T-34/85 was considered by many as possibly the best tank of World War 2. It was fast, manoeuvrable, hard-hitting and played a major role in pushing the Germans back into Germany in late 1944. The T-34 truly harnessed the power of the Russian economy to build rivers of armour.
The German General von Runstedt called the Russian T-34 "the best tank in the world".
Model and Pictures by Liejon Schoot

Gridlocked trench warfare was the hallmark of World War I, where military generals were slow to utilize the new armored vehicles -- when they did use them they either failed to see their potential or were unable to follow-up on their success. World War II changed everything; tanks and other armored fighting vehicles (AFVs) were at the forefront of battle, often spearheading offensives and driving fast and deep into enemy territory, paving the way for the infantry to follow (hopefully). Other multi-purpose vehicles like trucks and half-tracks improved the mobility of the infantry, allowing them to keep up with the new, faster-paced war. And leading the battle in tank design was the Soviet Union.

Russia introduced the T-34 medium tank into service in December of 1940. This breakthrough vehicle was designed to be "shell proof" with heavy, sloped, welded armor plate. It was also designed to be easy to mass-produce, maintain and repair. The Red Army's T-34 had it all, good speed, armament, armor, local defense, range (w/ external tanks), terrain crossing ability and reliability. The T-34 was tough, maneuverable, relatively reliable and the wide tracks enabled it to cross every type of terrain, including soft mud and snow, giving to the tank the capacity to operate where Germans couldn't even travel. The T-34 was also small and comparably light, while the tank's water-cooled diesel engine minimized the danger of fire and increased the tank's the radius of action. It was the best Allied tank of the war. Even the German General von Runstedt called the T-34 the "best tank in the world". By the end of the war some 40,000 T-34's had been produced. It was the single weapon that turned the war in favour of the Soviet Union and thus contributed decisively to the victory of the Allied forces.

The T-34 medium tank was of a classical layout with rear transmission. The hull was divided in the driver's compartment, fighting compartment, engine bay, and transmission housing. The turret could be traversed with the aid of an electric traversing motor or by hand wheel operated by the commander. With the aid of an electric motor the turret could be traversed on 360 degrees in 14 seconds.

It remained in service far longer than any other WW II vintage tank. T34's served in Korea, where U.S. soldiers found that their heavy armor made them almost impervious to light anti-tank weapons. As of 1996, T-34, mainly in it its 85mm variant was still in service with many nations including: Afghanistan, Albania (approx. 70), Angola (approx. 58), Guinea Bissau (approx. 10), Cuba (approx. 400), Mali (approx. 18), Romania (approx. 1000), Slovenia, Hungary (approx. 5), Vietnam, Bosnia and other nations, a 60 year record of service approached by no other tank.

The first T-34, the T-34 /76 was designed in the 1938 when the Red Army found that the BT-7 would no longer be effective on a modern battlefield. On December 19, 1939 the new vehicle was designated T-34 and ordered into full production. It would take until July of 1940 for production to begin, and by the end of that year only 117 examples would be completed. An order for 600 tanks was placed for the following year. These tanks were to be built at the Stalingrad Tractor Factory and the Kharkov Locomotive Factory (No. 83). All of this would take place under extreme secrecy because of the deteriorating international situation. Re-equipping new units with the T-34/76 was very slow. Many modifications were made to the T-34/76 during its service life. The first was to replace the L/30 76.2mm cannon with a more advanced L/40 gun of the same caliber. Other versions used rolled plate armor on its turret. A later modification had a larger turret with two hatches in place of the original single hatch. A later version with a hexagonal turret had the ability to mount external fuel tanks for increased range. Later models would have a cast turret. These were usually of a very rough finish and many would even go into battle without a coat of paint. It was soon found that the T-34/76 would need further improvement if it was to compete against the more advanced tanks that the German army was beginning to field in quantity. The Germans had even designed their latest tank, the Panther, to be superior to the T-34/76. In response, the Soviet army decided to use the larger gun found on the KV-85 in a new version of the T-34. This version came to be known as T-34/85 and entered service in 1943. All work on T-34/76 ended the following year with a total production run of 35,099 tanks in just five years.

