T-34/76 Models 1942 and Models 1943 with the Estonian 45th Uksik Tanki Polk, 8th Estonian Infantry Corps in May 1943.
T-34/76 Medium Tank Gun ammunition stowage, forward fighting compartment: RAC Tank Museum
T-34/76 Medium Tank driver compartment: RAC Tank Museum
T-34/76 Medium Tank's fighting compartment: RAC Tank Museum
T-34/76 Medium Tank from the side:
T-34/76 Medium Tank from the front:
Dragon Armor of T-34/76:
Engineer M. I. Koshkin (died on September 26, 1940, after catching pneumonia during a test drive of the T-34) became chief designer at the Kharkov Locomotive Factory in November 1937.1,3,6,9,10,11 He graduated from one of institutes of technology in Leningrad in 1934.6,11 While a student he participated in the design of the T-29, a wheel and track tank, and was awarded the Order of the Red Star for his work.6,11
He started to build a wheel/track medium tank that had shell safe armor. This became the A-20.6,7,11 Work on it continued into 1938. However Koshkin wasn't satisfied with the wheel and track feature and another project for a medium tanks was started.6,11 It was initially designated the A-32 and then later changed to T-32.7 It had a 76.2 mm gun whereas the A-20 had a 45 mm gun.6 The armor was also thicker.6
On December 19, 1939, the People's Commissariat for Defense released the T-32 to the Red Army and was soon designated the T-34.2,3
In April 1942 Koshkin was awarded the State Prize, First Class posthumously.6 His assistant, Aleksandr Aaleksandrovich Morozov, finished the final design. Morozov did the transmission system6, and Nikolai Alekseevich Kucherenko and M. I. Tarshinov designed the hull and armor plating.6,9,11Morozov and Kucherenko were awarded the State Prize, First Class for their work.6,11
Many of the early models were rushed to production and had mechanical defects.2 The War Department again examined the viability of the design.2 This resulted in a redesigning of the tank and was designated the T-34 M.2 On May 5, 1941, the Council of People's Commissars ordered 2,800 to be built in the coming year.2
Once the invasion of Russia occurred production was rushed and sometimes resulted in defects.2,7 With the immediate need of tanks to fight the Germans, the T-34 M project was stopped.2
At beginning of war the company commander's tank had a 71-TK-3 transmitter/receiver installed.1 In 1941 and 1942 this was replaced by the 71-TK-1 and in 1942 by the 9-R radio.1 These had a range of about 5 miles / 8 km.1 Inside the tank a TUP inter-phone system was used.1 The crew had a Tankobyi Shlem (cloth helmet) that contained the earphones and also had a throat mike.1
By the summer of 1943 around 75 - 80% of tanks had radios.1
The engine, which was same one as in the BT-7M, had the cooling radiators on the sides, a cooling fan in the center, and the transmission at the rear.1,11 The rear deck of the T-34 was raised to contain the cooling vents and engine access plates.1 The exhaust pipes were on the sides.1 The cover plate for the engine was fastened by screws that could be removed for maintenance.1
Fuel was located in the angled portions of the hull side. The hull of the T-34 had the main fuel tank with four cylinders on the side of the hull and two smaller cylinders on the plate in the rear.1
The front compartment and the engine compartment of the T-34 had a single bulkhead in between.1
The driver of the T-34 used two steering levers, a gear change lever, a manual clutch, and foot brakes to drive the T-34.1 These controls linked to the transmission by metal rods that went along the floor of the hull.1 These were sometimes difficult to operate and drivers sometimes had a mallet to unstuck them.1
The T-34 also had a fuel injection pedal located with the clutch and brake pedals.1 There was a Desantov pedal that would, when pressed, immobilize the T-34.1
In cold weather the engines were assisted in starting by a couple of compressed air bottles at the feet of the driver.1
The original four speed gearbox was replaced by a five speed in the last 100 T-34 Model 1934s.1
There was no turret basket in the T-34, but there were stools, that the loader and commander sat on, suspended from the turret ring.1 The commander was on the left, and the loader/gunner was on the right.1
As the turret of the T-34 was low, it restricted the depression of the main armament.1 This in turn limited the T-34 in being positioned on the reverse slope of a hill.1
The early turrets had a large hatch that opened to towards the front.1 To see around the hatch, the commanders would sometimes sit on top of the turret roof which was dangerous when near the enemy.1 The T-34 Model 1934 used a separate hatch for the commander and loader.1
In June 1941 a cast turret was successfully developed that was easier to produce by an unskilled workforce.1,2 It was made in 2 halves and then welded together.2 The previous turret was rolled armor plates.2 There was an overhang at the rear where the Germans learned that they could place a Tellar mine to blow of the turret.1,6,9
In 1942 cast turrets and steel plates to help deflect shots between the turret and the hull were introduced. In the winter of 1942-43 a hexagonal turret was produced.1 In the summer of 1943 a cylindrical commander's cupola was installed.
