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Tuesday
Jul042006

Tanks for the memories

line_t3485.gifWhile looking up something or other on the net I came across this fascinating story on two World War II era Soviet tanks that were recovered from a Latvian bog seven years ago -

In August 1999 at the Kurland battlefield, Latvia, two Soviet tanks: a T-34/85 and a IS-2 of the 19th Tank Corps were extracted from the bog by a group of enthusiasts after being entombed for fifty five years. Incredible.

They'd sunk in the marsh without crews and any damage while attempting to break through the German defense lines.

The tanks were in good condition, particularly the T-34/85. After changing the engine-oil and some starter parts and refueling, the enthusiasts were able to start the engines and drive the tanks.

Presumably the 1944 Russian tankmen didn't notice the danger as the bog surface was covered with a thick layer of snow at the time. The tanks entered the bog at high speed, lost the ability to maneuver and quickly sank. Presumably after the crews had bailed out.

The 19th corps lost 46 tanks in that fight - some of them sinking in the bog.

The tanks were very well preserved, especially the T-34. Their battalion numbers, painted in white, were clearly visible: A-412 (T-34) and 304 (IS-2). The tanks were almost fully armed and equipped with spare parts and instruments sets. Both tanks were lying upside down in the bog.

The amazing thing is that the mixture of motor oil and leaked diesel fuel had perfectly preserved the tanks and their working parts. And the ammunition, after cleaning, was able to be fired - several bursts of machine-gun fire were made using ammunition taken from the same tanks.

The T-34 tank was designed and built in the Kharkiv Tractor Factory in the Ukraine and the first T-34 tank was tested by successfully driving it 1,000 miles from Kharkiv to Moscow and back. The great value of the T34 was its simple design which made it easy to manufacture and easy to repair. The T34 was also reasonably light while its water-cooled V12 diesel engine made an engine-fire rare and increased the distance at which it could operate. The speed of the T34 was also a major advantage over German tanks. The average top speed of German tanks was 25 mph while the T34 had a top speed of 32 mph. Its sloped armour also gave the T34 a very good defence against German shells. And its wide track made it suitable for rough ground. But not for bogs.

The Russians could afford to lose many T34’s in battle as their factory system allowed for the building of thousands of them. Whereas German factories were bombed by the Allies, the T34 factories based deep in the Ukraine, were relatively free from German bombing.

The T34 was later equipped with an 85 mm gun to allow it to compete with the Tiger tanks on the eastern front. Later versions were also given better armour. The T34/85 had a flatter turret, making a smaller target – an innovation that was copied in many tanks after the war.

After the Second World War the T-34 was widely exported and was still fighting in Africa in the 1980s. Then in the 1990s it saw action again in Europe during the Yugoslavian civil war - as a fifty year old design.

I want one. I can just see me parking it in the Paris streets where I live. No worries.

You can read about the biggest tank battle of World War II involving 1500 Soviet and German tanks at Kursk, here at the history learning site

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Reader Comments (1)

DUde MAN yes t34 was a good tank, you wrong about a factory in Ukraine thou , russians made in it URAL mounten region , thou originaly it was Ukrainian desing some what better then Russian ,t34 was litte heavier than a light tank , but one on one , Russian t34 VS German heavy tank it would lose over and over agian,thing is you see in Russia tanks and people are expanible so why not build 30.000 to 40.000 t34 and get grew from a high schoolers if that, with a little traing , if any and send it over to fight HEAVY tanks with a range of a fire
power up to 2km or over one mile , see if you can get close enought to get a shot , at 500 meters or 0.25mile,Russian had old WW1 cavalery tactiques for theres T34 get as many of them together for a attak on any type of enemy position mine-feelds does stop attak eather - there for I say kill ratio for Germans was like 5 to 1 some time even higher 5 t34 and one german tank most time germans fixed it back up in no time,sorry but fact are not pretty here only reason Russain won WW2 because they did not care how many people they going to lose in process and tanks were cheap to make , plus here is some thing you do not hear every day RUSSIA only lost about 7million with civil population, there were about 20 million Ukrainians who lost there lifes out there ,I just going to leave all facts, for all of you to think and see maybe you figur out why and how , and why Russia won WW2.... Thank you for your time reading it.
December 7, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterkozakkrimskiofMI

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