T-34 variants

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Main article: T-34
T-34 variants
T-34 prototypes.jpg
T-34 family portrait, 1941
(BT-8, A-20, T-34 Models 1940 and 1941)
Type Medium tank
Place of origin  Soviet Union
Service history
In service 1940–96
Production history
Produced 1940–56
Number built about 84,070

The T-34 medium tank is one of the most-produced and longest-lived tanks of all time.

Identification of T-34 variants can be complicated. Turret castings, superficial details, and equipment differed between factories; new features were added in the middle of production runs, or retrofitted to older tanks; damaged tanks were rebuilt, sometimes with the addition of newer-model equipment and even new turrets.[1] Some tanks had appliqué armor made of scrap steel of varying thickness welded on to the hull and turret; these tanks are called s ekranami ("with screens"), although this was never an official designation for any T-34 variant.

T-34 model 1941 s ekranami, manufactured at STZ, with appliqué armour welded to the hull.

Model naming[edit]

German intelligence in World War II referred to the two main production models as T-34/76 and T-34/85, with minor models receiving letter designations such as T-34/76A—this nomenclature has been widely used in the west, especially in popular literature. Since at least the 1980s, many academic sources (notably AFV expert Steven Zaloga) have used Soviet-style nomenclature: T-34 and T-34-85, with minor models distinguished by year: T-34 Model 1940. (This page has adopted that convention.)

Since the break-up of the Soviet Union, newly declassified sources have demonstrated that all T-34s with the original turret and F-34 gun (conventionally known as Models 1941 and 1942) were officially called "Model 1941", and hexagonal-turret T-34 (Model 1943) was officially called "Model 1942".

Because many different factories manufactured T-34s, with components built by subcontractors, the listing below merely gives a broad overview and does not capture every possible variant. Also, not every factory implemented all model changes at the same time. For example, factory No. 112 continued building narrow-turret 76 mm armed models long after all other plants had switched to hexagonal-turreted tanks.

List of models and variants[edit]

The original T-34 Model 1940 can be recognized by the low-slung barrel of the L-11 gun, below a bulge in the mantlet housing its recoil mechanism. This particular vehicle is a pre-production A-34 prototype, recognizable by the small driver's hatch and single-piece front hull.

Soviet Union[edit]

Tanks[edit]

The model 1942 had an all-new hexagonal turret with bulbous trunnion housing.
A commander's cupola was added during the model 1942 production run to improve all-round vision. This variant was known as T-34 Model 1943.
T-34-85 with D5T gun, manufactured at Factory 112.
The T-34-85 had a larger three-man turret, with a long 85 mm gun.
  • T-34
    • Model 1940 (German designation: T-34/76A) - This was a production model built in 1940, armed with a L-11 76.2 mm tank gun; it had a welded or cast two-man turret. Due to a shortage of new V-2 diesel engines, the initial production run from the Gorky factory was equipped with the BT tank's MT-17 gasoline-powered engine and an inferior transmission and clutch (Zheltov 2001:40–42).
    • Model 1941 (T-34/76B) - This production model was built in 1941, with a heavier armor, a cast or welded two-man turret, and the superior F-34 tank gun.
    • Model 1942 (T-34/76C) - This was a production model built in 1942, with increased armor protection[citation needed] and many simplified components. It had new 'waffle' tracks, new wheel patterns, a new driver's hatch and a round transmission access cover. Some had the headlight moved to the left side of the hull. Most were equipped with cast two-man turrets although a few welded ones remained.
    • Model 1943 (T-34/76D, E, and F) - This production model was built from May 1942 to 1944, with a cast or pressed hexagonal turret. It was nicknamed "Mickey Mouse" by the Germans because of its appearance with the twin round turret roof hatches open. Official Soviet military designation was Model 1942. Turrets manufactured in different factories had minor variations, sometimes called "hard-edge", "soft-edge", and "laminate" turrets, but in military service these details did not warrant different designations.
      • Earlier production is sometimes called Model 1942/43, and was designated T-34/76D by German intelligence.
      • Later production variants had a new commander's cupola. This variant was referred to as T-34/76E by the Germans.
      • Turrets produced at Uralmash in Sverdlovsk (Yekaterinburg) had a distinctive rounded appearance because they were made in a special forge. Tanks produced with these turrets there and at Chelyabinsk were called T-34/76F by the Germans.[2]
    • T-34/57 - A very small number of T-34s were fitted with the ZiS-4 L/73 high-velocity 57 mm gun in 1941 and 1943 to be used as tank destroyers. This gun had better penetration than the 76.2 mm F-34 (140 mm of steel at 500 m, as opposed to 90 mm), but the small HE projectile was inadequate for use against unarmored targets.
    • OT-34 - This was a T-34 flame-thrower tank fitted with an internally mounted flamethrower replacing the hull machine-gun. Usually it was a modified Model 1941 with the ATO-41 flamethrower or Model 1942 with ATO-42.
  • T-34M - This unit was a prototype (A-43) with improved armor, hexagonal three-man turret, torsion bar suspension, sprung road wheels, and increased fuel and ammunition storage. Five hulls were built, but development was abandoned when the war broke out.
  • T-34-85
    • Model 1943 - This production model was built from February to March 1944 at Zavod 112, with the 85 mm D-5T gun and a new larger cast three-man turret, a commander's cupola and two dome-shaped ventilators clustered together on top of the turret.
    • Model 1944 - This was a production model built from March 1944 to the end of 1944, with the simpler 85 mm ZiS-S-53 gun. The radio was moved from the hull into the turret and the commander's cupola was moved rearward. There was an improved layout and a new gunner's sight.
    • Model 1945 - This was a production model built in 1944-45, with an electrically powered turret traverse motor, an enlarged commander's cupola with a one-piece hatch, squared front fenders, and the TDP (tankovoy dimoviy pribor) smoke system with electrically detonated MDSh canisters.
    • Model 1946 - This was a production model built in 1946, with the improved V-2-34M engine, new wheels and other minor details.
    • Model 1960 - A refurbishing program introduced a new V-2-3411 engine and an improved air cleaner, a cooling and lubrication system, a battery generator, new BDSh smoke canisters, an infrared headlight, a driver's sight and a 10-RT radio set instead of the old 9-R.
    • Model 1969 (also called T-34-85M) - This was a refurbishing program introducing the new R-123 radio set, 'starfish' roadwheels from the T-54 tank, night driving equipment, drivetrain improvements, repositioned or removed smoke canisters to make a space for additional 200-litre external fuel tanks and a ditching beam at the rear. An external fuel pump was added to ease refueling.
    • OT-34-85 (sometimes called TO-34) - This was a T-34-85 flamethrower tank, with the ATO-42 in place of the bow machine gun.

