by: Darren Baker [ ]
I think it is fair to say that no other tank in history has served so many, for so long and in so many places as the T-34 in all of its guises. It is my understanding that some T-34s have even been used in recent unrest in Ukraine and of course the Middle East. Haynes the well known car manual provider has produced and released a title looking at the T-34 variants from 1940 through to the current day. authored by Mark Healy.
All parts proceeded by a hash are sub sections within an area. The book is split into the following:
The T-34 Story
# Spanish and Mongolian lessons
# The quest for a tank with shell proof armour
# Testing Times
# The T-34 that never was but might have been
# October, Counter Order, Disorder
T-34 at War 1941-45
# The cutting Edge of Operation Barbarossa
# The Battle of Mtsensk
# 1942 The year of Deep War
# The Battle of Kursk Orel
# Operation Citadel, 5-17 July 1943
# The need for a T-34 with a bigger gun
# Into Combat The T-34/85 in 1944-45
Operating the T-34
T-34s in post-war Foreign Service
# The T-34/85 in combat: 1950 -2017
Anatomy of the T-34/76
# Armour thickness and quality
# Towing and lifting eyes
# Wireless and intercom
T-34 weaponry and firepower
# T-34/76 with the L-11 76.2mm gun
# Armament of the T-34/85
# T-34 with the F-34 76.2mm gun
# The F-34 in detail
# Co-axial machine gun
# T-34 variants including SPGs
# The T-44
# T-34 turrets
This book is a hard back offering in the usual Haynes manual style. The contents are well presented and clearly printed on good quality paper. There are a total of 164 pages in this offering. The book is split into eleven sections with a good number of sub sections included. It has to be said near the start of this review that due to the offering not being a tome it is limited in what it can provide the reader as regards contents, due to this I have to congratulate Mark Healy on providing such a well rounded offering in a limited number of pages.
The introduction and T-34 Story are well written sections and provide a coherent and interesting story of the steps leading to the birth of the T-34 tank. The photographs in this section are for the most part black and white period offerings, but there are also a few colour photographs of preserved vehicles present as well.
The T-34 at War 1941-45 is one chapter and its sub sections will really appeal to the modeller in us due to the images and information provided. The KV1 and 2 proved a huge shock to the Germans when they began the invasion of Russia, but the T-34 not only shocked the Germans it impacted their future tank design in a big way, just look at the King Tiger and Panther as examples of this. The wartime photographs are fantastic reference for the modeller and the scenes will inspire the diorama fans. The text provides an enjoyable and informative read covering a lot of information in the small amount of space available. The information on how the Russians lost a lot of their T-34s early in the war was a surprise to me; seeing T34s stuck in the bogs was a surprise as while I knew this occurred I did not know it was such a common occurrence as to be responsible for such high losses. This does point out why the Germans struggled so much if a tank designed for the environment suffered so much.
Operating the T-34 is a great little section of this title and lets you read about the chores of operating a T-34 from the mouths of the men who operated the vehicles. I never knew that the make shift canvas tent panels given to the crew was so important due to not being able to sleep within the vehicle. It was also of interest that the T-34 tanks often fired on the same subjects rather than separate ones due to poor vision.
The section covering the T-34s in post-war Foreign Service is a section that suffers from a lack of space and is one section of the book that really cries out to be covered in greater depth, but I cannot blame the author as it had to fit his work within a set amount of space.
Anatomy of the T-34/76 is a great reference for the modeller. The author has gained great access to the T-34 on display at Bovington Tank Museum and looks at a vehicle that is indicated as having been built in late 1944. The photographs have excellent captions to accompany them with very good photography. The tank is covered as indicated in the broken down sub sections and the combination of text, photographs and schematics do a great job of explaining the aspects of this vehicle.
The section of this title looking at the T-34 weaponry and firepower is a nice area to close the book with. The pictures of the T-34/85 turret interior are of the Shrivenham tank and show how exceptionally cramped and well kept this example is. The details on the weapons are of limited use to me as a modeller, but are none the less an interesting read. The captions that accompany the photographs do a very good job of explaining things at a glance.
The Appendices are of limited use to me, but I did find the parts explaining the differences in the T-34 and the drawings of the various turrets.
This book is a great little title on the T-34 tank; true there other titles available on the T-34 that go far further into the details of the T-34 family, but when it comes to cost this book is hard to beat for content. As a modeller there are some things I would have liked to see in this title, but as the title is not aimed at the modeller I cannot fault the book on that score. The contents cover a large area in a surprisingly small area considering the topic of this title.