With the vast territories of Russia there was a need seen for fast tanks. In 1931, two Christie M-1931 (T-3) tanks were purchased from the United States.2,4 These were sent to Voronesh for testing.2 The Kharkov "Comintern" factory was to build prototypes based on the Christies.2 On May 23, 1931, the Revolutionary Military Council of the USSR authorized mass production of the tank that was designated the BT-2.2
The BTs were to be used in the mechanized, armored, and cavalry units.2 They were to advance into the enemy's rear to break supply lines and disrupt communications.2
The rear half of the hull had the engine and transmission.4 The turret was placed near the front of the hull.4
They could be run on track across country or on wheels on roads.4 It took about a half-hour to switch from one mode to the other.2,4 When running on wheels the tracks were stored on racks above the running gear. When running on wheels 1/3 of the weight was on the back pair of road wheels which could cause it to sink and slip if driven onto soft ground.2 Each wheel had twin rubber tires and were linked via an axle arm with a coil spring.2 The chassis was very steady when moving fast and on uneven terrain.2
The driver sat in the center and used a steering wheel when on wheels and a clutch and brake system when on tracks.2,4,5 When on wheels the tracks were placed on shelves along the side of the hull.4 When using wheels, the front pair of wheels were steered by a wheel.5 These were copied from the Christie T3.4
The idler was at the front and the drive was at the rear.1
The drawings for the prototype was delivered to the Kharkov "Komintern" factory in August 1931. The first two prototypes were delivered to the Red Army for trials. These were the BT-1 and it was almost a copy of the Christie with 2 machine guns.
Three of the prototypes appeared in the 1931 November Revolution Parade in Moscow.1
Production started in September 1931. Full production started in 1932. The first 60 models had no machine guns. The next 350 had a 7.62 mm DA-2 twin MG and a 7.62 mm DT in ball mantlet. There was no room for a radio.
Production stopped after only a few models were built.
Production: 1931 - 19332
First 60 had 37 mm BS-3 tank gun with no machine gun in the turret.2 Were unpopular with crews.1
The next 350 had the 37 mm gun with a 7.62 mm DA-2 twin MG and a 7.62 mm DT MG in a ball mantlet.2
76 mm Self Propelled Gun: Was to have a main gun with a 7.62 mm DT MG.2 Never got out of design stage.
The BT-2 entered service in 1932.1
vs. Finland and Germany
The BT-2s saw action in the 1939-1940 Winter War with Finland and in 1941 against the Germans.2
A few BT-2s were still in service with armored divisions in 1941.1