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"T-34 Production Dates" Topic


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593 hits since 2 Nov 2018
©1994-2018 Bill Armintrout
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Achtung Minen03 Nov 2018 5:38 a.m. PST

I know this might be a very silly question, but does anybody know the production dates (even the month, if possible) that the first vehicles of each T-34 type started to roll off the production lines? How about annual production numbers for each type?

I ask because I seem to recall hearing that the designations typically used in the West (i.e. "Model 1942" etc.) are a bit of a misnomer and were not actually used by the Soviets (who used something like "T-34A, T-34B" and so on). I am not sure if that necessarily means the Western designated years are wrong but I am wondering if that could be the case… For example, were M1941's only really available by 1942?

I am also curious if whether, given the emergency situation of Soviet manufacture in the early days of the German invasion, the Soviets continued to produce (for example) M1940's in some plants at the same time that other factories were producing M1941's.

donlowry03 Nov 2018 8:53 a.m. PST

According to "T-34 in Action" a squadron/signal booklet by Steven Zaloga and James Grandsen:

The 1940 version (A model?), with the short L-11 76mm gun (L 30.5), started production in Sept of '40.

The first of the 1941 version (B model?), with the better F-34 gun, was finished in Feb '41. They were initially used as company and platoon commanders' tanks. Most had welded turrets, but some (starting in the spring) had cast turrets with somewhat more armor.

The 42 (C?) model was a simplified version, with fewer parts, and also used both types of turret, but the cast turret was more numerous and was up-armored again. He doesn't say (that I can find) when it started production.

The 43 (D?) model had the larger, hexagonal, turret, entered production in the fall of 42, and entered combat in time to see action around Stalingrad. It had more frontal (hull) armor. It was the most numerous of the 76mm-armed versions and remained in production until the spring of 44.

The first T-34/85s entered production in Jan 44, with D-5T guns, replaced in March with S-53 guns. Apparently the earlier version is called a 43 model and the latter a 44 model. The /85 first entered combat in the spring of 44.

He gives production figures by year, but not by type.

The SU-122 on the T-34 chassis began production in Dec 42, and first went into combat on the Volkhov Front in the winter of 42/43, and saw action at Kursk. 1148 were produced before it was dropped in early 44.

The SU-85 went into production in Aug 43, and a total of 2050 were produced before production switched over to the SU-100 at the end of 44. The SU-85 first entered combat during the forcing of the Dneiper in the Ukraine. 1800 SU-100s were produced by the war's end, but it continued in production into the late '40s (and in Czechoslovakia in the 50s).

Production of the T-44 (all new design with 100mm gun) began in August 44 "but its combat record is largely unrecorded". It led to the very successful T-54/55 family.

All of the above from the source cited. Hope it helps.

Banana Man03 Nov 2018 8:54 a.m. PST

Useful?

link

Achtung Minen03 Nov 2018 9:49 a.m. PST

The first of the 1941 version (B model?), with the better F-34 gun, was finished in Feb '41.

That is probably true, but as far as I can tell the T-34 Model 1941 wasn't even approved for production until after the German invasion on June 22nd, 1941. It was only the reports by actual frontline troops about the inadequacy of the L-11 tank gun (used in the M1940) that the Soviet high command decided to approve the M1941 design, which means the earliest production of M1941 tanks would be slated for the fall of 1941. To make matters worse, the Soviets were shifting all of their industrial centers way behind the frontline (to Stalingrad and the Urals) at this time to protect them from the Blitzkrieg, which meant little to no production for months.

I gather that some factories had been building M1941 tanks on their own initiative even before the war, as early as the beginning of 1941, as some industry leaders were convinced that it was a superior tank. But I'm wondering if this accounted for many vehicles at all. For instance, a Polish book, "Medium Tank T-34/76" by Janusz Ledwoch (Warsaw 1997) seems to indicate that most T-34's in 1941 were the M1940 variant. Quoting (via translation) from page 12-14:

In 1941, the T-34 1940 model was introduced to the F-34 L / 41.21 gun (production of the factory No. 92 in Gorky, now Niznyi Nowogrod) in place of the previously used L-11. Other modifications include a new type of tracks with a differently shaped link with better adhesion to the ground and wheels with internal suspension produced in Stalingrad. After the introduction of the F-34 gun, the shape of the armor of the mantlet was also changed and the engine inlet on the rear armor plate received a circular shape (it had a rectangular shape). In 1941, the production of tanks equipped with additional armor (armored screens) was introduced, and vehicles with a cast tower were tested in place of a welded tower of rolled elements.

