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Mythbusting tanks - T-34


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jaskap77 #1 Posted 09 November 2013 - 01:21 AM

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Hi guys.
Thought I might share some experiences with you guys about these old tanks. I might end up making this a series, but let's see what the reception will be...
So, on this topic:

Same drive from different point of view...
http://youtu.be/QoTXKT2kd9c?t=44s

So first I'm going to tell something about T-34, rather concerning some of it's myths...

Myth number 1: You need a hammer to shift gears

First, let's take a look at the gear lever.
Posted Image

In this picture you can see all of the drivers controls. Nothing too special, just regular clutch, brake, accelerator. To right from drivers seat (right around stamp letter "n") you can see hand throttle. This is used for adjusting engine revs and also it's used to shut down the engine simply by cutting of fuel feed from injection pump.

Next to hand throttle is the gear lever. Pay attention to knob area. See that there's a hand grip and a wire leading to gear selector mechanism. This hand grip is used to unlock the gear selector mechanism thus allowing change of gears. Also it's used to lock smaller gear (reverse and 1st gear) in order for them not to jump off.

Now, if you try to shift with out using hand grip, gears will seem like they need a hammer. This is due to fact that gear selector mechanism is locked. Of course you CAN use BFI-method but you'll probably will break gear selector mechanism by doing so.

Please note, that this particular T-34 model is 1941 model. I have no knowledge if older version have similar gear lever/gear selector mechanism.
While driving gears can be changed without clutch. Actually, this method is much more faster and efficient. It can be bit tricky to get engine revs to match with transmission and speed, but with bit of practice and eye on terrain driver can shift gears quite easily and tank doesn't lose any of its speed while shifting.
In my 10 years with T-34's, I only once had to use hammer but it was to free the gear selector mechanism. And I have some about 100km's under my [edited]with T-34.

So I'd personally call this myth busted...

Myth 2: General reliability was bad.

Well, to my experience, yes. V-2 diesel engines have very nasty vibration habit at certain revs. This vibration can cause even bolts on hull rear plate to rotate open on themselves. Imagine what this will cause inside engine. Nominal engine revs on idle is 500-800, high idling about 1000 rpm, operating revs at about 1600-1800, max revs 2000 rpm. Vibration rpm is about 1200-1600 rpm. So, driver has to be careful with revs.

Clutch on T-34 is just metal plates pressed by springs against each other with little clearance. One thing driver must never ever do is to slip the clutch. Slipping clutch (as you do in your car) will cause distortions in clutch discs and will cease the clutch. Another thing about the clutch, is the disengagement system. on T-34 there's 3 steel balls on bevelled grooves. Clutch is disengaged by turning lever against three bevelled grooves and steel balls. On some occations there's a chance that one of these balls will drop out and that too will cease.

Here is disengagement apparatus. Three steel balls would be located in those tear drop shaped cavities. Way this works: Similar cavities are located in engines crank shaft end. This apparatus is turned and balls push clutch open. There are 21 steel discs that function same as your regular car friction clutch. Only thing is that these are pressed really tightly and total move is about 15mm, so there's not much clearance between individual discs.

        

Cross section of T-34/85 clutch

        

Tracks on T-34 are probably devil's own invention to maintain. First, if you want to adjust track tension, you'll have to loosen idler wheel tightening from inside. Oh no... It does not simply move by turning the nut. You'll have to take on very big hammer and bang the idler wheel outwards from the hull about 20mm, and weight of the track (about 1t) is holding it back. You'll have to work together on this, one loosens the nut, other bangs the idler wheel. After you got pushed about that 20mm, then you can start adjustin track tension. Now, this is pretty easy, if the tensioning worm screw is willing to co-operate. Ok, let's assume all is good and track is again at its right tension. Now you'll have to do all in reverse. Bang the idler wheel inwards while turning the tightening nut in inside of the hull.

I've done that track tensioning few times, and during that even foul mouthed scots-man would probably seem like a nice choirboy.

