German-produced T34 copy from mid 1942

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Hoolaman
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German-produced T34 copy from mid 1942

Post by Hoolaman » 21 Jul 2004 01:20

What if the Germans had copied the T-34 as I believe was proposed, until other models had become available.

Of course you can imagine the upgrades and improvements to optics, guns and interior layout that they could achieve but the basics are the same.

What improvements do you think would have been made, what gun and engine used. If they began to reach the front in mid 1942 how would it change the war.

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Post by Kurt_Steiner » 21 Jul 2004 09:36

I'm not sure if I understand you properly, but I think that the Germans did copy the T-34 designed and the result of this was the Panther.
Germany invaded Russia, Panzertruppe encountered KV series and T-34/76 tanks, which were far superior in firepower and armor protection to any Panzer at the time. It was then decided, because of the constant reports from the Eastern Front to design a new more powerful medium tank, which could be quickly put into production. On November 25th of 1941, Adolf Hitler ordered Wa Pruef start work on the new tank. In December of 1941, Wa Pruef ordered Daimler-Benz and MAN (Maschinenfabrik Augsburg Nuernberg) to design new 30-ton tank armed with 75mm KwK L/70 gun as a response to the Soviet T-34/76 tank. Rheinmetall-Borsig was in charge of the development of the turret for this new tank. In March of 1942, Daimler-Benz was the first to produce their version of VK3002's design based on previously rejected VK3001 (direct copy of T-34/76) design from January of 1942. Two versions of VK 3001 with different suspensions were designed by Daimler-Benz - one with spring suspension and other with torsion bar suspension. Daimler-Benz VK3002 design was largely based on T-34/76 and was more like a modified German version of it. MAN finished their design of VK3002 in early Spring of 1942.
from http://www.achtungpanzer.com/pz4.htm#panther

Do you mean anything completely different from this?

Best regards

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Post by maltesefalcon » 21 Jul 2004 12:07

Even making a copy takes time. The Germans would need to tool up a factory to do it. Under the duress to produce tanks of any kind, they could hardly stop production of PIII and PIV, so a new plant was needed.

As mentioned the Panther was the German version of said AFV.

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Post by Hoolaman » 21 Jul 2004 14:38

The Panther was inspired by the T34 but under the skin it bore little resemblance. The problems with the development of the quite advanced Panther resulted in a delay of the new tanks being delivered to the front.

A copy of the T34 would be a different thing to the Panther. It would have the same qualities in simplicity, power and proven design as the Russian tank but with selected German improvments. I think at a guess that such a project could produce a reliable tank in 1942 long before the panther was even introduced, let alone had its problems ironed out.

Of course the copy would take time, but much less than a totally new design.

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Post by maltesefalcon » 21 Jul 2004 14:46

One of the problems with the Germans using a cloned or captured T34 was its turret design.

It was smaller, with room for one less crewman. This made the tank commander the gunner as well. Double duty made him less effective in coordinating with other AFV's and support troops.

This would involve retraining all the crews for these tanks. In addition, the main advantage of the Wehrmacht, ie its ability to move and strike with coordinated attacks, would be greatly reduced. Since the Russians were superior in numbers, it was an advantage Germany could not give up. (Bear in mind that in the early stages of the campaign only unit commanders on the Russian side even had a radio, partly due to the scarcity and partly due to the number of duties already assigned to the individual tank commanders.)

There would always be the problem of friendly fire incidents as well.

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Post by Lkefct » 21 Jul 2004 16:56

A direct copy is not an option. The t-34 engine uses a great deal of lighter componenets which are needed for other aspects of german industry. Also, the t-34 is very crude in terms of it's interior. It is much more rugged then what German crews where used to. The transmission is rather tough to get into gear, and the Panzerwaffe would have at least demanded some improvments. There is also the very serious issue of target recognition.

