Sunday, August 28, 2011

From Christie to T-72: T-34/76

The A-32 was scheduled for production in early 1940. At that time the Soviet army was in turmoil, searching for reasons why their victory over Finland took so long to materialize, and why so many lives were lost. Out of this tumult came the KV-1 and the A-32, now renamed T-34. Unfortunately for the Kharkov design team, Koshkin, T-34's designer, fell ill and soon died. The T-34 was produced in moderate numbers until June 22, 1941. On that day, Nazi Germany invaded Russia. Almost immediately, it was deemed imperative that major factories in the USSR, including those in Kharkov, had to be transported across the country to prevent them from falling into Nazi hands. So the Soviets set about the task of moving the factories all the way to the Urals. Once this was complete, they almost immediately went into high gear producing tanks, especially KVs and T-34s, aircraft, and all the components of modern warfare. Almost from their first day in combat, T-34s proved themselves better in combat than all German tanks of the day. The Germans were stunned by the new vehicles, Field Marshal Von Kleist called them the best tanks in the world. They were just what the Soviet Union needed. They were actively involved in the Winter offensive of 1941/42, rolling over the snow while the German tanks and artillery pieces were too frozen even to shoot back. They were produced not in thousands, like most German vehicles, but in tens of thousands, becoming the very symbol of Soviet resistance to the foe.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

From Christie to T-72: A-20, A-32 and the origins of T-34

Now I shall return to a subject which I have examined before, the T-34. But first, I shall give some background on its development history.This revolutionary design sprang out of projects to replace the BT-7, most of which used that tank as a basis. But two designs in particular stood out from the rest, and the competition soon narrowed down to these two, the A-20 and the A-32. Both used the christie suspension; and both used sloped armor. This was a relatively bold move for the mid 1930s, as while most tanks used sloping only in the front of the vehicle, these designs would have sloped armor covering the entire upper hull. While both vehicles were revolutionary in concept, the A-20 had thin armor and used the BT-7's 45mm gun. The A-32, however, was a different story. It had very well-sloped armor, which was also quite thick, and it also used a 76mm gun capable of penetrating every tank of its day with almost no exceptions. The importance of this in my view requires a bit of explanation. During the Spanish Civil War (it would drag on until 1939), countries such as France and Germany started to design tanks to deal with the Krupp 37mm anti-tank gun, but in Russia, Stalin's purges had decimated the main tank design team, and new members were hired. One of these, a man named Michail Koshkin, decided that what his country needed was a tank that would not only defeat the 37mm threat, but would also defeat whatever new AT gun was made to deal with the new generation of tanks. And thus the A-32 was born. As a consequence of its revolutionary design, the tank was accepted for service as the T-34.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Chr-T72: BT-7

The BT-7 was the ultimate evolution of its series. It was in many ways an upgraded BT-5, with a new turret and better armor ( Although in the first tanks produced the old model turret was used). It was utilized throughout the Great Patriotic War, as World War II was termed by the Soviets. The tank's main fault was the fact that it had a petrol engine, which burned very easily. This problem was rectified by the BT-7M, which went into production from 1940 onwards. The infantry support version mounted a 76mm howitzer in a modified turret. The BT-7 was phased out of production after Operation Barbarossa(the German invasion of Russia) decimated stocks of the tanks, although as previously noted they did not go out of service until almost the end of the war.