German T-34

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German T-34

Post by stg 44 » 24 Mar 2013 19:19

http://wiki.worldoftanks.com/VK_3002_(DB)
http://www.achtungpanzer.com/panzerkamp ... fz-171.htm
In early November of 1941, because of the constant reports from the front, special Panzerkommission visited Guderian’s 2nd Panzer Army (part of Army Group Centre) on the Eastern Front to inspect captured T-34/76 tanks and to asses what needed to be done. It was decided 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 to start work on the new medium tank that would outperform T-34. 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 theSoviet 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, which largely based on examined captured T-34/76 tank, in early Spring of 1942.
VK3002(DB)’s turret was mounted in the forward position of the hull just like that of T-34/76. Prototype was presented to the Fuehrer, who ordered the production of 200 new tanks to start as soon as possible.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Panther_tank
The DB design was a direct homage to the T-34. It resembled the T-34 hull and turret form. DB's design used a leaf spring suspension whereas the T-34 used coil springs. The DB turret was smaller than that of the MAN design and had a smaller turret ring, which was the result of the narrower hull required by the leaf spring suspension which lay outside of hull. The main advantages of the leaf springs over a torsion bar suspension were a lower hull silhouette and a simpler shock damping design. Like the T-34, the DB design had a rear drive sprocket. Unlike the T-34, the DB design had a three-man turret crew: commander, gunner, and loader. But as the planned L/70 75 mm gun was much longer and heavier than the T-34's, mounting it in the Daimler-Benz turret was difficult. Plans to reduce the turret crew to two men to stem this problem were eventually dropped.

The MAN design embodied more conventional German thinking with the transmission and drive sprocket in the front and a turret placed centrally on the hull. It had a gasoline engine and eight torsion-bar suspension axles per side. Because of the torsion bar suspension and the drive shaft running under the turret basket, the MAN Panther was higher and had a wider hull than the DB design. The slightly earlier, Henschel designed Tiger I heavy tank's use of a "slack-track" Christie-style pattern of large road wheels with no return rollers for the upper run of track, and with the main road wheels being overlapping and interleaved in layout, were design concepts broadly repeated with the MAN design for the Panther.

The two designs were reviewed over a period from January through March 1942. Reichminister Todt, and later, his replacement Albert Speer, both recommended the DB design to Hitler because of its several advantages over the initial MAN design. However, at the final submission, MAN improved their design, having learned from the DB proposal, and a review by a special commission appointed by Hitler in May 1942 ended up selecting the MAN design. Hitler approved this decision after reviewing it overnight. One of the principal reasons given for this decision was that the MAN design used an existing turret designed by Rheinmetall-Borsig, while the DB design would have required a brand new turret to be designed and produced, substantially delaying the commencement of production.[7]

Albert Speer recounts in his autobiography Inside the Third Reich

Since the Tiger had originally been designed to weigh fifty tons but as a result of Hitler`s demands had gone up to seventy five tons, we decided to develop a new thirty ton tank whose very name, Panther, was to signify greater agility. Though light in weight, its motor was to be the same as the Tiger`s, which meant it could develop superior speed. But in the course of a year Hitler once again insisted on clapping so much armor on it, as well as larger guns, that it ultimately reached forty eight tons, the original weight of the Tiger.[8]
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What if the Daimler-Benz version of the Panther was selected for the Panther project instead of the MAN design? It would take somewhat longer to get into the field, but would be lighter, more maneuverable, probably more mechanically reliable, and easier to produce thanks to requiring less materials.

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Re: German T-34

Post by Terry Duncan » 24 Mar 2013 20:25

easier to produce thanks to requiring less materials.
This is what Germany needed, though how easy it would be to swap industrial facilities to producing the new design could still see the numerous competing designs that plagued the German forces. The fact the design is not over-engineered would be in its favour, hopefully that and the lower weight might avoid the issues that saw the early Panthers catch fire!

On the down side it might be difficult to prevent Hitler chewing the carpet and frothing at the mouth over equipping his forces with something adapted from a Slavic design.

Anything that could be mass produced quickly in the plants building the PzIII's & PzIV's would help the German cause, especially if it allowed a single standardized design to predominate, especially if it was able to be adapted for late upgrading as needed. There still wont be enough Germans though and that will be what decides the war.

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Re: German T-34

Post by Simperator » 24 Mar 2013 20:29

Hi,

Just a thought: you overlook practical problems, especially friendly fire. This would reduce this tank's usefulness significantly. That was also the reason why Beutepanzer units usually were assigned for anti-partisan warfare. The silhouette just looks too T-34-ish. The suspension and wheels look too complicated, too, as it is another version of the German Schachtellaufwerk.

