The T-34/85 in Aces High II
Improvements over T34/76
In 1944 the Soviet Union fielded the T34/85, a variant of the early war T34/76. The T34/85 brought multiple improvements including a redesigned turret to improve crew comfort and effectiveness. This new turret houses the ZiS-S-53 85 mm gun and features a 3 man crew (Gunner, Loader, Commander). Reload times are greatly reduced from the early 76mm version.
The new 85mm cannon is much more effective weapon than the 76mm it replaces. Although reload times are still slow compared to its counterparts, the gun is easy to aim and will kill or cripple an enemy tank in one blow.
There are three rounds available to choose from; AP, HVAP, and HE. The High Velocity Armor Piercing round has a very flat trajectory at short ranges but will begin to fall off at long range. For long range battles you are better off using the standard AP rounds. The HE rounds are nearly twice as effective as the 76mm and have good splash damage, making it easy to destroy field guns with near misses and taking down structures quickly. They are also very effective at disabling a moving target at long range to finish off with AP.
Armor levels are average for a main battle tank in World War II, however because of its sloped armor it will sometimes shrug off large caliber hits. While the T34 does cause many rounds to bounce off harmlessly, an experience tank commander knows the T34's weak spots and a direct hit to these areas by nearly any tank killing weapon will destroy or disable the T34.
Fighting in the T34/85
The best attribute of the T34 that sets it apart from other tanks is its speed. Able to outrun all of its counterparts, the T34 can be hard to track for an inexperienced gunner. You will want to use your speed to get around your enemy and take shots at the high profile side, or the weak armor of their rear. The 85mm is very effective at close range and that is where you will want to do most of your fighting. The T34 will not hold up well to long range slug fests with the M4 and Tiger, but will typically outmatch the weaker Panzer. I prefer the mixed ammo load of 30 HE, 20 AP, and 10 HVAP. This allows you to have the versatility to take down structures, guns, and lightly armored vehicles that can be tough to get direct hits on with AP. This still leaves you with enough Armor Piercing rounds for close range fighting. A single HE round mixed with an AP round will take down the weaker structures such as town buildings, ammo bunkers, barracks, and radar. When looking for a parking spot you will want to try to protect your Hull from enemy ground fire. While it is fairly easy to destroy the T34's turret and take out its gun, it is unlikely to be completely destroyed from hits to the turret. If you lose a turret in a slug fest and your hull is not shown to the enemy you can typically use your speed to retreat to supplies, or out of range completely to land.
If you are attacked by enemy aircraft dont feel that you are defenseless. Track them with your commander's view and get points of reference on the ground from their approach. Use your turrets speed and bring your gun to bear, I typically open fire with coax early and then fire the main gun at the last moment. A hit with any of your main gun rounds is sure to bring down any enemy plane.
When attacked by IL-2's I will drop down to 2nd gear so I have enough engine torque to turn quickly, keeping my front hull and turret pointed at their approach. While you can still be taken out by the IL's cannons this forces them to land perfect shots at your tougher armor and protects your tracks and engine from easy hits.
Fighting against the T34/85
The T34 with its high speed and dark skin choices is usually very easy to spot running around the countryside. If you see one coming you typically want to begin your fight at long range, aiming for the tracks with HE rounds if necessary to slow it down for the kill. Compared to the 17 pounder of the Firefly and the 88mm of the Tiger, the T34's 85mm is not nearly as effective in long range shots, however at close range it is right up there at the top for armor penetration.
When attacking from the Air, dont let the lack of pintle gun fool you into thinking that the T34 does not have air defense capabilities. The turret turns at a very high speed and has a high angle of elevation. Do not strafe a T34 wondering what your .50 cal machine gun will do anything to a tank, make one mistake and you will typically only find out what an 85mm cannon does to a plane.