Thursday 19 December 2013

World of Tanks: Today in History: Happy Birthday, T-34

Experience in the Spanish Civil War demonstrated that the era of tanks with bulletproof armour has come to an end. These tanks were a perfect target for light and fast-firing anti-tank guns. Engineers were tasked with making a tank with shell-proof armour.

In 1937-1938, Kharkov factory #183 worked on the A-20 covertible drive tank project, armed with a 45 mm cannon. At the same time, the engineers worked on another project on their own initiative: a tracked vehicle with thicker armour, indexed A-32. It was to be equipped with a 76 mm gun and a V-2 diesel engine.

The engineers managed to prove to the army that the A-32 has promise, despite the latter's preference for the convertible drive. The tracked vehicle had better off-road performance, the diesel engine was more fuel efficient and, at least in theory, more reliable than the gasoline engine. The armament was also better than on the A-20. After government trials in 1939, the tank was renamed T-32, its armour was strengthened, and it was equipped with a 76 mm L-10 gun.

In September of 1939, the T-32, among others, was presented to a government commission which included K. Voroshilov, A. Mikoyan, and A. Zhdanov, among others. The vehicle was driven by N. Nosik. The tank performed well. On December 19th, 1939, the Committee of Defense in the Council of People's Commissars announced decree #443, which accepted the T-34 (the new official name of the tank) into service with the RKKA.

Aside from acceptance into service, decree #443 listed changes to the design. The army wanted better visibility, 45 mm armour, and replacement of the L-10 with a cheaper and better designed F-32. Two prototypes of the T-34 were to be built by January 15th, 1940.

A great and difficult journey awaited the T-34. The vehicle was contraversial and far from ideal, as was any tank in WWII. For us, it will always be a tank of victory, a symbol and legend of the RKKA armoured force.

Original article available here.

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