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.

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