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T-34 – Mice VS Cats – Part 1

2015-11-18

Warning!

The following material cannot be treated as academical research, but more like a fiction reading. It was written using non trusted Russian books, declassified reports, rumors and stories of my grandpa ).

 

Hopefully my fiction story will give a bit better understanding not just how Germans managed to fight for so long, but also aboutt German decision diverting attacks to Ukraine and later on to Stalingrad instead of going to Moscow. Certainly when it comes to Stalingrad there were more factors to consider and I will cover just one of them.

As boring as it is but to get a bigger picture you need to have a look at the history of different factories T-34 was produced.

 

Malyshev Factory AKA Production Factory № 183.

Probably the most important factory. This is where T-34 was invented and initially produced. Alongside with numerous of other products including B2 diesel engine that was used not only on T-34 but also on other Soviet tanks. It was based in Kharkov, present Ukraine.

t-34_1940 t-34_1940-2 t-34_1940-4 t-34_1940-3

Couple of photos with captured and reused T-34s, 1940 model with L-11 gun. It is believed factory No. 183 produced 453 of such machines during 1940-1941. As you can see those models used early type cast turrets.

t-34 1940 t-34 1940 4 t-34 1940 t-34 1940 2

At that time it was a new technological process, So cast turrets were either not as cheap as soviets wanted and also could not be produced in sufficient  numbers. It looks like from the beginning of 1941 factory No. 183 made T-34s using both cast turrets and welded turrets. Welded turrets had a better armor protection and were lighter. Gun was upgraded from L-11 to F-34 gun.

Model 1941, Aberdeen Proving Ground 2 Model 1941, Aberdeen Proving Ground 3 Model 1941, Aberdeen Proving Ground 1 Model 1941, Aberdeen Proving Ground 4

Pre war 1941 model with welded turret at Aberdeen Proving Ground. Most likelly it was build on factory No. 183. Also it could be pre war Stalingrad factory but visually there will be no any difference.

Factory N.183 was making T-34s till October 1941, also it supplied Stalingrad Tractor Factory (STZ) with every needed detail for the final assembly.

After German invasion in October 1941 factory was captured by Germans. Soviet agenda says factory No. 183 was evacuated to Nizhny Tagil and made joint production with “Uralvagonzavod” plant. Also it was called Stalin Ural Tank Factory No. 183″.

Even Soviets claimed they evacuated factory, but in reality quite a lot was left to entertain German engineers.How much did Soviets managed to evacuate and how much was it left to Germans is pretty much unknown till present moment. Because Germans captured way too many different things, so much it was not even possible to keep the record, while Russians will never say the truth. The one thing is certain, Germans managed to capture enough to use that plant for repairs of every beutepanzer they had.

In February 1943 Soviets managed to liberate  the City of Kharkov. Soviets thought that they will stay there for good. They started to use factory No. 183 again. But in reality Germans were just trolling Soviets and they managed to recapture Kharkov on 15 march 1943. When German captured this factory again as an extra bonus they got fifty Т-34/76s.  BINGO! ) Just for your records in 1942- 1943 an average German tank company (mittlere Panzerkompanie) included 14 Pz.Kpfw. IV and 5 Pz.Kpfw. II. I can only imagine how happy Germans were.  25 out of 50 T-34s went to “Das Reich” and 22 to “Totenkopf” divisions. And so it lasted till 23 August 1943 when Soviets managed to liberate Kharkov for good.

This factory had progressive assembly line (same as in US) and semiautomatic welding.  Six of them at a time of November 1944. Initially after evacuation  plant No. 183 made just a cast turrets for Stalingrad Tractor Factory and Tank Factory No. 112. After that first 25 tanks they produced were made not from a new parts but from whatever they managed to bring along from Kharkov. Funny enough only five T-34s had a proper B2 engines while  the rest its castrated version of B-2b used on  “Voroshilovec” thractor.

t-34_aberdeen-2 t-34_aberdeen-3 t-34_aberdeen 5 t-34_aberdeen 4

Here is their early 1942 model they send to Aberdeen proving ground. One of last ones fitted with old type of cast turret.

t-34 nr183 1942 -4 t-34 nr183 1942 -5 t-34 nr183 1942 -3 t-34 nr183 1942 -2 t-34 nr183 1942 t-34 nr183 1942 -6 0411840811 0411844411

This tank was made just a couple of month later, but look how different it is. Tank serial is  “У4208283″, it means it was made in August 1942 on Factory No. 183. It is fitted with a new type cast turret. Bigger, heavier, cheaper and uglier, one of  Mickey Mouses.

Regarding many difficulties this plant produced one of the best quality tanks, compared to other factories. Well, this is in case if you can even talk about “soviet quality”.

If you still have an interest here is the next part