And let's not even go to adjusting controls...

So, in my opinion. I'd call this confirmed.

Myth 3: Ergonomics were bad

This is somewhat true. After driving about 30 minutes with T-34, you're spent. It takes a lot of physical effort to pull levers, operate clutch, operate gears... Also you have to watch the terrain, hear what your commander tells you, monitor gauges. That is alot of tasks for driver. Also, from personal experience, drivers are not tall people. I'm about 165 tall (not particularly tall) and I fit quite snugly to dirvers position. Well, almost. Still my knees are at my chest, back rounded and arms streched forward. Any taller, and you'll have somewhat tight fit...

Gunner has no way easier task. Gunner has only his sights to look through. On later models (T-34/85), gunner had rotating periscope but untill that, his sights were his only link to outside world. Remember that every bounce that the tank makes will affect gunner as well, and in this case he has no way of knowing what's coming ahead. I think, The_Challenger can tell you few examples what happens in this sort of case where gunner is caught by surprise. Did someone say "raccoon"?

Commander has no adjustable seat. Not in T-34/76 models nor in T-34/85 models. It's "one size fits all" setting. It's ok, if you're on parade. But during combat, not so ok. On T-34/85 models and on later models of T-34/76, commander has his own cupola. Yeah, nice idea. If only some one would have thought that you might need to look through the vision ports...

Loader has no easy job either. T-34's have no rotating turret floor. Instead, loader will have to follow the rotating turret while carrying new shell and trying to load the gun. Also, beneath the turret are ammo boxes. Boxes do have lids, but you (obviously) have to open them to get your hands on ammo. Guess the idea is that during every possible chance, loader will fill ready racks from ammo boxes on the floor. And loader has no vision ports...

Radio operator (bow machine gunner) sits next to driver. He has only small sight hole on bow machine gun to look through.

On this case, I'd call this confirmed too.

Conclusion

T-34 is impressive machine. It's purpose built, rough cut, finnished where it needs it. It must be kept in mind, situation where and when these machines were produced. On that situation, every bit of unnecessary finnishing is time wasted. T-34 got the job done by shear numbers, while in technical aspect being inferior to german armor.

So, this was the first one of this. Who want's to know similar things about Stug?

EDIT:
I added some detailed info on clutch with some pictures. Also added some inside view video...

Attached Thumbnails


Edited by jaskap77, 09 November 2013 - 11:39 AM.


deathrow222 #2 Posted 09 November 2013 - 02:06 AM

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great job m8 thx for the info and i hope to read more from you  :medal:
i wanna know similar thing about the stug so bring it on  :honoring:
and a nice +1 from me

duvvel #3 Posted 09 November 2013 - 02:20 AM

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Excellent post, I'd very much love similar one on StuG !

I agree with your conslusion, T-34 was inferior in many aspects to german vehicles. And paradoxally it can be considered advantageous, because it allowed it to be produced much cheaper and faster, while maintaining acceptable performace. Soviet crews were also of much lower level of training, most of them were drafted in haste to replace losses from beginning of invasion. Giving them sophisticated pieces of weaponry would be strategic waste and Soviet command realized this.

I once read a nice article about WWII German "sawn" equipment - lether belts, canteen holders, grenade holders etc. It was of superior quality, after 70 years it was still in excellent shape. But it was also very very expensive to produce. Soviet ones on the other hand very cheap and crude. But when average soldier died quite quickly after getting into fight, it was more than adequate.

HonzaM #4 Posted 09 November 2013 - 02:22 AM

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Good job. Next time pls do more pictures.

