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Rambler's Top100

3

T-34: Combat Employment Print E-mail
Medium Tanks

T-34 Medium Tank




Unrecognized tank unit is deployed in the forest. Probably May 1942. (Sovfoto)

The first mass production T-34 came to the tank formations of the Red Army late autumn 1940. However, the planned fighting training has begun only spring 1941. Unfortunately, much reorganization of the tank troops that were conducted last two pre-war years influenced negatively on the mastering the use of the new tanks.

As known, on November 21, 1939, Supreme Military Council of the Red Army decided to disband all existing (four) tank corps that existed in the Red Army by that time. Tanks brigades and mechanized divisions were created instead of them. Less then a year later the Ministry of the Defense makes diametrically opposite decision, and starts forming nine mechanized corps. Finally, in February-March 1941, the deployment of 20 more mechanized corps has begun.

Unfortunately, army had neither people nor machinery to do it. Nevertheless, the last pre-war year endless rearrangements were going on: some formations were deploying, others were eliminated, units of other types of forces were being hand over to the tank troops, etc. All of this was accompanied by shifting of units and formations from one place of distribution to others. Thus, by the beginning of the Great Patriotic War only those 9 mechanized corps which were created during summer 1940 were relatively efficient. But even in them the organization of the fighting training in some cases left much to be desired. In great use was the faulty system of the saving the moto-resource of the tanks, at which crews were training on worn-out machinery of the fighting-training depot. And the new, better and mostly different from earlier generation machinery was kept in hangars. It was no use of BT-2 tanks for training crews of BT-7 tanks, but it was non-sense when outdated T-26s were used to train drivers for newest T-34 tanks.


A T-34s with additional armor fitted by factory #27 are going to front. Leningrad area. 1942. (RGAKFD)

As a result, crews did not master most of the received T-34s. Mechanics knew the system of the tanks very poorly. This was one of the reasons for high percentage of non-fighting losses of the KVs and T-34s during first months of the war.

There are many discrepancy of the amount of T-34 tanks in the Red Army by the beginning of the war. More recently we find the information that by June 22, 1941, Soviet factories manufactured 1225 T-34 tanks. This is not quite right. This number of tanks was calculated during 1940 (total 115) and first six months of 1941 (total 1110), which ended June 30, not June 22. Of this amount of the machinery 97 tanks were accepted in 1940 and 1129 in 1941. After adding we get 1226 tanks (the difference between manufactured and accepted in one tank is permissible).

There is also no common opinion on the amount of T-34, which were in service in the frontier (western) military districts. The most recent is the number of 967. However, the amount of tanks (and not only tanks) of once or other type on the exact date of June 22 no one would count. The reports on the amount of tanks in the troops were released on the first day of each month.

By June 1, 194, Western military districts (Leningrad, Baltic special, Western special, Kiev special, and Odessa Special) had 832 tanks. 68 T-34s more were in the rear districts (Moscow, Kharkov, Orel). The difference between 967 and 832 is 135 tanks (some sources say 138), which could be received by the frontier districts during June.

Unfortunately, we cannot talk about the exact amount of T-34 tanks in mechanized corps of the districts. We have only parts of information. The South-Western Front was deployed on the base of the Kiev Special Military District. Thus, we can presume that the commander of the tank troops of the front composed the table in the beginning of July 1941 in retrospect, probably by memory.


This T-34 model 1942 is equipped with a loud-speaker for propaganda actions. (James Lul)

As to the Baltic Special Military District, two mechanized corps - 3rd and 12th - were distributed there. T-34s were only in 3rd. By January 1, 1941, the amount of them was 50. As it was planned, the 3rd Corps was to receive 103 T-34s more. We still don't know the amount of the received tanks by June 22, if the corps received any. Mechanized corps of the Leningrad Military District - the 1st and the 10th - had no T-34 tanks. Eight T-34s were at Leningrad Tanker's Training Courses.

