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1/16 SCALE RC TANK MODELS

Soviet Photo Gallery

T34s on parade in Moscow.

A Brief History of the T34

The T-34 was a Soviet medium tank produced from 1940 to 1958. It is widely regarded as having been the world's best tank when the Soviet Union became involved in World War II, and although its armour and armament were surpassed by later tanks of the era, it has been often credited as the war's most effective, efficient and influential design. First produced at the KhPZ factory in Kharkov (Kharkiv, Ukraine, it was the mainstay of Soviet armoured forces throughout World War II, and widely exported afterwards. It was the most-produced tank of the war, and the second most-produced tank of all time, after its successor, the T-54/55 series (Harrison 2002). In 1996, the T-34 was still in service with at least twenty-seven countries.

The T-34 was developed from the BT series of fast tanks and was intended to replace both the BT-5 and BT-7 tanks and the T-26 infantry tank in service (Zaloga & Grandsen 1984:66, 111). At its introduction, it was the tank with the best balanced attributes of firepower, mobility and protection, although initially its battlefield effectiveness suffered from the unsatisfactory ergonomic layout of its crew compartment, scarcity of radios, and poor tactical employment. The two-man turret crew arrangement required the commander to serve as the gunner, an arrangement common to most Soviet tanks of the day; this proved to be inferior to three-man (commander, gunner and loader) turret crews.

The design and construction of the tank were continuously refined during the war to enhance effectiveness and decrease costs, allowing steadily greater numbers of T-34s to be fielded. In early 1944, the improved T-34-85 was introduced, with a more powerful 85 mm gun and a three-man turret design. By the war's end in 1945, the versatile and cost-effective T-34 had replaced many light and heavy tanks in service, and accounted for the majority of Soviet tank production. Its evolutionary development led directly to the T-54/55 series of tanks, built until 1981 and still operational today.

Classic T34/76

Swimmimg T34

Two T34s with troops on board

Soviet SMK Landship Tank -  A Strange Beast

SMK (Sergius Mironovitch Kirov) was an armored vehicle prototype developed by the Soviet Union prior to the Second Worl War. The SMK was also known to German intelligence as the T-35C.

The SMK was among the designs competing to replace the unreliable and expensive T-35.

The testing ground for the SMK and other competing models, which included the KV-1, was the Winter War. The KV-1 design was chosen due to its resistance against Finnish anti-tank weapons.

T35 Landship

The T-35 was a Soviet multi-turreted heavy tank of the interwar period and early Second World War that saw limited production and service with the Red Army. It was the only five-turreted heavy tank in the world to reach production but proved to be slow and mechanically unreliable. Most of the T-35 tanks still operational at the time of Operation Barbarossa were lost due to mechanical failure rather than enemy action.

Outwardly it was large but internally the spaces were cramped with the fighting compartments separated from each other. Some of the turrets obscured the entrance hatches.

The T-35 was developed by the OKMO design bureau of the Bolshevik Factory, which began work on a heavy tank in 1930. Two teams developed separate designs. The team headed by German engineer Grotte worked on the 100-ton four-turreted TG-5 tank, armed with a 107 mm naval gun, using pneumatic servo-controls and pneumatic suspension. This project was later cancelled.

The concept of large, multi-turreted breakthrough tanks was favoured by several European Armies in the 1920s and 1930s. Designs existed in Britain, France, and Germany for such vehicles. The second OKMO team, headed by N. Tsiets, worked on a tank inspired by the British Vickers A1E1 Independent.

By July 1932, a prototype of a 35 ton tank with a 76.2 mm tank gun was completed. The first prototype was further enhanced with four smaller turrets, two with 37 mm guns and two with machine guns. This first prototype had severe defects in its transmission and was considered too complex and expensive for mass production. Therefore work on it was stopped and a new simpler prototype was built.

This new prototype received a new engine, new gearbox and improved transmission. The decision was also made to standardise the turrets used on the T-35 with those used on the T-28, a triple-turreted medium tank. The small machine-gun turrets were identical on the two tanks. The large main turret housing the 76.2 mm gun was nearly identical, but those used on the T-28 had an additional, rear-firing machine gun.

On August 11, 1933, the T-35 was accepted for production. Engineering was shifted to the Kharkov Locomotive Factory, and two batches of ten vehicles were completed.

The experiences gained with the two prototypes were used for the main production T-35 Model 1935, which was again improved from the second prototype, with a longer chassis, improved hull and 45-mm guns in place of the 37's. It started production in 1935, and about 35 were built by 1938. In general, throughout its production run small improvements were made to the individual tanks. Production tanks had turrets similar to the ones on the BT-5, but without the rear overhang. Some examples had flamethrowers instead of one of the 45 mm guns. The final batch was a run of six T-35 model 1938s, which had new turrets with sloped armour all around, as well as modified side skirts and new idler wheels.

