The T-34 is a Soviet medium tank. It was designed and first used in World War 2, when it gained fame as one of the best tanks in the war. Cheap, easy to operate, reliable and powerful in its day, the T-34 greatly helped the Red Army crush Axis armies, conquer Berlin and win the war in Europe. It also holds the distinction of being the second most-produced tank, the first being its successor, the T-55.
In 1937, plans were made to make a tank to replace one of the mainstays in the Soviet tank force, the BT tank. The deficiencies of the BT and T-26, another common tank in the Red Army, during the 1937 battles in Manchuria against the Japanese helped the chief engineer of the project to convince Joseph Stalin of the need for the new tank. Drawing from the lessons of the battles, the new tank was to be better armed and armored than the BT.
Trials began in 1939. In one demonstration, two prototypes were made to drive 2,000 km (1,200 miles) from Ukraine to Moscow to Finnish border and back to the tank factory in Ukraine. Before the German invasion of the USSR, the tank's development had to struggle against competitors and conservatives in the army. It was only when the need was evident, with catastrophic losses after losses for the Red Army, that the T-34 went into full mass production.
The T-34 was heavily used from the beginning of the war, and immediately won the respect of the German generals. The ease of manufacture meant that it could be churned out of factories in astoundingly short time. During the battle of Stalingrad, there are stories of T-34 being sent to the front fresh from the factory even before it was painted.
While the T-34 would soon be outgunned by the more powerful German Panther and the iconic Tiger tanks, the T-34 would receive upgrades to allow them to fight the near-mythical Tigers on equal terms. Despite heavy losses, the T-34 was easily replaced, unlike the complicated and expensive German heavy tanks. Eventually, it became clear that the mass of T-34 cannot be stopped by what was then the most sophisticated army in the world. It was based on this experience that Soviets would conclude that in war, simplicity is a quality of its own.
The number of T-34 produced meant that there were many thousands of tanks after World War 2, some of which were exported by the USSR to her allies. The North Koreans and Chinese would utilize the T-34 in the Korean War. The T-34 would be replaced by the T-55, already in the works before the war has ended. It was the start of a whole family of Soviet/Russian tanks, that would include the famous T-72 and culminating in the modern T-90. Even today, almost 80 years since it was designed, some T-34s still equip armies across the globe.
ArmA 2 Edit
The T-34 is used by the NAPA guerillas in ArmA 2, and by the Takistani Army and guerillas in its expansion, Operation Arrowhead. As ArmA 2 is set in the 21st century, the T-34 is understandably outdated. It would certainly not stand against any other tank in the series and is vulnerable to anti-armor rockets such as the RPG-7. However, its 85 mm gun, used in World War 2 to defeat the German Tiger tanks, is still a potent force and would destroy even modern APCs like BMP-3 or the Stryker without much trouble if they were caught unaware. One weakness of the T-34 is its high profile, it is surprisingly taller than most modern tanks, especially Soviet-built ones. As such, it can be detected and targeted more easily from long distances.