Tank destroyers[edit]

  • SU-85 was a T-34-based tank destroyer armed with an 85 mm D-5T gun.
  • SU-100 was a T-34-based tank destroyer armed with a 100 mm D-10S gun.

Self-propelled howitzers[edit]

  • SU-122 - This unit was a T-34 based self-propelled howitzer armed with a 122 mm M-30S howitzer.

Support vehicles[edit]

SPK-5 crane tank in Batey ha-Osef Museum, Tel Aviv, Israel, 2005
  • PT-34 - This was a mine roller tank, mostly built on the T-34 Model 1942 or T-34-85 chassis.
  • T-34-T (T after T-34- stands for tyagach ["tractor"]) - During World War II, some old, battle damaged T-34 medium tanks were rebuilt as armored recovery vehicles (ARVs) with their turret removed; sometimes the turret ring was plated over or a superstructure was added in place of the turret. They were used solely for towing operations. It is also known under designation TT34.
  • SPK-5 (1955) - This was a turretless T-34 fitted with a crane with a capacity of 10 tons on a rotatable mount fitted in the turret ring.
    • SPK-5/10M - An SPK-5 was fitted with electro-hydraulic controls for the crane.
  • T-34-TO (1958) (TO after the T-34- stands for technicheskoye obsuzhivaniye ["technical maintenance"]) - This variant was a technical maintenance vehicle fitted with an extensive array of tools and a work platform over the engine deck.

Bulgaria[edit]

Fixed fortifications[edit]

  • T-34-85 turrets were built into a bunker to create a fixed piece.

Cuba[edit]

Self-propelled howitzers[edit]

  • T-34-85 were converted into a self-propelled howitzer armed with a 122 mm D-30 howitzer in a cut-away turret.
T-34-85CZ.

Czechoslovakia[edit]

Tanks[edit]

  • T-34-85CZ - This was the Czechoslovak production version of T-34-85. It is also known under designation T-36.

Support vehicles[edit]

  • MT-34 (1950s) (MT stands for mostní tank ["bridging tank"]) - This unit was a Czechoslovakian conversion with a PM-34 scissors bridge carried on rollers on top of a turretless T-34.
  • VT-34 (VT stands for vyprošťovací tank ["recovery tank"]) - This variation was a Czechoslovakian purpose-built recovery vehicle.

Egypt[edit]

Ex-Egyptian T-100 tank destroyer next to an Ex-Egyptian Soviet-made IS-3 heavy tank in Yad la-Shiryon Museum, Israel, 2005

Tank destroyers[edit]

  • T-100 - This Egyptian unit was a conversion into a tank destroyer armed with a 100 mm BS-3 anti-tank gun mounted in a heavily modified turret. The changes included flat-plate extensions in the front, rear and top of the turret. A recoil mechanism was placed under the barrel. It is also known under the designation T-34/100.

