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
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
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-20, T-34 (model of 1940), T-34 (model of 1941) tanks
Aleksandr A. Morozov
Tests of the
first T-34 on the Karelian isthmus. 1940
bottles with burning petrol at the tank engine compartment