more ammunition from the floor boxes. The floor was then left littered with open boxes and rubber matting, impairing the crew performance.
For the tank commander of the T-34, his vision of the field and his situational awareness was disadvantaged by the forward-opening hatch and the lack of a turret cupola, requiring him to view the field of battle through a small vision slit and a traversable periscope. This method was inferior to the German tank method where the commander fought in a heads-up position with his seat raised, giving him a full field of view, something not possible in the T-34. Russian crews took a dim view of the turret design with its heavy hatch that was difficult to open and, should it jam, would trap the crew inside. Their objections to this situation led to the manufacturer changing to a two-hatch turret in August 1942. In the matter of gun-sighting and ranging, the system of the T-34 was comparatively crude in relation to that of the Germans, which was particularly disadvantageous to the Russian crews when operating at longer ranges. One German commented on the combination of T-34 fighting characteristics, including the two-man turret, poor vision devices and weak optics: “T-34s operated in a disorganized fashion with little coordination, or else tended to clump together like a hen with its chicks. Individual tank commanders lacked situational awareness due to the poor provision of vision devices and the preoccupation with gunnery duties. A tank platoon would seldom be capable of engaging three separate targets, but would tend to focus on a single target selected by the platoon leader. As a result T-34 platoons lost the greater firepower of three independently operating tanks.” German tankers generally felt that T-34 crews were slower in locating and engaging their targets, while Panzers normally were able to shoot about three rounds for every round fired by the T-34.
Another impression of the early T-34s in a battlefield environment was that of the difficulties involved in arranging for repairs due to a crippling shortage of recovery vehicles and repair equipment. The impact of the Soviet tank on the enemy forces initially was one of poor Russian leadership, tactics, and crew training, which many attributed to the effects of Stalin’s purges of his officer corps in the 1930s, together with heavy losses by the Red Army in 1941 that took the lives of some of their best armoured personnel.
In the combat arena, by 1942 the T-34-76 was the Soviet main battle tank in the field. The key German tanks to that point were the Panzer III and the Panzer IV. By mid-year, the improving German tank armament had evolved to the extent of making the T-34 vulnerable to it and T-34 losses in that year were substantial, much worse than in the previous year. Of a total of 15,100 armoured fighting vehicles in the Red Army front line, 6,600 T-34s were lost to combat or mechanical problems. But through the difficult winter of 1941-42, the wide-tracked T-34 proved superior to the German tanks in being able to manoeuvre over deep mud and snow without bogging down conditions in which the German tanks frequently were halted.
Into 1943, armoured battlefield momentum was with the Soviets. Soviet AFV losses were higher than ever, including those of 14,700 T-34s, but so was their tank production. And strategically, the Germans were mainly on the defensive and in retreat. Throughout 1943 and well into 1944, for the most part the T-34 with its 76mm gun was outclassed by the guns of both the Tiger and Panther, and even with the upgrade of the 85mm gun, the T-34-85 was really not the equal of those two German tanks, though the Soviet 85mm gun could penetrate the armour of both German tanks at distances up to 550 yards the Tiger and Panther could still destroy the T-34-85 at 1,600 yards or more.
In the beginning of Barbarossa, the T-34 made up only about four percent of the Soviet armoured forces, but at war’s end it made up at least fifty-five percent. With the gradual progression of the Eastern Front campaign, the original design advantages the T-34 held over the German tanks were gradually overcome and the Russian tank became an ever-easier target for the German tankers. Still, over the course of the war, and the greatly increasing manufacture of the T-34 (even with the increasing weight resulting from the many improvements made to it), its top speed held up, while both its turret frontal armour thickness and its main gun armour penetration nearly doubled.
While it cannot reasonably be claimed that the T-34 was the equal of the Panther or Tiger tanks of the Germans, its design simplicity, wide tracks, low silhouette, innovative armour layout, its ease and quantity of production— despite its faults and heavy losses—made it a strategic war winner. In all, 55,550 T-34s were produced during the war years. Of the 96,500 fully-tracked armoured fighting vehicles produced during the war by the Soviets, 44,900 T-34s were lost to combat and other causes.
