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T-34 Medium Tank

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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 04 Jan 2003, 15:32
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Post 23 Apr 2004, 21:25
T-34 Medium Tank

"It was the most excellent example of the offensive weapon of Second World War." - General Mellentin.

"Their T-34 was the best in the world." - Field marshal Kleist.

Just two of many quotes that have praised the T-34 tank. This is a vehicle, which has become a legend as the tank that won The Great Patriotic War for the Soviet Union.

The T-34 tank was designed and built in the Kharkiv Tractor Factory in the Ukraine and the first T-34 tank was tested by successfully driving it 1,000 miles from Kharkiv to Moscow and back. Mass production began in July 1940 and 1,225 tanks were made before the German invasion came on the 22nd of June 1941. After the invasion production was transferred to East away from the threat of German bombing.

The T-34 was far superior to the German Panzers when it was introduced due to a variety of advanced concepts for tank design of the time. It featured a high velocity gun placing more emphasis on tank killing ability and its armour was very well sloped making it difficult to knock out. Also it had extra wide tracks, which improved mobility cross-country, and its diesel engine both gave it longer range and reduced the risk of fire.

The T-34 design evolved throughout the war: the T-34/76B had a rolled-plate turret; the T-34/76C had twin roof hatches instead of the one large hatch; from the winter of 1942/3 the T-34/76D introduced a hexagonal turret, wider gun mantlet and jettisonable exterior fuel tanks; the T-34/76E added a cupola on the turret for the commander and was of all welded construction; the T-34/76F Had a cast rather than welded turret; during the winter of 1943/4 production of the T-34/85 began and used the turret of the KV-85 tank which included an 85-mm main gun plus space for an additional crew member so the commander did not also have to fire the gun.

In combat the T-34 served in almost every role and with hand bars welded to the hull 'tank descent' troops were able to ride westwards with the advancing armour towards Hitler's Reich. Serving from the very beginning to the very end of the Great Patriotic War the T-34 changed not just the course of tank design but also the history of the planet through the actions of its crews.

After the Second World War the T-34 was widely exported and was still fighting in Africa in the 1980s. Then in the 1990s it saw action again in Europe (for hopefully the last time) during the Bosnian/Yugoslavian civil war - a true testament to a design that was half a century old.

Specifications (T-34/76A version)

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Crew: 4
Weight: 26,000 kg
Length: 5.92 m
Width: 3 m
Height: 2.44 m
Max speed: 55 km/h (on road)
Max range: 186 km (on road)
Engine: One V-2-34 V-12 diesel
(373 kW)
Power-to-weight ratio: 14.35 kW/tonne
Vertical obstacle climb: 0.71 m
Gradient: 38.9 %
Trench crossing: 2.95 m
Fording Depth: 1.37 m
Main armament: 76.2-mm L/30 gun
(Replaced by the more powerful 7.62-mm L/40)
Secondary armament: Two 7.62-mm machine guns
Armour: 18-60 mm

Specifications (T-34/85 version)

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Crew: 5
Weight: 32,000 kg
Length: 8.15 m (including gun)
Width: 3 m
Height: 2.60 m
Max speed: 55 km/h (on road)
Max range: 360 km
Main armament: 85-mm gun
Armour: 20-90 mm

Images

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The wide tracks of the T-34 meant that it was able to travel where German panzers would get bogged down; especially useful in Autumn when Russia's roads turned to mud.

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This particular T-34 stands eternally on guard at the Russian war memorial in Berlin and is one of two, which are each on a platform of about two metres high. The photograph was taken during the webmaster's visit in July 1993.

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Only slightly damaged and rolling on through the streets of Europe.

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The T-34 served not just as main battle tank to the red army but also as personnel carrier. Handles were welded to the sides of many T-34s so that 'tank decent' troops could ride with them and jump off one in battle, not only giving the infantry a free lift, but also affording the tank protection against enemy tank killer troops.

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A tank crew and accompanying infantry stand outside their vehicle, ready for inspection. The infantry here are well equipped for winter warfare.

The tanks in this photograph appear to be parked on some kind of matting. I have been informed that the matting would be to prevent the treads from freezing to the ground overnight or during the time that the tank is parked. The vehicle generates quite a bit of heat during operation and when parked this heat would tend to cause melted snow from the vehicle to puddle under the tracks and of course this would turn to ice rather quickly in these conditions.


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This T-34/85 on displays a slogan commonly seen on tanks during the Great Patriotic War "The Motherland" on the side of the turret.

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T-34/85s lines up with their crews, ready for inspection. Note the tank in the foreground has had its identification markings simply painted around with winter camouflage, rather than painted over and then remarked.

T-34/85 tanks in action in Korea.

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Chinese T-34/85 Tanks

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Founding day of P.L.A. tank command.

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