Legendary “Thirty” was the most massive and most successful tank of the Second World War. Powerful, passable, maneuverable, mobile – and most importantly, very dangerous, this armored beast laid the cornerstone in the victory of the Soviet Union. Based on the engineering solutions implemented in the T-34, almost all modern tank building developed, in some African countries the old man is still in service. Soviet designers indeed managed to find the optimal combination of all the main characteristics of an ideal tank – a brilliant, but not entirely independent solution.
In the pre-war period, the industrialization of the Soviet Union was in full swing. The country for just a few “five-year plans” was able to grow the agrarian past and build a strong industry of heavy and light industry – such a speed of development is merely impossible without external raw materials and technical support. The legendary T-34 was assembled on English and American lathes, received by the USSR in Lend-Lease. Without this technique, no design genius could bring a successful project on paper even at the stage of the prototype.
The diesel engine V-2 provided the “thirty-four” high power, allowing the Soviet car to act on an equal footing even with superior enemy forces. Soviet designers built this beast by the Austrian Maybach and the American tractor engine – why reinvent the wheel when you can only combine two successful, albeit different solutions.
The silhouette of the “thirty-quarters” is still recognizable all over the world. The successful layout of the hull, the concept of inclined armor and the suspension of this tank were widely recognized as a kind of golden section for armored cars and were adopted as a basis by many states – a brilliant find of Soviet designers! Unfortunately, Koshkin’s office rests on its laurels undeservedly: the entire development (and at the same time the patent) belongs to the American engineer John Christie.
In 1943 the Soviet Union met in a tough situation. The losses at the front, the enemy’s capture of vast territories of the country immediately affected the volume and quality of heavy industry produced. Forced regression had to be subjected and T-34, despite the key position of this tank on the front line. Many machines were almost wholly deprived of optical, periscopic and observational devices, having received simple sighting gaps instead. Already at the end of 1943, the “thirty-quarters” began to be equipped with new observation devices MK-4, wholly copied from the British model Mk.IV.
The last “unique” component of the T-34 was the sight. ТШ-15 and ТШ-16 designers of the tank department of the Kharkov plant number 183 again borrowed from the primary opponents: these were the exact analogs of the German TZF-12a.