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Was T-34 an Ukrainian tank?

I have seen  a couple of Websites with  opinion that T-34 was purely Ukrainian design with the respective consequences of such deduction.

This opinion is rather surprising and misleading as, evidently, the reality was substituted with wild guesses on the base of geographic location only. Some trip to the history is needed to clear up the things.

The USSR was maniacally secretive country and everything concerning the defense was strictly classified. In fact, there was no such clearly defined thing as the defense industry as the most of the subjects of the national economics were engaged in the military production in one way or the other.

The production plants, for example, had two names. One, so called "open" name, was intended for the public use, while the other "secret"or military name (number) was known only to the respective Ministry (or People's Commissariat /Narkomat during the war) and, of course, the Ministry of the Defense.

To give an example, Tractor Plant in Tscheliabinsk was busy manufacturing tractors for the agriculture, while the same plant under the name "Works No.100"was making KV's, the Russian heavy tanks. Or, in this case, Kharkov Steamlock Factory was designing and producing T-34's.

Naturally, the character of the military production depended on the profile of the plant (more or less, less in the recent times). And, of course, everything was controlled by Moscow. Prominent specialists were rotated between the numerated (mil.) plants by direct Moscow orders. Moscow decided everything. The military side of things was under 100 per cent control from Moscow. Supplying of everything for the numerated plants and workers was planned by Moscow. Locally, the mil.production was controlled by the Party chieftains of the respective geographical region. All in all, if the plan for the production of the guns was not carried out the punishment went through the two lines: Narkomat/Ministry down to the director of the plant and, through the Party.

The positioning of mil.production or design buroes followed the historical traditions (Kirov plant in Leningrad) and the political or any other given reasons, on the other hand. The economics almost never dominated in this or that decision. After the disruption of the USSR that resulted in many economical and political problems.

Thus, The Design Buero was situated in Kharkov (why not? it was as good as any other place) but with the same success it could have been founded anywhere. Actually, the physical location was not all that important and did not change anything. Possibly, if the woks were placed near the North Pole, white bears would have been reclaiming now the rights on T-34. :)

The above can be illustrated by the life of Mr.Koshkin, chief designer of T-34. Koshkin

Born in 1898, Mr. Koshkin finished the Industrial college in Leningrad in 1934 and till 1937 worked with the Design buro at Kirov Plant in Leningrad (tanks). In 1939 he was transferred to Kharkov Buro, where the consequent modifications of BT tanks resulted in the creation of T-34 in 1939. Purely Ukrainian designer, was not he? Buro itself was placed in Kharkov, Ukraine under decision of Moscow, was controlled by Moscow and reported to Moscow bosses.

With all these positions in view, T-34 could hardly be considered to be an Ukrainian job.

In times to come the Kharkov Buro also modified T-80 in T-80UD finally adopted as MBT for the Soviet Army for the short time, before the complicated political relations between Ukraine and Russia forced the Russian Army to make an opposite decision.

So, was T-34 Ukrainian? :) As much as the Black Sea Fleet :), Sebastopol, etc but it is out of scope of the this page.

Remark: the opinion is purely one of the author.

Dec.30,1997 A.Nikiforov

mod. Jan. 30, 2000

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