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T-34/85 special rounds and a key question

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Degen Ion Lazarevich (long, highly informative interview)


Fair Use

"- When was ammunition replenished?

- Only after battles. The ammunition allotment for the old T-34 (T-34-76) was comprised of 101 rounds, that of the T-34-85 - 55 rounds: 15 in the turret and 40 in "ammo cases." That was enough, the tankers of our brigade did not take any rounds over the standard allotment, and nobody compiled emergency reserves. I always watched over the ammunition stores to ensure that in addition to armor-piercing rounds, we always had five sub-caliber (hardcore) rounds and five shrapnel rounds in the tank."

Of a total of 55 rounds of 85mm ammo carried, 10 are neither AP nor HE. 5 x Arrowhead don't astound, but 5 x shrapnel do, there being none listed in Valeri Potapov's Table III here.


Obviously, Lazarevich can't be talking about a typical round (tank core load AP and HE, with HE in majority), so shrapnel can't be regular HE. This suggests that, contrary to what I understood to be the case, the 85mm gun did indeed have real shrapnel. In a separate article on the 85mm gun, Potapov directly shows no shrapnel round for either any 85mm gun model. He does show a shaped charge round, but it would never be called shrapnel, the Russian descriptive phrase being "round of cumulative effect." Here's that separate article. Please see AMMUNITION FOR THE D-5, S-18, S-31, S-53, ZIS-S-53 GUNS


Is there a Russian tank ammo grog in the house? Seems to me we need to get an answer on this.


It occurs to me there may be an alternative explanation. Lazarevitch could be saying that, of the 55 total rounds carried, he watched his ammo consumption so that, in a pinch, he always had 5 x Arrowhead and 5 x HE, since I have repeatedly seen the word "shrapnel" (more typical expression for HE is "splinter") used for what we'd call HE or HE-Frag. In turn, and this bears exploration, this may imply that a fair proportion of his AP load is actually Arrowhead. This would make sense in light of all the heavily armored Panzers being encountered by that stage of the war.


John Kettler

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Shrapnel shell would be the proper shrapnel special shell not HE. 5 apcr and 5 shrap would be a pretty standard load for a 34/76, of the normal he and ap shells more he was always preffered. They might try to get more apcr if they knew they were due to encounter more heavy armor but supplies would be the controlling factor and theyd want to give the apcr to as many tanks as possible in the company instead of more in one or two tank.

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