The myth of the invulnerable "miracle tanks"

One of the myths of the Great Patriotic War about “miracle tanks”, invulnerable, sweeping away everything from its path, was the myth of the new tanks of the Soviet Union - T-34, KV, in the initial period of the war. Even suggestions were made that in order to knock them out, the German armed forces had to use Aviation, since conventional anti-tank weapons could not cope. Another myth came from here - the lack of “miraculoustanks". Naturally, the blame was blamed on the Soviet leadership, who supposedly did not understand their significance before the war, and personally on Stalin.

Examples were given when KV (Klim Voroshilov) returned from battle with dozens of dents from enemy shells, but without holes, such facts did take place. The memories of the Germans were even more interesting; One of the most famous was the memoirs of G. Guderian, commander of the 2 tank group, based on his message about the “invulnerability” of the T-34 for German guns, about the heavy fighting of the 4 tank division in October 1941 of the year south of Mtsensk - they were attacked by T-34 Katukov tank brigade. As a result, they created a myth, including in the Anglo-American literature, about “invincible” T-34 tanks, which overcome the slopes, swamps with lightning speed, they are not taken by projectiles, they cause death and destruction. Although it is clear that the tanks of that time were moving over rough terrain at a speed of no more than 10-15 km per hour.

Although it is clear that if the German convoy was attacked in the march and caught off guard, then the fault of the German commanders, its commander, Major-General V. von Langemann and Erlenkamp. He did not organize reconnaissance in order to deploy the column ahead of time in order of battle. The 4 Panzer Division had enough funds to organize anti-tank defense: the Pak-50 38-mm cannon, the 88-mm anti-aircraft cannon, and cannon cannons. But the Germans let themselves be taken by surprise, and in order not to admit their mistakes, they piled their blame on the “terrible” Russian “miracle tanks”. Guderian supported the report of Langemann so as not to undermine his reputation.

Interestingly, before this, Guderian claimed that: “... the Soviet tank T-34 is a typical example of backward Bolshevik technology. This tank can not be compared with the best models of our tanks, made by the faithful sons of the Reich and have repeatedly proved their advantage ... ".

T-34 sample 1940 of the year.

The first battles of the new Soviet tanks with the Wehrmacht

The Wehrmacht met in the battle with the new Soviet tanks at the very beginning of the war. With normal reconnaissance, well-functioning interaction of tank units with artillery and infantry for the Germans, our new tanks would not be a surprise. German intelligence reported on new tanks in April 1941 of the year, though it was wrong in evaluating body armor: KV was rated at 40 mm, and it was from 40 to 75 mm, and T-34 - at 30 mm, and the main booking was 40-45 mm.

One of the battles with new tanks is the clash of the 7 tank division of the 3 tank group of the Goth 22 June near the bridges across the Neman near the city of Alytus (Olita) with the 5 of the Soviet tank division, it had the 50 of the newest T-34, not counting other tanks. The German division was mainly armed with Czech tanks "38 (t)", there were 167, T-34 were only 30 units. The battle was hard, the Germans were unable to expand the bridgehead, but our T-34 could not knock them out, the Germans pulled up artillery, developed an offensive in the flank and rear, and under the threat of encirclement our division withdrew. That is, on the first day the Wehrmacht "met" with the latest Soviet tanks, and no disaster.

Another battle took place in the area of ​​the town of Radzehów 23 June; units of the 4 th mechanized corps and a division of the 11 th German Panzer Division encountered. German tanks broke into the town and there they encountered our T-34. The battle was hard, but the forces were unequal - the German tank regiment, reinforced by artillery, and our two tank battalions without artillery, ours withdrew. According to Soviet data, the Germans lost 20 tanks, 16 anti-tank guns, our losses - 20 tanks BT, six T-34. Thirty-fours were hit by 88-mm anti-aircraft guns. In further battles, the German tankers, supported by 88-mm anti-aircraft guns, took advantage of a good defensive position and, according to their data, shot down Soviet tanks 40-60, according to our data, the 4 squadron unit lost 11 tanks, knocking out 18 tanks of the enemy. 25 June 88-mm anti-aircraft guns destroyed 9 KV, Soviet figures confirm this number.