The DB version of the Panther was a far superior design to the one that was finally accepted from MAN. The vehicle has all of the automative components in the rear. While less efficient in terms of the traction that the front wheel drive on most German tanks it leaves the fighting compartment much more clear. This would be important in terms of the design of the following StuG/jagdpanzer verison, which the design started as soon as the tank prototypes where finished. It would have carried a 88mm L71 gun, and probably been in the upper 30 ton range, with similar protection, and probably better speed then the jagdpanther. The tanks is smaller then the actual Panther, and so any improvements in the basic specifications would not lead to the rapid increases in weight that later caused the Panther to be very unreliable. The deisel engine that was purposed was based ona railway engine and was already avalible. It was much more suitible for the weight range that was intended, and more powerful. The whole design was just a whole lot simplier, and would probably have been much more easily put into action, and at a sooner date. It also contained a 3 man turret, although technically, because it was so far forward, the drivers also sat in the turret ring, so you could make an argument that it was a 4 man turret. The 1 issue that was lacking, as with many prototypes, the ball mounted MG was not added before the design was canceled.

The reason that it was not put into production was that the gun for this tank was changed at the last minute, and switched from the 75 mm L48 gun, to the 75mm L70 gun. The DB had been basing their turret on the upgrade, if it came on the 75 mm L60, and the design was too tight and could not accomidate the bigger gun. DB had to go back and resdesign the turret, and use a bigger turret ring. MAN was using a left over turrett from the foreruners of the Tiger, so it could easily handle the bigger gun. However, as soon as the DB design was dumped, Hitler started putting lots of extra armour, and the weight went up in a hurray. The engine could not be adequately cooled, and there where a host of other problems in the drive train.

The end result is that since the DB was the much simplier version, and that simplicity would have translated into a higher relaiblity, and probably higher production rates, in order to get the same gun on the battlefield. The MAN design was closer to being ready to put into production, but the drive train problmes meant that even when it did enter service, the first Panthers had a lot of problems, and where not that effective because the cres where always either fixing them, and trying to make sure they didn't break down. The 60 mm sloped armour was mor then proof agains the majority of allied AT guns through most of the war at everything but short ranges. Even the full Panthers and Tigers where vulnerable under those conditions.

Not that you might not lose a few more DB tanks (although there was ampel capability to upgrade that design too), but many Tigers and Panthers where lost as the German armies where constantly forced to retreat. The big vehilces where just too unreliable, and it was too difficult to recover the vehicles that broke down or suffered light damage. the DB design is almost a full 10 tons lighter, making the recovery with the Bergepanzers of PZII, IV modesl, as well as the 18 ton half tracks, much more suitible for the job. The extra power o the DB would also allow the tanks themselves a easier job of towing damaged vehicles, which was the primary way that eh large tanks were recovered, and casued a significant amount of damage to tanks engines and transmissions. That would continue to keep the Pz Div more up to strength , and more offensive in the later stages of the war rather then being on the defensive actions as much.

Additionally, the bugs that plagued the real Panthers could have been worked out in the DB design, and an adequate supply sent to the armoured units, the German military could have replaced the DB into production at the factories that the PzIV was being produced in. The Panthers wne t into production in the winter of 1942, with the first vehicles seeing action in Kursk. The MAN designers would continually working on the engines and did not start work on the Jagdpanther until the fall of 1943. I suspect the DB would have been slightly behind in terms of when it went into production, but would have been much more combat ready come the battle of Kursk. If they where coming out in greater numbers, which the lighter weight, and simoplier design suggests, then the PZ IV and StuG II could start being switched over to DB based vehicles in 1944. That would have given more big guns in action for the critical actions in summer of 1944 at Normany and the Soviet summer offensives.

Building the Hetzer in 1942 would have been a nice touch too. THe 60 mm of armour lsoped at 60 deg, was proof to a t-34/85 unbtil about 400 m, and the small size would have allowed for a lot more of them to be produced, and issued to either more units, or a weak AT/StuG BN added to infantry divisions.

