Russian Tanks DVDThe History of Russian Tanks is a feature length documentary that spans a Century of outstanding history in engineering, design, politics and Warfare. From the early days where the Tsar’s tank, in its monstrous form, seemed the logical way forward, to the creation of the T34, which changed the landscape of the 2nd World War on the Eastern front. In essence a fascinating journey through 20th Century history.

The DVD documentary includes exclusive footage of rare archive film, tank enthusiasts will enjoy the unique footage and interviews with owners of Russian Tanks. Taking many of these fantastic vehicles for a test drive we gain a fascinating insight into Tank Collectors and their world.

 

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En route we visit the early ideas developed under the Tsar and those absorbed fr om the west. Although the concept of a tank was originally designed by Russian engineers, it was the west that developed the initial prototypes that designated the way forward in tank development. In this film we look at designs, including the introduction of the 1st World War Mark 4 and 5 tanks introduced through the British interventualist forces, the reverse engineered Renault FT 17 and British Whippet. The first indigenous tank produced by Russia was the T18 that was designed around western ideas. The T24 developed the suspension system, allowing for the rigours of the Russian roads. The T26 was the transition from dual turret to single turret weaponry. Through the American Vickers Company the Russians were also interested in the concept of the ‘Tankette’ – light, fast tanks ideal for reconnaissance.

The BT series introduced the first V2 diesel engine that drove tank development for the next 50 years. In parallel, there was the development of the land battleships, huge monoliths that the Russians developed into the T28, a 3 turreted tank and the ubiquitous 5 x turreted behemoth T35 that is renowned for appearing on Red Square, along with the SMK and T100.

T34 TankOperation Barbarossa, the German invasion of Russia, sees the introduction of the BT 5 & 7 which attempted to hold off the Panzers. The reality check was the systematic destruction of Russia’s tank army. It was only with the brilliance of Russia’s tank design teams and the Russian winter that froze the Nazi advance, that allowed Russia to let loose a Tsunami of T34 tanks at the battle of Kursk and turn around the direction of the 2nd World War.

Heavy tank development produced the KV series, that played a major part in the destruction of Berlin, along with JS series which rammed its way through German defences. This series extended to the JS 7 which mounted a marine diesel engine. Medium tank development produced the T44 and subsequently the T54 which improved the engine and size of gun turret. This naturally, led onto the T55 which is still in service in countries around the world. The T62 entered service in the mid 60’s with a 115mm gun but was not produced extensively. The major change took place with the development of two separate designs the T64, which had smaller road wheels and a new flatter silhouette engine, along with an auto shell loader that unfortunately tended to cut peoples arms off!

The T72 created major internal politics in the way that the heavy tank department went off on their way and came up with this new design, without political approval. It did, however, prove to be the race car of the battle field and was significantly cheaper to produce than the T64. Where the T72 proved most effective was in the development of range finding, thermal imaging and night vision equipment, which pushed this model into a new league.

T80 TankThe T80 introduced the concept of the gas turbine helicopter engine along with the new 125mm gun. The dilemma here was that Soviet tank production was splintered across three tanks – the T64, T72 and T80. What the army required for training was a standardised approach and this finally determined the creation of the T90 which took all the benefits of these three tanks. Future developments of Russian tank development are still unknown, but the development of the Black Eagle gives a strong perception of the way forward with compartmentalised armour storage, with a huge bustle on the back of the tank. What is evident is that all future tank development will involve computer synchronisation of all the armed forces. Where and when this will be displayed, is a chapter that time will tell.

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