Everyone knew that, apparently, the young tankman of the 4 Tank Regiment of the Ukrainian Military District, N. Tsyganov, understood well. He did not have a special technical education, but was a self-taught inventor, which, however, did not prevent him from developing an automatic coupling for the T-1934, T-26 and BT tanks in 27, for which the Defense Commissar K. Voroshilov awarded him a gold watch and produced from a junior commander to platoon commanders.
Speaking before the 4 tank regiment, Voroshilov gave the order to create a new "wheel-tracked propulsion for the BT tank, with which it can be turned into an even more formidable fighting vehicle."
The commander of the UVO troops, I. Yakir, who was present at the same time, entrusted the task performance of the people's commissar to a group of engineers led by N. Tsyganov. Working for 4 months on 16-18 hours per day, they produced 1935 for April drawings and model of a BT tank in life-sized 1 / 5 with a new propulsion unit that had 3 pairs of driving wheels and 1 steered wheels.
Who exactly belonged to the idea of creating such a tank, now you can’t say for sure. Tsyganov himself quite sincerely believed that ... to Stalin, because about the fact that this was his idea, Tsyganov and his comrades were told by their "beloved commander-bolshevik" comrade Yakir. In their letter to Stalin and Voroshilov, the engineers of the regiment together with Tsyganov reported: they said that you, Comrade Stalin, put forward the idea, Yakir explained it to us, and we did everything in the shortest possible time to fulfill our party duty, and we decided to call the tank BT-IS (IS-Joseph Stalin).
Soviet light tank BT-IS, 1936 g
By the personal order of Voroshilov, the necessary funds and a place at tank repair plant No. XXUMX in Kharkov were allocated for the manufacture of BT-IS. In June, 48 began testing a new tank, which was again reported personally to Voroshilov, who ordered that 1935 BT-IS tanks be made on the basis of the BT-1936 tank in 10. Then in June-March 5 was followed by the mileage of the new tanks on the Kharkov-Moscow route, after which improvements were made to the tank once again and transferred to military trials.
In its final form, the BT-IC was a qualitatively new model of the BT-5, which differed from the prototype by using three pairs of driving wheels for wheel travel. The presence of a special mechanism - the synchronizer - equalized the speed of movement on wheels and tracks, as a result of which the tank could continue to move, even having lost one of the tracks. In addition, the 6 of the driving wheels made it possible to use more than 75% of the mass of the tank as a grip weight, which could not but increase its cross-country ability on the wheel run.
The highlight of the design was the refusal of gear transmission from the drive wheels on the tracks to the rear support rollers of the wheel travel. Now the rotation on all 3 pairs of driving wheels was transmitted through a system of cardan shafts located in the upper part of the body. At the same time, the suspension bracket of all the wheels of the Christie type on the tank was preserved, but the candles themselves, with the springs attached to them, were located in the tank otherwise. A number of new mechanisms for wheel travel, a synchronizer, an angular junction box, upper gearboxes, drive shafts, wheel drive drives and a synchronizer switch drive were introduced, and a new feed tank was installed.
During the tests, the BT-IS tanks passed on wheels from 1500 to 2500 km and, despite the greater complexity of the propeller compared to the base tank BT-5, showed not only better throughput, but also vitality. They moved well with the loss of one track, as well as one or two rollers. Of course, the tank revealed shortcomings related mainly to the need to reinforce some heavily loaded parts, but in general the army commission came to the conclusion that the tank should be adopted.
The order followed: make an installation series of 1937 machines in 5. They were supposed to install onboard slanting armor with a thickness of 6 mm to protect the onboard transmission and eliminate the identified shortcomings so that next year they could release 300 BT-IS tanks. The mounting of the tracks during the wheel travel was provided on the folding side shelves.
