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The T-34 in WWII: the Legend vs. the Performance

The technical superiority of the T-34 in 1941 (and during WWII in general) has become the stuff of legend. Its apparent superiority has become so entrenched in the psyche of post WWII authors that it is now assumed without question. Some go as far as to claim the T-34 as “the finest tank of the twentieth century” and the T-34 “rendered the entire fleet of German tanks as effectively obsolete”.(1)  However, if battle performance was (and indeed still is) the ultimate determinant of the effectiveness of any weapon system, then unlike some legends in WWII, the tactical combat record of the T-34 does not match up to its legendary status. An objective look at the T-34’s record, without preconceptions, reveals questions which are hard to answer given the T-34’s apparent superiority.

T-34 and KV Tanks Were Only Available in Small Numbers in 1941?
T-34 and KV Tanks were Distributed Amongst the Army in Small Packets in 1941?
The T34’s Overall Combat Results in 1941
The T-34’s Design Weaknesses
The T-34’s Performance in 1942
The T-34’s Performance in 1943
The T-34’s Performance in 1944
Conclusions Regarding the T-34’s Overall Performance as a ‘War Winner


(1) Eg, T. Bean, W. Fowler, Russian Tanks of WWII-Stalin’s Armoured Might, Ian Allan Publishing, London, 2002, p. 61. Also, B. Taylor, Barbarossa to Berlin, Volume One, Spellmount Ltd, Staplehurst, UK, 2003, p. 61. Also B. Taylor, Barbarossa to Berlin, Volume One, Spellmount Ltd, Staplehurst, UK, 2003, p. 31.
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T-34 and KV Tanks Were Only Available in Small Numbers in 1941?

There is little doubt that as an all round tank the T-34 was the most powerful medium tank in the world in 1941, with far reaching influences on future tank design. Historically, the poor showing of the T-34 in 1941 has been entirely attributed to the general state of the Red Army’s mechanised forces in 1941, and the ‘small’ number of T-34s available. This is accomplished with statements along the lines that ‘T-34 and KV tanks were only available in small numbers’, and ‘the small number of available tanks were distributed amongst the Army in small packets’.(2) These statements are only true if the number of T-34s involved is measured relative to other Soviet tank types available during the second half of 1941, and not if measured against the number of German tanks available during the same period. Logically, it is only the latter comparison that is important if assessing relative combat performance.

From June to December 1941, the Soviets either already had in service or placed in service, a total of at least 3 017 T-34s out of a manufactured total of 3 111.(3)  This is not a small number even by later WWII standards. With this number, the T-34 tanks must have been much more established than common perception.

The total number of German Pz IIIs, Pz IVs and StuG assault guns committed to the East Front during the entire period under consideration, was 2 686.(4)  This figure includes Pz IIIs with only 37mm guns, all the tanks in all the units that arrived as reinforcements, and all replacements up to December 1941. These were the only general issue German AFVs with any reasonable chance of success in one to one combat with a T-34 or KV tank, and based on a cursory analysis of armour and firepower, this chance was theoretically low. In other words, even in 1941 the Red Army fielded over 1.1 times more T-34s than any German AFV ‘theoretically’ capable of taking them on. (If we add the 1 563 even more powerful KV I and II tanks fielded by the Soviets in 1941, this figure increases to 1.7). This is before we even consider the thousands of other tank types, that the same German Pz IIIs, Pz IVs and StuGs had to fight against during 1941.

(2) Eg, B. Taylor, Barbarossa to Berlin, Volume One, Spellmount Ltd, Staplehurst, UK, 2003, p. 27.
(3) This includes: 1225 T-34s manufactured before 22nd June 1941, of which 957 were in service with the Red Army. In addition 1886 were manufactured from 22nd June to December 1941, of which at least 95%, or 1792 entered service.
(4) Excludes 210 Pz III command tanks, which had long and short range radios, and only MGs. Refer Part V – ‘German Armed Forces (Wehrmacht) from June to December 1941: the German Fully Integrated Land and Air Resource Model’.

