Somewhere in 1942 it developed quite a funny situation. Due to lack of any standards two random T-34s were simply not compatible with each other. Even those tanks had the same name T-34/76 but that was the only thing they had in common. It wasn’t possible to make any repairs. Nobody knew what kind of detail may fit into particular tank. Quite often even turret form one tank couldn’t fit another tank. Situation was so bad that Stalin had personally look into it.
It was a serious problem if to consider never endless break downs… but repairs were the part of Soviet strategy). For now as a story says on factory 118 there were made five T-34s and send to America for inspection and advice. Those tanks were tested at Aberdeen proving grounds around April 1942…
For now it looks like I’m supposed to show you the test report )… But there is one small problem – there is no such report ). There is no such report in NARA or anywhere else. If you want you can google for “evaluation of T-34 and KV tanks by workers of the Aberdeen proving grounds” and it will give you some results with “Report” but the text you will see is nothing else but translation from Russian language. When it comes to Russia there is only one person claiming to see this document Mikhail Svirin. He described that document in one of his books about T-34 with the reference to Russian State Archive of Economics “РГАЭ, ф 8752, оп 4, д 573-574, «Отчет по испытаниям Т-34 и КВ в Абердине»“.
The only trouble there is no such report under that reference. There is some other data regarding actual tests, but NO REPORT. Unfortunately Mikhail Svirin died in 2014 and there is no way to ask him where the hell is the report he refers to. Later somebody published Mikhail Svirin‘s “report” on internet while adding extra spicy details. Even more later it was translated to English while adding a bit more spicy details). So whenever you see on Internet “evaluation of T-34 and KV tanks by workers of the Aberdeen proving grounds” this report doesn’t exist.
So instead of copy pasting non existent report I just highlight T-34 some faults that American engineers possibly could see… even it was nothing new at that time and content of the actual report is unknown.
- As non existent report says: first fault happened just after 60 km of testing, one of tracks broke. Sorry but it isn’t anything new, but a general problem of every Soviet tank including Armata. You drive it, then it breaks, then you have to fix it, then you drive again, then the whole process repeats. Do not think about it just like a bad thing – it develops your mechanical skills, besides they are easy fixes. Besides during WW2 whatever Russian tank could drive out of factory on its own was considered to be good enough for at least making one shot against enemy. In most epic cases Russian tanks broke just after 10 km. General tank warranty was 500 km, while German tanks had around 11 000 km.
- As non existent report says: the second time one of tanks broke beyond repair after 343 km. It happened due to engine damaged caused by bad air filter design. In my humble opinion at a time when crankcase was made from nothing else but cast iron air filter becomes one of your smallest problems). Even manufacturer itself did not gave warranty for B-2 engine to work for more than 100 hours. B-2 engines broke even during bench test where no dust involved.
- No surprise but to me but non existent report never mentioned one of biggest T-34 problems – extremely limited view. There were cases when soviet tank crews could not see who is shooting them even after ten hits in a row.
- As non existent report says: according to armour CHEMICAL test there was found wrong tempering. Well, If you want to see the actual armour chemical tests please read my story till the very end and you will see the actual declassified WWII armour test. If to imagine for Americans to perform such a test regarding T-34 the first thing to mention would be enormous amount of Sulfur and Phosphorus. Only after that it makes sense to talk about tempering.
- As non existent report says:It was not enough space for the tank crew. It is also nothing new but a part of general Soviet strategy. Soviet Union was a big country with enough of small people. So big men were simply not taken as a tank crews. Even in late Soviet Union days to become a tank crew there was height restriction about 5 ft 6.93 in. You may call it discrimination but life is a bitch )
- As non existent report says: T-34 had very bad and outdated transmission.. with later addition… copy of US A-32 . Speaking about tank transmission it’s a bit more than just an icon when you play a tank game. Tank transmission consists of quite many components gearbox, engine clutch, steering clutches, brakes and final drive. Frankly speaking quite many different components. Then it will be classified by its operation type and class. It could be mechanical,electrical, hydraulic or any kind of mix from the stated above. What T-34 had was mechanical 4 speed transmission, probably classified as a sliding gear transmission. Soviet themselves called it “БТ-ИС tank type transmission”. Here is the БТ-ИС tank itself build somewhere in 1934
- Even then it can not be called exact БТ-ИС transmission but its further development. Yes it was really bad and it literally fell apart partially due to design partially due to wrong alloys. it wasn’t possible to change the gear for one person, two strong men had to pull in order to change the gear. During that exiting process gear teeth simply broke. Because simple gear change was such an epic process and risking to damage the whole tank, soviet tank crews simply gave up changing gears at all. What they did they drove T-34 just on second gear). Also for the Soviet tank crews it was a normal practice to load a tank with any imaginable spare parts. But T-34 transmission had its pros also. For Germans or for Americans to change transmission they had to remove the whole turret, while on T-34 it was “an easy fix” from the rear of the tank.
One of those tanks send to Aberdeen proving grounds
- As non existent report says: Christie suspension was obsolete. Such a verdict is nothing else than speculation. For your records Merkava Mark IV still uses Christie suspension.
- Another thing non existent report does not mention – disastrous ventilation. T-34 wasn’t designed for F-34 tank gun, but for less powerful L-11 gun. After it was fitted with F-34 tank gun the level of exhaust gases became enormous. Nothing helped, not even 24/7 opened hatches. To make life inside the tank at least bearable after shooting tank crews hand throw out empty cartridges while they were hot and burned their hands – no gloves helped.
- Another thing non existent report does not mention – mega heavy single hatch. To lift up such a huge hatch even physically fit young man will struggle quite a lot. But if you get wounded? So when wounded Soviet tank crews were simply tramped inside the tank. Later on design was changed for two hatcjes. After change of design soviet tank crews still drove with open hatches. Again tank crews were afraid to be trapped inside the tank. This time it was locks quality. Very often when tank crew closed the hatch lock simply broke without any means to unlock and to open the hatch.
Yes those T-34s were send to Aberdeen proving grounds, but whatever was written in ACTUAL report is still classified.