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"T-34 traverse and engagement details" Topic

19 Posts

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571 hits since 11 Oct 2021
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Comments or corrections?

Wolfhag11 Oct 2021 8:57 a.m. PST

Below is an email from my contact at the Russian tank museum in Kubinka. He's a mechanic and driver that helps in recovery and restoration.

I had some questions about crew response time and engagement methods for the game I'm designing:

I'm afraid i do not have actual reaction times you are asking for (as i am more engaged in recovery and restoration, not archives).

From my side, i could only give you few practical advices:

1) By Soviet files, observing battlefield for threats\targets is responsibility not only of tank commander, but of all crew members (even gun loader is supposed to be looking into his observation device all the time he is not loading the gun or doing other things)

2) Limiting gun re-directing to turret rotation is not correct sometimes it is much quicker and convenient to turn entire tank to face the target. On T-70 mod.1942, i was never able to rotate the turret fast enough to compensate tank turns (there is now power traverse on this tank). In early WWII, Soviet tank commanders were sometimes taking tank driver seat as it allow them immediate reaction to threats (and better observation with open hatch).

3)Not all T-34-76 were equipped with turret rotation motor at least some of STZ tanks produced in 1942 were not having it, like one we have recovered from Don two years ago. So for them traversing was limited to manual rotation of the handle and turning entire tank.



donlowry11 Oct 2021 8:59 a.m. PST


Micman Supporting Member of TMP11 Oct 2021 9:49 a.m. PST

Thank you for sharing.

Korvessa11 Oct 2021 9:53 a.m. PST

So yesterday I watched the Russian film "White Tiger."
After reading above, it makes more sense that the tank commander – a junior Lt – was the driver of the 3 man crew.

Starfury Rider11 Oct 2021 10:05 a.m. PST

"…like one we have recovered from Don two years ago."

Don, you were sitting on a T34 and you never told us!


Marc33594 Supporting Member of TMP11 Oct 2021 10:52 a.m. PST

Simply wow! Thanks for sharing his insights Wolfhag.

Wolfhag11 Oct 2021 12:27 p.m. PST

The early T-34/76 had a heavy turret hatch that covered most of the turret top. It would have been difficult to hold it open and fatal if it fell on your head. The later models had two round hatches that gave it the "Mickey Mouse" nickname.

If you compare the early and later T-34/76 you'll find many differences in gun, hatches and viewing optics.


Personal logo Dan Cyr Supporting Member of TMP11 Oct 2021 3:43 p.m. PST

The wide early T-34/76 hatch cover was hinged in front of both the commander's and loader's hatches, forcing them to try and peek around its sides, if I recall.

Cuprum211 Oct 2021 5:00 p.m. PST

Even tanks from different factories could have significant differences.

1942 is the most difficult year for the USSR in terms of supplying the army. A significant part of the plant's equipment and trained personnel has been lost, the factories are in the process of evacuating and settling in a new place, an inevitable accompanying shortage of components. Therefore, during this period, the most low-quality products were produced – many units were not enough, improvised materials were used, technical solutions were simplified, sometimes to primitivism. After the gigantic losses of 1941, the army experienced a catastrophic shortage of many weapons, including tanks, so they did it the way they could (for example, they increased the production of "surrogate" light T-60 tanks). By 1943, these problems had largely been overcome.

Heedless Horseman11 Oct 2021 8:18 p.m. PST

From what I have read, Russian tanks were under orders to fight 'closed down'… do correct me if I am wrong!
So, I 'can' see some commanders swapping seats with a driver for visibility and 'command', but hidden to superiors.

Cuprum212 Oct 2021 1:05 a.m. PST

In Russia, there is a saying: "The severity of Russian laws is compensated by the optionality of their execution")))

Judging by the recollections of Soviet tankers, the hatches (turret and driver) never closed completely, as tankers feared they would jam when hit by an enemy shell and the inability to leave a burning tank. The command turned a blind eye to this, since it was much easier to get a new tank than to get a new experienced crew.

Wolfhag12 Oct 2021 2:21 a.m. PST

From what I have read, Russian tanks were under orders to fight 'closed down'… do correct me if I am wrong!

In a two man turret one is the gunner and the other the loader. I think that would force you to be closed down. I don't know if the early T-34/76 turret could be locked open when moving. That may be another reason for the commander to be driving. There is enough room in T-34's to switch positions fairly easily.

Even if hatches were closed they would not normally lock them to eliminate internal over pressure when hit and quicker to bail out.

