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Historical Sch-lol-arship: T-34


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EnsignExpendable #61 Posted Sep 19 2013 - 01:00

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The SU-85 might go either way, but the SU-122 was definitely a StuG.

Daigensui #62 Posted Sep 19 2013 - 08:06

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I find as much faults in your writing as the example, EE. You have resources, but apply them in a quite biased method.

EnsignExpendable #63 Posted Sep 19 2013 - 15:10

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I sure hope you don't find internal logical inconsistencies and willful ignorance of facts in my writing.

Walter_Sobchak #64 Posted Sep 19 2013 - 17:27

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View PostEnsignExpendable, on Sep 17 2013 - 00:26, said:

Now let's look at words written about the Christie suspension by an actual American: "Only the USSR exploited the genius of the American tank designer, Walther Christie, whose inventions underwrote World War II's best tank, the Soviet T-34" (CIA DTIC document 0001066239). Hindsight is 20/20, I suppose. Also, the Americans loved the Christie tanks, but couldn't get any funding to buy them. I guess after the Soviets had good luck, they got upset and pretended they didn't want Christie tanks anyway.
I agree with Daigensui.  As an example, lets look at this sentence from the blog post by Christos that EE has a problem with.  
"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."
This statement is demonstrably true.  After over a decade of testing Christie suspensions, the US Army rejected them.  At the end of the war, both Britain and the USSR abandoned the Christie."
In opposition to this statement, EE provides a couple sources.  The first is a quote from a CIA analyst.   I find this analyst somewhat suspect, his statement seems to imply that he does not know that the UK also used Christie suspension.  Ironically, I think this analyst is showing a bit of an American bias, giving American designer Walther Christie more credit than he deserves for the T-34 design.  The analyst says that Christie's "inventions underwrote" the T-34.  Other than the suspension, the T-34 is definitely a Soviet design, based on Soviet ideas, the analyst is giving Christie too much credit.  It's funny, I seldom have seen anyone using the same logic to claim that the British Crusader tank was "underwrote" by "the genius of the American tank designer, Walther Christie."  Regardless, the CIA analyst is essentially making a statement of opinion, so this may be viewed with a grain of salt.  Hindsight is not 20/20, certainly not when it comes to conclusions drawn by the CIA.
Also, EE claims that the US "loved" the Christie and provides a link to his blog to prove it.  I followed the link and read the entire article, it's a transcript of an army hearing concerning the Christie suspension from 1930.  In the transcript, the US armor officers show considerable enthusiasm for the Christie system.  This is not surprising as they only thing they had to compare it to was the miserable "Cunningham" tank.  Regardless, whatever the US Army thought about the Christie in 1930 has no baring on their later decisions to abandon it in favor of the Vertical Volute Spring System.  Nor do we need to dig into Soviet archives to find this out, the history of the US Army's prewar experimentation with Christie suspensions has been well documented in numerous books, including Hunnicutt's works.  If we go back and look at the chart on suspension stability in the Christos article, we see that the M4 Sherman does quite well, so perhaps the US Army was correct to reject the Christie suspension?
So, none of these facts presented by EE change or alter the original statement made by Christos that A) the Christie suspension had been rejected by the US army prior to the war, and that B) the Christie was a technical dead end that was abandoned in the post war period.  I am not defending the Christos blog because I think it is particularly well written.  But, I do not think that EE's take down of it was all that convincing and it showed a considerable amount of bias.

Edited by Walter_Sobchak, Sep 19 2013 - 17:28.


EnsignExpendable #65 Posted Sep 19 2013 - 19:41

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What other parts do you have a problem with?

Zinegata #66 Posted Sep 20 2013 - 04:11

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View PostWalter_Sobchak, on Sep 19 2013 - 17:27, said:

I am not defending the Christos blog because I think it is particularly well written.  

I really don't think it was particularly well-written in the first place.

I'll be blunt - when evaluating a piece of equipment I take a very dim view of going every little technical detail like oil filters, suspension types and then simply slapping "This was good / this was bad!". The only technical details that I find significant are those that make the entire machine stop working - like the Panther breaking down after 150km due to a bad final drive.

The blog's main problem is that 90% of it is just pettyfogging over minor technical details 90% of the time (some of which is self-contradictory). Which EE then countered with his own pettyfogging of technical details.

