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The FReeper Foxhole's TreadHead Tuesday - the Soviet T35 Heavy Tank - Jan. 18th, 2005 ^ | Mark Jaremco

Posted on 01/17/2005 7:40:40 PM PST by SAMWolf


Keep our Troops forever in Your care

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Bless those who mourn the lost.

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for all those serving their country at this time.

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T35 Heavy Tank

In December 1930, the USSR had undertaken work to develop a new breakthrough heavy tank, the T-30. This work began after the signing of an agreement between UMM RKKA and the General Design Bureau of the Artillery Department.

The first proposals were for a 50-ton vehicle armed with a 76-mm gun and five machine-guns. However, a lack of experience with such vehicles hampered the finishing of a plausible design - even on paper! At the beginning of 1932, the first sketches and a wooden prototype were created, but the T-30 project was canceled due to design problems (almost insuperable problems with running gear) which appeared during its development.

Prototypes of the T-35 (left) and the T-28 (right).

Another attempt was undertaken by the Auto-Tank-Diesel Section of the Economic department of the OGPU. This was a special section that employed tank designers convicted during the Purges. As in the previous case, this project had too many serious problems and was also abandoned.

The T-35-1 on parade in Moscow. May 1, 1933.

Only foreign specialists could get the project off the ground. In March 1930, a small group of German engineers led by Edward Grotte arrived in the USSR. This group was assigned to the Special Design Bureau AVO-5 in Leningrad in the "Bolshevik" Factory. AVO-5 had already worked on the TG-1 project. As far as I understand, the TG-1 was intended only to teach Soviet engineers how to develop a heavy vehicle, it was not intended as full-functional production vehicle. In August 1931, when the TG-1 was completed and tested all the German engineers were repatriated from the USSR. The AVO-5 was then reorganized.

The New design bureau was issued a directive by UMM RKKA: "By 1 August 1932, a new 35-ton heavy tank based on the TG-1 must be developed and built." The new project received the "T-35" designation. On February 28, 1932, G.G. Bokis (Deputy Chief of the UMM RKKA) was reporting to M.N. Tukhachevsky: "The work on the T-35 is going briskly, and should be completed on time."

On August 20, 1932, assembly of the very first prototype under the T-35-1 designation had been completed, and on September 1, it was shown to a special commission of the UMM RKKA. The tank made an impression on all the members of the commission. Outwardly, the T-35 looked like the English A1E1 "Independent" five-turret tank. Many people believe that the T-35 was copied from the "Independent", however, the Russian Archives have no documents, which can confirm such conjecture. Without such documents, we have no right to suspect Russian developers; the question is still open.

The T-35A on trials.

The main turret was supposed to be armed with a powerful 76.2 mm PS-3 tank gun and one DT machine-gun, but because of a lack of PS-3 guns, a dummy gun was mounted instead. Later, the shortage of PS-3s remained, and the 76.2 mm KT Tank Gun used instead.

The transmission of the T-35-1 had been developed with experience gleaned from the TG-1. It consisted of the M6 petrol engine, the main friction clutch, the gearbox and side clutches. Driving the tank was quite easy due to a well-designed pneumatic system.

The running gear of the T-35A tank

Tests conducted in the autumn of 1932 revealed some defects in the transmission. Moreover, it was too complex and expensive for mass production, and all work on the T-35-1 had been canceled and the vehicle sent to Leningrad as a study aid for tank corps trainees.

In February 1933, new work on the T-35-2 began. As per Stalin's order, standardization of tank turrets for the T-28 and T-35 was implemented. On the T-35-2 the new M-17 tank engine, a new gearbox, and an improved transmission were installed. All other parts were the same as on the T-35-1. This tank was also intended to be arm with the 76.2 mm PS-3 gun. The vehicle was completed in April 1933, and on May 1, it was shown on military parade in Leningrad while the T-35-1 was shown on parade in Moscow.

The T-35-2 on parade in Moscow. November 7, 1933.

Both the T-35-1 and the T-35-2 were prototypes. Almost simultaneously, the first production model, the T-35A, was developing using experience from these prototypes. In May 1933, the Soviet Government ordered mass production at the KhPZ Factory. All documents and the T-35-2 prototype were sent here.

The T-35A had many changes, which distinguished it from its predecessors. The new vehicle had a longer chassis, smaller turrets, an improved hull, and some other alterations. In essence, it was a new vehicle, and so it had some teething troubles during its manufacture. I wish to notice, each T-35 was unique, since minor improvements were made in every tank, and therefore they were not true production vehicles because they didn't pronouncedly follow the base blueprints.