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T-34 and KV Tanks Were Distributed Amongst the Army in Small Packets in 1941?

So what about the ‘small packet’ statements regarding T-34 deployments? On 22nd June 1941 the majority of T-34 tanks were actually concentrated in several powerful units, and not dispersed in small packets. For example, the 4th and 7th Tank Divisions, 6th Mechanised Corps, Western Special Military District had 238 T-34s and 114 KVs on strength on 22nd June 1941. The 8th and 32nd Tank Divisions, 4th Mechanised Corps, Kiev Special Military District had 313 T-34s and 99 KVs on strength on 22nd June 1941. Considering that T-34 and KV tanks apparently ‘rendered all German tanks as obsolete’, then these four tank divisions easily represented the most powerful concentrated armoured formations in the world during the whole of 1941 and well into 1942. From late August 1941 the Red Army started creating tank brigades, each with 29 authorised T-34 and KV tanks (and 38-64 lighter tanks depending on TOE). By October 1941 many of these tank brigades were in action, but by then many of the panzer division’s panzer regiments were dispersed over wide areas and had far fewer numbers of operational tanks. In short, by late 1941 the Germans had almost as many problems concentrating their armour as the Soviets did.

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The T34’s Overall Combat Results in 1941

The combat results for 1941 show the Soviets lost an average of over seven tanks for every German tank lost. (5)  If all German fully tracked AFVs (assault guns, tank destroyers, SP artillery, etc) and losses from Germany’s allies are included in the German figures, then the ratio drops to 6.6 to 1 in the German favour.
Of the total of 20 500 Soviet tanks lost in 1941, approximately 2 300 were T-34s and over 900 were mostly KV heavy tanks.
(7) Even if the T-34’s loss ratio was better than seven for every German tank, it was still most likely in the region of four or five to one. Frankly, if 2 300 of any new Wehrmacht tank type had been lost within six months of its first deployment, even with a loss ratio of one to one (let alone 0.2-0.3 to one), then most WWII historians would have described the tank’s combat record as an unmitigated diaster.

More informed commentaries relating to the T-34’s combat performance in 1941 consider factors such as: the T-34 tank crews had little time to train on their machines, they had major ammunition supply problems, and the support infrastructures were not in place to recover damaged machines. These arguments have a lot more merit than the ‘only small numbers available’ or the ‘committed in small packets’ arguments. There is no doubt that a large proportion of T-34s in 1941 fell victim to operational type losses, especially in the situations the Red Army found itself in during the summer of 1941. Many T-34s had little or no armour piercing ammunition in June 1941, although they did in the months that followed. Many T-34s were abandoned and lost due to breakdown, being bogged down or simply out of fuel. The Red Army’s tank divisions, already short of tractors, had little to no recovery vehicles or even time to recover these tanks. However, even if we assume a staggering 40-50% of T-34s were operational losses (which is probably too high an estimate), then the T-34’s loss ratio in tactical combat is still around two-three to one in the German favour.

(5) T. Bean, W. Fowler, Russian Tanks of WWII-Stalin’s Armoured Might, Ian Allan Publishing, London, 2002, appendix, p170. Also, S. J. Zaloga, L.S. Ness, Red Army Handbook 1939-1945, Sutton Publishing, Stroud, UK, 1998, p. 181, table 6.3. 20 500 Soviet tanks lost vs. 2 758 German tanks lost in 1941.
(6) Refer Part III 3. 9) d. ‘Relative Overall Combat Proficiency (ROCP): the ROCP of Soviet and Axis Forces from 1941-1945 - Axis and Soviet Relative Overall Combat Proficiency (ROCP) in 1941 - Weapon Density (WD) Effects on the 1941 German-Soviet ROCP - Fully Tracked AFVs (Tanks, Assault Guns, Tank Destroyers, Armoured Self Propelled Artillery): WD Effects on the 1941 German-Soviet ROCP’. German losses include 248 losses from Germany’s allies in 1941. 20 500 Soviet tanks lost vs. 3 087 Axis fully tracked AFVs lost in 1941.
(7) G.F. Krivosheev , et al, Soviet Casualties and Combat Losses in the Twentieth Century, Edited by Colonel General G.F. Krivosheev, Greenhill Books, London, 1997. p. 252, table 95.