That's why I focused on the actual statistical front-wide performance metric (loss rates), and pointed out how Christos clearly has no clue that the Soviet losses were counted differently from the German ones. And that is before we take into account that the vast majority of T-34 losses were not due to enemy armor (unless you believe only that Jan 1944 report by the Wermacht and remain ignorant of their actual methodology which would bias the kills strongly in favor of tanks and TDs), the circumstances of the war in the East, and an understanding that these measures factor far more than specific discussions about which suspension is better. As long as the damn thing didn't keep breaking down, then it's almost a non-issue in the grand scheme of things.

Zinegata #67 Posted Sep 20 2013 - 04:14

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Also, this is why I keep asking about whether or not post-war T-34s received overhauls. I keep seeing a lot of anecdotes on how T-34s breakdown easily, but how would that explain T-34s working for 50 years? Clearly, there is a massive disconnect between the ancedotes and the actual service records; one or the other has to give.

Meplat #68 Posted Sep 20 2013 - 06:02

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View PostZinegata, on Sep 20 2013 - 04:14, said:

Also, this is why I keep asking about whether or not post-war T-34s received overhauls. I keep seeing a lot of anecdotes on how T-34s breakdown easily, but how would that explain T-34s working for 50 years? Clearly, there is a massive disconnect between the ancedotes and the actual service records; one or the other has to give.

Let me put it this way.

The engine of the T34 was a SOHC injected V12 diesel.

If their engines were that bad, do you think they could manage to manufacture a functioning injection pump, let alone as complex an engine design as they did?

The truth lies somewhere in the middle.

Daigensui #69 Posted Sep 20 2013 - 06:05

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From my general experience and knowledge: T-34s broke down easily, but were also fixed easily. Thus the ultimate life span was long.

Zinegata #70 Posted Sep 20 2013 - 06:42

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View PostDaigensui, on Sep 20 2013 - 06:05, said:

From my general experience and knowledge: T-34s broke down easily, but were also fixed easily. Thus the ultimate life span was long.
Which is a more holistic view of the story; the problem with Christo's work is that it's a hack job that relies almost entirely on anecdotes that show the T-34 breaking down - yet it isn't counterbalanced by mitigating factors. For instance, all tanks of the period actually suffered from some level of breakdown - even the Sherman's vaunted reliability may not have been due to its inherent design superiority, but instead it has outstanding availability figures due to the superior logistical tail of the US Army. Similarly, the Tiger I had great availability rates (80% in many cases), yet this is mitigated by the fact that a Tiger, on average, had an entire maintenance platoon dedicated to just keeping it running.
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Anyone can easily find a story of a T-34 or a Panther breaking down. Anyone can find a quote or snippet proclaiming the T-34 or Panther as trash. With only a little work and shoddy research you can make a "blog article" and thus proclaim the issue to be decided to one side or the other.
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But what's actually important are statistical figures over the entire war. I have never seen a study showing the T-34 suffering crippling breakdown levels (and the cases where they were crippling had mitigating factors). Something like the Panther by contrast has a post-war maintenance study showing how it breaks its final drive after 150km, that is backed up by a study of Panther losses in Normandy showing that a broken final drive was the cause of 50% of abandonments. That's rock-solid proof that's supported by multiple non-contradictory sources that there really was a final drive problem, which contributed to catastrophic levels of availability. And again, we have figures to support that too - with 50% being the average availability of the Panther even in its late-war incarnations across all units (no cherry-picking of just a few units that had 70% availability); which is so awful that any Allied vehicle with that level of availability was relegated to training roles.
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The T-34 "proofs" that Christos uses by contrast are a mere collection of anecdotes and complaints that aren't backed up by front-wide statistics. It is bad methodology, and that he doesn't understand the realities of the sole front-wide statistic that he quotes doubly marks his article as just poor research and analysis.

Edited by Zinegata, Sep 20 2013 - 06:46.


