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WW2 German Vehicles in Foreign Service WW2 Soviet Medium Tank Prototypes

T-IV-76

Soviet Union (1942-1945)
Medium Tank – None Built

The Panzer IV, initially designed as a high-explosive-firing support tank, became the Wehrmacht’s armored backbone and most numerous tank for a good part of World War II. Over 8,500 Panzer IV tanks of all versions were built. The Soviet Army captured and reused a significant number of these vehicles (designated as ‘T-4’), and even developed proposals, unconventional at first glance, aimed to maximize the battle potential of captured enemy tanks by reequipping them with domestic 76 mm guns – the F-34 or the ZiS-5.

The Support Tank that Stole the Show

The development of the medium Panzers was already underway during the early 1930s. Two new Panzer concepts were being formed. These were the Zugführerwagen (or Z.W.; German ‘platoon commander’s vehicle’), armed with a 3.7 cm gun to counter enemy tanks, and the Begleitwagen (or B.W.; German ‘escort tank’), equipped with a 7.5 cm gun firing mostly high-explosive ammunition, which would enable it to destroy enemy bunkers, anti-tank guns, and machine gun nests, acting as a support vehicle for the Z.W.

The B.W. prototype. Source: valka.cz

Later, the B.W. evolved, and the initial name was replaced with ‘Panzerkampfwagen IV (75 mm)’. Production of the first model, the Panzer IV Ausf.A, began in 1937. The vehicle differed from the B.W. in several aspects, such as the almost complete use of welding for the armor, a different commander’s cupola, a modified superstructure, a stronger and larger Maybach HL 108 TR 230 hp engine, a new shape of the drive sprocket and idler, etc. This version was built in small numbers, but it was an important starting point for the German designers to gain valuable experience with this type of vehicle.

A Panzer IV Ausf.A during the German invasion of Poland in September 1939. Source: https: www.worldwarphotos.info

In October 1937, Krupp-Gruson was tasked with increasing the frontal armor protection to be proof against at least 2 cm armor-piercing rounds and installing a more powerful Maybach HL 120 TR engine producing 265 hp. This would lead to a small production run of the second Panzer IV Ausf.B version. The Ausf.C was powered by the same engine, modified with an improved HL 120 TRM ignition starter. This engine helped to increase the speed from 32 km/h (Ausf.B) to 42 km/h (Ausf.C). The gun mantlet was also reworked.

The Panzer Ausf.C’s new gun mantlet with the armored covering for the MG 34 is evident here. Source: www.worldwarphotos.info

In October 1939, the demand for an increasing number of support tanks would lead to the introduction of the Panzer IV Ausf.D version, quite similar to the previous versions (differing only in minor aspects). The Ausf.E version was, in essence, just a copy of the previous one, with some minimal changes. The originally planned frontal armor thickness increase was not implemented by the time of production.

The Panzer IV Ausf.F brought in several important changes. It reintroduced the single-piece straight front armor plate, which would become standard on all subsequent Panzer IV tanks. It was also the last version to be equipped with the short-barreled 7.5 cm gun.

In an attempt to counter the Soviet T-34 and KV tanks, in early 1942, the Germans began to up-gun their Panzer IV Ausf.F tanks with longer 7.5 cm L/43 guns, which provided much better armor penetration. In order to distinguish modified vehicles from the short-barrel ones, these were initially marked as Ausf.F2 (short-barreled ones were renamed Ausf.F1). From July 1942 to the end of the war, this vehicle was redesignated as the Ausf.G by the Germans.

The latter-built Ausf.Gs received the 7.5 cm KwK 40 L/48 gun. The Panzer IV Ausf.H was supposed to be a major step forward in the whole Panzer IV series. It should have had sloped frontal hull armor (up to 80 mm), a new up-armored hydraulically operated turret, and a new suspension consisting of six larger road wheels. However, none of the mentioned innovations were ever implemented. Serial vehicles kept most features from the previous version. The only major distinction was the 7.5 cm KwK 40 L/48, which became the standard.

