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Welcome back! T-34-85 Part 2: Turret and Interior!
Now the turret, of course, big difference between it
and the earlier model to accommodate the larger gun,
also meant you had a three man crew.
This is great, the TC could spend his time commanding the tank
and not performing multiple duty.
Now initially T-35-85 turrets had about 75mm of armour on the front
and about 52 on the sides and rear.
However, later models, by the end of 1944,
you are starting to look at 90mm at the front
and 75 on the sides and rear.
The Turret was of cast construction,
although the roof was a simple sheet of metal
which got welded in place.
TC of course has his own cupola now.
It's a fixed cupola, the vision ports are fixed,
you can't rotate them around.
However, he can rotate the roof with the hatch.
So by lifting up the lever here, it's on rollers,
it rotates fairly simply.
Now the hatch itself, after I lock this back into place.
Very simple, one piece, it's locked in place by a simple locking latch
and there is a torsion bar spring to help lift it open.
That's the outside, let's go in.
Now the Commander's seat, is not really the most comfortable
that I've ever been in,
it's actually a good incentive to fight with your head out.
Now for reasons which elude me it seems the TC has a choice
of two different foot pedals.
The first one is below the gunner's seat.
In order to get to fold down,
you have to lift up the gunner's seat to give it room
and then let the gunner's seat fold down.
Now with this set of food pedals he's aiming pretty much
his legs in a forward direction,
so he's quite comfortable.
The downside though is that with his knees lower down,
he's more of a risk of hitting the gunner in the back.
The other set of foot rests,
which is part of the gunner's seat itself,
the advantage is now my knees have been lifted up not quite
as intruding into the gunner's space.
The downside though is that now my knees are angled over at forty degrees,
and so I'm fighting with my body twisted
and it doesn't strike me as being particularly comfortable
for any length or duration.
To see out, TC isn't doing too badly.
He's got five of these individual vision points around here,
which, if it looks like you're taking fire,
you can actually pull down and it will protect the port.
To his front here he has a binocular or unity sight,
which is adjustable in elevation,
and, in theory, traverse, although this one is a little bit stiff.
He doesn't have any other controls.
He's along for the ride.
No TC's override, he's got some stowage facilities
around him so it looks like a little bit sparse
but otherwise his job is, quite simply, command the tank.
Probably a nice relief for T-34 Commanders
who used to have to do multiple duty
in earlier versions of the tank.
Other than that, the only thing I can really say is that if I've got no gunner,
I can stretch my legs out
and I can still control the turret and get her around.
Not really a three man crew because you've got no sight
but it's comfortable.
The better way to control the gun, of course,
is from the gunner's seat, so that's where I'll go next.
That was easy.
So this is an example of elegance in operation:
it's a crude tank but it can also be elegant.
So you sit and here and you go
'Well, where is the control for the powered traverse'
because, obviously you've got manual traverse,
you have manual elevation.
Where is powered traverse?
Because, ordinarily, there would be another set of controls.
Well, no, not in this -
they saved space.
All you do is move the manual control to the top left,
pull out the handle and now you're in a powered traverse mode.
It's not precise, but it's a lot faster than cranking.
So, if I try spinning to the right…
POWER!
Alright, so similarly, going back,
again note how there's momentum in the turret,
it continues to spin even after I go back to the zero position.
So this is a case of traversing quickly to get roughly on target.
More or less straight, then you go back to manual mode,
and that's how you conduct your final lay and service the target that way.
And again, you saw how fast this thing spins, being a loader,
holding that big 85mm shell, while the turret spins,
unpredictably,
because you don't control it, you want to pay attention.
To engage the target the gunner is supposed to have a TSh-15 sight.
As you can see, it's somewhat missing.
It did have an electric light bulb so you could have an illuminated reticle
for firing at night
and by January of 1945 it came with a heater to prevent it from fogging.
This primary toy is the S-53 85mm cannon.
54.6 calibres in length and it has 56 rounds to play with.
Maximum service range: 5,200 metres.
The gun has two ways of firing, electrical or manual.
The electrical trigger is located on the elevation handle.
The manual trigger is located next to the solenoid here.
It would be a string that you pull and it would release the firing pin.
