THE LEGENDARY THIRTYThe winter of 1940 was severe and snowy. So when in late February the first two experienced thirty went to the unprecedented thousands of kilometres of mileage on the route Kharkiv — Moscow, he became perhaps the most rigorous and impartial examiner and for new machines and their designers and producers. By the way, one of the tanks was himself Mikhail I. Koshkin, head of while the Department designed the T-34.

The roads, plenty of snow drifts — all this failed to stop the new machine, barely opening his way. Not without breakdowns. And yet both tanks came on their own to one of the suburban factories, where they are fixed, replaced the failed nodes…
On the night of March 17, 1940 machine moved to the city center, the Kremlin. Developers had to show thirty members of the government. The excitement drivers N. Spout and V. Dukanova reached the limit because of their skill, in large measure, depended the fate of the new tanks. However, they managed to show the best drive. Tanks received accolades of all present. But finally their destiny was to determine field testing…
“Biography” thirty began in October 1937, when a tank design Bureau of the Kharkov plant has received an order from the Main tank-automotive management (GABTU) of the red Army for the design of a new wheeled-tracked machines capable to replace the in service tank type BT.
The machines of this series are characterized by a high mobility (maximum speed on the tracks 52, RV — 72 km/h), powerful and up to the arms (45-mm gun and 2-3 machine gun). Their shortcomings can be attributed to weak armor (13-20 mm) and increased fire hazard, aviation gasoline engine.
Medium tank T-34 release in 1940
Medium tank T-34 release in 1940
Medium tank T-34 1940 issue:
1 — set the gun L-11, 2 — hatch for ventilation, a 3 — viewing device of the circular review, 4 — ring, 5 hole cap for firing the revolver, 6 — V-2 engine, 7 — the main clutch, 8 — starter 9 — steering clutch, 10 — gear shift, 11 — under engine frame 12 is a motor bulkhead, 13 — the commander’s seat, 14 — boeukladki, the 15 — seat driver, 16 — control 17 — pedal the main clutch, 18 — the shield control devices, 19 — compressed air cylinders, 20 — towline, 21 — Luc signaling, 22 — lock hatch, the 23 boxes of ZIP, 24 hatch cover over the engine, 25 — mesh above the transmission, 26 — brake lamp, 27 — spare truck, 28 — recess coaxial machine gun, a 29 — periscope sight PT-6, 30 — recess of the sight TOD-b, 31 — side observation instrument, a 32 — Fara, 33 Central viewing device driver, 34 — cover side of the sight device driver, 35 — eye, 36 — removable armor plate to remove the gun, 37 — housing side of the transmission, 38 — armored housing of the exhaust pipe, 39 — Luke compartment, 40 — axis balancer, 41 — pin, 42 — armored hub cap, 43 — band, 44 — movable cassette, 45 — spring 46, the rod 47 is a roller 48, the roller axis, 49 — the sight of the gun. Cuts the viewing devices of this axis of vision.
Significantly reduce the vulnerability of the tank from the fire was the creation of a powerful diesel engine working on heavy fuel. To create such engine was involved in the Kharkiv plant. In December 1936 a new, 12-cylinder diesel, get the index In-2, was tested in the tank BT-7. And since 1939 began series production of cars with a diesel engine, called BT-7M, as well as artillery tractors Voroshilovets with the same engine.
And work began on the creation of tanks with cannon-proof armor. Design of wheeled-tracked machines with 30 mm armour and a 45 mm cannon was carried out at the Kharkov plant in the design Department, headed by M. Koshkin. He had just replaced on this post his predecessor, the talented designer Alexander Firsov, unreasonably subjected to repression in 1937. A. Firsov and established by the time the team of designers belonged to the preliminary study of a new tank.
Vast engineering experience acquired by the team in the design of the BT series tanks, and the experience of combat use of these machines in Spain led to the final conclusion about the futility of wheel-track mover. That is why, along with planned work on a new wheel-track tank A-20 plant on its own initiative started the development of a purely tracked vehicles.
A year and a half — may 4, 1938 — Committee of Defense of the USSR was presented to two projects: wheeled-tracked tank A-20, created in accordance with the performance requirements of GABTU, and purely tracked, the initiative, known as the A-32. And in August of the same year, both projects were considered at the meeting of the Supreme military Council.
