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T-34-85 Review

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"Report on the use of the T-34 in combat during the Patriotic War in the 37th Guards Tank Regiment
  1. The S-53 gun installed on the T-34 tank has a number of design drawbacks, such as:
    1. When firing, the electrical firing mechanism burns out, and until the end of the battle one is forced to use the manual firing mechanism.
    2. The recoil break grease nipples break after 1300-1500 shots, which then need replacing. The factory quota promises 2000 shots before replacement.
    3. The DT machinegun, both in the coaxial mount and in the hull, has a very small brass catcher, and there are frequent stoppages because of it. There is enough room to make it bigger both for the coaxial and the hull machinegun.
  2. The present T-34 ammunition capacity is 55 rounds: 5 APCR, 20 armour piercing, 30 HE. This is not enough and only lasts for 1.5-2 hours of battle. As a rule, crews take 30 extra rounds into the tank with them, which get in the way during battle.
    It is desirable to carry 80 rounds of the following type: 5 APCR, 25 armour piercing, 50 HE.
    The ammunition rack can be enlarged by raising the floor rack up by one round. This will result in an increase of 25 rounds. In practice, ammunition capacity is increased in this manner anyway. It is most important to take HE ammunition since the S-53 85 mm gun can knock out a PzIII with HE from up to 800 meters, saving scarcer rounds for other targets. The machinegun ammunition capacity is sufficient. It is usually expended by 70% in a battle.
  3. The following is necessary to arm crews:
    1. Commander: Nagant revolver.
    2. Driver: Nagant revolver.
    3. Gunner: Nagant revolver.
    4. Loader: PPS
    5. Machinegunner: PPS
      Firing small arms from the tank happens rarely. Infantry that storms the tank and tank destroyer groups are dealt with using F-1 grenades.
      Small arms are necessary to defend a knocked out tank and for self defense. One submachinegun is insufficient.
  4. The main types of observation are as follows: until the enemy closes within 400 meters, through the open hatch. During the battle, the commander looks through the commander's cupola, the gunner through the gun sight. The driver is very helpful in tracking targets and correcting fire through his observation devices.
    Targets are mainly marked by radio, tracer shells, and tracer bullets. Target marking with tracers is impractical, since all types of forces use tracers. The most effective way that proved itself in battle was indication of reference points during the battle briefing and then indication of targets in relation to those reference points.
  5. Practical rate of fire in battle reaches 5 rounds per minute. The crew of Lieutenant Bekhnik fired 80 rounds in 40 minutes, but this kind of shooting choked the crew with fumes. The loader, Sr. Sergeant Arapov, was unable for fight for 4 hours.
  6. The maximum speed of firing on the move was 25-30 kph. On August 26th, 1944, near Minzhir, individual enemy units managed to break through the right flank of the brigade and attempted to reach the right shore of the Prut river. Guards Lieutenant Ivanov was instructed to take two tanks, attack the enemy, and push him back to his initial positions. The distance to the enemy was 3 km over flat terrain. Comrade Ivanov scattered the enemy by firing on the move at a speed of 25-30 kph, rammed into the column, and crushed enemy vehicles and armament with fire and  tracks. The fire on the move was effective, and the speed of the tank did not allow the enemy to deploy his guns that were being towed with horses. The use of speed and fire destroyed and disorganized the enemy. The crews carried out their mission. During this battle, the tanks destroyed and crushed 13 cannons, 5 cars, 18 cards, up to 30 horses, and up to 50 soldiers and officers.
  7. Near Minzhir, Guards Lieutenant Gilfanov's crew fired at a range of 2600 meters and destroyed a German PzIV tank.
Chief of Staff of the 37th Guards Tank Regiment, Guards Major Zvyagin."


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