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  • T-34/85 Medium Tank

    The T-34/85 is nothing more than an up-gunned version of the base T-34 medium tank design of World War 2.

     Updated: 4/1/2017; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ¬©www.MilitaryFactory.com

    The T-34/85 was essentially categorized as an "up-gunned" version of the successful base T-34 medium tank designed and built in large numbers by the Soviet Union during World War 2. The Germans had invaded the Soviet Union in June of 1941 and the Panzer III and Panzer IV series had formed the backbone of their armored assaults up to now. However, things quickly changed when the Soviets unleashed their heavily armored and armed T-34 medium tanks alongside their KV-1 and KV-2 series heavy tanks.

    The base T-34 mounted a capable 76mm main gun which proved effective against the Panzer III and Panzer IV series tanks fielded by the Germans in bulk up to this point in the war. In response, the Germans delivered their Panther and Tiger series tanks featuring bigger guns and more armor. The T-34/85, therefore, came at a time when Soviet authorities were looking for a bigger tank gun option to contend with the German 75mm and 88mm offerings - two proven tank killers in their own right. The T34/85 also featured an entirely new five-speed transmission, a new three-man turret design to house an additional crewmember, electric turret traversal to speed up gunnery response and a useful cupola for the tank commander. These additions - at the cost of a little bit of speed - benefitted an already excellent base design, particularly since the T-34 was most effective when fielded in massed numbers against German forces.

    Initial designs of the T-34/85 called for a heavy-penetrating main gun platform with sufficient mobility with good armor protection. An 85mm anti-aircraft gun was already in trials on the tank chassis of the KV-85 heavy tank at the time so the choice to field this same armament in a new T-34 was logical. The new T-34/85 would also feature two DT general purpose machine guns with limited traverse - one fitted coaxially in the turret and the other embedded in the front right hull (bow) portion of the tank. The turret itself was new to the T-34 line, it being developed from the one used in the KV-85. The T-34 chassis, in general, proved highly adaptable and ideal for other production variants that turned the medium tank into improvised dedicated tank destroyers and anti-mine vehicles among other forms. The vehicle was crewed by five personnel made up of the driver, commander, loader, gunner and radio operator, the latter doubling as the bow machine gunner. Operational range could be extended through the use of external fuel drums. Power was derived from a single W-2-34 V12 diesel engine outputting 500 horsepower. Top speed was listed at 34 miles per hour and the vehicle's weight reported at 32 tons.

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    T-34/85 Technical Specifications

    Service Year: 1943
    Type: Medium Tank
    National Origin: Soviet Union
    Manufacturer(s): State Factories - Soviet Union / Poland / Czechoslovakia / China
    Production: 55,000

    Design (Crew Space, Dimensions, Weight, and Systems)

    Operating Crew: 5
    Length: 19.69 feet (6.00 meters)
    Width: 9.09 feet (2.77 meters)
    Height: 8.01 feet (2.44 meters)

    Operating Weight: 35 tons (32,000 kg; 70,548 lb)

    Nuclear / Biological / Chemical Protection: None
    Nightvision Equipment: None

    Installed Power and Standard Road Performance

    Engine(s): 1 x W-2-34 12-cylinder diesel-fueled engine developing 493 horsepower.

    Maximum Road Speed: 30 mph (48 km/h)
    Maximum Road Range: 86 miles (138 km)

    Armament and Ammunition

    1 x 85mm D-5T OR ZiS-S-53 main gun
    1 x 7.62mm coaxial DT general purpose machine gun
    1 x 7.62mm bow-mounted DT general purpose machine gun

    55 x 85mm projectiles
    2,394 x 7.62mm ammunition

    Global Operators / Customers

    Afghanistan; Albania; Angola; Bosnia; China; Cuba; Guinea-Bissau; Hungary; Mali; Nazi Germany; North Korea; Romania; Slovenia; Soviet Union; Vietnam

    Model Variants

    T-34-85 Model 1943 - Appearing in 1944; fitted with 85mm D-5T main gun; enlarged three-man cast turret assembly; commander's cupola implemented on turret roof; pair of bulbous ventilator hatches seen on turret roof rear.

    T-34-85 Model 1944 - Appearing in 1944; fitted with 85mm ZiS-S-53 main gun; radio set relocated from hull to turret; relocated commander's cupola further rearwards; new gun sight.

    T-34-85 Model 1945 - Appearing in late 1944; larger commander's cupola; single-piece roof hatch; electrically-powered turret assembly; revised track fenders; self-generated electrically-induced smoke system.

    T-34-85 Model 1946 - Appearing in 1946; fitted with improved Model V-2-34M series diesel engine; new road wheels introduced; subtle refinements throughout.

    T-34-85 Model 1960 - Modernized T-34; fitted with Model V-2-3411 diesel engines; smoke dischargers; infrared headlamp; improved radio sets; new air cleaner and generator.

    T-34-85 Model 1969 / T-34-85M - Modernized T-34; new radio sets; new road wheels; improved transmission systems; nightvision for driver; external fuel tank support; anti-ditching device under rear hull.

    OT-34-85 - Flame projecting tank variant; bow-mounted machine gun replaced with ATO-42 flamethrower.