Each of the tanks had their advantages and disadvantages. To make a choice in favor of one of them was not easy.
So, A-20 differed from all BT enhanced armor hull and turret, more rational angles armor plates with thickness of 20-25 mm. In the tower mounted a 45 mm gun and coaxial machine gun DT. The second gun was located in a ball bearing in the compartment to the right of the driver. The basis of the power plant A-20 was 450-horsepower diesel V-2.
Tank A-32 technical data and externally was initially similar to A-20. Weight — 19 tons, same armament 45 mm gun, the same engine — diesel V-2. (Soon, however, the gun was replaced by a more powerful 76 mm L-10.) The same was and mechanical power transmission. But the similarity ended. And unlike the tanks of the BT series from the A-32 was absent wheel drive and caterpillar mover had on each side for 5 track roller of large diameter with rubber tyres. Driving wheel with six rollers for engagement with the ridges of the tracks were in the back. Suspension — individual, with coil springs located in the side niches of the housing. By reducing the mass of the actuator the thickness of the frontal armor was increased to 30 mm.
On the Main military Council, after presentations made about both machines M. Koshkin and A. Morozov (head of the section for advanced design), were presented and the opinion of tankers coming from Spain, as well as representatives GABTU. The first preferred pure tracked tank, the second wheel-track. In the end, the majority of the members of the Supreme military Council had rejected the draft of A-32 as not meeting the specified requirements Management. Speaking in conclusion, Stalin proposed to enable designers to make their proposed new car and after the parallel testing of two samples to make a final decision.
Test samples A-20 and A-32 built by July 1939. It turned out that the complexity of manufacturing the first was approximately twice the work on the second. During sea trials both showed almost equivalent results, sufficient reliability and durability of mechanisms and units. The same was the maximum speed of both 65 km/h According to test results concluded that the tank A-32, which had a margin increase in weight, it is advisable to strengthen the reservation, accordingly increasing the strength of components and parts.
Both machines have demonstrated leadership of the red Army. In August 1939, at a meeting of the Supreme military Council it was decided to completely abandon the wheel-track mover and to give preference to the tank A-32.
A few months later — December 19, 1939 — the government decided to establish an improved variant of the A-32 is a medium tank T-34, which later became one of the most famous in the history of world tank.
Production of two first experienced the thirty began in January 1940. And at the end of Feb tanks went his way to Moscow.
After the screening machines in the Kremlin began field testing. The t-34 was forced to overcome the most difficult obstacles to make a dizzying maneuvers. It fired point-blank high explosive and armor-piercing projectiles. Well, at the end of the tests the tanks were sent into the line of Mannerheim, and then via Minsk and Kiev on a native plant.
The nurse 1940 the Politburo of the CPSU(b) adopted the decision to deploy the production of tanks T-34 and KV. And the first to the end of the year was supposed to produce 600 copies. However, when the leadership of the Bolshoi theatre, including the test report of negative opinion about the car specialists polygon, sent it to the Deputy people’s Commissar of defense Marshal K. Kulik, he did not understand the essence of the report, hastened to adopt it. Thus was terminated and the production and acceptance of T-34 tanks. As a result, by 15 September 1940, was issued only three serial instance.
The leaders of the Kharkov plant appealed the decision of the Central Board of the people’s Commissariat and offered to release all thirty, refining them in accordance with the wishes of polyhandicap. And only because of the strong position of people’s Commissar of medium machine building Malyshev and the chief architect of A. Goreglyad, but also determination of the representative GLBT Lebedev managed to deploy the serial production and acceptance of new tanks. By 1 January 1941 the Kharkov plant was able to produce 115 ordered 600 machines.
By the end of summer 1940 health M. Koshkina, much prostodushie during the run in Moscow has deteriorated sharply. Not helped by surgery in which he had to remove a lung. September 26, Michael I. died.
The direction of the design team of the Kharkov plant instructed A. Morozov. Many difficulties had to be overcome for him and the KB designers and manufacturers, thirty-four before it was even estimated and our future allies, and our future enemies, a masterpiece of world of tank. And one of the difficulties was the equipping of a new tank cannon.
