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Soviet Union's T-26 light tank

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T-26 Model 1939 light tank:
Soviet Union's T-26 1939 Model
T-26 light tank:
Soviet Union's T-26 Light Tank
T-26 light tank:
Soviet Union's T-26 Light Tank

Design

Was designed for infantry support and was based on the (83) 15 British 6-Ton Vickers Type Es that were imported.2,3,4,6 One was tested at the F. E. Dzerchinskiy Academy of Artillery Weapons in Leningrad.2

The Directorate of the Mechanization of the Red Army (UMM), led by I. A. Khalepsky, purchased a Vickers-Armstrong 6 ton E Light Tank.1 It arrived in 1930.1

A license to build the tanks was obtained from Vickers-Armstrong Ltd. and prototypes were being manufactured at the Bolshevik factory in Leningrad. The Experimental Design department ( OKMO) headed up the design, under the leadership of N. V. Barikov and S. A. Ginzbury. The test vehicles were designated TMM-1 and TMM-2 and were very similar to the 6-Ton Vickers.1,2

The Revolutionary War Department gave orders on February 13, 1931, to produce the T-26 even though development and testing hadn't concluded yet.1,2 These were to replace the obsolete MS-1 models. An engineer, Zigelya, made some minor modifications and production started.

Production of the T-26A series was ended and the T-26B series became the main one produced.4 The T-26B series was to be used by the calvary.4

Based on the performance in the Spanish Civil War improvements were made (T-26-S). These involved fitting shot deflecting conical turrets, welded armor, and some had rolled mantlets for the turret.2

Dual Turrets

The military wanted the 2 turrets improved so that they could be fired over a wider arc. Larger visors were added, the MGs were ball mounted, and the turning circles were limited to 265 degrees.

Crew

The commander was in the left turret in the dual turreted models.2 The seats in the turrets were fixed in place and didn't turn with the turrets.1,2

The driver sat on the right, next to the multistep mechanical gearbox.2

Engine

The engine was based on the British Armstrong-Siddeley (renamed GAZ1) which produced 91 HP.2 There was a firewall between it and the fighting compartment.2

Armor

Tanks produced from 1931-1933 had their armor riveted on.2

Prototype

The prototypes were designated the TMM.3

Production

Production ceased in 1939 after some 4,500 were produced.4

  • T-26: ~12,0002,6
    • Production: 1931 - 19402, 1932 - 19403, ? - 19416
      • 1931: 1202
      • 1936: 5,5002
      • 1940: 1,5492
  • T-26B: over 5,0001, ~5,5006
    • Production: - 19371
  • T-26S:
    • Production: - 19401
  • OT-26: ~5002
    • Production: 1933 - ?2
  • OT-130:
    • Production: 1938 - ?2

Variants

  • T-26 A:
  • T-26A-1, A-2, A-3, A-4, A-5:
  • T-26A1, A2, A5:
  • T-26B:
  • T-26B-1, B-2 (Model 1933):
  • T-26B-1(V) & 2(V), T-26TU:
  • T-26-S (Model 1937), T-26C, T-26E:
  • T-26S Model 19391:
  • T-26 Pch:
  • T-26A-4(U), T-26B-2(U): Command vehicle.6
  • T-26V-1: Commander's version with 20 mm and 7.62 mm MG. Also had frame aerial around turret.
  • T-26 TU2,3: Commander's vehicle.2,3 Had radio equipment.2 Had short barrel 37 mm 1928 model gun in right turret and 7.62 mm DT MG in the left.2 It could carry 180 rounds of 37 mm shells and 3,000 rounds of MG ammunition.2
  • T-26 TU Model 19311: Left turret had 37 mm Model 28 gun and the right turret a 7.62 mm DT MG.1 180 rounds of 37 mm carried.1 Most often assigned to platoon and company commanders.1
  • T-26TU (1933)2: Had radio set installed in right turret.2 Had antenna attached to the hull by brackets.2 These were used by platoon and company leaders.2
  • T-26V:
  • T-462: Improved version with Christie suspension.2 Only 70 built and was used against Finland in 1940.
  • AT-1:
  • AT-26, AT-26 SP3:
  • DT-262: Dunimovaya Tank "fog laying tank".2 These had their armament removed and contained fog machines located in the right turret or in the rear of the tank.2
  • IT-263: Bridgelayer.3
  • OT-261,3:
  • OT-1301,3:
  • OT-1331:
  • PT-133 FT3:
  • ST-26:
  • Self Propelled Guns: These weighed from 10.3 - 11 tons, the armor was 6 to 15 mm thick, and there were 3-4 crew members.2 Between 1935-1937 15 prototypes were built for testing.2
    • SU-5-1: Used the T-26 chassis.2 Designed at the Kirov works and had a 76.2 mm 1927 regimental cannon or a 76.2 mm 1902/30 divisional cannon.2 The gun had a traverse of 15° and could elevate from -3° to +60°.2 It could fire 8,500 - 10,000 meters.2
    • SU-5-2: Used the T-26 chassis.2 Designed at the Kirov works and had an 122 mm 1910/30 divisional howitzer.2 It could fire up to 8,875 meters.2 Could go 30 kph.2
    • SU-5-3: Used the T-26 chassis.2 Designed at the Kirov works and had an 152.4 mm 1931 mortar installed.2 It could fire up to 5,000 meters.2
  • SU-62: Had an 76.2 mm 1931 anti-aircraft gun installed in an open mount.2 It could fire at aircraft up to 9,200 m.2 Weighed 11.3 tons and could go 21 kph.2

Usage

Tanks battalions of infantry divisions were supposed to have 38 tanks each.2 Tank or mechanized brigades were to have 201 or 267 tanks each.2

Against Japan

It first saw action at the Manchurian border (Khalkin Gol4) incidents against the Japanese in 1934 - 19352 / 19384.2,6 General Blyukher, commander of the Special Far-Eastern Army, published a report in 1938 that the riveted tanks were vulnerable to Japanese fire.6 A new model with welded armor was developed.6 Some of the earlier models had additional armor added to the turret.