Different parts of the T-35 manufactured at different factories:

  • Armored hulls at the Izhorskij Factory;
  • Gearboxes at the "Krasnij Oktyabr" Factory
  • Engines at the Rybinskij Factory.

The first production T-35A on parade in Moscow. May 1, 1934.

According to the production plan, all these factories should have started manufacture in June 1933, but due to unforeseen problems, they began in August 1933. Final assembly began on October 18, 1933, and was finished on November 1. The final assembly was usually aided by using hydraulic lifting jacks, but in this case, the hull was placed on an elevated assembly jig in order to install the final components such as the running gear, turret, and armament.

The first production T-35A was put on parade in Moscow on May 1, 1934. Per a Governmental order of October 25, 1933, the KhPZ had to complete five T-35A tanks and one T-35B (with an M-34 engine) before January 1, 1934, but up to this date only one vehicle had been fully completed. The other three T-35A's were still unarmed, and the manufacture of the T-35B had not even started. The T-35B project was later abandoned at all.

Sectors of fire of the T-35A

The production of the T-35A was extremely expensive: a single tank cost 525,000 rubles - as much as nine BT-5 light tanks. This was a definitive reason why its manufacture was cancelled.

According to the plan of 1934, the KhPZ had to produce ten vehicles (T-35A). During production, the factory made some changes to cut production costs. However, factory engineers met with many problems. For instance, the tracks of the tank were too fragile, and the M-17 engine often overheated. The first vehicle had to be completed on August 20, 1934, but was not. However, the KhPZ built ten by the very end of 1934.

KEYWORDS: armor; freeperfoxhole; russia; soviets; t35; tanks; treadhead; veterans; wwii
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The T-35A Heavy Tank

In 1937, the T-35 was modernised. Its gearbox, side clutches, electrical equipment, the drive shaft, and the oil tank were improved. In addition, engine silencers were installed inside the vehicle. Due to these changes, the reliability of the T-35 increased greatly.

However, the armor protection of the T-35 did not meet the demands of modern warfare, but because the vehicle was already too heavy, it was unrealistic to increase its armor any more.

In 1937, the KhPZ began a plan to convert the T-35 to conical turrets. Production of the new tanks began at the end of 1938. According to KhPZ's records, total five tanks received conic turrets. Total production included one T-35-1, one T-35-2, and 61 production vehicles. The T-35 was the only production five-turret tank in the world.

The T-35 with conic turrets.

The layout of the T-35 was optimal for a multi-turret vehicle. Five turrets were set up in two tiers and provided high firepower with one 76.2 mm gun, two 45 mm 20K guns, and three machine-guns. However, such a layout resulted in an excessive vehicle height (about 3.5 metres) and decreased its mobility on the battlefield.

In addition, the T-35 still had many problems with its engine and transmission. Unfortunately, these defects weren't fully eliminated, but Soviet tankers still held this vehicle in high regard.

The Russian "Crocodile".

Outwardly, the T-35 was visually stunning with its huge dimensions, however its internal space was very cramped. When I visited Kubinka I was unable to get inside the T-35 (I'm 192 cm). The separate combat compartments were not connected with each other. Visibility from the vehicle was very bad, especially from the driver's position (he could see straight ahead and left only). However, the greatest problem was egress from a knocked out tank because the crew could escape only from roof hatches, and the crew from the main turret had to expose themselves at a 4-metre height under enemy fire.

The driver was in an even worse situation: his hatch could not been opened until the machine-gun turret rotated out of the way. If this turret was jammed, the driver couldn't escape at all. Escape from the rear turrets was also difficult due to the rounded antenna on the main turret. The tank crew could become "prisoners" of their own tank. The first production T-35's were sent to the 5th Heavy Tank Regiment RGK. On December 12, 1935, this regiment was reorganized into the 5th Separate Heavy Tank Brigade.

The T-35 and the T-26 from the 8th Mechanized Corps, abandoned at Dubno area. July 1941.

The brigade consisted of three Tank Battalions, one Training Tank Battalion, and some support units. On May 12, 1936, under the order of the Defense Minister, this brigade was attached to RGK. The unit was formed to increase the support of infantry and tank troops during breakthroughs of heavily-fortified defense lines.

Deployment of the T-35 revealed its poor maneuverability. For example, one T-35 commander reported: "The tank was able to pass only a 17 degree slope. It couldn't even traverse a large puddle."

