T-34, which were and which could be

Tank T-34-76 mod. 1940 of the year. It all started with such and such tanks … A short cannon (so as not to interfere with breaking walls!), A two-man tower with one hatch for two. The very first and almost the earliest of his design, not counting the experienced images

About tanks with love. Today we again go to our tank freak show, but the purpose of our “trip” will be just one tank. But what a! Our T-34 is a tank that everyone has probably heard of, and without mention of which one book about the Second World War, neither in our country nor in the West, can do. “Their T-34 was the best in the world!” This was not said by anyone, but by a German general. And this is probably the most serious praise for the tank.

And this is how he looked from all sides. Fig. M. Shmitova

Our tank freak show: T-34, which were and which could be

Despite the war, very interesting books were published in the USSR. In particular, Drozhzhin’s book “Land Cruisers”. What is it good for? After all, it seems that then they did not write about many things … The good thing is that, like many Soviet books for young people, it was written in an excellent, understandable and accessible language. So these books were understandable to the student and interesting to the academician! Therefore, I will give advice to those who today decide to write about tanks: start by reading the books of your predecessors, and this is a must!

And here is Beskurnikov’s book. There is one funny blooper there, but we will tell about it sometime in another material.

The book “Knights of Armor” is interesting in that it tells about the profession of a tank tester


I learned about this tank a long time ago. In Soviet times, his images and sections were in the magazine “Young Technician”, and “Modelist-Constructor”, and “Science and Life”, and even … in the magazine “Murzilka”. It was told about him in the book by O. Drozhzhin “Land Cruisers” (1942), and in the book by A. Beskurnikov “Strike and Defense” (1974), and in the book by N. Ermolovich “Knights of Armor” (1976. ), and I. Shmelev’s “Tanks in Battle” (1984), and, of course, in his “History of a Tank (1916-1996)” (1996). And these are only the most, so to speak, popular publications. And there were, after all, special monographs (perfectly published) by a number of other, very competent authors, such as M. Kolomiets, author of the book “T-34. The first complete encyclopedia ”(2013).

A very modern and beautifully designed book by M. Kolomiets

This book is also framed with photographs and drawings, many of which are taken from our “tank freak show”. Edition 2017

Well, this is an example of how not to republish books. The same publisher, but the year 2019 … Look closely at the author’s name. Moreover, everything is correct inside the book, in the annotation. And now we are still wondering why Hitler’s soldiers flaunt on our posters dedicated to the 75th anniversary of Victory! Over time, many show a devil-may-care attitude … Hence the photos are not the same, and the names are also

Books about him were also published abroad. For example, the well-known American specialist in the field of BTT Stephen Zaloga in 1994 at the Osprey Publishing published a book in the New Avant-garde series: T-34/76 Medium Tank 1941–45 (New Vanguatd 9), followed by followed by a sequel: “T-34-85 Medium Tank” (New Vanguatd 20)


In a word, there are so many books about the T-34, including even his participation in the Korean War and the conflict in Croatia, that it is time to write a full-fledged historiographic review about them, but it is unlikely that anyone will need it today.

Revell model 1:76


For modelers, the T-34 models are produced by the most famous model firms, including Tamiya, Revell and our Zvezda, of course. And on a very different scale. From 1: 100 to 1:10 and 1: 6! That is, there is a lot of information on this tank, and the most diverse.

Tamiya model 1:35

In 1942, many tanks received not only additional armor for the turret, which, as it turned out, was most often hit by German shells, but also wheels without rubber coating, since there was a catastrophic lack of rubber in the USSR. The rumble that these tanks made was heard from afar … However, they also fought! Fig. Shmitova


But among all this undoubted wealth, there is a place for our collection.

Note that during the war years, technology is being improved very quickly. Compare the T-34 mod. 40 years old and this one – 1942. The hull remained practically unchanged, but a new hexagonal turret appeared on the tank, nicknamed the “nut” (there was a cast and welded version, but there was a great series of articles about welding of tank armor on “VO” recently!). For two round hatches on the roof, the Germans nicknamed him “Mickey Mouse”

Model 43 received the commander’s cupola, although there were still two people in the turret. But on the other hand, at least on the march, the vehicle commander could now have a circular view.

Already at the very beginning of the war, it became clear that the T-34 armor was still thin and it would be nice to increase its thickness. A stream of letters poured into the relevant authorities with suggestions on how best to do this. The factories have also begun work on additional booking. It has been observed that armor that is at some distance from the main armor protects better. Here is one of these projects of a tank with spaced armor.