Meanwhile, Tsyganov, believing that the case with the BT-IS tank had already been decided, took up the development of a tank with improved armor protection based on the BT-7. A new car was made at the end of 1937 and named in the best traditions of those years: BT-SV-2 “Turtle” (SV - “Stalin — Voroshilov”). The main thing with which this tank was different from all the others was the design of its armored hull, the sheets of which were located at very large angles of inclination - 15 — 58 degrees. The nose section had the same width as the whole body, so the front pipe for the BT-7 guide wheels on this tank was not needed. The suspension of the front track rollers has not changed, except that its spring springs have been tilted back at an angle of 38 degrees.
The BT-SV-2 case had no protruding parts at all, with the exception of spring suspension caps. All armor plates were removable and bolted to the hull. For the purpose of greater rigidity of the armor cover of the tracks, special jumpers were provided in its lower part, along 3 on each side. The aft fuel tank BT-7 was removed from the tank, so the feed also became oblique, although because of this, the tanks had to be placed on the sides.
Soviet experienced light tank BT-SV-2, 1938
The turret of the tank also did not have a stern niche, so the radio station was transferred from it to the forward part of the hull, where, apart from the driver, the 4 crew member, a radio operator, was stationed.
The prototype BT-SV-2 was made of ordinary steel 10-12-mm thick, but the project of a real combat vehicle existed even in two versions. The first involved the use of armor brand FD 40 thickness — 55 mm, protecting the tank from 45-mm projectiles at any distance; the second provided protection against 12,7-mm bullets and suggested the use of 20-25-mm IZ armor.
BT-CB-2 was tested in the winter of 1937 - in the spring of 1938, during which it passed 2068 km. It was noted that such a booking principle can be considered quite acceptable, but the chassis of the serial BT-7 with a real booking of the tank and the weight of the BT-CB-2 in 24-25 t will be too weak. It was supposed to make a sample of the tank with a full booking and conduct its test by shelling. However, all work on this machine, as well as on BT-IS, was stopped, because at the beginning of 1938, Mr. N. Tsyganov and his entire group were arrested. Even earlier, in March, 1937 arrested a large group of designers at KhPZ, in particular, the head of the tank design bureau A. Firsov, whose place was taken by M. Koshkin, known to the whole world as the man who created the legendary T-34.
It is not yet known whether our tanks and diesel engines would have been received if the arrested “engines” I. Trashutin and Y. Stepanov in 1939 were not released after the removal of Yezhov.
The most interesting is that, although Tsyganov was repressed, the question of bringing the BT-7 to the BT-IS level from the agenda was not removed. Moreover, while it was being tested, the Red Army Main Armored Directorate in October 1937 issued an order to KhPZ for practically the same tank BT-20 — in the new accepted designation A-20, which was made in metal in 1939. It was carried out on 6 wheels, as was the case with the BT-IS tank, and the upper front sheet was located at an angle of inclination 53 degrees. The purely tracked A-20 received the designation A-32 and became the prototype of the famous "Thirty-Four", only on it they installed an 76,2-mm caliber gun, thicker armor and 5 pairs of road wheels, whose diameter was increased to 400-mm compared to BT tanks. .
Soviet experienced tank A-20, 1939 g
Interestingly, in addition to all these machines in 1932 -1938. In the USSR, many more tanks with a wheel-tracked propulsor were developed. Among them were just two amphibious tanks T-43, which in 1933-1934. did at the plant experienced engineering them. S.M. Kirov (№ 185) in Leningrad and the Moscow plant number 37.
Two floating tanks modeled on the BT-PT-1 and PT-1 tanks had speed on the tracks: 62, on wheels - 90 and afloat - 6 km / h, and PT-1 A even 10 km / h. With a weight of 14,2 and 15,3 and their crew was 4 man, and the armament consisted of one 45-mm gun and 4 machine gun he, although the thickness of the armor, they were inferior to BT.
The T-46-1 light wheel-tracked tank, also manufactured in 1925 by the factory No. 185, received driving wheels in front, which complicated the drive to the wheels, but it was equipped with a synchronizer. In addition to the cannon and several machine guns, including anti-aircraft guns, this tank also had a pneumatic flame-thrower paired with a gun, which had a supply of fire mixture on 12 shots. Tank tested, but the weapons did not accept.