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The T-34’s Design Weaknesses

When one considers the apparent superiority of the T-34, the question has to be asked: why did the T-34 consistently suffer at least a two-three to one loss ratio against ‘inferior and obsolescent’ enemy tanks in tactical combat, i.e. when actually shooting at each other? Either the German’s combat proficiency was supernatural, the Soviet’s combat proficiency was unbelievably incompetent, or there were design flaws inherent in the T-34 as a complete weapon system which are not apparent in a cursory analysis of combat power based on armour and gun penetration. I believe the latter to be the case. The T-34/76’s one great weakness was its fire control efficiency. It suffered from the same two-man turret syndrome as other Soviet tanks in this period, namely that the tank’s commander, gun aimer, gun firer and platoon commander (if a platoon leader), were all the same person. Exacerbating this was the fact that the T-34/76 had relatively poor main gun optics quality, no turret basket, a very cramped and low turret (the gun could not depress more than three degrees severely restricting use on a reverse slope or at close range), poor turret drive reliability, no radios, and generally poor target observation and indicator devices (including no turret cupola and only one vision periscope for the tank’s commander). All these factors are considered in detail in calculating a tank’s Fire Control Effect (FCE) factor detailed in Part II-‘The Barbarossa Simulation’s Resource Database’. The T-34 is discussed here as a case history.(8)  In summary, the T-34/76’s inherent fire control efficiency was so bad that even well trained and experienced tank crews were put at a severe disadvantage. For inexperienced tank crews, with no radios and probably no organised combined arms support, it was a disaster.

So what was the result of the T-34/76’s two man turret, weak optics and poor vision devices (that is a poor overall FCE factor)? German tankers noted “T34s operated in a disorganised fashion with little coordination, or else tended to clump together like a hen with its chicks. Individual tank commanders lacked situational awareness due to the poor provision of vision devices and preoccupation with gunnery duties. A tank platoon would seldom be capable of engaging three separate targets, but would tend to focus on a single target selected by the platoon leader. As a result T-34 platoons lost the greater firepower of three independently operating tanks”.(9)  The Germans noted the T-34 was very slow to find and engage targets while the Panzers could typically get off three rounds for every one fired by the T-34.(10)

A combat account from Operation Barbarossa highlights the problem with the T-34/76’s fire control systems and also why its overall combat power is so overrated. “Remarkably enough, one determined 37mm gun crew reported firing 23 times against a single T-34 tank, only managing to jam the tank’s turret ring”.(11) In this engagement T-34 proponents will highlight the impunity of the T-34 to the 37mm Pak 36 AT gun. However this is hardly surprising against a gun that can only penetrate 29mm of 30 degree sloped armour at 500metres with ordinary AP ammunition. What is really important in this story is that the AT gun managed to get 23 shots off, and it turns out that the T-34 in this report didn’t even manage to hit the AT gun. Once better AT guns appeared, which they rapidly did, T-34s would be lucky to survive 2-3 rounds. Contemporary German tank crews would have been be appalled if they let enemy AT guns get more than two rounds off before they took defensive action. This example highlights the difference between tanks designed to optimise all their fire control related systems and hence maximise their firepower, and those that weren’t.

(8) Refer Part II 2. 3) h. ‘The Barbarossa Simulation’s Resource Database -  Methodology for Calculating a Weapon System’s or Database Unit’s Overall Combat Power Coefficient (OCPC) - Calculating a Land Based, Motorised Mobile Fighting Machine’s (MFM’s) Overall Combat Power Coefficient (OCPC) - Fire Control Effect (FCE)’.
(9) S. Zaloga , P. Sarson, T-34/76 Medium Tank 1941-1945, Osprey Military, Reed International Books Ltd, London, 1994, p. 40.
(10) Ibid, p. 40.
(11) Ibid, p. 12.

