After the light Soviet Tanks T-26 and BT-5 were tested in the fire of the Spanish war, it became obvious that almost all tanks of the Red Army, both light and heavy, needed to be reinforced with armor. Particular attention was paid to heavy tanks, the creation of which began in 1938 at two Leningrad plants: at the Kirov plant, chief designer Zh.Ya. Kotin developed the QMS (named so in honor of the head of the Leningrad Bolsheviks Sergei Mironovich Kirov), and at the Leningrad Kirov Experimental Mechanical Engineering Plant, the T-100 tank was created by the 1st rank military engineer M.V. Barykov. The work was carried out on a competitive basis, since only one tank had to be taken into service. The head of the QMS design team was A.S. Ermolaev. According to his project, the weight of the tank was 55 tons. Therefore, it was decided to install a 12-cylinder aviation a gasoline engine with a capacity of 850 hp, which, according to calculations, was supposed to provide the tank with a maximum highway speed of 35 km / h and a cruising range of 220 km.
The creation of such a heavy tank was very difficult. They were looking for the optimal shape of the hull and towers, the question arose whether to make them cast or welded from armor plates. To get a better idea of what the tank would look like, Kotin ordered to make his model out of wood, and in 15 days he was ready. Although the plant was already creating a tank with anti-cannon armor T-46-5, it was obvious that the new tank was an unusual vehicle. The layout of the first version of the SMK, which had three towers, most of all resembled a cruiser. At the same time, its towers were located not along the longitudinal axis of the hull, but with mixing - the front to the left, and the rear to the right.
The central tower was higher than the end ones and was mounted on an armored conical base. The central turret with a 76 mm cannon rotated 360 degrees. The front tower of the lower tier could rotate 270 degrees, and the rear one - 290, due to which the "dead zone" of fire was equal to only 440 sq / m, i.e. was the smallest among all the options considered. The central turret had 150 rounds of ammunition, while the other two contained 300 rounds. All towers had observation periscopes and sights. The crew of a multi-turret vehicle was supposed to consist of 7 people, which made it possible to fire simultaneously in all directions.
That is, until August 1938, without contracts for the manufacture of new machines, the factories carried out mainly preliminary design. The work began in full swing only after the Decree of the Defense Committee under the Council of People's Commissars of the USSR No. 198ss of August 7, 1938, which established strict terms for the manufacture of new tank samples: the SMK by May 1, 1939, the T-100 by June 1, 1939. For two months, on October 10 and 11, a commission chaired by the assistant to the head of the ABTU military engineer 1st rank Korobkov reviewed the drawings and wooden models in full size for the SMK and T-100 tanks. Despite a number of deviations from the specified tactical and technical requirements - in particular, instead of a T-35 type suspension with coil springs, the SMK used torsion shafts, and the T-100 - balancers with plate springs - the prototype commission gave the go-ahead for the production of experimental samples of tanks according to the presented drawings and models.
In this winter camouflage, the SMK was sent to the Soviet-Finnish front.
The SMK surpassed the T-35 heavy tank in speed, in reserve, cross-country ability, and could climb 40 degrees, while for the T-35 the steepness of more than 15 was the limit. Initially (as already mentioned) the tank was supposed to have the same suspension system as the T-35, but it was not very reliable and required bulky and heavy armor screens to protect it. That is why, at an early stage of the design, it was decided to abandon it and for the first time in the USSR to use a torsion bar suspension on a heavy tank, already used on light Swedish and German tanks.
The tank was supposed to have really reliable armor at that time, not penetrating shells of 37 ... 40-mm guns. The hull and turrets were made of rolled armor, the maximum thickness of which was 60 mm in front and on the sides. The roof of the tank was 20 mm thick, and the bottom was 30 mm thick to protect against mines. A characteristic feature of the vehicle with three turrets was the beveled corners of the bow of the hull, which were later used on the KV-13 tank and the IS series vehicles. On December 9, 1938, the SMK tank in the form of a small mock-up made of wood was demonstrated in the Kremlin. During the viewing, Stalin considered the rear tower unnecessary (Zh.Ya. Kotin himself was of the same point of view) and proposed to remove it, and use the saved weight of 3 tons to strengthen armor protection. In addition, work was allowed on a single-turret version of the future KV tank. In January 1939, the manufacture of metal tanks began.