Just behind the solenoid and manual firing trigger is an elevation quadrant.
You can use this to engage targets at night
if you are firing from a range card for example,
so you can't actually see the target,
you know what the range is.
Or alternatively perhaps, for indirect fire,
although without an azimuth indicator,
at least not a precise one,
I'm not entirely sure how that would be performed.
There is a basic azimuth indicator on the left hand side.
It's a simple pointer.
There is a graduated scale on the inside of the turret ring and
that will give you an approximate way of telling
which way you are facing compared to the hull.
To his front he has selectors for the main gun and the coaxial machine gun.
Curiously, you can have them both on or both off at the same time.
I'm not entirely sure that's how it's supposed to work,
so we'll have main on, and coax off.
The coaxial is a 7.62mm DT
and he has over 1800 rounds of ammunition to play with in drums.
To his left he has a pistol port,
there is another one on the other side of the turret.
You unscrew it, bring it down,
you can then push out the port plug
and engage targets with what was usually a revolver.
It was preferred by the tankers over the semi-auto apparently.
And you just put it back in, lock into place, and off you go.
Last thing on the right hand side.
This is a recoil guard with a travelling position.
So, the release latch would be here, unfortunately,
its locked into place, so I can't release it to demonstrate going up and down.
However, sufficed to say, it can theoretically be done.
Last thing to say for the gunner,
he doesn't have a foot rest of his own
but because he is in control of when the turret traverses,
it's probably less critical.
That's the gunner's side.
Loader next.
Now, we're over on the loader's side
and this is where things start getting a little bit nasty.
For starters, of course, there is no turret baskets
so I'm standing on ammunition boxes which are on the hull floor,
so I've got to be careful as I'm wandering around inside the tank.
I've seen the turret on this thing move under electrical power.
It is actually very fast,
which means you have a tripping and leg-cutting-off hazard for the loader.
Now it is possible for the Loader to have a Loader's seat,
however, I've never ever seen a loader sit in a loader's seat
when performing the loading operation.
It's usually more for road marches or long distance travelling.
So perhaps this is why it isn't in this particular tank,
perhaps the loader just got sick of it being in the way.
He has enough problems of his own to deal with.
As you can see, I'm…
Let me stand up and I can show you how little room I have to stand.
So that shows you where the floor is,
and what kind of angle my legs are on right now.
So, yes, I know I'm taller than most people,
a foot isn't a difference though,
it takes more than a foot and a difference to do this.
You would have to be particularly short to work on this.
The Ammunition, as you can see, is not particularly short.
85mm of course, much stronger than the earlier one.
So once I insert the round in,
it's not going to go in all the way because the breech has been welded up.
But you can see how the back of the round rests on this spring-loaded deflector.
It's is actually a relatively neat little thing here.
What it will do is it will take some of the weight off of the long round
and make it easier for the loader with his left hand,
his weak hand usually, to throw the round in
without also having to support its weight.
Of course it springs up out of the way
to let the empty shell casing fall to the floor,
where the loader can then trip over it.
The loader does have another periscope of his own.
It's of course adjustable in elevation and rotation.
Forward of that is a dome light on the turret roof
mounted over the machine gun -
which I have to say is rather convenient -
if he wants to change ammo belts in the dark.
The loader has sixteen rounds of ready ammunition available to him.
Four are on the turret wall behind him,
and the other twelve are located in the bustle.
The rest of the sixty rounds of 85mm, in the hull.
Now unlike an American Tank which have removable panels
which basically make a false floor,
the T-34-85's ammunition boxes are stowed in the open,
giving an uneven footing for the loader
as he's attempting to navigate his way around inside.
So the astute of you will realise this segment is filmed
in a different tank on a different day.
We had a small incident involving a memory card and the turret monster.
However, this is the bow gunner's position on the T-34,
and I have to say this is rather miserable,
not because it's uncomfortable,
which is my normal complaint about such things,
in fairness, the seat is actually very nice,
and you can see my leg is actually absolutely straight.
I can put both legs absolutely straight into the bow of the tank.
No, what really concerns me more is the fact that he can't see a damn thing.