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The T-34’s Performance in 1942

The problem with using 1941 figures however is that T-34 proponents will always argue that the operational state of the Soviet mechanised forces and the general situation in 1941 were the primary factors in the T-34’s combat performance in 1941. So what of the T-34’s combat record in later years when these factors were removed or when they swung in the Soviet’s favour?

The combat results for 1942, 1943, 1944 and 1945 show the Soviets lost an average of 6, 4, 4 and 1.2 tanks respectively, for every German tank lost.(12)  If all German and Soviet assault guns, and all other types of fully tracked AFV losses are included, then the ratio changes to 5, 3, 3 and 1.3 for 1942, 1943, 1944 and 1945 respectively, in the German favour.(13)  The figures for 1945 are not much use as the majority of German losses were operational or strategic, i.e. they are classified as lost when Germany surrendered in 1945. The figures for 1942 to 1944 are more useful in assessing the T-34’s tactical combat performance.

The year 1942 deserves particular attention, because at the operational level the sides were more evenly matched. In this year the most common Soviet main battle tank was the T-34/76. The most common German main battle tanks were Pz IIIs with long and short 50mm guns and Pz IVs, most still with short 75mm L/24 guns. The Pz IV and StuG assault guns with long 75mm L/43 or L/48 guns had only began appearing on the East Front in limited numbers. This gun was capable of destroying a T-34 frontally at around 1 000 metres. However, only 870 Pz IVs and 699 StuG IIIs with the long 75mm gun were manufactured in the whole of 1942, and many of these didn’t reach the East Front until 1943.(14)  Hence for most of 1942 the majority of German tanks were still the older and apparently obsolete types. In addition many publications rate the Pz IV with the long 75mm gun as only equivalent to the T-34/76 in terms of firepower, but still much weaker in terms of armour and mobility.

So what happened? The Soviets still managed to loose 15 100 fully tracked AFVs in 1942 including 6 600 T-34s and 1 200 of the even more powerful KV heavy tanks.(15)  This meant their loss ratio was almost as bad as 1941. To a large extent it was worse than 1941 because in this case over half the tanks destroyed were T-34 and KV tanks, and the large majority of losses were due to direct enemy fire and cannot be attributed to operational losses. There is no doubt that on average German tank crews in 1942 were probably still the best trained and most experienced in the world. However, this does not explain how apparently obsolete and inferior German AFVs achieved a kill ratio of better than three to one against T-34s in direct combat, unless the overall combat power of the T-34 is historically overrated.(16)  The T-34 must be the only tank in history rated as the best in the world in the same year it lost three or four for every enemy AFV destroyed.
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It is also worth taking a look at the principal causes of T-34 losses from June 1941 to September 1942. A Soviet wartime study indicates the following weapon types as responsible for T-34’s destroyed.(17)

Causes of T-34 losses from June 1941 to September 1942 (expressed as % of total).
Weapon Calibre20mm37mmShort 50mmLong 50mm75mm88mm105mmUnknown
% Lost4.7107.554.310.13.42.97.1

It is well known that the only German weapon fielded in 1941 normally capable of destroying a T-34 or KV at long range, was the 8.8cm Flak 18/36 (88mm Anti Aircraft Gun). Accordingly the Flak 18/36 achieved a fearsome reputation as a tank destroyer on both the East and West Fronts. In many battles during 1941 and to a lesser extent 1942, the ‘88’ is often credited with stopping T-34s and KVs when all else had failed. However, we find from above that relatively few T-34s were destroyed by 88s and almost as many T-34s were destroyed by artillery. Either way, relatively few T-34s (6.3%) were destroyed by flak guns or artillery at long range. It also appears (as we would expect) that relatively few were destroyed by direct attack from aircraft (probably some of the unknown and possibly some of the 20mm). Most significantly, approximately three quarters of T-34s were destroyed by standard issue 1941-42 German tanks and AT guns (excluding 75mm guns). These weapons (20-50mm) would have needed to get perilously close to a T-34 frontally, or hit it in its more vulnerable side or rear armour. The conclusion has to be that the large majority of T-34s were destroyed because their crews could not pre-empt these weapons from getting into a killing position (usually because no crew member was in a position to see the enemy early), and were slow to acquire the enemy target once it became known. This is consistent with a very poor Fire Control Efficiency (FCE) factor in the T-34/76.

