Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Australian tanker’s criticism of the T-34 tank

Site antipodeanarmour has uploaded the report ‘Centurion Tanks in Korea - Report by Lt J Brown RNZAC March 1952’ (originally found through world of tanks forum user Babui).

This report deals with the performance of the Centurion tank in the Korean War. What I found interesting are the comments on the Soviet T-34 tank, used by the North Korean forces.
And now, Sir, a few words for your private ear on the T 34. I assume that the tks given by Joe to Mr. Wu are old models. Even so they were grossly over-rated in press reports in the early days of the KOREAN Camaign. (A well placed HE shell from a 20 pr will lift the turret off). Only about 4 per Sqn have wrls and their armour is of poor quality. The whole tk is of the crudest workmanship, and breaks down with the greatest ease. (In fairness I must add that this may be due to inexperienced CHINESE crew). They would have to be used in mass, RUSSIAN fashion, to be any treat to a well trained, well equipped Army, as they have been proved somewhat inferior to the SHERMAN. A CENTURION will do to them what a TIGER did to the SHERMAN. They got their initial build up as a scapegoat to cover the natural and understandable, fact that the first American tps over here were raw, frightened boys who were also soft from occupational duties in JAPAN. The T 34, I am convinced, should be de-bunked. It is a workable tk, but NOT a wonder tk.

The Koreans actually had the latest version of the T-34, equipped with the 85mm gun plus these vehicles were built in 1945-46 so they were more reliable than those used in the Eastern front in the 1941-44 period.
It seems Lieutenant Brown was not a big fan of the T-34. Perhaps the T-34 was not the best tank of WWII?


  1. The T-34 is vastly over rated. At the start of Barbarrossa there were over 1,000 of them serving. Yet they made little impression on the Germans. They neither delayed nor stopped the Germans and every account I have read makes no mention of this wonder tank until Moscow. These tanks lacked, radio, optics, were death traps because of the difficulty of exiting the tank. Changing gears was accomplished with a hammer if the accounts of the Russians themselves are to be believed.

    Worse we are told that it was the first tank with sloped armor which is a joke. The French tanks had sloped armor yet these tanks were dealt with in the same fashion as the russians. The French also had the commander serving as commander and gunner. The russians couldn't grasp why this might impact on the T-34's performance till the introduction of the T-34/85 in 1944. The T-34 was so unreliable the Commubnists believed they were being sabotaged by the troops.

    1. The problem with German accounts in 1941 is that they referred to a mythic ‘T-34’ that had the performance of both the T-34 and the heavier KV. This created the impression of a super tank that was fast, with wide tracks, had a killer gun, impregnable armor and was available in huge numbers etc.

      After WWII the German generals had to blame someone else for their defeats so it was basically:

      1). Hitler’s fault
      2). Inexhaustible Slavic hordes supported by T-34 wonder tanks

      Then in 1950 the Koreans used the T-34/85 and defeated the small US force equipped with their light tank M24 Chaffee

      Add the insufferable Soviet propaganda about Glorious Soviet Industry out producing the capitalist German war economy and having the best weapons etc. Truth be told the Soviets probably didn’t understand how bad their weapon systems were as they didn’t have proper testing facilities (this is admitted in one of their tank conferences mentioned in ‘Tankovy udar. Sovetskie tanki v boyakh. 1942-1943’).

      So it’s a lot of propaganda about the ‘Best tank of WWII’ stretching from WWII to the 1950’s…