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At 7.45 on June 22, 1941 Lt. Gudzj, outnumbered by German tanks, destroyed an enemy machine by driving his KV into it.

This was, probably, the first tank ramming in the Great Patriotic War, that is, deliberate destruction by impact. Actually, it does not really matter who was the first, important is, that, most certainly, it was not the last case of ramming the enemy with a tank.

On March 16, 1945 in the battle for the bridgehead on Oder Lt.Neljubov, running out of the shells, drove his T-34 into the Tiger in the sudden encounter.

Between these two cases were more than 160 reported cases of ramming. The tension and ferocity of battles during the war is now almost impossible to imagine.

The fight between Soviet and German tankers lasted, literally, to the last shell and even after that. When it was impossible to shoot because all shots were already shot or the tank was damaged, or the tactical situation left no other choice, many Soviet tankers rammed enemy tanks. In fact, the circumstances that could lead to the collision are too numerous to list. Just to name a few, lack of ammo, unexpected and sudden encounter with no time to load or reload the gun and many other causes and reasons.

The tank could be applied to almost any target: gun positions, enemy columns, tanks, aircraft on the ground, etc. SU of all kinds, T-34, IS, KV, ISU, all would do. Most often, as it maybe expected, the enemy was rammed with T-34's and KV's.

Imagine tens of tons of armor at high speed hitting the enemy tank and the results of it... breaking steel, deformed and crushed suspension of the German tanks...and, sometimes, an explosion engulfed both tanks, burying both adversaries in one burning grave... Or the effect of a tank ramming the column. In 1941 T-34 under command of Grigorij Zubov destroyed 2 AT guns and 30 trucks on such occasion. On January 16, 1945, in Poland, the tank of Grigorij Vinogradov smashed a column of 2 tanks, 6 guns, 60 trucks. 80 German Infantrymen lost their life in process. Vinogradov was awarded the Hero of the Soviet Union.

" Any idiot can put the machine on the high speed and run it into the enemy tank, the question is, how to hit it so as your own tank is still in one piece after that"-cast one of the tank drivers during the war.

Polar to that was so called "flame ramming", berserk ramming with the burning tank. The burning tank crushed, smashed and hit everything and anything until, usually, the explosion of ammo does the crew and their tank part. In no way it were kamikaze raids of Soviet tankers. The flame ramming occurred only if the tank was already hit, usually in the last minutes before ammo would blow due to the fire. As a rule, the crew had negligible chances to survive, even, if the remaining crewmembers would have managed to leave the burning tank. Actually, in the defense of Stalingrad Cpt.Putin in his KV destroyed the column. KV was hit and burning. Singing "International" the crew remained in the burning tank, surrounded by enemy. Out of more than 160 known ramming, the flame ramming take about 10 per cent.

Unlike the Soviet Air Force, tank ramming occurred during the whole war with peak in 1943.

G.K. Zhukov on his way to the HQ stopped at the place of battle under Prokhorovka and for a few minutes was silently looking at the field covered with black ruins of burnt, blown and deformed tanks. Everywhere in sight were pieces of armor, tracks... Near the general was Panther with T-70 stuck in its side. In some twenty meter - Tiger and T-34 in the last dance, both blown.

Zhukov said, as to himself, "_This_ is an encounter battle..."













Relatively few ramming were accounted for in 1941-42. Most likely, it was caused by the general situation, which did not help to record individual actions among the Tank brigades and Corps passing away without a good-bye. Nevertheless, the technical superiority of Soviet tanks and almost complete lack of ammo simply called for the ramming. Besides, as known, the most of Soviet tankers in the beginning of the war were not great shooters anyway.

In addition, as a rule, a company followed the leader in attack. The textbooks recommended to direct the company by example, that is, to drive in the direction of the target. Taking into the account the determination of Soviet tankers, it is easy to assume that encounters ended in ramming or, simply, in collisions between opponents.

Summing up, there must have been great many ramming and nobody to report them.

With the general change of the situation on the fronts, the number of reported cases increased. Simultaneously, the German Tigers moved to the number one in the hit parade. The peak of 1943 is attributed not only to the big tank battles in this year but also to the fact that Soviet tanks completely lost technical superiority and had to fight at close distances with ramming being, possibly the most effective way to destroy a heavy German tank.

In 1944-45, there were numerous ramming of barricades.

Sometimes the results of ramming were unexpected. On June 26,1941 KV of 8 Tank Corps under command of Lt. Zhegan rammed and destroyed Pz.IV. After the collision the KV engine died, the crew was unconscious. Another Pz.IV decided that it would be great idea to capture KV. The idea was all that great as it turned out. The noise produced by Germans stomping on KV returned the Russian back to the consciousness but they still could start the engine. After Pz.IV started hauling, the guys in the KV started the engine on the move. The KV was heavier and with more powerful engine. The German crew bailed out and the German tank was delivered to the position of the Russian troops. (But what the damned good towing cable the Germans had!)

On March 21, 1944 the battalion of Major Nikonov encountered 14 Panthers defending some village. T-34's closed at the full speed and burned 4 Panthers. Germans retreated. Following them, the battalion entered the village. The last Panther, under the threat of being rammed by T-34 at the full speed, surrender. Sgt. Garaschenko was reported to ram and damage Tiger. Garaschenko run to the Tiger and stomping on its turret with cries "Hitler kaput, Panzer kaput, alles kaput!" captured the crew of the damaged Tiger.

LT. S. Mitta in the battle for Belorussia gave the impressive example of the flame burning on June 26, 1944. He was tasked to prevent the destruction of the bridge across the river Odrov to allow the main forces of the brigade swiftly cut the road Minsk-Brest and close the ways of retreat for Germans. The bridgehead was defended by the battery of field guns and StuG.'s. Three T-34's went to the bridge at the full speed, on the way destroying Panther and a few AT guns with trucks. Near the bridge, the Soviet tankers burned 5 out of 8 Stug's and buried the battery. The tank of Mitta was burning but he saw German miners on the bridge. The burning tank reached the group and eliminated it. The tank was on the bridge and the explosion could come any second. The explosion of the tank would have destroyed the bridge. The decision was crucial: Mitta drove his tank from the bridge into the river. The task was completed at the price of lives of the Soviet tankers. Tanks of the 4th Guard Tank Brigade crossed the river and accomplished their task.

The story could go on and on, as each ramming demanded bravery, determination and the readiness to stake the life.

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