Thus, we can't give the exact amount of T-34 in the frontier military districts. 967 can be considered the closest number to the truth. Is it a little or a lot?

By the beginning of the war Western frontier districts had 19 mechanized corps, including 10,394 tanks of all kinds (other sources state - 11,000). Taking in consideration tanks in some rifle, cavalry, and separate tank units this amount increases to 12,782 tanks (by information at June 1st). T-34 tanks were only 7.5% of this amount.


Probably damaged T-34. Winter 1942-43. (Federal Archive)

However, on June 22, 1941, Germany with its allies deployed 3,899 tanks and assault guns including the Reserve of Supreme commandment of Wehrmacht - 2nd and 5th tank divisions (originally didn't participate in fights) - against our Western frontier. Only 1,404 of them were medium tanks Pz-III and Pz-IV, so 967 T-34 tanks (we should consider also 504 heavy KV) were supposed to be formidable force.

Unfortunately, we couldn't use it in full. Unsuccessful location, shortage of people and equipment, lack of crews' training, reserve parts for tanks and evacuation vehicles significantly reduced fighting efficiency of the Soviet mechanized corps. During long marches (most of the mechanized corps formations were deployed pretty far from the borderline) not only old tanks but also new T-34s and KVs were breaking. Gearboxes and friction clutches were breaking because of inexperienced drivers. The most of breakage couldn't be fixed on the spot. And the provision of the troops with evacuating vehicles was too low. Mechanized corps were provided with tractors in average of 44% including trucks that were used as tractors for artillery but were useless for tanks towing. Even where tractors were available not always they could help.


A pair of STZ-65 tractors tow a T-34 model 1942 out of a bog near Sukhinichi, south west of Kaluga. The second tractor is out of view to the left, though the tow cable can be seen. This tank was attached to a tank unit of the 50th Army, the westernmost Red Army force facing the German Army Group Center in the summer of 1942. (Federal Archive)

Agricultural tractors "Stalinets S-60" and " Stalinets S-65" with draught of 4 tons manufactured in Chelyabinsk were basic evacuation vehicles of the tank units of the Red Army. They could manage towing T-26 and BT, but when trying to move 26-ton T-34 they were literally bristling up. It required two or even three tractors, which was not possible all the time. More than a half of all T-34s (and heavy KVs also) of the frontier districts were located in Kiev Special Military District, at the time when the main impact was at Western Special Military District.

However, the most dramatic events of the first days of the was related to tank battles in the triangle of Rovno-Lutks-Brody took place on the South-Western front and still undeservedly poor described in literature.

By the end of June 24, on the Rovno direction, on the junction of the 5th and 6th armies a gap of 50 kilometers occurred, where the formations of the 1st German Tank Group of the general E.Kleist (799 tanks) has directed. The threat of break in of the German troops and embrace of the basic troops of the South-Western Front from North was created. For liquidation of this threat and rout of the enemy a counter-offensive by forces of 8th, 9th, 15th, and 19th mechanized corps has been put on flanks of broken-through German troops on June 26-29.


Lieutenant's Shiukin evacuation vehicle (left) is going to tow a damaged T-34. July 1943. (RGAKFD)


Evacuation vehicle being is towing the damaged T-34 under the enemy fire. Kursk. July 1943. (RGAKFD)

The 9th Mechanized Corps (the commander - major-general K.K.Rokossovsky) and the 19th Mechanized Corps (the commander - general N.V.Feklenko), accomplished more than 200 kilometers march under continuous influence of the enemy's aircraft and now were East of Lutsk and were supposed to attack on Dubno from the North.

The 8th Mechanized Corps (the commander - major-general D.I.Ryabuishev) and the 15th Mechanized Corps (the commander - major-general I.I.Karpezo) were attacking on Dubno from the South and the North-West. We should emphasize that by the beginning of the war this corps had 286, 279, 858, and 733 tanks correspondingly, so 2156 at all! 181 of them were T-34s and 140 were KVs. Up to 50% of this amount didn't participate in the counter-offensive, because of many different reasons. A part of them was lost, a part broke down while going to starting positions, others just didn't come on time: the 7th Motorised Division of the 8th Mechanized Corps, for example, was still marching at that time. Nevertheless, at least 1000 tanks were ready to attack the enemy. The forces were distributed unevenly: 700 tanks were attacking from the South and around 300 tanks - from the North. And almost all of the T-34s and KVs were in the North formation.