24 June 6-I tank division of the Wehrmacht Corps Reinhardt met with 2-th Soviet tank division of the 3-th Mechanized Corps. The Soviet division had 30 KV, 220 BT and several dozen T-26, the Landgraf division had 13 command tanks (without guns), 30 panzer IV, 47 panzer II, 155 Czech Panzer 35 (t). But the Germans had a variety of artillery guns, as a result, the Germans were able to fight off the 30 KV, and then go on the offensive together with the 1-th tank division, surrounding and destroying the 2-th Soviet tank division.

Wehrmacht from the first days faced with the new Soviet tanks, but that did not stop him, he had weaponable to beat HF ​​and T-34. Most of them were lined with 105-mm guns (10,5 cm) and 88-mm anti-aircraft guns, this is confirmed by F. Halder.

The myth of the invulnerable "miracle tanks"

The main means of dealing with "miracle tanks"

Anti-aircraft guns and field 10,5-see guns played a major role in the fight against HF and T-34 at the beginning of the war, but then the 50-mm Pak-38 began to play the main role, it was put into service in 1940 year. An armor-piercing projectile of this anti-tank gun punched 78-mm homogeneous armor at a distance of 500 meters, and this made it possible to hit KV and T-34 in favorable conditions. The main problem was to hit the T-34 frontal armor, ricocheting the shells, it was only possible to hit it at a certain angle.

On 1 June 1941, the Wehrmacht had 1047 of these guns, as they increased their production, they began to receive anti-tank units, their role in the fight against HF and T-34 constantly increased. According to SRI-48 1942 of the year, Pak-38 accounted for 51,6% dangerous hits from the total number of hits.

50 mm gun PAK-38.

105-mm German light field howitzer.

The gun from the famous series of German anti-aircraft 8,8 cm FlaK 18, 36 and 37. It is considered one of the best anti-aircraft guns of the Second World War. It was successfully used not only as an air defense weapon, but also as an anti-tank gun, since the standard German anti-tank artillery in 1941 turned out to be weak for Soviet heavy tanks.

HF and T-34 problems

When hit by a projectile and large-caliber bullets in the HF tower could jam, jamming armored hubcaps. The KV engine had a small reserve of power, so the engine was often overloaded and overheated, the failure of the main and onboard clutches. In addition, "Klim Voroshilov" was slow, low maneuver. The B-2 diesel engine was “raw” at the start of the war, its total resource did not exceed the 100 hours on the stand, on the 40-70 tank hours. For example: German gasoline “Maybachs” worked 300-400 hours, our GAZ-203 (on T-70 tanks) and M-17Т (stood on BT-5, BT-7, T-28, T-35) up to 300 hours .

In T-34 armor from a distance of 300-400 meters pierced armor-piercing shells 37-mm anti-tank guns, the side pierced and 20-mm armor-piercing shells. With a direct hit of the projectile, the front hatch of the driver and the “apple” of the machine-gun installation, the weak tracks, the failure of the main and side clutches failed. The ball mount of the tank machine gun Dektyarev was calculated on bullets and splinters, she did not hold 37-mm projectiles. The problem was the front hatch of the tank.

But it cannot be said that most of the new tanks “broke down” before reaching the battle, or were abandoned due to breakdowns. In general, about half of the tanks died in battle, the Wehrmacht quite successfully beat them. The remaining “non-combat casualties” are quite understandable, for the retreating army breakdowns, damage to tanks that could be fixed in another situation (with a stable front or in the offensive), forced them to blow up and throw. This is also true for tanks that have run out of fuel during the retreat. Wehrmacht tank units, retreating to the 1943-1945 years, lost about the same amount of equipment due to the inability to evacuate it.

The Nazis inspect padded KV-1 with ext. armored screens.