The SMK in a two-turret version received a hull of a simpler shape, and the main turret received a machine gun in the rear. The installation of an anti-aircraft machine gun DK was also envisaged. Stalin believed that such a tank must have a supply of drinking water in a special tank.
The first test drive around the yard of the plant SMK made on April 30, and the T-100 - on July 1, 1939. After the factory run-in, both vehicles were transferred to field tests, which began on the night of July 31 to August 1. On September 20, 1939, the SMK, T-100 and KB participated in the government demonstration of serial and experimental tanks, held at the Kubinka training ground. It was attended by K.E. Voroshilov, A.A.Zhdanov, N.A. Voznesensky, A.I. Mikoyan, D.G. Pavlov, Likhachev, Malyshev, etc. Although the SMK tank passed the test, it was noticed that it was difficult for drivers to drive heavy vehicles, and for commanders it was difficult to control the fire of two guns and machine guns in two towers. By the end of November 1939, the SMK had traveled 1700 km.
But on November 30, 1939, the Soviet-Finnish war began. The troops of the Leningrad military district under the command of the commander of the 2nd rank K.A. Meretskova moved forward, but ran into a heavily fortified line, a powerful system of pillboxes and other fortifications, overcoming which in the conditions of a harsh winter that quickly set in caused serious difficulties. Upon learning of this, the management of the Kirov Plant took the initiative to use the developed heavy tanks to break through the enemy fortifications that met on the way. The SMK and KV tanks were urgently delivered to the combat area, and an experienced two-turret T-100 tank was also delivered there.
Due to the fact that the tank forces did not yet have specialists trained to operate these machines, the tank crews had to include factory testers who voluntarily expressed a desire to participate in this most dangerous business. Volunteers underwent combat training at tank courses in Krasnoe Selo before being sent to the front.
All of them were dressed in military uniforms and given personal weapon, although formally they were not servicemen.
A senior lieutenant V. Petin was appointed the commander of the SMK tank; the gunner-radio operator and gunner were also the Red Army soldiers. Tester V.I. Ignatiev, in addition to him, the minder A.P. Kunitsyn and A.G. Teterev.
The commander of the experienced KV tank was also appointed a career tanker, Lieutenant G.F. Kachekhin, 2nd rank driver-military technician I.P. Golovachev, a test driver - factory specialist K.I. Bucket, minder - A.I. Estratova, in addition to them, the crew included Red Army men - gunner Kuznetsov and radio operator A. Smirnov.
Thus, on two Kirov experimental vehicles, together with the professional tankers, there were five factory volunteers. The senior of the group of experienced tanks, which also included an experienced two-turret heavy tank T-100, was assigned a military engineer of the 2nd rank I.I. Kolotushkin.
At the dawn of a frosty winter day, Kirov tanks were unloaded from the railway echelon and promptly subordinated to the 20th tank brigade of brigade commander S.V. Borzunov. Experienced tanks performed all further movements under their own power.
To test the fighting qualities of the new vehicles, they chose a rather difficult section of the front. Tanks moved towards it through Terijoki (now Zelenogorsk), then passed Raivola and went to the Boboshino area, which is not far from the Perkiyarvi station (now Kirillovskoe). The front lines of the enemy passed between Lake Summajärvi and the non-freezing swamp of Sunasuo. Finnish pillboxes in the high-rise buildings were armed with 37-mm Swedish Bofors cannons and machine guns. In front of them were granite anti-tank guns. Heavy tanks were to attack these fortifications and capture the heights that served as observation posts.
At the initial line, the tank crews were visited by the head of the Armored Directorate of the Red Army Corps Commander D.G. Pavlov, with him were the director of the Kirov plant I.M. Zaltsman and chief designer J.Ya. Kotin.
The actions of the experienced tanks from a remote command post were observed by the commander of the North-Western Front, Army Commander 1st Rank S.K. Timoshenko, commander of the Leningrad military district, 2nd rank army commander K.A. Meretskov and the head of the tests, the son of the People's Commissar of Defense P.K. Voroshilov.