Weight 26.5 tonnes (26 tons)
Engine 1 × V-2-34 V-12 38.8-litre (8.5-gallon) diesel engine delivering 375kW (500hp)
Germany and Russia Race to Design the Best Tank
The overall length of the T-34 was 5,920mm excluding the gun barrel. The width was 2,950mm, the height was 2,600mm, and the weight was 26,500 kilograms.
As noted by Col. Gen. Alfred Jodl, Field Marshal Wilhelm Keitel’s deputy in the German Armed Forces High Command structure, Hitler was quick to respond to the challenge that the T-34 presented to the Reich’s outdated panzer arm. “He created the Ministry for Weapons and Munitions under [Fritz] Todt [later Speer], leaving only the building of airplanes and ships with the Air Force and the Navy.
“From then on Hitler determined the monthly quota as well as the direction and scope of all production down to the last detail. … Hitler’s astounding technical and tactical vision led him also to become the creator of modern weaponry for the Army. It was due to him personally that the 75mm anti-tank gun replaced the 37mm and 50mm guns in time, and that the short guns mounted on the tanks were replaced with the long 75mm and 88mm guns. The Panther, the Tiger and the King Tiger (Tiger II) were developed as modern tanks at Hitler’s own initiative.”
Workers make final adjustments to the turret and chassis of a new T-34 medium tank. Many of these stalwart fighting vehicles were driven straight from the factory into combat.
Thus, the Red Army’s overwhelming success with the T-34 dramatically influenced the armored design of its major opponents on the battlefield for the rest of the war. This development, moreover, was also felt by the Western Allies in northwestern Europe during 1944-1945, when the new German panzers fought there.
Initially, the Soviet Union had been behind both the West and the Reich in the development of armor, but this changed as Soviet dictator Josef Stalin and his Red Army High Command (later Stavka) evaluated the lessons learned from fighting the Nationalists during the Spanish Civil War of 1936-1939 and the Finns in the disastrous Russo-Finnish War of 1939-1940. By 1941, they had caught and surpassed both the Germans and their future Allies with the magnificent T-34.
Hitler’s improvements preceded the Battle of Kursk, which the Nazis were determined to win, especially after their catastrophic loss at Stalingrad earlier in 1943.
In his 1970 memoir, Khrushchev Remembers, former Soviet Premier Nikita S. Khrushchev wrote of Kursk, “The enemy, too, was confident of victory. Later I saw an order we captured from a demolished German armored unit. It contained a message addressed to the German troops which went something like this: ‘You are now waging an offensive with tanks far superior to the Russian T-34s. Until now the T-34 has been the best tank in the world, better even than our own, but now you have our new Tiger tanks. There is no equal to them. With such a weapon you warriors of the German Army cannot fail to crush the enemy.’ Their new tanks were very menacing indeed, but our troops learned quickly how to deal with them. At Kursk, we won a battle which tipped the balance of the war in our favor.… It was decisive in determining the defeat of Hitlerite Germany.…” The T-34 had played the major role once again.
Early T-34s enjoyed a high level of craftsmanship in their manufacture. The T-34’s design bureau head was Mikhail Koshkin, and his deputy was Alexsandr Morozov, who was in charge of building the power train. The suspension team was led by Nikolai Kucherenko and P. Vashiev, while the armor layout of the new tank was the responsibility of M. Tarshinov. The first wooden model of the prototype, designated the A-20, was presented to the Defense Council of the Soviet of People’s Commissars in Moscow in May 1938.
The initial A-20 design led to its successor, the A-32, which was an up-armored version, which led in turn to the T-34. The final tank’s secondary armament was a 7.62mm co-axial Degtaryev DT machine gun in the hull, fired by a gunner who sat next to the driver.
An advancing T-34 tank stirs up a cloud of summertime dust as Red Army soldiers crouch behind it. The Soviet armed forces mounted a devastating offensive in 1944, which carried them to the gates of Berlin.
Like the American Sherman tank, the T-34’s engine was mounted in the rear of the vehicle, and was flanked by cooling radiators on each side. The T-34’s road speed was an impressive 34 mph, and its cross-country speed was between 10-15.62mph depending on the grade and roughness of the ground being covered. The tank’s operational range was 290 miles, and the use of diesel fuel reduced the risk of fire. With its transmission located in the tank’s rear, the crew compartment was more spacious, since the drive train did not pass through it.