T-34/85 Soviet red army tank, considered by many as "possibly the best tank of World War 2", was fast, manoeuvrable and hard-hitting. Appearing in huge numbers from early 1944, it led the assault on Germany until the end of the war, when it was widely exported to many communist nations. The major change in T-34 production after 1943 was the arrival of the 85mm (3.34in) gun T-34/85, which had a new three-man turret and a larger-diameter turret ring. Both the T-34/76 and /85 were built in parallel until mid-1944, when production of the former stopped after 35,099 had been completed. The huge losses of T-34s in 1941 and 1943 were due respectively to the speed and surprise of the German advance (Blitzkrieg) and the development of new German heavy tanks, such as the Tiger and Panther. The Panther, in particular, was designed with sloped armour modeled after the T-34 and with a long-barrelled 75mm (2.95in) gun that matched the Soviet 76.2mm (3in) gun. Although similar in appearance and using the same automotive components, the T-34/85 was a major redesign, with a new three-man turret, the same as that used on the KV-85. The new gun was the D-5T85 (later replaced by the ZIS-S53) dual-purpose 85mm (3.34in) gun, which could fire shells able to penetrate102mm (4in) of armour at 1000m (3280ft). This was enough to defeat a Panther or Tiger at closer range. The T-34/85 was rolling off the production lines in January 1944, only five months after the design was initiated. That year over 11,000 were produced and these played the major role in pushing the Germans back into Germany in late 1944. The T-34/85 remained the principal Soviet tank until the late 1940s" 1 and was produced for Third Party Nations well into the 1960s.

The T-34 was a tank perfectly geared for the Russian economy to produce. It brought in innovations like sloped armour that massively increased the "bang for the buck" of the raw materials used. Also cast turrets and simple design meant it was fast and easy to make and maintain. Most tanks are not designed for easy replacement of parts, the parts should last and last. However in extreme conditions like Russia at the height of summer or the depths of winter no machinery will last long. The T-34 was revolutionary in that it was designed to allow for ease in replacement, the rear sections were hinged to allow for easy replacement of even the engine and gears.

Despite questionable reliability, it was a brilliant tank. In the early stages of the war it was technically superior to anything the Germans had. It was faster and had better terrain crossing ability. Its armour could only be penetrated at close range from the rear. Throughout the war the main threat the T-34 faced was not from other tanks but from German anti tank artillery, which accounted for 90% of T-34 losses from 1943-1945.

Production was increased and the T-34 soon out numbered as well as out performed the German Mk. IV Panzer tank that was its main adversary early in the "Great Patriotic War," as it is known in Russia. The T-34 was exceptional because it allowed Russia's insane policy of quantity over quality, not only to work, but to work well. The T-34 truly harnessed the power of the Russian economy to build rivers of armour.
Specifications T-34 / 85
Crew 5 - Commander, Driver, Gunner, Loader and Radio operator.
Armament: 85mm gun main gun x 55 Shells (36 High Explosive, 14 Armored Piercing, 5 Sub Caliber)
7.62mm DTM bow MG and 7.62mm DTM coaxial MG x 1827 rounds
Weight 32,000 kg
Max speed 55 km/h Road
25 km/h Off-Road
Max range 250 - 300 km
Max climb gradient 35 deg
Max side gradient 25 deg
Engine V-12 diesel - 38.9 liters - Designation V-2-34
Transmission 5 forward, 1 reverse
Max power 500hp at 1800rpm
Dimensions 8.15 x 3 x 2.7
Designer / Engineer Michael Koshkin. Born 1898 - Died 1940 at the age of 42
Built by Kharkov Steam-Engine Factory (KhPZ), Ukraine
Users Algeria, Angola, Bulgaria, Cuba, Czechoslovakia, Finland, Germany, Hungary, North Korea, Poland, Romania, Russia, Syria, Ukraine, Vietnam, former Yugoslavia and other CIS states.
1 - the ZIS-S-53 gun; 2 - the gun's mantlet; 3 - the TSh-16 telescopic sight; 4 - the elevation mechanism; 5 - the loader's MK-4 observation sight; 6 - the gun's jacket; 7 - the commander's MK-4 observation sight; 8 - the glass block; 9 - the shell-bag; 10 - the ventilator's armored cupola; 11 - the ammunition storage; 12 - the canvas bag; 13 - the ammunition storage for two rounds; 14 - the engine; 15 - the main friction clutch; 16 - the "Multicyclon" air filter; 17 - the starter; 18 - the BDSh smoke block; 19 - the gearbox; 20 - the side gear; 21 - accumulators; 22 - the ammunition storage on the floor; 23 - the gunner's seat; 24 - the gun trigger pedal; 25 - the suspension's shaft; 26 - the driver's seat; 27 - machine-gun's magazines; 28 - steering levers; 29 - the pedal of the main friction clutch; 30 - cylinders with compressed air; 31 - the driver's hatch; 32 - the DT BMG; 33 - the ammunition storage.