Other methods of the Wehrmacht

The command of the Wehrmacht, faced with the new Soviet tanks, tried to strengthen the anti-tank capabilities of the army. Massively reworked the 75-mm French field gun of the 1897 model of the year into an anti-tank gun - the body of the gun was laid on the PAK-38 gun carriage. But the effect was small, there were no guarantees to hit the Soviet tanks in the forehead, so we tried to hit the side. But in order to successfully hit tanks, it was necessary to beat 180-250 meters from a distance. In addition, there were almost no armor-piercing shells, only cumulative and high-explosive fragmentation shells. The disadvantage when firing cumulative projectiles was the low initial velocity of the projectile — on the order of 450 m / s; this made the prediction calculation more complicated.

Soviet tanks hit 75-mm cannons of German T-IV tanks (Pz. IV) with cumulative ammunition. It was the only projectile of the German tank, capable of hitting the T-34 and KV.

The German 34-mm anti-tank guns with kinetic armor-piercing and sabot projectiles, the PAK-75, Pak-40 guns (it was released not for long and in small batches) became a truly effective weapon against KV and T-41. Pak-40 became the basis of the German anti-tank defense: 1942 units were launched in 2114, 1943 were launched in 8740, 1944 - 11 in 728. These guns could knock down the T-34 at a distance of 1200 meters. True, there was a problem of circular fire, after several shots the coulters burrowed so deep into the ground that the gun could only be deployed with the help of a tractor.

That is, the Wehrmacht was forced to use heavy, slow-moving cannons against the new Soviet tanks, which were vulnerable to bypass maneuvers of armored vehicles, aircraft, and enemy artillery.

PAK-40 German 75-mm anti-tank gun.


The myth of the "Russian supertank" has extremely negative information - it elevates technology, downplays people. They say that the Russians had “miracle tanks”, but could not use them properly and eventually retreated to Moscow.

Although it is clear that even well-protected tanks had their weaknesses and were vulnerable to the enemy. This is true for the newest German tanks - "tigers", "panthers". There were anti-aircraft guns, heavy hull guns, it was possible to hit tanks into the board with anti-tank guns. In addition, the tanks were knocked out by aircraft and heavy artillery, which struck before the advance of the troops. The Wehrmacht and the Red Army quickly increased the main caliber of anti-tank and tank guns to 75-mm.

Do not create another myth - "the weakness of the Soviet new tanks." New Soviet tanks had the disadvantages of "childhood", they were eliminated by means of modernization, and the T-34 is not for nothing considered to be the best tank of World War II.

T-34 1941 year of release in the Armored Museum in Kubinka.

Sources of:
Guderian G. Memoirs of a Soldier. Smolensk, 1999.
Zheltov IG, et al. Unknown T-34. M., 2001.
Isaev A.V. Antisuvorov. Ten myths of the Second World War. M., 2004.
Isaev A.V. Dubno 1941. The greatest tank battle of the Second World War. M., 2009.
Müller-Hillebrand B. Land Army of Germany 1933-1945 M., 2002.
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  1. Joker
    Joker 16 May 2011 09: 34 New
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    That is, the Wehrmacht was forced to use heavy, slow-moving cannons against the new Soviet tanks, which were vulnerable to bypass maneuvers of armored vehicles, aircraft, and enemy artillery.

    - I completely agree, but this is a victory:
    increasing the caliber of an anti-tank gun (in fact from 50 to 75-88 millimeters) seriously increased the weight of the guns (burying the PAK-40 in the ground for example), or made it difficult to use anti-aircraft guns (FlaK 41), which are much more difficult to disguise, and again heavy anti-tank gun based on 88 mm anti-aircraft guns (PAK-43).

    I agree with the article, intelligently written.
  2. Joker
    Joker 16 May 2011 09: 34 New
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    Pretty quickly the Wehrmacht, the Red Aria raised the main caliber of anti-tank and tank guns to 75 mm.