The following directive was addressed to the headquarters of the 3rd Heavy Tank Brigade RGK and regulated the crossing of bridges:

  1. For single-span bridges - only one vehicle at a time
  2. For multi-span bridges - several vehicles at the same time but with distance of 50 metres between them
  3. In all cases, the speed of the tank should not exceed 15 km/h.

A captured T-35. July 1941.

Before the Great Patriotic War, the T-35 didn't take part in any military conflicts. Any mention in Western (and some Russian) accounts about T-35's that served in the Winter War are false.

On 27 June 1940, a conference opened in Moscow: "On Weapons of AFVs of the Red Army." During debates, a question concerning the T-35 had arisen. Some officers thought that all T-35's should be converted to heavy self-propelled artillery (like the SU-14), others wanted to give all the T-35's to military academies. Interesting, almost nobody raised an opinion to keep them as vehicles of the first line.

The T-35A on its way to the front. Moscow area. October 22, 1941.

However, due to the active reorganization of tank forces of the Red Army, and the formation of the new mechanized corps, it was decided that these vehicles "should be depleted by attrition in operational units." As a result, all vehicles were collected in the 67th and 68th Tank Regiments of the 34th Tank Division of the 8th Mechanized Corps (Kiev Special Military District).

Today, only one T-35 survives. It is on display in the Kubinka tank museum.

The T-35-1 heavy tank in parade colors. May 1, 1933.

T-35A in standard camouflage of 1930th. 3rd vehicle, 1st Tank Platoon, 3rd Tank Battalion, 5th Heavy Tank Brigade. 1936.

T-35A in standard winter camouflage. Military Academy of Mechanization and Motorization Tank Regiment. Winter 1941.

1 posted on 01/17/2005 7:40:45 PM PST by SAMWolf
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To: snippy_about_it; PhilDragoo; Johnny Gage; Victoria Delsoul; The Mayor; Darksheare; Valin; ...
Brief Operational History

The T-35 heavy tank was a vehicle that had its origins in the 1920's British school of tank warfare. According to this theory, there were to be three types of tanks - infantry support tanks, cruiser tanks, and land battleship tanks. The T-35 fell into the latter category. It shared still more with the British concepts in that its designers got many of their ideas for the T-35 from the Vickers 'Independent' heavy tank. The T-35 actually surpassed the 'Independent' and would see full production, whereas the British vehicle would not make it past the testing stage.

T-35 mod. 1935 (turret with straight sides) captured by the Germans during the first month of the invasion of Russia

It would be armed with a single large turret (taken from the T-26) mounting a 45mm cannon, and four smaller turrets (taken from the BT-2 fast tank) that would have either 7.62mm machine guns or 37mm cannon. Later models would have conical turrets for better protection. They would also be slightly longer than the earlier versions.

Production of the T-35 vas very slow and few of these tanks were produced at the Kharkov Locomotive Factory. Total production between 1935 and 1938 amounted to no more that 68 vehicles. These would serve with the 5th Heavy Tank Brigade stationed around Moscow. Tanks from this unit would be featured in many May Day parades where they gave the false impression of a powerful armored force.

This view from above demonstrates the turret arrangement on the T-35. The 76.2 mm howitzer is in the centre turret and the 37 mm guns are diagonally opposite each other in the front right and rear left turrets. The two machine gun turrets are on the front left (not visible) and rear right.

These tanks only saw action during the opening days of the Great Patriotic War. The exact location of where they served is uncertain at present. There is evidence that they were used around Lvov and many sources claim that they were used around Moscow. In either case, none would survive the first year of the war. It would be a sad ending for a tank whose time had come and gone.

Tactical Use and Limitations

Originally the T-35 heavy tank was designed as a 'penetration tank' that would blast its way through heavily defended parts of the enemy line and conduct a firefight on all sides. In this way it would act as a 'land battleship' that would outgun any armored opposition it faced, at least in theory.

The T-35 heavy tank saw very little combat action. This was because so few were made and its disadvantages far outweighed its abilities. The first limitation was its poor maneuverability. Its great weight and length made it both slow and difficult to steer under combat conditions. Its tremendous size also made it a rather large target. Unfortunately, the armor of the T-35 was so thin that it could not survive the hits that it was sure to take.

The massive tank was not without its advantages however. It did possess a formidable armament of cannon and machine guns. The problem with these weapons lay in coordinating the fire of the five turrets, a difficult task at best.