The counter-attack of our troops has begun on June 26 and transformed into a counter-offensive with formations of the 1st Tank Group of the enemy. The especially strong defeat was put on the 48th German Motorised Corps, the 11th Tank Division was completely routed. However, we couldn't finish the operation with encirclement of the enemy because of lack of the precisely adjusted communication and co-operation between attacking corps and their higher staffs.

He's what V.S.Arkhipov, the commander of the reconnaissance battalion of the 43rd Division of the 19th Mechanized Corps wrote in his memoirs:

"Faint radio communication with long intervals was the reason for late information from the frontline to the higher staffs. That's why the decisions made by staffs and passed to the frontline most of the time were late and didn't answer to the changed situation. For example, evening of June 26, our division smashed the right flank of the 11th German Tank Division and routed one of its tank regiments and got to Dubno. We didn't know that the 8th Mechanized Corps of the general D.I.Ryabushev was successfully moving towards us from the South, fighting formations of the 48th Motorised Corps. Same situation has repeated next day, when all three corps - 36th Rifle, 8th and 19th Mechanized - again were attacking on Dubno direction. And again our neighbors, the 36th Rifle Division and us got near Dubno, but we didn't know that 34th Tank Division of the 8th Mechanized Corps under commandment of colonel I.V.Vasiliev was already in the city. Thus, July 26-27 Soviet tank wedges twice ran deeply - up to 30 kilometers - into both flanks of German motorised corps.

However, the absence of the connection between these units and mutual lack of information didn't let to finish the attack and encircle the 48th Corps between Brody and Dubno. By the enemy's troops we could see that this encirclement was imminent. Evening of June 26, when we were chasing Germans to Dubno, it was not an organized retreat, but panic escape of the enemy. Units of the 11th Tank Division mixed up and flee in panic. It showed also in fact that besides hundreds of prisoners we captured many tanks and armored personnel carriers and around 100 motorcycles left in good condition by crews. Approaching Dubno, at twighlight, tankers of the 86th Regiment saw eight German tanks at the end of their convoy, most probably Germans mistook our tanks for German. The crews surrounded with their tanks after the first request of our tankers. Prisoners usually were saying that they're not members of the National-Socialist party (NSDAP), and were gladly testifying. This kind of psychological condition of German troops - depression and panic - I've seen again only after the Battle of Stalingrad and Battle of Kursk. Hence it follows that counter-offensive of the mechanized corps of the South-Western Front started on the 5th day of the was had hard moral effect on Germans."

But according to the note dated June 29 in the diary of the commander of the General Staff of Wehrmacht, colonel-general F.Galder German troops were impacted not only morally:

"At the right flank of the 1st Tank Group the 8th Russian Tank Corps broke deeply into our position, and got to the rear of our 11th Tank Division. This enemy's breakthrough caused bad confusion in our rear around Brody and Dubno. The enemy threatens Dubno front South-West, and its very undesirable to lose Dubno, because of storage of ammunition and properties there."

By September 4, 1941, losses of the 1st German Tank Army were 408 tanks, 186 of them were irrevocable. This number could increase if 4th Mechanized Corps (commander - major-general A.A.Vlasov), which had 313 T-34s and 101 KVs, joined the counter-offensive. But this corps was acting Southern, in the area of the 6th Army. Our losses were also great - after three days of the operation all four mechanized corps were left almost with no tanks.


Damaged and stuck T-34 of "Krasnoye Sormovo" Factory. The "Viksunskiy metallurg" slogan is painted at the rear of the turret. (Federal Archive)

The amount of losses of the Red Army in period of June 22-July 9 were 11,712 tanks, among them almost all T-34s. And all of the losses were irrevocable, because it wasn't possible to fix the broken tanks - the battlefields were left for Germans.