Spanish Civil War

The Spanish Republicans received 2817, 362 and it saw action in the Spanish Civil War.2,4 It was superior to the German PzKpfw I and Italian L.3 tankettes on the opposing side. In the summer of 1937 two T-26s were captured by the Spanish Nationalists and sent to Germany for thorough examination.2

Finland

It was also used in Finland during the 1939-1940 Winter War.4,6 Some OT-26 were used in the Russo-Finnish war in 1939. It clear that the armor on the T-26 wasn't adequate against the antitank weapons used by the Finnish Army.2 After the combat in December 1939, on the Karelian isthmus, additional armor plates were added to tanks that had been made since 1937.2

Finnish forces captured 67 T-26 Model 1933s and they were in service until 1961.2

Defense of Russia

Most factories were overrun by the Germans during the early part of the invasion. After heavy losses in early part of German invasion most tanks were converted to artillery tractors and a few were even filled with explosives and used as radio controlled mines.

China

In February 1938, 82 were delivered to the Chinese.2 All these vehicles had the rear turret and antiaircraft MG installed.2

Turkey

Turkey purchased 64 T-26s in 1934 which formed the first tank battalion at Lueleburgaz.2 They were taken out of service in 1942.2

Specifications

  T-26
Crew 31,3,5
Physical Characteristics  
Weight 17,600 - 20,900 lb
8 tons3, 8.5 tons5
Length 15' 2" - 16'
15.76'5
Height 6' 8.75" - 7' 7.75"
6.75'5
Width

7' 11" - 8'
7.85'5

Ground clearance 1' 2"
Ground contact length  
Ground pressure 9.39 psi
Turret ring diameter  
Armament  
Main 2: MG3,5
OR 1: 37 mm3
Secondary  
MG 1: 7.62 mm3
Side arms  
Quantity  
Main  
Secondary  
MG  
Side arms  
Armor Thickness (mm) 6 - 133, 6 - 155
Hull Front, Upper 16
Hull Front, Lower  
Hull Sides, Upper 16
Hull Sides, Lower  
Hull Rear 16
Hull Top 7-11
Hull Bottom 10
Turret Front 16
Turret Sides 16
Turret Rear 16
Turret Top 10
Engine (Make / Model)  
Cylinders  
Net HP 803, 885
Transmission 5 forward, 1 reverse2
Fuel type Gasoline5
Octane  
Capacity 75 gallons
Performance  
Traverse 360°
Speed - Road

17.4 - 20 mph, 20 mph1, 22 mph5
28 kph3, 32 kph1

Speed - Cross Country 12.4 mph
Range - Road 62 - 140 miles, 87 miles1
140 km1
Range - Cross Country  
Turning Radius 21' 9"
Elevation Limits  
Fording depth 2' 6"
Trench crossing 6' 2.75"
Vertical Obstacle 2' 7"
Suspension (Type) Leaf Springs
Wheels each side 4
Return rollers each side  
Track length  
Tires  
Track width 10"
Track centers/tread  
  T-26S Model 19391
Crew 31
Physical Characteristics  
Weight 10.3 tons1
10,465 kg1
Length 15' 9"1
4.8 m1
Height 7' 8"1
2.33 m1
Width 7' 10"1
2.39 m1
Ground clearance  
Ground contact length  
Ground pressure  
Turret ring diameter  
Armament  
Main 1: 45 mm1
Secondary  
MG 2: 7.62 mm MG1
Side arms  
Quantity  
Main  
Secondary  
MG  
Side arms  
Armor Thickness (mm) 0.9"1
251
Hull Front, Upper  
Hull Front, Lower  
Hull Sides, Upper  
Hull Sides, Lower  
Hull Rear  
Hull Top  
Hull Bottom  
Turret Front  
Turret Sides  
Turret Rear  
Turret Top  
Engine (Make / Model)  
Cylinders  
Net HP  
Transmission  
Fuel type  
Octane  
Capacity  
Performance  
Traverse  
Speed - Road 17 mph1
28 kph1
Speed - Cross Country  
Range - Road  
Range - Cross Country 125 miles1
200 km1
Turning Radius  
Elevation Limits  
Fording depth  
Trench crossing  
Vertical Obstacle  
Suspension (Type)  
Wheels each side  
Return rollers each side  
Track length  
Tires  
Track width  
Track centers/tread  

Sources:

  1. Russian Tanks of World War II Stalin's Armored Might, by Tim Bean & Will Fowler, 2002
  2. Russian Tanks and Armored Vehicles 1917-1945, by Wolfgang Fleischer, 1999
  3. Airfix Magazine Guide 22 Russian Tanks of World War 2, John Milsom and Steve Zaloga, 1977
  4. Tanks of World War II, Duncan Crow, 1979
  5. Tanks of the World, 1915-1945, Peter Chamberlain, Chris Ellis, 1972
  6. The Encyclopedia of Weapons of World War II, Chris Bishop, 1998
  7. Atlas of Tank Warfare From 1916 to the Present Day, Dr. Stephen Hart, 2012
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