Tuesday, 4 June 2019

T-43, Take One

"For further development and improvement of medium tanks, permit the NKTP and factory #183 to produce two experimental prototypes of T-44 tanks with the following tactical-technical requirements by September 1st [1942]:
  1. Mass: under 32 tons
  2. Armour:
    1. Sides: 60 mm
    2. Front: 60-75 mm
    3. Rear: 60 mm rolled, 75 mm cast
    4. Turret (cast): 80-85 mm
      The turret must have a commander's cupola.
  3. Speed:
    1. Top speed on a highway: 45-50 kph
    2. Off-road: 20-25 kph.
  4. Armament: one 76.2 mm gun.
  5. Ammunition:
    1. 76.2 mm rounds: 60-65
    2. DT rounds: 2000-2500
  6. Crew: 4 (commander/radio operator, loader, gunner, driver).
  7. Engine: 
    1. At a weight of under 30 tons: V2-34 500 hp engine.
    2. At a weight of over 30 tons: V2-K 600 hp engine.
  8. Range: 250-300 km on a highway.
  9. Suspension: torsion bars
Other tactical-technical requirements will be set by the NKTP and GABTU.

The NKTP (comrade Malyshev) and director of factory #183 (comrade Maksarev) must perform trials of the T-44 tank jointly with the GABTU by October 1st of this year, and present a report on the trials to the GOKO by October 10th.

The People's Commissar of Finance is to issue 5 million roubles from the reserve of the Council of People's Commissars to develop and produce the T-44 tank and five-speed gearbox, as well as awards for outstanding employees."

However, the first draft of the T-43 was not to be. Stalin famously struck this entire section out of the draft decree, instructing tank designers to improve existing models instead of chasing after new ones.


  1. So the T-43 was originally to have 60-75 mm front hull armor? I did not know that, and that would have been a significant improvement if it had been possible to incorporate that into the subsequent T-34/85.

    1. The T-34T (which evolved into the T-34M) was supposed to have 60 mm of front armour. The T-34 was supposed to be upgraded to 60 mm of front armour in early 1942, but this requirement was cancelled.

      It was possible to incorporate into the T-34-85, and this solution was tested, but the requirement for medium tanks at that point was frontal immunity to the 88 mm Pak 43, anything short of that was not worth rejigging the assembly lines for. https://tankarchives.blogspot.com/2014/08/t-34-85m.html

    2. Thanks for the read, though I agree with Crabtree's comment in that thread. The T-34's front, despite its having very good quality hull armor (a multiplier of 1.25, it appears, from back-calculating WaPruf1 stats, which represented the German(!!) opinion) was the frontal weak point, because of overmatching. The turret at 90 mm rounded effectively was better.

      The IS-2 wasn't "immune" frontally to the Kwk43, the Kwk42, the Kwk36, or even the Pak40, as in 'immune no matter how close the shot and no matter where or how the round hits'. But it was good enough; as you have posted, IS-2s could engage Tiger Is and Panthers at fairly low risk to themselves at 1000 meters because all guns save the Kwk43 had to get either very close or be very lucky. It was the Kwk43 pushed that out that same degree of immunity to longer ranges (> 1500 meters or so) which the Russians found a concern. But even the IS-3 wasn't immune to the Kwk43 frontally at near point-blank range (the lower plate).

      So why make this a requirement for the uparmored T-34 when your current heavy tank doesn't qualify yet is sufficing? The most common threat to the T-34 was the Pak40, and 60-75 mm of frontal hull armor goes a long way of making every StuG, every Marder, every Hetzer, every PzIV, and every towed Pak40 gun into a 'door knocker'. That's a big advantage.

    3. There was a very serious fear that the Ferdinand is going to be a mass produced tank any day now, and the Pak 43 was going to hit the battlefield in huge numbers, making these small incremental changes pointless. I agree that they absolutely should have boosted the armour to resist the Pak 40, but the Red Army already ran into this issue with the previous wave of upgrades. The limited number of T-34 tanks that were upgraded with 15 mm applique plates to make them entirely proof against 50 mm APCR were slaughtered by 75 and 88 mm guns. There was no guarantee that a boost to 75 mm wouldn't end up in exactly the same situation.