Krupp’s proposal of a new Panzer IV hull (9./B.W.) which could have been implemented as the new Ausf.H. Source: T.L. Jentz and H.L. Doyle Panzer Tracts No. 20-1 Paper Panzer Panzerkampfwagen, Sturmgeschütz and Jagdpanzer

The last Ausf.J version eased the production of Panzer IV at a time when the German industry was being destroyed by bombing, with fewer and fewer specialized workers available and with an acute shortage of raw materials. Apart from that, no major improvements were implemented.

Captured Panzer IV Ausf.F1. Source: armchairgeneral.com

Captured Panzer IVs in Soviet Service

There is no exact data on where and when the first Panzer IVs were captured by the Red Army. The earliest photos with Soviet soldiers driving a captured T-IV are dated September 1941.

Captured Panzer IV Ausf.F1. Source: armchairgeneral.com

The reports of the combat activities of the Soviet 121st Tank Brigade for the period from February 18th to April 18th, 1942, it is indicated that five German tanks were captured (two by the 1st Battalion and three by the 2nd), of which at least two were Panzer IVs. During the same period, repairs of three Panzer III and the same number of Panzer IV tanks were carried out.

Seventeen captured vehicles were restored and included in the brigade: six trucks, four special vehicles, four cars, and three half-tracks (referred to in the documents as “wheeled-tracked”).

According to the memoirs of the deputy commander of the 2nd Battalion of the 121st Tank Brigade, N. Matvienko, in order to distinguish captured tanks from German ones, “all five repaired vehicles were painted dark gray, so that they looked brand new, and also set a signal with flags “I’m one of you!”. It is known that in the period from February 23rd to March 13th, 1942, four captured German tanks participated in seven attacks against enemy infantry and tanks.

Captured Panzer IV (foreground) and Panzer III (background). Source: armchairgeneral.com

The largest unit which used captured tanks in the Red Army, the 213th Tank Brigade, which fought in autumn 1943 as part of the 33rd Army of the Western Front, there were 11 Panzer IV tanks. On the morning of November 14th, ten tanks from the Brigade, supported by a motorized rifle battalion, attempted to cross the Rossosenka River. As they approached the crossing, mines blew up one Panzer III and one Panzer IV. Soviet artillery fire suppressed the German firing points, allowing the tanks to advance. However, as the brigade broke through the barbed wire, they encountered a minefield, resulting in the immediate destruction of four Panzer IV and two Panzer III tanks. Although the order of battle was disrupted, some vehicles managed to bypass the minefield and penetrate into the depth of the German defense. The attack of the captured tanks enabled the infantry of the 42nd Infantry Division to occupy the second and third lines of enemy trenches and repel subsequent counterattacks.
The use of captured Panzer IV tanks continued until the end of the war, with changes made to their tactical employment, which took on a deceptive and sabotage nature. Despite the availability of newer and more powerful German tanks, the Panzer IV was preferred for various reasons, including its ease of operation and repair, as well as its widespread use in the German Army.

Captured Panzer IV on its way to the repair plant in Taganrog (The Taganrog Combine-Harvester Factory; formerly named after J. Stalin). Source: armchairgeneral.com

T-IV-76

The initial proposal for rearming captured German tanks and self-propelled guns dates back to March 17th, 1942, when a letter was sent to the Chairman of the Technical Council of the NKV, E. Satel, discussing the preliminary research results and suggestions on the topic. At that time, four types of captured vehicles were under consideration: Panzer III, Panzer IV, Panzer 38(t), and StuG III. Their German guns were to be replaced, respectively, with the 45 mm 20K, 76 mm F-34, 45 mm 20K (and initially, the 20 mm ShVAK – later this option was discarded), and 122 mm M-30. The letter also mentioned that development work had not yet commenced on rearming the StuG III (‘Artshturm’, as it was known in the USSR, or ‘artillerijsky shturm’ in full; Rus. for ‘artillery assault’) with the M-30. This later led to the creation of the SG-122 self-propelled gun prototype. However, the other three proposed options were never practically implemented.