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Simon

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Re: German T-34

Post by stg 44 » 24 Mar 2013 20:44

Terry Duncan wrote:
easier to produce thanks to requiring less materials.
This is what Germany needed, though how easy it would be to swap industrial facilities to producing the new design could still see the numerous competing designs that plagued the German forces. The fact the design is not over-engineered would be in its favour, hopefully that and the lower weight might avoid the issues that saw the early Panthers catch fire!

On the down side it might be difficult to prevent Hitler chewing the carpet and frothing at the mouth over equipping his forces with something adapted from a Slavic design.

Anything that could be mass produced quickly in the plants building the PzIII's & PzIV's would help the German cause, especially if it allowed a single standardized design to predominate, especially if it was able to be adapted for late upgrading as needed. There still wont be enough Germans though and that will be what decides the war.
Supposedly Hitler favored this design, but it would take longer to produce because it needed a fresh turret design, while MAN could use an existing design, which I guess was meant for the VK3001 project. So if Hitler was in the mood to wait, then it could be in service probably about the same time as the historical Panther, which was delayed by major mechanical issues.
Simperator wrote:Hi,

Just a thought: you overlook practical problems, especially friendly fire. This would reduce this tank's usefulness significantly. That was also the reason why Beutepanzer units usually were assigned for anti-partisan warfare. The silhouette just looks too T-34-ish. The suspension and wheels look too complicated, too, as it is another version of the German Schachtellaufwerk.

Regards,
Simon
If this type is more prevalent I don't think the friendly fire problem would be all that pronounced. The historical T-34's captured early on had the problem of two man turrets and poor penetration against Soviet tanks, so I'm not sure that silhouettes are the reason they were used against partisans (also the construction of the early T-34s were pretty bad, as the US army attested to when they tested it in 1942).
The suspension and wheels would be no more complicated than the historical Panther or other German tanks.

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Re: German T-34

Post by Simperator » 24 Mar 2013 21:32

I read it once that the Germans didn't use T-34 all too happily on the Eastern Front because of friendly fire, among others. And the suspension: I know that this is just like the others, and yes, just as complicated and expensive and not as efficient and cheap as a christie-like suspension of the original T-34; all this equals more mechanical problems, more cost, etc.

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Re: German T-34

Post by stg 44 » 24 Mar 2013 21:46

Simperator wrote:I read it once that the Germans didn't use T-34 all too happily on the Eastern Front because of friendly fire, among others. And the suspension: I know that this is just like the others, and yes, just as complicated and expensive and not as efficient and cheap as a christie-like suspension of the original T-34; all this equals more mechanical problems, more cost, etc.
The Soviets dropped the Christie suspension for the T-34 because it was a crap.
http://chris-intel-corner.blogspot.com/ ... f-war.html
Christie suspension

The Christie suspension used on the T-34 had the advantage that it allowed for high speeds on road. Its disadvantages were that it took a lot of internal space and it had poor stability in rough terrain.

A German test of tank pitching motion at the Kummersdorf testing facility (1km undulated track) showed that the T-34 had the worst stability compared to the Pz IV, Tiger, Sherman and Panther.

The Christie suspension was a technological dead-end and the Aberdeen evaluation says: ‘The Christie's suspension was tested long time ago by the Americans, and unconditionally rejected’. It was replaced in postwar Soviet tanks with the torsion bar system, same as the T-34M and T43 prototypes intended to replace the T-34 during the war.
Also:
Problematic gearbox

Another major problem was the unwieldy gearbox. It had poor reliability and it needed excessive force to change gears, leading to driver fatigue. An American study of a captured T-34/85 from Korea noted:

'There is rough steering due to the use of clutch and brake steering control and difficulty in shifting due to the use of a spur gear clash-shift transmission and multi-disc dry-clutch, making driving this tank a difficult and very fatiguing job.’

Initially the powerful V-2 engine (500hp) could not be used to the fullest due to the 4-speed gearbox. Changing gears required excessive force on behalf of the driver. The T-34 could use the 4th gear only on a paved road, thus the max speed over cross-country was theoretically 25 km/h but in practice it was only 15km/h because changing from 2nd gear to 3rd required superhuman strength.

On later modifications there was a 5-speed gearbox which allowed for a cross country speed of 30 km/h.
Reliability problems

The T-34 was supposed to be a simple and rugged vehicle that seldom broke down. Authors like to compare it to the more complex German tanks that supposedly broke down often. The concept of the T-34 as a reliable tank is another myth of WWII.

The majority of vehicles in 1941 were lost due to equipment malfunction. The same reliability problems continued during the period 1942-44. The evacuation and relocation of industrial facilities combined with the loss of skilled workers could only lead to the fall of reliability.

There were constant problems with the gearbox and the engine filters. The Aberdeen evaluators noted:

‘On the T-34 the transmission is also very poor. When it was being operated, the cogs completely fell to pieces (on all the cogwheels). A chemical analysis of the cogs on the cogwheels showed that their thermal treatment is very poor and does not in any way meet American standards for such mechanisms.’

