Saturday, October 10, 2015

Comrade Stalin on the T-34 tank

I said previously that I was going to add information in WWII Myths - T-34 Best Tank of the war from a new source. The book ‘Неизвестный T-34’ (Unknown T-34) has information in pages 52-54 on T-34 reliability. Thus I’ve added the following in my T-34 essay:

1). In paragraph Reliability problems:
‘The constant complaints from the front forced the authorities to investigate the problems with T-34 production. In September 1942 a conference was held at the Ural tank factory by the Commissariat of tank industry (12). The conference was headed by Major General Kotin, People’s commissar of the tank industry of the USSR and chief designer of heavy tank ‘Kliment Voroshilov’. In his speech he said: 

''Now ... there are a lot of complains about the T-34. You all know the reasons for flaws in the tanks. The first reason –inadequate visibility from the tank; the second reason, and this is the weak link that always accompanies our vehicle in the Army – final drive. And third, the main issue that we have today – insufficient strength of the idler wheel's crank. These issues are the major defects of the T-34 today. Having considered these issues from engineering and technological points of view I would like to discuss another issue, the one that directly resulted solely from our production deficiencies. They are: negligence during production of combat vehicles in the factories, carelessness of assembly and quality control of vehicles. As a result during combat employment our tanks sometimes cannot reach the front lines, or after getting to the territory occupied by the enemy for conducting combat operations, sometimes they are forced to remain on enemy's territory because of some little things... We have to make sure that as a result of this conference all shortcoming will be uncovered and following this conference all corrections in the tank will be implemented in the shortest possible time...
Recently comrade Morozov and I visited comrade Stalin. Comrade Stalin drew our attention to the fact that enemy tanks cover a lot of ground freely, and our machines although are better, but have a disadvantage: after 50 or 80 kilometers march they require repair. What are we talking about? It is because of control gear; also, as comrade Stalin said, because of drive gear, and he compared it with the Pz.III, which is in service with the German army, and which is inferior in armor protection, and in other features, and in crew's layout, and does not have such a fine engine, which the T-34 got, moreover its engine is gasoline, not diesel. But the question аrises – why its drive gear is developed better?

Comrade Stalin gave directives to engineers, to the People's Commissar comrade Zaltsman, to factory's CEOs and ordered them to fix all defects in the shortest time. A special order of the State Defense Committee has been issued on the subject as well as directives of the People's Commissariat of the Tank Industry. Despite all these resolutions have been made by Government and orders of the People's Commissar of the Tank Industry, despite repeated instructions from army units and from Main Directorate of the Armored Forces, which is in charge of combat vehicles operation, nevertheless all of these defects on vehicles are going on... We have to reveal all these flaws, and suggestions have to be made on at this conference how to modify machine component better and faster in order to make the T-34 tank, which is recognized in the army as a good tank, even better fighting machine.''

Preliminary inspection of tanks built at the Ural tank factory No 183 (largest producer of the T-34) showed that in 1942 only 7% were free of defects, in 1943 14% and in 1944 29.4%. In 1943 the main problem was damage to the gear teeth (16)

2). In paragraph T-34 vs PzIII:
Its main advantage versus the T-34 was its superior reliability

I have to thank Boris Kavalerchik for translating General Kotin’s speech.


  1. Free of defects? Where? In that factory or when those tanks were sent to frontline or training service?

    1. The book says Ural tank factory No 183. I assume it was at the factory level but i can't be sure.

  2. Mats Hagglund10/25/15, 1:33 AM

    My journey to rethink WW2 will continue with this new book:

    "How the War Was Won Air-Sea Power and Allied Victory in World War II"

    - Phillips Payson O'Brien

  3. Phillips Payson O'Brien has given another reason for delay of M26 Pershing. In his book "How the War was Won: Air-Sea Power and Allied Victory in World War II" he wrote on page 55: "Unlike aircraft construction, pushing new and powerful AFV was never a major priority of American munitions construction during the war."

    O'Brien is given rather exciting new perspective to war itself. It was never really mostly land battles. Instead he claimed that air-sea warfare was always main priority not only for western allies but for Japan and Germany too. For instance Germans invested only 4-8% for AFV but almost always about 40-48% for only aircraft construction. He suggested that only about 30-32% of investments went for needs of Wehrmacht and Waffen SS. Luftwaffe and Kriegsmarine got total 68-70%. With development costs the percentage might have been higher than 70%.

    1. ‘For instance Germans invested only 4-8% for AFV but almost always about 40-48% for only aircraft construction’
      In 1940 the largest item and in 1941-44 the second largest item of armaments production was ‘powder and ammunition’. This was the result of having to supply an army of millions with ammunitions.

      Don’t trust everything you read from ‘historians’.

    2. Also check here:

  4. Good Book for all that is Adam Toze - Wages of Sin. Also Budrasss pdf on the net Demystifying Germany's armaments production miracle.

    Other factors to rethink the war - german torpedo faults early on (google for pdf); realisation very late in the war that contact fused flak shells (as opposed to time set) had a massively higher success level (pdf online)


  5. O'Brien claimed that 32% of ammunition production went on air-sea warfare and 68% on land warfare. Might be some truth because in 1944 just about 12-14% of German AA-artillery were in east (including Poland and Baltic States). He also claimed that 44% of weapons too went on air-sea warfare.

    In July 1944 naval vessel production met it's lowest point but then gained much more resources with new generation U-boat production. There is indeed some looming doubts of those German figures especially those aircraft "built" in 1945. Did they really produced over 7 000 aircraft during the last 4 months? I doubt it.