Tank Grote - "the result of politics and the sacrifice of technology"
Tank TG. Photo 1940 of the year.
Well, how did all this react in the USSR? Already on December 27, 1929, Stalin in his speech at a conference of Marxist agrarians called for a transition to a policy of continuous collectivization of agriculture and the elimination of the kulaks as a class. And already on December 30, 1929, I. Khalepsky’s commission went abroad “to buy Tanks". At the same time, negotiations began in Germany with the aim of inviting knowledgeable BTT design specialists to work in the USSR.
The connection between all these events is evident. Before that, in the West, there was a recession of the revolutionary wave, and in the United States they started talking about the “period of prosperity”, suffered a defeat of the revolution in Germany and Hungary, and now only Pravda wrote about the world revolution, but dreamed Makar Nagulnov in Sholokhov "Raised virgin soil." And then suddenly a crisis, and at that time even the child knew that after the crisis came revolutions.
TG TG on tests in 1931 year.
And it seemed to be obvious that they were about to come, the proletariat of the Western countries would rise up to fight, ask us for help, and that was when we would extend to him ... no, not a helping hand, but an iron armored fist, which should wipe out all the remaining bourgeoisie from the face of the earth. But ... just with a fist, and there were big problems. At that time there were no tanks in the USSR suitable, firstly, for mass production, and secondly, our western adversaries, superior tanks of Poland, France and England, superior in their performance characteristics.
Tank TG. Front view.
And it was then that Khalepsky went to the West to look for all this, but in addition from Germany in March 1930, designer Edward Grote arrived in the USSR in April, who was given the task in April to design a tank of 18-20 tons, which has a speed of 35- 40 km / h and armor thickness 20-mm. The armament of the tank was supposed to be very powerful at that time: two 76 and 37-mm caliber guns and in addition five machine guns. All other characteristics of the tank were left to the discretion of the designer. The control over the work of the Grote group was carried out by the Technical Department of the OGPU - that is, the organization is more than serious. Meanwhile, the Khalepsky Time Commission did not lose the gift and in March 1930 also acquired the Vikkers Mk.II in England, the Karden-Loyd Mk.VI tankettes and another the Vikkers 15-ton tanker in March, the latter was bought together with the license for its production. Well, a month later, Walter Christie in the United States bought two of his tanks, T.6, but without towers and weapons.
Tank TG. Back view.
To develop a prototype at the Leningrad plant "Bolshevik" created the design office ABO-5, where, in addition to the Grote itself, young Soviet specialists worked, for example, N.V. Barykov, who became his deputy from our side, and then one of the famous creators of the national armored vehicles.
A new tank, designed as a medium or “powerful medium tank,” as it was often called in the documents at that time, was given the designation TG (Tank Grote). Work on the tank went under the strict supervision of the OGPU and were considered top secret. 17 – 18 November 1930 of the year came to the plant itself Commissary Voroshilov. First of all, to check how the work with the TG is going, especially since the Grotto in Soviet Russia managed to fall ill and it turned out that the whole burden of fine-tuning the prototype fell on the shoulders of Soviet engineers.
TG TG on tests overcomes the rise in 40 degrees. Autumn 1931
However, the tank was ready as early as April 1931, after which its tests were immediately launched. It was decided that if they were successful, they would release the first series of 50-75 machines in the same year, and start mass production of them with 1932, and produce at least 2000!
But what did Soviet military specialists get after so much trouble and ... paying a considerable salary to foreign technical specialists, who, as we know, did not agree to work for us cheaply? And they got an average tank of an unusual layout for those years, and in addition with a three-tier arrangement of cannon-machine-gun weapons and, as was indicated, only with bullet-proof armor.
Tank TG. Side view. Pay attention to the identification "stars". For the first and last time they were first riveted, and then painted.
The hull, as well as the tank turret, was made completely welded (and this was done in the USSR for the first time in the world!). The tank had a nose with armor that had rational angles of inclination, a streamlined form of wheelhouse and a hemispherical rotating tower on it, topped with a stroboscope. According to the project, this cutting was also supposed to rotate. That is, it would be more correct to say that the tank would have to have a tower with a two-tier arrangement of armament in the lower and upper turret with individual rotation, but it so happened that the epaulet of the lower turret deformed during assembly and we had to make the first sample with a turret, welded to the body, and willy-nilly turned into a "cabin". Although in the future this defect was wanted to be eliminated, and, as planned, to make the lower tower rotating. The booking of the hull was three-layered, and the thickness of the armor reached 44 mm. On the sides, the armor had a thickness of 24 mm, and at the deckhouse and the upper tower was equal to 30 mm. But the main advantage of the TG tank was, perhaps, the most unprecedented weaponry for that time.
Another drawn projection of the TG tank. The lack of manholes for such a large crew is striking. Well, if only they could arrange the doors in the back of the cabin.
