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Armor in World War II Discuss all aspects & disciplines of World War II Armor here.

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  #1  
Old 14 Mar 12, 18:11
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Why not a British/US T34?

There may be very good reasons why this didn't happen, however, I was thinking that the Soviet T34 (I believe the T34/76 was introduced in 1941 and the T34/85 in 1944) was an excellent tank and better than any in use by the British/US forces at the same time. So why didn't the Soviet powers give the building blueprints to the other allies? It would not have meant the Soviets having to build them and ship them to the UK, Britain and the US had the capacity to build the tanks, just not a good enough tank to build.To me it seems it would have saved a lot of tank crews lives to have them.

Were the Soviets unwilling to hand the plans over, did the other Allies not consider using the T34? Or were there other reasons?

I would appreciate your thoughts please.

Regards
VR
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  #2  
Old 14 Mar 12, 18:46
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We probably agree that the T-34 was the best medium tank in the world in 1941, Vimy Ridge, but in late 1942 I think the Sherman was - for many of the same reasons!

The Soviets and Americans did not advance these designs much for the rest of the war, but concentrated on mass production of these proven vehicles at the expense of serious innovation.

The advantages of their presence everywhere were enormous.

A US infantry division in 1944 had more tanks at its disposal than a Panzer division.
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Old 14 Mar 12, 19:19
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Originally Posted by Vimy Ridge View Post
... I was thinking that the Soviet T34 (I believe the T34/76 was introduced in 1941 and the T34/85 in 1944) was an excellent tank and better than any in use by the British/US forces at the same time...
It was what? The M4 was clearly superior to the T-34, IMHO, and I don't see any argument that can be offered to contradict this. I'm sorry I don't have citations here and now but I can provide them. The guns are very similar, 75 to 76 and 76(US) to 85. If you factor in that our sights were superior you should give this nod to the M4. The M4 was roomier and crewed 5 while the T-34(76) crewed 4, a serious drawback when it comes to target acquisition and first shot. The T-34 had better sloping to its armor but the quality, from what I recall, was inferior and more prone to spalling. T-34 in Action is a book based on interviews of Soviet tankers that manned the T-34 and they spoke of serious problems with driving the machine, often the BOG had to assist the driver in shifting gears. The M4 was legendary for reliability, durability and running with little maintenance while T-34's did not have this reputation through the war.

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Originally Posted by Vimy Ridge View Post
I would appreciate your thoughts please.
VR
I will check back when I have a chance to fact check a bit. I think they liked using the 4000 M4's we sent them, if I recall. Had we filled them with Spam I think they would have loved them.
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Old 14 Mar 12, 23:30
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How long would it have taken to convert the T-34 design from metric to US measurements/standards? How long to modify the design to use US engines, drive trains, guns, optics, radios, etc.? How long would the US have been producing many fewer medium tanks while the production lines were retooled to make T-34s?

All simple math questions where the answer is 2. 2 long.

It just wasn't practical to change tank designs during a war. More effective to improve what you're already manufacturing, if you can get the Armor Board to approve even that kind of change.
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Old 14 Mar 12, 23:53
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The M4 was superior to the T-34, 'nuff said.
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  #6  
Old 15 Mar 12, 01:04
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The T-34 was a fine tank, suited for Soviet needs. Its faults were many, but the numbers built overcame most of them. First problem I can think of is we did not have a diesel aircraft engine to put in it! The Soviets also used a lot of aluminum in that engine. Second thing is could a T-34 derivative fit on the railroads in the US? It might have been too wide (this was a major problem in the UK with its older, narrow lines). Thirdly could the US Industry standards produce a vehicle this "rough"? The welding was sloppy and the armor has been mentioned.

The German Industry would have Prettied the design and still came up with something like a Panther! The US might have used the 75mm low velocity gun but how well did it fit in the tank? The 76mm high velocity gun instead of the 85mm is in my opinion a step backward.

The T-34/85 did use 5 crewmen. The problem with the earlier T-34's was there was only two men in the turret, with no turret basket! I don't know when the Soviets started using the turret basket. The Israelis had to remove the turrets in the T-54's and T-55's to install a basket. They might have need to do it to the T-62 as well.