    - this is not a typo? What is meant?
    1. Smirnov Vadim 16 May 2011 10: 04 New
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      typo corrected
  3. huginn 16 May 2011 10: 15 New
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    The author writes here Pak 38 50 mm (1047 pieces at the beginning of the Second World War) and completely forgets about the Pak 35/36 37 mm (16 539 pieces at the beginning of the Second World War).
  4. huginn 16 May 2011 10: 45 New
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    The crew of the KV tank, near the town of Raseiniai (in Lithuania) in June 1941, restrained the advance of the German units from the 4th German tank group, Colonel General Gepner, during the day.
    It was on KV that the senior lieutenant Zinovy ​​Kolobanov (1st Panzer Division) fought, in one battle on August 19, 1941 near Gatchina (Krasnogvardeisky) he destroyed 22 German tanks and two anti-tank guns, and Lieutenant Semyon Konovalov (15th tank brigade) - 16 tanks and 2 enemy armored vehicles.
    At the beginning of the war, the KV-1 tank was nicknamed “Gespenst” (translated from the German ghost) among Germans prone to mysticism, since the shells of the standard 37-mm anti-tank gun of the Wehrmacht most often did not leave dents on its armor.
    The author should not belittle the KV and T-34.
  5. figwam 16 May 2011 20: 02 New
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    Tanks KV and T-34-76 before the Tiger and Panther, were the best tanks in the world.
    Because of the difficulty in training on the HF, the crews were officer, with competent commanders, units worked wonders.
    Inclined sheets of armor T-34, adopted by all countries ..
    We lacked experience in battle, radio stations, and often ammunition.
    And the KV-2 shot turned any tank in the world into a pile of metal.
    Compare even in appearance our HF with the French and English heavy tanks, they look anochronistic compared to ours.
  6. Skills 16 May 2011 20: 24 New
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    the author doesn’t belittle our tanks: “We don’t need to create another myth -“ about the weakness of the Soviet tanks. ”New Soviet tanks had the disadvantages of“ childhood age ”, they were removed by modernization and the T-34 is not for nothing considered to be the best tank of World War II .
    1. huginn 17 May 2011 12: 06 New
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      Read better Svirin, if you want to learn something about Soviet tanks, and Guderian, Zheltov, Isaev and Müller-Gillebrand are clearly not authorities in this matter.
  7. Escander
    Escander 16 May 2011 21: 31 New
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    The information in the article is distorted.
    - The Germans were not aware of the new Soviet tanks, Guderian himself speaks about this in his memoirs “Memoirs of a Soldier”. When the Germans showed their latest developments to our experts not long before the war, then “they were surprised that ours were not surprised” and felt something was amiss (and not in vain, as it later turned out).
    - The statistics also reflected a very revealing correlation between the angles from which the T-34s were hit. Most hits were on the hull (50,5%), on the forehead there were more than half the number of hits (22,65%). The numbers are actually quite eloquent. Half of the hits that fell on the sides of the hull mean tactical miscalculations in the combat use of the investigated wrecked tanks. They were the main cause of defeat. Those. there was not enough experience as the Germans had.
    - The use of large-caliber artillery and anti-aircraft guns FLAC was mostly limited (since these are hull guns).
    - Gun PAK-38. The main problem was the defeat of the T-34 frontal armor, from which the PAK-38 shells simply ricocheted. Penetration of armor was possible only when hit at a certain angle due to the movement of the tank on uneven terrain, or on board.
    - The PAK-38 gun was only 2 pieces. in the company (4th platoon), the rest (1-3 platoon) had PAK-36 (9 pieces).
    - If we consider only dangerous hits, then such 51,6% (of the total number of hits) of caliber 50 mm, 7% - 37 mm, 7% - 88 mm, 2% - 105 mm. Most of the hits - 81% - fell on the hull (again, due to tactical miscalculations of the use of tanks) of the research institutes studied at tank repair facilities.
    Well, something like that.
  8. Skills 16 May 2011 22: 02 New
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    Guderian, and other memories do not need to be trusted, a lot of lies, Guderian, our researchers often caught this (the same Isaev). I really wanted to blame others for their flaws, for example, on Hitler.
  9. Rico1977
    Rico1977 17 May 2011 01: 54 New