After two and a half years, on November 28th, 1944, the Artillery Committee at the Main Artillery Directorate of the Ministry of Defense of the USSR (AK GAU) issued tactical and technical requirements No. 2820 ‘For the installation of domestic weapons in the turrets of captured German tanks T-IV, T-V, T-VI and the Royal Tiger’ (since there was no full-scale model of the Panzer VI Tiger II turret, the study of armament change on this tank with a domestic gun was not carried out). The requirements included the adaptation of these turrets as stationary firing structures. In simpler terms, OKB-43 was required to take the turrets from captured tanks, replace the German guns with Soviet ones, along with sights, and further modify them for installation on armored vehicles.

Letter from the Deputy Chief of the GAU, Chairman of the AK GAU, Major General of Artillery V. Khokhlov and Military Regimental Commissar of the AK Sidorov to the Chairman of the Technical council of the NKV, E. Satel. Source: CAMD RF 81-12038-775
TO THE CHAIRMAN OF THE TECHNICAL COUNCIL OF THE NKV
Comrade Satel
Moscow, 35 Gorkiy Street
ON THE ISSUE: rearming of captured tanks and self-propelled guns

According to the information given to you by the Assistant Chief of 2nd Department of the Artillery Committee of the GAU of the Red Army, a military engineer of the 2nd rank, Comrade Germanov, about the need to rearm captured tanks and a self-propelled installation, we have previously discussed with the designers of the NKVD, comrades Sinilshchikov and Pererushev.

Our proposal on the possibility of rearmament of tanks is the following:

  1. To install 76 mm tank gun F-34 on the T-IV tank;
  2. To install 45 mm tank gun [20K – author’s note] on the T-III tank;
  3. To rearm 38T ‘Praga’ [Panzer 38(t) – author’s note] with:
    1. 45 mm tank gun [20K – author’s note];
    2. 20 mm ShVAK automatic gun;
  4. To rearm German ‘Artshturm’ [StuG III – author’s note] self-propelled gun with 122 mm M-30 howitzer;

So far, we have put before Sinilshchikov the question of rearming only the ‘Artshturm’. According to the information received, his group has already begun to develop a draft design, for which I am sending you a copy of the general view of the 122 mm M-30 howitzer, which I ask you to hand over to Comrade Sinilshchikov, if there are no objections on your part to continue work on rearmament.
At the same time, I am sending you sketches of tank turrets with installed German weapons and I ask for your order to the design bureau, according to your appointment, on the production of these works.
Please let me know about your decision.

APPENDIX: mentioned on 4 sheets.
Deputy Chief of the GAU and Chairman of the AK GAU, Major General of Artillery V. Khokhlov
Military Commissar of the AK GAU, Regimental Commissar Sidorov

Only in January 1945, the old idea of rearming the T-IV tank was revived. This involved replacing the German 7.5 cm gun on the Panzer IV tank with a 76 mm ‘domestic’ one. Two 76 mm gun options were proposed this time: F-34 and ZiS-5. The entire process of gun replacement was estimated to take 80 hours for both options, although the preparations were considerably quicker for ZiS-5 (47 hours in total, compared to 60 hours for F-34). It is highly likely that the vehicle would also be equipped with new Soviet sights and 7.62 mm machine guns instead of the German Maschinengewehr 34 (MG 34). The vehicle was never officially designated, so it will be referred to as ‘T-IV-76’ henceforth, drawing an analogy with T-VI-100, the sister project aimed at rearming captured ‘Tigers’ with the 100 mm D-10T gun, which was the only project in the series that reached the blueprint stage.

