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
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.
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
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
Tanks produced from 1931-1933 had their armor riveted on.2
The prototypes were designated the TMM.3
Production ceased in 1939 after some 4,500 were produced.4
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
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
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
It first saw action at the Manchurian border (Khalkin Gol4) incidents against the Japanese in 1934 - 19352 / 19384.2,6General 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
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.
In February 1938, 82 were delivered to the Chinese.2 All these vehicles had the rear turret and antiaircraft MG installed.2
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