(12) T. Bean, W. Fowler, Russian Tanks of WWII-Stalin’s Armoured Might, Ian Allan Publishing, London, 2002, appendix, p. 170. Also, S. J. Zaloga, L.S. Ness, Red Army Handbook 1939-1945, Sutton Publishing, Stroud, UK, 1998, p. 181, table 6.3.
(13) Refer Part III ‘Relative Overall Combat Proficiency (ROCP): the ROCP of Soviet and Axis Forces from 1941-1945’.
(14) P. Chamberlain, H Doyle, T Jentz, Encyclopedia of German Tanks of WWII, Arms and Armour Press, London, 1978, appendix VII, p. 261. The Germans also produced several hundred self propelled AT guns on obsolete tank chassis in an attempt to get more powerful mobile AT guns to the front as soon as possible.
(15) G.F. Krivosheev , et al, Soviet Casualties and Combat Losses in the Twentieth Century, Edited by Colonel General G.F. Krivosheev, Greenhill Books, London, 1997. p. 252, table 95.
(16) This assumes the German kill ratio against Soviet light tanks in 1942 to be around 8-9 to one. If this was lower, the T-34s kill ratio drops even further in the German favour.
(17) S. J. Zaloga, L.S. Ness, Red Army Handbook 1939-1945, Sutton Publishing, Stroud, UK, 1998, p. 179, table 6.1. Also, T. Bean, W. Fowler, Russian Tanks of WWII-Stalin’s Armoured Might, Ian Allan Publishing, London, 2002, appendix, p. 171. This table should be treated with caution, and some of the figures appear dubious. For example, it is highly likely that more T-34s were destroyed by long 75mm guns and these could easily have been mistaken by Soviet intelligence as long 50mm guns.

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The T-34’s Performance in 1943

By 1943 the strategic initiative had swung in the Soviets favour. Operationally the sides were similar, but as better German tanks reached the battlefield the combat power of individual AFVs had started to swing against the Soviets. Nevertheless, many current publications still rate the
T-34/76 as the best all round medium tank in the world, until the advent of the Panther tank which appeared in limited numbers after mid 1943. Despite the Germans loosing large numbers of tanks as operational losses (due to them being abandoned on the battlefield as they retreated) and erosion of tank crew quality, they still achieved a fully tracked AFV kill ratio of around three to one during 1943. In this year the Soviets lost a staggering 23 500 fully tracked AFVs including 14 700 T-34s, 1 300 heavy tanks and only 6 400 light tanks.
(18) 

Close to two thirds (63%) of AFVs lost were T-34s. As in 1941 and 1942, at least three T-34s were lost for every enemy fully tracked AFV destroyed. The vast majority of these losses were due to direct enemy fire and cannot be attributed to operational losses, because by 1943 the Soviets were most often gaining control of the battlefield and were recovering almost all disabled and partially destroyed tanks. Indeed, it was the Germans who were suffering increasing numbers of operational losses, so if anything
the T-34’s tactical loss ratio in 1943 was probably closer to four or five to one.


(18) G.F. Krivosheev , et al, Soviet Casualties and Combat Losses in the Twentieth Century, Edited by Colonel General G.F. Krivosheev, Greenhill Books, London, 1997. p. 252, table 95.

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The T-34’s Performance in 1944

Even the Soviets realised that the 1943 loss/kill ratio was unsustainable. In order to restore the technological balance they attenuated T-34/76 production and moved quickly to up gun the T-34 with a new turret and the 85mm M-1944 ZIS-S53 L/51.5 gun, designated the T-34/85.