Another light tank T-25, created at the Stalingrad Tractor Plant in 1939, was a motley mixture of components and parts of T-26 and BT tanks, but it didn’t go into the series either, since its speed on tracks was only 28 km / h
At the same time, in 1934-1937, an attempt was made to replace in the production of purely tracked T-28 with wheeled-tracked T-29, which differed from its prototype only in propulsion and transmission.
Soviet medium wheeled / tracked tank T-29, 1939.
According to the EGPU project of the OGPU - the prison design bureau, where the arrested constructors worked (which, alas, were repressed before 1937), the first T-29-4 and T-29-5 tanks were made as early as 1934, but then several years improved to start its mass production at the Kirov plant in Leningrad. Here in May, 1937 was also arrested by the chief designer of the tank design bureau, O. Ivanov, instead of whom 29-year-old J. Kotin, who was married to the adopted daughter of the People's Commissar Voroshilov, was given this post, so he was already finishing T-29. In 1936, this tank was even put into service; in 1937, they made two cars, but after that they did not release the tank. With frontal armor 30-mm thick and a crew of 5, a man’s tank mass increased to 28,8 t, which turned out to be the limit for wheeled-tracked propulsion, although this tank also had 6 rollers driving 8.
In December, 1937 Kotin signed T-28 undercarriage designs, reworked according to the chassis of a heavy T-35 tank, but it was already clear that under the type of suspension many tanks could not be protected with sufficiently thick armor, and the smaller the tank would have towers the better.
No other domestic tanks based on BT were created, nor were any SPGs created using their undercarriage. Finnish engineers showed their ingenuity here, who in 1942 had to modernize the Soviet trophy BT-7.
Finnish ACS VT-42, created on the basis of the Soviet trophy tank
In the enlarged tower, they installed an English 114-mm howitzer model 1918 g., Equipping it with a muzzle brake to reduce recoil. In this case, neither the chassis nor the hull of the tank were not affected. By the end of the year, 18 self-propelled howitzers of this type were produced, which received the designation BT-42 in the Finnish army. They formed a battalion of assault guns, which they were armed with right up until the very end of Finland’s withdrawal from the 1944 war! During the siege of Leningrad, even experienced T-29s contributed to the defense of the city, but on the whole, the fate of the improved Christie tanks in Russia, as well as those who, for the most part, created them, turned out to be sad.
The events in Spain forced both the leadership of the country and the designers to think again and again about strengthening the armor and arming of Soviet tanks in the run-up to an obviously imminent war. However, this work has never been interrupted. So, simultaneously with the transfer of the T-35 to mass production, the question of replacing it with an even more powerful and sophisticated tank, whose work began in May-June 1933, was resolved. In parallel with the development of domestic designers, the 100-ton tank TG- 6 (Grote design) and 70-ton tank of the Italian company Ansaldo. Tank Grote was a real "cruiser", which also had 5 towers, of which the main one was armed with 107-mm guns, while others had to have 37 / 45-mm guns and machine guns.
Our domestic projects, developed by N. Barykov and S. Ginzburg, were 90-ton vehicles that had 50-75-mm armor protection. The first tank on the project was armed with two 107-mm, two 45-mm guns and 5 machine guns. The second one was different only in weapons - one 152-mm, three 45-mm guns and 4 machine guns, and also one flamethrower in the rear tower! The variants were considered successful and built in the form of life-size 1 / 10 layouts. It immediately turned out that the production of one prototype tank, which received the designation T-39, would require about 3 million rubles and a period of about one year, as a result of which it was mainly rejected.
Model of the Soviet super heavy tank T-39-1
In 1937, the design bureau of the Kharkov Locomotive-Building Plant (KhPZ) was assigned the task of designing a new heavy breakthrough tank based on T-35. The task was to create a three-turret 50-60 t with armor 75-45-mm, armed with one 76-mm, two 45-mm cannons, two large-caliber and 6 standard tank guns.
