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According to the top commanders of the German Wehmacht, the Soviet T-34 was the finest tank ever produced. While technically classified as a medium tank, the T-34 out-classed everything that Germany could build and send east until the arrival of the Tiger and Panther tanks, and even then the Soviets simply up-gunned the T-34 with an 85mm main gun in place of the original 76mm gun. Had the war lasted any longer, Germany might have been able to field one of several heavy tank designs that might have been a match for the T-34, but it is just as well that didn’t happen as they would have encountered the Josef Stalin heavy tanks and still lost the tank war.
As good as the T-34 was in combat, the Soviets still lost a good number of them to combat and mechanical losses and the Germans were quick to return these prizes back to Germany. Like many other combat vehicles captured during the war, the Germans modified the T-34 to meet their requirements including fixing the commander’s hatch that even the Soviet tankers hated by replacing it with a cupola with all-round visibility. German radios and optics were also added with some vehicles receiving a stowage box on the rear of the hull. In Wehrmacht nomenclature, these vehicles were designated as Panzerkampfwagen T-34 747(r). Unlike other German tanks on the battlefield, these T-34s ‘under new management’ carried large German crosses on the turrets to avoid being fired upon by their own forces.