Introduction of the T-34
Produced from 1940 to 1958, the T-34 was a medium tank that was the bulwark of the Soviet Union during the Cold War of World World II. The design of the tank was widely credited as the most efficient and influential in World War II and was to become most-produced tank of the war and the second most-produced tank of all time.
When it was first introduced, it was attributed as the tank with the most balanced firepower, mobility and defense even though its effectiveness in the battlefield was hindered by flaws such as its disappointing crew compartment layout, a two-man turret design and poor tactical employment, which only served to prove that it could not match up to the capabilities of the German Panzer III and Panzer IV tanks.
However, the T-34 had excellent cross-country mobility credited to its broad tracks and a powerful 500hp diesel engine. Its mobility provided for an added advantage over the Panzers which had narrow tracks and high ground pressure, especially in snowy and muddy conditions that characterized much of the war on the Eastern Front. Soviet troops were adept at attacking under the most adverse weather conditions which often caught the enemy by surprise.
Introduction of the T-34-85
Improvements to the design of the tank were continuously applied to enhance its effectiveness and lower production costs during the war, thus yielding an increased number of T-34s. In early 1944, the improved T-34-85 was introduced with a more powerful 85 mm gun and a three-man turret design.
During the Battle for Hube Pocket on the Ukrainian/Romanian border, the T-34-85 was first put into action in late March 1944. The tank was notably superior to the PzKpfw, which was a commonly used German tank during that period and could stand its ground against the Panther in terms of capabilities. Although they were limited in numbers, they were well received by the troops of First Tank Army because of its potential.
By the end of May 1944, there were just 304 Panthers at the Eastern Front which by then, the T-34-85 was being produced at a rate of over 1,000 per month.
During the Korean War, the first U.S tanks to clash with North Korean forces were M24 Chaffes that were outclassed by the heavier T-34-85s. The T-34-85 proved to be highly effective in the initial communist offensive as South Korean troops had few antitank weapons beyond simple bazookas. Approximately 250 T-34-85s were deployed but almost all were destroyed.
View T-34 renders.
View T-34-85 renders.