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    Let the author not cheat. At the beginning of the war, the T-34 and KV were the best tanks. Only 88mm gun. guaranteed could break through their armor - but there were very few at that time several hundred of the entire Wehrmacht army. All other guns - with a degree of probability, but small. My great-grandfather himself burned out in a T-34 tank in early July near Bialystok in an oncoming tank battle. His colleague told us. During the offensive, they practically destroyed the advancing tank part of the Germans consisting of French tanks (I don’t remember the name, like Renault) and Pz. IV. Our technique was first seen by us. After the defeat of this German unit, other parts of their mechanized corps began to enter the breakthrough. But the great-grandfather's battalion on the T-34 went ahead as a battering ram. Several tanks were lost due to damage. But almost half of the existing armored vehicles were destroyed by German Yu-87 aircraft. There were no casualties in the battles - the Germans, seeing the tanks, immediately retreated or changed direction. They did not get involved in the battle. Another battle took place already on the outskirts of Bialystok - where the Germans dug in and pulled up artillery. Our tanks, not noticing them, went directly to the anti-tank guns. But only the tank of my great-grandfather was knocked out - and that caterpillar, which they replaced immediately after the battle. The remaining tanks immediately rushed into positions and crushed the guns. Their shots did not penetrate the armor even almost point blank. After that, the tanks continued to move to Bialystok and already saw it. But the fuel was running out, but they did not give him a lift - everything was destroyed by German aircraft. And then they closed the hatches with keys and threw them through the inspection slots and went on the attack on the remaining fuel. And grandfather was literally burned - when the fuel ran out, and then the ammunition, and he refused to give up - the Germans climbed onto the tank, doused with gasoline and set it on fire. At that time, not a single tank from the grandfather’s battalion was destroyed by artillery or tanks — only from the air or did the fuel and cartridges run out. Like this. And - 88mm and have not been seen at all. The tanks were the best, and in other conditions they would have razed the Wehrmacht to smithereens — but as the great-grandfather’s colleague said, in the spring of the 41st. there was a large replenishment, many new crews, without experience and poor knowledge of the T-34, studied along the way, if they had time. Well, the general miscalculations of the high command, the lack of interaction.
    1. Faces
      Faces 17 May 2011 06: 47 New
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      The article is really good. Yes, our strong patriotism, well, the truth must be recognized. The German T-III with a 50 mm KwK 39 L / 60 cannon confidently hit our tanks with caliber shells / Another thing is that they weren’t on June 22. Hitler yelled at Speer that she had not been installed back in the 40s, it was simply not necessary. And its towed version has already been described here. After all, it strikes armor not only with the power of a shell but also with its great initial speed. Modern ammunition shells have a small diameter, and confidently flush armor 500-700 mm. A railgun with a tungsten pellet pierces the armor sheet of 1.5 meters
      1. huginn 17 May 2011 12: 18 New
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        The best German 1941 T-3 medium tank with a "long" 50 mm (T-3 J modification, KwK 39 gun, barrel length 60 calibers - 60 * 50 mm; at the beginning of the war, units of the Wehrmacht had about 300 of these tanks) could expect to break through the armor of the T-34 only from a distance of 300 m, the position for early modifications of the T-3 with a “short” 50 mm (modifications F and G, KwK 38 gun, barrel length 42 caliber - 42 * 50 mm) was much worse - this modification could count to break through the armor of the Russian medium tank from a distance of 150 m. We do not speak about HF at all.
  10. mishan
    mishan 18 May 2011 01: 15 New
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    Of course, let's write about the railgun and sub-caliber shells, which were not at the beginning of the war.
    Or about the fact that the Germans before the attack threw forward 88-mm anti-aircraft guns, which our tankers zealously rushed to.
    Do not stupid comrades! In real battles, in the 41st year, when the Germans advanced, the T-34 showed themselves well and came as a surprise to them.
    At the BEGINNING of the war, these legends were born, yes, to some extent due to the oversight of the command, but to a greater extent it was not a myth but a reality
  11. mind1954
    mind1954 1 October 2011 05: 20 New
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    T-34 because the best because it is optimal - harmonious in all
    relations (and from the line program. optimal is not the maximum
    combination of positive factors, and the minimum combination
    I read the memories of "one aunt" - the head of the mobile,
    on the echelons of a tank repair plant - very detailed and interesting
    wrote about their activities
    The French tank was apparently S-35. Slow but thick armor
    and a decent gun. The Germans got the whole French tank
    Park - 2500 pcs.
    With 88mm 10km anti-aircraft guns on 4 wheels, the Germans outraged and
    in Africa. Here not so long ago once again showed newsreels
    about Rommel. No wonder it was put on the Tiger and Ferdinand.
    I read memories: they put Ferdinand behind on a high-rise and he
    snapped our tanks like nuts. And our shells from its walls
    bounced. And suddenly he began to smoke and catch fire. After battle
    looked, and on the other side of the armored plate a tank was riveted
    with fuel. After that, they tried to beat in this place.

