- "I can't believe we took down Russian T-34s ! This is amazing !"
- ―Yukari during the match against Pravda.
The T-34 was a Soviet medium tank designed to be the successor of cavalry tanks like the BT series or the T-26. It became the mainstay of the Red Army's Armored divisions.
The program to replace the T-26 and BT tanks series was born in 1937, with Mikhail Koshkin comes with its first protoype the "A-20", armed with a 45mm gun it borrowed its predecessor's convertible drive system, a new Diesel engine and sloped armor. After the Battles of Khalkhin Gol in 1939, where Soviets fast tanks showed their limits as their armor thickness, rivets and petrol engines tends make them easy prey for Japanese Ha-Gos and IJA tank-killer teams with Cocktail Molotov, Koshkin convinced Stalin to authorize further development and the "A-32" protoype was developed with its thicker armor, Christie suspension and a 76.2mm gun. During tests at Kubinka, despite the increased armor it kept the same mobility as its forerunner so it was favored over the A-20. In 1940 they increased its armor even more, fitting with wider tracks and a new 76.2m L-11 gun, the new "T-34 Model 1940" was born. With about 400 models of this variant were made the production quickly switched to the "Model 1941" equipped with the new 76.2mm F-34 gun and new radios. In 1942 appeared the "Model 1942" that featured thicker armor protection and minor manufacturing improvements such as new tracks, wheel patterns or driver hatch. The "Model 1943" make its appearance in May 1942 featured a new hexagonal turret (cast or pressed depending on the factories), a little more armour, more storage for ammunition and more fuel.
Following the appearance of the long-barreled Panzer IV, the Tiger or the Panther, a new Soviet project destined to replace the T-34 and the KV-1 begun, the T-43. It featured a three-man turret, a heavier armor and torsion-bar suspensions, however because of the prototype was still vulnerable to German 88m guns, has its mobililty reduced by its armor and its manufacturing would have slow-down production the project was abandoned. However its turret design was used to be fitted with a 85mm gun (as the 76.2mm gun was unable to penetrate the Tiger's armor), so the T-34's chassis turret ring was enlarged to be fitted with the bigger turret, it became the T-34-85. The "Model 1943" with the 85mm D-5T gun was produced from January to March 1944, quickly followed by the "Model 1944" with the much simpler 85mm ZiS-S-53 gun from March to the end of 1944 and then by the "Model 1945" which featured a electrically powered turret traverse motor.
An unknown number were fitted with a high-velocity 57mm ZiS-4 L/73 to be used as tank destroyers, this variant was called T-34-57, ten of them participate at the Battle of Moscow in late 1941 where they were all destroyed not without inflicting tremendous damage to the enemy, the concept was revisited in 1943 but was dropped in favor of the T-34-85. Some were also equipped with a flame-thrower unit replacing the hull machine-gun, they were called OT-34 and OT-34-85. Finally the T-34's chassis was used to build tank destroyers SU-85 and SU-100 and self-propelled howitzers SU-122.
While it had been authorized for production, the T-34 was subjected to political pressure, essentially coming from Kliment Voroshilov its main competitor and some conservative elements of the Army, to end its production and redirect ressources to the T-26, BT-tanks or the KV-1.
At the start of the hostilities, the T-34 was proved to be a very unpleasant surprise for Germans as it was superior to any tanks they had in service and their main AT gun was ineffective against its armor, only 88mm AA gun and 105mm howitzers can harm them. Despite this in 1941 approximately 2300 T-34 were lost due to German tactical skills and mechanical breakdowns, also the poor leadership in tank tactics and lack of crew training, essentially coming from the 1937's Stalin's purges, reduced the army's efficiency and morale. All these factors negated the T-34's strategic value.