The new tank was supposed to use the transmission and chassis from the T-35. However, the KhPZ design bureau, which already did not have significant forces for such a complex work, was significantly weakened by repressions that touched the most qualified engineers. Therefore, despite the numerous requirements, by the beginning of 1938, they were able to carry out only a preliminary sketch of the 6 variants of the new tank, which differed in the deployment of weapons.
In April, 1938 was decided to connect the Leningrad Kirov Plant (LKZ) with its powerful production base and experience of mass production of the T-28, as well as the plant number 185 to them. Kirov, whose personnel, in turn, had a wealth of experience in the development of new types of combat vehicles. The first plant designed the SMK tank (“Sergey Mironovich Kirov”), leading engineer of the machine A. Yermolaev; the second is the 100 product (or T-100), the leading engineer of the machine is E. Paley.
By this time, at the Kirov plant in Leningrad, under the guidance of engineer M. Siegel, the T-46-5 (T-Ш) tank had already been manufactured, which had a counter-booking. Armament remained at the level of the light tank T-26: 45-mm gun, 2 machine gun in the turret and another one - anti-aircraft. Speed 30 km / h, crew 3 person. The car reservation was unprecedented: with the total weight of the 32,2 T, the tank had 60-mm armor on the hull and 50-mm on the turret!
Soviet experimental tank T-46-5, 1937
He did not go to the series both because of the incompleteness of the design itself, and because of the lack of tactical requirements for the machines of such a degree of booking, but he gave the experience to the designers. It is not surprising, therefore, that work on the QMS and T-100 tanks advanced fairly quickly: the QMS was ready for 1 in May, and the T-100 in 1 in June 1939. 9 December, the draft of new machines and their models were considered at a meeting of the Politburo of the Central Committee of the CPSU (b) and the Committee of Defense.
Soviet heavy tank breakthrough QMS, 1939
Three towers were located on the tanks, one after the other, so that the middle tower would rise above the end ones, as if on a warship. Stalin did not like it and the rear tower was removed to use its weight to strengthen the reservation.
And the QMS and T-100 outwardly were very similar and almost exactly the same armed. The difference was in the suspension. At the QMS, torsions were used for the first time in Soviet tank construction (before that they were installed only on an experimental T-28 tank) - steel shafts with wheel weights for wheels that worked on twisting when the tank drove into an obstacle. On the T-100 used suspension with leaf springs, which are protected from above armored screen.
Soviet heavy tank breakthrough T-100, November 1939
The tanks were built and transferred to tests that began on the night of 31 July on 1 August 1939. At the same time, the T-100 designers considered it possible to develop an even more powerful T-100Z tank armed with an X-NUMX-mm M-152 howitzer on its base. the tower, and self-propelled guns armed with 10-mm naval guns, used at that time on the cruisers and destroyers of the Navy.
As for the Kirov Plant, here, in addition to the ordered QMS, a single-turret KV tank (Klim Voroshilov) was also developed, leading engineers A. Ermolaev and N. Dukhov. The tank had a shortened chassis SMK, armor with a thickness of 75-mm and, according to the original plan, two guns in the tower, 45-mm and 76-mm.
Soviet experienced heavy tank, KV September 1939 g
According to the test results in the fall of 1939, they adopted the 19 December, and already 17 February 1940 sent it along with the QMS and T-100 tanks to the front of the outbreak of the Soviet-Finnish war, where our troops could not break through the fortified Finns " Mannerheim Line.
Usually, all new cars are kept secret so that, at the right moment, they can be used unexpectedly and massively. But in this case it was about the prestige of the USSR and the Red Army, as well as Stalin himself. That is why the possible leakage of information about these tanks decided not to be considered.
