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T34 Russian World War Two Red Army tank that battled the German Tiger tanks and Panther tank at Kursk, Stalingrad and the Eastern Front.

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WIDTH INCHES 18 20 22 24 26 28
LENGTH INCHES 28 29 30 31 32 33
WIDTH INCHES 18 20 22 24 26  
LENGTH INCHES 25.5 26.5 27.5 28.5 30  
WIDTH INCHES 15 17 18 20    
LENGTH INCHES 20 22 24 26


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The T34 was a Russian medium unit produced from 1940 to 1958. Although its armor and armament were surpassed by later units of the era, it has been often credited as the most effective, efficient and influential design of World War 2. First produced at the KhPZ factory in Kharkov (Kharkiv, Ukrainian SSR), it was the mainstay of Red Army armored forces throughout WW2, and widely exported afterwards. It was the most-manufactured tank of the war, and the second most-produced unit of all time, after its successor, the T-54/55 series.   In 1996, the T-34 was still in service with at least twenty-seven countries. The T-34 was developed from the BT series of fast tanks and was intended to substitute both the BT-5 and BT-7 units and the T-26 infantry unit in service. At its introduction, it was the tank with the best balanced attributes of firepower, mobility, protection and ruggedness, although initially its battlefield effectiveness suffered from the unsatisfactory ergonomic layout of its crew compartment, scarcity of radios, and poor tactical employment. The two-man turret-crew arrangement required the commander to serve as the gunner, an composition common to most Soviet tanks of the day; this proved to be inferior to three-man (commander, gunner and loader) turret crews. The design and construction of the tank were continuously refined during the war to enhance effectiveness and decrease costs, allowing steadily greater numbers of T34s to be fielded. In early 1944, the improved T34-85 was introduced, with a more powerful 85 mm gun and a three-man turret design. By the war's end in 1945, the versatile and cost-effective T-34 had replaced many light and heavy tanks in service, and accounted for the majority of Soviet unit manufacturing. Its evolutionary development led directly to the T-54/55 series of tanks, built until 1981 and still operational as of 2009. In 1939 the most numerous Russian tank models were the T-26 light tank, and the BT series of fast units. The T-26 was a slow-moving infantry unit, designed to keep pace with soldiers on the ground. The BT tanks were cavalry units, very fast-moving light tanks, designed to fight other tanks but not infantry. Both were thinly armored, proof against small arms but not anti-tank rifles and 37 mm anti-unit guns, and their gasoline-fueled engines (commonly used in unit designs throughout the world in those days) were liable to burst into flames "at the slightest provocation". Both were Soviet developments of foreign designs from the early 1930s: the T-26 was based on the British Vickers 6-Ton, and the BT units were based on a design from American engineer Walter Christie. In 1937, the Red Army assigned the engineer Mikhail Koshkin to lead a new team to design a replacement for the BT units at the Kharkiv Komintern Locomotive Plant (KhPZ) in Kharkiv. The prototype unit, designated A-20, was specified with 20 millimeters (0.8 in) of armor, a 45 mm (1.8 in) gun, and the new model V-2 engine, using less-flammable diesel fuel in a V12 configuration. It also had an 8×6-wheel convertible drive similar to the BT unit's 8×2, which allowed it to run on wheels without caterpillar tracks (Zheltov 1999). This feature had greatly saved on maintenance and repair of the unreliable unit track of the early 1930s, and allowed tanks to travel over 85 km/h (53 mph) on roads, but gave no advantage in combat. By then, the designers considered it a waste of space and weight. The A-20 also incorporated previous research (BT-IS and BT-SW-2 projects) into sloped armor: its all-round sloped armor plates were more likely to deflect anti-armor rounds than perpendicular armor. Koshkin convinced Russian leader Joseph Stalin to let him develop a second prototype, a more heavily armed and armored "universal tank" which could replace both the T-26 and the BT tanks. The second prototype Koshkin named A-32, after its 32 millimeters (1.3 in) of frontal armor. It also had a 76.2 mm (3 in) gun, and the same model V-2 diesel engine. Both were tested in field trials at Kubinka in 1939, and the heavier A-32 proved to be as mobile as the A-20. A still heavier version of the A-32 with 45 millimeters (1.8 in) of front armor and wider tracks was approved for production as the T-34. Koshkin chose the name after the year 1934 when he began to formulate his ideas about the new tank, and to commemorate the decree expanding the armored force and the appointment of Sergo Ordzhonikidze to head unit production. Koshkin's team completed two prototype T34s in January 1940. In April and May, they underwent a grueling 2,000-kilometre (1,250 mi) drive from Kharkiv to Moscow for a demonstration for the Kremlin leaders, to the Mannerheim Line in Finland, and back to Kharkiv via Minsk and Kiev. Some drive train shortcomings were identified and corrected. Resistance from the military command and concerns about high production cost were finally overridden by anxieties about the poor performance of Soviet units in Finland and the effectiveness of Germany's Blitzkrieg in France, and the first production tanks were completed in September 1940, completely replacing the manufacturing of