I wonder which of the 5 man T-34/85 man crew would have operated a radio? Other designs often used what was one of two co-drivers on the T-34. I think the T-34 needed two drivers! That probably leaves it to the tank commander.

The M-4 just having a radio put it ahead of a T-34. The Shermans, Lees and Grants in the Red Army were carrying radios. Most German 3 inch cannon and bigger could and did penetrate both tanks.

Pruitt
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Old 15 Mar 12, 01:22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vimy Ridge View Post
There may be very good reasons why this didn't happen, however, I was thinking that the Soviet T34 (I believe the T34/76 was introduced in 1941 and the T34/85 in 1944) was an excellent tank and better than any in use by the British/US forces at the same time. So why didn't the Soviet powers give the building blueprints to the other allies? It would not have meant the Soviets having to build them and ship them to the UK, Britain and the US had the capacity to build the tanks, just not a good enough tank to build.To me it seems it would have saved a lot of tank crews lives to have them.

Were the Soviets unwilling to hand the plans over, did the other Allies not consider using the T34? Or were there other reasons?

I would appreciate your thoughts please.

Regards
VR
It's a very fair point. The T34/85 was ,in my view, quite superior to anything in the western arsenals until quite late in the war- certainly better than any British-designed tank until the arrival of the Comet, and even then....!

People suggesting that the M4 as superior surely have forgotten its combustible reputation.
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Old 15 Mar 12, 02:20
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Just as a side note, it's pretty retarded to discuss a tank's production quality where only design is concerned. The early T-34 models, produced in peacetime by skilled workers at the sites where they were originally intended to be produced, were of good quality. Comparing Shermans produced in such conditions to T-34s made by teenagers in extreme urgency in hastily built shacks is a case of self-serving dishonesty of our Sherman cheerleaders, real advantages or flaws of both tanks notwithstanding.
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Old 15 Mar 12, 04:35
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pruitt View Post
The T-34 was a fine tank, suited for Soviet needs. Its faults were many, but the numbers built overcame most of them. First problem I can think of is we did not have a diesel aircraft engine to put in it! The Soviets also used a lot of aluminum in that engine. Second thing is could a T-34 derivative fit on the railroads in the US? It might have been too wide (this was a major problem in the UK with its older, narrow lines). Thirdly could the US Industry standards produce a vehicle this "rough"? The welding was sloppy and the armor has been mentioned.

The German Industry would have Prettied the design and still came up with something like a Panther! The US might have used the 75mm low velocity gun but how well did it fit in the tank? The 76mm high velocity gun instead of the 85mm is in my opinion a step backward.

The T-34/85 did use 5 crewmen. The problem with the earlier T-34's was there was only two men in the turret, with no turret basket! I don't know when the Soviets started using the turret basket. The Israelis had to remove the turrets in the T-54's and T-55's to install a basket. They might have need to do it to the T-62 as well.

I wonder which of the 5 man T-34/85 man crew would have operated a radio? Other designs often used what was one of two co-drivers on the T-34. I think the T-34 needed two drivers! That probably leaves it to the tank commander.

The M-4 just having a radio put it ahead of a T-34. The Shermans, Lees and Grants in the Red Army were carrying radios. Most German 3 inch cannon and bigger could and did penetrate both tanks.

Pruitt
I believe the radio operator was the bow gunner, same as in the M-4 and German tanks. They have next to nothing to do, most of the time.
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Old 15 Mar 12, 05:03
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I susoect one of the reasons was to do with tooling, and the way in which industry and the necessary supply chains were already engaged.

The Soviet supply chain was geared and tooled up provide the parts, materials and components required for the T-34, the US/Commonwealth supply chain was geared and tooled to provide parts, materials and components for the M4......and then the UK was busy working on developments of it/s own (Cromwell/Comet).

I suspect there would have had to have been quite an effort on the part of either the Soviets or the US to adapt drawings, and then change over supply chain/tooling to mass produce the other's design......the cost of doing this could have been significant down time on exisiting lines and a sa result a drop or drop out of the supply of the current vehicle for both - which would not have been welcomed or probably deemed feasible at the time!