All 3 vehicles participated in the battles, and although they were damaged by anti-tank guns of the 37-47-mm caliber, they were unable to penetrate their armor. When the QMS was blown up on a land mine while driving in the depths of the Finnish defense, it was heavily damaged and abandoned by the crew, and it was not possible to evacuate a heavy vehicle with a broken chassis even with the help of several T-28 tanks. However, the Finns didn’t touch him either - they couldn’t, or they were much more interested in the padded serial T-28, which could be restored and used, rather than a single machine of an unknown type, so that after breaking through the “Mannerheim Line” the tank was again in our hands. However, in order to deliver the tank back to the factory, it had to be disassembled, and at the factory it was no longer assembled and rebuilt.
It turned out that the 76-mm guns of the KV-1 tanks were too weak to destroy the enemy fortifications, so it was decided to urgently equip this tank with a 152-mm howitzer in the new tower of increased size. The machine was assigned the KV-2 index, while it should be noted that stories There are few examples of tank building, when such a powerful weapon was mounted on a tank in a rotating turret, and even when it was not designed to install such weapons during the initial design.
It is not surprising that many experts expressed doubts as to whether the suspension could withstand the recoil when fired (especially from the gun deployed on board). However, tests have shown that the tank will be able to operate, so the 4 made such machines right there at the Kirov factory. They were tested again on the Karelian Isthmus, where they fired granite carpets on the Mannerheim Line with concrete shells at an emphasis. When one of the tanks got out of battle, 48 had dents from armor-piercing shells on its armor, but none of them broke through the armor. Naturally, the KV-2 was immediately put into service and, until the second half, 1941 was mass-produced at the Kirov factory.
T-100 in the light of all these events was completely unlucky. Although the staff of Plant No. XXUMX tried to prove that it was a machine of a different class than the KV tank, and that it could also have an 185-mm howitzer installed while maintaining the 152-mm cannon in the front turret, the state commission decided that it should be adopted impractical.
Soviet heavy tank breakthrough T-100, autumn 1940,
The Commission noted high specific ground pressure (0,86 kg / cm2), - for QMS this indicator was 0,66, and for KV - 0,77 kg / cm2; great difficulties with the management of such a heavy and large machine, poor maneuverability and a gasoline engine, while the diesel engine was already functioning on the KV tank.
Soviet heavy tank KV-1 model 1941 g.
At this time, all forces were thrown on the further improvement of the KV-1 tank, although it was soon to be replaced with a KV-3 tank with thicker armor. At the same time, a tank was developed, which they decided to equip with an 107-mm caliber gun, because a year before the start of the war, in 1940, our intelligence reported from Germany that they were already installing 100-mm guns on tanks. And although this message contradicted the information that had been received earlier, there were people among the military who demanded that the old designs immediately collapse and hastily begin to design even heavier and well-armed tanks. Deputy Commissar of Defense of the USSR, Marshal G. Kulik, especially believed in this message, considering that the caliber of 107-mm and armor not less than 100-mm thick in the light of intelligence data can now only be saved.
Soviet experienced heavy tank KV U-1 with a turret MT-1 and 152-mm howitzer M-10, 1940 g.
According to the new assignment for the KV-4 tank, its armament was to consist of 107-mm guns, a 45-mm tank gun, a flamethrower and 4-5 machine guns. The thickness of the frontal armor is not less than 125-130 mm. It was planned to install on the tank aviation engine of fantastic power of 1200 liters. with. At the same time, the deadline for the project was scheduled for June 15, 1941, and a prototype was required by September 1!
Since the task was extremely difficult, the chief designer of the plant, J. Kotin, decided to arrange an open competition, in which everyone was invited to participate in the plant. During May-June 1941, its participants presented more than two dozen projects, of which 21 reached us, and 19 - fully completed and signed, having numbers.