By 1944 the Soviets had the absolute strategic initiative, with massive numerical superiority, and in terms of supply distribution and support, operational superiority. They had the luxury of being able to concentrate large armoured forces at any points on the front they desired while still being able to strongly defend everywhere. In terms of tactical combat proficiency, the Soviets could claim to have tank crews as well trained and experienced as the Germans. In addition the RAF and USAF had given the Soviets critical air superiority for the first time. For most of 1944 the Soviets had technical parity in terms of AFVs, with the large majority of T-34s now being the T-34/85s. The Soviets, and most modern publications, claim the T-34/85 was much superior to any model Pz IV or StuG assault gun and similar in combat power to the Panther. On top of this the Soviets had large numbers of the new IS-2 heavy tanks, one of the most powerful tanks in WWII, as well as the almost equally powerful ISU-122 and ISU-152 assault guns.(19) 

In 1944 the Soviets still managed to lose 23 700 fully tracked AFVs of which only 2 200 were light tanks: the highest number of AFV losses in a single year by any country in histor
y.(20)  Of these losses 58% were T-34s, the large majority being T-34/85s. Despite all possible factors being in their favour and despite massive German operational losses during 1944, the Soviets still managed to loose around three AFVs for every German AFV destroyed, or around four tanks (mostly T-34/85s) for every German tank destroyed.

(19) T. Bean, W. Fowler, Russian Tanks of WWII-Stalin’s Armoured Might, Ian Allan Publishing, London, 2002 p. 23, claims the IS-2 was “the most powerful tank of WWII”. The IS-2 and ISU assault guns were apparently a “source of amazement” to the Germans. Interestingly enough the IS-2 also had a poor tank vs. tank kill/loss ratio, but this tank was optimised for break through attacks against fortified positions, and not for tank vs. tank combat.
(20) G.F. Krivosheev , et al, Soviet Casualties and Combat Losses in the Twentieth Century, Edited by Colonel General G.F. Krivosheev, Greenhill Books, London, 1997. p. 253, table 95.


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Conclusions Regarding the T-34’s Overall Performance as a ‘War Winner’

The T-34 is possibly the only weapon system in history to be rated by most commentators as the finest all round weapon in a century of warfare, and yet never consistently achieved anything better than a one to three kill-loss ratio against its enemies.(21)  The fact that the USSR produced 54 550 T-34s (easily the most widely produced tank of WWII) and hence produced a ‘war winning’ tank is a separate strategic level discourse and should not be confused with giving the T-34 credit for being effective at the tactical level.

Undoubtedly the T-34 went a long way to enabling the USSR to be ultimately victorious, but the price was huge with approximately 44 900 T-34s (82% of total production) being irrecoverably lost. Soviet output during WWII was 99 150 fully tracked AFVs (including all types of assault and self-propelled guns) produced from June 1941 to May 1945, and an additional 11 900 tanks and self-propelled guns received via Lend Lease.(22)  The Germans are often criticised for their low tank production during WWII: being accused of producing too few high quality tanks with too many refinements and excessive quality control during production. In support of this statement the figure of only 26 900 German tanks is quoted as being produced during WWII. However tanks formed only part of German AFV production: they actually produced 26 925 tanks, 612 command tanks, 232 flame tanks, 10 550 assault guns, 7 831 tank destroyers, and 3 738 assault and self-propelled artillery AFVs, from 1938 to May 1945.(23)  A total of around 49 900 fully tracked AFVs out of a total production of 89 254 AFVs of all types. This represents around 50% of Soviet fully tracked AFV production during WWII. It should be remembered (a fact that seems to be often forgotten) that Allied strategic bombing reduced German AFV production by at least 10% in 1943, 40% in 1944 and even more during 1945, exactly when German AFV production had peaked.

