T-44 Medium Tank
The T-44 Medium Tank project was underway in 1940-1941 in an attempt to create a new promising tank design. A number of versions were developed, which differed in protection level and weight. The specific feature of the project consisted in placing the power pack in the forward part of the hull and attempting to create a multi-purpose tank design. Development work on this ceased as the Great Patriotic War broke out.
Tank T-44 was developed in the design office of the plant number 183 under the direction of A. A. Morozov. The tank was significantly different from the T-34-85. The differences were in the device, layout, overall dimensions, as well as in the shape and thickness of the hull and tower armor. The engine was located across the hull. This made it possible to reduce the length of the power section, which made it possible to make the crew accommodation more comfortable.
In 1944, when four factories of the Soviet Union produced tens of thousands of new T-34s — the most massive production of tanks in the entire history of world tank design — the designers, under the leadership of A. A. Morozov, created a new T-44 tank. It was brought a number of innovations. The main of these innovations was the rotation of the engine by 90 degrees with the installation of it across the machine. This bold decision predetermined the layout of tanks for subsequent modifications for many decades to come.
This was being developed in order to create a tank that would have better combat and technical characteristics than the T-34. The tank also had a new feature - transversal placement of the engine. Some prototype vehicles were manufactured with various main armament versions (85mm, 100mm and 122mm guns). The vehicle fitted with a 85mm gun was adopted and put into production. In the 1960s the tanks were upgraded: some units and assemblies of the power pack, transmission and running gear were replaced by the units of the T-54 tank and AT-T prime mover. The upgraded tank was designated the T-44M.
Created by the end of 1944, the medium Soviet tank T-44 with front body armor 120 mm (30 mm more than the famous thirty-four) weighed almost the same - 31.9 tons. At the same time, it was shorter by 30 mm in the hull and 300 mm lower in silhouette height. The reduction of dimensions, the rejection of fencing niches made it possible to reduce weight, significantly increasing the thickness of the frontal armor.
The security of the combat vehicle was also enhanced by certain design features of the hull. Thus, the hull of the tank was reduced in height (compared with the T-34-85, 1944) more than 300 mm due to the installation of a new B-44 engine, in which the arrangement of the water and oil pumps was changed. The weak point of the former Soviet tanks was the placement of the hatch of the driver and the ball mount of the machine gun in the frontal armor. Very often the tank was attacked through the hatch. In the new machine, the frontal inclined sheet was monolithic and had a small viewing slot for the driver, protected by triplex (three-layer glass) and an armored valve. The driver's hatch was located in the roof of the hull and was practically not hit by flooring fire. The observation, however, was not complicated. Through the gap, the driver of the tank could conduct a survey in the forward direction, as well as at an angle of 116 °, through a prism instrument with a horizontal viewing angle of 54°.
Reducing the internal volume of the tank by increasing the thickness of the armor plates and reducing the size forced designers to reconsider the internal layout. So, for the first time the engine was placed not along the longitudinal axis of the tank, but across, which reduced the dimensions of the power compartment and increased the size of the battle compartment. In the transmission of the tank for the first time was used a new transmission from the engine to the gearbox, located parallel to the engine.
It was established that the effectiveness of the fire from the course machine gun, which was led by the radio operator, was low due to poor visibility. In addition, the transfer of orders through a member of the crew did not always allow the tank commander to quickly respond to the command of the senior commanders in battle. The transfer of the functions of the radio operator to the commander allowed the release of one crew member, and in its place to place the ammunition for the shells. Thus, with a general reduction in the internal volume of the tank, its ammunition load decreased by only two projectiles (which was not significant for the battle) and consisted of 58 art blows.
At the same time, the machine gun was left in the tank according to the established tradition, rigidly fixing it in the frontal armor of the hull. The fire was led by a mechanic-driver, guided through a viewing device on the tracer bullets. The second machine gun, as in the T-34-85, was paired with a gun. The main armament is a ZIS-S53 cannon of the 1944 type and a DTM machine gun located in an oval-shaped cast turret, which has a significant feed niche for laying projectiles. Here was fastened a submachine gun PPS for the crew.
Thanks to the use of the new gearbox, the average speed increased by 3 km/h, although the maximum speed decreased by 5 km/h. Engine capacity of 520 liters, with reliable transmission to the undercarriage of 10 road wheels, two leading and two guide wheels, tracks with 70 tracks in each allowed the tank to move at a speed of 45 km/h.
The tank was put into service in July 1944, and until the end of the war in Kharkov, 190 vehicles were built from factory number 44 transported from Kirov, but they did not have time to take part in hostilities.
Production of the T-44 lasted until 1947 and amounted to 1823 units. Immediately after the war, an attempt was made to modernize the tank by installing a 100-mm cannon LB-1 and steel anti-cumulative screens, but the new machine turned out to be overweighted and was not adopted for service.
As once the T-34 opened a new page in the creation of a promising model tank, the T-44 became a new milestone in the construction of tanks of modern design. A tank of the same class, the M48 Patton, appeared in the US Army only in 1952. It weighed 44 tons, had a gun with a caliber of 90 mm and the same as the T-44, the maximum speed, and the height was 300 mm above it. T-44, which was no longer the main battle tank of the Soviet Army by that time, but was still in service, by its appearance made it possible to proceed to the creation of the entirely new T-54 combat vehicle.
T-44 did not show on military parades on Red Square, he did not hit the pages of military newspapers and magazines. The demands of the deaf secrecy of the last year of the war did not allow the enemy and then allies to discover the existence of a new car, and the Tigers and Panthers finished off the T-34 and the heavy Isy well. As once the T-34 opened a new page in the creation of a promising model tank 40s. And the T-44 was a significant milestone in the development of the next generation machines. A tank of the same class, the M48 Patton, appeared in the US Army only in 1952. It weighed 44 tons, had a 90 mm caliber gun and the same speed as the T-44, the maximum speed and 300 mm height above him. By that time, the T-44 was no longer the main medium tank of the Soviet army, but was still in service. In 1961, the units of the engine, power transmission and chassis of the T-44 were unified with those that were on the T-54, another five were equipped with a stabilizer of weapons in two planes, after which the tank received the T-44M and T-44C indices, respectively. On the basis of the T-44M, they produced artillery and tank tractors, engineering vehicles, but it entered the history of domestic armored forces as a predecessor of a large family of medium tanks.
In January 2013 a rare Great Patriotic War-era tank was spared from disappearing into a private collection in Russia’s Rostov Region, where an official was fined 550,000 rubles ($18,000) for trying to sell the machine. Former deputy district head Ivan Boichenko was talked into selling the tank by an unnamed businessman with a hobby of collecting military equipment. The entrepreneur had his eyes on a T-44 tank on display in the town of Belaya Kalitva. Only about 1,800 machines of this model were produced between 1944 and 1947, which makes them a sought-after collectible. Boichenko valued the tank at 7 million rubles ($230,000) and proposed to exchange it for a cheaper T-34 and 4.5 million rubles in cash that he intended to pocket.
However, the businessman reported the official to the police, who nabbed him during the money transfer. Boichenko pleaded guilty to fraud and abuse of authority, which allowed him to avoid jail. No legal consequences were reported for the tank-collecting businessman. The contents of his collection remained undisclosed.
|Year of manufacture of the first vehicle||1945|
|- length||7,640 mm|
|- width||3,250 mm|
|- height||2,455 mm|
|- main gun||85 mm|
|- coaxial machine gan and bow machine gun||7.62 mm|
|Engine power output||520 hp|
|Maximum road speed||50 km/h|
|Cruising range||400 km|
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