Seven projects were carried out according to the QMS scheme: an 107-mm caliber cannon was installed in the main rear turret, while an 45-mm cannon was installed in the front small turret. In 6 projects, a small tower was located on the roof of the main one. One of the projects proposed to use a ready-made turret from the KV-1, and to install an 107-mm gun in the case with limited angles of guidance along the horizon, as it was on a TG tank. The KV-4 mass in all projects was no less than 80-100 tons, so it was not the Germans at the end of the war that turned out to be leaders in creating supertanks, which almost no bridge could withstand, but our Soviet designers, who tried to carry out orders of his superiors. The fact that the matter did not come to the final version and its production in the metal, the result of exceptionally extraordinary circumstances - 22 June 1941 was fascist Germany attacked the USSR.
However, even under the conditions of a catastrophic approach of the front line to the city on the Neva, work on the project of a super-power tank (now it was already KV-5) in spite of everything continued. With the same engine as the KV-4, the mass of the KV-5 tank exceeded the 100-tonne line. Externally, the tank was supposed to be like an impregnable dot.
The low hull had a length of 8257 mm, and the width of 4 m. Frontal should have a thickness of armor 180-mm. To accommodate the driver in the forward part of the body, a special turret was provided for, and a turret for the machine gun was to be located next to it. The torsion suspension of the tank was based on an eight-roll chassis. The gun is already traditional caliber 107-mm. Z.Kotin signed the first drawings of this machine at the beginning of 1941, but the developers did not keep up with the August 1. The very last day of work on the HF-5 was 22 in August, after which, apparently, the work on it was discontinued. The enemy cut Leningrad from the mainland and it was necessary to think about the mass production of KV-1 tanks instead of indulging (by the way, yourself?) With unrealizable illusions regarding the creation of super-power supertanks. However, their story is not over here.
There was a message on the Internet that after the start of the Great Patriotic War, Stalin was once reported that the KV-2 tank was able to delay the onslaught of the Nazi troops in one direction for a whole day. Stalin considered that an even more powerful tank, on which there would be many towers, would stop them even more, and summoned J. Kotin, inviting him to build a KV-5 tank.
In fact, these were as many as three KV tanks interconnected and having a powerful diesel engine. The armament consisted of three linearly elevated towers from KV tanks, the middle of which had as many as two 152-mm guns, as well as another BT-5 turret mounted on top. A flamethrower and a Katyusha rocket launcher were installed as an additional weapon on the tank. The first tank was killed, having broken at the passage of the ravine, and the fire mixture from the burst pipelines at the same time spilled, there was a fire from which the ammunition exploded. The second tank of the reinforced design was made and even began to participate in battles, but once in the fog one of its towers fired a shot at the other, due to which the ammunition was detonated there. The third tank, which the Germans called the "Stalinist Orchestra" for its gun-missile dissent, so that the crash that occurred could not happen again, had special stoppers for turning the towers. He did not have any maneuverability, which Stalin, however, did not bother at all.
When Kotin decided to take an interest from the leader, but how such a tank would turn, he answered that he didn’t need to turn, since he would have to go straight to Berlin! But this tank, which received the unofficial nickname "hippopotamus" in Kotin's design bureau, did not manage to reach Berlin. During one of the battles, his commander, apparently not well versed in the combat capabilities of his car, gave the order to strike the enemy with a salvo, as a result of which, because of too much recoil of so many guns, the tank overturned into the nearby ravine, the flammable liquid again spilled, after which "Hippo" blew up on their own ammunition. Building it for the fourth time was no longer anymore, but its immediate developers still went to the camps!
J. Kotin himself, who had the opportunity not only to observe all these experiments with heavy and super-heavy tanks, later wrote that only “as a result of extensive experimentation, severe testing of machines, in fact, it was possible to grope for optimal design solutions”. Of course, experiment is a good thing, but it’s not too often that our designers relied not so much on calculation as on experiments, which resulted in more and more new projects of tank-cruisers not only in drawings, but also in metal? Although, on the other hand, in those conditions it was just necessary to survive, they survived without regard for anything, fulfilling any, even the most absurd, of those tasks that they received.