The primary gun’s 76.2mm ammunition was stored on the walls of the T-34, while more rounds were also found in bins sunk into the hull flooring, as well as in ammo racks on the sides of the turret. The rear of the turret also contained the drums for the vehicle’s secondary armament of the vehicle, the DT 7.62mm machine gun.
Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 02/04/2019 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site.
The Soviet T-34 Medium Tank became one of the most successful tank designs in the history of armored warfare after it debuted in the fighting of World War 2 (1939-1945). Its sheer availability and inherent versatility made it a good candidate for experimental designs and offshoots based on the proven framework for a slew of variants followed. One of the more important additions to the line became the "T-34/85" (detailed elsewhere on this site) which successfully mated the existing tank to a more effective 85mm main gun. When even this weapon showed its limitations on the battlefield, particularly against the newer, heavier German tanks like the Panther and Tiger series, thought was given to another up-gunned form - this becoming the "T-34/100".
NOTE: This T-34/100 should not be confused with the Egyptian T-100 tank destroyer development, which was also later known as the T-34/100.
Tangible work on what was to become the T-34/100 began in the middle of 1944 by Factory No.183 (Nishni Tagil) and involved considerable study and testing of several larger-caliber weapons available to the Soviets. Such a powerful weapon would need a strong chassis, hull, and turret design and the turret would have to feature an enlarged ring due to the greater dimensions at play. In the early-going, the focus weapon of the project became the ZiS-S-53 (ZiS-100) gun simply mated to the existing turret of the T-34/85 tank.
Testing showed this coupling to be ineffective for the weapon required much of the tank's under-workings when fired due to inherently violent recoil forces and excessive weight. Thought now switched to the in-development turret of the soon-to-be "T-44" Medium Tank (detailed elsewhere on this site) and this turret would sit atop the existing hull of the T-34/85. Due to the turning radius of this turret, the T-34/85's hull was appropriately modified to seat it.
This particular evolution also involved various changes to the original T-34/85 offering - armor protection, particularly at the floor and engine compartment, were reduced to compensate for the added weight and required space of the new turret which weakened the tank's protection some. For the same reasons, the suspension system and related drive components were all reinforced.
Testing of this system occurred from February to March of 1945 even as the Soviet Army made great strides against the German defenses en route to Berlin itself. Alongside the ZiS-100 weapon the D-10T (100mm D-10-34) anti-tank gun was also trialed (this the same weapon as found on the SU-100 Tank Destroyer) - but this, too, proved an unfavorable mating. By the time of April 1945, the focus became the LB-1 as a main gun and, with its accompanying recoil mechanism, finally proved a 100mm-armed T-34 a sound investment.
The outward appearance of this finalized tank was very reminiscent of the T-34 with its heavily angled, sloping armor facings. The turret was positioned forward of midships with the engine at the back of the hull. Armor protection spanned 20mm to 90mm at the various facings. The 100mm-armed turret offered considerable overhang of the main gun barrel over the bow and anti-infantry measures included 2 x 7.62mm DT machine guns, one fitted coaxially alongside the main gun and another in a bow-mounting with limited traversal/elevation. A commander's cupola was featured at the turret roof for improved situational awareness.
Dimensions included a running length of 9.2 meters with the gun forwards, a beam of 3 meters and a height of about 2.5 meters. Combat weight reached 33 tonnes.
The running gear involved five large road wheels to a hull side with no track-return rollers used. Power was from a single W-2-34 12-cylinder diesel-fueled engine of 500 horsepower. Road speeds could reach 48 kmh and operational range was estimated at 300 km when traveling about roads.
Despite the work already put into the T-34/100, its late-war arrival meant that the design was never put into serial production. The end of the war in Europe in May of 1945 signified the end of the T-34/100 initiative and its attempt to succeed the classic T-34. The 85mm-armed T-44, introduced in 1943, also failed to succeed the famous design and only 1,823 were built though none saw action in World War 2. The T-34/85 would take the T-34 mantle for the foreseeable future and continued in service for decades more.