Huge casualties and machinery losses, sluggishness and inflexibility in the management of the troops led to transfer from corps to smaller formations - brigades, regiments, and battalions.

Brigades of different organization were participating in Battle for Moscow. For example, the 8th Tank Brigade had regimental structure it had 22 T-34s, 7 KVs, and 32 light tanks. The 4th Tank Brigade (from November 11, 1941 - the 1st Guards Tank Division) was formed in September 1941, in Stalingrad by battalion scheme organization, including 49 tanks (16 of them - T-34s manufactured by STZ). This formation with commander M.E.Katukov was successfully acting around Orel and Mtsensk, fighting against the 2nd German Tank Group of the general H.Guderian, and after 360-kilometer march by itself, got into fight on the Volokolamsk direction. Speaking of the 1st Guards Brigade we should mention the senior-lieutenant Dmitrij Fedorovich Lavrinenko. He fought 28 battles. Three T-34 tanks of his were burned down. At the day of his death for the village Goruny (suburb of Volokolamsk) on December 17, 1941, Lavrinenko shot his 52nd tank of the enemy and became one the most effective Soviet tanker of the WWII (another tank ace was Guards Captain Konstanin Samokhin, during five months he was credited with 69 German tanks, 13 other AFVs, 82 guns, 117 motor vehicles. He was killed on the February 23, 1942). Its astonishing and insulting that Dmitriy Lavrinenko wasn't rewarded. Even after his death.



T-34-76 model 1942 of the major P.Ya.Roy. 25th Guards Tank Regiment, 2nd Guards Mechanized Corps. July 1943.

In the defense of Moscow T-34-57 tanks-hunters have participated. The 21st Tank Brigade that was acting on Klin direction had about 10 of these tanks. In just two days - October 15 and 16 - the brigade, acting from ambushes, shot 18 enemy's tanks.


A well camouflaged T-34 guarding the outskirts of the Ponuri rail station. Kursk. July 1943. (RGAKFD)

However, tank units of the Red Army, which were defending Moscow didn't have many T-34 tanks. Light tanks were prevailing, old ones as well as new T-60s. Let's say, that at the beginning of October 1941, the Western Front had 483 tanks, only 45 of which were T-34s and KVs. By the end of the year the amount of T-34 in the troops increased a little, but didn't exceed 25-30% of the whole amount of tanks.

The same situation was in 1942 as well, despite increase in manufacturing of T-34. For example, tank troops of the 61st Army by the beginning of Bolkhov attacking operation in June 1942, had 334 tanks of 7 different types. Only 67 of them (20%) were T-34.

However there is very interesting to see what the Germans thought about capabilities of the T-34. On 26 May 1942 the General der Schnellen Truppen beim Oberkommando des Heeres distributed the following "Instructions to units on the Eastern Front for Combating the Russian T-34 Tank with our Panzers" (cited from T.Jentz "Panzertruppen"):

"Characteristics of the T34.

The T-34 is faster, more maneuverable, has better cross-country mobility than our Pz.Kpfw.lll and IV. Its armor is stronger. The penetrating ability of its 7.62 cm cannon is superior to our 5 cm KwK. and the 7.5 cm KwK40. The favorable form of sloping all of the armor plates aids in causing the shells to skid off.

Combating the T-34 with the 5 cm KwK tank gun is possible only at short ranges from the flank or rear, where it is important to achieve a hit as perpendicular to the surface as possible. Hits on the turret ring, even with high-explosive shells or machine gun bullets, usually result in jamming the turret. In addition, armor-piercing shells fired at close range that hit the gun mantle result in penetrations and breaking open the weld seams. The T-34 can be penetrated at ranges up to 1000 metres with the 7.5 cm PaK 40 as well as the 7.5 cm Hohlgranate (hollow-charge shells)

Russian Tank Tactics.

