The T-34 remains as a legend, not only because it was the most produced tank of the WWII era, with 84.000 built (compared with the 48,966 Shermans of all versions ) , but also one of the longest-serving tanks ever built.
The first version of the T-34/76 came as a surprise for the German troops in the fall of 1941, not only they were able to cope with the mud and snow with their tracks, but the came with thick and highly sloped armor, efficient gun, good speed, autonomy and, above all, sturdiness, reliability, ease of manufacturing and maintenance.
The T-34’s were an influence on the future designs and concepts of the main battle tank.
The first prototype of the T-34 was an improved A-32 with thicker armor. It was ready as beginning 1939 and the blueprint was set up far before the war.
It was largely improved during trials and mass production. After July 1941, all the vulnerable production centers saw a recolocation to the east.
With the new T-34 series, they equipped a 76.2mm gun, new improved coil-spring Christie suspension, v12 diesel, adapted clutch and transmission. The radio set was also replaced by the 9-RS model and the tracks were slightly enlarged, also the frontal armor was simplified for mass production.
The sloped armor was a great solution to deflect most hits while relying on excessive thickness.The T34 was equipped with a variety of hatches and turrets, but almost all had their upper hull equipped with railings to allow troops to travel.
T-34 was a real shock to Germans because they had nothing like that.The sloped armor was highly effective, their diesel was sturdy and could cope with extreme weather, they were so much easier to produce than any Panzer model.
This model was similar to the previous 1940 model. Many components were under scrutiny for mass production. The single hatch was retained for ease of production, but it was heavy and easily jammed, trapping everybody inside.
Many features of the T-34 remained unchanged until 1942.The process was made simpler and the parts cheaper.
T34 were sent to USSR allies and satellite states behind the Iron Curtain.They formed their armored force until the early 1960s, seeing action during North Korean and Chinese forces.
They also formed the core of many Arab armored forces in the Middle East. They also formed an essential part of the North Vietnamese regular armored regiments.They were sold to many emerging countries and remained in service until the end of the Cold War.