Even before the start of the war, designers, in particular, the Design Bureau of V. G. Grabin, developed new 85-mm and even 107-mm tank guns. So, for a prospective heavy tank KV-3 (product 220), this KB created the 85-mm cannon f-30. Nevertheless, GAU and GBTU decided to focus on the development of the 76.2-mm F-34 cannon and stop work on large-caliber tank guns. T-34's later in use mounted an 85-mm gun comparable in performance to the famous German 88. The T-34/85 was the T-34 with significantly increased firepower. The German Tiger and Panther tanks outranged the T34's original 76mm gun, and subsequently a 85mm gun was mounted on a T-34 tank. The T-34/85 modification of the T-34 was also equipped with more powerful armor. T-34/85 had a flatter turret which gave this already inovative tank design the look that all tanks adopted after the wars end. Although not equal to the German Panther and Tiger tanks, the huge numbers of T-34s more than compensated for their technological shortcomings.
At the end of August 1943, V.A.Malyshev, People's Commissar of Tank Design, arrived at the tank factory No. 112, the head of the GBTU Marshal of the Armored Forces, Ya.N.Fedorenko, and responsible officers of the People’s Commissariat of Arms. At a meeting with the plant managers, Malyshev said that "we won the victory in the Battle of Kursk at a high price. Enemy tanks fired on ours from a distance of 1500 meters., our 76-mm tank guns could hit "Tigers" and "Panthers" at a distance of 500-600 meters." Figuratively speaking," the Commissar said, "the enemy has a hand a mile and a half, and we are only half a kilometer. They need to immediately install a more powerful gun in the T-34." Around the same time, a similar task for heavy KV tanks was assigned to the designers of the ChKZ.
The development of tank guns of a caliber above 76 mm began in 1940. In 1942-1943. The groups of V. G. Grabin and F. F. Petrov worked on this. From June 1943, Petrov presented his D-5 cannon, and G-53 S-53, the leading designers of which were TI Sergeev and GI Shabarov. In addition, for the joint tests, guns of the same caliber were presented: S-50 V.D. Meshaninov, A.M. Volgevsky and V.A. Tyurin, and LB-1 A.I. Savina. The S-53 gun was selected, but it failed the final tests. In the S-53 gun, constructive solutions of the F-30 cannon designed before the war for the future heavy KV-3 tank were used.
The D-5 cannon proved its advantage over the S-53. But its installation in the tank required large rework. In the meantime, it was decided to install it under the brand D-5C in the new self-propelled unit SU-85, the production of which began at UZTM in August 1943. At plant No. 183, a new turret was developed with a broadened shoulder with a diameter of 1600 mm instead of the previous 1420. According to the first version of the work, the designers were led by V. V. Krylov, according to the second, headed by A. A. Moloshtanov and M. A. Na6utovsky. The Moloshtanov group was offered a new 85mm C-53 cannon. However, its installation would require large changes in the design of the turret and even the hull. This was considered inappropriate.
In the summer of 1943, at the Gorokhovetsky training ground near Gorky, the T-34 with a new cannon installed in the standard turret was tested. The results were unsatisfactory. Two people in the turret could not successfully maintain the gun. Ammunition significantly decreased. In order to speed up the process of linking the guns, on the initiative of V.A. Malyshev, the Nabutovski group in October 1943 was sent to the TsARKB. Nabutovsky came to Malyshev, and he ordered to organize a branch of the Morozovsky design bureau at the artillery plant at which the Grabin TsAKB worked.
Joint work with Grabin did not last long. It turned out that under the S-53 cannon a large-sized turret and a wide shoulder strap would be required. Then Nabutovski went to F.F.Petrov. Together they came to the conclusion that his gun needed the same alteration of the turret as the Grabin's gun. At a meeting shortly after, with the participation of the People's Commissar of Weapons D.F.Ustinov, V.G.Grabin, F.F.Petrov, it was decided to conduct comparative tests of both guns. According to the test results, both artillery design bureaus created a new ZIS-S-53 cannon, in which the shortcomings of the “ancestral” systems were eliminated. The gun was tested and showed excellent results (note that the work on the creation of a new gun took only one month). But the turret under this gun was not prepared. Krylov's group at plant No. 112 designed a cast turret with a pylon of 1600 mm under the S-53 cannon. However, the design group, led by A. Okunev, found that the angle of the vertical cannon of the gun was limited in the new turret. It was necessary to either change the design of the turret, or take another gun.
Grabin, an ambitious and impatient man, decided to "tighten the nose" for tank crews, beating them. For this, he ensured that plant No. 112 allocated to him one of the T-34 serial tanks, on which the front part of the turret was altered and some new gun was shoved into it. Without hesitation, Grabin handed his project to D. F. Ustinov and V. A. Malyshev for approval, according to which Plant No. 112 was supposed to begin production of prototypes of the modernized tank. However, many experts of the Scientific Tank Committee (STC) and the People’s Commissariat of Arms legitimately questioned the merits of the “Grabin Project”.
Malyshev urgently ordered Nabutovsky and his group to fly to plant number 112 and sort out the matter. And now Nabutovski at a special meeting in the presence of D. F. Ustinov, Ya. N. Fedorenko and V. G. Grabin expose the idea of the latter to scathing criticism. “Of course,” he notes, “it would be very tempting to place a new gun in a tank without significant rework. The solution is simple, but absolutely unacceptable because its mounting would be weak with such a gun installation, a large unbalanced moment will arise. this creates tightness in the fighting compartment and will significantly complicate the crew’s work. Moreover, if shells hit the frontal armor, the gun will fall out."