The modifications resulted in the production being stopped so that by May 1, 1941, the Kharkov plants produced 525 tanks, and the Stalingrad Tractor Factory only 130. These were in most cases the 1940 model.

After the outbreak of the war, there were difficulties in supplying the right number of high-performance engines. After the relocating of factory No. 75 from Kharkov to Stalingrad, production was restarted only in November. By the end of 1941, the factory in Stalingrad produced only 197 engines. During the transition period some of the tanks were powered by M-17 carburettor engines. At that time, plants no. 75 were behind the Urals. A total of 638 tanks with gas engines were produced in total. Tanks produced in Stalingrad had, among other things, simplified rear structures.

After the outbreak of the war, the program of increasing the production of T-34 tanks anticipated the production of 700 vehicles also in the factory "Krasnoye Sormowo" in Gorky. However, the introduction of a new vehicle for mass production was harder than expected and only 173 new tanks left Gorky until mid-year.

October 19, 1941, was the last day of production of plants in Kharkov. In 1941, there were difficulties in the F-32 cannon fixture, which led to the development of a transitional variant armed with wz. 1938 caliber 45mm. Serial production never began. In 1941, an experimental blueprint armed with the Zis-4 gun caliber 57 mm was produced.

So that source seems to suggest, for instance, that there were relatively few M1941 tanks rolling around in 1941 (in comparison to M1940). Soviet high command did not approve the M1941 variant for production before the war, and during 1941 the Soviet industrial centers were largely relocating and retooling for the changes. Most of the tanks produced in 1941 appear to be M1940. Does this match what others have found in different sources?

Mobius03 Nov 2018 9:50 a.m. PST

I wrote a small program that graphs out the production. You can download Russian WWII Tank production from here:
panzer-war.com/page31.html
The input file is text and the monthly production numbers can be read from it.

I don't know if I would determine the model number by the gun type. I would go by the peculiar gun mantlet.

Achtung Minen03 Nov 2018 11:03 a.m. PST

Mobius, your program gives the T-34 M1940 production as 117, but that seems low. What sources did you use? Some of my sources say that 117 vehicles were produced by the end of 1940 but more were produced in 1941.

Edit: Some more info… according to the Russian-language Wiki page on the T-34 (link), there were 458 T-34's with the L-11 gun and 606 T-34's with the F-34 in service on June 22nd, 1941. It seems that the some of the latter were possibly not automatically considered to be Model 1941 tanks, but might have instead been described as Model 1940 tanks with F-34 guns (which is confusing, since wargamers tend to mean the long-barelled 75mm T-34 when they say M1941).

Mobius03 Nov 2018 4:31 p.m. PST

I think I got the data from the Polish book 'T-34 Mythical Weapon'.

deephorse04 Nov 2018 1:24 a.m. PST

Some of my sources say that 117 vehicles were produced by the end of 1940 but more were produced in 1941.

Zaloga agrees with those figures.

Achtung Minen04 Nov 2018 5:43 a.m. PST

I think I got the data from the Polish book 'T-34 Mythical Weapon'.

Thanks, another great resource, especially for visual differences between models (or even between different production plants). It's stunning how diverse T-34's were… there seems to have been very little consistency in production.

Another source, "T-34: The Red Army's Legendary Medium Tank", quotes the T-34 with the L-11 gun at "about 400" which seems to confirm the Russian Wiki. That means about half the nearly 900 T-34's the Soviet Army had on June 1st, 1941 were L-11 gun models, or what wargamers typically call T-34 M1940. More than two-thirds of M1940 were actually built in 1941, mostly in the first half of the year.

