- "We're managing to defeat their T-34s! Thats makes me happy!"
The T-34 was a Soviet medium tank that became the mainstay of Soviet armoured formations during World War II; it is known both for its success during the war and for its influence over tank design. It first appeared in the anime in Episode 6.
Origin and development
The origins of the T-34 can be traced in Soviet tank development of the 1930s, during which the T-26 infantry tank and the BT series of cavalry tanks were designed and produced. In 1939, border incidents against the Japanese in the Far East demonstrated the outdated nature of the existing tanks, so a tank to replace the BTs was requested. The A-20 prototype heavily borrowed modules from the earlier tanks, especially for its convertible drive, but it already sported the Model V-2-34 diesel engine (less prone to catching fire), and sloped armor (more effective than perpendicular armor which improved chances of enemy shells bouncing off at further ranges); its designer convinced Soviet dictator Iosif Stalin to authorize further development, the A-32, with thicker armor, a better-performing Christie suspension and more importantly a 76.2 mm gun, which in field tests proved to be as nimble as its forerunner. By thickening its armor even more, fitting wider tracks and a newer 76.2 mm gun, in 1940 the T-34 Model 1940 was born (its numeral chosen from the year the designer had begun to conceive it), although only about 400 of this variant were made, before production quickly switched to the Model 1941 (called T-34/76 in the West, the 76 referring to the 76.2mm gun) with the longer F-34 gun and radios for all tanks.
A Troublesome StartWhile it had been authorized for production, the T-34 was subjected to political pressure to stop it, either to revert to earlier tank models or to concentrate on other designs like the KV tank series; in the end, however, it was produced even after the war's end.
It proved to be a very unpleasant surprise to German Panzer crews during Operation Barbarossa (The German invasion of the USSR), together with the heavy KV tanks; it had surprisingly effective armor for such a mobile tank, making it a challenge to penetrate for the Panzer III Ausf. J that the Germans were employing to fight enemy tanks. It also had a gun that could easily penetrate any German tank of the time except for the Panzer IV, and its wide tracks and flexible suspension gave it excellent mobility on mud and snow. Such advantages, however, were offset by some flaws : it had poor ergonomics (a two-man turret, meaning that the commander would have to serve as the gunner, that moreover had no cupola), its reliability was initially mediocre (often suffering breakdowns), and due to mass production, many build quality issues were reported (some even regarding the armor's quality). Moreover, the poor tactical deployment and inferior training (radios being non-standard and crew training not including field repairs) negated the T-34's strategic value.
Further DevelopmentA more serious threat came when the Germans reacted to the T-34's qualities, upgrading the Panzer IV and StuG III with 75mm anti-tank guns, which more or less evened the odds, and rushing or beginning development of new designs like the Tiger or the Panther (itself designed as a counter to the T-34), against which the Soviet tank was markedly inferior.
In 1943, a universal tank intended to replace both the T-34 and the KV (the T-43) was shelved when it proved to be still inferior to the newer German Panzers; however, its turret with the D-5T 85 mm gun (adapted from an existing AA gun, later replaced with the ZiS-S-53) was adapted to the T-34's hull, creating the T-34 Model 1943 (called T-34/85 in the West); this version not only resolved many previous issues (since it sported an enlarged and better-armored three-man turret with the radio, previously in the hull), it enabled the T-34 to stand a chance against the Panther and Tiger tanks, if not match the former on favourable conditions.
While more rugged and 'primitive' than its German opponents, the T-34's overall simplicity and cheap costs made it a strategical success, meaning that its tactical inferiority was offset on the strategic level by its huge numbers; destroyed T-34s could be easily replaced, while defeated German tanks and experienced crew were more and more irreplaceable as the war went by. Around 84,000 T-34s were built, making it the second most-produced tank of all time, and the most produced tank of World War II.
It was still a major player and a competitive design in the Korean War, and was widely exported in many countries of the Eastern Bloc; although more capable models (like the T-54/55 series) replaced it in the Red Army in the postwar years, some T-34s were reported to have been used (with ad hoc improvements) up to the present day.
The T-34 is often compared to the American M4 Sherman, as both were medium tanks which proved to be good all-around, versatile tanks with low costs that evolved from the "cavalry tank" concept of the interwar years and, through consistent upgrades, managed to serve as the workhorse tank for their respective nations throughout the war. While both were considered evenly matched with the Panzer IV, which would carry the German Panzer Divisions through most of the war, neither was a match for the more advanced German armor.
In Girls und PanzerPravda Girls High School makes use of several T-34 tanks in both versions (The T-34/76 obr. 1942 and the T-34/85 obr. 1944 ). They likely form the majority of the school's lineup. Both Katyusha and Nonna use a T-34/85 as their tank (although the latter is known to switch mid-battle to the more powerful IS-2).
In the match against Ooarai Girls High School, the T-34s were employed as the Jack-of-all-trades, being tasked with luring the overconfident enemy into a trap (while losing some of their numbers), and then surrounding them in the village's church. As Ooarai attempted a breakthrough, several T-34 tanks attempted to intercept, only to be foiled by Turtle Team's wild and unorthodox maneuvers that enabled its diminutive Panzer 38(t) to take out two of them and damage several more with point-blank shots. They chased after the fleeing Ooarai tanks, but the task of bringing them down was given to Pravda's IS-2; meanwhile, their flag tank (another T-34 that had remained in the village with the KV-2) was chased by Anglerfish Team and Hippo Team. It managed to survive initially, but was taken out by the latter's StuG III concealed under the snow with a point-blank shot.
- This tank was able to absorb 18 shells by a BT-42 during the Continuation War. All shells fired were High-Explosive Anti-Tank (HEAT) rounds, but one thing to add those HEAT rounds were copies of German HEAT rounds which were a fail.
- This Tank is still serving in some armies such as the Ukranian Army.
Tank basic characteristics
T-34/76 obr. 1942
- Main Gun : 76.2 mm F-34 gun
- Other : 2x 7.62 mm DT machine-guns
- Hull / Turret armor
- Front : 45 mm at 60 deg / 53 mm at 60 deg
- Sides : 45 mm at 40 deg / 53 mm at 20 deg
- Rear : 40 mm at 48 deg / 53 mm 19 deg
- Specific Power : 15.8 hp/t
- Top Speed : 53 km/h (33 mp/h) on road
- Gun Penetration : 83 mm RHA at 100 m with BR-350A (APHEBC) ammunition.
T-34/85 obr. 1944
- Main Gun : 85 mm ZIS-S-53 gun
- Other : 2x 7.62 mm DT machine-guns
- Hull / Turret Armor
- Front : 45 mm at 60 deg / 90 mm
- Sides : 45 mm at 39 deg / 52 - 90 mm at 20 deg
- Rear : 45 mm at 40 deg / 52 mm at 10 deg
- Specific Power : 15.6 hp/t
- Top Speed : 55 km/h
- Gun Penetration : 113 mm RHA at 100 m with BR-365A (APHEBC) ammunition.