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Although there was a lot of work to be done on the T-34 tank, in the second half of 1942, on Aleksandr A. Morozov's initiative, the Design Bureau started concept studies for a new tank under the development designation of the T-43. This project was based on the designs made as far back as in Kharkiv for the T-34M tank. Besides, it was envisaged that the tank would feature:

  • five-gear transmission;
  • commander's cupola mounted on the main turret;
  • simplified design of the hull in order to facilitate automatic welding;
  • increased capacity of fuel tanks;
  • torsion bar suspension, etc.

The tank design had been completed quite quickly even by the standards of those times, and as early as in the third quarter of 1943 the Plant manufactured a prototype of the T-43 tank. The T-43 tank development never got beyond the prototype stage, as the T-43 gave little advantage over the T-34 as to its characteristics, while the major changes to the vehicle design were numerous.

The year 1943 saw the armies of Nazi Germany receiving new tanks designated the Tiger and the Panther. They featured a thicker armour that in most of cases was resistant to 76 mm projectiles of the T-34. Urgent countermeasures were needed.

The designers had to do a tremendous amount of work to counter the threat coming from the new German tanks. In extremely short time period the task put forward by the State Defence Committee was successfully fulfilled. Late in 1943 a new more powerful 85 mm gun was mounted on the T-34 tank, which practically equalled the firepower of the T-34 with that of the new German tanks. A commander's cupola was also introduced, thus considerably improving the visual observation from the tank. The tank with the above-mentioned changes was designated the T-34/85 and was accepted for service on December 15, 1943. The first specimens of the T-34/85 tank rolled off the production line at the Uralskiy Tank Plant in March 1944.


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