Soviet Medium Tank T-34/76

"At the dawn of the 6th October more then 100 fascist tanks and armoured vehicles with infantry began the assault at the 4th tank brigade's defense near the Pervy Voin village to the south of Mcensk. Brigade's tanks were hidden at grove and in bushes near the highway.
At first 45mm guns opened fire at attacking German machines... But they were outnumbered. Dozens of tanks surpressed our guns one by one with massed fire. About half of a hundred tanks of the avanguard bursted into the positions of motorized riflemen battalion and surrounded the mortar company. The situation was quite dangerous.
I ordered lieutenant Kukarin to help infantry and mortar troopers. His thirty-four left the ambush position from the grove's glade and charged forward through the open field. Already then tankists loved the thirty-four for mighty firepower, reliable armour, good manoeuvreability and high speed. It was much more superior than German T-III and T-IV with its ability to cross the difficult terrain, armour thickness and powerful gun. It was beautiful machine, powerful, quick, real "steel swallow"...
T-34 of lieutenant Kukarin closed the distance to 600-800m and opened fire. With first three shots, turret shooter sergeant Ivan Ljubushkin destroyed three fascist tanks and hit the vehicle with the fourth shell.
Almost all German tanks fired at thirty-four. One of the shells found its target - pierced the side hull. Tank was wrapped by smoke. But Ljubushkin still fired. Another shot - and another tank was destroyed. Kukarin ordered to the driver Fjodorov to push the machine back - the German tanks' shells were not dangerous for the thirty-four at longe ranges.
Driver was, as we discovered lately, wounded by the shell-splinter, but overcame the pain and drove the vehicle backward to the forest. When the tank stopped, Ljubushkin opened fire once again. Fascist tankists began to cowardly leave the battlefield. Kukarin's tank alone destroyed 16 fascists vehicles at this battle. Sergeant I.T.Ljubushkin as first in brigade was given the rank of Hero of the Soviet Union.
Other crews also fought skillfully. Lieutenant Lavrinenko's group of four T-34 courageously attacked the column of fascist vehicles crossing the valley. From the long distance T-34s destroyed the enemy vehicles with the gunfire. Four our vehicles skillfully manoeuvered, showed up here and there. It looked like the larger group operated. Foe had big casualties; Lavrinenko's group destroyed 15 enemy tanks, 2 anti-tank guns and 4 motorcycles.
Guderian's divisions lost 43 tanks and lots of other weapons and technique without making the only step forward." - Marshal of armoured forces M.E.Katukov.
"To the south of Mcensk 4th tank division was attacked by Russian tanks and survived a heavy ambush. Superiority of Russian T-34 tanks was really big. Division had heavy losses. Planned fast offensive on Tula was stopped for a time." - General Guderian.
"T-34 showed to our used to victories tankists the superiority of armament, armour and manoeuverability." - General Schneider.
"It was the most excellent example of the offensive weapon of Second World War." - General Mellentin.
"Their T-34 was the best in the world." - General-Fieldmarshal Kleist.
"Morning. The weak dawn lighted the grey horizon. At this moment firing Soviet tanks suddenly drive into the village and to the airway. Planes burst into flames like torches. The flame is everywhere, shells exploding, blowing up war supplies. Trucks rushing, despairingly screaming people running between them. Everything, that can run, move, fly is trying to escape at all directions. Madness is beginning... Tanks and air motors roaring is mixing with explosions, gunfire and shouts. All that looks like the real hell..." - German pilot remembering the destruction of aerodrome near Tacinskaja by the tanks of 54th and 130th tank brigades during the 24th December, 1942.
T-34 was the main and practically the only medium tank used by the Soviet Army during the war. The beginning of the mass production began at July of 1940. 1225 tanks were made before the 22nd of June - beginning of the Great Patriotic War.
From its introducing T-34's battle characterics were superior to the all medium and even heavy tanks of the other states. It had rational form of the hull, powerful armament (76mm long-barrel gun - innovation for the medium tanks at these times), diesel motor. Diesel motor lowered the risk of catching fire and allowed to increase the operational range of the tank. Also it had a high cross-road speed, wide tracks and low pressure upon the ground allowed the good manoeuvreability even on bad terrain. Easy construction of the tank assisted the mass production and repairing at field conditions.
T-34 was oftenly modernizated and upgraded. At the beginning the tank was equipped with 76.2mm/30.5calibre gun. From the second half of 1941 T-34s were equipped with 76mm/41.5calibre gun. Its shell pierced 69/61mm of armour at 500/1000m range. Tank received new tracks and radio. For the faster production of vehicles, full-cast steel turret was constructed. From the winter of 1942/43 hexagonal turrets were assembled. More fuel cisterns were added. Commander's tower was added in 1943.
The new T-43 tank was made in 1943. It was the new version of T-34 with thicker armour and changed motor section. Its mass increased up to 34 ton and speed slightly decreased.

Soviet Medium Tank T-34/85

During the summer of 1943, after appearing of Tigers and Panthers, specialists began the upgrade of T-34's armament. In autumn new turret for the 85mm long-barrel turret was made. 15th December, 1943, the new modification called T-34-85 went to mass production. During the winter T-34-85s were transferred to the guards tank divisions. The mass slightly increased, but that did not affect its manoeuverability. The fifth member was added to tank's crew. New gun was able to pierce 111/102mm of armour at 500/1000m range.
At 1943 the OT-34 was produced with the flamethrower instead of front machinegun and OT-34-85 during the 1944. The flamethrowing range was about 60-70m for petroleum and 100m for viscous mixture.

During the war an anti-mine device was sometimes added also to the T-34.

Soviet authors say that T-34 was one of the best war machines in the world. It was the classical model of a medium tank and indicated the ways of modern tanks constructions. Superior to the most of foreign tanks in battle characteristics, it remains an effective tank for the many years, only upgraded time after time. Its construction was easy and assisted the mass production. It was the most massed tank in the world, it fought all the war from the beginning up to the very end.
T-34 is the symbol of the best tank in the world and Victory for many generations of Soviet people.