Western and Russian historians disagree about the inspiration for the T-35's design. The former argue it was inspired by the British Vickers A1E1 Independent tank, but this is rejected by many Russian specialists. It is impossible to know the truth, but there is strong evidence to support Western claims, not least failed Soviet attempts to purchase the A1E1. At the same time, the influence of German engineers developing similar designs in the late 1920s at their Kama base in the Soviet Union cannot be discounted. What is clear is that borrowing military technology and ideas from other nations was common to the majority of the armed forces in the inter-war years. The Red Army, with its purchase of the British Vickers Carden Loyd tankette, Vickers E-Light and Cruiser Mk II Medium tanks, and the American Christie suspension, was clearly one of the leading exponents of this practice.

Due to its high cost, the production run of the T-35 ended at just sixty-one tanks.

A Soviet T34 dug in for an ambush.

T34s and Troop formations.

A Soviet Soldier with a PPSh41 Machine Pistol Leaning on an early KV1.

KV-1 Heavy tank History

The Kliment Voroshilov (KV) tanks were a series of Soviet heavy tanks, named after the Soviet defense commissar and politician Kliment Voroshilov. At the time of the German invasion of the Soviet Union in World War II, about 500 KV tanks (with about 1,000 T-34 medium tanks) comprised a portion of Soviet tank forces which was clearly superior to German tanks of the period.

After disappointing results with the multi-turreted T-35 heavy tank, Soviet tank designers started drawing up replacements. The T-35 conformed to the 1920s notion of a 'breakthrough tank' with very heavy firepower, but poor mobility and armor protection. The Spanish Civil War demonstrated the need for much heavier armor on tanks, and was the main influence on Soviet tank design just prior to World War II.

Several competing designs were offered, and even more were drawn up prior to reaching prototype stage. All had heavy armor, torsion-bar suspension, wide tracks, and were of welded and cast construction. One of the main competing designs was the SMK, which lowered the number of turrets from the T-35's five to two, mounting the same combination of 76.2 mm and 45 mm weapons. When two prototypes were ordered though, it was decided to create one with only a single turret, but more armour. This new single-turret tank was the KV. The smaller hull size and single turret enabled the designer to add more armor while keeping the weight within manageable limits.

KV-2 Heavy Tank

Development

After disappointing results with the multi-turreted T-35 heavy tank, Soviet tank designers started drawing up replacements. The T-35 conformed to the 1920s notion of a 'breakthrough tank' with very heavy firepower, but poor mobility and armor protection. The Spanish Civil War demonstrated the need for much heavier armor on tanks, and was the main influence on Soviet tank design just prior to World War II.

Several competing designs were offered, and even more were drawn up prior to reaching prototype stage. All had heavy armor, torsion-bar suspension, wide tracks, and were of welded and cast construction. One of the main competing designs was the SMK, which lowered the number of turrets from the T-35's five to two, mounting the same combination of 76.2 mm and 45 mm weapons. When two prototypes were ordered though, it was decided to create one with only a single turret, but more armour. This new single-turret tank was the KV. The smaller hull size and single turret enabled the designer to add more armor while keeping the weight within manageable limits.

 Knocked Out KV-2

German Grenadiers checking a knocked out T34.

Soviet T 34/76 ...   a classic tank based on an American Christie design.

A nice coloured photo of some lend lease M4 Shermans being used by Soviet Troops in Austria.

Soviet SU 100 tank killer what a beast.

History and Development of the SU-100 Tank Killer.

The SU-100 was a Soviet tank destroyer. It was used extensively during the last year of World War II and saw service for many years afterwards with the armies of Soviet allies around the world.

It was developed in 1944 as an improvement to the SU-85, built on the same chassis as the T-34-85 tank. It was designed and built at the UZTM (Russian abbreviature for - Ural Heavy machinery factory, also called Uralmash. in Yekaterinburg. The SU-100 quickly proved itself to be among the best self-propelled anti-tank guns of World War II, able to penetrate 125 mm of vertical armor from a range of 2,000 metres. This was quite capable of defeating any German tank in service.

The development was conducted under supervision of L. I. Gorlitskiy, chief designer of all medium Soviet self-propelled guns. The work started in February 1944 and first prototype of SU-100, called "Object 138", was built in March. After intensive testing with different models of 100 mm gun Soviet engineers approved the D-10S gun for mass production. This gun was developed in Constructors Bureau of Artillery Factory No. 9 under guidance of F. F. Petrov. After Second World War it was installed on T-54 and T-55 tanks and its derivatives were in service forty years after initial development. The hull of SU-100 had major improvements over the SU-85 one. The thickness of front armour plate was increased from 45 to 75 mm and the commander's workplace was made in small sponson on the right side of the hull. With commander's cupola this greatly improved the commander's effectiveness. For better ventilation two ventilator units were installed instead of only one, as in the SU-85. The mass production started in September 1944.