So, on it stood 76,2-mm semi-automatic gun A-19 (PS-19) - at that time the most powerful tank gun in the whole world. Designer P. Syacintov developed it on the basis of the 76,2-mm anti-aircraft gun model 1914 / 15. (the Lender or Tarnovsky-Lender cannons), which was seriously redone for installation on a tank, is equipped with a barrel cushion and, in addition, a muzzle brake - which for the tanks of that time was just something out of the ordinary!
The gun was installed on the axles in the front plate in the cabin of the tank. She had a semi-automatic loading, which allowed her to have a rate of fire of about 10 – 12 per minute. Well, the initial velocity of the projectile was 588 m / s at all, that is, according to this indicator, it was only slightly inferior to the later guns that stood on the T-34 and the American cannon on the M3 Lee / Grant tanks. She could shoot 6,5-kilogram shells from the "three-inch", which made her very, very destructive weapons, because even her shrapnel, put “on strike”, could easily smash 20 mm armor of any tank of that time. However, when shooting, it turned out that the semi-automatic firing of this gun provided by the project is actually impossible, since semiautomatic often fails, and then it has to be discharged manually. Ammunition shells to it consisted of 50 shots of different types, that is, it was a weapon to become!
The 37-mm PS-1 high-power cannon, also designed by P. Syachintov, was used as the second gun in the upper spherical turret. At the same time, it not only had a circular attack, but also such an angle of ascent that it could shoot at planes. The large barrel length allowed the initial velocity of the projectile to be provided in 707 m / s. True, according to this indicator, it was inferior to the 37-mm anti-tank gun model 1930 of the year, but it was adapted to be mounted on a tank. Its ammunition, located in the upper tower, was 80 shells.
Auxiliary weapons for some reason were three machine guns "Maxim" in the gun-house and two DT in the sides of the hull. The latter fired through round embrasures in the armor screens. It can not be said that the TG machine guns would be well thought out. So, in particular, the installation of the Maxim machine guns in the wheelhouse made it extremely difficult to use them; moreover, they needed water, and their covers, unlike the machine guns that were placed on British tanks of those years, were not armored and therefore vulnerable to bullets and splinters. To machine gun relied ammunition from 2309 cartridges, both in tapes and in disk stores.
And here it is clearly seen that the gun barrel is too short, and the control compartment, and the headlights located here will be affected by a very strong muzzle wave.
The three-tiered armament of the tank, according to its creators, was supposed to create a high density of fire in all directions. For example, it was believed that a tank could stand across the trench and shoot it with machine gun fire from both sides. However, in practice, all these theoretical installations turned out to be of little use, but the technical solutions that provided them made it very difficult for tank crews to perform more important and real tasks.
But the creators of TG took care of installing the most up-to-date observation devices on their tank. Thus, for aiming the guns, sights covered by dome strobe lights were used, each having two cylinders of armor steel inserted one into the other with slots 0,5 mm wide, which rotated towards each other with their own electric motor with speed 400 - 500 rpm. Similar strobe lights stood on the roof of the small gun turret, and in the place of the driver’s mechanic. Moreover, to observe the terrain, the latter had three “windows” in the frontal hull sheet at once, but his head was inside the stroboscope, so he looked through them, being protected by his armor!
The engine on the tank was also not quite ordinary, and it, just like the tank itself, was developed by Edward Grote. It was distinguished by a number of specific features, in particular, it had an unusual lubrication and cooling system for that time, a low noise level and (theoretically) had high reliability at a power of 250 hp. The last indicator for a machine of this weight can be considered insufficient, in addition, Grotte’s engine could not be brought to “mind”, so they put it on an experimental tank aviation 6-liter M-300 engine with. But since the M-6 was slightly larger than the Grotte engine, it had to be put in the casing openly. By the way, with this engine this tank was again very close to the American M3 “Lee / Grant”, whose engine power was 340 hp. weighing 27,9 tons, while the TG weighed 25, their performance in this regard was almost equal, although the American car was a decade younger than ours!
TG - clearly visible angles of inclination of the frontal armor of the hull.
The transmission of the tank included a main dry-friction disk friction clutch, a gearbox, side clutches, and single-row final drives. The gearbox was designed in such a way that it allowed the tank to move at the same speed both forward and backward in four gears and smoothly shift them. Chevron gears were used in the gearbox design.
The controls of the tank also differed from the generally accepted ones: instead of two levers, the designer put an aviation-style handle on it. That is, to turn the tank left-right, it was necessary to reject it in the right direction. Moreover, the transmission of force was not mechanical, but by means of pneumatic drives, which greatly facilitated the driver to control such a heavy machine.
Inside the track, the tank had five large-diameter rollers with semi-pneumatic “Elastic” tires, a spring suspension and pneumatic shock absorbers, four rollers supporting the track, the sloth in front and the driving wheel at the rear. All this in combination provided the Grote tank with a very soft and smooth ride.
The brakes on the tank were also pneumatic, and they were not only on the driving wheels, but also on all of the road wheels. It was believed that in the event of a caterpillar break, this would make it possible to instantly slow down the tank, and he would not have time to turn his aircraft over to the enemy.