Nabutovsky even said that by adopting this project, we will let the army down. The ensuing silence was broken by Grabin. "I am not a tanker," he said, "and I cannot count everything. And for the implementation of your project it will take a long time, a decrease in production." Ustinov asked how much time is needed, to submit the design bureau of plant number 183 for approval of this meeting. Nabutovsky asked for a week, the director of the plant No. 112 KE Rubinchik kindly provided him with all of his design bureau. Ustinov, on the other hand, made the next meeting in three days. A. A. Moloshtanov came to the rescue, and after three days of round-the-clock work, the technical documentation was ready.
In December, the Sormovichi sent two tanks with new turrets to the Moscow artillery plant, where they installed the ZIS-S-53 cannons. And after successful tests on December 15, the State Defense Committee adopted the upgraded T-34-85 tank. However, further tests revealed a number of flaws in the design of the gun.
While developing the 85 mm gun which later went on the T-3^ tank, developers began to test it for 'working life,' and everything was so good that the Main Artillery Administration along with the party committee, not waiting until we shot the required number of rounds, prepared a report to the GKO. »The new gun is ready!' In a hurry, Ustinov of course also signed the paper. The GKO instructed: put the weapon in production in two months. Here it broke apart. How could it be? Nikolay Dmitriyevich Yakovlev, chief of the GAU [Main Artillery Administration] reported to Stalin, stating that it was not necessary to stretch out the period established by the GKO. Dmitriy Fedorovich Ustinov guaranteed this. He flew to the factory immediately after the trouble. There he ordered mass production of those parts for which no one, including himself, doubted the reliability, and along with the designers and technicians began painstakingly to check the article which had broken. Time was counted in hours. Ustinov looked at how the drawings were prepared, checked their quality and observed how the bad part was made. Only when he was sure that from a design and technological point of view everything was in order did he return to Moscow. The gun passed the tests. The GKO order was fulfilled in the established period of time.
And time did not wait. The command of the Red Army planned for the next year grandiose offensive operations, and new, better armed tanks had to play an important role in them. And at the artillery plant No. 92 in Gorky, a meeting is again being held, in which DF Ustinov, V.A. Malyshev, VL Vannikov, Ya. N. Fedorenko, FF Petrov, VG Grabin participate and others. They decided to put the D-5T cannon on the tanks (up to 500 units at the end of 1943 - early 1944) and at the same time modify the ZIS-S-53 cannon. So, finally, the new gun ZIS-C-53 was brought to mind.
Before the end of the year, the first tanks with an 85-mm cannon began producing the plant No. 112. In January 1944, with all the documentation Moloshtanov and Nabutovsky arrived at plant number 183. In March 1944 there began the mass production of T-34-85. Then they began to assemble and the plant number 174 (in 1944, the thirty-three produced these three plants, since the STZ after the liberation of Stalingrad did not return to the production of tanks, UZTM produced only SU-based T-34, and ChKZ fully focused on the release of heavy tanks IS-2 and SU on their base - ISU-152 and ISU-122). There were some differences in the factories: on some machines, stamped rollers or cast ones with developed finning were used, but already with rubber coating ("tension" with rubber, due to supplies from the USA decreased). The turrets were somewhat different in shape,
The tanks with the D-5T cannon differed from the machines with the ZIS-S-53 cannon primarily with a cannon mask: the first had it already. Instead of a TS-15 sight (telescopic, articulated), on a T-34 with a D-5T gun there was a TS-16 sight. Tanks with a ZIS-S-53 gun had an electric drive of the turret with control from both the tank commander and the gunner.
Having received a new 85-mm cannon, the T-34 could successfully fight with new German tanks. For this gun, in addition to the high-explosive and armor-piercing was developed and sabot projectile. But, as noted by Yu. E. Maksarev: "In the future, the T-34 could no longer directly, duel-hit new German tanks." This is primarily caused the appearance of the Soviet SU-100 and ISU-122. And to the thirty-fours in combat, they helped maneuverability and speed, the superiority in which they retained. Despite the fact that compared with the first sample, the mass of the T-34-85 grew by almost 6 tons, these characteristics had not changed much.
In 1944, on the basis of the T-34-85, several hundred OT-34-85 flamethrower tanks were launched. On them, instead of a machine gun in the frontal part of the body, was placed a piston flamethrower ATO-42 (automatic tank flamethrower mod. 1942). It was an improved version of the ATO-41 flamethrower, which was equipped with flamethrower tanks based on T-34-76, KV-1 (KV-8) and KB-1C (KV-8S). The difference between the new flamethrower and the previous one is in the design of individual units and a larger number of cylinders with compressed air. The range of flame throwing with a mixture of 60% fuel oil and 40% kerosene increased to 70 m., And with a special fire mixture - to 100-130 m. The rate of fire also increased - 24-30 fire guns per minute. Capacity for fire mixture tanks increased to 200 l. Preserving the 85-mm cannon on the flamethrower tank of the main armament was a considerable achievement, since on most flamethrower tanks of those times, like ours, and foreigners did not succeed. OT-34-85 outwardly was indistinguishable from linear tanks, which is very important, since in order to use the flamethrower it had to come close to the target and not be a "recognized" adversary.
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