Military Patches

 

T-34 tank

T-34 tank Image
Detail Image
Detail Image

the T-34 was a Soviet medium tank which had a profound and permanent effect on the fields of tank tactics and design. It has often been described as the most effective, efficient, and influential design of World War II. At its introduction, the T-34 possessed the best balance of firepower, mobility, protection and ruggedness of any tank, although its initial battlefield effectiveness suffered from the unsatisfactory ergonomic layout of its crew compartment, scarcity of radios, and poor tactical employment. Its 76.2 mm (3 in) high-velocity gun was the best tank gun in the world at that time; its heavy, sloped hull armour was impenetrable by standard anti-tank weapons; and it was very agile. Though its armour and armament were surpassed later in the war, when the German Wehrmacht first encountered it in battle in 1941, German tank generals von Kleist and Guderian called it "the deadliest tank in the world."

The T-34 was the mainstay of Soviet armoured forces throughout World War II. The design and construction of the tank were continuously refined during the war to enhance effectiveness and decrease costs, allowing steadily greater numbers of T-34s to be fielded despite heavy losses. It was the most-produced tank of the war, and the second most-produced tank of all time, after its successor, the T-54/55 series.By the end of the war in 1945, the T-34 had replaced many light and heavy tanks in service. It accounted for the majority of Soviet tank production, and following the war it was widely exported. Its evolutionary development led directly to the T-54/55 series of tanks, built until 1981 and still operational as of 2013 and which itself led to the T-62, T-72 and T-90 tanks which, along with several Chinese tanks based on the T-55, form the backbone of many armies even today. In 1996, T-34 variants were still in service in at least 27 countries.

In 1939, the most numerous Soviet tank models were the T-26 infantry tank, and the BT series of fast tanks. The T-26 was slow-moving, designed to keep pace with infantry on the ground. The BT tanks were cavalry tanks, fast-moving and light, designed for manoeuvre warfare. Both were Soviet developments of foreign designs from the early 1930s; the T-26 was based on the British Vickers 6-Ton, and the BT tanks were based on a design from American engineer Walter Christie, featuring a unique high-speed suspension. Both were lightly armoured like their foreign counterparts, proof against small arms but not anti-tank rifles or 37 mm (1.46 in) anti-tank guns, but both were armed with a 45 mm (1.77 in) gun, which was a significant improvement.

During the Battle of Lake Khasan in July 1938 and the Battles of Khalkhin Gol in 1939, an undeclared border war against Japan, General Zhukov deployed nearly 500 T-26, BT-5 and BT-7 tanks against the Imperial Japanese Army (IJA). Although the IJA Type 95 light tanks had diesel engines, the T-26 and BT tanks did not. Their petrol engines, commonly used in tank designs by most nations at the time, often burst into flames when hit by IJA tank-killer teams using Molotov cocktails. Poor quality welds in the Soviet armour plates left small gaps between the plates, and flaming petrol from the Molotov cocktails easily seeped into the fighting compartment and engine compartment; portions of the armour plating that had been assembled with rivets also proved to be vulnerable. The Soviet tanks were also easily destroyed by the Japanese Type 95 tank's 37 mm gunfire, despite the mediocre performance of that gun, or "at any other slightest provocation." The use of riveted armour led to a problem called "spalling", whereby the impact of enemy shells, even if they failed to disable the tank or kill the crew on their own, would cause the rivets to break off and become projectiles inside the tank.

In 1937, before these battles with the Japanese Army, the Red Army had assigned engineer Mikhail Koshkin to lead a new team to design a replacement for the BT tanks at the Kharkiv Komintern Locomotive Plant (KhPZ). The prototype tank, designated A-20, was specified with 20 mm (0.8 in) of armour, a 45 mm (1.77 in) gun, and the new Model V-2-34 engine, using less-flammable diesel fuel in a V12 configuration designed by Konstantin Chelpan. It also had an 8×6-wheel convertible drive similar to the BT tank's 8×2, which allowed it to run on wheels without caterpillar tracks. This feature had greatly saved on maintenance and repair of the unreliable tank tracks of the early 1930s, and allowed tanks to exceed 85 kilometres per hour (53 mph) on roads, but gave no advantage in combat. By 1937-38, track design had improved and the designers considered it a waste of space and weight, despite the road speed advantage. The A-20 also incorporated previous research (BT-IS and BT-SW-2 projects) into sloped armour: its all-round sloped armour plates were more likely to deflect anti-armour rounds than perpendicular armour.

A-8 (BT-7M), A-20, T-34 Model 1940 and Model 1941
After the battles with the Japanese Army, Koshkin convinced Soviet leader Joseph Stalin to let him develop a second prototype, a more heavily armed and armoured "universal tank" which reflected the lessons learned in those battles, and could replace both the T-26 and the BT tanks. Koshkin named the second prototype A-32, after its 32 mm (1.3 in) of frontal armour. It had a L-10 76.2 mm (3 in) gun, and the same Model V-2-34 diesel.[3] Both were tested in field trials at Kubinka in 1939, with the heavier A-32 proving to be as mobile as the A-20. A still heavier version of the A-32, with 45 mm (1.77 in) of front armour, wider tracks, and a newer L-11 76.2 mm gun, was approved for production as the T-34. Koshkin chose the name after the year 1934 when he began to formulate his ideas about the new tank, and to commemorate that year's decree expanding the armoured force and appointing Sergo Ordzhonikidze to head tank production.

Valuable lessons from Lake Khasan and Khalkhin Gol regarding armour protection, mobility, quality welding, and main guns were incorporated into the new T-34 tank, which represented a substantial improvement over the BT and T-26 tanks in all four areas. Koshkin's team completed two prototype T-34s in January 1940. In April and May, they underwent a grueling 2,000-kilometre (1,200 mi) drive from Kharkiv to Moscow for a demonstration for the Kremlin leaders, to the Mannerheim Line in Finland, and back to Kharkiv via Minsk and Kiev. Some drivetrain shortcomings were identified and corrected.

Your Price:£5.00
3
1