American Spyplanes by Mike Spick

By Mike Spick

Makes a pleasant present for an aviation or a chilly battle fanatic.

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Nikita Khrushchev, First Secretary of the Ukrainian Central Committee, was deliberately kept in the dark, ‘Stalin told me that diesel engines were being manufactured at the Kharkov locomotive factory. Naturally I knew of this factory, but this was the first I’d heard about diesels being made there… . ’ German Armaments Minister Albert Speer examining a captured Model 1940 T-34. Notably, the tracks were almost 2ft wide; this greatly helped to spread the weight of the tank, allowing it to travel over mud and snow with ease.

Among the victims was Tukhachevsky, whose ideas were discredited by vengeful rivals. It was against this background that the T-34 was designed, developed and put into production – under such circumstances it was little short of a miracle. West of Moscow the Nazis discovered exactly what that miracle was. General Heinz Guderian commented: On October 6th 1941 our headquarters was moved forward to Sevsk. 4th Panzer Division was attacked by Russian tanks to the south of Mzensk [Mtensk] and went through some bad hours.

Then it struck me: the T-34 is the one weapon that truly won the Second World War. A bold statement I grant you, but when one considers the vastness of the Eastern Front the campaigns fought in France, Italy and North Africa and, indeed, in the Far East were just sideshows when it came to armoured warfare. Throughout the Second World War tank designs came and went, but the T-34 was the one constant from 1940 to 1945. After Hitler’s invasion of Russia the T-34 became the spearhead of the Red Army’s blitzkrieg that took it from Stalingrad and Kursk to the very heart of Berlin and victory over the Nazis.

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