Approximate number of machine-hours required to perform work on re-equipping captured German armored vehicles with Soviet guns in small-scale production. Source: CAMD RF 81-12038-775
Works T-IV-76 with F-34 T-V-85 T-VI-100 T-IV-76 with ZiS-5
I Lathing 18.0 40.0 15.0 9.0
II Gouging and milling 4.0 7.0 4.0 5.0
III Drilling 10.0 10.0 9.0 9.0
IV Welding 16.0 22.0 12.0 12.0
V Gas cutting 8.0 8.0 7.0 8.0
VI Forging, pressing and bending works 4.0 6.0 6.0 4.0
Summary 60.0 93.0 53.0 47.0
Fitter and assemblyman hours, 5 people per team 80.0 120.0 90.0 80.0
  1. Head of Special Design Bureau (OKB-43) – Salin;
  2. Senior technologist – Petrov;
January 3, 1945

New Gun

Two guns were suggested for this proposal: 76 mm tank gun mod. 1940 (F-34) and 76 mm tank gun mod. 1941 (ZiS-5). From now on in this article, they will be referred to just by their factory designations, as ’76 mm F-34′ and ’76 mm ZiS-5′, respectively.

Option I – 76 mm F-34

The developmental history of the gun is unclear, and there are two versions circulating.

76 mm F-34 gun. Source: M.A. Svirin, “Artillerijskoe vooruzhenie sovetskih tankov 1940-1945

According to A.B. Shirokorad’s research, the 76 mm tank gun F-34 was developed by a team led by P.F. Muravyev, the designer of Plant No. 92, under the general supervision of Major General V.G. Grabin, the Chief Designer of Plant No. 92, on the initiative of the design bureau of Gorky Plant No. 92. The development of the gun started in 1939. Originally, it was intended for equipping the T-28 and T-35 tanks and was an extended version of the F-32 tank gun. On March 15th, 1939, the design of the gun was completed, and the first tests of the gun mounted on the T-28 tank were carried out on October 19th, 1939 at the Gorokhovetsky proving ground. However, it was later decided to abandon the rearmament of the T-28 and T-35 tanks, and the gun was reassigned to the new T-34 tank. The first firing from the F-34 cannon took place in November 1940.

According to the research of M.N. Svirin, the gun’s design started in June 1940 specifically for the T-34 tank, using the projects of the experimental high-power tank gun F-27 and the serial tank gun F-32 as the basis. The experimental F-34 model had a longer barrel than the serial version. The first tests of the gun were conducted on the BT-7A tank.

76 mm F-34 APHE AP HE
BR-350A BR-350B BR-350SP OF-350 F-350
6.3 kg 6.78 kg 6.2 kg 6.1 kg
690 m/s 706 m/s
0.15 kg TNT 0.064 kg charge
(0.09856 kg TNT eq.)
0.71 kg TNT 0.815 kg TNT
85 mm pen 104 mm pen 113 mm pen
7-8 rpm Parameters of penetration are given for 0 m and 0°.

76 mm F-34 parameters. Source: Zinoviy Alexeev Design Bureau, Pablo Escobar’s gun table

On November 14th, 1940, the People’s Commissariat of Defense issued an order ‘On conducting field-military tests of the 76-mm F-34 tank gun of Plant No. 92, installed in the T-34’. On the same day, the Deputy People’s Commissar of Defense of the USSR, the head of the GAU of the Red Army and Marshal of the USSR, G.I. Kulik, approved the tactical and technical requirements for this gun. From November 21st to 23rd, 1940, a T-34 tank with an installed gun underwent intensive testing at the Gorokhovetsky proving ground, where 2,807 shots were fired in three days. The commission, consisting of V.G. Grabin, P.F. Muravyev, N.S. Ogurtsov, the Head of the Department of Artillery of the Military Academy of Mechanization and Motorization of the Red Army, Military Engineer of the 1st rank, and Lieutenant Amelin, a representative of the 14th tank Division, concluded that “the 76-mm tank gun F-34 is a modern gun for the T-34.” They suggested recommending the F-34 tank gun for the T-34 tank.

T-IV-76 w/F-34 inner layout scheme. Source: Zinoviy Alexeev Design Bureau, drawn by Andrej Sinyukovich.

After making changes to the design, the gun was officially adopted by the Red Army in July 1941 under the name 76 mm tank gun mod. 1940. Serial production of the F-34 took place at Plant No. 92 from 1940 to 1944. A total of 38,358 guns were manufactured.