KptStrzyga #5 Posted 09 November 2013 - 03:40 AM

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Great job! Thx for sharing and pls accept my humble +.  :smile:

Oiram321 #6 Posted 09 November 2013 - 05:46 AM

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+ Keep it up :great:

Teezy #7 Posted 09 November 2013 - 08:01 AM

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GJ jaska,more pics&videos next time  :honoring:

toisma #8 Posted 09 November 2013 - 08:14 AM

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Where was that video filmed?
Im from Finland and i really want to know....
Wish I was there....  :amazed:

Teezy #9 Posted 09 November 2013 - 08:27 AM

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View Posttoisma, on 09 November 2013 - 08:14 AM, said:

Where was that video filmed?
Im from Finland and i really want to know....
Wish I was there....  :amazed:

At Parola panssarimuseo

General_badger1 #10 Posted 09 November 2013 - 09:33 AM

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good stuff, cheers :honoring:

anonym_24GcGZ6puLSe #11 Posted 09 November 2013 - 09:56 AM

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interesting, stug would be great!

GeorCa #12 Posted 09 November 2013 - 10:26 AM

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Man only + for you is too less, very nice, this should be on main page. I ll be glad if I can see another article from you.

armatage #13 Posted 09 November 2013 - 10:50 AM

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Quote

on T-34 there's 3 steel balls

I knew t-34 was tough, but I had no idea it had not only balls of steel, but also 3 of them!

Vlevs #14 Posted 09 November 2013 - 11:02 AM

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Excellent writeup, thanks a million! I'm glad you also mentioned your height as well, since crew height issue has been source of some discussion among hobbyists. While Chieftain's videos are very educational, seeing him squeeze his 190 cm frame doesn't give, ahem, realistic view of Soviet tanks' ergonomics. Still, two questions.
1) I assume your gearbox experiences are with the 5-speed version? I don't know when it was introduced, but it's supposedly better than the original 4-speed.
2) Related to that, you didn't mention reliability issues with gearbox (when used correctly) and air filters. Would it be safe to assume these issues were mostly limited to early models?
PS. This text was pleasure to read, and left me hungry for more. Please do an article about StuG.

Edited by Vlevs, 09 November 2013 - 11:05 AM.


jaskap77 #15 Posted 09 November 2013 - 11:37 AM

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View PostVlevs, on 09 November 2013 - 11:02 AM, said:

Excellent writeup, thanks a million! I'm glad you also mentioned your height as well, since crew height issue has been source of some discussion among hobbyists. While Chieftain's videos are very educational, seeing him squeeze his 190 cm frame doesn't give, ahem, realistic view of Soviet tanks' ergonomics. Still, two questions.
1) I assume your gearbox experiences are with the 5-speed version? I don't know when it was introduced, but it's supposedly better than the original 4-speed.
2) Related to that, you didn't mention reliability issues with gearbox (when used correctly) and air filters. Would it be safe to assume these issues were mostly limited to early models?
PS. This text was pleasure to read, and left me hungry for more. Please do an article about StuG.

Answers to your questions.

5 speed gear box isn't that much different from 4 speed gear box. Main difference is that on 5 speed gear box gear ratios are bit more advantageous to engine rpm. So guess this is the main key factor.

I didn't mention airfilters at all since I don't have personal experience from those. Both T-34's in Parola have improved airfilters and not pomona filters.

Wh1te #16 Posted 09 November 2013 - 11:43 AM

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Very nice Job, and most importantly relatively easy to understand for not native english speakers...

bishop_basher #17 Posted 09 November 2013 - 12:12 PM

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I'm sorry I can only give you a plus 1.  If I could you would have got my whole quota so think of my measly plus 1 as actually a big +5 !!!!

Steffenximus #18 Posted 09 November 2013 - 12:29 PM

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Reliability and ergonomics were a problem in ALL WW2 tanks, both german and allied, that's just how tanks were back then. But let's stop for a moment and think how much the tanks advanced in only a few years, from the small and MG armed Pz I to the first ever MBT tank created - King Tiger. Problems were to be expected, you would be a fool to not expect them.

Navarome #19 Posted 09 November 2013 - 12:46 PM

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that was interesting to read

Vlevs #20 Posted 09 November 2013 - 12:47 PM

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View Postjaskap77, on 09 November 2013 - 11:37 AM, said:

Answers to your questions.
Thanks, cheers ja kippis!  :honoring:




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