The artillery preparation was carried out in such a way as not only to suppress the enemy defenses, but also to break through the passages in the barbed wire. With the last volleys of guns, the command "Forward!" The SMK tank moved at the head of the experimental vehicle convoy. Its commander, senior lieutenant V. Petin, was the senior of the entire group. The mighty tank, pushing aside the rubble, went forward. So he broke through the wire fence, overcame the ditch and approached the granite pillars. The Finns fired at him from anti-tank guns, inside the car there was a terrible roar from blows to the armor, but the crew did not find a single hole. From the turret guns, the tankers fired at the embrasures of the Finnish pillboxes until they received the command to return to their original position.
Model of the SMK tank on the Soviet-Finnish front
The next day, the attack was repeated twice. And both times the prototypes returned to their original positions without serious damage. But then an order came to support our units that had broken through to the Sumy area. All experimental vehicles lined up in a column, the SMK tank in front, and moved forward. On the way, one of the hits jammed the main tower. The tank had already entered the road by that time. At the Kameri-Vyborg fork in the road, the driver noticed a pile of boxes and, apparently, ran over them. There was a violent explosion, the SMK stopped. Senior Lieutenant Petin got out of the car and saw that the explosion had damaged the sloth and the caterpillar. In addition, it tore off the transmission mounting bolts and bent the bottom of the tank. It was 40 degrees below zero. Driver-mechanic V.I. Ignatiev, stunned by the explosion, lost consciousness for a while. Sergeant Mogilchenko was seriously wounded. But the crew did not leave the car. Two other tanks, the Kirov KV and the heavy T-100, covered the QMS with their armor. A kind of triangular fortress of three cars was formed. The tankers not only fired back, but also tried to put the SMK on the move, but they did not succeed. Numerous attempts by the T-100 to tow the damaged SMK were not crowned with success: because of the icy ice, the tracks of the "weave" slipped and it was not possible to move the tank. For five hours, the tanks fought in the depths of the Finnish positions. Having shot all the ammunition, the QMS crew moved to the T-100. The overloaded "weaving" (with 15 crew members!), Accompanied by the KV tank, returned to the location of the 20th tank brigade.
Towards evening, an evacuation and repair group arrived in several T-28 tanks. The crew of the SMK tank was allowed to leave the wrecked car. At the nearest forest edge, the testers were met by corps commander D.G. Pavlov. He listened to the report of Senior Lieutenant Petin and the stories of the returning tankers. Here he announced the submission of all testers for state awards.
On December 20, 1939, on the personal order of the head of the Red Army ABTU D. Pavlov, an attempt was made to evacuate the damaged QMS. However, this was not done. At 19.00 on December 20, the front headquarters from the headquarters of the 1st tank brigade received a report with the following content: on the basis of the personal order of the corps commander, Comrade Pavlov, a company of the 20th motorized rifle battalion and the 167th infantry battalion were assigned to the commander of the 37th tank brigade to save the secret tank. I am a sapper company, reinforced with two anti-tank guns and one machine gun. The whole group was under the command of Captain Nikulenko, who had 7 T-28 tanks to support it. The entire detachment went out for the front nadolby forward 100-150 m, where it was met with artillery, mortar and machine-gun fire. As a result: the 167th MRB company - 36 wounded, 2 killed, the 37th engineer company - 7 wounded, 2 missing. The job failed.
The evacuation group tried to pull out the damaged tank using a 25-ton T-28 tank as a tractor. However, they could not pull out the 55-ton hulk that had lodged in the funnel. I had to leave him at the site of the explosion in the neutral zone. There is information that the Finns tried to tow the SMK tank, but they failed. For a long time, the tank was used by our observers as a dugout in the no-man's land. The armor of the hull and turret reliably protected from bullets, shrapnel, and even withstood direct hits from guns.
An experienced two-turret tank SMK remained at the site of the explosion until the end of the war. Subsequently, he was able to budge only with the help of six T-28 tanks. It was towed to the Perk-Yarvi station and disassembled was sent to the Kirov plant. On the instructions of ABTU RKKA, the plant was supposed to repair the tank and transfer it to storage in Kubinka near Moscow. But for a number of reasons, no repairs were made. The QMS lay on the outskirts of the plant until the 50s, after which it went into melting.
The internal structure of a heavy tank SMK