The KV-1 hatch was behind the gun chamber. I don't think you could be in the hatch at the same time the gun fired. I think all two man turrets were buttoned up when firing.

The T-34/85 had an rotating cupola with a split hatch that could open and the commander hide behind. There is an excellent example of this in the movie "White Tiger".

I do recall a Russian order that tanks button up when getting within 800m of the enemy but I don't know when it was issued.


Thresher0112 Oct 2021 2:21 p.m. PST

Thanks for sharing.

That IS an interesting point, and no doubt applies to German tanks and those of other nations, with slow traversing turrets.

No doubt, German Panther and Tiger crews would do the same.

Wittmann's crew first started out on StuGs and learned to traverse their vehicle, with its fixed gun, very quickly, in order to get their gun on target faster than their enemies could do the same. No doubt, this continued once they got their Tiger, given their success, and having a moving turret to aid in that was just a bonus.

donlowry12 Oct 2021 4:51 p.m. PST

Don, you were sitting on a T34 and you never told us! <?q>

No one ever asked.

Wolfhag12 Oct 2021 6:27 p.m. PST

A StuG pivoting the hull, would that be called a Skid Turn?

The German Tigers and Panther(?) had a double differential transmission type that allowed them to perform what is called a "Neutral Turn" in place. When attempting to turn with the transmission in neutral, each tread would slowly go in an opposite directions turning the hull at about 10 degrees per second. However, this put immense strain on the tread (which could pop off from the lateral forces), engine and transmission so could only be performed on hard ground.
Video: YouTube link

The only Allied tanks I know of that could Neutral Turn was the British Churchill and French Char 1b.


Cuprum213 Oct 2021 1:57 a.m. PST

"Crazy competition" between the museum T-34-85 and the modern T-90. You can look at the real running and other capabilities of the tank ;-)

YouTube link

YouTube link

Mark 113 Oct 2021 4:36 p.m. PST

I don't know if the early T-34/76 turret could be locked open when moving.

I believe it could indeed be locked open. How reliable the lock was, I can not say.

The original concept of the large turret roof hatch was that it served two purposes -- it was the crew's access to the turret (and so the entry/exit point for 3 of the 4 crew members). It was also the access point for installing and removing the main gun, which in the original mount could not be removed or installed from the front of the turret. Due to this large hatch the gun could be replaced without the need to remove the turret and go in through the turret ring.

Later turret designs, in particular the "hex" turret, separate hatches were provided for gunner and loader (and hence also the TC, who filled one of these roles). These turrets provided for guns to be installed from the front, removing the need for gun-sized access in the turret roof.

The T-34/85 had an rotating cupola with a split hatch that could open and the commander hide behind.

To this day Russian tank roof hatches are designed with the concept that the open hatch can serve as a shield behind which the exposed crewman (usually the TC) can shelter. When the T-34 went to the new turret design with twin roof hatches they both opened forward to provide such shielding. This lead to the German references of late-model T-34s as "Mickey Mouse" versions, with two open hatches reminding landsers of big round ears.

The T-34-85 (and some later T-34s) did have a cupola. But most did not have a split hatch (in the manner of two equal semi-circles that opened outwards of each other). Far more common was a single hatch which which was somewhat more than half of a circle of the cupola top, with the remainder fixed. This hatch / "fixed" roof of the cupola could be rotated, so the hatch could be opened towards the front, the rear, or where ever they TC wanted. Most TCs left it facing forward, so that the open hatch could cover their chest as a shield while they rode high in the hatch.

The image of the TC looking around the side or over the top of the hatch remains a characteristic of pictures of Russian tanks on road marches, whether with early T-34s, later T-34s, T-34-85s, T-55s, T-72s, etc.

(aka: Mk 1)

Mark 113 Oct 2021 4:47 p.m. PST

And Wolf, it's good to see Roman is still active restoring tanks. He became a contributor on TankNet years ago, but I have not corresponded with him since maybe 2010 or so…

Wolfhag13 Oct 2021 7:57 p.m. PST

Far more common was a single hatch which which was somewhat more than half of a circle of the cupola top, with the remainder fixed.

The fixed forward part had the periscope which the TC could also use to easily check his rear 180 degree aspect. Something the Germans and US did not have to my knowledge. I think it was originally a British design.

Here is a shot of it from the movie "White Tiger": YouTube link

I've got to figure a way to get to Kubinka and see Roman before I kick the bucket.

Thanks Mark 1.


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