Leytenant Aleksey Zhidkov sat in the turret hatch of his T-34 listening to the rumble of diesel engines as the dawn light crept slowly over the lip of the ravine. Counting the shapes emerging from the darkness around him, it looked like the battalion would have 18 tanks today, so they'd left three on the roadside during the march—none of them his, he noted with pride. The smoke from their exhausts hovered over them like a fine mist. Aleksey felt his own tank vibrating as the big engine idled. He liked to think that it was shaking with anticipation at the coming action.