In August, Russia remembers the 55th anniversary of the WWII victory at Kursk. Key to that victory was the participation of the Russian T-34 Â tank in the tank battle near the village of Prokhorovka.
Interestingly, the Ã’grandpaÃ“ of the legendary T-34 was the American M-1931 tank -- two of them, without weapons and turret, were bought by the Red Army via Amtorg in December 1929. Russia modernized and adapted the M-1931 by replacing its American engine with a Russian one of the same power and by substituting the 37-mm gun with a 45-mm gun. The tankâ€™s thin armor and gasoline-based engine were its major shortcomings. This became obvious when the tank (dubbed the A-20 at this stage) was Ã’broken inÃ“ during the Spanish Civil War by Soviet â€œvolunteers.â€�
In 1937, the Kharkov plant design bureau was assigned to design, develop, manufacture and test a new machine with 10-20 mm thick armor and a 45 mm gun. The Kharkov bureau was headed by the Mikhail Koshkin. This 36-year old engineer, a graduate of the Leningrad-based Polytechnical Institute, teamed up with Alexander Morozov and Nikolai Kucherenko and concluded that the Russian army needed an entirely new tank.
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