In defense and covering a retreat, the T-34 with the turret at six o'clock is often dug in on a commanding height along a road or on the edge of woods or villages. Then after surprisingly opening fire from ambush, the T-34 can be driven out of the concealed position still under cover.

In correctly recognizing his technical superiority in weapons, the T-34 already opens fire on German Panzers at ranges from 1200 to 1800 metres. Because the T-34 is faster than the German Panzers, he can choose the range for a firefight.

Our Panzer Tactics.

Because the 5 cm KwK can only be expected to penetrate the flanks of the T34 at short range, the following tactics have proven been to be correct in combating them:

a. Attract and tie down the opponent frontally by having a Pz.Kpfw.III take up the firefight. Choose a hull down position or drive in a zig-zag course to make it difficult for the opponent to hit the target.

b. At the same time, utilizing all available cover, two other Pz.Kpfw.llls attempt to circumvent the T34 to the right or left in order to gain a position in the flank or in the rear and knock him out at short range with PzGr40 fired at the hull or rear.

c. If a Pz.Kpfw.lV is available among our own Panzers, it is to be employed in front of the opponent. The use of Nebelgranaten (smoke shells) can blind the T-34 or aid the other Panzers in closing in. It is also possible that the opponent will think that the smoke is poison gas and break off the action.

When encountering numerically superior enemy tanks (T-34 and KV), success has always resulted when our Panzer unit builds a fire front and overwhelms the enemy with fire. Even when no penetrations can be achieved, the enemy, impressed by the accuracy and rate of fire of the German Panzers, almost always breaks off the action.

The T-34 became the main battle tank of the Soviet tank troops only by 1943. It's shown on the example of the Center and Voronezh Fronts right before the Battle of Kursk.

Table 1. Distribution of the various tanks by July 1943.
Front Tank types Total
KV T-34 T-60 and T-70
Central Front 70 924 587 1581
Voronezh Front 105 1109 463 1677
Total 175 2033 1050 3258

Thus, among all tanks of two fronts in July 1943, T-34s were 62% in total and stood the hardest Battle of Kursk, including famous Prokhorovka.

Evening of July 10, 1943 the commandment of the Voronezh Front received order of Stavka to commit the counter-attack on German troops attacking in Prokhorovka direction.


The rare photo of T-34s being prepared for antiaircraft shooting. 1943. (I.Shmelev)

For this, the 5th Guards Army of the Lt.Gen. Zhadov and the 5th Guards Tank Army of the Lt.Gen. Rotmistrov were transferred from reserve Steppe Front to the Voronezh Front. The 5th Guards Tank Army was the first army of the uniform compound. The formation of the army has begun February 10, 1942 and by the beginning of the Battle of Kursk was stated around Ostrozhsk (Voronezh region). The 18th Tank Corps, the 29th Tank Corps, and the 5th Guards Mechanized Corps were parts of it.

11.00 PM July 6, the army received order to concentrate on the right shore of the Oskol river. 1.15 PM the advanced group of the army began moving, and in 45 minutes the main forces went on. It's necessary to mention the immaculate organization of the march. Head traffic was prohibited on all of the routes of the convoys. Army was moving 24 hours a day, with short stops for refueling. The march was surely covered with antiaircraft artillery and aircraft, and thanks to all of this, the march was unnoticed by the enemy's reconnaissance. Army has moved 330-380 kilometers in three days. And there was almost no broken machinery, which shows increased reliability of tanks as well as competent maintenance of the machinery.

On July 9, the 5th Guards Tank Army concentrated around Prokhorovka. Supposedly, the army with addition of two tank corps (the 2nd and the 2nd Guard) would attack on Germans at 10.00 AM together with the 5th Guards Army and the 5th Guards Tank Army, and the 1st Tank Army, and would destroy the broken-in enemy's group on the Oboyan direction, not letting it to retreat South. However, preparation of the counter-offensive, which began on June 11, was wrecked by the Germans, who attacked twice on our defense: first - in Oboyan direction, and then - on Prokhorovka. As a result of partial retreat of our troops artillery, which had a major role in counter-offensive, had losses, at the positions of deployment as well as in movements to the frontline.


