Tankograd- The First T-34- Birth of a Legend: T-34 Model 1940
In this volume, Tankograd has provided a substantial tome for anyone interested in Eastern armor of WWII and it focuses on the T-34, one of the most integral pieces of armor in the Soviet arsenal at the time. Not too shabby when you consider the tank was not exactly widely embraced when first proposed. The man considered to be the designer of the T-34, Mikhail Ilyich Koshkin, even performed the service tests himself- driving the tank from Kharkov to Moscow and back again. He caught a cold doing so, and due to not seeking any medical attention- he later died of pneumonia in September of 1940. This book is an excellent testament to the research and development of Koshkin's team and how this work evolved into one of the war's greatest tanks. The book is authored by Christian Mulsow with assistance from excellent archive photos from the Jochen Vollert Archives.
The Publishers Preface makes some very interesting points about the book. With the secrecy surrounding the early development and production of the T-34, other than factory photographs depicting it's development and trials, there are really no official Soviet photographs of the tank in any Soviet pre-war parades or in early operations. Also, all T-34 tanks with the L-11 gun were lost in the first months of the war so there are no current examples available for closer evaluation. Thus the bulk of the photos available today regarding the T-34 Model 1940 are those taken by German soldiers during Operation Barbarossa of vehicles destroyed in combat- and these are present in this book.
Illustrated throughout with 330 black & white photographs, 110 graphics, 23 color plates, 6 five-perspective technical drawings in 1/35 scale and 4 maps
Text - Language: Complete English text
Number of Pages: 216
The contents of the book are laid out as follows:
- The Pig's Snout: T-34- The First Model with L-11 gun- Development and Production from 1939-41...this section includes a History of Soviet Tank Troops, the Predecessors of the T-34, and the A-34 prototypes. The sections includes clear labeled diagrams of the hull front, right side, left side, rear hull, turret top, and turret front, left, and right sides. This chapter ends with a line drawing in 1/35 scale of the A-34 Prototype No. 2, as well as more turret detail drawings and diagrams.
- Production...this section covers the Launch of Mass Production, First Rationalisation Measures, Improvement of Combat Characteristics, Pre-Serial Production, Serial Production, Trouble with the Main Armament- F-32, L-11, or F-34?, and the Technical Description. There are a few informative production tables showing numbers of tanks and their deployments as well. Throughout this section are blueprint and system drawings, shooting test photos of the turrets, and many other factory photos, cutaway drawings, and gun comparisons. The technical description section goes into depth for turret and hull construction, armament and optics, crew, engine, clutch, gearbox, cooling system, running gear and communication assets. A specifications table and cutaway drawing completes the section.
- Versions... includes Pre-series and First Series Vehicles until Sept. 1940, Early-Series Vehicles Sept. 1940, Early-Series Vehicles September-November 1940, Series Vehicles November-December 1940, Series Vehicles January-February 1941, Series Vehicles March-April 1941, and Oddballs. Filled with more concise scale drawings in 1/35 scale, there are also many excellent photos of knocked-out T-34s. Each part of this section begins with the 1/35 scale drawings and includes more drawings of the different types of turrets, photos of tracks, and more of German soldiers posing near knocked-out tanks. This is easily the largest section of the entire book with dozens of excellent archive photos covering nearly 100 pages.
- Deployment and Combat... covers Shipping and Allocation until 22 June 1941, Calm Before the Storm- The Situation Prior to 22 June 1941, Operation Barbarossa- The T-34 Debuts in Combat, and three sections on Exemplary Encounters with the Wehrmacht- Magerov and Nemirov Swamp in the Ukraine, and Tolochin in White Russia.. Charts and maps in this section give a good overall picture of where the Soviet forces were at at the time leading up to and beyond the start of Operation Barbarossa. The author breaks down T-34 activity by fronts- the Baltic Special Military District at the Northwestern Front, the Western Special Military District at the Western Front, and the Kiev Military District at the Southwestern Front with further details on the 4th, 8th, and 15th Mechanised Corps.
- The German Perspective... The Wehrmacht Encounters the T-34, the T-34 Captured for Evaluation, The T-34 in Kummersdorf, Panzerkampfwagen T 34- 747 (r) in German Service, and T-34- A Russo-German Assessment.
- Identifier... this section is an excellent resource as it is filled with photos of various hulls and turrets that outline structural differences between the different variants to help with identifying them. Many of the photos are close up and there are sections with distinguishing characteristics highlighted and explained.
- Colours and Markings- There are some excellent detailed profiles in this last section. I just wish there were more of them.There are six featured in all- with one of these being a captured T-34 and another with a 5-way view of an excellent, out of the ordinary camouflage scheme. Following these profiles are color profiles of the main types of turrets, and types of mudguards.The last page features a chart showing design changes in the two years of the type- with specific characteristics highlighted as to when they were added, as well as similar information on turret type changes.
I find this book to be an excellent resource with everything you ever wanted to know about the early stages in the development and deployment of the initial variants of the Soviet Union's most effective tank of World War II. I have always had a fascination with the Eastern Front but up until now, had never had a book on the T-34 I could consider a viable resource. This volume just about covers it all with excellent archival photographs and detailed factory diagrams and photos that are effective in helping a modeler recreate the T-34 in scale. I still find myself thumbing through and rereading the text as I am writing this review. Mr. Mulsow has armed the modeler and historian of Eastern Front warfare with a highly informative and fascinating look at the tank that won the war in the East.
Highly Recommended for all interested in the Eastern Front and more specifically the T-34 tank's role in achieving victory there.
Thanks goes out to Tankograd for this review kit.
Reviewed by Michael Reeves
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