Wednesday, February 26, 2014

T-34 in Stalingrad

The Battle of Stalingrad was obviously one of the pivotal events of WW2, and these desperate times did call for desperate measures. The STZ, or rather the Stalingrad Tractor Factory named after Feliks Dzerzhinsky (Сталинградский тракторный завод им. Ф. Э. Дзержинского) was designed by an American architect, Albert Kahn, and it opened in 1930. It was also to become one of the pivotal locations during the Battle of Stalingrad.

The T-34 tank was initially manufactured in Charkov, but with the tank showing much promise, the manufacture was expanded to the STZ plant with assistance from Factory No. 264, the Stalingrad Barge Works, and Factory No. 221, the "Barrikady" artillery foundry. Another plant to manufacture T-34 tanks was Factory No. 112, "Krasnoye Sormovo." The first tanks was manufactured in early 1941, and over time some unique design features appeared in the STZ T-34, most notably the perforated metal road wheels, "chisel" mantlet, and other details. Although production was halted during the height of the battle, by early 1943, some 3,770 T-34 tanks had been produced by the STZ plant.

There are persistent anecdotal recollections of tanks being driven out directly from the STZ production lines into combat. These would have been unpainted or only covered by iron oxide primer, lacking sights and other accessories, and manned by factory workers of both genders. This is featured in Anthony Beevor's "Stalingrad" as well as many other sources, although these stories are emphatically denied by armor expert Cookie Sewell. The photo below is claimed to be of a knocked out in Stalingrad, and it is definitely lacking fenders, headlights and other details, although the photo doesn't answer the question whether it is painted or not.  

For the sake of experimentation, let us assume that the STZ produced and repaired tanks with or without paint until he last possible minute. The T-34 model below represents a mix of components. The kit is based on a Dragon T-34 model 41, and it is fitted with STZ road wheels, although not a STZ turret. Perhaps the hard-working laborers of the STZ plant married a working turret from a less hastily produced T-34 model 41 (B 2/11 would stand for bashnya/turret two of eleven) to a STZ chassis sans accessories, thus producing this beauty? The figures are a mix of DML, ICM and Verlinden, with a Trumpeter animal friend. The commander may very well be a factory worker, since he is wearing civilian clothing and a tanker's helmet. Now let's roll out and beat the Fascist invaders, shall we?  

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