I think the easiest way to correct the problem of vehicle indentification is to simply make the DB vehiles more angular, so that it looks more German. The Russians have nice curved lines where the plates come together. Simply having a nive, angular connection points, and an oversized turret to make it look different would have done the trick.

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Post by maltesefalcon » 21 Jul 2004 17:07

The above post reminded me of one other thing. All panzers were petrol engined, but the T34 was a diesel if I recall.

A direct copy would need whole new drive train, with the necessary mechanical training and fuel supply chain being duplicated in action.
Although diesels were more reliable they made more noise and a lot of smoke. Again. German tactics of surprise and counterattack would be compromised by the easier detection of large tank formations due to smoke and noise.

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Post by Lkefct » 21 Jul 2004 17:15

Deisel engines only make more smoke when they start up, or you suddenly hit the accelerator. in general, Diesel is much cleaner, and there is less smoke. Also, I don't think for a compareable size enginer there is an appreciable difference in the amount of noise made. LArge tank engines, whether desiel or gas, produce a lot of noise. My experience has been that deisel makes somewhat less noise for the same size. I think what some people think is that their experiences are with desiel trucks compared to cars. the trucks are two sizes bigger engines then a car, so you can't really compare them.

The one thing that is also interesting to note would be that if the German army started going over to diesel, it is easier to refine oil into deisel fuel, so that for the same amount of raw material, you get more usable end product.

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Post by maltesefalcon » 21 Jul 2004 17:25

Lkefct wrote:Deisel engines only make more smoke when they start up, or you suddenly hit the accelerator. in general, Diesel is much cleaner, and there is less smoke. Also, I don't think for a compareable size enginer there is an appreciable difference in the amount of noise made. LArge tank engines, whether desiel or gas, produce a lot of noise. My experience has been that deisel makes somewhat less noise for the same size. I think what some people think is that their experiences are with desiel trucks compared to cars. the trucks are two sizes bigger engines then a car, so you can't really compare them.

The one thing that is also interesting to note would be that if the German army started going over to diesel, it is easier to refine oil into deisel fuel, so that for the same amount of raw material, you get more usable end product.
I'll agree with your points above but would like to add one more. Pound for pound and and size for size, a diesel will produce significantly less horsepower than a petrol engine. Since German AFV's were often underpowered in the first place, they stayed with petrol. Duplicating this engine would likely be slower than fitting a modified design from an existing petrol unit.

One advantage not foreseen until the battle for France was that Wehrmacht columns could (and did) get petrol from civilian filling stations. Diesel fuel was scarcer. In Russia, of course filling stations are much scarcer.

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Post by Lkefct » 21 Jul 2004 17:38

The DB was going to use the MB 507, which was later used in some of the early work of the Maus. Using a copy of the Russian engine was never an option because of the light alloys used. The MB 507 was originally developed to be used in trains, and was already ready. One version, although I do not know if it is the version that the DB uses, will put out 1,000 hp, which is 300 hp more then the Panther, and 400 hp, more the the recommended Panther output. There is also an Argus pertol engine availible in the similar HP range as well as the Maybach used on the Panther. The biggest issue was that many large V shapped petrol engines have a great deal of difficulty forcing coolant through the engine block to the some of the hottest sections, and causes them to overheat. Many large Ford V's have a similar problem, and in WW2, there was no real answer when they where placed in vehicles.

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Post by maltesefalcon » 21 Jul 2004 23:06

A lot of good points above and some compelling arguments.

Getting back to the original premise. The German High command did not have a problem either logistically or philosophically using the best of their enemy's or ally's technology.

The output form the Skoda works was supplied virtually as is throughout the useful life of the weapons. Germany obtained weapons from Switzerland, Sweden and Finland as well. Great use was made of captured jeeps and Russian burp guns. They also copied the bazooka, then improved the design.

During Barbarossa, so many Russian guns were captured, they set up a factory to make ammunition and even converted some for SP use. (I think it was the Nashorn)

However, they did not have a factory to build T-34 copies. Faced with a number of problems with the original design, and the necessity of building and tooling up a factory anyway, it was better to incorporate the best features into a new design.