In 1942, the T-34 saw many improvements and play an essential role during the German Summer Offensive (Fall Blau), during the Battle of Stalingrad in December 1942 by performing a double encirclement manoeuver that cut off the German Sixth Army and take part to the last German major offensive during the Battle of Kursk in July. However in late 1942 and July 1943 the T-34 saw two new contenders appears, more armored and better armed, in the person of the Tiger I and the Panther. Both practically impervious to the 76.2mm gun and able to destroy the T-34 far outside its effective range. In summer 1943 the T-34 was judged outmatched by new German tanks, its evolution the T-34-85 was produced from January 1944 to the end of war. While its new 85mm was still not enough to match the Tiger it was a major improvement and it participate to all major Soviets offensive until the Battle of Berlin. The T-34 also saw limited action in the Manchurian campaign on August 1945, where it didn't encounter many resistance.
In 1943 Polish and Czechoslovak armies-in-exile also received T-34 "Model 1943", like the Russians in 1941 they suffered heavy losses due to little training. Ten Czechoslovak T-34s saw action during the Battle of Kiev on November 1943 where they performed very well with minimal losses.
Germany captured a large number of T-34s and use them under the designation Panzerkampfwagen T-34 747(r), they were fitted with cupolas and radio equipments. In July 1944 a single T-34 was converted into a self-propelled antiaircraft gun armed with a 2cm Flakvierling 38 in a new armored turret with an open top, it was named Flakpanzer T-34.
Finnish also used many T-34 either captured from the Soviets or purchased from Germany's captured stocks, they remained in service until 1968.
After the war, the T-34 was exported in many countries of the Warsaw Pact and Soviets client-states. And participate to numerous wars such the Korean War, the Angolan Civil War, Yugoslav Wars... Some are still in service in the 21st Century in several developing or third-world countries. Soviet Union eventually replace it with the more capable T-54/55 series in the 1950s.
In Girls und Panzer
Pravda Girls High School fielded thirteen T-34s, seven T-34/76 (one as flag tank) and six T-34/85, during the tournament semi-finals match against Ooarai Girls Academy. In the premises of the match, three T-34/76 were used as baits, two were destroyed by the StuG and the Panzer IV and the third run away to lead Ooarai to its flag tank guarded by four T-34s (two T-34/76 and two T-34/85). In the skirmish against Ooarai tanks one T-34/85 was shot down by the StuG, the rest (flag tank included) retreat to a village to ambush their opponent. Once surrounded with the help of the KV-2 and IS-2 they unleashed a hellfire on Ooarai tank, tearing the M3 Lee's 75mm gun, detracking the StuG and jamming the Panzer IV turret until their opponent took shelter in a church. After the cease-fire, the Panzer 38(t) destroyed one T-34/85 opening a breach in Pravda's first line, soon after in the second line two T-34/76s were destroyed and one T-34/85 was detracked by Turtle Team until Nonna's T-34/85 put an end to the carnage. All remaining operational T-34s, except the flag tank who stayed in the village with the KV-2, took pursuit on Ooarai tanks until Anglerfish and Hippo separate from the group and located the flag tank. The flag T-34 run in circle in the village to buy time for Pravda until the snow buried StuG place a direct hit at point blank range destroying it.
The T-34 performs the same as in the anime.
Pravda Girls High School fielded six T-34s, three T-34/76 and three T-34/85 teaming-up with St. Gloriana Girls College in the exhibition match against Ooarai Girls Academy and Chi-Ha-Tan Academy. At the beginning of the match, the T-34s were cut of St. Gloriana's forces by the Tiger(P), the B1 Bis, one Type 97 Shinhoto and the Type 95 Ha-Go, after a reckless charge one T-34/76 shot down the Shinhoto. During Ooarai retreat all T-34 were persuing the enemy flag tank, once falling in Ooarai trap three T-34s (two T-34/76 and one T-34/85) were destroyed by the StuG and the Type 3 Chi-Nu. After Ooarai's OY Line broken, Katyusha and Klara's T-34/85 took pursuit of the Panzer IV during which Klara lost control of her tank and almost crash in a building but Rosehip also lost control of her Crusader and collide with the T-34's rear fuel tank detonating it. While persuing some of Ooarai tanks the last T-34/76, ejected the StuG with a clear side shot and was then destroyed by a top shot from the B1 Bis. During the final race to reach Darjeeling's tank, Katyusha's T-34/85 disposed of the Chi-Nu and finally acted as a shield to the Churchill permitting it to destroy the Panzer IV.
