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Weapons of World War Two

The Battle of Moscow (Sep 1941 - Apr 1942)

T-34 medium tank

Version depicted: T-34/76D

T-34/76D medium tank

In the combats which took place in Russia between June and July 1941, the tankers of the Wehrmacht saw their overwhelming advance hampered by a new type of tank against which the normal weapons seemed totally powerless. The new armored element was a tank of rather low profile and angular silhouette, with large driving wheels which were characteristic of those tanks fitted with suspension of "Christie" type, which the Soviet had already used in the BT 7. The armor was solid and the firepower notable. Also regarding speed and maneuverability no German tank in service could compete with the newcomer. A movement of panic ran between the German generals, who applied strong pressure to accelerate the production pace of the new "Tiger" and "Panther" tanks, true technical marvels, but it was impossible to obtain them until December 1942 . The German did not suffer a clear defeat thanks to the inexperience of the Russian tankers, to the poor quality of some sectors of the Soviet industry which sometimes delivered defective components and, above all, to the lack of a modern mindset and a proper technique on the utilization of tanks on the Russian side. If the "purges" of Stalin had not cut the wings (and especially the brain) of the Soviet Armed Forces, the war would have probably taken a different course already at this point. But in those moments the new T-34 tanks, for this was their denomination, used in small groups and little by little in the vain attempt of stopping the German war machine, would not be able to do more than fighting while withdrawing as slowly as possible. Many T-34 captured during the advance were fruitfully reused in combat by the German, who showed appreciation for the qualities of this coarse but very effective tank. But returning to its history, the first exemplars, coming from the locomotive factories at Kharkov, should have been used in Finland, but that war ended before they could arrive to the front. Because of that they were sent to the tank schools, but their existence was kept in the most absolute secrecy, as it is proven by the surprise from the German, who were generally very well informed about the weapons of their adversaries. Tank of low profile, with a hull made of welded plates, of very smooth surface which tended to divert the incoming projectiles or to resist their impact, the T-34 had a Diesel engine of twelve cylinders in V and modern conception. Its operational range allowed for a reasonable utilization. Over the first cannon installed, a Model 38 of 76.2/30.5, it was soon preferred the Model 40 of 76.2/41.2, which had the same caliber but a longer tube. The armament, apart from some special tanks, continued being always the standard one: one 76.2-millimeter cannon and two 7.62-millimeter machine guns. Many parts of the tank, according to the unification norms of the Red Army, were interchangeable with those of the primitive KV heavy tank. The T-34, which entered service before the outbreak of the war in Russia, effectively fought during the entire conflict, becoming a bit of a symbol of the Red Army, but its operational life would still last for many years and it would be used by all of the armed forces of the countries aligned with the Communist Bloc.

Year: 1942

Weight: 31 tonnes

Length: 6.59 meters

Width: 2.98 meters

Height: 2.65 meters

Ground clearance: 31 centimeters

Maximum armor: 70 millimeters

Engine: V-2-34 Diesel of 500 horsepower

Maximum speed on road: 50 kilometers/hour

Maximum speed on countryside: 40 kilometers/hour

Operational range on road: 290 kilometers

Operational range on countryside: 201 kilometers

Crew: 4

Armament: One 76.2-millimeter cannon; two DT29 7.62-millimeter machine guns

Ammunitions: 77 of 76.2 millimeters; 2394 of 7.62 millimeters

Maximum surmountable trench: 2.50 meters

Maximum surmountable step: 71 centimeters

Maximum surmountable slope: 30 degrees

Fording: 1.31 meters

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