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Post by Lkefct » 22 Jul 2004 00:43

Nashorn was an all german vehicle mounting a long 88 mm L71 gun. You are thinking of the Marder series of panzerjagers. They mounted either a 75 mm L48 gun, or the captured russian 76mm L51 gun on either a French, Pz II or czech/german t-38 hull. A large # of russian and french guns where used in the towed AT role, or along with other artillery was used in other theaters as regular artillery A huge protportion of the coastal artillery was old captured stock, as these guns did not see much action, they could use exisitng stocks of ammo. Bazooka was only the inital inspiration, but the Panzerschereck was a huge improvement, and they never used anything as puny as the bazooka, which could not penetrate the front armour of most tanks even when it was introduced, and was compltely inadqequate from 1943 on.

The big difference in what you are talking about is that these are using captured vehicles and weapons. There where 3 different design concepts in the design compitiion that lead to the Panther. First, Guderian and the front line troops wanted to use a direct copy of the T-34. 2nd, was the DB design, which superificailly resembles the front hull of the t-34, but is a very differnt design, and a considerable improvment over the t-34. The MAN design, which ultimately became the Panther was a new hull, and the old turret off of a predicessor of the Tiger.

The direct copy idea was never a realistic option. The t-34 had a 2 man turret, no radio in many of them, and used a lot of light aluminum alloys in the engine, that German did not have avalible to them. The tansmission and drive train where somwhat tempermental, and while it was fundamentally sound design, it would not have fit in well in given the preferences of German tankers.

Te DB design owes a great deal of influence to the t-34, but a lot of the important details are differnt, and the DB design is a completely new tank, and only the external apperaince owes much to the t-34. THe most important characterisitc, is that the front armour is 1/3 thicker, and both are sloped at 60 deg. That is a very important, because the armour penetration of the russian 76 field gun will only penetrate the armour at relatively short ranges. Even the later T-34/85 would not penetrate the Hetzer hull (who is the same thickness, strength, and sloping) at more then 400 m. The 75, 76 and 3" guns will only penetrate at close ranges as well. Only the British 17 pdr, or the US 90 mm, the Soviets 100mm, 122, and 130 mm guns, who where avalible mainly in the artillery role, can effectively engage and destroy the DB at combat ranges. the DB design also was redesigned to carry the 75 mm L70 gun, which is the same gun as the historical Panther. This had a much improved muzzle velocity over the Pz IV, main allied guns (russian and western). This would have keep the "long arm" to the german side, so that they could destroy allied tanks without the allies being able to destroy them. By mounting it in a ligher hull, it would have allowed more tanks to be produced, as the DB design was simplier and designed with an eye towards higher production. More tanks means that more of them are in action. Since this is a big part of he problem that the panthers and tigers faced, it is ssignificant improvment in terms of the fighting power of a panzer division.

As I mentioned before, all German hulls also made their way into the assualt gun or tnk destroyer roles. The DB hull was well suited to this. It is heavy enough to carry the long 88 mm L71 gun, and the fighting compartment is very open, due to the design. Where most German tanks had to have the basic design altered to accomidate the new tranmission and drive train, the DB had all of those things in the rear, so they would not have to be altered.

The overall simplicity would have allowed germany to have the DB design into production and in combat readiness much sooner the MAN design. The plan was always that as soon as a sufficient flow of Panthers was poduced, that the Pz IV would be taken out of production, and replaced by the Panthers. The DB design would allow that to happen sooner, not later. Also, the assualt gun version could be used to replace the StuG/StuH III and IV assault guns and Jagdpanzer IV in production. Giving more powerful guns, better armour protection and more mobility then the Pz III /IV tanks and varients could offer. It also is a lighter, more realiable, better powered, and less overburden designed the then MAN design. The MAN was overweight by the time the prototypes where built, and the Maybach engine always gave them problems. the conintual addition of extra armour, did little to improve the protection (it was already proof against most allied AT weapons), and only made the tanks less relaible. The DB design is a simplier design, which translates to more reliable, and has less weight, which also tanslate to less stress on the componenets, and that leads to more relaiable tanks. A large number of late war german tanks where lost in action to artillery when they where broken down,or left behind during retreats. Also, despite the orders to the contrary, many Tigers and Panthers did a lot of damage to other vehicles trying to receover damaged and broken vehicles. The DB had more excess power avalible, and could have been receoverd more eaily withe the other assets that the tank receovery units had on hand.