Man, I've looked at a few Zaloga books on the T-34 now in trying to answer this question, and he can't help but wax poetic about the T-34. Contemporary US intelligence reports about the T-34 were certainly not so rosy, nor were the German's views on it. It's kind of interesting how the T-34 has developed this legend as a wonder-weapon when in reality it had so many flaws.

Griefbringer04 Nov 2018 6:14 a.m. PST

It's kind of interesting how the T-34 has developed this legend as a wonder-weapon when in reality it had so many flaws.

If one restricts analysis to armour thickness, size of the gun and maximum speed (like many a wargamer might do), then the design flaws are less obvious…

In any case, it was a design that the Germans could not just ignore at the time – especially as the Soviets soon were able to produce them in massive numbers.

donlowry04 Nov 2018 9:16 a.m. PST

Another source, "T-34: The Red Army's Legendary Medium Tank", quotes the T-34 with the L-11 gun at "about 400" which seems to confirm the Russian Wiki. That means about half the nearly 900 T-34's the Soviet Army had on June 1st, 1941 were L-11 gun models, or what wargamers typically call T-34 M1940. More than two-thirds of M1940 were actually built in 1941, mostly in the first half of the year.

That sounds about right to me. My source (Zaloga) says both models were produced simultaneously for a while.

What impressed the Germans when they first encountered the T-34 was mostly the sloped armor, not the gun, though even the L-11 was probably about as good as any tank-gun they had at the time.

Achtung Minen04 Nov 2018 9:59 a.m. PST

What impressed the Germans when they first encountered the T-34 was mostly the sloped armor, not the gun, though even the L-11 was probably about as good as any tank-gun they had at the time.

In hindsight, I guess it is kinda odd that no one thought of that idea sooner… but then again, Early War tanks were not designed with "tank vs tank" battles in mind. For some reason (perhaps because of WW1), tanks were only thought of as mobile guns for breaking defensive points manned mostly by infantry. The other factor is that early tanks basically used slightly modified tractor engines and primitive suspensions, neither of which were capable of hauling extremely heavy loads, which is an obvious design limitation to how much armour a tank could even have. Early war heavy tanks on all sides were operational nightmares, breaking down after 100 hours of running or less and requiring an entire new engine, transmission etc. to be installed every other week. There are some stunning photos of early T-34's carrying a spare transmission (a chunk of metal the size of a loveseat) on the back deck, as the crew knew they would need it shortly. Of course, the Soviets lost tanks at such rates that many didn't even survive 100 hours of driving in the first place to get their first full overhaul…

If one restricts analysis to armour thickness, size of the gun and maximum speed (like many a wargamer might do), then the design flaws are less obvious…

Funny you should mention that—personally speaking, doing all this reading has given me loads of ideas, from using a Allied Vehicle Breakdown card for early T-34's to listing reinforcements on the mission briefing that actually never end up coming or arrive late and understrength (due to vehicle breakdowns). You could even make broken down tank retrieval the entire mission!

Mobius04 Nov 2018 11:19 a.m. PST

T-34 Medium Tank by Mikhail Baryatinskiy has it that the first 453 T-34s had the L-11 gun. The designers had wanted the F-32 but they were taken by the plant making the KV-1.

Frontovik05 Nov 2018 12:41 p.m. PST

A,B,C,D etc. are the German designations. Soviets named them by Model year – Model 1940 and so on.

Here's what many would consider a Model 1940 hull with the rectangular engine access hatch mounting the F42 gun.

link

For what it's worth the T-34's great achievement was balancing the three elements of firepower, armour and manouevrability in a package that could be easily mass produced.

Garand05 Nov 2018 12:52 p.m. PST

Production of the T-44 (all new design with 100mm gun) began in August 44 "but its combat record is largely unrecorded". It led to the very successful T-54/55 family.

The T-44 did not have the 100mm cannon. It still retained the 85mm cannon of the T-34/85 in a very similar turret. Most of the differences was in the hull. It was the T-54 that introduced the 100mm D-10 in a fully rotating turret.

Damon.

Wolfhag05 Nov 2018 4:29 p.m. PST

I don't think sloped armor was any secret as even France had sloped armor before the war.

