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Τ34/85 of Cyprous National Guard

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PrinceZuko #1 Posted 19 June 2014 - 11:52 AM


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The Greek Cypriots operated a total of 32-35 Russian-made T-34 tanks that were acquired from Soviet Union and delivered via Egypt in 1964-65 on board Cypriot merchant ship "Constantis Boushes" . These tanks were supplied to the 23 Medium Tank Battalion, with the main base at Kokkinotrimithia, Kyrenia (this base was vacant at the time of the Turkish invasion, since tanks were needed in Nicosia for the 15 July coup). The T34 variant in service was the later-model T-34/85, equipped with a  85mm gun.

The vehicles were operated in a dark green camouflage, probably used by the original Warsaw Pact user, and retained this camouflage afterwards, though during combat, there is evidence that the tanks were streaked with paint or mud to break up the colour. National Guard T-34's were entirely unique from all Soviet and Warsaw Pact countries in that they mounted the US M2 Browing 50cal machine gun, originally on the rear of the turret roof, on top of the ventilator domes. Some time before 1974, the armament was then moved forward to the front of the turret, in front of the commanders cupola. The standard identifying marking was a dark blue square overlaid with a white cross, identical to that used by the Hellenic Armed Forces, and intended to show the obvious affinity of the indigenous population majority towards Hellenism, and to some extent, unionism with Greece. All of the tanks carried a number plate painted onto the front glacis plate. Following the 1974 invasion by Turkey, numbers in service were drastically reduced through attrition, and the last remaining operational examples were painted in sand yellow and green camouflage, with a yellow bridging class disk applied centrally to their lower bow plate.

Typical features of the Cypriot T-34/85 included a lack of uniformity, suggesting different factory and date sources of manufacture, with varied sub-types of turret for the 85mm gun, and a tendency to employ different types of wheels, often on the same vehicle. The most commonly used wheel type was the 5-spoked "starfish" shaped type, though it is common to see multi-spoke fan-shaped and solid-disc shaped wheel.[3]

In 1985, the remaining handful of T-34s were withdrawn from service.


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