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The T34 off to Pastures New!

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Posted: 30/01/2018 12:44
Views: 739
This week we waved farewell to our latest restoration project, a T-34 which had been acting as a  doppelgänger to a swimming pool when we first were sent this Soviet war-horse. Restoration has brought the tank back to good condition and it has now headed off to its new owners in Poland. Read all about the T-34 and its restoration in this week's blog. 

The T-34 is a Soviet mid-sized tank that had a profound and lasting effect on modern tank design. At its introduction, the T-34 possessed an unprecedented combination of firepower, mobility, protection and ruggedness. Its 76.2 mm (3 in) high-velocity tank gun provided a huge increase in firepower over any of its predecessors and its sloped armour was difficult to penetrate by most of the anti-tank weapons of the time. When first encountered in 1941, German army officer, General von Kleist, called it "the finest tank in the world" and Heinz Guderian stated the T-34's "vast superiority" over existing German armour of the period. Colonel-General Guderian was a German General (and Colonel-General from 1940) during WWII. He was an innovator and advocate of the “blitzkrieg” (lightning war) doctrine was noted for his success as a commander of Panzer units during the campaigns in Poland and France and for initial success in the Soviet Union.

 Although its armour and armament were surpassed later in the war, the T34 has often been credited as the most effective, efficient and influential tank design of WWII.

The T-34 was the mainstay of Soviet armoured forces throughout the Second World War. Its design allowed continuous refinement to meet the constantly evolving needs of the Eastern Front. As the war progressed, the T-43 became more capable, but also quicker and cheaper to produce. Soviet industry eventually produced over 80,000 T-34s of all variants, allowing steadily greater numbers to be fielded as the war progressed, despite the loss of tens of thousands in combat against the German Wehrmacht. Replacing many light and medium tanks in Soviet service, it was the most-produced tank of the war, as well as the second most produced tank of all time. This production level was second only to the T54/ T-55 series- one of which we have at the Armourgeddon Museum. The T-34 development led directly to the T-54 and T-55 series of tanks, which in turn evolved into the later T-62, T-72 and T-90 that form the backbone of most modern armies’ armoured vehicle fleets. T-34 variants were widely exported after World War II, and in 2010 the tank remained in limited front line service in several developing countries.

This particular T-34 arrived on our doorstep from its presumed final resting place of another collection here in the UK. It is thought that our model saw active duty in eastern Europe, probably in the hands of the Polish army. The tank had been left outside at the Somerset-based museum with the bungs in-place and the hull was about a foot deep in water! The restoration team here at Armourgeddon stripped down the engine, rebuild the radiators, unseized the linkages, refurbished the starter motor and restarted the engine.

Internally, the hull and driver’s cockpit were stripped out, re-built and re-upholstered, cleaned and refreshed. Once the work was completed, the engine running and the refurbishment complete, the T-34 had its turret removed and was dragged onto a low loader by two tanks (and a gentle shove from the back by a JCB!) The turret was strapped to the low loader separately and the journey began to deliver the T34 to its new owners, back in Poland!

Onwards and upwards! With a substantial refurbishment of the Armourgeddon Museum and Tank Paintball site underway this closed season, we are already getting excited about welcoming visitors during the 2018 season, kicking off on the official first day, April 1st! The museum is open from the 1st April through to the end of October. If you want to visit outside of these times, please call in advance. Access to the museum is included in the price of any of our experiences, the Spectator cost and that of the Passenger. If you are coming just to visit the museum, entry is £6 or free for the under 5s. With over 64 vehicles in our fleet, there is plenty to see and lots of interactive exhibits to get involved with. Learn to use a magnetic compass, communicate via a Morse Code machine or a field telephone, pick up a variety of guns and rifles and watch informative movies, try on uniforms and learn all about the different vehicles in the collection. Plenty to keep you entertained for hours! 

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