The best videos showing functioning tanks of the Second World War [Part3]
Part 3: Soviet armoured wave
The First World War brought new types of weapons into use, including combat gases, planes, submarines and, most importantly, tanks. The military commanders were slowly raising awareness of tanks’ future, decisive role on the battlefields. One of the people who sought to modernise the tactics of conducting war and who deeply believed in the great potential of tanks was Russian Marshal Mikhail Tuchaczewski. After the unsuccessful offensive in Poland in 1920, he knew that what would defeat the defence of Poland, Germany and France would be an armoured wave made of thousands of tanks. This idea survived after his death and during the interwar period the Soviet army tried to implement it.
[We did not manage to find a modern film depicting BT, so we show archival recordings]
The lightweight tank, also known as the “betjushka”, was a vehicle that could move on both tracks and wheels. It took part in the Polish campaign, the winter war in Finland and also at the beginning of the war with Germany. After devastating defeats in clashes with German tanks, they were withdrawn from service in the Red Army.
Heavy tanks, constructed before the war, took part in the initial phase of the war with Germany, but in just a week most of them were destroyed, captured or simply abandoned due to failure. It was a tank built on the basis of the British A1E1 Independent, and had 5 towers with 76 mm cannon, two cannons 37 mm and heavy machine guns. The crew consisted of 10 to 11 people.
Heavy tank, which at the time of its entry into service in 1939 was impossible to be penetrated by any enemy anti-tank gun or tank. Despite its advantages, it also had many disadvantages. First of all, the tank was very slow, not sufficiently manoeuvrable and difficult to use, to the point where mechanics and drivers had to use hammers to change gears. Moreover, it had the same gun as medium tanks. During the war many modifications were introduced, among others KW-1, which was better armoured, but also even heavier and less agile; KW-1S, in which the vehicle speed was improved, KW-2 with 152mm gun and KW-85, which combined the tower with IS tanks with the gun used by T-34/85.
It was a medium tank constructed before World War II which had a cannon of 76.2 mm and two towers with machine guns. Already during the aggression against Poland and the winter war it turned out that they had too thin armour (later it was strengthened by 30 mm). However, this did not change much, as the tank was already too obsolete and newer models started to be introduced. Nevertheless,T-28 units fought until the summer 1944.
The third most numerous Soviet tank manufactured during World War II. It was a lightweight tank in the commanding variant with a radio station and in the linear variant without a radio station, which was constructed in 1942 on the basis of a T-60 identification tank and was slightly different from the predecessor with a better armour, 45 mm gun and two engines. The tank turned out to be unsuitable for the realities of the war with the Third Reich. His (exceptionally unsuccessful) combat baptism went through the defense on the south-west front. This vehicle had insufficient armour and guns, what is more, there were great difficulties with the crew’s duties. The vehicle commander often had to command a tank at the same time, communicate through radio stations and charge and shoot. After a short time T-70 started to disappear from the armoured divisions, replaced by T-34, but this tank became the prototype for further vehicles and self-propelled guns.
The basis of Soviet armoured forces in the years 1941-45. by many historians this tank is considered to be the best one during World War II. It is hardly surprising because it was very dynamic, created for surprise attacks and to support infantry. The forehead had armor up to 52 mm thick, which was bent at a certain angle, which made it difficult to penetrate through the enemy missiles. If it wasn’t enough, it was characterized by great firepower. There are known cases where German tankers were switching from their Tigers and Panthers to Soviet machines, which were better suited to fighting in marshy and uneven areas of the Soviet Union. The machines were durable, simple to build and, most importantly, cheap. During and after the war approximately 84,070 copies were produced.
It is an improved version of the T-34 tank, which was supposed to be displaced due to the introduction of new German tanks on the eastern front, but until the end of the war many T-34 was still involved in the battles. T-34-85 had a much better cannon of 85 mm compared to its predecessor and a three-person tower. Its serial production began at the beginning of 1944 and by the end of its production in 1950, approximately 44,000 vehicles had been produced. After World War II, the tank also took part in the Vietnam War, in Korea and in fighting in the Middle East.
The heavy tank series IS was designed to replace the slightly obsolete KW tanks. When the first tank from this line – the IS-1 with 85 mm cannon, a T-34-85 tank with the same cannon was created. As a result, the production of IS-1 was discontinued (107 units in total) and IS-2 started to be produced, with a new tank having 122 mm guns, which was also modernized many times during the production process. Among other things, its firing rate was increased (thanks to the introduction of a semi-automatic wedge lock), the shape of the front hull plates was changed. IS-3 last of the IS line, which took part in the war compared to its predecessors, was characterized by a large slope of the armored plates. Thanks to that the tank was almost impossible to break through. It was IS-3 that caused anxiety among Western powers, who considered it to be an extremely dangerous war machine.