The commander aimed the gun by a TOD-6 telescopic sight in the early production models.1 This was later replaced by the TMFD sighting scope.1 General viewing was done by a PT-6 panoramic periscopic sight in early models and then by the PT-4-7 or PT-5 on later models.1
Nikolai Kucherenko designed the T-34's hull to have sloping sides and to overhand the tracks.1 The plate was homogeneous rolled steel plate and welded together.1
The hull front had the driver's hatch on the left and a ball mounted 7.62 mm DT Degtyarev machine gun installed on the right.1 There was a periscope in the hatch for the driver.1
The hull gunner / radio operator sat on the right and had an escape hatch in the floor located in front of him.1
One of the first items to be changed was the main gun.2 Factory No. 92 in Gorki begin in July 1940 to design a new gun called the F-34.2 Early in 1941 it went into production.2 The development of the T-34 M hadn't continued so the gun was installed in the old-type T-34 in February 1941.2
There were two 7.62 mm DT MGs.9V. A. Degtyarev was it's designer.9
76.2 mm Model 40, L/41.58
76.2 mm F-34 Model 1940, L/421
76.2 mm L/41.211
76.2 mm, L/41.56
The ammunition bins were covered with matting to prevent them being accidentally opened. Most of the MG ammo was stored in racks in the rear of the turret and some in the fighting compartment.
Initially the main armament of the T-34 was the 76.2 mm L-11 Model 1938 L/30.5.1 The 76.2 mm F-32 L/42 was being installed into the KV-1 at the time, but due to bureaucracy and interference by Kulik, it wasn't installed by P. Muraviev until the end of 1940.1 The Zavod Nr 92 began manufacturing the L-11s alongside the F-34 and shipped them to the factory in Kharkov to be installed in the T-34.1 The T-34/76 Model 1941 first rolled out with the F-34 in February 1941.1
With the invasion of the Soviet Union by the Germans, the F-34 armed T-34s were being requested more by the frontline units.1Stalin learned of these "unauthorized" T-34s and ordered that the F-34 equipped T-34s be finally authorized for production for all subsequent models in the summer of 1941.1
The F-34 gun had a semi-automatic breech that could be fired by the commander by hand or a foot pedal.1
On the hull side beside the loaders feet were three rounds of ammunition.1 On the wall beside the commander were six rounds.1 The rest was located in the floor covered by neoprene matting.1
Comparison of Main Tank Armament Performance
The T-34 had a Christie type chassis.1 There were five large road wheels with a gap between the 2nd and 3rd.1 Each of the wheels used vertical coil springs that were inside the hull.1 The idler was in the front with the drive sprocket in the rear.1
The tracks on the T-34 had horns on alternate links in the center to guide them around the wheels.1 To links were connected by a pin inserted from the inside that would hit against a plate on the side of the hull, near the rear, that would hit the pins as the track went around and knock them back into place.1 This method of joining the links facilitated easier maintenance in the field as it was much easier to remove and remount the tracks.1
The T-34 had tank guards that extended 9.8" / 25 cm beyond the front and 3.9" / 10 cm at the rear of the hull.1
In February and March 1940, 2 of the first test models participated in an 1,800 mile test drive from Kharkov to Smolensk to Minsk to Kiev and finally to Moscow.1,2,3,6,9,11 These were shown to the Russian leadership on the cobblestone pavement at the Kremlin.2 They passed all tests and production was ordered.2 The prototypes were sent to Finland to be tested against the Mannerheim Line, but they arrived too late to see action.1 The main armament was test fired against captured bunkers.1 More trials were conducted at Minsk, then Kiev, and then back at Kharkov.1
The Kharkov factory ended production of the BT-7 and converted to T-34s.2
