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George Collins

Was the Russian T-34 Really the Best Tank of WW2? HISTORYINSTANT ARTICLES

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Steve MacGregor writes, "Most early T-34s were not provided with radios. Only the platoon leader’s tank had a radio (approximately one tank in five). Communication during combat was intended to be by flag." Are you writing about June 1941, Steve? Actually, tank radio 71-TK-1 was installed on 3-4 of 10 RKKA tanks of all models by then. And how many Wehrmacht tanks would you say were equipped with radios at the time? I thought so...

Next, Steve writes, "According to the Armored Directorate of the Red Army, the average T-34 in World War Two lasted less than 200 kilometers (124 miles) before requiring major repair or overhaul. This means that a T-34 generally needed significant repairs before it had even used its first full tank of diesel!" Wow! But it's not clear how this failure rate is being assessed. It sure looks as the result of that "It wasn’t unknown for Soviet tank brigades to lose anything from 30% – 50% of their T-34s just traveling to the combat area." And how do you know that these were lost due to actual mechanical failures - not because the crews simply abandoned them and deserted? It is estimated that from 1 to 1.5 million RKKA personnel deserted and another from 3 to 4 million were captured as POWs in the first 6 months of the war. If during the same time period RKKA personnel managed to lose 6.3 million pieces of small arms (including some of the most reliable in the world - like Mosin rifle, TT hand-guns and Degtyarev machine-guns), it sure looks like mechanical failures had little to do with that.

If - as Steve says - "Taking all these things into account, it seems that the notion of the T-34 as the best tank of World War Two is little more than an enduring piece of Soviet propaganda," is true, so are the accounts of how exactly these thousands of tanks were abandoned in 1941. I doubt that von Kleist's and Guderian's opinion on T-34 that Steve himself quoted here was beat out of them by NKVD agents. 

Edited by George Collins

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Many recognised authorities rate the T34/85 the very best tank of WW2:-very powerful gun, heavy and well-shaped armour, and an excellent engine and drive-train. What's more, where sheer numbers mattered ,over 53,000 of all models were produced,more than any other tank:- including the Sherman.

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9 hours ago, Philip Whitehouse said:

Many recognised authorities rate the T34/85 the very best tank of WW2:-very powerful gun, heavy and well-shaped armour, and an excellent engine and drive-train. What's more, where sheer numbers mattered ,over 53,000 of all models were produced,more than any other tank:- including the Sherman.

What's most irritating about Steve's piece about T-34 is that he concludes with the "Soviet propaganda" jab, when in fact he goes along with many bits of what the said Soviet propaganda utilized to explain away the catastrophic collapse of RKKA in 1941 - particularly by minimizing and denigrating its enormous superiority in assets. Of course, if you read most of the archived field reports from the first months of the war, you would be mired in the description of countless transmission failures, broken clutches and alike explaining away rapidly melting tank regiments. But then there are these (a piece of memories of S.A.Afanasiev, a private tankman of the 8th tank regiment in the 4th tank division of the 6th mechanized corps):

"... In the morning of June 23 we were attacked by German aircrafts. We had the newest tanks, all of them T-34s and KVs. We were hiding in the forest. At that moment our battalion was under command of Captain Rassadnev, but I had not seen him since afternoon of June 23, as we used to scatter in all directions for several times that day...We retreated through roadless forests and swamps, as all the good roads were taken by the Germans. We left Volkovysk, Slonim, Baranovichi… We did not even get in contact with the enemy. I think the panic was generated by the officers themselves. They used to tear off their officer bars in soldiers' sight…We reached Smolensk this way, and the equipment we left there was just numberless! Everybody just fled, with materiel and weaponry (tanks, guns) being abandoned. I can't even tell where the combat took place as there was almost no combat. There was only one night when we had to break through the German landing force on our way; it was near Slonim or Stolbtsy… (165, page 260)"

http://www.solonin.org/en/book_june22/12

Steve should probably try to calculate how long "the average T-34 in World War Two lasted" based on accounts like this.

Edited by George Collins

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13 minutes ago, Nameless556 said:

Imagine thinking the Degtyarev guns are good. 

Good enough for the Germans and especially the Finns to use en mass when they captured them.

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6 hours ago, Nameless556 said:

Imagine thinking the Degtyarev guns are good. 

But they were. The L/54.6 version was still potent enough to cause US flyers grief in the skies over Hanoi, two-three decades after the end of WW2.

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On 12/5/2018 at 10:31 AM, George Collins said:

Good enough for the Germans and especially the Finns to use en mass when they captured them.

well yeah, by the end of 1942 to the end of the war the Germans and fins used anything they could get there hands on. 

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4 hours ago, Nameless556 said:

well yeah, by the end of 1942 to the end of the war the Germans and fins used anything they could get there hands on. 

You probably should - but you don't apparently - know that the German arms production really started to accelerate only by 1942 and dropped off only toward the second half of 1944. In particular, assault gun production in 1943 was almost 6 times higher than that in 1941.

 https://ww2-weapons.com/german-arms-production/

Edited by George Collins

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On 12/6/2018 at 5:21 PM, George Collins said:

You probably should - but you don't apparently - know that the German arms production really started to accelerate only by 1942 and dropped off only toward the second half of 1944. In particular, assault gun production in 1943 was almost 6 times higher than that in 1941.

 https://ww2-weapons.com/german-arms-production/

well yeah I know it really picked up during 1943-1944. In 1944 alone they produced 18,900 tanks, more then any other time in the war.    But in between they still used almost anything they could get there hands on. Such as during Stalingrad when they used the PPSH and DP-27. But they were still poor guns, with the RPM being far too low ( 550 )  And the Pan magazine was prone to damage, the Bipod could break if not handled carefully.  The recoil spring's location near the barrel led also  to overheating

Edited by Nameless556

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