At its introduction, the T-34 possessed the best balance of firepower, mobility, protection, and ruggedness of any tank, although its initial battlefield effectiveness suffered from the unsatisfactory ergonomic layout of its crew compartment, scarcity of radios, and poor tactical employment. Its 76.2 mm (3 in) high-velocity gun was the best tank gun in the world at that time; its heavy sloped armour was impenetrable by standard anti-tank weapons; and it was very agile. Though its armour and armament were surpassed later in the war, when they first encountered it in battle in 1941 German tank generals von Kleist and Guderian called it "the deadliest tank in the world."
The failure of the T-43 project left the Red Army without the upgrade to the T-34/76 it needed to counter the increasing presence of the Tiger I. The Soviet command then made the difficult decision to retool the factories to produce an improved version of the T-34, with a turret ring enlarged from 1,425 cm (56 in) to 1,600 mm (63 in), allowing a larger turret to be fitted (and thus a larger gun). The T-43's turret design was hurriedly adapted to fit the T-34. The resulting new T-34-85 tank had the 85 mm gun and, finally, a three-man turret with radio (which had previously been in the hull). [Wikipedia]
|Armor||Front hull 45 mm
Turret front 90mm
|Primary Gun||85mm ZIS-S-53 tank gun|
|Engine||12-cyl. V-2 diesel 500 hp|
|Click thumbnail for larger image.|