"Below me sat the gunner, Lesha Romashkin. Both of his legs were blown off. A short time before this battle, Lesha said to me, "If I lose my legs I will shoot myself. Who will need me?" He was an orphan and had no known relatives. We pulled Lesha out of the tank and began to assist in the evacuation of the others. At that moment Lesha shot himself."

Despite the T-34's dominating performance, life for the 5 crew members was hell. Barely able to move in the cramped cockpit, the crew members froze in the Russian winter and almost suffocated in the sweltering summer heat. In battle, red hot cartridges rolled around underfoot. The crew was deafened by the detonation and percussion noise and was choked by the gases from the gun. When an enemy round struck, but did not penetrate the tank, the crew was often wounded because pieces of armor flew off the inside wall and struck the crewmen in the hands and eyes. In general, depending on where the shell struck, one or two men were always wounded or killed.

Dmitriy Loza - Tank Commander wrote "A Tiger put a round straight through us. The projectile passed through the entire fighting compartment and then the engine compartment. There were five of us in the tank: myself as the battalion commander, the company commander Sasha Ionov (whose own tank had already been hit), the tank commander, a driver-mechanic, and a radio operator. When the Tiger hit us, the driver-mechanic was killed outright. My entire left leg was wounded; to my right, Sasha suffered a traumatic amputation of his right leg. The tank commander was wounded, and below me sat the gunner, Lesha Romashkin. Both of his legs were blown off. A short time before this battle, we were sitting around at a meal and Lesha said to me, "If I lose my legs I will shoot myself. Who will need me?" He was an orphan and had no known relatives. In a strange twist of fate, this is what happened to him. We pulled Sasha out of the tank and then Lesha, and were beginning to assist in the evacuation of the others. At that moment Lesha shot himself."

T-34/85 1:16 by Trumpeter.

Trumpeter makes 4 model kits of the T-34 in 1/16th scale

T-34/76 Model 1942
This kit depicts the early 1942 model with slightly enlarged cast turret, and early-style rubber-rimmed road wheels.

T-34/76 Model 1943
This kit depicts the 1943 model with “hardedge” cast turret, and mixes of all-steel road wheels and pierced rubber-rimmed road wheels.

T-34/85 Model 1944
“Factory No 174”
This kit depicts the T-34/85 Model 1944 with “angle-jointed” turret and early split style commander’s hatch.

T-34/85 Model 1944
“Factory No 183”
This kit depicts the T-34/85 Model 1944 with “flattened” turret, later style one piece commander’s hatch, and non-pierced rubber-rimmed road wheel.

Pictures below - T34/85 Model 1944 “Factory No 183”
Scale 1:16
Model Brief Length: 505 mm Width: 188mm Height:173mm
Total Plastic Parts 846pcs
Box Size 63 x 41 x 13cm
Metal Parts Brass wire for the steel tow rope and springs
Photo Etched Part 2 sets grills
Total Sprues 28pcs sprues, lower hull, upper hull, lower turret, upper turret, 78 links toothed track, 78 links flat track, 20 pcs rubber-trim, transparent driving light
Decal Marking T-34-85 Model 1944, 55th Guards Tank Bde, 7th Guards Tank Corps, Berlin 1945
More Features Full interior details, various road wheel and mudguard

TANXHEAVEN is THE site to visit for model and reference pictures for this model.
Relevant links below.
T34-85 Combat Ready! - Model and Pictures by Liejon Schoot
T34-85 Tank, Medium USSR - Model and pictures by Hank Beelenkamp
T34-85 Tank, Medium USSR - Model and pictures by Max Bianchi
T-34/85 Tank, Medium Czech Rep. - 94 pictures at;
T-34/85 Tank, Medium USSR - 104 pictures at;
T-34/85 Tank, Medium USSR _ 18 pictures at;
T-34 Engine USSR - 43 pictures at;
T-34/85 Tank, Medium, Cut Out (USSR) - 46 pictures at;