As part of a newspaper article to highlight the entire history T-34 tank is impossible. It makes sense only briefly to focus on its main, so to speak, milestone moments. One of them, of course, is the creation of this machine and the thirty-four combat debut in the 1941 fire of the year. The biography of T-34 began on 13 on October 1937. On this day, the Armored Armor Directorate (ABTU) of the Red Army issued the design bureau of the plant No. 183 in Kharkiv for tactical and technical requirements for the development of the BT-20 wheeled / tracked tank. His project and layout a year later were reviewed by the ABTU Commission. She approved the project, but she also obliged the design bureau and the plant to develop and manufacture one wheeled-tracked tank with a 45-mm cannon and two tracked tanks with 76-mm cannons. Thus, contrary to popular opinion, there was no manufacturer’s initiative to create a purely tracked tank, and there was a clearly formulated order from the military department.
PLANNED 2800, GOT 1225
In October 1938 of the plant presented the drawings and models of two variants developed according to the decision of the ABTU Commission: wheeled-tracked А-20 and tracked А-20Г, which were considered by the General Military Council of the Red Army 9 and 10 December 1938. Their consideration by the USSR Defense Committee in turn took place on February 27 of the year 1939. Both projects were approved, and the plant was offered to manufacture and test prototypes of A-20 and A-32 tanks (by that time, A-20Г had received such an index).
By May 1939, prototypes of new tanks were made in metal. Until July, both cars passed factory tests in Kharkov, and from July 17 to August 23 - test sites. September 23 on the test site in Kubinka held a show of tank equipment to the leadership of the Red Army. According to the results of tests and demonstrations, it was suggested that the A-32 tank, which had a mass gain margin, it is advisable to protect with more powerful 45-mm armor, respectively, increasing the strength of individual parts.
However, at this time in the experimental workshop of the plant number 183 already assembled two such tanks, received factory index A-34. At the same time, during October-November, tests of the A-32 tank, loaded to 24 tons with metal bars, were being tested. 19 December 1939 was a loaded tank A-32 and was adopted by the Red Army under the symbol T-34.
The first production program for 1940 year included the release of 150 tanks. However, this figure was soon increased to 600 combat vehicles. The plan for the 1941 year prescribed the release of 1800 T-34 at the factory number 183 and 1000 - on the STZ. However, neither the one nor the other task failed. For the first half of 1941, military representatives at the plant number 183 adopted 816 T-34 tanks, at STZ - 294. Thus, both plants to 1 July 1941, the army handed over 1225 tanks, and 58 of them were still in June in the territory of enterprises in anticipation of being sent to the troops.
DO YOU NEED TO SAVE MOTOR-RESOURCE?
The first serial T-34 entered the Red Army tank units in the late autumn of 1940. However, the planned combat training began only in the spring of 1941. Unfortunately, the numerous reorganizations of the tank forces that took place during the two pre-war years had the most negative effect on the development of the new tank.
The entire last prewar year was endless re-formations: some units were deployed, others were eliminated, parts of other types of troops were transferred to the tank forces, etc. All this was accompanied by the transfer of units and formations from one place of deployment to others.
By the beginning of World War II, only those nine mechanized corps were relatively combat-ready, the formation of which began in the summer of 1940. But in them the organization of combat training in some cases left much to be desired. The system of “saving the motor potential of equipment”, which is inherently flawed in its essence, was widely practiced, in which the crews were engaged in combat training on worn-out machines of the training and combat fleet. At the same time, the new, more advanced, and often significantly different from the tanks of earlier releases, military equipment was stored in the pits.
There was little point in using BT-2 tanks for training BT-7 crews, but this process turned out to be completely absurd when, during the training of driver-mechanics for T-34, recruits were planted on old T-26. For example, by December 1 1940, the tank units of the Red Army had a total of thirty-four 37. Naturally, such a number could not ensure the normal training of tankers. In addition, for reasons of secrecy, the leadership of the T-34 service in some tank units was not handed out not only to crew members, but even to unit commanders. Is it any wonder that, for example, on May 11 of the 1941 th mechanized corps of the Baltic Special Military District 3 requested the manufacturer for repair documentation and specialist assistance, since a third of the thirty-fours were disabled during training sessions. The investigation showed that all the tanks due to improper operation had burned the main friction clutches. 23 in May 1941 in the 6-m mechanized corps of the Western Special Military District needed five T-34 to be seriously repaired. The reason - for negligence (or elementary ignorance), the tanks were filled with gasoline.
