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The T-34 tank was formally accepted for service by the Government Resolution of December 19, 1939 without prototypes having been manufactured yet. The first prototypes of the tank were built in January 1940, and their high technical and combat capabilities were confirmed by the subsequent trials.

In March 1940 two T-34 tanks made a roundtrip to Moscow and back to Kharkiv. In so doing, they proved high reliability of all their assemblies. Mikhail I. Koshkin took part in this run.

The series T-34 production commenced in June 1940, with 115 vehicles being completed by the end of that year.

In June 1940 the Government took a decision to establish T-34 tank production lines at other large enterprises of the country. In this connection the Design Bureau of Plant No. 183 prepared complete sets of drawings and technical documentation of the T-34 tank urgently and sent them in required quantities to the Stalingrad Tractor Plant and Sormovo Shipbuilding Plant.

The beginning of series production of T-34 tanks, which was the finishing stage of a three-year-long painstaking work of the designers, workers and employees of the plant, almost coincided with great bereavement. After a prolonged disease, on September 26, 1940, Mikhail I. Koshkin passed away. His premature death was a severe loss for the designers and the plant personnel. His pupil and comrade Aleksandr A. Morozov was appointed the Chief Designer of the Tank Design Bureau.

By the end of 1940, in spite of large amount of work required for the final elaboration of the T-34 tank, the Design Bureau began working on its upgrade. The modernised specimen, which was designated the T-34M, envisaged large enhancement of armour protection of the hull and turret, torsion shafts in the suspension instead of springs and road wheels with internal shock absorption, increased amount of fuel, projectiles, cartridges, etc. The drawings and technical documentation of the T-34M tank were completely prepared and sent for manufacturing a prototype. The Zhdanov Metallurgical Plant manufactured armour plates for the hull of the T-34M tank (five sets) and delivered them to Plant No. 183. However, early in 1941 work on the T-34M tank virtually ceased as the production facilities were extremely busy with the series production of T-34 tanks.

In 1941 the Tank Design Bureau of Plant No. 183 (Department 520) consisted of 106 persons (12 design teams) headed by the Chief Designer Aleksandr A. Morozov and two his deputies N.A. Kucherenko and A.V. Kolesnikov.

A-8, A-20, T-34 (model of 1940), T-34 (model of 1941) tanks
 

T-34

Aleksandr A. Morozov

 

Tests of the first T-34 on the Karelian isthmus. 1940

 

Throwing of bottles with burning petrol at the tank engine compartment

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