Option II – 76 mm ZiS-5

By summer 1940, it became evident that the power of the F-34 was insufficient. The Red Army’s own KV heavy tank could not penetrate itself. The arrival of heavy tanks from the Germans was seen as inevitable. In June, the idea of creating a tank gun with the ballistics of the 76 mm 3-K anti-aircraft gun arose. This was potentially the only gun in this caliber capable of penetrating 75 mm thick armor at perpendicular angles. It was planned to build two prototypes and install them in a standard KV-1 turret. The F-27, based on the F-34 gun, was the foundation for this system. It was also considered for placement in the T-34.

76 mm ZiS-5 APHE AP APCR HEAT HE
BR-350B BR-350SP BR-350P BR-350M OF-350M
6.3 kg 6.78 kg 3.02 kg 3.94 kg 6.3 kg
662 m/s 655 m/s 950 m/s 325 m/s 680 m/s
0.064 kg charge
(0.09856 kg TNT eq.)
0.49 kg charge
(0.7546 kg TNT eq.)
0.621 kg TNT
98 mm pen 105 mm pen 125 mm pen 88 mm pen
8-9 rpm Parameters of penetration are given for 0 m and 0°.

76 mm ZiS-5 parameters. Source: Zinoviy Alexeev Design Bureau, Pablo Escobar’s gun table

On July 23rd, the production drawings for the system were submitted. Unlike the 85 mm F-30 gun, which was being developed at the same time as the F-27, the 76 mm caliber system was compatible with the KV turret. By September 21st, a gun prototype was produced and placed in the T-28 tank turret, where firing tests commenced. In the first stage, 122 shots were fired without any significant issues. However, by September 26th, after 600 shots, problems arose with the operation of the recoil system. As a result, the initial plan to install the F-27 in the T-150 heavy tank had to be changed, and the F-32 system was used instead.

In early December, the gun was prepared for transportation to the Gorokhovetsky proving ground. A second prototype was constructed and installed in the KV-1 tank. However, it was soon discovered that the foot release mechanism was not functioning properly, and the system as a whole was unbalanced. Despite these setbacks, work continued, and in February 1941, the system was given the new name ZiS-5, following the naming convention of the Design Bureau of Plant No. 92. The 57 mm anti-tank gun F-31 became known as ZiS-2, and its tank version was named ZiS-4. Meanwhile, the development of the 85 mm F-30 was halted, and attention was shifted to the 107 mm F-42 tank gun, which was subsequently named ZiS-6.

Breech of the 76 mm ZiS-5 gun. Source: CAMD RF 81-12104-79, page 84-85

However, the ZiS-5’s initial version did not enjoy a long lifespan. Although it was initially considered for the T-44 heavy tank (which is now often mistakenly referred to as the A-44 due to the online game World of Tanks), all further work on installing ZiS-5 guns in the T-44 was halted by the military leadership at the end of May. By that time, production of the 76 mm 3-K gun had been discontinued, and the use of two different types of 76 mm ammunition posed logistical challenges. Additionally, higher-powered guns had taken priority. By March 1941, the T-34 was equipped with F-34 guns, leading to a somewhat humorous situation where the medium tank had a more powerful gun than the heavy tank.

Work on developing a version of the F-34 gun for the KV tank began in early 1941 under the initial designation ZiS-22. This involved modifying the F-27 (ZiS-5) gun to fit the barrel of the F-34. Progress was initially slow, as the gun was installed in the tank, but the gun mask’s armor was only a mock-up.

The Gorokhovetsky proving ground received the order from the Artillery Command of the Main Artillery Directorate to test the ZiS-5 prototype in the KV-1 tank on August 22nd, 1941. The testing was conducted using standard ammunition, resulting in a projectile velocity of 687 m/s, compared to the F-34’s velocity of 655 m/s. This increased velocity was achieved through the use of a longer (by 10 calibers) barrel, which raised questions about the feasibility of this ZiS-5 variant. Nevertheless, the gun withstood 612 shots during testing, although there were some issues, such as the depression angle being -2º instead of the intended -5º.

