The tank that won the war

I already wrote in a previous post (Lala Tulpan in Ufa, or “when the weather doesn’t play nice”) how my stay in Ufa was too short and definitely not “blessed” by good weather.  In spite of that the capital of Bashkortostan offered so many interesting sights I managed to take a few pictures, also as “visual reminders” of places I really want to go back and explore in more depth.

One of those places is certainly the Park Pobedy (or Victory Park) on a hill overlooking the Belaya river. As the name implies, the park is dedicated to the memory of the Great Patriotic War, as the Russians refer to Eastern Front of World War II. Amongst memorial, statues and original military vehicles and machines on display, one in particular caught my attention.

What you see in the above picture, perched on a pedestal, is an original T-34-85 Tank. The “-85” is the newer 5 crew member version of the T-34, one of history’s most significant tanks, built toward the end of WWI, in 1944–45. I must admit that the first thing to catch my eye was the fact that the sides of the 5 wheels is painted white (it is not snow accumulation, as it might seem) and that to me seemed very odd. It instinctively reminded me of the whitewall tires popular in European and especially American cars from the 1920s to the 1950s.  This was the reason why I approached the tank in the first place, but once I saw it was an original T-34 I was properly impressed.

I am not particularly fond of military machines, as I have a profound distaste for violence (and therefore war), but I do have a keen interest in history and under an historical perspective it must be noted that the T-34 had a profound and lasting effect on the field of tank design. At its introduction, the T-34 possessed an unprecedented combination of firepower, mobility, protection and ruggedness. Its 76.2 mm (3 in) high-velocity tank gun provided a substantial increase in firepower over any of its contemporaries; its well-sloped armour was difficult to penetrate by most contemporary anti-tank weapons. When first encountered in 1941, the German tank general von Kleist called it “the finest tank in the world and Heinz Guderian affirmed the T-34’s “vast superiority” over existing German armour of the period. Although its armour and armament were surpassed later in the war, it has often been credited as the most effective, efficient and influential tank design of the Second World War.

The T-34 was the mainstay of Soviet armoured forces throughout WWII. Its design allowed it to be continuously refined to meet the constantly evolving needs of the Eastern Front: as the war went on it became more capable, but also quicker and cheaper to produce. Soviet industry would eventually produce over 80,000 T-34s of all variants, allowing steadily greater numbers to be fielded as the war progressed despite the loss of thousands in combat against the German Wehrmacht. Replacing many light and medium tanks in Red Army service, it was the most-produced tank of the war, as well as the second most produced tank of all time (after its successor, the T-54/55 series)

 

 


 

Would you like to discover the Russia that foreigners rarely, if ever, get to see, with an English (and Italian, Spanish and French) speaking guide (me and my wife) showing you the sights and telling you a bit about Russian history and traditions? If so, do get in touch and we’ll be happy to create an unforgettable, tailor-made experience for you!

 

 

 

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