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Russian Tank Facts
Old 12-14-2006
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Default Russian Tank Facts

USSR Tanks WW2

Soyuz Sovetskikh Sotsialisticheskikh Respublik

Light T-60

The T-60 scout tank was a light tank produced by the Soviet Union from 1941 to 1942. In this time over 6,292 were built. The tank was designed to replace to obsolete T-38 amphibious scout tank. It was a small, reliable tank, specifically designed for reconnaissance tasks in the "horrid" weather conditions typical of the Russian front.

The T-60 units were produced between 1941 and 1942, it was then replaced by the Light Tank T-70. Some T-60's were modified for use as Katyuscha rocket launcher rails, anti-tank guns, tractors, supply carriers, etc.
  • Weight : 5.8 ton
  • Dimensions: 4.10 x 2.30 x 1.74 mt
  • Armor (max) : 20 mm
  • Range : 450 km
  • Speed (max - route) : 44 km/hr
  • Main gun : 20 mm
  • Crew : 2


BT-7 Bystrochodnij Tankov

The BT-7 fast tank was a development of the BT-5 with a better armor and design (welded hull and turret with sloping sides to enhance protection). The BT-7 first soldiered in the Khalkin battles against the Japanese (Mongolian-Manchurian border) and in the advances into Poland (both in 1939) and in Finland (1940).

The BT-7 was the most well-developed of the BT series tanks. Total production of the BT-7 was 4,965 vehicles. The work on improvement of the BT series tanks was carried out under the leadership of A.O. Firsov. Its combat career ended in 1941, following the German invasion of Russia.
  • Weight : 14.0 ton
  • Dimensions:5.66 x 2.29 x 2.42 mt
  • Armor (max) : 13 mm
  • Range : 250 km
  • Speed (max - route) : 86 km/hr
  • Main gun : 45 mm
  • Crew : 3


The T-34 is a Soviet medium tank produced from 1940 to 1958. It was widely regarded as the world's best tank when the Soviet Union entered the Second World War, and although its armor and armament were surpassed by later WWII tanks, it is credited as the war's most effective, efficient and influential design.

The T-34 gave the Germans a nasty shock! Although it can be considered a development of the BT series, the T-34/76 is actually a major redesign; more armor protection, wide tracks, a powerful engine, and a powerful cannon. With these features, it outclassed all the German tanks in service in 1941.

In response to the German invasion (Operation Barbarossa), a mass of T-34's streamed from the newly built Tankograd production plant; from 1940 to 1945 more than 40,000 T-34's (of all models) were delivered. Hurriedly built and poorly finished by western standards, the T-34/76 was nevertheless a superb fighting machine.

Throughout its life, the T34 design was subject to various changes. From the early two-man, hexagonal-shaped all welded turret with a short barreled gun, it passed to a larger cast steel turret (with a cupola for the commander) and a longer-barreled gun. In 1943, as the existing panzers couldn't adequately oppose against the T-34/76, the Germans were forced to develop a new tank : the Panther.
  • Weight : 26.0 ton
  • Dimensions: 5.92 x 3.0 x 2.45 mt
  • Armor (max) : 45 mm
  • Range : 300 km
  • Speed (max - route) : 55 km/hr
  • Main gun : 76.2 mm
  • Crew : 4


The T-34/85 tank was first produced during the winter of 1943-44. It was actually developed by mounting a cast steel turret, originally developed for the KV-85 heavy tank, on a virtually unchanged T-34/76 hull. The wide tracks enabled the T-34/85 to cross every type of terrain, including soft mud and snow, giving to the tank the capacity to operate where Germans were unable to travel.

The resulting new T-34-85 tank had a much superior gun and finally, a three-man turret with radio (which had previously been in the hull). Now the commander could just command the tank, leaving the operation of the gun to his gunner and loader. Overall production slowed down somewhat while the new tank started its production run. Although a T-34-85 was still not a match for a Panther, its improved firepower leveled the playing field.