In June 1940 the design drawings were completed.1 The T-34 Model 1940 first rolled off the production line in Kharkov in June 19406,9 / July 19402 / September 1940.1
In August 1941 the Kharkov Locomotive Plant was moved to the Uralmashzavod (Ural Machine Building Plant) in the Urals and merged with the Nizhni Tagil auto factory.1,2 The Chelyabinsk tractor works, along with the equipment from the Kirov Plant from Leningrad were merged with the Nizhni Tagil factory to become the Uralvagon Plant No 183.1 Many women, teenagers, and old men worked 12 - 16 hours a day on food rations that consisted of 1 lb / 0.45 kg of bread and scraps of meat supplemented by what they could grow.1
The Krasnoye Sormovo plant at Gorki produced T-34s with cast turrets.1 The STZ Plant in Stalingrad produced turrets that were welded.1
From June to September 1942, the Stalingrad Tractor Factory (Zerzhinski Tractor Works6) was the main supplier of T-34s.2
During 1942 the Ural Heavy Machinery Company Ordshonikidse in Sverdlovsk started to produce T-34s.2 The Ural-Kirov Tank Factory in Chelyabink was setup by the People's Commissariat for the Tank Industry to produce T-34s.2 It was later known as Tankograd.2,6,9 There were a total of 8 large tank factories, 6 factories produced hulls and turrets, and 3 produced engines.
In June 1941, there were 1,225 that had been produced.
T-34/76D, T-34/76 Model 1943: Hexagonal turret and wider mantlet, plus external jettisonable fuel tanks. Thicker armor up to 70 mm. 30.9 tons. Two hatch covers in top of turret, that when open, led to it being nicknamed "Mickey Mouse" by German soldiers.
T-34/76E: Cupola added to turret and all welded construction.1,7
T-34/76F: Cast turret7 with no cupola, 5 speed gear.1 Only 100 built as production switched to T-34/85.
T-34M: Prototype.1 Was to use torsion bar suspension that was found on the KV-1.1 Was cancelled when realized this would disrupt production.1
ATO-41: Hull machine gun was replaced by a flame-thrower.1 Based on the T-34/76B.1,3
ATO-42, OT-34 1943: Hull MG was replaced by an AT-41 or ATO-42 flame-thrower.2 Based on the T-34/76D. Flame fuel was doubled to 100 liters of oil.2 Weighed 30.9 tons.2
TT-34: Turret replaced by a boom and winch to be used as tank recovery vehicle. Reached troops in 1944. 30 tons.
T-34-MTU: Bridgelayer with rigid bridge that was deployed by pivoting about a roller attached to the front. Some had A or scissors type, wooden, or fascines.
T-34-PT34: PT-3 mine rollers attached to front.2 Removal speed was 10 - 18 kph.2
Some models were sent to fight in the Finno-Russian war, but they arrived too late to be put into combat.
First put into battle against the Germans in June 1941 at Grondno in Byelorussia.
After the initial losses to the Germans the T-34s were formed into independent tank battalions, brigades, and regiments. Tank regiments had 3 companies, one of which had T-34s. Tank brigades that were formed in December 1941 had one company composed of T-34s. The heavy tank company had KVs and the light company had T-26s.
General G. Blumentritt said
"This tank adversely affected the morale of the German infantry."11
General Heinz Guderian
"The officers at the front were of the opinion that the T-34 should simply be copied, since this would be the quickest way of putting to rights the most unhappy situation of the German Panzer troops."11
Major-General F.W. von Mellenthin said
"In 1941 we had nothing comparable with the T-34 . . . they then played a great part in saving the Russian capital."11
Field Marshal von Kleist said
"Their T-34 tank was the finest in the world."11
Production at the Zerzhinski Tractor Works continued during the attack on Stalingrad in late 1942 and early 1943.6,11 Often the tanks would go straight from the production lines and go into battle.1,6,11 Some of these T-34s would not have the scopes for the gunner installed and had to be aimed by looking down the barrel.1 There are some claims that some of the women workers drove some of these tanks into battle.6,11