Serbian T-34/85


 


 

The story of Serbian T-34/85

By Todd Wiwczor

 


 

The T-34/85 medium tank in those pictures took part in a battle in about 1994, during the Croatian invasion during "Operation Storm". The vehicle is located on route ‘Poker’ about 15km northwest of Drvar (where the riots in the Canadian sector took place in April of 1998). The tank belonged to the Bosnian-Serb army and was in a defensive position. The position was located on a bend in the mountain road and over-looked a plateau which was approx. 2 km long by 400-900m wide and was a sure route of advance. According to my information, the vehicle was in a hull down position with the turret over the back deck. The crew could drive down the road to their next dug-in about 500m further down the road with continued observation on the northern half of the plateau and good coverage of the road corners to this position.Also in the area were two BMP-2 infantry vehicles and fire positions for six M-76 76mm mountain guns. The Croatian assault developed much quicker than the Serbs anticipated and was preceded by a short but intense artillery bombardment (anyone looking at a map would peg this as an obvious position for defense). The Croats also sent Mountain Shock troops over the mountain on the side that the tank was dug in. Serb FOO’s failed to report this and were quickly over ran. As the bombardment reached its climax (smashing four of the M-76 guns in the process), a group of 20-65? Mountain troops (panic report) rushed down the close side and destroyed one BMP-2 with an Armburst 300 (AT rocket) and caused the other BMP (rear-most position) to flee. The tank crew was already buttoned up because of the artillery. When the first BMP exploded the driver must have panicked and tromped on the gas. Either he wasn’t paying attention or the artillery was obstructing his view because he missed his turn and crashed into the muddy embankment, spinning out and not being able to climb due to the mud and trees (and probably too high a gear). The crew then tried to bring their gun to bear (facing the wrong direction! (more panic)). Another AT rocket exploded beside the tank and by this time several of the mountain troops were swarming the tank. The entire crew was killed as they attempted to bail out.

This picture was actually taken between January 18-22 of 1998, before the area received snow (I think it was a nice +11c). The access engine panel and rear panels were open and everything was stripped of working parts. The hill in the background was the one they attempted to climb.

My favorite picture and current wallpaper. If you notice the third and fourth roadwheels are from a T-54/55 series tank, anything that works. That is my driver on the left-hand edge of the picture. Notice his sleeves – nice weather!

We took this one in early May of 1998, while on patrol. The manual traverse must still work or someone stood on the vehicle and hand pushed the barrel. The gentleman on the right was one of our interpreters and was the one who told us the story. He is a Bosnian-Croat, who fought farther North in the Bihac area but since it was his side parts of his story may have been embellished.

 


 

As of 1996, T-34, mainly in it its 85mm variant was still in service with many nations including: Afghanistan, Albania (approx. 70), Angola (approx. 58), Guinea Bissau (approx. 10), Cuba (approx. 400), Mali (approx. 18), Romania (approx. 1000), Slovenia, Hungary (approx. 5), Vietnam, Bosnia and other nations.


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