Additional Sources:

2 posted on 01/17/2005 7:41:29 PM PST by SAMWolf (Anarchy: Rights without Responsibilities.)
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To: All
Vickers A1E1 Independent

British: A1E1 "Independent" Heavy Tank

One of the most famous tanks never produced in the world. The Independent caused a stir everywhere. Like the famous battleship Dreadnought, this tank caused a revolution in heavy tanks with it's multi-turreted design. Not only were nations envious and wanted one of their own for prestige, but it caused panic with money conscious politicians, and a research in battlefield tactics. The idea of this tank was a coupling of heavy firepower, the ability to defend, and a total dominance of the area within it's range. The vehicle was built in 1925 and only a lack of funds stopped it from becoming part of the British army. Only one was ever built, but lessons learned from this design assisted future armored vehicles. Producers of multi-turreted tanks were Germany, USSR, Japan, and Great Britain. The USSR, who's motto could have been "just add more steel", built the monsterous T28 and T35 tanks which were nearly a virtual copy of the Independent. Nations that considered building them (had plans but stopped just short of building) were Poland, USA, and France.

3 posted on 01/17/2005 7:41:55 PM PST by SAMWolf (Anarchy: Rights without Responsibilities.)
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To: All

Veterans for Constitution Restoration is a non-profit, non-partisan educational and grassroots activist organization. The primary area of concern to all VetsCoR members is that our national and local educational systems fall short in teaching students and all American citizens the history and underlying principles on which our Constitutional republic-based system of self-government was founded. VetsCoR members are also very concerned that the Federal government long ago over-stepped its limited authority as clearly specified in the United States Constitution, as well as the Founding Fathers' supporting letters, essays, and other public documents.

Actively seeking volunteers to provide this valuable service to Veterans and their families.


The FReeper Foxhole. America's History. America's Soul

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"The FReeper Foxhole Compiled List of Daily Threads"


4 posted on 01/17/2005 7:42:20 PM PST by SAMWolf (Anarchy: Rights without Responsibilities.)
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To: SAMWolf; snippy_about_it; Professional Engineer; alfa6; The Mayor; PhilDragoo; radu; Samwise; ...

Good morning everyone!
WOO HOO Threadhead Tuesday in the FOXHOLE!

5 posted on 01/17/2005 7:45:38 PM PST by Soaring Feather
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To: SAMWolf; snippy_about_it; PhilDragoo
Tuesday already?

6 posted on 01/17/2005 7:48:19 PM PST by Victoria Delsoul
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To: SAMWolf

Have to admit I like the large number of weapons on a T-35. Would make them very effective in an urban setting. Contrast that to the single .50 or 40MM on the Stryker or M113.

7 posted on 01/17/2005 7:48:50 PM PST by ProudVet77 (I'm ready for some NASCAR!)
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To: SAMWolf; snippy_about_it

Time for you two to crash for the night.

Been a long day for ya.

8 posted on 01/17/2005 7:52:34 PM PST by Soaring Feather
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To: SAMWolf

9 posted on 01/17/2005 8:42:33 PM PST by Echo Talon
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To: SZonian; soldierette; shield; A Jovial Cad; Diva Betsy Ross; Americanwolf; CarolinaScout; ...

"FALL IN" to the FReeper Foxhole!

It's TreadHead Tuesday!

Good Morning Everyone

If you would like added to our ping list let us know.
If you'd like to drop us a note you can write to:

The Foxhole
19093 S. Beavercreek Rd. #188
Oregon City, OR 97045

10 posted on 01/17/2005 9:40:46 PM PST by snippy_about_it (Fall in --> The FReeper Foxhole. America's History. America's Soul.)
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To: mostly cajun; archy; Gringo1; Matthew James; Fred Mertz; Squantos; colorado tanker; The Shrew; ...
Free Republic Treadhead Ping

mostly cajun ;archy; Gringo1; Matthew James; Fred Mertz; Squantos; colorado tanker; The Shrew; SLB; Darksheare; BCR #226; IDontLikeToPayTaxes; Imacatfish; Tailback; DCBryan1; Eaker; Archangelsk; gatorbait; river rat; Lee'sGhost; Dionysius; BlueLancer; Frohickey; GregB; leadpenny; skepsel; Proud Legions; King Prout; Professional Engineer; alfa6; bluelancer; Cannoneer No.4; An Old Man; hookman; DMZFrank; in the Arena; Bethbg79; neverdem; NWU Army ROTC; ma bell; MoJo2001; The Sailor; dcwusmc; dts32041; spectr17; Rockpile; Theophilus;

Snippy, I bequeath to you the FR TH PL.