Initially, it was arranged 76.2 mm gun L-11 with a barrel length of 30.5 calibres. However, she had a number of defects and organic diseases, so it was soon replaced by the much more successful, constructed under the supervision of V. Grabin.
76-mm gun L-11 sample 1939
76-mm gun L-11 sample 1939:
1 — the barrel of a gun 2 — the front hood. 3 — front protective plate, 4 — ball installation, 5 — axle, 6 — reservation of the sliding part 7 — armour 8 — stop marching gun position, 9 — toothed sector 10 — nalobnik, 11 — pillow 12 — hiltulanlahti, 13 — coaxial machine gun DT. On the top view hiltulanlahti conventionally not shown
This weapon, designated the f-32 was adopted for service in 1939 and was intended for installation in a heavy tank KV. In just seven months, the designers have developed an option for thirty — 76.2-mm gun f-34 with a barrel in 41 caliber. In their tactical and technical characteristics of the f-34 was significantly superior to L-11. However, as noted subsequently in his memoirs, V. Grabin, one of the leaders of the GAU and GABTU was hesitant to authorize the installation of the new tank guns. And then the Director of the plant A. yelyan together with V. Grabina has committed an act of great civil courage: started production not accepted for the armament gun. Serial production of the f-34 began in January 1941, and since February they have already started to install in the tank along with the L-11.
Thus, there is a very strange situation: the plant was producing guns, took them, installed in tanks, and tanks left in the army. However, neither GAU nor GABTU not only presented a gun to the government for adoption of its service, but did not bother to give her a positive evaluation for the test results. And only in the beginning of the war when the tankers began to receive accolades on f-34, V. Grabin was able to report at a meeting of the bills about this situation. Once designated weapon for only five days, it was tested and officially accepted into service. And by the end of the summer of 1941 f-34 was completely replaced on the thirty unsuccessful L-11.
But the story of the gun has not exhausted the misadventures of the new tank. The magician in 1941, during the discussion of the problems of production of the T-34 in the Committee of Defence the army has offered to cease production of the existing model of the tank and to renew it for the T-34M, the development of which the Kharkov factory was established in the autumn of 1940. In fact, it was practically a new car, which by may 1941, existed only in drawings and layout.
Fortunately, the Defence Committee, taking into account the serious threat of war, has not given its consent to the removal of the T-34 from production. It was decided to release in 1941, 2800 units of T-34 and to produce more of the T-34M. But with the beginning of the war, all work on the last stopped.
In the spring of 1941 the designers and engineers have deployed enormous efforts to improve and simplify the production of thirty. First and foremost, this concerned the manufacture of towers. The first cars they were welded from rolled armor plates, extruded in a cold state to the appropriate form. This process was complex, time-consuming, expensive. In an effort to simplify it, engineers V. Buslov and V. nitsenko developed a new technology that involves the welding of the tower armor thickness of 52 mm of only two cast elements.
The beginning of the great Patriotic war the red Army had 1225 T-34 tanks, of which in the Western districts — 967.
On June 24-25, 1941, the Politburo of the CPSU(b) has considered the urgent needs of the tank industry. The decision of the State Defense Committee № 1 from July 1, the program of tank production at the Kharkov plant was increased. The production of the T-34 was connected to the Stalingrad tractor — STZ and the plant “Red Sormovo” in Gorky.
Thirty-four turned out to be an unpleasant surprise for the Wehrmacht. Cannon T-34 pierced German tanks almost through, breaks through them “dry” (i.e. non-viscous, brittle) armor. Well, the German guns had nothing to do with our armor, and only a break of trucks could stop a T-34. But the caterpillar had to go! At high manoeuvrability thirty this was easy.
Unfortunately, the lack of development of new tanks, dispersed, dispersion machines for several mechanized corps has significantly reduced the effectiveness of their application. Besides, due to great losses of T-34 tanks in border battles of the first months of the war, due to the domination of the enemy in the air, as well as the use by the Germans in anti-tank purposes powerful 88 mm anti-aircraft guns.
Meanwhile, the Kharkiv plant to increase the pace of production of tanks. In July he collected 225, August, — 250, — 250, 220 passing… October 19, releasing the last of 30 cars, the production was stopped, the evacuation of the plant. The equipment was sent to the Urals, where on the basis of several companies created a tank factory, which became the largest manufacturer of thirty in the years of the great Patriotic war.