Just my slant on it without even looking at the attributes of the vehicles in question!
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Old 15 Mar 12, 05:11
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Its called 'The Great Tank Scandal'. If those responsible had been executed for treason early enough in the war maybe T-34s couldve been put into production and save a lot of tears. For a long time the Brits didnt even have a decent tank engine just cobbled together modified bus engines. Eventually RR Merlins got converted.
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Old 15 Mar 12, 05:40
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JBark View Post
It was what? The M4 was clearly superior to the T-34, IMHO, and I don't see any argument that can be offered to contradict this. I'm sorry I don't have citations here and now but I can provide them. The guns are very similar, 75 to 76 and 76(US) to 85. If you factor in that our sights were superior you should give this nod to the M4. The M4 was roomier and crewed 5 while the T-34(76) crewed 4, a serious drawback when it comes to target acquisition and first shot. The T-34 had better sloping to its armor but the quality, from what I recall, was inferior and more prone to spalling. T-34 in Action is a book based on interviews of Soviet tankers that manned the T-34 and they spoke of serious problems with driving the machine, often the BOG had to assist the driver in shifting gears. The M4 was legendary for reliability, durability and running with little maintenance while T-34's did not have this reputation through the war.



I will check back when I have a chance to fact check a bit. I think they liked using the 4000 M4's we sent them, if I recall. Had we filled them with Spam I think they would have loved them.
I have T-34 in Action, JBark, and you'll remember Aleksandr Burtsev saying:

We studied driving practice and tactics on T-26 and BT-7 tanks and fired from the tanks we were trained for. As I said, at first these were Matildas and Valentines, then T-34s. To tell the truth, we were afraid of being posted to fight in foreign-made tanks: the Matildas, Valentines and Shermans were coffins. True, their armour was ductile and didn't produce splinters, but the driver sat separately and if you'd turned the turret and the tank was knocked out of action like that the driver could never bail out. Our tanks were the best. The T-34 was a superb tank.


More objectively, the definitive Sherman M4A3E8 was less strongly armoured than the T-34/85, partly due to the lack of slope in the hull front and sides.

The Soviet 85mm had similar AP performance to that of the US 76mm, while its HE round carried twice as much charge. As you read in that book, the most common job for the tanks was firing anti-personnel and HE shells. Only a third of the loadout was AP and HVAP rounds. "Most of the tankmen whose recollections are in this book could claim only a few armoured vehicles destroyed, whereas the number of enemy infantrymen killed by the main gun and machine-gun amounted to dozens and even hundreds", T-34 In Action says.

The T-34 was lighter and faster than the Sherman and its V-2 diesel engine gave it nearly twice the operating range.

There is more sophistication in the Sherman, and as ShAA points out, this is reflected in the priority given to ease of manufacture. Scott Fraser has said in the past that the early T-34s had much higher quality build standards, but these had to go out the window when the war needed to be won.

Zaloga quotes a 1953 American report on Soviet ordnance warning readers that:

although welds in Soviet tanks are inferior in quality and much more brittle than corresponding welds in American tanks, this condition has not been a major factor in impairing the battlefield performance of Soviet armour. Poor joint fits, sloppy appearance, jagged and rough finishes should not divert attention from the fact that the Soviet tanks are rugged and battle-worthy and require many fewer man-hours of labor, precision machine tools, jigs and fixture to construct than corresponding American tanks.

Last edited by clackers; 15 Mar 12 at 15:09..
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Old 15 Mar 12, 05:50
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BELGRAVE View Post
It's a very fair point. The T34/85 was ,in my view, quite superior to anything in the western arsenals until quite late in the war- certainly better than any British-designed tank until the arrival of the Comet, and even then....!
The T34/85 itself only arrived quite late in the war (Spring '44?) and wouldn't have beaten the Sherman Firefly or 76mm into combat by much. By much time that is.
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Old 15 Mar 12, 05:55
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pruitt View Post

The M-4 just having a radio put it ahead of a T-34. The Shermans, Lees and Grants in the Red Army were carrying radios.
The T-34s contemporary of the Shermans, Lees and Grants had radios, too, Pruitt, based on a British aircraft design.