Your only view of the outside world, except maybe the driver's hatch,
is from this small little hole through
which you shoot your DT machine gun.
Outside of that, you can imagine the noise of battle
and you have no idea what's coming at you.
You just have this small little hole.
Oh, by the way, what happens when you get hit?
Well, there is actually, at my feet a very small escape hatch.
Very small. Still, slightly bigger than the Matilda's I guess.
For his machine gun he's got 22 drums scattered around
in double depth here,
single here and then there is a vertical row
and of course you got one on the gun itself.
Held in place by a very simple travel lock,
just unscrew it a little bit and there you go.
It's very solidly in place.
You almost don't need to put your shoulder up onto it.
You certainly have no need for the shoulder guard here.
Radios if mounted in the hull,
would be in the front right corner here.
However, this particular tank has moved the radio to the bustle.
Outside of that, all he has to worry about is
not getting in the way of the driver and the gear stick.
Now the other thing to point out in here firstly is
the interior space is largely taken up,
rather heavily, by the suspension units you can see here and here.
Now this is the downside with the Christie Design.
In order to get that large range of travel,
the large springs eat up a lot of your internal volume.
So the interior space here is a lot narrower
than it would be on any other tank.
Now it's not entirely wasted though,
if you have a look behind, there are fuel tanks
in between the suspension units,
and oil tanks further back.
So, not totally wasted, but still narrower than you would like.
The last thing in here, if you look at the far corner you can see
one of the locking systems for the idler-wheel.
So again, if you're going to tension the track,
unlock it from inside here, adjust the tension on the outside,
and then you lock it back into place.
Outside of that, the only thing blocking
his legs is the axel for the front road wheel,
and the next stop is the driver's hole!
Alright, so moving into the driver's position, definitely,
you can see my knees are up.
This is more for the shorter people in the crew.
To see out he has two prisms to his direct front
and course the hatch will simply move up out of the way.
It's lifted by a large cylindrical spring here.
So you undo the two locking levers, push forward,
it springs up and it's held in place by use of a screw here.
Make sure you do it tightly enough.
There we go.
Nice and secure and we have a little bit more light.
So, quick tour of the driver's station.
My foot is now on the clutch.
That's as far down as it goes.
There is a service brake in the middle, and an accelerator on the right.
Steering of course, controlled by the two tillers.
These are also brakes.
Now, this is a two stage steering system.
You pull back to the first stage,
all that happens is that the clutch disengages.
You have power going to one track only.
You pull back to the second stage,
and this now applies brakes on the inside.
Now the disadvantage with this,
and this is why you see it's so jerky when a T-34 is turning,
is that it's not very efficient on the power.
The tank will slow down as you're going around the curve.
Advantage?
It's very simple to build. It's also a little bit tiring for the driver.
So starting around on the left hand side,
this is the control valve for the high pressure engine start system.
Now there are two ways of starting this thing.
You got the standard electrical starter motor,
or if for some reason that doesn't work there is a compressed air system.
Now the bottles for that are in the very bow of the tank.
Release the level and a blast of high pressure air will come down,
cycle the engine -
it's a compression system so no electrics required.
Engine roars to life and hopefully your alternator will then take over
and you will have electrical power for the tank.
The high pressure air is only filled by mechanics
it's not re-pressurised by the system,
and that's why it's not the primary means of starting.
So the last thing I'll mention in here is
that I can't help but notice I'm behind the turret ring,
pretty much down to my midriff,
which means that the driver has probably got to be leaning forward at all times,
otherwise he's going to have a serious issue of the turret traversing around
and various large, heavy metal components interfacing
with his head with a lack of clearance.
I don't know, how much of a problem that this was in practice.
I guess after the first couple of knocks you learned a couple of lessons,
however, I just pointed it out as something
that strikes me as being a bit unfortunate.
So that's it for this little sequence.
Through the wizardry of editing we are now going to go back
to our original location.
Alright, we're going to have a crack at moving this thing.
The starter process of course, warm engine,
because the mechanic has been helping us a little bit,
and frankly, we've been practicing.
So the gear lever is in neutral,
foot brake must be applied,
and there's a reason for that we'll come back to, I just learned!
Press down on the clutch.
