T-34 file photo [6466]

T-34

CountryRussia
ManufacturerKharkiv Morozov Machine Building Design Bureau
Primary RoleMedium Tank

Contributor:

ww2dbaseIn 1937, engineer Mikhail Koshkin was tasked to advance Russian armor technology. At this time, the Russian Army tanks were mostly slow T-26 light tanks and BT series of fast tanks; both were lightly armored and unsuitable to modern tank combat. His first prototype, A-20, was a light tank aimed at replacing BT tanks. Not satisfied with the design, he convinced Joseph Stalin to fund a second prototype, A-32, that carried heavier armor and greater caliber weapons. After field tests at Kubinka, Moscow Oblast, Russia, the second prototype proved to be as mobile and versatile as the A-20, making it the winner. The production design, now named T-34, featured heavier armor and wider tracks. The first production prototypes were completed in Jan 1940, and they went through a grueling 2,000-kilometer drive for testing. Even at this point, Russian Army generals were concerned of the high cost of the new design, but the poor performance of Russian armor during the Winter War made sure that plans for the T-34 tanks moved forward. The first production models joined the Russian Army in Sep 1940.

ww2dbaseAt the end of Jan 1940, Koshkin died of pneumonia. Drive train engineer Alexander Morozov was appointed his successor as the chief designer.

ww2dbaseInitially, subassemblies for T-34 tanks originated from three different locations: Kharkov Diesel Factory No. 75 supplied the model V-2 engine, Leningrad Kirovsky Factory made the original L-11 gun, and the Dinamo Factory in Moscow produced electrical components; later, Gorky Factory No. 92 built the F-34 guns to replace the L-11 design. In Jun 1941, Germany invaded the Soviet Union. At the face of Germany's rapid advances, Russian industries evacuated the tank factories at an amazing speed. Entire factories were picked up and moved east; some factories that moved to Stalingrad were picked up again in Sep 1942 to move further east. Because of the production interruptions, several changes were made to the design to simplify the production process, including the reduction from 861 individual parts required to build a F-34 gun to only 614 parts. As a result, the monetary cost of construction from 269,500 rubles to 135,000 and the construction time was cut by half.

ww2dbaseT-34 tanks were effective against German forces in several aspects. Among the intangible characteristics T-34 tanks possessed was the initial shock they gave the German troops. The Germans were brainwashed into believing that the people of the east were technologically inferior, therefore the war would be a simple one given the Germans wield superior weapons. The ease of the Polish conquest only reinforced that notion. Hence, when the German troops encountered the capable T-34 tanks, they were initially in shock. In terms of tangible performance, T-34 tanks shined over the winter terrain. While German tanks had difficulty moving across mud and snow, T-34 tanks with their wider tracks had a much easier time, making T-34 tanks that much more so a deadly weapon. The lack of training for Russian tank commanders and crews, however, limited the tanks' potential.

ww2dbaseBy mid-1943, the Germans had deployed high velocity Pak 40 75-mm guns, Panther medium tanks, and Tiger heavy tanks to the front in significant numbers, which effectively countered some of the advantages enjoyed by T-34 tank crews. As a response, the T-43-85 variant entered production with a larger 85-mm anti-aircraft gun installed as the main armament. The change in specifications slowed production initially, but by May 1944, production increased to 1,200 units per month. The cost to produce a T-34-85 tank was initially 164,000 rubles, which was higher than the previous variants. However, similar to how improved process increased efficiency for the previous variants, the cost was eventually driven down to 142,000 rubles. With the upgraded variants, the Russians were better equipped against German tanks, but the skill level of the crews was still lacking; the Russian industrial capacity, however, remedied this weakness by producing T-34 tanks in great quantities.

ww2dbaseSome weaknesses of the design include poor visibility for drivers and the difficulty to load ammunition due to the lack of a turret basket. None of these weaknesses, however, negatively affected the performance as much as the lack of training.

ww2dbaseDuring the war, a few T-34 tanks were captured by the Germans who put them into use. They were designated Panzerkampfwagen T-34(r), where the "r" stood for Russland, German for Russia.

ww2dbaseBy the end of 1945, 57,339 T-34 tanks were built, making them over 55% of the entire Soviet Union's tank force; in fact, they were the most-produced tank of all nations involved in WW2.