There is no doubt that German tanks possessed many refinements, subtleties of design and high quality components which contributed to a relatively slow production rate. In comparison Soviet tanks had a generally rough and ready finish, and lacked many features which were assumed essential by German tankers and to a large extent by their Western Allied counterparts. There were of course considerably more Soviet tanks, which ultimately helped them to win the war. Nonetheless, it was these same refinements and subtleties of design which gave German tank crews the edge in combat at the tactical level, and it is these which are picked up in the methodology detailed in Part II-‘The Operation Barbarossa: the Complete Military Simulation- The Barbarossa Simulation’s Resource Database’. As always, the Soviets had a choice regarding weapon system production during WWII: they could have mass produced more lower quality and less refined AFVs, or produced less more refined and higher quality AFVs. They chose the former and achieved strategic success, but payed an exceptionally high price in terms of human life. In terms of AFVs, this ‘price’ was the loss of 96 500 fully tracked AFVs compared to 32 800 German fully tracked AFVs (on the East Front) during WWII (2.94 to 1).(24)  The German losses include all SP guns, SP artillery, and several thousand vehicles captured when Germany surrendered.

One very significant point about these figures is that if we remove the 11 900 AFVs received by the Soviets via Lend Lease, and allocate all German WWII fully tracked AFV production to the Wehrmacht’s East Front forces (i.e. add those lost fighting the Western Allies), then the Germans would have only needed kill loss ratio of 2.45 to 1 in order to have destroyed all Soviet fully tracked AFVs that existed on 22nd June 1941 (23 300 AFVs) and all 99 150 fully tracked AFVs produced during the war (122 450 AFVs). This figure is well below the 2.94 to 1 kill-loss ratio historically achieved. These figures demolish another more recently fashionable myth relating to the East Front; specifically that the Soviets (largely due to the huge number of T-34s produced) could have won WWII without any input from the US or Commonwealth forces. This is before we even consider the effects of increased German production (of all weapon types) due to the absence of Allied strategic bombing, the direct effects of German air superiority on the East Front from 1943 onwards, the effects of the Red Army loosing over half its motorised transport, and the effects of 9-10 000 additional (and fully supplied) heavy 88mm flak guns on the East Front from 1941 onwards.

The ongoing discourse on the strategic decisions regarding weapon manufacture is not particularly relevant here: we are specifically focused on the inherent tactical combat power present in specific AFV designs. In the T-34’s case however, there appears to be confusion among T-34 enthusiasts between the strategic features of the T-34’s design (ease of manufacture, simplicity of design, etc) and the tactical features of its design (the overall combat power (OCPC) inherent in the individual vehicle). To put it another way, the T-34 was a ‘war winning’ tank but this should not detract from the fact that at a tactical level its performance during four years of continuous war was relatively poor. If there was ever a case for not basing a tank’s overall combat power on over simplified parameters such as thickness and slope of frontal armour, and penetration of a single round from its main gun, then the T-34’s case is it.

(21) This also includes service in the Middle East and the Korean War. In the latter war, the T-34/85 proved inferior in one to one combat against the Sherman M4A3E8 76mm armed tank. Yet most publications regard the T-34/85 as having superior armour, mobility and firepower to all versions of the 76mm armed Sherman tank. S. Zaloga, J. Kinnear, P. Sarson, T-34-85 Medium Tank: 1944-85, Osprey Military, London, 1996, pp. 34-38.
(22) S. J. Zaloga, L.S. Ness, Red Army Handbook 1939-1945, Sutton Publishing, Stroud, UK, 1998, p. 180, table 6.2. Also, T. Bean, W. Fowler, Russian Tanks of WWII-Stalin’s Armoured Might, Ian Allan Publishing, London, 2002, appendix, p. 169.
(23) P. Chamberlain, H Doyle, T Jentz, Encyclopedia of German Tanks of WWII, Arms and Armour Press, London, 1978, appendix VII, pp. 261-262.
(24) G.F. Krivosheev , et al, Soviet Casualties and Combat Losses in the Twentieth Century, Edited by Colonel General G.F. Krivosheev, Greenhill Books, London, 1997. p. 253, table 95. Also German tank losses from S. J. Zaloga, L.S. Ness, Red Army Handbook 1939-1945, Sutton Publishing, Stroud, UK, 1998, p. 181, table 6.3.

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