    Everything was raw with us. For 20 years, made from a pile of manure
    industrial power. Before the war, the army increased 4 times.
    In my childhood, after the war, there were a lot of people with 4 classes around,
    and the seven-year plan was considered an excellent education.

    Surprisingly, for some reason, no one recalls the "Douche Doctrine" -
    - Italian general. Bomb carriers level everything with the earth, and then
    land battleships, ironing everything, capture the territory.
    That's where we got the TB planes and the T-28 and T-35 tanks. What were you spending on
    resources and time.

    General Yakovlev, who shared
    ammunition and personally subordinate to I.V. Stalin. He wrote.
    Photos of armored cores sticking in armor
    Our tanks were brought back from Spain, but none of the experts
    did not pay attention to them, but they were German!
  12. Reddragon 3 March 2012 15: 01 New
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    The results are not correctly made: the T-34 was the best and the fact that its defeat required the most advanced anti-tank weapons is proof of this.
    Unfortunately, at the beginning of the war, the T-34 was a rather crude version, the T-34 was never able to get into service, and everything happened during the war.

    -He was the best tank in his class., it had a lot of innovations and great solutions.
    -About crews: after the first defeats, there was no time to really train crews (until 1943).
    -Tigers and Panthers - a heavy class of tanks, well, in no way can you compare them (conditionally only).
  13. Snoop 4 March 2013 10: 58 New
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    The article is good and objective. I don’t know why everyone was so upset. T-34-76 was superior to German tanks in armament and armor, but there really were a lot of childhood diseases. The most basic thing: the poor location of the viewing instruments, which resulted in whole sectors of the vision. This is also said by German tankers, while the same Carius praising the T-34 noted that the Russians often could not even understand where the fire was being fired at. This is confirmed by the Yankees' field studies, then they were allies and there was no Cold War (42 years), so there were objectively indicated disadvantages. And the pre-war tests of the tank in the USSR showed an unsatisfactory view from the tank for the crew. The tank drove through the lane where anti-tank guns and machine guns opened fire on it (naturally empty), the results were depressing ... one driver caught two machine-gun points, the rest of the crew did not see any of them. Therefore, the task was given to develop a new modification of the tank, the so-called T-34M. The main minus is the absence of an individual crew member - the gunner, the commander controlled the crew, monitored the battlefield, pointed and fired from the gun. Therefore, the Germans noted the low rate of fire of our T-34s.
    Now, if such tanks were to be developed earlier ... after all, the People’s Commissariat of Heavy Industry and the military, proceeding from the Spanish events, turned to Tukhachevsky, the armaments commissar, that it was necessary to develop fundamentally new tanks with anti-ballistic armor and a new power plant and quit upgrading the T-26 and BT. But the genius of all times and peoples drew a resolution - not required!
  14. Paleontologist
    Paleontologist 19 November 2013 00: 11 New
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    The last 3 lines with almost pluses of our tanks do not give the article the right to be considered objective, not biased.
    Now, if the article was continued, and the advantages of the T-34 and KV are also described in detail, then there would be less questions for the author.
  15. sapran
    sapran 19 November 2013 00: 23 New
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    The article is irrational. if you want to prove something, please provide elementary scans from the reports after the end of the platoon-company battle, as one movie-hero “oil painting!” said and these messages were already tired of the order ... They started the prosral so have the courage to admit it and put dots on the names of those guilty of this, and not overload the responsibility on ordinary privates who almost all perished, if only there was a chance to correct the miscalculations of the state leadership. All these articles destroy the bright that owned and moved people to a feat ...