Self-propelled howitzers[edit]

  • T-122 - This Egyptian conversion was a self-propelled howitzer armed with a 122 mm D-30 howitzer in a heavily modified turret. The changes included flat-plate extensions in the front, sides, rear and top of the turret. It is also known under designation T-34/122.[3]

Hungary[edit]

Firefighting vehicles[edit]

  • T-34 tanks were converted into tracked firefighting vehicles used to fight oil fires. Two engines from a MiG-21 were fitted to an overlapping mount on the turret ring.

Nazi Germany[edit]

FlakPanzer T-34(r)

Self-propelled anti-aircraft guns[edit]

  • Flakpanzer T-34 - This German conversion was a single T-34 made into a self-propelled antiaircraft gun armed with a 2 cm Flakvierling 38 in a new armored turret with an open top. The single vehicle manufactured was used by PzJagAbt 653 in July 1944.[4][5]

People's Republic of China[edit]

Type 58

Tanks[edit]

  • Type 58 - This tank is a Chinese copy of the T-34-85.
    • Type 58 is fitted with sights from the Type 59 main battle tank.
    • Type 58-I is a Type 58 fitted with a dome-shaped commanders hatch and an HMG mount.
      • Type 58-II is a Type 58-I fitted with an additional cupola with a second HMG mount.

Self-propelled anti-aircraft guns[edit]

  • Type 63 was a Type 58 converted into an anti-aircraft vehicle, armed with Chinese twin 37 mm Type 63 AA guns.[6]

Poland[edit]

Tanks[edit]

T-34-85M2.
  • T-34-85M1 - This unit was a product of the Polish refurbishing program. Similar to Soviet Model 1960, it added 'skeleton' roadwheels.
    • T-34-85M2 - The Polish refurbishing program produced this tank, similar to Soviet Model 1969, by adding exterior stowage, a deep-wading kit and a snorkel.

Support vehicles[edit]

WPT-34
  • CW-34 is a Polish derivative of VT-34.
  • WPT-34 (1960s) - This was a Polish repair and maintenance vehicle with a superstructure replacing the turret, a crane, a large-diameter telescoping snorkel for deep fording operations as well as a large-spade type earth anchor in the rear. It was converted from T-34 tanks as well as SU-85 and SU-100 tank destroyers.

Syria[edit]

Tanks[edit]

  • T-34/55 - This unit was a Syrian modernization of Soviet-made T-34-85s earlier upgraded for export by Czechoslovakia, adding an anti-aircraft machine gun fitted to the commander's copula and other upgrades.

Self-propelled howitzers[edit]

Ex-Syrian T-34/122 SPH in Batey ha-Osef Museum, Tel Aviv, Israel, 2005
  • T-34/122 This Syrian conversion is a self-propelled howitzer armed with a 122 mm D-30 howitzer. The gun is facing backwards to preserve the center of gravity. The mount is completely open apart from a mantlet around the base of the gun tube. The rear of the mount includes a folding platform on which the gun crew works when firing the howitzer. While the vehicle is moving the platform is folded to avoid blocking the driver's vision.


Former Yugoslavia[edit]

Tanks[edit]

Yugoslav Teski Tank Vozilo A on display at the military museum in the Kalemegdan fortress in Belgrade
  • Teski Tenk Vozilo A (Heavy Tank Type A) - This was a 1949 Yugoslav tank based on the T34 design. A total of nine prototypes were built. They were designed and built at the height of the danger from Soviet invasion when Yugoslavia was building up its weapons industry. They were designed by reverse engineering of the Soviet T-34-85 medium tank without any documentation. They are recognizable by their angled front hull corners, modified hull machine gun mantlet, streamlined turret with cylindrical cupola, muzzle brake on the gun, and external fuel tanks that appear to be notched to fit the hull. An alternate version existed, armed with a gun and a mantlet from the M47 Patton. Two examples survive. One of the prototypes is on display at the military museum in the Kalemegdan fortress in Belgrade. The other surviving example is in Banja Luka barracks.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Zaloga, Steven J. and James Grandsen. T-34 In Action. Carrollton, Texas: Squadron/Signal Publications, 1983. ISBN 0-89747-112-1
  2. ^ "The Russian Battlefield"
  3. ^ Don Busack Consulting. "T-34/122 (Egyptian) Walk Around Page 1". Primeportal.net. Retrieved 2013-09-03. 
  4. ^ "Neue Seite 2". Lexikon-der-wehrmacht.de. Retrieved 2013-09-03. 
  5. ^ "Panzerkampfwagen T-34(r) Soviet T-34 in German Service". 
  6. ^ "NVA Armour"

See also[edit]