The body of the tank T-34 model 1939 was welded together from rolled armor sheets, which were attached to rational angles. The upper and lower frontal sheets with a thickness of 45 mm were located at an angle of 60°, the Upper part of the side had a bevel of 45°, bottom—vertical. The angle of feed of the sheets is 45°. Armor sides and stern was 45 mm roof—20 mm bottom — 15 mm. the driver’s Hatch was in the hull, the upper part of the lid has been mounted Central viewing device driver. Side observation devices of the driver was mounted in the hull left and right of the hatch at an angle of 60° to the longitudinal axis of the tank. To the right of the hatch there was a recess for installing exchange machine gun DT, closed a shutter cap.
The upper aft hull was removable and was attached by bolts to the side plates. It had a rectangular hatch to access the units in the aft compartment and two oval holes for the exhaust pipe. Outside these openings are defended by armor caps. The front part of the roof (above the crew compartment) welded to front and side sheets. Back over the engine-transmission compartment is removable, fastened by bolts to the side sheets and the walls were equipped with armored hatches to access the engine and shutters.
The turret of the tank welded, oval streamlined shape. The forehead and sides defended the 45-mm armor, feed is 40 mm, the roof of the tower—16-mm. Back sheet the niche of the tower (the door) attached to the bolts; it also had a hole for firing the revolver. In the back of the cap there was a hatch for entrance and exit of the crew. The hatch cover was mounted viewing device of the circular review, and in the front of the roof periscope sight PT-6 and the fan cover.
On some of the tanks were mounted alloy tower with a wall thickness of 52 mm and 20-mm roof. The base of the lateral observation devices were cast together with the body of the tower. Rear removable sheet niche remained the same as in the welded tower.
Gun L-11 (or f-34) were paired with a machine gun DT. For direct fire on the tank was designed telescopic sight TOD-6. The angle of elevation of the gun reached to +30°, lower than -5°. Gun ammunition was 77 shots. Tanks with two-way radios were filled with 46 machine-gun discs (2898 rounds), tanks without radios they were 75 (4725 ammo). A rotary mechanism of the tower had a manual and electric actuators, lifting mechanism of the gun—the sector type with manual transmission.
The V-2 engine mounted on under engine frame, and power transmission were in the rear of the tank. The engine operating power of 400 HP at 1700 Rev/min allowed the tank to reach speeds of 47 km/h. power Reserve of fuel has reached 300 km.
Suspension of the tank — individual spring. The spring, with the exception of the first rollers, placed obliquely in special mines welded to the sides of the hull. The suspension of the first rollers at the bow were protected by steel covers. In the running gear consisted of five dual rubber-lined road wheels of large diameter (830 mm) on Board. Idlers were also brezineves. The driving wheels was put on the splines on the driven shafts to the final drives. Engagement — ridge, by means of rollers. Melkosofta crawler chain was going out of 74 tracks (37 37 flat and ridge) with a width of 550 mm. Outside, on the track there was a spur-lugs. Spare tracks are mounted on only the shelves in the aft.
The radio station 71-TK-W was installed on all tanks, and only commander. The input antenna is on the starboard side of the hull in the front.
Remember that T-34 tanks of the first releases had a number of characteristic details that are not found in future versions. These include: location of observation devices and the shape of the driver’s hatch, no armor mask exchange machine gun, a rectangular hatch in the aft hull, the installation of the sight device of the circular review in the hatch cover, the presence of a smooth curved transition from the top to the bottom stern-sheets, two lights on the upper front hull, the placement of the zip in four wooden boxes of the kind installed on the tanks BT-7 mounted on the side hull plates in the middle part on both sides, vertical bars on the air intakes along the top edge of the hull sides, and finally, the rings of the original form on the upper windshield and lower aft hull plates.
Thirty-four were painted in khaki. Rubber bands on the support and guide rollers are black. The muzzle of a gun, tow rope and a track chain—unpainted. The barrels of the guns are black, gunmetal. Spare tracks are too black. No tactical numbers or markings on the tanks of that period is not carried,
In the manufacture of the model must take into account that T-34 early releases, 1940-1941, had excellent external finish.

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