T-34/85: Sixty Years in Service

The Soviet Union ended World War II with a large inventory of AFVs. The excellent T-34/85 remained in production until the late 1940s. In 1947 the Soviets introduced an upgraded model, the T- 34/85 II, which remained the principal Soviet MBT into the 1950s. Produced under license in Poland and Czechoslovakia in the 1950s, it was exported widely, and production did not cease until 1964.

The T-34/85 II saw extensive service in the Korean War. The Korean People’s Army (the North Korean Army) had 150 T-34/85 tanks at the beginning of the Korean War. The tank also fought in the succession of conflicts in the Middle East and Africa and saw combat as recently as the 1990s in conflict in the former Yugoslavia.

Production of theT-34/85 continued after World War II, not only in the Soviet Union but also in Poland and Czechoslovakia; one source states that it may not finally have ceased until 1964. Exact figures are unknown, but authorities estimate wartime production of all T-34 models at around 40,000, with about the same number built post-war. The T- 34/85 was supplied to many foreign armies after 1945; it saw action with the North Korean, Egyptian, Syrian, Hungarian, North Vietnamese, Cuban and Angolan forces, and small numbers lingered on in Africa and Asia until the more modern T-54/T-55 series became cheaply available in the Third World. The T-34 shares with the M4 Sherman, and the British Centurion, the record for the longest service life of any AFV in history – so far…


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