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T-34 Experience

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 "On the use of tanks in the 229th Tank Regiment of the 70th Proskurov Order of the Red Banner Order of Suvorov Order of Kutuzov 2nd class Mechanized Brigade during the Patriotic War

During the Patriotic War of 1941-1945 most of the materiel supplied to the regiment was the same in quality. In early parts of the war the regiment received T-34 tanks with the 75 mm [sic] gun. With the introduction of the T-34-85 tanks, the regiment received T-34-85 tanks until the end of the war, primarily from the Tagil factory.

In addition to the T-34-85's excellent qualities, its maneuverability and firepower that enabled us to defeat the German armies, our tanks have a number of significant drawbacks that reduce the combat effectiveness of our tanks.

  1. The ZIS-S-53 gun. The turret traverse lock is not robust, as a result of which it disengages during cross-country marches (especially in forests) from sideways shock or a rapid turn of the tank, as a result of which the gun can rotate freely and the teeth of the traverse mechanism or the horizontal shaft bend. The attachment of the turret traverse lock to the turret is weak. It is necessary to strengthen the bolts, increase the number of bolts and the amount of threads, and also reinforce the spring on the locking mechanism of the lock slide, as due to the weakness of the spring the slide jams.
  2. The DT machine gun. As a result of shocks when driving cross-country the spring tube bends, this introduces misfires when shooting and eventually the machine gun will break. There must be a shield for the spring tube. 
    The DT machine gun should be installed in such a way that the barrel protrudes further out of the tank. This will reduce the amount of noise inside the tank from firing. With the machine gun in its current position, the gunner is deafened after prolonged firing.
  3. Optics and sights.
    The TSh-15 has insufficient magnification which reduces precision of firing and increases aiming time. Magnification be increased to 12 (doubled). 
    It is necessary to improve the calibration mechanisms to ones that are more resistant to shocks.
  4. The ammunition capacity of the T-34-85 tank is insufficient. It is necessary to increase ammunition capacity to 100 rounds. Of those: 60% HE, 25% AP, 10% subcaliber AP, 5% canister.
    The need for canister shot arose with the introduction of Panzerfaust troops. It is necessary to have them for self defense.
  5. Arm the crew with the TT pistol, as it is more convenient to shoot from and shoots faster. It is almost never necessary to fire personal weapons from the tank.
  6. In battle, the most common way of navigation uses landmarks that are marked on the map with a code, personal observation of the battlefield through an open hatch, and as a reserve firing tracer bullets, shells, or flares at the target.
  7. The most common way of observing the battlefield is through the open hatch of the commander's cupola and looking at shell bursts and flashes from enemy artillery.
  8. The most effective range in tank battles against large targets is 800-1000 meters. Firing at small targets (APCs, small tanks, enemy artillery) requires closing to 400-600 meters, and concentration of fire is recommended.
  9. In battle, tanks fire from standstill and shorts stops at enemy infantry, machine guns, and mortars. 2-3 rounds within the span of 10-15 seconds are fired, then the tank changes position again. 
    When firing from short stops 1-2 aimed shots can be made in 8-10 seconds.
  10. The maximum speed for firing on the move is 10-12 kph.
  11. The average combat rate of fire of a T-34-85 tank is 6 RPM.
  12. The main method of commanding a platoon or company is by radio. To concentrate fire, the commander's tank gives 2-3 shots towards the target.
  13. Concentrated fire is always used when fighting enemy tanks and SPGs, both from ambushes and during offensives.
    Concentrated fire at a company or regiment level is rare and used only in exceptional cases, for instance when there is no artillery, when tanks are attacking a small settlement, or if tanks are involved in an artillery barrage (January 1945, Ornontovitse, Namelau, Germany).
  14. At night tanks fire at flashes made by enemy tanks and artillery. The range is calculated by measuring the difference between the flash of the shot and the sound.
    When carrying out deceptive action, tanks fire at landmarks at preset ranges. The fire in this case is unaimed.
  15. The tanks never fired indirectly from hull down or turret down positions.
  16. The main way to correct fire was to set the sights to the required range and adjust by observing bursts.
  17. The tanks did not fire at targets greater than 2.5 km away.
  18. The most effective way of firing was from short stops. This method proved itself well given well organized cooperation between tanks.
  19. Tanks on average expend one ammunition load per hour of battle. Mostly HE ammunition is expended. If the enemy has tanks, the ammunition expenditure is split between HE and AP. In this case sometimes one ammunition load is not enough for an hour of battle.
  20. The commander's seat is uncomfortable and needs to be adjustable vertically like on American tanks. The commander should be able to raise and lower his seat with a foot pedal.
    To make it more convenient to work the the radio it should be moved back 20-25 cm. The antenna should be moved backwards by 20 cm.
    The gunner's observation devices should be moved to the left and placed on the same plane as the sights.
    It is desirable to have an observation slit in the turret hatch flap to look through it when the hatch is open.
    It is necessary for the hull gunner to have an observation device."
Command of the 229th Tank Regiment, Guards Lieutenant Colonel Gnomadskiy
Chief of Staff of the 229th Tank Regiment, Major Shuliko"


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