Zinegata #71 Posted Sep 20 2013 - 06:50

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Also, as a further note to Christo's dishonesty, he refused to publish my reply to his ridiculous assertion that y-e-a-r-ly is somehow a loss-counting methodology, as opposed to simply being a time period with which to count losses.
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Putting up here again what Chris is too dishonest to show:
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Again, you're ignoring what has been said.
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Those yearly statistics you mentioned are counted differently.
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Soviet losses count any tank that has been sent back to the factory.
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German losses count only tanks that are unrecoverable.
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Take this example:
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A T-34 tank participates in the battle of Smolensk in 1941. It is knocked out, but recovered. It is repaired and rejoins action in early 1942 during the "Winter Offensive". It is gets into a traffic accident requiring replacement of the engine, and is sent to Stalingrad's Red October Factory for the repair. Later in 1942, as the Germans attempt to take the city, the repaired tank is rushed out to fight; where it finally dies for the last time after it is hit several times by a 88mm towed anti-tank gun, which burns the vehicle and ruins it.
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Soviet loss records would in fact count this same tank three times in their books - once every time it gets sent back to the factory or when it's rendered unrecoverable. Three losses for the same tank.
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Now, take a German Panzer III. It participates in the Battle of France in 1940, wherein it runs headlong into the Char B2 at Stonne and is knocked out. However, it is recovered, repaired, and upgunned to a short 50mm gun - in time to be sent to the Greek campaign against the British. There, it falls off a mountain side and is sent to the factory for repairs, but it is fixed in time to fight in Operation Barbarossa. It survives in its current form until December 1941, where it is knocked out by a 76.2mm gun along Volokomask. But the chassis is recovered, and the tank is rebuilt into a Stug III assault gun, which then participates in "Case Blue" before being finally being "irrecoverable" after the Stug was trapped in the Stalingrad pocket and captured by the Soviets.
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In German loss records, this tank - which was "lost" four times - would only be counted once in their loss records.
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(Note: Both of the above cases are merely examples to show the stark difference between German and Soviet accounting for losses. I'm not saying there was literally a Panzer III that fought at Stonne, Greece, Volokamask, and Stalingrad)
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So really, stop the condescending tone when you clearly have no idea about the difference between German and Soviet loss-counting methodologies; which you would have known had you actually bothered to read the books and look at the methodology and not just the numbers.
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"Annual" is not a methodology. Nobody with the most basic knowledge of accounting practices is fooled by your blatant ignorance of simple facts; and anyone with the most basic knowledge of WW2 production figures would know that if we used your "figures" (which again count the same tank lost multiple times), the Soviets should have had nearly zero or negative tanks to start the Cold War with, instead of the tens of thousands of tanks they actually had.

Edited by Zinegata, Sep 20 2013 - 06:54.


EnsignExpendable #72 Posted Sep 20 2013 - 14:50

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Things like that are why I have to discard a lot of materials on singular performance of a tank or a unit in combat. Sure, it's neat, but not indicative of any bigger picture.

Contrast that against the "omg Tiger Wittman 100:1 ratio" crowd.

Also the T-34 engine is still being manufactured today, so it really couldn't have been that bad.

Brickfight #73 Posted Sep 21 2013 - 02:09

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View PostEnsignExpendable, on Sep 20 2013 - 14:50, said:

Things like that are why I have to discard a lot of materials on singular performance of a tank or a unit in combat. Sure, it's neat, but not indicative of any bigger picture.

Contrast that against the "omg Tiger Wittman 100:1 ratio" crowd.

Also the T-34 engine is still being manufactured today, so it really couldn't have been that bad.
Yeah, but Black Jack chewing gum is still being developed, too, so I'll take that with a grain of salt.

Dominatus #74 Posted Sep 21 2013 - 03:10

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I believe it was said that T-34s could be easily maintained and repaired except for the engine. By that, it meant that the crew themselves couldn't properly repair engine breakdowns and had to get actual maintenance personel to do it.

Wyvern2 #75 Posted Sep 21 2013 - 04:26

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yeah, zinegata's correct, i made a large argument against what he said and it never went up, guess he can't take an argument from someone with more then the half a brain he has

Edited by Wyvern2, Sep 21 2013 - 04:26.


Meplat #76 Posted Sep 21 2013 - 08:05

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View PostDominatus, on Sep 21 2013 - 03:10, said:

I believe it was said that T-34s could be easily maintained and repaired except for the engine. By that, it meant that the crew themselves couldn't properly repair engine breakdowns and had to get actual maintenance personel to do it.

Direct injected Diesel engines are not something you tinker with out in the middle of nowhere. The injection pump itself is a very close tolerance, fairly complex item.
I can't imagine the tool set in a T-34 (or any tank of the era) containing more than what was needed for the most basic of maintenance on the vehicle.

