While not as numerous as the Light Tanks, there are some excellent Medium Tank options for the Soviets. But just how good are these options on the table? Are they worth taking? Is there one that stands above the rest? And what guns and options do they have? I shall attempt to answer all of these questions and hopefully address a few more. This is my breakdown of all the Soviet Medium Tanks!
Note: For the purpose of simplicity, all Tanks will be reviewed as Regular and fielded in a 1,000pt. Generic Reinforced Platoon. This selection will only cover domestically built Medium Tanks for the USSR. Lend Lease vehicles will have their own section. Light Tanks from Theater and Campaign books are also included.
T-34 – 195 points, Medium AT Gun with coax MMG, hull mounted MMG, Armor 9. The quintessential, iconic workhorse of the Red Army during the Great Patriotic War. It has good AT firepower while still being able to deal with infantry. All for a very reasonable point cost. Its main weakness when compared to other Medium Tanks with Medium AT guns (Mainly the M4 Sherman) is that the T-34 lacks the 75mm HE rule (boosting the HE from 1″ to 2″). But even without that it is still a very good tank. Any Soviet player worth their salt should own a minimum of one T-34. For an extra 40 points, you can swap your hull MMG to a Flamethrower, creating the OT-34. It’s an expensive upgrade own right, and you lose the range of the MMG, but you gain the destructive power of a Flamethrower. Personally I do not take this upgrade as it makes your tank more expensive and you gain very little, as with only a 12” Flamethrower range, it’s much harder to get shots off compared to the MMG. Additionally, your Tank will now suffer +1 on the Damage Results table for packing a Flamethrower. Lastly, most tournaments ban Vehicle Flamethrowers.
Tractor Factory T-34 – 140 points (Inexp.), Medium AT Gun with coax MMG, hull mounted MMG, Armor 9. This is a version of the T-34 really only meant to be played in certain scenarios in Campaign: Stalingrad, but it needs to be discussed anyway. It’s identical to a standard T-34 in every way except it must be taken Inexperienced and you have to pick one of the three defects:
- No Optics: The range of the Med. AT Gun is reduced from 60” to 36”.
- Hastily Repaired: Whenever the vehicle would suffer Superficial Damage, treat it as taking Full Damage instead.
- Factory Worker Crew: This unit must pass an Order Check to perform any action, even if it has no Pins.
To me, the clear choice is taking the No Optics defect, as it gives the least negative effect. Taking Full Damage and forced to always make an Order Check both make you less survivable and can really strain your Moral Level of 8. Remember you are starting your shooting with a To Hit of 4+ instead of a 3+ due to Inexp., so having a reduced range helps you negate the Long Range penalty. But remember, its 16pts cheaper than the standard Inexperienced T-34, so it’s actually decent value when taking the No Optics.
T-34/85 – 235 points, Heavy AT Gun with coax MMG, hull mounted MMG, Armor 9. Much like the T-34, The T-34/85 is the bread and butter Soviet Medium Tank, and it carries a heavier gun. This Tank is equivalent to your Panzer IV H/J, M4A2 76, and Cromwell. With very good AT firepower and better anti-infantry capabilities due to a larger HE Template, this the best Soviet Medium tank to take if you can afford it. Now people will argue it’s too expensive, but with the ability to take on most Tanks, any Armored Car/Transport and any other Armored Fighting Vehicle, it’s worth it. The narrative that only Light Tanks are worth taking may be true at the highest level of competitive play, but in casual games and local tournaments they are just fine to take. For an extra 40pts, you can swap your hull MMG to a Flamethrower, creating the OT-34/85. See my thoughts above on the OT-34, the same applies here.
T-35 – 270 points:
- Turret mounted MMG covering Front and Left arcs
- Turret mounted MMG covering the Rear and Right arcs
- Turret mounted Light AT Gun with coax MMG covering the Front and Right arcs
- Turret mounted Light AT Gun with coax MMG covering the Rear and Left arcs
- Turret mounted Light Howitzer with coax MMG with 360 field of fire
- Armor 9
Wow what a mouthful! This tank is not only enormous in size but packs five independent firing systems, a true land battleship. Now personally, I love this tank. It’s absolutely absurd and ridiculous and amazing. This beast can put out 25 MMG shots, engage five different targets, including two vehicles. This is the ultimate jack of all trades. I would take this tank in every game if it weren’t for this one rule…Unreliable. Unreliable essentially gives you an additional Pin each time you take a Pin. While there are ways to work around this, specifically your Officer and Chaplain, it pulls them away from other areas of the front where they will probably be needed. Unfortunately, Unreliable coupled with the immense size of this monster makes it a beautiful display piece.
SMK Experimental/T-100 – 168 points (Inexp.), turret mounted Light Howitzer with coax MMG and rear mounted MMG, turret mounted Light AT Gun with coax MMG covering the front arc, hull mounted MMG, Armor 9. This tank is almost as long as the T-35, wider than the T-35, and taller than the T-35. Man does it look cool. Another Soviet land battleship, but sadly, again I wouldn’t due to Experimental. Experimental is another negative rule, where each time you activate the unit, you must pass an Order Check even if you do not have any Pins. Coupled with Inexperienced being the only option, it will be difficult to activate even without any Pins. On the other hand, for the amount of weapons it carries, it’s pretty cheap. Potentially four different targets, this tank can put out some heavy firepower.
With fewer options, and a couple of them being less than ideal, the top three is an easy choice. T-34/85, T-34, and T-35. While the Flamethrower Tanks are decent and viable, generally you have to give up board control to use the Flamethrower, and ceding ground/control to your opponent isn’t very wise, especially since you have no guarantee you can gain said ground back.