Soviet Tank T-24 T-26
The Red Army's experiments with the BT series of fast tanks paved the way for the development of the T-34, arguably the finest tank of the last century. The German invasion in 1941 led to the rediscovery of the doctrines of deep battle that had first been tested with BT panzers in the 1930s.
The Soviet classification of Sredni (Medium) tanks embraced the types T-12, T-22, T-24, T-28, T-29, T-32 and also the superb T-34, covered elsewhere, which was developed between 1930 and 1941. The BT, or Bystrokhodnii, Tank series were Fast Tanks that used the slispensi on developed by the irascible American inventor, J. Walter Christie. When in the late slimmer and autumn of 1941 a total of 17,000 panzers - which were largely BTs and T-26s - fell victim to Panzer divisions, the Germans were convinced that they had broken the back of the Soviet tank arm. This was understandable, since 75 per cent of the Soviet tank strength at the time was BTs and T-26s.
However, the BT series and T-26s were not the end products of the 1930s tank-development programme. The USSR had learned valuable lessons about engines. armour, ballistic angles, crack widths and firepower, and these were now being incorporated into new and formidable designs. The appearance of the T-34 and KV tank models which had been built in new or relocated factories beyond the Ural mountains came as an ugly shock to the German tank crews after the first two years of the war in the east, when they enjoyed a tactical edge over their Soviet adversaries.
In the late 1930s, Soviet armoured doctrine had changed, pardy in the light of experience in the Spanish Civil War. In Spain General Pavlov had attempted deep penetration tactics with his BTs and T-26s, notably with 50 panzers at Esquivas on 29 October 1936 (read also Christie tanks). In March 1937 he launched an improvised counterattack with a larger force again st the Italians near Guadalajara in fighting near Madrid. However, his tank tactics failed beca use inappropriate arrangements had been made to support them - there was a lack of equally mobile infantry and artillery capable of keeping up - and because the tanks' fuel supply broke down.
The changes to Soviet tank doctrine had also happened because many of the more innovative officers in the Soviet Army had been been executed and others imprisoned. However, after 1941, those who were languishing in Gulags would return to lead the Red Army to victory in 1945.
EARLY MEDIUM TANKS: THE T-22
Developed by a German engineer named Grotte, the T 22 was also known as the TG-1, or Tank Grotte1 (read also Tank arm). It was the brainchild of the OKMO bureau in Leningrad, headed by N. Barykov, that was also developing the T-28. In 1932 the Grotte TG-l was built as a prototype in three variants. One was armed with a 37mm (1,46in) gun and four machine guns, one with a 76,2mm (3in) gun and four machine guns, and the third with a 76.2mm (3in) and a 37mm (1,46in) gun and one machine gun. Grotte also proposed a heavier vehicle, the TG-3, that received the designation T-29.
The T-22 was a remarkably modern-looking vehicle for its time. It was large for the period - 7,5mm (24ft 6in) long, 3m (9ft 8in) wide and 2,8 mm (9ft 1in) high - and had a crew of 11. Its M-5 engine developed 186kW (250bhp), giving a maximum road speed of 35km/h (21 mph) . Armour protection was between 8mm (0,31 in) and 20mm (0,78in), and it weighed 2,00kg (27,5 tons). The TG-1/T-22 was not accepted for production due to its complexity and the problems this would pose for the tank industry.
Built in the 1930s, the T-24 was derived from the T-12 that had been developed from the MS series, which in turn was derived from the French Renault FT-17.
The MS was the first purely Russian design. The MS-1 resembled the Renault and was soon given a more powerful engine as the MS-2 and finally uprated to the MS-3. The MS-3 produced in 1923, had a crew of two and was armed with a M1916 37mm (1,46in) gun and two machine guns. It weighed 5500kg (5,41 tons) and was 3,5m (11ft 6in) long, 1,76m (5ft 9in) wide, and 2,12m (5ft 6in) high. It was powered by a six-cylinder 31kW (65bhp) petrol engine, and had a road speed of 12km/h (10mph) and a road tange o f60km (38 miles).
The T-12, built around 1925, had a simple hull structure between two tracks with small-bogie suspension. It had a cylindrical turret with a rounded commander's cupola and a crew of four. It weighed 17,236kg (19 tons) and was 7,5m (24ft 6in) long, 3m (9ft 8in) wide and 2,8m (9ft 1in) high. Armed with a Model 32 45mm (1,77in) gun with 100 rounds, it also had four DT machine guns. It was an unreliable design and was soon replaced by the T-24.
The T-24 was a good design but was let down by poor mechanicals. The hull was widened to overlap the tracks and the superstructure had a V-shaped front with the driver at the apex. The turret was roomy and had a cupola. However, after 25 were built. the drive train and suspension caused problems, and the project was cancelled.
The tank had a crew of three and was armed with a Model 32 45mm (1,77in) gun and three machine guns. Maximum armour (read also Armoured forces) was 25,4 mm (1in) and the tank weighed 18,500kg (18,20 tons). It was 6.5mm (21ft 3in) long, 3m (9ft 8in) wide and 2,8m (9ft 1in) high. Powered by an eight-cylinder 222kW (300bhp) petrol engine, its road speed was 24km/h (15mph) and it had a road range of 200km (125 miles).