For the first time In English -photos and drawings from secret Soviet archives and museums-many never prevlously published! Recently translated documents are used to present the true story of the "legendary" T-34 tank, covering:
The T-34's birth date of 19 December 1939, an advanced design intended to replace the numerous BT serles as the "tank of Independent mechanized units".
Trials of the first two T-34 prototypes in January 1940 and subsequent fleld tests exposed flaws in the turret, vision devices, and sights; a radio that often failed; and a V-2 diesel engine that did not guarantee 100 hours of operational reliability.
Instead of 5-6 rounds per minute, the actual "deliverable* average rate of fire was only 2 rounds per minute, partly due to the restricted view from the tank Constant breakdowns occurred due to minor and major fallures of the first mass-produced parts and systems.
How the first "Thirty-Fours" did not reach Red Army front line units until April 1941, barely two months before the German Wehrmacht attacked the Soviet Union.
How rapid expansion of the Red Army armored force and a lack of manuals and training time led to poorly skilled tank commanders and T-34 crews in June 1941.
Why the most widely used German anti-tank gun--the small 37 mm PAK 36-proved lethal to the T-34 while leaving almost no significant mark of damage.
While 1,000 T-34s were available in June 1941, the above problems worked against this remarkable tank from having a major impact in the first months of the Russo-German war--although the "Thirty -Four" eventually became the mainstay of the Red Army and one of the most famous tanks of World War 2.