The Panzer III does have sloped armor over the top of the transmission and lower nose. So why not more sloped armor? I think one reason was in 1939 was the Germans did not feel they needed it and there were drawbacks.

The transmission in the front was more effective as it does not clog the drive sprocket with dirt like the rear transmission does. You can't have the transmission in the front and a sloped glacis. The transmission also gave some crew protection. Rounds that penetrated the T-34 glacis could normally go through the fighting compartment into the engine.

Sloped armor is overall heavier and more expensive to produce.

The practical differences between front and rear drive are not enormous. Rear drive is slightly more efficient because front drive sprockets tighten the upper run of track and so cause additional friction. Rear drive sprockets are also slightly less likely to get damaged by hitting large obstacles or by mines.

Front drive sprockets are less likely to get damaged by rocks and dirt that get caught in the tracks because the track has to travel the entire upper run before it hits the sprocket, so there's a good chance the debris falls off before it gets jammed into the sprocket. Front transmissions eliminate the transmission shifting linkage problem that the T-34 had.

Sloped armor means a smaller fighting compartment and poor crew efficiency with less storage. The T-34 stored its rounds in cans on the floor making them hard to get to. Yes, the crew stood on the ammo. Sloped armor means more ricochets too, especially with large lateral angles (compound angle near 70 degrees).

The T-34/76 had a sloped turret with 2 men, the Panzer III no slope with a 3 man turret. The transmission in the front meant a drive shaft through the tank giving it a higher silhouette.

Last but not least is the armor thickness to shell diameter ratio (T/D Ratio) for overmatching the armor when the shell diameter is greater than the base armor value (45mm in the T-34 glacis). So any shell greater than 45mm diameter will have better performance. A 75mm shell hitting the 45mm sloped glacis will reduce the total armor protection by about 25% (I think). This is one of those fuzzy areas of armor vs penetration that is hard to represent in a game. I think it has something to do with additional lateral forces of the shell acting on the slope of the armor and breaking/cracking it rather than just penetrating it. This does not happen on a 90-degree hit.

I'll leave off on this aspect now as Mobius can explain it better than I can.

Wolfhag

Marc33594 Supporting Member of TMP06 Nov 2018 7:52 a.m. PST

You can't have the transmission in the front and a sloped glacis.

The early Sherman had a 57 degree sloped glacis and the later models 47 degree sloped glacis and most definitely a front transmission. Just one example.

donlowry06 Nov 2018 8:50 a.m. PST

The T-44 did not have the 100mm cannon. </q.

I guess you're right. Zaloga starts out talking about a T-34/100 and then went into the T-44, which made it sound like the latter had the 100mm gun. But evidently it didn't, as (in a caption) he later says the turret wasn't big enough for that.

Mobius06 Nov 2018 6:55 p.m. PST

Last but not least is the armor thickness to shell diameter ratio (T/D Ratio) for overmatching the armor when the shell diameter is greater than the base armor value (45mm in the T-34 glacis).
I'll leave off on this aspect now as Mobius can explain it better than I can.

T/D is an important factor but to find the actual armor resistance I use an energy formula that uses armor quality times T/D to a variable power depending on angle of incident. So the final results are often a surprise to me.

Fred Cartwright07 Nov 2018 3:15 a.m. PST

There is a penetration calculator on Tank Archives that you can use to estimate penetration using either the De Marre or Krupp formulas.
link

Lion in the Stars07 Nov 2018 3:36 p.m. PST

For what it's worth the T-34's great achievement was balancing the three elements of firepower, armour and manouevrability in a package that could be easily mass produced.

I think the Sherman also had that 'achievement', but yes. The T34's greatest strength was that it could be easily mass-produced by idiots.

The Soviets were also quite willing to accept really crappy build quality, I've seen gaps in the armor big enough for a 50mm shell to completely pass through, which would not have been accepted by either the US or the Germans. And the US Army report on the T34 and KV1 had really nasty things to say about the mechanical side, what I most remember is the comments on the air filter. Criminal Sabotage was the phrase used, IIRC.

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