The decision to improve on the existing design instead of implementing a new one allowed the Soviets to maintain such an overwhelming numerical advantage that the difference in capabilities could be considered moot. In May 1944, the Wehrmacht had only 304 Panthers operating on the Eastern Front, while the Soviets had ramped up T-34-85 production to a rate of 1,200 tanks per month.

A great deal of myth surrounds the standard Soviet medium tank of World War II, the T-34. The most important statement to debunk here is the common claim that the T-34 (or more specifically the late-war T34/85) was the best Allied tank of the war. In many areas this tank is being vastly overrated, a situation demanding correction.

As with the Tiger and M4 tanks, it is important to realize the situation into which the tank was first introduced. The T-34/76, the earliest version of this medium tank, was first encountered by the Germans during one of the last phases of Operation Barbarossa in late 1941. At the time, the thickness of its armour was unprecedented for medium tanks; more importantly, the slope of the tank’s armour made the real thickness encountered by incoming shells much greater than the sheet of metal actually was.

Even though the T-34/76’s armour was not impressive at all by late-war standards, at first it made the tank almost impenetrable to contemporary German medium tanks, most importantly the PzKpfw III. Moreover, the T-34’s 76.2mm gun was quite a bit more powerful than most contemporary tank guns and made the T-34 fully capable of knocking out German tanks at great distances. Once again, as when faced with British Matilda II tanks and Russian KV-1 heavy tanks, the Germans had to fall back on their trusty 88mm anti-aircraft gun to knock out the T-34.

This great firepower and near invincibility of the T-34/76 naturally triggered many a myth about the new Russian tank. It must be remembered that even in 1941 it wasn’t the first Allied tank to be able to meet German tanks on equal terms; several French and British tank types had preceded it in this role, as had the Russian KV-1.

The fact remains, however, that in 1941 and arguably in 1942, the T-34/76 was the best medium tank in service anywhere. Note that already in 1942 this claim is becoming debatable, with the introduction of new German and Western Allied tanks of comparable quality (new versions of the PzKpfw IV and the M4 Sherman). These tanks enjoyed superiority in such fields as sights, crew comfort, reliability and industrial finishing. The most important fact that decreased the continuing efficiency of the T-34, though, was its failure to keep up with enemy tank development through upgrades.

While both the Sherman and the PzKpfw IV went through substantial upgrades throughout the war to keep up with tank developments, the T-34 saw only one truly notable upgrade: the new T-34/85. This tank is widely claimed to be the best medium tank of World War II, but on several points that can be disputed.

The tank’s new 85mm gun was no better than the standard German anti-tank piece of the late-war period, the 75mm L/48, and neither was it superior to the American 76mm M1. Its only advantage was a more powerful high explosive shell, at the price of a decrease in ammo storage capacity.

The T-34/85’s hull armour was never upgraded throughout the war and remained 45mm thick, which by the end of the war had become quite unsatisfactory. Most German guns of the period could penetrate twice as much at ranges of up to 1000 yards. Another important point is the fact that the tank’s armour material was too hard, making it brittle; the crew was in serious danger from armour flakes flying around inside the tank when it was hit, even if it wasn’t penetrated.

The tank was notoriously unfriendly to its crew; it was cramped and uncomfortable, even though the new turret did solve the problematic sight-blocking turret hatch of the T-34/76.

The T-34, in all versions, was notoriously noisy – more so than other tanks. No stealth operations or surprise attacks were to be organized with this tank’s loud and distinctive engine and track sound.

This tank was a mass-produced vehicle in the most literal sense; no attention was paid to details in the design, so the welds were crude, paint often not applied at all, suspension a rag-tag of available wheel types, and the engine was unreliable.