Hand Brake, correction, hand accelerator about half way up.
Then it's pump, horn, let everyone know you're starting, and starter.
So if all is well, let's see what happens!
Okay, we seem to be idling.
Now to get her into first, you've got to put her in reverse.
Hopefully, I've done that.
Take off the brake -
just push down and release -
and let's see what happens!
Little bit of clanking.
Not bad.
Barely touching the speedometer
and we'll come to a halt here.
To go back into neutral,
I've got to put it in reverse again.
Okay, so my gear stick says I'm in neutral.
I let go of the clutch...I'm in neutral.
Now I've got to go backwards again,
all the way forwards with the gear stick.
Don't ask. I'll try both hands.
Ow! That's a heavy clutch as well by the way.
Okay, reverse works.
Okay I'm now stopped.
I put it back into neutral.
Not quite neutral.
You've actually got to put it back into first in order to totally disengage the gear.
So now, in theory, if I let go… let's try it again…
okay I've disengaged the gear.
Cut the hand throttle and then set the parking brake.
So what happened there was,
when I pulled back into first gear to disengage from reverse,
I went a bit too far.
I engaged first and took my foot off the clutch, the tank crept forward.
So to disengage from first, back into neutral,
back, just touching the reverse gear,
should disengage first, came back into neutral again,
let go of the clutch, and that was the end of that!
And that is why the foot brake has to be set
before you start the engine,
because you don't know if the last gear was properly disengaged.
The fact that you can move or turn the gear levers
side to side has no bearing as to
whether you are in gear or not, which is a little bit disconcerting.
And the other thing which is a bit disconcerting if you didn't notice,
was just how much force it was taking me to push or pull into gear.
Not very relaxing!
Still an interesting educational experience.
Alright, so with what little strength I have left in my left leg
after holding down the clutch for so much,
it's not a light clutch,
I'm going to attempt to egress in the traditional manner out the driver's hole.
I am told head first, chest up is the preferred technique.
Not having my foot stuck is probably a good start.
Oh to hell with the preferred technique!
Okay, who put the steering lever in the way?!
Half way there...
As I almost fall off the front slope.
Fortunately, the spare track links almost broke my fall.
You know, if the tank's on fire, I'm going to get out the turret.
Now the Russians are going to hate me.
I don't like this tank very much.
Now don't get me wrong, I respect it immensely.
As a strategic war-winning vehicle, this thing served the Red Army supremely.
However, as a tanker,
it strikes me very much that it was designed purely
with the needs of the state in mind
and the needs of the crew really didn't get much of a look in.
Perhaps it is simply a cultural thing but as a western tanker,
that concept doesn't sit well with me.
Still 35,000 of the things were made,
and if you add to that,
the production run of the earlier T-34s, this brings you nearly to 80,000,
that alone cements the T-34's place into the annals of Tank History.
By the close of the war, the Tank was starting to show its age a little bit,
and indeed about ninety percent of anti-tank gun hits
on the T-34 would penetrate the vehicle.
However, the fact that it was still a perfectly serviceable vehicle
at the end of the war is a testament
to how good of a fundamental design T-34 was back
in 1940, at the beginning of the war.
It was, however, a bit of an evolutionary dead end.
A lot of the features that made the T-34 so awesome at the beginning of the war,
such as the Christie Suspension, the strange drive system,
the all-around sloping armour.
They were dispensed with in later Soviet Tanks as well.
It would continue on to see service throughout the world,
it was widely exported, for many, many years.
Now it got to the point that anybody with basic mechanical skills
could keep this operating.
There was a case in Hungary about ten years ago.
Some protesters found a T-34 that was used as a monument,
they fired it up and used it to attack the police,
unfortunately, they forgot about some basic fundamentals of tank warfare -
they left their supporting infantry behind.
The police walked up to the tank and they lobbed tear gas
down the hatches, which they also forgot to close.
So there is an example as to why it is important
that crew training is just as much of a factor as the tank itself.
That was the T-34.
I hope you found it somewhat amusing and informative.
I'll see you on the next one.
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Inside the Chieftain's Hatch: , T-34-85 Episode 2

394 Folder Collection
raychen0918 published on April 8, 2019
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