A combined training T-34s and lend-lease Tetrarchs. Caucasus, autumn 1942. (Sovfoto)

Early morning of June 12, because of German attack on the 69th Army, a threat for the left flank of the deploying on the South-West of Prokhorovka main forces of the 5th Tank Army has occurred. The 6th and the 19th Tank Divisions (about 200 tanks) started attacking from the area of Melichove to Rzhavets.

Thus, two brigades of the 5th Guards Tank Army (tank, motorcycle, antitank, and howitzer regiments) were relocated to the 69th Army frontline. All those troops, were united in a group with commander - major-general K.G.Trufanov (about 100 tanks including T-34s) not only stopped moving North enemy, but threw him back to the starting point.

8.30 AM July 12, the main forces of the German troops, including the SS divisions "Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler", "Das Reich", and "Totenkopf", which had up to 500 tanks and assault guns, including 42 Tigers started attacking in Prokhorovka direction. At the same time, after 15-min artillery mission the German group was attacked by the main forces of the 5th Guards Tank Army, which led to deployment of the oncoming tank battle, in which about 200 tanks from both sides fought, and the enemy had more medium and heavy tanks than we did. This battle, in defiance of stereotypes, didn't take place at one single field like the Borodino or the Verden, but was on front up to 35 kilometers long, and appeared in many single tank battles.


T-34s before the attack. Stalingradsky Front. Autumn 1942. (I.Moshansky)

Despite suddenness of the attack, Soviet tanks were net by concentrated fire of the German antitank artillery and assault guns. However, the 18th Tank Corps on a high speed broke into the state farm "Oktyabrskiy" and, with huge losses, captured it. With moving forward the corps met enemy's tank group which had 15 heavy tanks Tiger, fought it for few hours, and by 6.00 PM turned to defense.

The 29th Tank Corps had maneuver fight for the height 252.5 with tanks of LSSAH Division, but after 4.00 PM was driven back by tanks of the "Totenkopf" Division, and after dark also turned to defense.

The 2nd Guards Tank Corps, that was attacking on Kalinin village, at 2.30 PM suddenly met the "Das Reich" Motorised Division SS, which drove it back to the starting point. The 2nd Tank Corps, that was covering junction between the 2nd Guards Tank Corps and the 29th Tank Corps moved back German units a bit, but came under fire of the 2nd echelon's assault guns and antitank guns, sustained losses and was stopped.


The battlefield near the Akhtyrka. Kursk. July 1943. (M.Svirin)

Despite the fact that the 5th Guards Tank Army, which was acting in line of 17-19 kilometers, could reach density of the attacking troops up to 45 tanks per 1 kilometer, it couldn't fulfill its mission. Losses of the army, excluding group of general Trufanov, were 328 tanks and self-propelled guns, and together with the attached formations reached 60% of the starting amount.

German troops lost 320 tanks only on the day of July 12, according to the report of the commander of the Voronezh Front. German statistics lowers this number to 218, and even to 190 tanks. Anyhow, by the end of July 12, the Germans left the battlefield in Prokhorovka, and by July 16 began organized retreating. Incidentally, "Citadel" operation has failed.

On July 12, the troops of the Bryansk Front started attacking. On July 18, a fresh tank group - the 3rd Guards Tank Army (475 T-34s and 224 T-70s) - got into the battle.


T-34 Model 1941. Notice the smoke discharging battery mount on the right side of the tank. Winter 1942. (RGAKFD)

On Belgorod-Kharkov direction the Soviet troops reached the starting line that they had before German attack by July 23. On August 3, a counter-offensive of the Voronezh and Steppe Fronts has begun. That time tank replenished formations. Thus, the 1st Tank Army had 549 tanks (412 of them were T-34s). After all T-34-76 tanks were used in mass in the Battle of Kursk and in all following operations in 1943.