Since practically everything was original in this tank, the caterpillars put an unusual type on it too. At the Grote tank, they consisted of two roller chains, between which stamped tracks were fixed. This design increased the breaking strength of the caterpillar; however, it was much more difficult to repair it in the field than the usual one.
Climbing into the tank was, of course, not too convenient!
It was repeatedly noted that the TG, thanks to its undercarriage on a flat and dense surface, could be freely rolled by the efforts of only a few people, while with tanks of other types it was simply not possible. For communication, a German-style radio station was to be installed on the tank.
The tank crew consisted of five people: the commander (he was the gunner of the 37-mm guns), the driver, the machine-gunner (who was to serve his numerous machine guns), the commander of the 76,2-mm guns and loader. But one machine gunner was not enough for designers, and in one of the versions of their project they added another one to the cabin with a gun, although there it was already very close. The tests of the tank took place from June 27 to October 1 1931, and this is what happened in the course of them.
The planned speed in 34 km / h was achieved. The tank was well managed and had sufficient permeability. The TG transmission on the chevron gears proved to be durable and reliable, and the pneumatic drives made the tank unusually easy to drive, although due to the poor quality of the tires, they constantly failed.
At the same time, it turned out that the gun-house was too close for 76,2-mm guns and three machine guns, and it was simply impossible to shoot them while firing from the gun. One single gearbox housing and side clutches made it difficult to access them during repairs, and it also overheated when driving. The brakes worked again not too satisfactorily due to the poor tightness of the seals, and the caterpillar showed poor cross on soft ground due to the low height of the lugs.
October 4 1931, by order of the USSR government, created a special commission, which was to study the new tank and its test data very carefully and decide its fate. And the commission did all this and decided that the TG tank could not be accepted for service, but could only be considered a purely experienced tank and nothing more.
As a result, ABO-5 was immediately disbanded, and the German engineers with the Grotto at the head in August 1933 were sent back to Germany. Attempts were made on the basis of the obtained developments to create tanks more acceptable to the domestic industry, but nothing came of this venture either. The technological level of Soviet industry was very low at that time.
What happened to the TG tank itself is unknown. Judging by the photos in 1940, it still existed in the metal, but did not survive World War II, but rather, was sent to be melted down.
The French tank Char de 20t Renault, 1936, better known as Char G1Rl, was a pathetic parody of the TG tank.
Nevertheless, it should be noted that even with the help of German designers, in the USSR it was possible to create a tank, which in its performance characteristics determined all other vehicles for a decade. The tank had the highest firepower, good armor protection, the most modern means of observation, would have to have a radio station, and besides, its creators almost for the first time in stories BTT was concerned about the convenience of the crew. The tank was much "stronger" than the T-28 tank that was being developed at the same time, not to mention the modern foreign tanks. However, all these qualities would be depreciated primarily by its low reliability, which, in turn, was the result of the extremely low level of technology development of the domestic industry of the time. TG required a lot of complex and accurately manufactured parts, and this meant the practical impossibility of its mass production and meeting the needs of the Red Army in tanks in the context of the impending "world revolution", which ultimately determined its fate. But he certainly gave some experience, and this experience was more or less successfully used by our engineers later. By the way, it is worth noting that the foreign analogue of the TG - the British tank Churchill Mk IV had an 350 horsepower engine. and two guns - a turret, caliber 42-mm and a howitzer caliber 76,2-mm in the front hull plate. However, the latter had a low power, and it is impossible to compare it with the gun of a TG tank. In France, in 1936, they tried to create (and created) a prototype of a Char G1Rl tank, but he was armed with only an 47-mm gun in the wheelhouse and two machine guns in the turret and could not be compared with the TG.
English tank "Churchill-I" Mk IV in 1942, in one of the training units in England. TG he surpassed only his booking ...
Well, now let's think a little and imagine what it would be if the creators of TG had somewhat “reduced their speeds” and constructed their car “by standing on the ground, rather than floating in the clouds”. Well, let's say, would get rid of pneumatic drives, put the usual levers, would not create a new engine, but would make a tank under the M-6 immediately, and, of course, would remove all maxims from the wheelhouse, and extend the gun barrel at least by 30 cm (by the way, this would increase its armor-piercing qualities) so that the driver’s viewing windows are not under the muzzle of the barrel and the muzzle brake.
Then they could have had a tank of “their time”, and the level of tank building that was ahead of that time was not so radical. It could well be released in a small series, and ... who knows how this would affect the overall level of development of domestic BTT. By the way, there are a number of alternative projects of the “more perfect TG” that could, say, be already implemented in Germany. For example, it could be tanks with an upper turret from the T-III and 75-mm German tank gun in the wheelhouse, with its subsequent replacement with a long-barreled gun with high penetrating power of the projectile. However, the Germans didn’t do anything of this either, and our TG remained “by itself”, the only and unique “supertank” of the beginning of the 30-s!
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