Friday 28 August 2020

T-34 Cupolas

"Order of the People's Commissar of Tank Production of the USSR #338ss
June 9th, 1943

On the installation of commander's cupolas on T-34 tanks

In carrying out decree #3531ss issued by the State Committee of Defense on June 7th, 1943, I order that:
  1. A commander's cupola for the T-34 must be accepted into service with the following technical requirements:
    1. The cupola must be installed in an existing two-hatch turret instead of the commander's hatch.
    2. The cupola must have five observation slits with triplex glass and a MK-4 observation device (English type) in a rotating roof that provide for comfortable all-round observation from the tank.
    3. The roof of the cupola must consist of two flaps that allow the crew to enter and exit the turret.
  2. The Deputy Head of the Chief Designer Department of the Commissariat, comrade Ber, must present me with blueprints of the cupola designed at factory #183 for approval. The blueprints must be approved by the GBTU.
  3. The directors of tank factories #183 (comrade Maksarev), Kirov factory (comrade Dlugach), #112 (comrade Rubinchik), Uralmash (comrade Muzrukov), #174 (comrade Zadorozhniy) must arrange production of T-34 tanks with commander's cupolas that meet the requirements in paragraph 1 based on the following schedule:
    All tanks must have commander’s cupolas starting with August 1st
    All tanks must have commander’s cupolas starting with September 1st
    Until the People's Commissariat of Armaments supplies MK-4 observation devices it is permitted to deliver T-34 tanks with commander's cupolas that do not have MK-4 observation devices, as long as the devices can be installed in the field.
  4. The Head of Central Supply comrade Rozin must take into account and assist in the execution of the GOKO decree which compels the People's Commissar of Armament (comrade Ustinov) and Head of the 2nd Main Directorate (comrade Dobrovolskiy) to produce MK-4 observation devices (English type) for the T-34 at factory #393 and supply them to the People's Commissariat of Tank Production in the following amounts:
    1. July 1943: 150
    2. August 1943: 700
    3. September 1943: 1500
    4. October 1943: 2000
    5. Starting with November 1943: 4000 monthly
      The devices are to be distributed to factories in accordance with the production quotas.
  5. All factory directors must immediately take measures and take concrete action to promptly begin production of tanks with commander's cupolas to meet deadlines set by the GOKO decree.
People's Commissar of Tank Production, I. Zaltsmann"


  1. In terms of T-34 commander vision cupola- typically Sherman tank is described as tank with better visibility than T-34 tank. This generalisation make a sens in my opinion, but from other hand, exist era when visibility from T-34 commander station can be better than visibility from Sherman commander station. I think about late 1943 and early 1944. In this era T-34 have commander vision cupola- vision device which have not only Gundlach periscope (MK-4), but also few vision slits around commander head. For comparision, in this era typical Sherman which was used in combat, that's a tank with "pseudo cupola"- rotating hatch and Gundlach periscope on rotating hatch (lack of vision slits around commander head). Generally, maybe Soviet cupola have small, narrow slits, but from other hand, layout "Gundlach periscope + vision slits" can be better than layout "Gundlach periscope + lack of vision slits".

  2. Does "triplex glass" mean a prism as a periscope, or three armor-layer glass?

    1. It was sort of "armoured" laminated glass, hard to break and if broken - not giving sharp shards.