Summary Of All T-34 Variants
As the Tank T-34 was produced from different factories, models and types varied. In August 1939, the Soviet Main Military Council accepted the T-34 as the Red Army's medium battle tank. The new design was completed during December 1939 and became known as the T-34 (Model 1940). On 19 December 1939, the drawings and models of the new T-34 were submitted to the High Command, which accepted them for production. even though the prototype had not yet been completed.
The first production-line models were fitted with V-2 diesel engines, but shortages meant that some of these early models were equipped with the older M-17 petrol engine. Problems with transmissions were such that the T-34/76 (Model 40) often went into battle tank with spare transmission units secured to the engine compartment deck by steel cables.
The Models 40 had a rolled plate turret and a short 76,2mm (3in) L/30,3 (L-11) Model 1938 tank gun mounted in a distinctive cast cradle welded to a flush outside mantle. The Model 40 established a standardization pattern among the tank T-34 variants of having a great number of interchangeable parts, such as engine, armament, transmission and periscopes. Mechanical simplicity was a prime concern. The hull was of a welded construction throughout, with only three different thickness of rolled plate armour.
The Christie suspension had five large, double road wheels on each side, with a noticeably larger gap between the second and third wheels. The drive sprocket, located for safety to the rear, was of the roller type used on the BT series and powered a cast manganese-steel track with centre guide horns on alter native track links. This first model or the T-34 had a distinctive turret overhang and a clumsy turret hatch occupying the entire rear part of the turret. The Model 40 had one periscope fitted on the front lefthand side. In late 1941, a small number were fitted with the long-barrelled, high-velocity 57mm (2,24in) ZiS-4 gun, to engage light armoured vehicles at greater ranges than the 76,2 mm (0.303 in) L-11.
T-34 (Model 1941)
The second model of the T-34 appeared in 1941 and was essentially a commander's Model 40 with a rolled plate turret mounting a more powerful Models 1940 76,2mm (3in) L/41,5 gun. The same clumsy turret hatch was retained, but some of these variants had twin periscopes. While there was no change in the layout of the hull, these commander's tanks had a stowage box on the righthand track guard. The most noticeable feature of the 1941 models was the replacement of the peculiar cast gun cradle by an angular, bolted type. During 1942, a model appeared with a cast turret and it also had new, wider tracks. Some were fitted with a flamethrower (ATO-41) and had an armoured fuel container on the rear plate of the hull.
T-34 (Model 1942)
In 1942 the cast turret (as opposed to rolled place) became standard in the Models 1942. The new turret weighed 4,4 tonnes (4,32 tons) and had a ring diameter of 1,38m (4,6ft). The Model 1942 had various improvements, taking into account reports from the battlefield. The commander and gunner now had separate hatches, and a new hull machine-gun mounting made the 7,62mm (0,3in) DT machine gun more effective in close-quarter battle.
In early 1942 a team designed a new T-34, the T-34M, with a chassis similar to the KV tank (with smaller road wheels), and a completely new hull and turret layout. However, this tank was not accepted for production, and only the hexagonal shape to the T-34/M turret was retained for the next variant of the T-34 tank, the T-34/76 Models 1943.
As discussed earlier, the T-34 Models 1943 was manufactured in response to battlefield reports which showed that one drawback of the current T-34 tank design was the turret overhang at the rear that was vulnerable to attack by Teller mine-armed infantry tank-hunters. The new, cast hexagonal turret with no overhang became the Models 1943 and included other changes, such as improved fuel capacity and welded armour plate components.
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