In this day and age, it is easy to forget the sacrifice made by the Russian people in the Second World war. They suffered the most casualties of any nation involved, civilian and military, and fought also alone against the Nazi’s for many years. There tenancy and determination, along with their harsh winters, helped them turn the tide. But, it was also down to a revolutionary Tank that help shaped the future of tank design and counter the German Panzer dominance. This was the T34. If you fancy a bit of Tank Driving (not a T34 I’m afraid) then you could try https://www.armourgeddon.co.uk/tank-driving-experience.html were they can help you out.
In 1942 the situation was extremely desperate. The Battle of Britain had meant a delay to the Nazi’s plan to invade The Islands and so the attention turned to Russia as the Axis powers needed the oil and fuel reserves that Russia contained. This meant that pretty much the entire Wehrmacht’s best force were thrown against the Russian people. Matters came to ahead in Stalingrad. If the Nazi’s took the vital city, then little would be able to stop then as they surged onto to Moscow.
Out of this necessity arose the T345. The army needed a fast yet well armour tank that could complete with the German Panzers. The tank also had to be powerful so as to break through the armour of the Panzers. The T34 was completely capable of this, so much so that the German command called it the best tank in the world. It could go anywhere, get you there safely and allow you to smash the enemy when you did. It’s sloping front meant that shells fired at it from anti-tank tank guns and Panzerfaust missile launchers were defected off giving it a huge advantage. Most importantly it was easy and cheap to produce. This meant that it was able to replace the antiquated units the Soviet army had and be battle ready as soon as it rolled of the production line. Such was the high demand for them at the front that this was often the case and they would go unpainted straight into combat.
This did not come without a price. Almost forty-five thousand were lost and the Germans soon began to overtake the tank in terms of their own design. By then though it was too late, and they were being pushed back. The Human cost is another matter. The creation of “Tank City” saw many workers treated as little better than slaves. As the war ground many of the workers had been called up and sent to the front to fight, such was the countries desperate need. It was said that at the end of the war most T34’s was made by Women, Children and invalids with the remaining essential workers staying on to finish and assist. Whilst they may not have the finished look as the first ones they still did the job electrically and mechanically.