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modified: Nov 10, 2012

The T-43 (not to be confused with the light amphibious prototype) was a Soviet medium tank developed during the Second World War to provide heavier armor. However, it was believed that, not heavier armor, but better armament was necessary to match Germany's tank technology and the project was cancelled.

In June 1942, the Soviet Main Directorate of Armored Forces (GABTU) issued a competition between SKB-2 heavy tank design bureau at Tankograd and the GKB-T-34 at the Uralvagonzavod plant in Nizhni Tagil. The requirement was to develop a 'universal tank' that combines the thicker armor of heavy tanks with the greater mobility and lower weight of medium tanks.

The SKB-2 began the KV-13 program. The Uralvagonzavod complex included the Morozov Design Bureau which had designed the original T-34. Morozov was working on the T-34M project, an improvement on the T-34, before it was cancelled when the Germans invaded the Soviet Union in 1941. Uralvagonzavod incorporated the work accomplished by the T-34M into the T-43 but with emphasis on armor protection.

The T-43's turret frontal armor was increased to 90mm, and the glacis and hull side armor was increased to 75mm. A new three-man turret was introduced with a commander's cupola for all-around vision. A torsion bar suspension was used instead of the Christie suspension, but the large roadwheels of the T-34 were kept. About three-quarters of the T-43's internal components were identical to those of the T-34 Model 1943.

The first T-43 prototype was completed in March of 1943. Road tests conducted at Kubinka proved that the T-43 was less mobile than the T-34. After the Battle of Kursk, the Soviets noticed that the 76.2mm gun of the T-34 was ineffective against the Tiger and Panther tanks of the Germans. As a result, a program was initiated to arm the T-34 (with an adapted T-43 turret) with a new 85mm gun resulting the T-34-85.

References: OW, T34MT, TMT