Americans cherish the myth that the USSR rode to victory on United States treads. It isn't true. The only western tank employed by the Reds to any extend was the Sherman. The Sherman was very good. However, by the time it reached Vladivostok in the autumn of 1942, Russia's T-34, superior to it in every respect, had been in full production for a year and a half.

ww2dbaseIn 1946, a final 2,701 units were built by the Russians. Between 1951 and 1956, the design was built under license by Polish and Czechoslovakian firms, where 1,380 and 3,185 units were built, respectively. China also produced a number of T-34 tanks under the designation of Type 58. Several non-tank variants were built on the T-34 frame, including flamethrower tanks, self-propelled guns, and bridge layers. After WW2, T-34 tanks served in subsequent conflicts such as the Korean War (where 120 T-34-85 tanks spearheaded the invasion), the Vietnam War, and the Bosnian Civil War in the 1990s.

ww2dbaseSources: the Arms of Krupp, Wikipedia.

SPECIFICATIONS

Model 1940
MachineryOne 12-cylinder diesel model V-2 engine rated at 500hp
SuspensionChristie
Armament1x76.2mm L-11 gun (76 rounds), 2x7.62mm Degtyaryov light machine guns
Armor15-45mm
Crew4
Length6.68 m
Width3.00 m
Height2.45 m
Weight26.0 t
Speed53 km/h
Range300 km

Model 1941
MachineryOne 12-cylinder diesel model V-2 engine rated at 500hp
SuspensionChristie
Armament1x76.2mm F-34 gun (77 rounds), 2x7.62mm Degtyaryov light machine guns
Armor20-52mm
Crew4
Length6.68 m
Width3.00 m
Height2.45 m
Weight26.0 t
Speed53 km/h
Range400 km

Model 1942
MachineryOne 12-cylinder diesel model V-2 engine rated at 500hp
SuspensionChristie
Armament1x76.2mm F-34 gun (77 rounds), 2x7.62mm Degtyaryov light machine guns
Armor15-65mm
Crew4
Length6.68 m
Width3.00 m
Height2.45 m
Weight28.0 t
Speed53 km/h
Range400 km

Model 1943
MachineryOne 12-cylinder diesel model V-2 engine rated at 500hp
SuspensionChristie
Armament1x76.2mm F-34 gun (100 rounds), 2x7.62mm Degtyaryov light machine guns
Armor20-70mm
Crew4
Length6.68 m
Width3.00 m
Height2.45 m
Weight30.0 t
Speed53 km/h
Range465 km

Photographs

Soviet-built T-34 tank in Finnish service, date unknownT-34 Model 1940 tank, date unknownA German Tiger I heavy tank and a damaged Soviet T-34 medium tank, Russia, 1942Russian tanks A-8 (BT-7M), A-20, T-34 Model 1940, and T-34 Model 1941, date unknown
See all 42 photographs of T-34 Medium Tank



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Visitor Submitted Comments

1. Commenter identity confirmed Bill says:
21 Oct 2009 05:10:39 PM

First photo shows the T-34 Model 1940 this was a pre-production prototype vehicle. It is armed with the 76.2mm L-11. During World War II the T-34 was one of the most important weapons in the Red Army. At the time, when it was first fielded it was the finest tank in the world. Produced from 1941 to 1958 over 84,070 ere made plus 13,170 Self-Propelled Guns built on the T-34 chassis. In 2000 a T-34 was recovered from the bottom of a bog. The vehicle was restored to working order. The T-34 was in a class alone the design led the way for all future tanks. Some vehicles, are still used by Armies today It has been said,"That Quantity has a Quality all its Own".
2. Commenter identity confirmed Bill says:
24 Oct 2009 10:52:32 AM