So we see that the T-34/85, while without doubt a robust design for its purpose, was not at all as good a tank as is often claimed. Most importantly, the scorned American Sherman tank was a rough equal to it by the end of the war, although both tanks had advantages and disadvantages compared to each other. When we consider the T-34/85 as a contestant for the title of Best Tank of World War II, we must do so from a strategic perspective; the vehicle was cheap and easy to make – exactly what Russia needed. Tactically, however, it had to recognize many a tank as its superior on the battlefield.

The T-34/85 combat career lasted, in various countries, more than 40 years, as it was still in line during the 1980's in Africa, former Yugoslavia and Albania.
  • Weight : 32.0 ton
  • Dimensions:8.15 x 3.0 x 2.6 mt
  • Armor (max) : 90 mm
  • Range : 360 km
  • Speed (max - route) : 55 km/hr
  • Main gun : 85 mm
  • Crew : 4


KV-1 Klimenti Voroschilov

The KV-1, after a brief appearance of the heavy T-100, became the standard Red Army's heavy tank until 1943. The early models had the thickest armor that could be produced at that time. As it was, however, considered insufficient, KV-1 were continually up-armored to make them virtually invulnerable to German anti-tank guns. Yet the ever increasing weight of this armor was never compensated by an equivalent additional power from the engine.

In order to provide a higher mobility, a limited number of lighter but faster KV tanks, denominated KV-1s (where "s" stays for skorostnoy, or "fast"), was produced between August 1942 and June 1943. When the production ceased, in 1943, some 13,500 KV-1 had been built. They were replaced, for a few months, by a new model (the KV-85) equipped by a bigger 85 mm gun.
  • Weight : 43.0 ton (later 52.0)
  • Dimensions: 6.68 x 3.32 x 2.71 mt
  • Armor (max) : 75 mm (later 130 mm)
  • Range : 335 km
  • Speed (max - route) : 35 km/hr
  • Main gun : 76.2 mm
  • Crew : 5

IS-2 Iosef Stalin

The need for heavier guns led to develop a new model, the IS-2, which hosted, in its enlarged turret, the most powerful weapon ever mounted on a combat tank during WWII. The Iosef Stalin tank (or IS tank, named after the Soviet leader Joseph Stalin), was a heavy tank developed by the Soviet Union during World War II.

The heavy tank was designed with thick armor to counter the German 88 mm guns, and a gun that was effective against the new German Tiger and Panther tanks. The A-19 122mm gun had very good armor penetration, delivering 3.5 times the kinetic energy of the older 76.2mm gun, and when it didn't penetrate, could often knock a turret right off a tank with the combination of the impact and explosive filler.

Its very large high-explosive shells were extremely effective against bunkers, infantry and antitank guns. The main disadvantage of the gun was its bulky, two-part ammunition, which were heavy and difficult to manage. The IS-2 is slow to reload (the rate of fire was only about two rounds per minute), and only 28 rounds were carried. The IS-2 was put into service in April 1944, and was used as a spearhead in the battle for Berlin by the Red Army, when the war had reached its final stages.

The need for heavier guns led to develop the new model, the IS-2, which hosted, in its enlarged turret, the most powerful weapon ever mounted on a combat tank during WWII. In battle, the IS-2 was able to tackle German Panthers and Tigers on equal terms.
  • Weight : 46.0 tons
  • Dimensions:9.9 x 3.09 x 2.73 mt
  • Armor (max) : 30 - 160 mm
  • Range : 240 km
  • Speed (max - route) : 37 km/hr
  • Engine : 12-cyl. diesel model V-2 600 hp
  • Main gun : 122 mm
  • Crew : 4


The initial variant, developed in 1943. The factory designation was Object 241 (Объект 241). It was armed with the 152.4 mm ML-20S (МЛ-20С) gun-howitzer, with a barrel length of over 4.2 meters (27.9 calibers). The self-propelled gun carried 21 rounds of two piece (shell and charge) armor-piercing and high explosive ammunition.