By 1 June 1941, in the western military districts, there were already 832 thirty-fours, but only 38 machines were operated from this number! As a result, before the start of the war, no more than 34 crews were prepared for the T-150 tanks.
THE REASON IS NOT IN QUANTITY ...
There are discrepancies in the quantitative assessment of the thirty-five park located on the 22 June in the border military districts. The most common number is 967. However, no one counted the number of tanks (and not only tanks) of one type or another on the day the war began. Reports on the presence of combat vehicles in the troops were submitted on the first day of each month. As already mentioned, on the 1 of June 1941 of the year, in the western border of the IN (Leningradsky, Baltic Special, Western Special, Kiev Special and Odessa) there was an 832 of a T-34 tank. Another 68 - in parts of the rear districts (Moscow, Kharkov and Orlovsky). The difference between 967 and 832 is 135 combat vehicles (some sources have the number 138), which could well enter the border districts during June.
By the beginning of the war, 19 mechanized corps stationed in the western border districts numbered 10 394 of all types of tanks (according to other data - 11 000). Taking into account the combat vehicles that were part of some infantry, cavalry, and individual tank units, this figure rises to 12 782 units (as of June 1). T-34 tanks from this number accounted for only 7,5%. It seems to be a bit. However, by 22 June 1941, Germany and its allies deployed an 4753 tank and assault guns against our western border. Only 1405 of them were the average Pz.III and Pz.IV, so the 967 thirty-fours (let's not forget about the 504 heavy KV) was a formidable force. More precisely - could represent. But for the reasons mentioned above, in tank units, before the war, they had not mastered sufficiently the driving of combat vehicles, and the reduced norms of ammunition did not allow them to fully work out firing from tanks equipped with new artillery systems. The total supply of mechanized corps 76-mm tank shots did not exceed 12%, and in some compounds was even lower.
The unsuccessful deployment of tank units and formations, their incomplete staffing and materiel, insufficient training of the crews of new tanks, lack of spare parts and repair and evacuation means sharply reduced the combat capability of the mechanized corps. During long marches not only old cars failed, but also new T-34. The fault of inexperienced driver-mechanics, as well as the design flaws that were not repaired by manufacturers, “burned” the main and side friction clutches, gearboxes broke, etc. It was not possible to repair many breakdowns on the spot spare parts. Troops lacked evacuation means. The tractors of the mechanized corps were provided on average by 44%, including the vehicles used as artillery tractors. But even where there were tractors, they could not always help.
The main evacuation means in the tank units of the Red Army were the Chelyabinsk agricultural tractors "Stalinet" C-60 and C-65 with a hook load of just over 4 tons. They coped well with towing damaged light tanks T-26 and BT, but when they tried to move the 26-tonne T-34, they literally stood up. Here it was necessary to “harness” two, or even three tractors, which was not always possible.
MASTERPIECES ARE NOT BORN
At the same time, it is necessary to emphasize that the thirty-fours' combat effectiveness in the 1941 year was reduced not only because of insufficient training of personnel or poor organization of hostilities. The deficiencies in the design of the tank, many of which were identified during the pre-war tests, also had their full effect.
Traditionally it is believed that the T-34 is a masterpiece of world tank design. However, he became a masterpiece not immediately, but only towards the end of the war. With reference to 1941, one can speak of this tank to a large extent as a crude, unfinished construction. It is not by chance that at the beginning of 1941, the GABTU stopped accepting the thirty-fours, demanding that manufacturers eliminate all the shortcomings. The management of Plant No. 183 and the People's Commissariat managed to "push through" the resumption of the production of tanks with a reduced mileage of 1000 km.
