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Weapons of World War Two

T-34/76D medium tank

T-34/76D medium tank

In the combats happened in Russia between June and July of 1941, the tankers of the Wehrmacht saw their overwhelming advance hampered by a new type of tank against which the normal weapons seemed totally powerless. The new armored element was a tank of rather low silhouette, with large driving wheels characteristic of the tanks with suspension type "Christie", which the Soviets had already used in the BT 7. The armor was solid and the firepower notable. Also regarding speed and maneuverability no German tank in service could compete with the newcomer.

A movement of panic ran between the German generals, who applied strong pressures to accelerate the production pace of the new tanks "Tiger" and "Panther", true technical marvels, but until December 1942 it was impossible to obtain them. If the Germans did not suffer a clear defeat was thanks to the inexperience of the Russian tankers, to the poor quality of some sectors of the Soviet industry which sometimes delivered defective components and, above all, to the lack on the Soviet side of a modern mindset and a proper technique on the employment of tanks. If the "purges" of Stalin had not cut the wings (and specially the brain) of the Soviet Armed Forces, probably already at that time the war would have taken a different aspect.

But in those moments the new tanks T-34, for this was their denomination, used in small groups and little by little in the vain attempt of stopping the German war machine, would not be able to do more than fighting while withdrawing as slowly as possible. Many T-34 captured during the advance were fruitfully reused in combat by the Germans, who showed appreciation for the gifts of this coarse but very effective tank. But returning to its history, the first exemplars, coming from the locomotive factories at Kharkov, should have been used in Finland, but the war with this country ended before they could arrive to the front. Hence they were sent to the tank schools, but their existence was kept in the most absolute secrecy, as it proves the surprise from the Germans, generally very well informed about the weapons of their adversaries.

Of low profile, with a hull made of welded plates, of very "polished" surface that tended to divert the incoming projectiles or to resist their impact, the T-34 had a Diesel engine of 12 cylinders in V of modern conception. Its operational range allowed for a reasonable utilization. Over the first cannon installed, a Model 38 of 76.2/30.5, it was soon preferred the Model 40 of 76.2/41.2. The armament, apart from some special tanks, continued being always standard: one 76.2-millimeter cannon and two 7.62-millimeter machine guns. Many parts of the tank, according to the unification norms of the Red Army, were interchangeable with the ones from the primitive KV heavy tank.

The T-34, which entered service before the outbreak of the war in Russia, fought effectively during the entire conflict, becoming a bit of a symbol of the Red Army, but also its operative life would last for many years and it would be employed by all the armed forces of the countries aligned with the Communist Bloc.

Year: 1942

Weight: 31 tonnes

Length: 6.59 meters

Width: 2.98 meters

Height: 2.65 meters

Ground clearance: 31 centimeters

Maximum armor: 70 millimeters

Engine: Diesel V-2-34 of 500 horsepower

Maximum speed on road: 50 kilometers/hour

Maximum speed on countryside: 40 kilometers/hour

Operational range on road: 290 kilometers

Operational range on countryside: 201 kilometers

Crew: 4

Armament: One 76.2-millimeter cannon; two DT29 7.62-millimeter machine guns

Ammunitions: 77 of 76.2 millimeters; 2394 of 7.62 millimeters

Maximum surmountable trench: 2.50 meters

Maximum surmountable step: 0.71 meters

Maximum surmountable slope: 30 degrees

Fording: 1.31 meters

Also in Weapons of World War Two:

SU-100 tank destroyerVL MyrskyCromwell cruiser tank