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T-34 – Mice VS Cats – Part 4

2015-11-19

In case if you missed it, here is the previous part.


Volgograd Tractor Plant AKA Stalingrad Tractor Factory (STZ).

It was located in the city of Stalingrad (modern Volgograd). Initially this factory did nothing else but just assembled T-34s using parts they received from factory No. 183  . During 1940 Stalingrad Tractor Factory managed to build 23 T-34s, but only six were accepted good enough for any use.

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One of early 1941 T-34s build on STZ with welded turret,  serial “№ 14 08199″.  Thanks to Alexey Khlopotov’s personal blog for provided photos.

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Another early model from 1941 made by STZ, this time with casted turret.

During 1941 Stalingrad Tractor Plant managed to produce 1250 T-34 tanks. This is extremely good number if to consider that every other factory literally ceased existing. Nobody could even supply with any extra details. At that time  Stalingrad Tractor factory had to  became 100% self sufficient. It means they produced everything itself including  B-2 diesel engines. When it comes to B-2 engine production it was an epic process on its own. Initially even factory No. 183 failed to produced somewhat but working engines. It looks like October was the worst time period to soviets and instead of missing B-2 diesel engines, soviets send to STZ old M-17 gasoline engines. Most of them were not in working condition and repair was needed.

Total production of T-34 fitted with M-17 gasoline engine at STZ factory
October 15
November 85
December 97
January 134
February 135
March 95
April 2
In total 563

Even when it comes to M-17 version of T-34 they were produced in two different versions. One model used purely gasoline, while second model used gasoline just to start the engine. After engine was started it used kerosene. As soon as STZ factory  managed to make B-2 engines in sufficient numbers remaining M-17 engines were send to factory No. 112.

T-34s hulls and turrets were produced at factory No. 264, also based in Stalingrad. Factory No. 264 suffered from quality control, and really bad quality welding process. At a time 68% of hulls had a cracks and were not good enough for anything, but just scrapping.  Also factory No. 264 technically was not able to produce cast turret, instead turrets were welded using rolled armour steel. In theory turrets made from rolled armoured steel supposed to be superior to casted turrets, but because of quality issues it wasn’t the case with factory No. 264.

During  October 1941 – spring 1942 STZ factory was the only one that managed to produce any serious number of tanks. All other plants were either destroyed or dismantled and on their way to Ural or Siberia.

Peak of the production came in July 1943. At that time plant produced 421 T-34s. Those tanks were really bad quality. It wasn’t enough not just details and but also not enough right raw materials. Tanks were simplified to extreme. Instead of copper pipes steel was used. As result those pipes rusted and leaked. Fuel tanks were not brazed and also leaked. Instead of aluminum, bronze or brass iron was used. Instead of steel cast iron. Actually it wasn’t the end. Tank production on that plant continued even during August 1943. The last 50 tanks that left the plant were not complete. It was decided to put into action whatever was drivable. Their crews where composed not from army tank crews, but from the same workers who assembled those tanks. From the rest of the workers  militia was formed and they were also put into action.

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Here is one of very few remaining T-34s made by  STZ somewhere in 1942. You can see its specific turret and up armouring.

Stalingrad Tractor Factory was nowhere to evacuate because of Volga river. So in august 1943 it simply ceased existing. In total Stalingrad Tractor Factory made 2394 T-34s.

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One of T-34s produced by Stalingrad Tractor Factory in summer 1942

Later on it will be shown comprehensive table with T-34 production prices.  Unfortunately when it comes to STZ there is no way to estimate these numbers. Probably every tank they made was different. They used not what they wanted, but whatever was available. I will be not surprised if they cut off some details out of wood. How much was their T-34 simplified? Quite a lot.  For example some details that needed 20 hours of milling were made just within one hour.

 If you still have an interest here is the next part