The Russians known as the (sub-humans) could have designed and built the T-34, was a very nasty surprise to the Germans. It was crude, simple but reliable. Looking at the top ten tanks of World War II the T-34 is ranked as number 1
3. Commenter identity confirmed Bill says:
24 Oct 2009 11:20:54 AM

The Russians built over 50,000 of them during World War II alone. The T-34 was in service for years afterward. The U.S.S.R. exported over 10,000 to 40 countries. When the Cold War ended, 24 countries still used the T-34. The last known Combat action of the T-34,was in 1995 Serb T-34's attacked U.N. Peacekeepers. Although the T-34 is not in service with the Russian Army several dozen, are kept in operation for annual displays commemorating the end of World War II. Many T-34's remained in service with first and second line units, others for training however, as new tanks took the T-34's place they became targets on Soviet gunnery ranges during the 1960's and 1970's. If you have the money, you can buy your own T-34 the one-time eastern bloc governments, are selling just about everything, from Migs to Trucks. Have the ultimate off the road vehicle, and fun in the mud!
4. Commenter identity confirmed Bill says:
24 Oct 2009 01:12:37 PM

In September 2000 a T-34 resting on the bottom of a lake for 56 years near Johvi, Estonia has been salvaged with plans to restore the vehicle. Another T-34 was salvaged from marshlands in the Cherkassy region: Ukraine Bidders rush on T-34's even before the work of restoration starts bidding started at over 250,000 euros, what would the restored vehicle cost?
5. Commenter identity confirmed Bill says:
26 Mar 2010 04:36:39 PM

Its big,it had multi-turrets,it was Russian! The Russian T-35 Heavy Tank, was the Land- Battleship of its day. The vehicle was expensive at 525,000 rubles each or as much as nine BT Light Tanks. The T-35 was a multi-turret vehicle that carried five turrets, 1 x 76.2mm Main Gun, 2 x 45mm Secondary Guns, 5/6 7.62mm Machine Guns. Vehicle suffered from both engine and transmission problems, it was also slow and mechanically unreliable 90% of T-35's that were lost during Operation Barbarossa June 22,1941 were lost to mechanical failure, rather than to enemy fire. Total number of vehicles built 63, including the two prototypes. Today you can see one vehicle on display at the Kubinka Tank Museum, Moscow, Russia. The bigger the tank, the bigger the bang! Ammunition carried: 96 rounds / 1 x 76.2mm Main Gun 220 rounds /2 x 45mm Secondary Guns 10,000 rounds for / 7.6mm Machine Guns Speed 30 km/h Plus crew-side arms / rifles or submachine guns, and ammunition. Food, and other equipment that any combat crew would cram into the vehicle.
6. Commenter identity confirmed Bill says:
26 Mar 2010 07:57:33 PM

Another Russian Land Battleship,was the T-28 listed as a medium tank, this vehicle was also designed with three turrets, one turret carried 1 x 76.2mm Main gun, and 1 x 7.62mm Machine gun located in the back of the main turret, and another located on top of the main turret operated by the tank commander. Secondary turrets carried 1 x 7.62mm Machine guns each. Speed 23mph, crew six men the vehicle saw service during the war with Finland in 1940 and during the initial stages of the German invasion June 22, 1941. Another version was built as a Bridge layer and was armed with 2 x 7.62mm Machine guns.
7. Commenter identity confirmed Bill says:
29 Mar 2010 01:09:04 PM

The T-28 was designed to work with the T-35 both vehicles shared many of the same components. A total of 503 T-28's were built over an (8) eight year production run. At the time of the German invasion, the Red army had 400 T-28's in service. Production of the T-35 was (63) sixty three vehicles.
8. Commenter identity confirmed Bill says:
15 Apr 2011 08:24:34 PM

The T-28 first saw action during the Winter War against Finland. Served on all fronts during the first two years of World War II. Its last reported action was helping to break the blockade of Leningrad, winter of 1943/44

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T-34 Medium Tank Photo Gallery
Soviet-built T-34 tank in Finnish service, date unknown
See all 42 photographs of T-34 Medium Tank




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