76 mm ZiS-5 gun. Source: CAMD RF 81-12104-79, page 84-85

On September 17th, the Artillery Committee of GAU KA, having examined the trial results, made the decision to adopt the ZiS-5 gun into service with the Red Army as a ’76 mm tank gun mod.1941′. However, the gun that was adopted, with a barrel length of 50.8 calibers, never entered production. The version with the barrel from the F-22 did not possess any notable advantages. It took time to arrange for the production of these barrels, but it did not offer enough of an advantage. According to available documents, by September 1st, 1941, there were only 13 F-32 guns at the ChTZ. There was no time for further delay. Hence, in the second half of September 1941, the production of ZiS-5 with F-34 barrels commenced at Plant No. 92. Unfortunately, no chance of creating a more powerful gun system than the F-34 was left. The first 17 ZiS-5 guns arrived at the ChTZ near the end of September 1941, and full-scale production began in October.

T-IV-76 w/ZiS-5 inner layout scheme. Source: Zinoviy Alexeev Design Bureau, drawn by Andrej Sinyukovich.

In conclusion, it can be said that Grabin’s guns were likely the best that the Soviet weapons industry could provide in wartime conditions. Even with subpar quality shells, the F-34 and ZiS-5 were sufficient to combat all German tanks from 1941-42, and they only needed to be replaced in spring 1943, following the widespread appearance of Tiger tanks on the frontline.

Project Description – Comparison with the Panzer IV

The proposal to install a reliable Soviet 76 mm gun, which was successful on T-34 medium and KV heavy tanks, in the turret of the German Panzer IV tank was positively judged by the Soviet military command.

It should be noted that in this paragraph, the T-IV-76 with either of the optional guns will only be compared to the late series Panzer IV tanks, specifically the G, H, and J models, which were armed with long (L/43 and L/48) 75 mm guns. Earlier versions of the Panzer IV tanks were clearly inferior to the T-IV-76 in terms of armament, although other parameters were equal or worse.

75 mm KwK 40 L/43 APHEBC APCR HEAT HE
PzGr 39 PzGr 40 Hl.Gr.38B SprGr 34
6.8 kg 4.1 kg 4.4 kg 5.74 kg
740 m/s 919 m/s 450 m/s 550 m/s
0.017 kg charge
(0.0289 kg TNT eq.)
0.513 kg charge
(0.8721 kg TNT eq.)
0.686 kg TNT
135 mm KE pen + 8 mm exp pen 175 mm pen 80 mm pen
7-8 rpm Parameters of penetration are given for 0 m and 0°.

75 mm KwK 40 L/43 parameters. Source: Zinoviy Alexeev Design Bureau, Pablo Escobar’s gun table

75 mm KwK 40 L/48 APHEBC APCR HEAT HEATFS HE
PzGr 39 PzGr 40 Hl.Gr.38B Hl.Gr.38C Klw SprGr 34
6.8 kg 4.1 kg 4.4 kg 7.3 kg 5.74 kg
750 m/s 930 m/s 450 m/s 520 m/s 550 m/s
0.017 kg charge
(0.0289 kg TNT eq.)
0.513 kg charge
(0.8721 kg TNT eq.)
0.515 kg charge
(0.8755 kg TNT eq.)
0.686 kg TNT
137 mm KE pen + 8 mm exp pen 177 mm pen 80 mm pen 160 mm pen
7-8 rpm Parameters of penetration are given for 0 m and 0°.

75 mm KwK 40 L/48 parameters. Source: Zinoviy Alexeev Design Bureau, Pablo Escobar’s gun table

The breeches of the ZiS-5 and F-34 occupied a comparable amount of space in the turret to the KwK 40. However, the new Soviet gun was significantly inferior to the German original in terms of penetration. On the other hand, both the F-34 and ZiS-5 had been adopted by the Soviet Army early in the war, well before the development of the T-IV-76, so their mass production was already well-organized. Soldiers were accustomed to using each of them, and ammunition supplies were well-established.