For the perfect shape of the hull and turret, borrowed from the light A-20 without any overall changes, we had to pay a decrease in the reserved volume, which was the smallest in the T-34 compared to the rest of the Second World War tanks. Streamlined, beautiful in appearance, even the elegant thirty-four tower turned out to be too small to accommodate an 76-mm caliber artillery system. Inherited from the A-20, it was originally intended for the installation of the 45-mm gun. The diameter of the tower chase in the light - 20 mm, just 1420 mm more than the light tank BT-100 remained the same as that of the A-7.
The limited volume of the tower did not allow the third crew member to be placed in it, and the gunner of the gun combined his duties with the duties of the tank commander, and sometimes the unit commander. I had to choose: either to fire, or to lead the fight. The tightness of the turret and the fighting compartment as a whole substantially reduced all the advantages of the powerful 76-mm gun, which was simply inconvenient to maintain. It was extremely unfortunate that the ammunition was placed in the vertical suitcase cassettes, which hampered access to the shells and lowered the rate of fire.
Back in 1940, such a significant drawback of the tank, as the poor placement of surveillance devices and their poor quality, was noted. For example, the viewing instrument of the circular view was installed on the right, behind the tank commander, in the lid of the tower hatch. The limited sector of the review, the complete impossibility of observation in the rest of the sector, and the uncomfortable position of the head under observation made the viewing device completely unsuitable for work. Inconveniently located and observation devices in the sides of the tower. In battle, all this led to the loss of visual communication between the machines and the untimely detection of the enemy.
An important and indisputable advantage of the T-34 is the use of a powerful and economical diesel engine. But he worked in a tank in an extremely overstressed mode, in particular because of the air supply and air cleaning system. The extremely unsuccessful design of the air cleaner contributed to the rapid failure of the engine. For example, during the trials of thirty-fours in the United States in 1942, this happened after 343 km of run. There was too much dirt and dust in the motor, which led to an accident. As a result, the pistons and cylinders collapsed to such an extent that they could not be repaired!
The biggest problem with the T-34 for a long time was the gearbox with the so-called sliding gears. To carry out gear shifting in motion with its help was not an easy task. This process was hampered by the not very successful design of the main friction clutch, which almost never turned off completely. With the main clutch not turned off, it was possible to drive the necessary gear only to very experienced driver mechanics.
Summarizing the above, we can conclude that in the 1941, the main drawbacks of the T-34 were the combat squad, poor optics and an inoperative or almost inoperative engine and transmission. Judging by the huge losses and the large number of abandoned tanks, the shortcomings of the T-34 in 1941, took over his strengths.
Especially valuable to us every fact of the successful application of the thirty-four at a difficult time. Most of these combat episodes relate to the battle for Moscow. It should be particularly noted that, in contrast to the summer battles of 1941, with their straightforward tactics of massaging tanks, the operations of tank units and units of the Red Army during this period were extremely maneuverable. Tank brigades with their counterattacks upset the battle formations of the enemy, which operated mainly along the roads, and drove him off-road. Here, for the first time, the advantage of the T-34 in maneuverability over German combat vehicles began to be felt.
In the battle for Moscow, the Soviet tank commanders for the first time applied the principle of the so-called mobile defense on a broad front - 15-20 km to a brigade. The actions of one of the brigades - 18 Tank - can be judged from the following report: “The brigade began to form 5 September 1941 of the year in the city of Vladimir, Ivanovo region (Vladimir region was formed in August 1944 of the year. - Ed.). The formation is completed by October 4. 7-8 arrived in October on the front, operated in the Uvarovo-Mozhaisk area.
The 9 of October entered the battle, having as part of a tank regiment: T-34 - 29, BT-7 - 3, BT-5 - 24, BT-2 - 5, T-26 - 1, BA - 7. In the 9-10 battles of October, the brigade destroyed 10 tanks, 2 PTO, and 400 enemy soldiers. Their losses amounted to 10 tanks shot down and burned, and two PTO on tractors. ”
The senior battalion commissar Zakharov, chief of the political department of the brigade, described the events of those days much more emotionally: “9.10.1941. The 18-I tank tank brigade consisting of a tank regiment and a motorized rifle battalion engaged in enemy combat, reinforced tanks and motorized infantry consisting of SS soldiers SS divisions "Reich". - Approx. author). In this battle, tank crews and motorized infantry brigades with 509 artillery gunners of the artillery regiment destroyed up to 400 enemy soldiers and officers, 10 tanks, 4 anti-tank guns, 2 mortar batteries, several armored vehicles ...