Pravda comes with two T-34/85 (commanded by Katyusha and Klara) to help Ooarai against All-Stars University Team, they were assigned to Sunflower Platoon commanded by Maho. Once arrived at the top of Hill 203, the team got striked twice by the Karl-Gerät and got to relocate before the next strike. During the retreat Katyusha's T-34 was heavily assaulted by Pershings, to buy some time Klara sacrifice herself by delaying the opponent and finally taking a direct hit from the Karl destroying the tank. After the retreat to the Amusement Park the T-34 was assigned to Southern Gate. When the University Team broke out in the park, Miho relocate Southern Gate tanks to Eastern to support leaving only the T-34, the Tiger I and Tiger II. They were assaulted by three Pershings and one Chaffee, the T-34 destroyed one Pershing while the two others were destroyed by Maho and Erika while the Chaffee escape. The T-34 was one of the few tanks to not be trapped at the amphitheater, it then teamed up with Leopon and Anteater Team, where persued by three Pershing destroyed one, it then take pursuit of the Bermuda Trio alongside the Tiger(P) and the Tiger II using the Tiger(P) overpowered speed to slip behind, it then rams Rumi's Pershing alowing the Tiger II to destroy it until the T-34 was destroyed by Megumi.
Little Army 2
Pravda Girls High School fielded two T-34s, one T-34/85 (as flag tank commanded by Katyusha) and one T-34/76, during the Commemorative Cup semi-finals match against Saunders University High School. During the match the two T-34s are persued by two M4 Shermans, until the Firefly destroyed the T-34/85 flag tank with a well placed shot at teh turret ring.
Jatkosota High School fielded two T-34s, one T-34/76 (as flag tank commanded by Touko) and one T-34/85, during a practice match against Kuromorimine Girls Academy. The T-34/76's first move was a fire at a natural dam to flood a river bed to cut off isolate their opponent main force, a Panther commanded by Bauer narrowly escape the tidal wave only to be shot down by two T-34s and one BT-5. They spend the rest of the match exchanging fire with Kuromorimine's isolated forces until their opponent retook the initiative and cross the river. Both T-34s charged their enemy and were destroyed.
Saga of Pravda
During a practice match Pravda High School's first years fielded ten T-34s, five T-34/76 and five T-34/85 against the third years who fielded three T-34/85. During the match six first years T-34s were destroyed but they managed to destroy one of the third years tank, then a T-34/76 and a T-34/85 were destroyed by two third years T-34/85 leaving only Katyusha and Nonna's tank. Katyusha faint a surrender but fired a HE shell on the ground creating a smoke screen, Katherina order her tanks to pierce the smoke only for one of their T-34 to be shot down by Katyusha's one, then Katyusha protect the flag tank by deflecting all incoming fire until it get its sprocked wheel destroyed. All third year then fire on Katyusha's T-34 destroying it, until Nonna shot down the third year flag tank with a trap shot on the turret.
Pravda High School fielded eight T-34/85 during the 61st Sensha-dō Tournament against St. Gloriana Girls College. One of the T-34/85 persued the harassing Crusaders and fell into a trench disabling it, then Earl Grey gather all the attention with her Crusader squad permitting the Churchill to snipe down Pravda's flag tank. However Katyusha intercept the killing shot with her T-34 but the sacrifice was in vain as Assam fired a second time and pierce the IS-2 through the turret ring.
Gekkan Senshado Magazine
Pravda Girls High School fielded nine T-34s, four T-34/76 (one as flag tank) and five T-34/85, during the tournament first round match against Bonple High School. During the match, Pravda tanks advanced in line until Bonple tried a pincer movement until Pravda T-34s opened fire and annihilated them all.
Jatkosota High School fielded two T-34s from each models, during the tournament first round match against Blue Division High School. The two T-34s were placed at each side of a narrow path to stall Blue Division's vanguard helped by the Panzer IV and the Sturmi. It is unknown if the scored any hit.
