bookEnglish edition of
T-34 Mythical Weapon
by Robert Michulec, Mroslaw Zientarzewski
Published by AirConnection Canada
& Armagedon Books, Poland

ISBN 0-9781091-0-4

Hard Cover, 520 pages, 880 B/W photographs, 56 pages of 1:35 scale drawings, 20 pages in colour, 36 colour interior photos.

Review by Terry Ashley

This book has been over 3 years in the making growing in size from the initial planned 300 pages to the final 520 pages and first impressions are the wait was well worth it now the final book is with us.

To begin it’s worth noting that the book has the correctly presented designations for the T-34 as used in Russian documents, that being T-34-76 and T-34-85 and not the common Western presented T-34/76 and T-34/85 we see on most kits and references, a small but noteworthy point if you want to talk about the T-34 correctly.

The hard cover book itself has 520 pages entirely in English with approximately 880 black and white photographs, 36 colour interior photos with additional 3D CAD drawings of the suspension and interior plus 58 pages of 1:35 scale drawings.

About the first half of the book has considerable text starting with a brief ‘forward’ and section on T-34 “Myths” followed by accounts of the initial German impressions on the T-34 taken from actual communiqués that give a good insight into the thinking of the times.  As well there is a detailed account of one of the first major actions involving T-34s around the town of Mcensk in 1941 with numerous photos of disabled T-34s and four campaign maps. This is a comprehensive account covering about 50 pages with summaries of the opposing forces and vehicles with line drawings of the different appliqué armour fitted to the glacis that compliment the many photos with the captions indicating the subtle differences between Factory 112 and 183 produced vehicles.

The next chapter deals with “The Roots” and traces the T-34 development from initial concepts through to production that deals with steel production and other aspects of design and production. Brief mentions are made of the T-34M and T-43 prototypes as well as brief bios of the major players in the T-34 development to give a good insight into the thinking of the day.

Again there are many photos of disabled and destroyed vehicles that show many of the hull and turret details as well as 7 pages of drawings showing the hull layouts from the initial 1940 production through to 1942 from those produced by factories 112, 183 and STZ.

Also included are many close-up photos of the welded and cast turrets from the three factories (112, 183 and STZ) that show the variations well and these are supplemented with line drawings detailing the many turret variations that should answer many questions from a modelling viewpoint. Also included are plan view drawings of the L-11 and F-34 gun, cradle and mountings with the text including details descriptions of the development and analysis of the vehicles shown.

The next 60 pages deal with “The real T-34” and again has many photos of destroyed vehicles plus extensive text that deals with the T-34 in use and further accounts of actions as well as providing production numbers from the three factories for the second half of 1941 through to 1945. The many photos of the destroyed T-34s gives some indication of the tremendous losses suffered by the Russians in these earlier battles but the fact they could replace these with increased production helps explain the final result. The text has many detailed facts on the ongoing development with the details of differences between factories making for interesting reading supplemented by the excellent action photos some of which show T-34s still on active service as well as the disabled vehicles.

The next chapter moves to the T-34-85 with details of the development and production along with detailed close-up photos of the turrets produced from factories 112, 174 and 183 to again highlight the many subtle and not so subtle differences not only in the details but the casting textures on the various turrets. The photos are complimented with line drawings showing the evolution of the turret designs as well as many wartime photos of the T-34-85 in action both in service and destroyed to give good coverage of the markings as well as the crew and infantry uniforms of the time.

Following this is a chapter on T-34-85 production with charts showing the numbers produced by the six factories involved during the war (112, 174, 183 ChTZ, 183 UTZ, STZ, CzKZ and UTZM) with again many wartime photos of T-34-85s to compliment the descriptive text including a couple of photos of the T-34’s with bedspring armour in Berlin 1945 that will be useful for the new Dragon T-34-85 kit.

Special Versions are covered in the next 8 pages with the text and photos showing the flamethrower and mine clearing versions as well as special propaganda tanks with large speakers mounted on the side fenders.

The next chapter is an “Appraisal of the Tank” and as well as having a detailed appraisal of the T-34 there is also comparisons with contemporary vehicles such as the M4 Sherman and Panzer III/IV with charts on the performance of the various guns comparing the Russian F-34 76.2mm, US M3 75mm and German KwK40 and KwK37 75mm guns and another with the Russian D5, S-53 85mm, US M1 76mm, British 17 Pdr. and German Kwk40/KwK42 75mm guns.
There are also more photos of destroyed tanks to illustrate the text with again the detailed captions giving further details.