The T-IV-76 would have likely undergone similar modifications as the T-VI-100. The German 7.92 mm MG 34 would have been replaced by the Soviet 7.62 mm DT, and Soviet sights would have replaced the original German ones. It can be assumed that the machine gun in the hull would also have been replaced by a DT, although there is no documented evidence to support this hypothesis.

Comparison of the T-IV-76’s and the Panzer IV’s turrets inner layout.
Source: Zinoviy Alexeev Design Bureau, drawn by Andrej Sinyukovich.

Although the space inside the T-IV-76’s turret would have remained almost the same as on the regular Panzer IV, the elevation arcs would have significantly decreased due to the internal mechanisms of these new guns, which were designed for a tank turret of a different shape. With the F-34, the elevation arcs would have been -8°/+8° instead of the Panzer IV’s -10°/+20° with KwK 40 L/48. With the ZiS-5, the elevation arcs would have been -5°/+12°.

Elevation arc of the T-IV-76 compared to Panzer IV Ausf. H.
Source: Zinoviy Alexeev Design Bureau, drawn by Andrej Sinyukovich.

However, there were still many unresolved problems with the T-IV-76. No consideration was given to replacing the transmission, engine, and other components of the hull with Soviet ones, which would have made tank repairs difficult. Clearly, if the T-IV-76 had been converted, the challenges associated with using captured German vehicles by the Red Army would have remained, much to the displeasure of the crews and mechanics.

The Fate and Prospects of the Project

In general, the project was assessed positively and approved by the High Command, but there was no progress beyond the project documentation. By spring 1945, the need for such projects had diminished due to the nearing end of the war in Europe.

The Panzer IV medium tank was significantly outdated by 1945 compared to the latest medium tanks of that period, such as the Soviet T-44 or the American M26 Pershing. Even when compared to tanks such as the T-34, Sherman, and Cromwell, the T-IV-76’s only significant advantage was its gun, while its armor and mobility were unimpressive. Overall, the outdated design, particularly the suspension, posed major disadvantages. This suggests that if the T-IV-76 had been built, it is unlikely that it would have performed well as a medium tank.

However, there were other potential options for the use of the developments of the project. One was to sell a modified version to third countries. However, the rationale behind this seems flawed, as most of these countries, especially those that had never operated this medium tank before, would probably not have a need for the Panzer IV with the Soviet 76 mm gun. Additionally, Germany itself was not allowed to have its own army for several years. For emerging Soviet Bloc countries, such as Czechoslovakia, Hungary, or Poland, especially those bordering what would become NATO, the T-IV-76 could have served as a temporary stopgap for their weakened armies until Soviet supplies of T-34-85s, T-54s, etc. became available. It is important to keep in mind that plans like Operation Unthinkable, a British invasion of East Germany, were actively developed and posed a tremendous threat to the weakened and war-torn USSR and its satellites at that time. The hypothetical frontlines of a Third World War would likely have been in Eastern Europe. However, it is doubtful that rearming an outdated and difficult to maintain captured tank type would have been easier or more beneficial for the aforementioned countries than waiting for the mass-produced T-34 or T-54.

On the other hand, using converted T-IV-76 as pillboxes in countries like Bulgaria, Israel, or Syria might have been a slightly better idea. Their armies continued to have some Panzer IV tanks in service for decades after the end of World War II, and these medium tanks were even used in combat during the Six-Day War in 1967. Since Arab states predominantly used Soviet weapons during this offensive, the service of T-IV-76 could have made ammunition supplies more effective. However, this never happened, possibly because the conversion of tanks would not have improved firepower.

The only known rearming of a Panzer IV tank with Soviet weapons took place in the late 1980s, when Bulgaria was constructing the Krali Marko pillbox line along its border with Turkey. Then, a 76 mm ZiS-3 anti-tank gun, which was commonly used on the SU-76 self-propelled gun, was installed into an enlarged Panzer IV turret. The hull of the tank was then buried in the ground, resulting in a structure more akin to a pillbox than a functioning tank. The Bulgarian T-IV with the ZiS-3 gun appears to have been a potentially more effective version of the T-IV-76 tank, thanks to its superior firepower. If such a tank had been built towards the end of the war, it would certainly have been a competitive force on the battlefield.

