Forces of Valor 80218 Russian T-34/85 Medium Tank - 119th Rifle Tank Regiment, Eastern Front, 1943 (1:32 Scale)
"By powerful artillery fire, air strikes, and a wave of attacking tanks, we're supposed to swiftly crush the enemy."
- Marshal Georgi K. Zhukov
The first generation T-34 medium tank made its debut in combat during the summer of 1941, when the Wehrmacht launched its invasion of the Soviet Union. The T-34 easily outclassed the German PzKpfw III and IV models, thanks to its hard-hitting 76.2mm main gun, thick frontal armor, wide tracks, and overall superior mobility. The first T-34s were assembled at Kharkov, Leningrad, and Stalingrad, then moved behind the Ural mountains when the German advance encircled Leningrad, overran Kharkov, and invested the "City of Stalin". Legend has it that some T-34s rolled off the Stalingrad assembly line unpainted and even unfinished to prevent the Nazi invaders from capturing the city.
This particular 1:32 scale replica of a Russian T-34/85 medium tank was attached to the 119th Rifle Tank Regiment then serving on the Eastern Front in 1943 and painted in a winter camouflage pattern.
Length: 9.5 inches
Width: 3.25 inches
Height: 3 inches
Release Date: August 2005
Original Issue Price: $39.99
Historical Account: "A Cold Wind Blows" - On December 6th, 1941, the Russians launched a massive counteroffensive all along the 500-mile Moscow sector of the Eastern Front. The Soviet's objective was to quickly drive two wedges deep into Army Group Center, isolate the Germans, and then defeat them in detail. Initially, the attacks met with success; afterall the Germans were exhausted and overextended from six months of continual campaigning. An attack in the Leningrad sector also met with success. While German resistance was fierce, the Soviets had too many fresh troops on hand so the Germans continued to give ground.
Enraged by the turn of events, Hitler replaced both von Rundstedt and von Bock as field commanders. He also dismissed von Brauchitsch as Commander in Chief of the German Army, assuming the post himself. From this point forward, he would personally direct the German army. At first Hitler makes a wise move: he commands all units in Russia to stand fast and defend their ground. This stiffens resolve and prevents the Red Army from routing the Germans, who are able to fall back and establish defensive positions that will hold until the spring. But this success leads Hitler to believe that his commanders are worthless, who ends up disregarding their advice time and again.
By Christmas, total German strength was down to 75 percent of what it was in June. Guderian's panzer group falls to just 40 tanks; other panzer divisions have less than 15 vehicles operational. By year's end, the losses on the Eastern Front are staggering. The Red Army has suffered 5 million casualties and the Germans have taken 3 million prisoners. The loss of materiel was also immense - 30,000 guns and 20,000 tanks. Meanwhile, the Wehrmacht has also suffered huge losses. The difference is that the Germans have not destroyed the Soviet's ability to rearm, both from within and through Lend-Lease shipments from the United States. The Germans have prevented a Soviet breakout, and the Soviets have used up the resources husbanded through the fall for the winter counteroffensive.