Most accounts of the armoured battles on the Eastern Front focus on the T-34 medium tank. However this was only one of the many designs of tanks and self propelled guns that saw combat on the Eastern Front, and by no means the only effective armoured vehicle used by the Soviets. This book covers all of the significant Soviet tanks of the Second World War, from the pre-war light tanks that were destroyed in vast numbers in 1941 to the powerful IS heavy tanks of the later war years. It also covers the impressive array of self propelled guns produced by the Soviets, and the main types of British and American tanks send under Lend Lease.
Most types of tank get a page or two, which includes a brief design history, description of the tank and a brief note on how they performed in combat, supported by colour illustrations showing them from the side, and sometimes from the front, along with a handful of contemporary photographs. The more significant models get more space, and as we move onto the heavy tanks the format changes somewhat, with articles spreading over parts of pages.
Quite justifiably the T-34 gets an entire chapter to itself. Although other Soviet tanks were built in impressive numbers (the 8,000 or so T-70s would have made it the third most numerous German tank), a total of almost 60,000 T-34s were built during the war! To put this in context, the Germans only built 50,000 turreted tanks of every type, and that includes pre-war construction! Perhaps rather more depressingly, the Soviets also lost around 45,000 T-34s during the war, so they really needed those vast production figures!
The Soviet heavy tanks are less famous, but were actually rather impressive. The IS-2, of which twice as many were produced as of the Tiger I and II combined had a massive 122mm gun, and armour on a par with that of the two German beasts. We also get a useful chapter on the Soviet self propelled guns, which all share a clear family resemblance, and show a much more organised approach to weapons design than their German opponents managed.
We finish with a series of useful appendices, including brief notes on every Soviet tank of the war, comparative statistics of the tanks, and the statistics for the main tank guns, as well as four pages of side plans
This is a useful reference guide to the sizable array of armoured vehicles that contributed to the eventual Soviet victory on the Eastern Front.
Medium and Fast Tanks
T-34 Medium Tanks
Specifications and Data
Author: Stephen Hart