The gun had a maximum range of 6,200 meters. The armor-piercing round, weighing 48.78 kg, had a muzzle velocity of 600 m/s and a maximum penetration of 125 mm of RHA at 90 at a range of 500 meters. The ISU-152 had different modifications concerning the gun (newer modifications), the number of the hatches, or the hull, based on the one of IS-1, IS-2 or IS-2 model 1944. The latter modification had a thicker gun shield, fuel tankage with increased volume etc. Till May 1944 the main armament was the 152.4 mm ML-20 model 1937 gun-howizer. ISU-152 had a rate of fire of 2-3 rounds/min.

The early modifications had three hatches at the superstructure roof and one emergency hatch at the bottom of the hull behind the driver's seat, which had an armored cover. Later was added a fourth, round hatch, at the superstructure roof on the right, next to the rectangular hatch on the left. The later ISU-152 modifications, with newer gun and slightly longer barrel, up to over 4.9 meters (32.3 calibers), had a maximum range of fire of up to 13,000 meters.

The ISU-152 followed the same design as other Soviet self-propelled guns, except the SU-76. The fully armoured hull was divided into two compartments: fighting compartment for the crew, gun and ammunition in the front of the hull, and engine and transmission in the rear. The gun was mounted slightly to the right of centre with a limited traverse of 12 degrees left and right. The crew consisted of 4 or 5 men placed in the superstructure. Three of the crew were to the left of the gun: driver to the front, then gunner and last the loader. The vehicle commander and lockman were to the right: commander to the front and the lockman behind. When the crew consisted of 4 men, the loading was carried out by the lockman.

The suspension consisted of twelve torsion bars for the six road wheels on either side. The drive sprockets were at the back, and the front idlers were identical to the road wheels. Each track was made up of 90 links. There were three internal fuel tanks, two in the crew area and one in the engine compartment. These were usually supplemented with four unconnected external fuel tanks. Twelve and 24-volt electrical power supplies came from a 1 kW generator feeding four accumulator batteries.

For observation from the interior, all roof hatches had periscopes and there were two gun sights : telescopic ST-10 (СТ-10) and panoramic. For crew communication a TPU-4-BisF intercom was fitted, and for inter-vehicle communication there was a single 10R or 10RK radio. These were better than Soviet equipment at the start of the war but still inferior to German equipment.

The crew were given two PPSh submachine guns with 1491 rounds and 20 F-1 grenades for short range self-defence.

The ISU-152 was armed with the same gun as the SU-152. It used the hull of the IS-1 tank instead of the KV-1S. Later in the war the ISU-152 was further improved. It used the hull of the IS-2 or IS-2 model 1944 tank, the armor of the mantlet was increased, the gun was replaced by newer variants, a 12.7 x 108 mm DShK anti-aircraft machine gun was installed by the right forward hatch and later its ammunition capacity increased, the 10R radio set was upgraded to a 10RK and the fuel capacity was increased.

Some ISU-152s were equipped with even larger external fuel tanks, two tanks on the rear hull deck, in addition to the four external fuel tanks (90 liters each, maximum), or with two smaller additional external fuel tanks, on the hull rear. This option was probably available for the post-war ISU-152 variants.

Between December 1943 and May 1945, 1,885 ISU-152s were built. Mass production ceased in 1947, with 3,242 vehicles produced in total.
  • Weight : 45.5 tons
  • Dimensions : 9.18l x 3.07w x 2.48h m
  • Armor :120 mm (mantlet (maximum)), 90 mm (lower hull front, lower hull side and superstructure front), 75 mm (upper hull side), 60 mm (upper hull front)
  • Range : 120 km
  • Speed : 37 km/hr (Road - 20km/hr (Terrain)
  • Engine : V-2IS diesel engine 520hp
  • Main gun : 152.4 mm ML-20S gun-howitzer
  • Crew : 4 or 5

The above is a compilation by yours truly of information gleaned from multiple sources on the Internet.


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