148 posted on 08/24/2004 11:39:45 AM PDT by Cannoneer No. 4 (I've lost turret power; I have my nods and my .50. Hooah. I will stay until relieved. White 2 out.)

Good morning Cannoneer, I'm awake just long enough to post, 'see' you in the morning. :-)
11 posted on 01/17/2005 9:42:55 PM PST by snippy_about_it (Fall in --> The FReeper Foxhole. America's History. America's Soul.)
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To: SAMWolf; snippy_about_it; bentfeather; Darksheare; Light Speed; PhilDragoo; Matthew Paul; All
Good morning y'all!

To all our military men and women past and present, military family members, and to our allies who stand beside us
Thank You!

12 posted on 01/17/2005 9:50:26 PM PST by radu (May God watch over our troops and keep them safe)
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To: Victoria Delsoul

Tuesday already!

Praise the Lord!

13 posted on 01/17/2005 9:52:22 PM PST by Valin (Sometimes you're the bug, and sometimes you're the windshield)
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To: SAMWolf

1733 1st polar bear exhibited in America (Boston)

Night all.

14 posted on 01/17/2005 9:54:12 PM PST by Valin (Sometimes you're the bug, and sometimes you're the windshield)
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To: snippy_about_it; SAMWolf; All

Fascinating Bump for Soviet Armor from the night shift. Only two more nights to go, yeahhhhhh.


alfa6 ;>}

15 posted on 01/17/2005 10:01:34 PM PST by alfa6 (Squirrel: a rat with a bushy tail)
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To: SAMWolf
Always liked the Independent and T-35. As I grew older I began to see their inherent weaknesses. Also, their Russian junk parts.

Unless I am mistaken the photo "The Russian Crocodile" has grotesquely worn front sprockets, so badly worn I can't see how you could keep the tracks on for a minute if the rest of the system is equally worn.
16 posted on 01/18/2005 12:21:30 AM PST by Iris7 ( protect the Constitution from all enemies, both foreign and domestic. Same bunch, anyway.)
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To: snippy_about_it
Good morning Snippy.

17 posted on 01/18/2005 1:48:02 AM PST by Aeronaut (Proud to be a monthly donor.)
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To: ProudVet77
I am not happy with urban armor either. A few thoughts, starting with oldy but goldy M113:

This gun is rated against main battle tanks at over 1000 yards.

Active armor, "Zelda 2", an explosive reactive armor suite:

"Zelda", a spaced array passive system proof against RPG and 23 mm APCBC Russian ammunition:

This is Kasman", designed for urban warfare:

The Kasman is a M113 equipped with an all new fixed superstructure, spanning both roof hatches of the Zelda. The superstructure is lavishly equipped with vision blocks made of armoured glass as well as six firing slots, one up front, one in the rear and two on each side. The firing slots are capable of taking up an FN MAG 7,62 mm machine gun.

The two vision blocks and the firing slot in the rear of the superstructure are placed in a hatch which can be opened downward. Two searchlights are placed on the superstructure's roof and can be operated from within the vehicle. Another option is the placement of a megaphone on top of the superstructure for psychological warfare.

The internal fuel tank has been removed and replaced by two external fuel tanks on the rear of the vehicle. This is to serve crew safety.

Recently, an improved version of the Kasman has appeared. This vehicle has a shallower superstructure with angled sides and protrusions for the firing slots. Furthermore, the number of vision blocks is reduced and the dimensions of the superstructure have been considerably reduced as well. The vehicle, of which the exact designation is unknown at the moment, is equipped with IS-10 grenade discharges with CL-3030 smoke grenades.

18 posted on 01/18/2005 1:58:44 AM PST by Iris7 ( protect the Constitution from all enemies, both foreign and domestic. Same bunch, anyway.)
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To: Iris7
The kasman appears to be a mobile pillbox. That would seem an improvement over the 1 .50 cal on the M113A3. Only question is that it looks like you could only get 2 maybe 3 guns working in the turret and at that it would be cramped. I'd like to see something thats 2 (or more) turrets of the type used on the AAVP7. It has a .50 and a MK19 40MM grenade launcher in the same turret.

19 posted on 01/18/2005 2:52:59 AM PST by ProudVet77 (I'm ready for some NASCAR!)
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To: snippy_about_it

Good morning, snippy and everyone at the foxhole.

20 posted on 01/18/2005 3:03:55 AM PST by E.G.C.
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