A T34 being revovered at the battle of Kursk

by a specialised T34 towing vehicle.

Soviet SU-152 in Ambush

History of the SU-152

The SU-152 was a Soviet heavy self-propelled gun used during World War II.

It mounted a 152-mm gun-howitzer on the chassis of a KV-1S heavy tank. Because of its ability to take out the heaviest German armoured vehiclesTiger and Panther tanks, and Elefant tank destroyersit was nicknamed Zveroboy, "beast killer".

Contrary to popular belief, the SU-152 was not intended to be a stopgap countermeasure against the German Tiger heavy tank, for it would be a definite overkill. The Stalingrad counteroffensive, Operation Uranus, exposed the Red Army's urgent need for mobile heavy guns. The primary targets for these guns were German fortifications in and around Stalingrad. At the time Soviet front-line ground units did not possess sufficient firepower to deal with pillboxes and other fortifications.

Close support of artillery and combat engineers was an important factor in the success of Operation Uranus. However, with rare exceptions, all Soviet guns and howitzers at this time were towed rather than self-propelled. Therefore, their mobility was greatly impaired by the absence of roads, the presence of deep snow cover and a scarcity of artillery tractors. Towed guns were also highly vulnerable to counterattack while on the move, especially since they were often hauled by horses or their own crews.

This situation did not satisfy the state authorities. In November 1942 the State Defense Committee ordered the development of a heavy self-propelled gun armed with the 152.4mm ML-20 howitzer. It should be noted that the Red Army had dedicated anti-fortification vehicles in the pre-war period, such as the KV-2 heavy tank armed with the 152.4mm M-10 howitzer. The mass production of KV-2s ceased in July 1941 and a few survived to November 1942. The new anti-fortification vehicle was designed with the same purpose in mind, but with higher mobility, heavier armor, reduced production cost, and more powerful armament. Mounting the ML-20 gun in a turret was impossible due to its large recoil, and it was eventually decided that the new vehicle should have a non-rotating gun mounted in a superstructure.

Prior to the issue of the State Defense Committee order there were several other anti-fortification vehicle projects, all of which were halted. Later in the war these projects were restarted. In December 1942 three different designs of "pillbox killer" vehicles were introduced by various engineer groups from the major Soviet artillery and tank factories. All of these designs used the ML-20 gun as a primary armament, with the KV-1S heavy tank chassis. After some discussion, the project of Joseph Yakovlevich Kotin was chosen for further mass production. This design successfully combined the ML-20 and KV-1S chassis with minimal expense.

The entire project was designated "KV-14" and the assembly of the first prototype (called "Object 236") began on December 31, 1942. It was completed after 25 days. The plant trials of "Object 236" began on January 25, 1943. After a number of successful plant tests the more stringent state tests began. "Object 236" succeeded again. On February 14, 1943 the State Defense Committee accepted it for Red Army service and immediately launched it into mass production at the Chelyabinskiy Kirovskiy Zavod (Chelyabinsk Kirov Plant, ChKZ). The designation of the series of self-propelled guns was changed from KV-14 to SU-152. The ML-20 gun was slightly modified for mounting in the SU-152 some handles were moved for improved gunner comfort. This variant had the designation ML-20S. The muzzle velocity and external ballistics were identical to the original towed ML-20 gun.

The Red Army had need for a heavy assault gun prior to encountering the German Tiger on the battlefield. However, the SU-152 already had good anti-tank capabilities due to the ML-20S's relatively high muzzle velocity and heavy projectiles. Tests performed on captured Tiger tanks showed that in the first half of 1943 the SU-152 was the only Soviet AFV that could destroy a Tiger at any range. This conclusion spurred SU-152 production and the formation of self-propelled artillery units. However, this had no influence on the development of the SU-152. The SU-152, as well as the SU-122 and the SU-76, were designed for artillery support of tank and motor rifle regiments in OctoberDecember 1942. The speed of SU-152 prototype construction was not a rush to build a counter to the Tiger tank; in reality ChKZ and its subcontractors did a great deal of research and experimentation long before the State Defense Committee order was issued in November 1942. This allowed the SU-152 prototype to be built in a very short time.

After the launch of SU-152 mass production the design was slightly modified to improve reliability. Initially the SU-152 lacked a machine gun, which was a weakness in urban warfare and other close combat. To solve this problem the DShK 12.7-mm anti-aircraft gun installation was developed in the summer of 1943. Some SU-152s received it after repair. The SU-152 was the last member of the KV family of tanks in mass production, and was replaced by the ISU-152 on the ChKZ production lines in December 1943. The exact number of SU-152s produced differs even in Russian sources, with the most common figures being 670 or 704. The SU-152s that survived World War II were withdrawn from Soviet Army service in 1954.