Sunday, January 29, 2012


T-34/76 and T-34/85
KhPZ  Kharkov Locomotive Factory
C L I C K     T O     E N L A R G E

The Germans launched Operation Barbarossa and invaded Russia in June, 1941.  It didn't take long for them to encounter the Soviet's new medium tank, the T-34.  It quickly proved to be superior to anything the Germans had on the battlefield.  German armor maintained the initiative, though,  because of better tactics, training and experience as well as the fact the T-34 was new and few were available.   
Picture:  2060 x 889 at 300 dpi - Multimania

Entered Service:                    1940

Crew:                                      4

Armament:                            1 - 76.2 mm / 3 in L41 gun
                                               2 - 7.62 mm / 0.3 in machine guns

Armor:                                  65 mm / 2.56 in maximum

Dimensions -
Length:                                6.09 m / 20 ft
Height:                                 2.57 m / 8 ft 5 in - over turret hatch
Width:                                  2.88 m / 9 ft 5.5 in

Weight:                               31,390 kg / 30.9 tons

Engine:                               V234 V-12 diesel 
                                            373 kW / 500 hp

Performance -
Road Speed:                     53 km/h / 33 mph
Range:                               430 km / 267 miles

By the time of the armored clash at Kursk the Russians had learned to use the T-34 to its fullest potential.  Germany prematurely introduced its newest medium tank at Kursk, the Panther, and many of them broke down because of mechanical problems.  The Panther was Germany's response to the T-34 and Hitler felt it necessary to get it into the field despite being warned it wasn't ready.      
Picture:  800 x 612 at 150 dpi - WW II Total

The graphic above shows the T-34 with its rubber-rimmed road wheels.  There was a period in 1943 when the tank had all metal wheels because of a shortage in rubber.  This created harmonic vibrations damaging to the engine and other parts.  As a compromise the first and fifth wheels were rubber rimmed to solve the problem.  
Picture:  750 x 432 - SM Cars

The above turret is actually the new, larger one but it remains barely room for two.  The Germans mocked its rough, no frills manufacturing but its simple design meant it could be produced in great volume, easily maintained and repairable in the field.  Its one weakness in an otherwise robust vehicle was its unreliable transmission.  
Picture:  800 x 600 - Big Scale Models

The early T-34 had one hatch unlike this later model which has one each for the commander and the loader.  This version also has an upgraded 76 mm gun with a longer barrel and higher muzzle velocity.  The main German tanks of 1941, the Pz III and the Pz IV, could be knocked out by the T-34 at a thousand meters whereas the German guns of 50 mm and 75 mm hadn't the power to penetrate the T-34's thick armor unless up close.
Picture:  800 x 622 - WW II Total

The T-34 received the more powerful 85 mm gun in 1944 to counter the increased armor protection of Germany's new Tiger and Panther tanks.  Eleven thousand of these tanks would be produced in 1944 and the T-34/85 would remain the Soviet Union's standard medium tank through the Korean War.  
Picture:  800 x 530 - War Is Over

Entered Service:                    1944

Crew:                                       5

Armament:                              1 - 85 mm L/51 gun
                                                 2 - 7.62 mm machine guns

Armor:                                     18 mm to 60 mm

Dimensions -
Length:                                    7.5 m / 24 ft 7 in - including gun
Height:                                    2.39 m / 7 ft 10 in
Width:                                     2.92 m / 9 ft 7 in

Weight:                                   32,000 kg / 70,547 lb

Engine:                                   1 - V-2 12 Cylinder water-cooled diesel
                                                 500 hp at 1,800 rpm

Performance -
Road Speed:                        50 km/hour / 31 mph
Range:                                   300 km / 186 miles
Vertical Obstacle:                 0.79 m / 2 ft 7 in
Trench:                                   2.49 m / 8 ft 2 in
Gradient:                                60 percent

Mikhail Koshkin was the chief designer of the legendary T-34.  Prior to the Russian Revolution he had been a candy maker but afterward he received a technical education and proved to be a brilliant engineer.  He had to fight powerful political opposition to win the contract over a competing tank design.  
Picture:  768 x 1133 - Kharkiv Morozov Machine Building

For the cost of a German Panther you could build two T-34s.  In 1943 it cost $25,470 and required 3,000 man hours to complete a T-34.  The Panther cost $51,600 and consumed 55,000 man hours.  Careful German engineering was not the strategy best suited for the battlefield on the Eastern Front.  It's also safe to say armor did not win or lose the war for either side.  The differences in armored fighting vehicles were in no way significant enough to compensate for other military and political decisions.       
Picture:  700 x 462 - Missing Lynx   

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