The last thing that is worth mentioning is the impact the Panther had on post war german tank designs. When the Whermacht was re-established, and they needed to design a new tank, they did not opt for a modern equivilent of the Panther. They asked for a realtively light tank, with the heaviest gun they could get, and used the weight saved to get a more powerful engine. The design of the Leopard 1 was much more along the lines of the DB (adequte armor, big gun, powerful engine, givng a lighter weight total) then a Panther (heavuer tank with great gun and heavy armour, but sacrificing mobility, and relaiblity).

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RE: German Produced T-34 Copy From Mid 1942.

Post by Robert Rojas » 22 Jul 2004 01:20

Greetings to both citizen Hoolaman and the community as a whole. Well sir, in reference to your 'WHAT IF' inquiry of Wednesday - July 21, 2004 - 1:20am, it is old Uncle Bob's contention that a German replication of the Soviet T-34 main battle tank would have been ideologically out of the question. The adaptation of this outstanding machine would have been a glaring admission that the Asiatic minions of east could design, produce and field an armored fighting vehicle which might prove superior to the technocratic know how of the so-called "Master Race". After all, what "Good German" in their right frame of mind would have the temerity to challenge the infallible Weltanschauung of the all knowing Bohemian Corporal? It's just some friendly food for thought. In anycase, I would like to bid you a copacetic day in the DOWN UNDER.

Best Regards,
Uncle Bob 8)

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Post by Hoolaman » 22 Jul 2004 02:18

The most compelling argument I have seen against a direct copy so far is the ideological one supplied by Mr. Uncle Bob.

I am thinking a German "T34" would be fitted with an existing German petrol engine, an existing German gun, a radio, better optics etc. etc..... relatively minor adjustments to bring it into line with the German systems and logistics. Maybe a new turret mounted more to the rear would also reduce the crew problems and the friendly fire problems.

I have heard that such a concept was condidered, and my point is that such a project would yield a reliable tank to answer the T34 much earlier than the Panther became a reliable tank. The Panther wasn't what could be called reliable until 1944 and some would argue it never did become reliable.

As has been discussed above, even the alternative Panther designs which resembled the T34 were totally new tanks.

So my original question was to ask the forum
1) What improvements could German engineering easily make to the T34?
2) When would such a tank reach the front? (I guess ready for summer 1942)
3) What difference would it all make?

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Post by Jon G. » 22 Jul 2004 02:49

Even apart from the many difficulties in copying the T-34, it was also a question of at least matching the Soviet tanks of tomorrow, as well as having something hopefully superior today. Even if the T-34 could be produced as a straight copy in great quantity, it would obviously only be technologically equal to what the Soviets fielded - and the Germans would have the same problem all over facing IS-2 tanks the following year.

Fitting superior German optics in sights and other vision equipment was probably easy enough to do, as was of course fitting radios and maybe even an enlarged commander's cupola, as the Germans did to many other captured tanks. I don't know if this was done to captured T-34s?

Then there is also the recognition issue, as well as the difficulty in reproducing the T-34's diesel. It was not only a question of the light alloys used in the T-34's engine block. The fuel injectors needed in diesel engines are high-precision items that are difficult to make. It would have meant an additional production bottleneck, since the Lufwaffe had first priority for fuel injectors. Even so, the Germans tried to develop a reliable tank diesel throughout the war, but never quite succeeded. The Maus was supposed to have a powerful 1200 hp diesel.

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