the T-26, BT, and the multi-turreted T-28 medium unit at the KhPZ. Koshkin died of pneumonia at the end of that month (exacerbated by the drive from Kharkov to Moscow), and the T34's drive train developer, Alexander Morozov, was appointed Chief Designer. The T34 had the coil-spring Christie suspension of the BT, using a "slack track" tread system with a rear-mounted drive sprocket and no system of return rollers for the upper run of track, but dispensed with the weighty and ineffective convertible drive. It had well-sloped armor, a relatively powerful engine and wide tracks. The initial version had a 76.2 mm gun, and is often called the T-34/76 (originally a WWII German designation). In 1944 a second major version began production, the T34-85 (or T34/85), with a larger turret mounting a larger 85 mm gun.The T-34 posed new challenges for Red Army industry. It had heavier armor than any medium tank manufactured The T34 posed new challenges for Russian industry. It had heavier armor than any medium tank produced to that point, and subassemblies originated at several plants: Kharkov Diesel Factory No. 75 supplied the model V-2 engine, Leningrad Kirovsky Factory (former Putilov works) made the original L-11 gun, and the Dinamo Factory in Moscow produced electrical components. tanks were initially built at KhPZ No. 183, in early 1941 at the Stalingrad Tractor Factory (STZ), and starting in July shortly after the German invasion at Krasnoye Sormovo Factory No. 112 in Gorky. There were problems with defective armor plates, however. Due to a shortage of new V-2 diesel engines, the initial production run from the Gorky factory were equipped with the BT unit's MT-17 gasoline-burning aircraft engine, and inferior transmission and clutch. Only company commanders' units could be fitted with radios, which were expensive and in short supply. The L-11 gun did not live up to expectations, so the Grabin design bureau at Gorky Factory No. 92 designed a superior F-34 76.2 mm gun. No bureaucrat would approve production, but Gorky and KhPZ started producing the gun anyway; official permission only came from Stalin's State Defense Committee after troops in the field sent back praise for the gun's performance. Political pressure came from conservative elements in the army to redirect resources into building the older T-26 and BT tanks, or to cancel T-34 manufacturing pending completion of the more advanced T-34M design. This political pressure was brought to bear by the developer of the KV-1 and IS-2 tanks which were in competition with the T-34. (Political pressure between designers and factories producing different units to meet the same requirements continued much later post-war, including a period when the T-55, T-64, T-72, and T-80 were in concurrent production at several factories with differing political patrons on the supreme council of the USSR.  Germany's surprise attack against the Soviet Union in June 22, 1941 (Operation Barbarossa) forced the Red Army Union to freeze further development, and shift into full production of units. Germany’s rapid advances forced the evacuation of unit factories to the Ural Mountains, an undertaking of unprecedented scale and haste. KhPZ was re-established around the Dzherzhinski Ural Railcar Factory in Nizhny Tagil, renamed Stalin Ural tank Factory No. 183. The Kirovsky Factory was evacuated just weeks before Leningrad was surrounded, and moved with the Kharkov Diesel Factory to the Stalin Tractor Factory in Chelyabinsk, soon to be nicknamed tankograd ('unit City'). Voroshilov tank Factory No. 174 from Leningrad was incorporated into the Ural Factory and the new Omsk Factory No. 174. The Ordzhonikidze Ural Heavy Machine Tool Works (UZTM) in Sverdlovsk absorbed several small factories. While these factories were being moved at record speed, the industrial complex surrounding the Stalingrad Tractor Factory manufactured forty percent of all T-34s. As the factory became surrounded by heavy fighting in the Battle of Stalingrad, the situation there grew desperate: manufacturing innovations were necessitated by material shortages, and stories persist that unpainted T34 units were driven out of the factory into the battlefields around it. Stalingrad kept up manufacturing until September 1942.Barring this interruption; the only changes allowed on the manufacturing lines were to make the tanks simpler and cheaper to produce. New methods were developed for automated welding and hardening the plate, including innovations by Prof. Evgeny Paton. The design of the 76.2 mm F-34 gun Model 1941 was reduced from the earlier model's 861 parts to only 614. Over two years, the manufacturing cost of the unit was reduced from 269,500 rubles in 1941, to 193,000, and then to 135,000.  production time was cut in half by the end of 1942, even though most experienced factory workers had been sent to the battlefield and replaced by a workforce that included 50% women, 15% boys and 15% invalids and old men. At the same time T34s, which had been "beautifully crafted machines with excellent exterior finish comparable or superior to those in Western Europe or America" were much more roughly finished, although mechanical reliability was not compromised.  In 1942 a new hexagonal turret design, derived from the abandoned T34M project, entered manufacturing, improving the cramped conditions, and eventually adding a commander's cupola for all-round vision. Limited rubber supplies led to the adoption of steel-rimmed road wheels, and a new clutch was added to the improved five-speed transmission and engine.



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