Walter_Sobchak #77 Posted Sep 21 2013 - 12:47

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View PostZinegata, on Sep 20 2013 - 04:11, said:

I really don't think it was particularly well-written in the first place.

I'll be blunt - when evaluating a piece of equipment I take a very dim view of going every little technical detail like oil filters, suspension types and then simply slapping "This was good / this was bad!". The only technical details that I find significant are those that make the entire machine stop working - like the Panther breaking down after 150km due to a bad final drive.

The blog's main problem is that 90% of it is just pettyfogging over minor technical details 90% of the time (some of which is self-contradictory). Which EE then countered with his own pettyfogging of technical details.

That's why I focused on the actual statistical front-wide performance metric (loss rates), and pointed out how Christos clearly has no clue that the Soviet losses were counted differently from the German ones. And that is before we take into account that the vast majority of T-34 losses were not due to enemy armor (unless you believe only that Jan 1944 report by the Wermacht and remain ignorant of their actual methodology which would bias the kills strongly in favor of tanks and TDs), the circumstances of the war in the East, and an understanding that these measures factor far more than specific discussions about which suspension is better. As long as the damn thing didn't keep breaking down, then it's almost a non-issue in the grand scheme of things.

Zinegata, I think you may have misread my quote.  I said "I am not defending the Christos blog because I think it is particularly well written."  Perhaps I should have said it this way: "I am defending the Christos piece despite the fact that it is not particularly well written."  That was what I was trying to say.  And the only reason I was defending it was because I thought EE's analysis was unfair and a bit off point.  I read EE's blog and enjoy it.  I know he can do better.  Perhaps I just don't like his overly sarcastic style of writing.  Anyway, I am tired of this topic and I didn't really mean to become the champion for Christos, who I neither know nor do I regularly read his blog.  I think I many write my own analysis of the T-34 for my blog, and then if everyone poops all over it, I can at least spend my time defending my own words, not those of someone else.

Brickfight #78 Posted Sep 21 2013 - 20:04

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It's a bit of a Witch Hunt, yeah, but this article in particular was posted frequently in arguments in this forum back in the day. Until the bullshit spread in this article stops being quoted, and people stop automatically discrediting all cyrillic (or Christ, even American/British) documents as propaganda right off the bat, I'll allow easy debate tactics to take it down a few notches.

The_Chieftain #79 Posted Sep 22 2013 - 10:07

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As ever, this is one of those EE productions which, whilst certainly worthy of reading because one almost always learns something new, must be read with a skeptical eye.

View PostEnsignExpendable, on Sep 17 2013 - 17:59, said:

As for a mocking tone, my tone comes with real sources. His doesn't. He's just being butthurt because I called out his trash pile for what it really is.

Utterly irrelevant. I find your manner of debunking, and the attitude/tone which comes with it, an affront to serious education which should look at facts in a neutral manner. If the facts indicate that the person being referenced is talking out of his arse, there is no need for any attitude, the facts will speak for themselves and the reader will form his or her own conclusion. Any more than that merely demeans yourself and reduces your own credibility.

I also think you are deliberately exaggerating or misconceiving several of the statements written. Let's go down the list, shall we? I generally will ignore statements of yours which I have little quarrel with.

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No it wasn't. The T-34 wasn't even the first Soviet tank with sloped armour.

You appear to be agreeing with him that T-34 was not the first tank with sloped armour. He does not state who 'supposed' it to be so. He may be referring to 'common perception'

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Captain Obvious, reporting for duty!

Oh, I don't know. There's a recent video I put out of my standing, at my full 2m height, under the 128mm of Maus. And the other recent video has me mentioning that the Obj 416 was actually quite comfortable.  His statement is correct that the armor layout of T-34 resulted in significant internal volume issues. It's probably part of the reason that follow-on vehicles abandoned the concept too.

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Or, I mean, he might have, seeing as how Soviet figures for actual tank crew losses are much lower than that. ~90% of Soviet tank division manpower losses came from tank riders, and 2/3rds of the "losses" were light wounds (Armour protection of T-34 tanks 1941-1945, Zeughaus, 2007). Oh yeah, did I mention the Soviets counted wounded men as losses? Because the author sure didn't.