‘The deficiency of our diesels is the criminally poor air cleaners on the T-34. The Americans consider that only a saboteur could have constructed such a device’

Apparently the air filter problem was never fixed. A US study of a captured T-34/85 from the Korean War (built in 1945) noted ‘Wholly inadequate engine intake air cleaners could be expected to allow early engine failure due to dust intake and the resulting abrasive wear. Several hundred miles in very dusty operation would probably be accompanied by severe engine power loss.’
The mental image of the T-34 travelling hundreds of kilometers without stopping is fantasy.


The V-2 engine had serious reliability problems. Depending on the source in 1941 it supposedly lasted for 100 hours on average. This figure went down in 1942 since some T-34’s could not travel more then 30-35 km.
The T-34 tested at the Aberdeen centre was built at the best factory using materials of superior quality but its engine stopped working after 72.5 hours. This was not due to American interference as there was a Soviet mechanic (engineer Matveev) charged with maintaining it. Still it was much better than the standard tanks since it covered a distance of 343km.
According to the head of the Armored Directorate of the Red Army N.Fedorenko, the average mileage of the T-34 to overhaul during the war, did not exceed 200 kilometers. This was considered adequate since the T-34’s service life at the front was considerably less. For example in 1942 only 66km.
In that sense the T-34 was indeed ‘reliable’ because it was destroyed before it had a chance to break down on its own!
Still there are examples of T-34’s breaking down during assaults even late in the war. For instance the 5th Guards Tank army in 1943 lost as much as 15% of its tanks during its march to Prokhorovka. In August ’43 the 1st Tank army lost 50% of its tanks due to malfunction. As late as the second half of 1944 tank units tried to replace engines with more than 30 hours of operation before a major attack.

All WWII tanks had a hard time when travelling and they needed repairs and maintenance or they broke down.

There is also the question of standardization. The T-34 was produced at several factories. Each factory produced a slightly different variant. Could spare parts from Nizhny Tagil be used on a T-34 from Gorky? Doubtful.
http://operationbarbarossa.net/Myth-Bus ... ters2.html


The German tanks get a very bad wrap compared to how they actually performed. Most of the German late war designs weren't that bad in their original form, but Hitler ordered them up-armored and -gunned them to the point that they suffered mechanical issues due to excess weight.
The fact is that the Germans used the problematic interwoven wheels because that was the best way to handle the weight of the bigger chassis given the raw material deficits they had; same with not using the torsion bar suspension: they didn't have the right minerals to make them strong enough to work, while the leaf spring suspension was easier to produce and was stronger than the types of torsion bars the German industry could produce given their lack of tungsten and other strong metals.

The fact is the German designs were the best they could produce given the material base they had access to during the war. Yes, there were over engineering issues with some designs, which this version of the Panther solved to a degree compared to the MAN design Panther.
Last edited by stg 44 on 25 Mar 2013 20:56, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: German T-34

Post by Simperator » 25 Mar 2013 19:18

Very interesting. Thank you.

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Re: German T-34

Post by phylo_roadking » 25 Mar 2013 22:28

Referring to the "crap design" of the Russians' Christie suspension....

When observing the Soviet military manouvers in IIRC 1937, the ones with the newsreel of BT5s leaping over walls and off heights and landing and zooming on...Basil Liddell-Hart had a chance to likewise observe behind-the-scenes; all those great newsreel shots required suspension components being replaced for "action" the next day :P Crap "period" Soviet metallurgy...

On the matter of creating a "German T34"...I fail to see the tactical advantages of manufacturing something rated the same or roughly so in performance and production advantages....because once design, testing etc. eats up long months of lead time...ALL you end up with after 18 months to two years is a tank as good as the enemy had.

Some time before...

You haver to think of how the enemy's design trends will pan out by the end of your own lead time...and produce a tank decently superior to THAT!
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Re: German T-34

Post by stg 44 » 25 Mar 2013 23:39

phylo_roadking wrote: On the matter of creating a "German T34"...I fail to see the tactical advantages of manufacturing something rated the same or roughly so in performance and production advantages....because once design, testing etc. eats up long months of lead time...ALL you end up with after 18 months to two years is a tank as good as the enemy had.

Some time before...

You haver to think of how the enemy's design trends will pan out by the end of your own lead time...and produce a tank decently superior to THAT!
I get what you are saying, but the German version of the T-34 fixed all of the problems of the T-34 and improved it significantly; the armament was better, the optics were far better, the suspension/mechanics/layout was a major improvement, and it was far more maneuverable and reliable than the Panther.

