T-34-The Man, The Myth, The Legend


“File:Char T-34.jpg” by Antonov14 is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.5

By: Joe Lam, Journalist

Tanks are an important type of vehicle used for warfare. Especially in World War 2, where they proved to be very valuable when it comes to providing the attacking force a good place of protection (where infantries goes behind to tank, using it as a moving shield), and a great source of offensive (and defensive) firepower. All of the major countries, which is (but not limited to) UK, USA, Germany, France, Russia/USSR, quickly begin to developed their own type of tanks after Great Britain first put it into use in the Battle of Flers-Courcelette during WW1. During the 20 years between the 2 world wars, All of these countries have developed their own unique type tanks. The American M4 Sherman, British Churchills and Centurions, German Panzers (meaning “Panthers” in German), French Hotchkiss H35, and the Russians…(drumroll, please) the T-34. The T-34 is a German soldier’s worst nightmare on the Eastern Front. For it is famous for been nearly undefeatable, tons of German soldiers died from this beast, and many soldiers survived to tell this story to their families. Which is one of the reasons why the T-34 become so famous.


Like I mentioned in the paragraph above, all of the major countries (besides Russia) begins to design and make tanks. The countries who already have them (which is UK and France), begins to improve it and making new types of tanks. Joseph Stalin, the leader of the newly formed Union of Soviet Socialist Republic (Soviet Union), know that he need to improve his country’s many faults, especially in the military. During the 1920s to 30s, Stalin improve the Red Army to a whole new standard. They have 2 major type of tanks currently in service at the time. Which is the T-26 heavy tank, have a lot of awesome firepower but were as slow as a turtle, and the BT series of light tanks, which is a speedy boy, but the best thing it can handle is infantries and very lightly-armored cars, and both of them were foreign designs. With the T-26 been based on a British tank called Vickers 6-Ton, and the BT series tanks were made by a American designer called J. Walther Christie. The Red Army obviously have a problem. They needs a medium tank which can go pretty fast, but can also provides decent firepower. They then asked Stalin give them the permission to find a medium tank which can fit their standard. Stalin agreed, and so the Red Army then turned to a designer named Mikhail Koshkin, telling him to make a medium tanks that can go pretty fast and have decent firepower. Mikhail Koshkin then let a team of other designers and then begin to design a tank based on the BT tanks. They built the first prototype at the Komintern Locomotive Plant. The prototype, called A-20, were just a BT light tank with thicker armor, a more powerful engine, and a bigger gun. At the same time, USSR declared an “unofficial” war against Imperial Japan when they were fighting over land in northern part of China. At there, the Soviet T-26 often gotten whipped by the Japanese tank-destroyer team. Mainly because the T-26 used a petrol engine, which can easily burst in flame. After that war ended, Mikhail Koshkin, at the same time, have come up with a second design. It’s called A-32, after it’s 32-millimeter thick armor attached to the front. The A-32 is the very first model of T-34.


There are many different variants of the T-34, but the most famous one is the T-34/85. It is also the most successful type. The following stats info is ONLY for the T-34/85.

Length: 6.68 meters (21 feet and 11 inches)

Width: 3 meters (9 feet and 10 inches)

Height: 2.95 meters (8 feet)

Crew: 5 (driver, radio-operator, commander, gunner, loader)

Weight (when fully loaded): 32 tons

Speed: 38km/h (26 mph)

Range (while on paved road): 320 km (200 miles)

Armor (overall): 30 to 80 mm (1.18 to 3.15 inches)

Armament: one 85 mm (3.35 inches) ZiS-S-53 main gun, two DT machine guns in chambered in 7.62 mm (0.30 caliber)

Engine: A single V12 diesel-powered GAZ engine producing up to 400 bhp

Design feature

The T-34 is a very advanced tank for it’s time. it is fast, hard, packs a great punch, and it is very reliable and can handle all sort of conditions. But the best thing about it, at least to the Russians, is that it is very easy (and cheap) to mass-produce. The many different companies (which is the Kharkov Diesel Factory, Leningrad Kirovsky Factory, and the Dinamo Factory) that were assigned to make T-34 were making as fast as the Ford Motor Company makes Model T in the 1920s! Another famous feature is it’s thick armor. It is so hard, that there is nothing in the German inventory (beside the 88mm FLAK gun) that can pernitrate it’s armor (this have cause the Germans to created the single-shot rocket launcher called Panzerfaust, which did proved to be effective against the T-34). Not just that it’s armor were thick, but also they were tilted at a certain angle. Tests have shown that a piece of tank armor have a better chance of withstanding a direct blast from another tank when tilted at a certain angle. Which the T-34’s designers and builders have used it to it’s full advantages. The feared sight, for a German soldier on the Eastern Front, is to see a tidal wave of Soviet tanks charge straight toward them. And it is always the T-34, and another famous Soviet tanks called the KV-2, that let the charge.

T-34/85 vs. the American M4A1 Sherman

Both of these tanks were the trap card for both USSR and USA. Though the 2 type never encountered one another. The M4A1 Sherman is the improved version of the famous M4.


T-34/85: (overall) 30-80 mm, M4A1 Sherman: (overall) about 76 mm (3 inches)


T-34/85: one 85 mm gun, two 7.62 mm DP machine Guns, M4A1: one 75 mm gun, two M1919 7.62 mm machine guns


T-34/85: (road) 38 kph, M4A1: 48 kph


T-34/85 320 km, M4A1: 193 kph


After WW2 have ended, all of the countries that have fought in the war quickly start to replace, or upgrade, many of their wartime equipment, especially tanks. But the Soviets still retained the T-34 (for obvious reasons). And they pass them to other communist countries, such as China and North Korea, for them to use. Today, the T-34 is still in service in countries like Vietnam, Cuba, Yemen, and North Korea (this is not all of them). While these countries still use the type today, the Russians have retired them during the 1980s. The Russian armed forces may have retired them from service, but hundreds of retired T-34 still exist in many different war museums and monuments across the world in countries like Poland, eastern part of Germany, Finland, and others. There even a T-34 that was find in a bog in Estonia! People believe that this T-34 was captured by the Germans, and when they are driving it back to their base, they ran out of fuel and have to ditch it at a bog. When people fished the tank out from the bog, they find out that it is preserved so well that (after some repair and maintenance, of course) it still is in working condition. There is no doubt that the T-34 will be along for a very long time.