However, we should mention that their main opponents were not tanks as many history buffs thought, but German antitank artillery. German antitank and tank guns caused 90% of our tank losses in 1943-1945. Unfortunately, modern tank "lovers" ignore those facts and keep comparing T-34 to Panthers and Tigers. Ridiculous, and nothing more!

Table 2. Losses of the T-34s depending of the German gun calibres.
Period Losses, %
20 mm 37 mm 50 mm L42 50 mm L60 75 mm 88 mm 105 mm 128 mm Unknown
Prior September 1942 4.7 10 7.5 54.3 10.1 3.4 2.9 0 7.1
Stalingrad operation, 1942-1943 0 0 25.6 26.5 12.1 7.8 0 0 28
Kursk Battle, the Central Front, 1943 0 0 10.5 23 40.5 26 0 0 0

From the table we can see clearly, that in 1943 66,5% of T-34s were shot by 75-mm and 88-mm tank guns (Pz-IV, Pz-V, Pz-VI) and antitank guns. At the beginning of the war the T-34 had advantage over the enemy's tanks in distance, for its better gun could hit any German tank from a distance up to 1,000 metres. While, the range of firing of enemy tanks usually didn't exceed 300 metres. In 1943, with increase in armor thickness of the German tanks, distance of the effective fire on them decreased and didn't exceed 500 metres. At the same time 75- and 88-millimeter long barreled German guns could hit the T-34 on the ranges of 900 and 1,500 metres relatively.

Thus, by the end of 1943, the T-34 was not longer suitable for the given tasks. After detailed examitation of the latest war experience, a special commission stated "the T-34 is no longer match to the current war conditions. It become permeable for Germans guns at all ranges". The modernisation has been needed. As a result the T-34-85 was developed. As to the T-34-76, since 1944 the amount of them in the active army was decreasing continuously. The rest of the tanks was still acting in all operations of the Red Army in 1944-1945, including Berlin operation, but in general it was taken out of the first line, and used in rear units as training tanks. T-34s were in some units of the Red Army up to the early 1950s.


A pair of T-34s from the 2nd Tank Regiment of the 1st Polish Tank Brigade. 1943. (Federal Archive)

Besides the Red Army, during WWII T-34 tanks served in the People's Army of Poland, People-Liberating army of Yugoslavia, and the Czech Corps.

In June 1943-January 1945, the Polish Army received 118 T-34 tanks, mainly from the factory "Krasnoe Soromovo" and from repair factories. By the end of the fighting in Europe all Polish units had 62 tanks of this type. Some tanks were re-equipped into armored evacuation vehicles and used even in 1950s.

We cannot give the exact amount of tanks received by the People-Liberating Army of Yugoslavia and by the Czech Corps. Most probably we can talk about few dozens.

The Wehrmacht used captured T-34s also. For example, the "Das Reich" Motorised Division had 25 T-34s at the time of the attack on Kursk, summer 1943. Some of them were equipped with German commander turrets. The Germans reconstructed some T-34s into self-propelled antiaircraft guns and evacuation vehicles.

The amount of T-34 in the Finnish Army didn't exceed 9 vehicles, seven of which served until 1960s.

Some T-34 were used by the Hungarian and the Romanian Armies, as well as the Russian Liberating Army (ROA) of the general A.A.Vlasov.


Translated by:
Tamara Kheyfets
Sources:
Bronekollektsiya #3, 1999;
I.Shmelev "The T-34", Technics and Armament #11-12, 1998;
Thomas I.Jentz "Panzer Truppen", Shiffer Military History, Atglen, PA;
J.Magnuski "Wozy bojowe", LWP, Warsawa, 1985;
"Soviet tanks in combat 1941-1945. The T-28, T-34, T-34-85 and T-44", Concord publ. company;
S.Zaloga, J.Grandsen "T-34 in action";
Cover picture - Don Geer

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