Tuesday 13 January 2015

T-34s Crossing Rivers

"Instructions on Crossing Water Hazards with T-34 Tanks (with little or no additional equipment)

A. General Considerations
  1. Crossing water hazards can be done after careful investigation and preparation of the crossing. If the situation does not demand it, leave only the tank commander and driver inside the tank when crossing.
  2. A regular T-34 tank can cross a water hazard 1.9 meters deep, with the deepest part being 20 up to meters wide.
  3. Simple equipment can make the tank be able to cross 2.3 meter deep hazards, with the deepest part up to 40 meters wide.
  4. After crossing, a T-34 with this equipment can be made combat ready in 10-15 minutes. Tanks with no special equipment are combat ready immediately.
  5. If a hazard is deeper or wider than the above requirements, the engine will stall. Reasons for stalling include: water seeping into the air cooling system, significant loss of power due to the fan throwing out excess water.
  6. Crossing the above hazards with a regular tank should be done in second gear, at 1600-1700 RPM. In this case, the engine cover will not flood and the engine will not stall.
    If the water enters the compression chambers of the engine, remove the air valve caps and press on all valves at the same time with a board. Spin the crankshaft, first by pushing the fan, then the starter.
    After crossing with either a regular or specially equipped T-34, replace lubricant in the engine, final drives, and gearbox when possible, and check the function of devices and the electrical system.
B. Engineering Support
  1. After careful reconnaissance of the region where the tanks will cross, check the depth. Depth should be checked no less than every 2 meters.
  2. The riverbed should not be viscous. The entrance and exit should not be steeper than 15-20 degrees. A steep shore should be prepared. The exit should be as flat as possible, since a tank with water in the engine loses power, and will be unable to pull itself up a steep shore.
  3. All bumps, stumps, and large rocks in the river along the crossing should be removed. Rocks that get stuck between wheels and tracks will cause the tracks to seize and the engine will stall. Recall that in water, tracks lose their traction with wheels even on small slopes.
  4. When crossing water hazards, prepare methods of towing tanks in advance (winches, tractors, pulleys, etc).
C. Preparing a regular tank
  1. Tracks should be tightened. The track should not be wavy, and the middle part should lie on road wheels.
  2. Cover the radio station with its case.
  3. Close the driver's hatch and one driver's observation device. Leave the second open so that the driver can see when entering and exiting the water. Do not close the turret hatch.
  4. Put covers on the gun and machinegun barrels.
  5. Fix the tow cables on their hooks with wire. Put the tow cables on the rear or front hooks, depending on where the tractors are. The free ends of the cables should be affixed to the turret.
  6. Tie the control levers to ropes, and loosely attach them to the top of the turret.
D. Preparing a tank with simple equipment

In addition to performing the actions in the previous section, do the following:
  1. Cover gaps between hatches in lead putty or, at the very least, grease. If the gaps are big, plug them with hemp.
  2. Plug the emergency exit hatch and drainage plug with hemp and grease.
  3. Insert spent shells into the chamber of the gun and machineguns.
  4. Plug the machinegun ball, antenna, track tightening mechanisms, and suspension spring wells with hemp and cover them with putty or grease.
  5. Plug the turret ring with hemp tightly and cover it in grease or putty.
  6. Plug the gap between gun mantlet and turret with hemp and cover it in grease or putty.
  7. Plug the turret observation slits with hemp.
  8. Fold the tarp in such a way that the ends reach the side handles and round hatch hinge.
  9. Hammer in wedges between the turret and turret platform to hold the tarp.
  10. Put wooden beams 10 cm by 5 cm on the edges of the tarp so a wedges can be hammered between the beams and handles.The rear beam should be held with a metallic wedge, use the grouser attachment key for this purpose. Hammer the key in between the beam and the round hatch hinge.
  11. Preparation of one tank requires 2.5-3.0 kg of hemp, 2 kg of putty or grease, and three wooden beams with wedges.
  12. The preparation takes 1-1.5 hours with the whole crew working energetically.
  13. This work should be done close to shore. Without the cooling fans, the engine should not run for more than 15-20 monutes.
E. Movement along a route
  1. Keep track of a landmark on the opposite shore, and align the tank towards it.
  2. It is not recommended to turn around in water.
  3. Wide rivers with water deeper than 2 meters should be crossed in first gear.
  4. Narrow rivers with a depth of 2-3 meters can be crossed in second gear with the engine working at maximum RPM (1600-1700).
  5. Do not change gears in the water.
  6. When exiting the water at a steep angle, do not let the tank roll backwards. This can result in the engine stalling and tank drowning.
  7. If the tank stalls in the water, disengage the main clutch and attempt to start the engine.
  8. When the tank exist the river, put it on an incline, open the hatches on the bottom, and drain the water. Take off the hemp from the mantlet and turret ring, open the driver's hatch, open the engine grille, take off the tarp. Start the engine and let it run for 2-3 minutes. Eject the spent casings. Check the radio station.
  9. When towing a tank with a jammed track, disengage the final drives by pulling on ropes tied to the levers."
Collection of Combat Documents from the Great Patriotic War, vol. 15, doc. 32.


  1. Haha, would you mind commenting on the availability and type of 'hemp' used for these maneuvers? :) But seriously, what gives, some more info would be appreciated.