From the Vault: US description of Soviet tanks from 1942

Today we present an article from August 13, 1942, US Army publication Tactical and Technical Trends #5.  The technical information is relatively accurate although the illustrations leave a bit to be desired.  This article gives a good impression of how well informed the US military was concerning armor development on the Eastern Front in 1942.  It is interesting to note that the longest paragraph in this report deals with aspects of the T-34 design intended to allow infantry to ride on the tank or to prevent enemy soldiers from climbing aboard.

Tank warfare has taught the Russians lessons which have influenced their tank design.  The turret is located well forward to permit tank infantrymen (desyanti, see tactical and Technical Trends No. 3, page 44) to use it as a shield while riding atop the tank.   Every provision has been made to prevent unwelcome riders from getting aboard.  There is a lack of external fittings, tools, sharp projections, etc.: this meets the double purpose of eliminating hand grips for enemy hitch-hikers and the chance that a fire bomb or other missile could lodge on the tank.  The fender of the tank is very narrow so that “tank hunters” who seek to jump aboard run the risk of being caught in the track.  The newer American sponson-type tanks have no fenders as such and have solved these problems largely through basic design.  As a further protective measure for the tank crew, the hatch in the top of the turret is so constructed that it cannot be opened from the outside.  A special tool is required to open the hatch from the inside.


  1. Interesting, as external fittings for infantry to hold onto appeared in late 1942 and remained on Soviet tanks until after the war, when APCs became common.


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