The caterpillars of our tanks, when they returned from battle, were literally crammed with shreds of ammunition, the remains of physically exterminated fascist geeks ... "
Another tank brigade that distinguished itself in the battle for Moscow - 4 (from 11 November 1941 of the year - 1-I Guards) formed 1941 in Stalingrad in September, including 49 machines (of which 16 - T-34 produced by STZ) . This compound, commanded by Mikhail Katukov, successfully fought under Orel and Mtsensk against the 2 of the German tank group of General Heinz Guderian. The brigade was well organized intelligence, skillfully used disguise. During the eight days of combat, the compound changed positions six times; its soldiers shot down an 133 tank, two armored vehicles, seven heavy guns, 15 tractors, nine aircraft, destroyed an anti-aircraft battery and many other enemy combat vehicles. The actions of the 4 Tank Brigade are a brilliant example of conducting active defense in the face of significant enemy superiority in forces and assets.
THE MOST EFFECTIVE
That is how the commander of a separate tank group, Senior Lieutenant Dmitry Lavrinenko, acted, reflecting the October 6 1941 attack on German tanks in the Naryshkino - First Warrior area. The enemy tanks, crushing our anti-tank defenses, broke through to the positions of the 4 brigade and began to “iron” the trenches of the motorized infantry. Four thirty-fours Lavrinenko jumped out of the forest to intercept the enemy and opened fire. The Germans did not expect the appearance of Soviet combat vehicles. After the six Pz.IIIs caught fire, they stopped and then began to depart. Lavrinenko's tanks disappeared as suddenly as they appeared, but after a few minutes, they appeared more to the left from behind the knoll and re-opened aimed fire. As a result of several such rapid attacks on the battlefield, the 15 of the downed German tanks remained. Our group had no losses.
About 27-year-old senior lieutenant Dmitry Lavrinenko should be said. He participated in 28 battles. Three tanks T-34, on which he fought, burned. On the day of his death, 17 December 1941 of the year, near Volokolamsk, Lavrinenko hit the enemy’s 52 tank and became the most productive Soviet tanker of the Second World War. But the title of Hero of the Soviet Union, he was never assigned. 22 December 1941, he was awarded the Order of Lenin posthumously.
In the post-war years, Marshal Mikhail Katukov and General of the Army Dmitry Lelushenko tried to eliminate this blatant injustice, but only after 50 years they were able to overcome the bureaucratic routine. By decree of the President of the USSR from 5 in May 1990, for courage and heroism shown in battles with the German fascist invaders, Lavrinenko Dmitry Fedorovich was awarded the title Hero of the Soviet Union posthumously. His relatives were awarded the Order of Lenin and the Gold Star Medal (No. 11615). In the name of the Hero, school number 28 was named in the village of Fearless, the streets in the native village, in Volokolamsk and Krasnodar.
Speaking of Dmitry Lavrinenko’s combat activities, I would like to draw the reader’s attention to the tactics he used. In general, it fit into the framework of the tactics used by the 4-I tank tank, a combination of ambush actions with short surprise attacks from a strike group with well-placed reconnaissance.
All available descriptions of fights with Lavrinenko’s participation indicate that before he attacked the enemy, he carefully studied the terrain. This allowed us to correctly choose the direction of the attack, and determine the subsequent actions. Using the advantage of the T-34 over German tanks in maneuverability in the conditions of the autumn thaw, Lavrinenko actively and confidently maneuvered on the battlefield, hiding behind the folds of the terrain. After changing the position, he again attacked from a new direction, creating the impression that the enemy had several groups of tanks.
At the same time, according to colleagues, artillery fire from a tank Lavrinenko led masterfully. But even being a well-aimed shooter, he was striving at maximum speed to get close to the enemy at a distance of 150-400 m and beat for sure.
Summarizing all this, it can be argued that Dmitry Lavrinenko, on the one hand, was a good, cold-blooded tactician, and on the other, he took into account both the shortcomings of the thirty-four and his merit, which allowed him to achieve success.