Maybe he did, and used a different source with a different basis of the definition of 'loss'. You've just acknowledged that the majority of the majority of 'losses' defined as 'wounded or killed' were riders, but your statement does not disprove a ratio as defined by 'losses of tank crews only', or 'kills of tank crews only.' Absent a working citation, there's not much we can do about that, so question the citation (Or lack thereof), by all means, but don't try to claim that facts are wrong by quoting unrelated facts.

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Damn, the Germans used Ahnenerbe geometry to make sloping not limit space! Amazing! What the author again fails to mention is that the slope on the PzIII and PzIV tanks is not much different than the slope on the Vickers Mk. E tank from 1931. Revolutionary!

Nothing he said was wrong, and he did not attempt to claim anything beyond what he said, as near as I can see. Panther has significantly more internal space in the armour layout than T-34 due to less slope and different suspension, even if the vehicles were scaled relative to each other. The Vickers Mk E has about as much to do with it as the price of Schnapps.

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Apparently the Germans and Americans used magic steel walls that do not affect movement.

I guess the question is a relative one. Did the turret design of T-34 affect movement significantly more than in a German or American tank? If the baseline he is using is an American tank (as presumably an American author), the statement can be correct. (Face it, the basic T-34 is kindof cramped)

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Wait, first the loader can't move at all, now he's running back and forth so much he can trip over shell casings?

That is not what he said, and it is disingenuous to claim it.

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Not to mention the fact that spent shells were thrown out of hatches

Generally in a lull in combat. Loaders usually are too busy trying to find the next round and shove it in the breech before he dies for being too slow, he doesn't need to go chasing after a (very hot) spent casing after every round.

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Except not really. The provided chart has the PzIV marked for highest instability, notably higher than the T-34.

This has already been addressed. It didn't take me much more than a glance to notice it. One must wonder if you merely saw what you wanted to instead of actually analyzing the data. As you point out only two comments previously, occasionally he gets it right.

The_Chieftain #80 Posted Sep 22 2013 - 10:08

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Quote

Now let's look at words written about the Christie suspension by an actual American: "Only the USSR exploited the genius of the American tank designer, Walther Christie, whose inventions underwrote World War II's best tank, the Soviet T-34" (CIA DTIC document 0001066239). Hindsight is 20/20, I suppose. Also, the Americans loved the Christie tanks, but couldn't get any funding to buy them.

The reasons the US Army did not mass produce Christie vehicles are probably worthy of an article in itself. However, finance likely isn't the issue. If they had the money to build thousands of M3s and M4s during the War, they probably also had finances to buy Christie designs, even though they had some of them still sitting in the yard. Incidently, I had a look in DTIC for the CIA document listed, and got nothing (Not surprising, the search function is terrible). If you could provide a link or full title, I'll appreciate it.

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I guess being as accurate as a Tiger

I am getting very fed up of reading this claim, and I know you are aware of the objections to it. On the battlefield, all other things being equal, more hits will be scored by the 8.8cm on Tiger than by the 76mm on T-34. The man's quote is perfectly correct in terms of accuracy. As for penetration, you are correct in pointing out the difference between 'relative capability' and 'sufficient capability.' (Once a hit is scored). I cannot read the chart you provide, however, does it specify which models of Pz III or Pz IV are being tested? Both types got boosts to armour over time, it would be interesting to see the see-saw balance between increases in firepower and armour on the various vehicles.

We'll stipulate that his 1944 statement is wrong for T-34. Early war he wasn't though. It would appear that 10% of the first run of T-34s had radios, with a problem occurring when the one factory had to be evacuated in 1941. By end 1942, production was up to about 40% of requirements. So, yes, fixed for the second half of the war. Half-points to both sides. (Looking at a statement on a website which links to Russian documents, so I have to take its word for it)

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I'd say a gunner having 180 degrees of view range made it pretty easy for him to see what was happening.

With what field of vision and magnification? How does this compare with a Pz4? (I don't know the answer off the top of my head, but it could very easily come out in Chris's favour)

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As for drivers, the hatch opens for a reason. In combat, T-34s more often than not fought with driver vision devices covered, anyway, as it was the only way to protect them from shrapnel and bullets.

Wait. Do you realize how daft that sounds? It's hardly a glowing commendation of the system.




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