Moving on, the next 86 pages deal in great detail with the T-34 in the Polish Army from the inception in 1943 through to the 1960s and as well as detailed photo descriptions there are also lists of all serial numbers of known vehicles used by the Polish Army.

Again the extensive text is accompanied with many wartime and post war photos of both the T-34-76 and T-34-85 that also show the crew uniforms and markings to good affect.

All the post war T-34-85 photos are of vehicles on exercise but again show the markings and crew uniforms well along with the text giving details on the units as well as vehicles used.

The remaining 175 pages are devoted to detailed close-up walk rounds of the hull and turrets with many extreme close-up detail shots of virtually every area of the vehicle with most photos showing just one particular detail such as different hull fittings with the captions indicating what factory produced detail is showing if not common to all hulls.

There in one whole page with five different shots of the final drive housings to give some idea of the depth of detail shown with the engine and engine compartment also given the same coverage. Many of the details in the photos are complimented with line drawings from the field manuals to give an excellent perspective to the detail shown.

The suspension is shown in the same close-up detail with again line drawings including cut-aways to further show the detail as well as page showing 9 photos of different types of road wheel designs with the captions giving notes on the type and dates introduced.

The turrets are shown in the same close-up details with exterior and interior details plus the supplementary line drawings with two pages devoted to the different style cupolas and hatches as well as many exterior details shown in great detail.

No less than 22 pages are devoted to detailed interior shots of the hull and turret showing everything from the ammo storage, driver’s gear levers and seat, the periscopes, ventilators and many other fittings again complimented with line drawings to make things clearer.

The engine is also shown separate from the vehicle to give good all around views with close-ups of the various components with further line drawings showing the wiring.

The next 14 pages have lists of known serial numbers produced from the various factories as well as listing unidentified numbers and should prove useful for the academic minded.

The next 56 pages are devoted entirely to 1:35 plans of different vehicles starting with 6 sets of four view plans showing just the hulls without road wheels and turrets ranging from the 1940 hull for factory 183 to the 1944 hull from factory 112.

This is followed by 12 pages with just 4 and 5 view plans of 23 different turrets ranging from the initial 1940 with L-11 gun through F-34 armed turrets to the 1944 85 turret with one showing the initial D-5 gun as well as the S-53. Turrets are shown from those produced in factories 112, 174, 183, STZ and UZTM showing the subtle difference between them.

Next are thirty 5 view plans of complete vehicles again ranging from the early 1940 L-11 armed tank from factory 183 stepping though each notable development including one showing the long 57mm ZIS-2 gun 1941 tank finishing off with the factory 174 T-34-85 of 1944. There are just six T-34-85 plans with the remained covering various T-34-76 models plus additional scrap view plans showing 12 different track designs fitted to the T34, these are larger than 1:35 to better show the details with the tracks on the full vehicle plans showing the actual size in 1:35 scale. There is also a 3 view plan of the typical mine clearing roller used from mid 1943 onwards for anyone wanting to get into a bit of scratch building.

There is also a page showing in 1:35 scale the varied add on armour plates carried on the glacis and turrets of some vehicles and these can be used as templates to cut out the plates in plastic card for use on models if required.

The next 6 pages have colour 3D CAD drawings showing no less than 23 different road wheels designs, 6 different idler wheel designs and 9 different drive wheel designs to hopefully take some of the mystery of identifying these. Some have very minor differences which are not easy to see at first glance.

There are also colour 3D drawings with cut way views of the turrets that give good perspective for the location of the various components that should prove useful.

The next 11 pages have colour photos of a few full T-34-85s plus colour photos of the engine and interior showing the driver’s station and fighting compartment and turret interior and finally 3 pages with one side view colour illustrations giving markings and cam schemes for 12 tanks.

This is simply a superb work on the T-34 that covers virtually everything from development, history, service and campaign accounts to showing just about every detail imaginable on the T-34. The information contained will appeal to historian and modeller alike and just like Hunnicutt is to the Sherman and Spielberger to the Panzer so will this volume be synonymous of the T-34.

Highly recommended

Sample pages:

Sample pages

Thanks to Michael from Airconnection for the review book.
See the T-34 Subjects page for other reviews of T-34 kits, update and accessory sets.
Also see the review on Track Link for another opinion of this fine book.

Page created January 18, 2007

Back to Top