Unknown T-34

The latest title from M Hobby of Russia is the Unknown T34; this is in A4 portrait hardback format. ISBN no is 5-94038-013-1 published by Ex Print Publication, PO box 26, Moscow, 121552, Russia. Price in the UK is 14.95 but this will vary country to country so check with your local importer.

Printed on high quality gloss paper, it has crammed into its 181 pages the following 271 black and white photographs, 22 black and white line side profiles some to scale others not. Text is in Russian with English captions to the photographs. The all four centre pages are given over to full colour profiles of tanks and tank crew, there are 4 pages of technical listings on hulls, guns and comparisons with foreign tanks etc. Lastly the last 16 pages are given over to very high quality scale 1/35 drawings of the development of the T34.

It starts with the development of the pre T34 series of tanks and goes on to show all the various ideas tried out, some fanciful and bizarre others which led on eventually to the successful T54 series of tanks.

It opens up a whole new insight into the production of the T34 series of tanks and with over 50 percent of the photographs new to us in the West. It will start new and interesting debates and hopefully answer a great deal of the questions still hanging around.

It begins with the Christie tank and then on to the B T series and the A20, then the A32 and lastly the T 34 series. Not to be missed out are the SU series and the T43 and T44.

Among the new and fascinating tanks on show are the Bridgelayer, external fuel tanks in the wheel centres; concrete additional armour. It also proves that the factories did produce differing turrets at the same time, not as some have stated in the past.

A note about the quality of the photographs, you have to take into consideration the conditions and the period in which they were taken. The editor has done a wonderful job of printing them to the very best quality that he can, so showing detail that has been lost in previous publications because they were printed too dark.

Contrary to facts told over many years the Russians did speculate and try other ideas in conjunction with the mass production. To single just one out on pages 83 and 84 the T34 -85M has an extended rear hull and is angled similar to the American M 36. We will only know the reasons when a translation comes available. Printed in Russian for the main text is to be honest its only let down. Had it been published in English it would be a stand-alone book on the Unknown T 34. That said as I tell people at model shows: drawings, photographs and plans need no translation.

As a foot note as this review was being compiled a friend who has studied the T 34 for as long as I have; phoned me up to tell me I must get a copy as it was in his words. " It is an Information Gold Mine about the T34." He was on the phone for at least 30 minutes, and it was only when he took breath that I was able to tell him I agreed with him completely and I compiling this review.

I look forward to the next two in the series the BT Tanks and the IS Tank.

I bought my copy from an UK book dealer as soon as I knew it was available.

In conclusion Alexander is to be congratulated on bring together in one volume all the information about the Unknown T 34 series of tanks. Go out and order your copy today you will not be disappointed.

Ian Sadler Sept 2001









Ex Print

A4 portrait hardback