The Bulgarian T-IV with ZiS-3 gun pillbox was the result of parallel evolution with the T-IV-76 medium tank concept: both had the same ancestor and similar reasons for creation. Source: valko-bg

Conclusion

The T-IV-76 tank project, like many of its contemporaries, falls into the category of ‘the war ended too soon’. While it was a reasonably viable alternative to simply disposing of captured vehicles, significant enhancements were still needed to ensure its complete and practical integration, particularly with regards to the hull.

T-IV-76 with ZiS-5.

T-IV-76 with F-34. All illustrations by Oussama Mohamed ‘Godzilla’.

T-IV-76 specifications table

Dimensions (L-W-H) Length (without gun): 6,630 mm
Width: 3,170 mm
Height: 2,680 mm
Total weight, battle ready ~24 tonnes
Crew 5 men (commander, gunner, loader, radio operator, and driver)
Propulsion Maybach HL 120 TR(M) 265 hp @ 2,600 rpm
Max speed 42 km/h (26.1 mph)
Range (road) On road: 210 km
Cross-country: 130 km
Primary Armament 76 mm F-34 or 76 mm ZiS-5
Elevation Arc -6°/+15° (ZiS-5 version), -8°/+8° (F-34 version) [estimated]
Secondary Armament 2 x 7.62 mm DT [hypothetical]
Hull Armor Depends upon basic Panzer IV version
Turret armor 50 mm frontal
30 mm side and rear
10 mm roof

Sources

6 replies on “T-IV-76”

In his book “In the grievus time” , Nikolai Kirilovic Popel, in June 1941 brigade commissar of 8th Mechanized corp Red Army, explains how on 28 June 1941 soviet forces in Dubno under his command captured german tanks, 13 tanks, and in same night 12 tanks (4 “T-4” and 8 “T-3”) gone in action vs column from german 16th panzer division
This is from book:
“The group encountered connections from the 16 Tank Division. For the Germans, this meeting was also unexpected, they did not think in the area to meet with the Russians. In the two-hour battle, all German attacks were repelled, and 15 tanks, which broke through into the location of the Soviet troops, were captured (13 of them are in good condition).
The seizure of these tanks pushed to the idea of ​​organizing sabotage in the enemy rear. The operation was called a “miracle.” She was headed by Senior Political Commissar Ivan Kirillovich Gurov (political deputy of the commander of the 67 Tank Regiment) and Senior Battalion Commissar Efim Ivanovich Novikov (Deputy Head of the Political Propaganda Department in 34-t etc.). Trophy T-3 and T-4 one at a time penetrated the enemy’s location. They had to, one at a time, at intervals, enter the German column, which stretched along the road, and wait for the signal. At the signal of a red rocket, Gurov gave it to 24.00, the Soviet tank crews had to shoot at the front of the German cars and leave in the confusion. “Miracle” succeeded. At night, shots rumbled, the flame began to cloud. An hour and a half later, the first tank saboteur returned, by dawn, 11 tanks had arrived. Only one tank was lost, but his crew safely got out of the enemy rear and reached their own ones on foot. The result was quite expected – the 16-I German Tank Division did not launch an offensive in the morning.
So its first time use of Panzer IV ( T-4) in soviet hands like combat formation, on 28th June 1941

How about covering the myth of the M4 “Emcha” which was rearming the M4 Sherman’s with Soviet 76mm guns?

I have plans to cover lend-lease M4 rearmed with 85 mm S-53 guns and SU-85/SU-100 on M4 chassis as soon as my colleague Andrej will make blueprints for those. I may cover myth about 76 mm guns in those articles as well, though I haven’t heard much of it. I would be gratefull if you could share some good sources about it.

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