Right side view of a T-34/85 tank on display at a museum at Darkovičky, Czechia.
Source: DarkenJay - © CC BY-SA 4.0
The T-34 is a World War 2 era medium tank of Soviet origin and is one of the most iconic tanks ever produced. The T-34 was designed shortly before World War to and was used in enormous quantities during the war. Even after the war the T-34 with 85mm gun was used for many years, mainly by export customers since it was soon replaced by the T-55 in Soviet service. The T-34 was not the best tank in World War 2, but due to its qualities combined with low production cost it became the most influential one. The T-34 influenced tank design around the world.
The T-34 has a conventional layout and is characterized by its angular hull and Christie suspension. The driver and bow gunner are seated side by side in the front of the hull and the rest of the crew in the turret. Then engine is located at the rear and often external fuel tanks are carried at the rear hull. The original models with 76mm cannon featured a smaller two man turret. The models with 85mm gun required a loader for the main gun and therefore needed a larger turret.
The very first models featured the short barrel 76mm L-11 cannon which was quickly replaced by the far more capable 76mm F-34 cannon. The 85mm models are fitted with the formidable D-5T or ZiS-S-53 cannon, for which 56 rounds are carried. After World War 2 the 85mm cannon was of limited use against post war tanks but remained capable of destroying any other armored fighting vehicle. Due to low quality sights, lack of stabilization and mixed quality ammunition the accuracy was limited throughout its whole service life.
For its weight the T-34 has a good level of protection, mainly due to the use of sloped armor. Although the protection level was continuously increased the T-34 remained vulnerable against German 75mm or larger caliber weapons throughout World War 2. After World War 2 any tank and light tank was capable of destroying the T-34. Anti-tank weapons such as the M20 Super Bazooka or recoilless rifles proved lethal as well. There are no NBC system or smoke grenade dischargers.
For a World War 2 era tank the T-34 had a very good mobility. The power to weight ratio is reasonable and the road and cross country speeds are good. The downsides are the limited reliability of the automotive parts and tracks that would easily break. The transmission was difficult to use and the T-34 series had plenty of issues, but these could often be remedied in the field.
The main user of the T-34 was the Soviet Union. After World War 2 large quantities remained. Since tank development continued at a very fast pace the T-34 was soon replaced by the T-54 and T-55 in Soviet service. Large quantities of T-34's were exported and small quantities remain in use in the Middle East and Africa, albeit mostly in reserve service or storage.
A T-34/76 Model 1942 on display.
Source: Topory - © GNU Attribution - Share Alike license
The T-34/76, known simply as T-34 in Russia, is a designation for all T-34 models with a 76mm cannon. The 76mm versions were produced during the first years of World War 2 and only a limited amount was used after the war. Since 1943 the 76mm models were replaced by the 85mm models.
A T-34/85 on display in Poznan.
Source: Radomil - © GNU Attribution - Share Alike license
The T-34/85, known as T-34-85 in Russia, features a more powerful 85mm cannon in a larger turret. The 85mm models are by far the most common post war models.
Source: RIA Novosti archive
Copyright: CC BY-SA 3.0
Source: www.fortepan.hu / Pesti Srác
Copyright: CC BY-SA 3.0
Source: Jack Metzger
Copyright: CC BY-SA 4.0
Source: www.fortepan.hu / Nagy Gyula
Copyright: CC BY-SA 3.0
Copyright: Public domain
The Type 58 is a license produced version of the T-34/85 produced in China.
Type 58: The Type 58 is the Chinese production version of the T-34/85 and is fitted with sights used on the Type 59.
Type 58-I: The Type 58-I has a redesigned commander's hatch and has a heavy machine gun on the turret roof.
Type 58-II: The Type 58-II features a second cupola with heavy machine gun mount.
Powerful tank destroyer with 100mm rifled gun in casemate superstructure.
Assault gun with 122mm howitzer in casemate superstructure.
Tracked prime mover based on T-34 chassis. Produced in very limited numbers.
The T-100 is an Egyptian conversion of the T-34 tank that mounts the ordnance of the 100mm BS-3 fieldgun. The turret has been increased in size by welded metal plates and a recoil buffer is installed under the main armament. The 100mm BS-3 has a much better performance against armored vehicles compared to the original armament. It is believed only a small amount of T-34's have been converted to the T-100.
The T-122 is an Egyptian modification of the T-34 that mounts the ordnance of the D-30 howitzer in a much modified T-34 turret. The size of the turret has been significantly inmproved by welded metal plates. Unlike the T-100 conversion the D-30 ordnance has been mounted at the rear of the original T-34 turret. Compared to the T-100 the T-122 has a reduced performance against vehicles but does better against infantry. It is believed that only a small number, perhaps a dozen, have been built.
The T-34/122 is a Syrian modification that combines the T-34 chassis with a the D-30 towed howitzer. The T-34 has its turret removed and a D-30 howitzer without its trails is mounted at the front of the vehicle facing rearwards. A folding platform is attached which is locked in place horizontally when in the firing position. The D-30 howitzer has the same performance as when used on the ground, but has the added benefit of a much improved cross country mobility.
The Soviet T-55 main battle tank replaced larger numbers of T-34/85 in the early Cold War period in the Soviet Union, Warsaw Pact and many nations around the globe.
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