Pravda Girls High School fielded eight T-34s, four T-34/76 (one as flag tank) and four T-34/85, during the tournament quarter-finals match against Viking Fisheries High School. After the KV-2 destroyed the city where Viking was taking shelter, all T-34s stormed the city ruins in a pincer movement (T-34/76s from the left and T-34/85s from the right) where all Vikings tanks were step by step all destroyed, only the two Panzer IIIs managed to inflict some damages to T-34s.
Jatkosota High School again fielded two T-34s from each models, during the tournament quarter-finals match against Kuromorimine Girls Academy. The two T-34s were placed alongside the others tanks behind a dune providing covering fire to BT squad until they were all destroyed.
- The Soviets designated the main production variants of the T-34 as T-34-76 and T-34-85 while the Germans designated them as T-34/76 and T-34/85 respectively.
- The T-34 is best remembered when it was commanded by the Soviet Top Tank Ace, 1st Lt. Dimitry Lavrinenko, in 1941 alone, he destroyed 52 guns and many guns, especially during Operation Barbarossa. His greatest career occured in October 6, during the Battle of Mtsensk, when he destroyed 15 out of the 34 Panzers for the duration of the battle. He died valiantly in December 18 just after freeing the village of Goryuny. However, it wasn't until May 5, 1990 when he was posthumously awarded the title Hero of the Soviet Union.
- The Finns referred to the T-34 as the Sotka after the common goldeneye, because the side silhouette of the tank resembled a swimming waterfowl. The T-34-85 was called pitkäputkinen Sotka ("long-barreled Sotka").
- During the defence of Vyborg in 1944, one T-34 was hit by eighteen HEAT shells from a BT-42 and survived. The Finnish HEAT shells were copies from German HEAT rounds, but they failed to adapt the fuses to the muzzle velocity and round spin rate of the 4.5 inch howitzer.
- During the Battle of Stalingrad, T-34s were still being built inside of the city and were often rushed out directly into battle, lacking paint and sometimes even gunsights.
- German soldiers nicknamed the T-34 Model 1943, "Mickey Mouse" because the two turret hatches when open were similar to Mickey's ears.
- In Little Army 2 until the last chapter the T-44 was drawn as a T-34/85, it hasn't been corrected in the paper version.
- A T-34-85, named "Rudy", became a popular icon in Poland when it appeared in the B&W TV series Four Tank-Men and a Dog (Czterej pancerni i pies in Polish). The tank used to film tank interior scenes with cameras placed inside the hull was a tank damaged during the Battle of Poznań and is now displayed in the Armoured Warfare Museum of Poznań.
- In the original manga they say that the T-34/76 could reach speeds of 55 km/h, however it is more suitable for T-34/85. The speed of T-34/76 on the highway did not exceed 50 km/h.
- In the manga it says that the power of the engine of the T-34 was 600 ps, but in reality it was 500 ps.
- Main article: T-34/Gallery
|Light Tanks and Tankettes||7TP • AMR-35 • BT-42 • Crusader • CV.33 • FT-17 • Harry Hopkins • M22 Locust • M24 Chaffee • Mark VI • Panzer II • Panzer 38(t) • R35 • T-60 • T-70 • Tetrarch • TK Tankette • Type 94 Tankette • Type 95 Ha-Go • Type 97 Te-Ke|
|Medium Tanks||Centurion • M3 Lee • M4 Sherman • M13/40 • Matilda II • P26/40 • Panzer III • Panzer IV • Panzer V "Panther" • SOMUA S35 • T-34 • T-44 • Type 89B • Type 3 Chi-Nu • Type 97 Chi-Ha|
|Heavy Tanks||ARL 44 • B1 Bis • Black Prince • Churchill • IS-2 • KV-2 • M26 Pershing • Mark IV • Panzer VI "Tiger" • Panzer VI Ausf. B "Tiger II" • Panzer VIII "Maus" • VK45.01 Porsche Tiger|
|Tank Destroyers||Elefant • Hetzer • ISU-152 • Jagdpanzer IV • Jagdpanther • Jagdtiger • Mareșal • Semovente da 75/18 • StuG III • T28 Super-Heavy Tank|
|Self-Propelled Artillery||Karl-Gerät 040|
|Main Battle Tank||Type 10|