The Germans, who captured many T-34 tanks, also used them and also strengthened their armor by shielding

On some tanks, they installed commander’s turrets from T-III and T-IV tanks. Fig. M. Shmitova

Options for cutting armor plates for additional armor of T-34 tanks in 1941-1942.


However, in the end, a simpler scheme of additional booking of the tank won by welding additional plates of armor onto the frontal armor of the hull. It is known that the thickness of the armor on the frontal projection was 45 mm. Thus, having welded on a sheet with a thickness of only 10 mm, we get a total thickness of 55 mm, and if 15, then in the end there will be all 60 (booking of an experienced T-46-5 tank). Well, the 20-mm plate gave a total of 75 mm, that is, the armor of the T-34, according to this indicator, correlated with the armor of the KV tank. However, the factories did not always have armor plates of the required thickness, and then the “sandwich” armor was invented: 10 + 5 + 5 + 45 – that was 75 mm. Even armor plates with a thickness of 35 mm were installed, that is, such a tank received 80-mm frontal armor! True, such a reservation increased weight, pressure on the front rollers and suspension springs, but, nevertheless, they put up with it. And the lifespan of our tanks on the battlefield was so short that the suspension did not have time to wear out!

T-34 with hatches on the sides


But in this figure, we see four projections of the T-34, which are not quite ordinary in appearance. It seems to be a tank of the 1941 model, but some not like that. And this is, so to speak, a tank of the “IF” (“If only …”) brand, representing the author’s imagination on the topic of improving the original sample. Many tankers complained that the hatch on the front armor plate was a bad solution. Often the tank was hit by shells through the hatch, especially of a large caliber. One of the possible solutions to this problem could be the use of a solid armor plate without a cutout for the hatch, but only with two narrow slots (the tradition of those years!) For observation and with three periscopes on the roof of the hull. But the hatches could well have been placed on the sides of the hull, as the British did on many of their tanks, in particular, on the Valentine tank.

T-34 model 1941 with hatches on the roof of the hull


But the T-34IF tank with a modified slope of the frontal armor and an increased width of the hull with a reverse slope of the side armor plates of the hull, covered with another layer of thinner armor with hatches for inventory in the area of ​​the fenders. Such a scheme would make it possible to move the turret a little back and place hatches, the driver and the radio operator on the roof of the hull on the left and right. Which, in principle, was then done on the T-44 tank, although its side armor plates did not tilt.

T-34 model 1942 with hatches on the roof of the hull


In this figure, the width of the tank’s hull is left the same, but the slope of the front armor plate of the hull has been changed. Accordingly, this would make it possible to mark both hatches on the roof of the hull, that is, to provide each crew member with their own hatch. Since the slope of the armor would be reduced in this case, this disadvantage could be compensated for by increasing the thickness of the armor plate to 52 mm. This was the slope of the frontal armor that was on the American Sherman tanks (51/56 °). That is, the Americans considered such armor to be quite sufficient for their medium tank. It would have protected our tank just as well, but the convenience of the driver and gunner on it would have increased in a very noticeable way.

Here it must be borne in mind that the analysis of damage to the frontal armor showed that its slope leads to a ricochet of shells only if the caliber of the projectile is not more than the thickness of the armor, that is, for German guns these are 37 and 50 mm calibers maximum. But with an increase in caliber, the probability of a projectile ricochet from an inclined sheet decreases very quickly. For shells of 88 mm caliber, the sloped armor of the T-34 hull had practically no effect on its armor resistance. On the other hand, an armor plate located at an angle of 60 ° to the vertical is practically equal to an armor plate of double thickness: 1 / cos (60 °) = 2, which makes it possible to rationally cover the internal volume with the armor and reduce the total weight of the armor on the tank. That is, the less the armor is tilted, the better, in principle, but a tilt of 52 ° with a thickness of 52 mm can be considered almost optimal. And besides, hatches from above!

T-34-85 with D5T cannon


It is known that during the war years, two modifications of the T-34/85 tank were produced: with the 85-mm D-5T cannon (early version) and the same caliber ZIS-S-53 cannon, which was considered more convenient to use and technologically advanced in production. … But since the D-5T was ready earlier, they began to put it on the tanks first.

T-34-85 with spaced armor


The use of cumulative ammunition by the Germans at the end of the war again led to the need to equip tanks with spaced armor. Here is one of the projects of such additional booking. But, as always, the projects were in one place, and the tanks were in another, so our tankers had to “armour” their tanks with bed nets and gratings from the garden fences. There are photos in which such tanks can be seen, but in our freak show, their drawings, unfortunately, are absent.

PS The administration of the site and the author would like to express their sincere gratitude to A. Sheps, the author of the illustrations for “Panopticon”, and also to M. Shmitov for the BTT drawings.

To be continued…

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