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date of publication: 06-01-2013


Soviet Tank T-34

SECONDARY ARMAMENT

Soviet Tank: Tank Destroyer SU-85 1944

The first 115 Model 1940 produced had a rear-mounted DT gun in the turret. The gas-operated DP Model 1928 had an effective range of about 800m (880 yd) and fired at 600 rounds per minute (rpm). This was kept down to 12Srpm to avoid jamming and overheating, The DT had a retractable metal stock and wooden pistol grip, and used a separate optical sight rather than the tangent leaf sight of the infantry weapon. Its drum magazine held 60 rounds in two tiers. The 35 drums for the two machine-guns were stored half in racks at the back of the turret, and the other half forward in the hull near the hull gunner.

THE ENGINE

The engine mounted at the rear of the hull was flanked by cooling radiarors with a cooling fan in the centre. It was the V-type four-stroke 12-cyIinder, water-cooled diesel that had been developed for the BT-7M. The 3,8 litre (0,84 gallon) version fitted to the could produce an impressive 367kW (493 bhp) at 1800rpm and gave an excellent power-to-weight ratio of 14kW (18,8 bhp) per tonne (13,3 kW / 17,9 bhp per ton). This gave Soviet Tank T-34 a road speed of 54 km/h (34 mph) and a cross-country speed of 10-11,25 km/ h (16-25 mpb), depending on terrain, at an average 1,84 litres per km (0,65 gallons per mile). This improved considerably on the road. The V-2 also gave an increased range of operation of 464 km (290 miles) compared to tanks powered by conventional petrol internal combustion engines. The main fuel Soviet tank was in the hull, with four auxiliary cylinder tanks on the side of the hull and two smaller ones on the rear plate.

The transmission was at the rear, therefore the driving/fighting compart-ment was not cluttered by a drive train. The transmission proved troublesome early in the war: some crews carried spare transmissions secured to the engine compartment deck by steel cables.

Soviet Industrial Evacuation

Tank T-34: Medium Tank T-34/76D 1943-1944

The Soviet military revival of 1942-1943 in which the played stich a vital part was intrinsically linked to the recovery of the battered Soviet industrial economy. That there was any Soviet industry left to revive was due to the remarkable evacuation of machines, equipment, and manpower that took place before the German advance. The Soviet leadership showed considerable prescience by setting up a Committee of Evacuation two days after the bunching of Operation Barbarossa. As the situation worsened and the key industrial centres of Riga and Minsk were lost, the State Committee for Defence ordered Voznesensky, the Chairman of the Gosplan, to draw up a plan for a second line of industrial defence in the East and to organize a coherent productive combination between the industry already existing in the East and those transported. The plan envisaged the evacuation of industry to the Urals, Volga, Eastern Siberia and Central Asia. Priority was given to the armaments factories.

When describing this vast undertaking, however, coherence is not a word that springs immediately to mind. Engineers and workers dismantled their factories, hauled the machinery to a railhead and loaded it on to a waiting flatcar. Workers arrived without their equipment, equipment without its workers. Nonetheless, some 1.5 million wagonloads of evacuated industrial equipment were moved eastwards with the estimated 16 million Soviet citizens necessary to main it. Between July and December 1941, 1523 enterprises - the bulk of the western Soviet Unions iron, steel and engineering plants - were moved out of reach of the German invaders.

Every effort was made to marry evacuated plants with existing factories, but many industries had to set up in undeveloped areas and many of these were in the most inhospitable areas of the Soviet Union (). Soviet propaganda had little need to embellish the accounts of endurance and heroism involved in the establishment of these factories in temperatures of -40°C (-40°F), and there is to reason to doubt the newsreels' veracity.

Production Of The T-34 Tank Moves East

In August 1941 the Kharkov Locomotive Plant began to be evacuated to Nizhni Tagil. It was renamed the Uralvagon Plant No 183 and, married to the existing Chelyabinsk tractor works and the equipment from the Kirov Plant from Leningrad, the giant complex became Tankograd. The workforce was made up of women, old men and teenagers who laboured 12 to 16 hours a day on rations that were one-fifth of that of the British population. On average, this was merely 0,45kg (1lb) of bread and scraps of meat or fat, and this meagre ration would be supplemented by whatever food they could grow themselves.

Soviet Tank: Medium Tank T-34/85, the Red Army on 15 December 1943, (3.34in) ZiS S-53 gun

Although the efforts of the Soviet tank population were awe-inspiring, much of their production achievements were down to the talents of Morozov and the design team who moved to Nizhni Tagil with the rest of the Kharkov plant. The main aim of the team was to cut costs and make production by an unskilled labour force easier. V. Buslov and V. Nitsenko developed a cast turret that while similar in appearance to the welded turret, was altogether much more simple to manufacture.

This was adopted on both the Model 1940 and Model 1941 Tank T-34 that had either a cast- or welded turret, depending on where they were manufactured. Of the plants set up to take the slack as the Kharkov plam was moved eastwards, Krasnoye Sormovo at Gorki, near Moscow, was responsible for production of the tanks with the new cast turret, while the STZ Plant in Stalingrad continued to make the welded turrets.

The Model 1942, introduced in late 1941, was very similar to the previous model, apart from the fact that many of its components were simplified. For example, the F-34 gun on the Model 1941 had 861 parts, while on the Model 1942 the number was down to 614. They also managed to drive down the cost of producing the tank, so that it went down from 269,500 roubles in 1941 to 193,000 roubles in 1942.

Perhaps more important than any of these savings in materials, the man hours needed to produce a dropped from 8000 in 1941 to 3700. Admittedly craftsmanship also declined, but that did not matter, as the apparent crudity seems to have affected neither the protection afforded by the armour, nor the actual performance of the tank.

In the autumn of 1942. production at Stalin grad was closed down due to the heavy fighting in the city. Production was further extended in Tankograd. and the Ural Heavy Machine Tool Factory in Sverdlovsk was converted to production of . By now the Soviets were beginning to out-produce the Germans and wear them down through a terrible war of attrition.