However the Panther had better armor protection AND was upgradable in terms of armor and armament...but it wasn't reliable until March 1944, so we have to weigh getting a German T-34 in reliable service in greater numbers in 1943 or having the 'better' Panther in unreliable service in limited numbers in July 1943.

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Re: German T-34

Post by phylo_roadking » 26 Mar 2013 00:20

I get what you are saying, but the German version of the T-34 fixed all of the problems of the T-34 and improved it significantly; the armament was better, the optics were far better, the suspension/mechanics/layout was a major improvement, and it was far more maneuverable and reliable than the Panther.

However the Panther had better armor protection AND was upgradable in terms of armor and armament...but it wasn't reliable until March 1944, so we have to weigh getting a German T-34 in reliable service in greater numbers in 1943 or having the 'better' Panther in unreliable service in limited numbers in July 1943.
Yes. But remember what I said...
I fail to see the tactical advantages of manufacturing something rated the same or roughly so in performance and production advantages....because once design, testing etc. eats up long months of lead time...ALL you end up with after 18 months to two years is a tank as good as the enemy had.
This of course equally applies to the Soviets! Who not only were working on the T-34/85...which would in the end only come out a rough equal to later PzIVs and StuGs...but they ALSO had the T-44 on the stocks....which would of course finally appear in real numbers as the T-54 postwar!
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Re: German T-34

Post by stg 44 » 26 Mar 2013 00:39

phylo_roadking wrote:
I get what you are saying, but the German version of the T-34 fixed all of the problems of the T-34 and improved it significantly; the armament was better, the optics were far better, the suspension/mechanics/layout was a major improvement, and it was far more maneuverable and reliable than the Panther.

However the Panther had better armor protection AND was upgradable in terms of armor and armament...but it wasn't reliable until March 1944, so we have to weigh getting a German T-34 in reliable service in greater numbers in 1943 or having the 'better' Panther in unreliable service in limited numbers in July 1943.
Yes. But remember what I said...
I fail to see the tactical advantages of manufacturing something rated the same or roughly so in performance and production advantages....because once design, testing etc. eats up long months of lead time...ALL you end up with after 18 months to two years is a tank as good as the enemy had.
This of course equally applies to the Soviets! Who not only were working on the T-34/85...which would in the end only come out a rough equal to later PzIVs and StuGs...but they ALSO had the T-44 on the stocks....which would of course finally appear in real numbers as the T-54 postwar!
The T-44 had serious issues and wasn't really mass produced on the scale of its predecessor or successor as a result. The T-34/85 couldn't tackle the Tiger either, while the 75mm L/70 of the German T-34 could take the T-34/85 AND IS-2.

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Re: German T-34

Post by phylo_roadking » 26 Mar 2013 00:54

The T-34/85 couldn't tackle the Tiger either,...
Wouldn't really have been meant to, it was still only a "medium" tank anyway :P And a stretch of the earlier design...
The T-44 had serious issues and wasn't really mass produced on the scale of its predecessor or successor as a result.
A lot of issues, yes...but really serious showstoppers? ;) I can see a large number of teething issues, a lot of them due to the false start of the T-44-122 etc., wasting what available lead time there was in the overall project. And of course, once the war ended there was no immediate need to sort them...yet almost half the T-44's production was actually in 1946 and 1947 I.E. after the war!
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Re: German T-34

Post by KDF33 » 26 Mar 2013 02:01

The T-44 was hardly exceptional. With it's 90mm at 30* frontal armor, it could be taken out by the Pz IV's KwK 40 at about 800 meters and by the Panther's KwK 42 at 2000 meters. It also would at best have started large-scale production in 1945, i.e. so far away in the future as to be irrelevant to the outcome of the Soviet-German war as well as to this discussion.
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Re: German T-34

Post by phylo_roadking » 26 Mar 2013 02:07

Yes, but its existence serves to illustrate that the Soviets were doing the same thing as the Germans - attempting to future-proof each successive design in development enough to guarantee it some superiority over what they thought the enemy would be fielding in a couple of years time ;) And, of course, not always getting it right...
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Re: German T-34

Post by stg 44 » 26 Mar 2013 02:09

KDF33 wrote:The T-44 was hardly exceptional. With it's 90mm at 30* frontal armor, it could be be taken out by the Pz IV's KwK 40 at about 800 meters and by the Panther's KwK 42 at 2000 meters. It also would at best have started large-scale production in 1945, i.e. so far away in the future as to be irrelevant to the outcome of the Soviet-German war as well as to this discussion.
That's my point; thanks for adding those important details about the T-44.
The German T-34 has the Panther gun and would be able to rip up the T-44 and have equivalent mobility instead of being a lumbering beast that broke down and was often lost in Soviet offensives because it couldn't move.
Having a mobile Panther would be a huge boon, especially if they can hit as hard as the historical Panther AND have more of them while having them be mechanically reliable by mid-1943 when they would have really mattered.

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