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T-35 Heavy Tank

Soviet cogitations: 1350
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 04 Jan 2003, 15:32
Ideology: None
Post 28 Apr 2004, 15:51
T-35 Heavy Tank

During the interwar years the Red Army followed a policy of developing every size of tank imaginable so that by the outbreak of World War II as well as having thousands of light tanks in service they had one of (if not the) biggest tanks in service anywhere in the world. Unfortunately the T-35 proved to be rather disappointing. Having its origins in studies that were undertaken in 1930 the T-35 was strongly influenced by the design of the Vickers Independent, mainly in the form of being a multi-turreted design.

The first prototype rolled out of the Bolshevik factory in July 1932 and went on trials in Kubinka in April 1933. Immediately afterwards it went on display by featuring in the annual May Day parade and surprised the world with its great size and abundance of armament, which for the time, was considerable. By the years end and the first batch consisting of 10 units was completed though the early model used exactly the same main gun and turret as the T-28 tank. Later models replaced this and the other cylindrical turrets with turrets that had sloped and welded armour, giving better all round protection for the crew which was further facilitated by the increasing of the frontal armour thickness. However the main batch produced between 1935 and 1938 had a lengthened hull, which made steering considerably more difficult.

In all only 61 T-35s were completed and all of these vehicles served with the same tank brigade which was stationed just outside Moscow. Some T-35s went into action in the winter war with Finland and in practice, fire control over 5 turrets proved to be a difficult task for the commander. During the German invasion of Russia a hand full of T-35s saw action and were encountered by the Germans at Lvov in Poland (the East of which was Russian occupied), however, these tanks had run out of fuel. The rest were retained to defend Moscow, although whether any T-35 actually took part in the battles round Moscow in the winter of 1941/42 is unclear.


Crew: 11
Weight: 45,000 kg
Length: 9.72 m
Width: 3.20 m
Height: 3.43 m
Max speed (on road): 30 km/h
Engine: One M-17M V-12, petrol
(373 kW)
Power-to-weight ratio: 8.3 kW/tonne
Range: Road: 150 km
Vertical obstacle climb: 1.2 m
Gradient: 22.2 %
Trench crossing: 3.5 m
Main armament: 76.2 mm L/16 howitzer (center turret)
2 × 37 mm guns (later upgraded to 2 x 45mm L/46 guns)
Secondary armament: 4+ DT machineguns depending on the model
Armour: 11-30 mm
(frontal armour later upgraded to 52mm)

Weapon specifications

Ammunition carried
76.2mm L/16 howitzer : 96 rounds
2 × 37 mm guns : 220 rounds
DT machineguns : 10,000 rounds



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German troops pose next to a captured and damaged T-35. The capture of such huge tanks had considerable propaganda value.


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This view from above demonstrates the turret arrangement on the T-35. The 76.2 mm howitzer is in the centre turret and the 37 mm guns are diagonally opposite each other in the front right and rear left turrets. The two machine gun turrets are on the front left (not visible) and rear right.


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The great length of the T-35s hull made it a difficult tank to steer and easy to hit. Despite it's fearsome appearance the T-35 was no match for the German medium panzer tanks due to its light armour and armament.


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A T-35 on parade in the Red Square. What appears to be a hand rail around the main gun turret is in fact a radio aerial.


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Perhaps the best use of the T-35 was for Soviet propaganda. By keeping the few T-35 tanks stationed around Moscow they were able to make an impressive presence on military parade and give the appearance of Soviet armoured strength being greater than it really was.


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Pictured outside Tarnopol this T-35 was abandoned by its crew in the summer of 1941. Much Soviet equipment fell into Axis hands during the first months of the invasion, in this case, to the Slovakians.

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