The T-34s built in the first stages of Barbarossa suffered from the evacuation of the Soviet radio manufacturing plants (although the sets built at the time were crap anyway.}

But overall, there was no need for the US to 'dumb down' its terrific car factory based tank building facilities to make the T-34, nor a need for the Soviet Union to uptool its giant but simple sites to try to produce Shermans.

Both countries produced the tanks they needed to fit their war-winning strategies in the numbers required.

There is a big contrast in the middle of 1943, where the Germans delay Citadel to include a limited number of the newest armoured toys (Panther and Elefant), whereas the Soviets actually choose to keep manufacturing the almost obsolescent T-34/76 in order to have enough tanks to distribute along the length of the front to support their summer and autumn offensives.

Last edited by clackers; 15 Mar 12 at 15:21..
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Old 15 Mar 12, 06:24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Johnny_BoomBoom View Post
I susoect one of the reasons was to do with tooling, and the way in which industry and the necessary supply chains were already engaged.

The Soviet supply chain was geared and tooled up provide the parts, materials and components required for the T-34, the US/Commonwealth supply chain was geared and tooled to provide parts, materials and components for the M4......and then the UK was busy working on developments of it/s own (Cromwell/Comet).

I suspect there would have had to have been quite an effort on the part of either the Soviets or the US to adapt drawings, and then change over supply chain/tooling to mass produce the other's design......the cost of doing this could have been significant down time on exisiting lines and a sa result a drop or drop out of the supply of the current vehicle for both - which would not have been welcomed or probably deemed feasible at the time!

Just my slant on it without even looking at the attributes of the vehicles in question!
The T-34 had some fundamental advantages that could have readily been adapted to production elsewhere without as much disruption as may be thought.

1.) The first real advantage was its basic simplicity. It was fundamentally no more than a steel box made from twelve rolled steel plates. When you look at how it differed from the Panther, its nearest equivalent in general configuration (eleven plates), there are important differences.

The first T-34s were made like the Panther. Every edge of every plate was carefully milled, chamfered and bevelled to fit precisely. It was skilled work, requiring expensive machinery and much time, and also wasted much material.

At the end of 1941, the construction of the hull was completely redesigned to eliminate the machining of every edge but one. Then they figured out how to cut the parts from cold steel instead of hardened plate, assemble them and then temper the entire hull in one piece. The time to build a tank was reduced by 75%. Parts could now be cut from a large sheet of plate with a gas torch and then slapped together, the gaps filled in with copious welding and a turret stuck on. Starting from 1942, T-34 turrets were no longer welded from plate. They were cast, which was quicker, easier, and vastly more economical of steel, machinery and manpower than cutting and welding pieces, like the Germans were doing.

That is the first great strength of the T-34, its brute simplicity, what the Germans disparaged as crudeness. It was ideally suited to large-scale mass-production, something only possible in the USSR or USA where giant factories could sprawl unmolested by bombers. The acceleration of Soviet production technology and their success in mastering mass-production is another story, but also an essential part of the tank's success.

2.) Geometry is the obvious great advantage of the T-34. The sloped armour was extremely efficient, although it came at a cost. The interior was very confined, which significantly reduced is effectiveness in combat. I suspect that the army would object to adopting it because of that.

Other that that, the T-34 is just a steel box and a turret. It needs a gun and an engine, not necessarily the ones it came with. It was the box that mattered, not whether the dimensions or nuts and bolts were in inches or millimeters. There was no need for interchangeability of parts. Any new transmission assembly would have been an improvement, adapted to work with an existing V-8 tractor or airplane engine of suitable rating. Fit it with a gun, paint it green, and it's good to go.

There is no doubt the USA could have built a better mousetrap. That said, they had a considerable investment in their own technology. They'd been building VVSS suspension systems for years, fed by an established network of experienced suppliers. If it ain't broke, don't fix it. They were set up to build Shermans, so they did.

Regards
Scott Fraser
__________________
Ignorance is not the lack of knowledge. It is the refusal to learn.

A contentedly cantankerous old fart

Last edited by Scott Fraser; 15 Mar 12 at 06:43..
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