Military Review

Topic "SP": light tank to replace the T-26

In 1938, the Leningrad Experimental Engineering Plant No. 185 named after CM. Kirov began to develop a lung project tank T-26M. Within the framework of this project, it was supposed to increase the characteristics of the original T-26 by applying a number of new technical solutions, components and assemblies. Perhaps the most noticeable difference from the base car was to be a new suspension, copied from the units of the tank of the Czechoslovak Skoda IIa tank, shortly before being tested in the Soviet Union. The use of the chassis with two carts (two track rollers on a cart) on each side was to lead to a noticeable increase in the mobility of the combat vehicle. However, even then it was clear that simply equipping the modernized T-26M tank with a new suspension would not give him any advantages over the basic version. Therefore, at the very beginning of 1939, the development of a project for the overhaul of a light tank called T-26-5 began. This project was the first in a whole family of versions of the modernization of the T-26 tank, known as the "SP".


The index "SP" stands for "Maintenance of the infantry." It was assumed that the deeply upgraded light tank T-26 will retain its basic functions, but will receive higher performance compared with the base version. Interestingly, in the T-26-5 project it was intended to use components and assemblies already mastered in serial production, as well as new components and developed for the T-26М tank. Using this approach, a number of technical and technological problems could be solved.

Topic "SP": light tank to replace the T-26

According to the requirements of the Armored Armor Directorate (ABTU), the designers of the plant №185 should have taken the T-26М tank with its suspension, borrowed from foreign armored vehicles, as a basis. The forehead and armor of the hull of the T-26-5 tank were to be made of cemented armor and have a thickness of 20 millimeters, and it was planned to compensate for the increased weight using a forced engine with a power of about 130 hp. It was necessary to take into account the possibility of further replacing the engine with a more powerful one. Within the framework of the T-26-5 project, it was proposed to once again apply a “Czechoslovak” suspension with characteristic carts, as well as test the new spring suspension of the Pereverzev design. The latter with similar characteristics could significantly simplify the manufacture of the chassis.

The development of the “SP” project in the T-26-5 variant continued until the end of the spring of 1940. In May, 40 Plant No. 185 was merged with Leningrad State Plant No. XXUMX. K.E. Voroshilov. Shortly thereafter, the Armored Directorate corrected the terms of reference on the topic of "SP". In accordance with the updated requirements, the T-174-26 tank had to have cemented armor with a thickness of up to 5 mm or homogeneous to 30 mm. In the first case, the maximum combat weight was set at 40 tons, in the second - 12,5 tons. When using heavier and thicker homogeneous armor, the tank needed to be equipped with an 14 hp engine, and the old 160-strong engine could keep the tank. .

Employees of the former plant No. 185 completed the development of the T-26-5 project in accordance with the updated requirements and prepared documentation for the construction of a prototype of a new combat vehicle. In the spring of 1940, the representatives of the Armored Directorate were able to familiarize themselves with the project and draw up a list of necessary improvements. After the elimination of the identified deficiencies, preparations began for the construction of an experienced T-26-5 tank.

Project "126"

At the beginning of 1940 of the year, before the end of the war with Finland, Glavspetsmash of the People's Commissariat of Medium Machine Building issued to plant No. XXUMX the task of creating another project of the tank "SP". On a number of points, these requirements coincided with those set forth for the development of Plant No. XXUMX, but had several significant differences. Tank factory them. Voroshilov needed to equip the six-cylinder version of the diesel engine B-174 (a simplified version of the B-185), torsion suspension and machine guns DS-3.

Work on the topic of “joint venture” at plant No. 174 was carried out as part of the project with the symbol “126”. After the merger of the two enterprises, the project T-26-5 of the former plant them. Kirov received a new designation - "126-1". The own project of the 174 plant, in turn, was designated as “126-2”.

Object 126-2, project 1940 g

Developing the “126-2” project in accordance with the requirements was quite challenging. Compliance with all requirements was associated with a number of problems, primarily of a layout nature. For example, when placing a B-3 diesel engine and a transmission in the rear part of the hull, the combat weight of the entire machine reached 20 tons, the length reached the 5,5 meter, and the feed was unacceptably high. The use of the layout used in the T-26 tank gave almost no gain in size or weight: when transferring transmission units and driving wheels to the front of the hull, the gain in length and weight did not exceed the 0,3 meter and 0,5-1,5 tons, respectively. Installing the engine across the hull made it possible to slightly reduce the size and weight, but did not allow to unify the transmissions of the 126-2 and A-32 tanks.

Following the comparison of different layouts, it was decided to sacrifice the width of the machine, having received a gain in length and weight. The drive wheels and part of the transmission units were moved to the front of the case. This and the lateral placement of the engine led to a slight increase in the width of the tank (no more than 75-80 mm), however, the length remained at the level of the dimensions of the T-26 - about 4,6 meter. The estimated combat weight of the tank "126-2" did not exceed 15 tons. In addition to meeting the requirements for size and weight, such a layout allowed equipping the new tank with onboard clutches or even a gearbox borrowed from the А-32 project.

In March, 1940, the ABTU analyzed two projects: "126-1" and "126-2". The original layout, applied in the project of the plant No. XXUMX, caused a lot of complaints. First of all, the placement of the engine literally in the fighting compartment was criticized. However, its transfer to a separate volume threatened with an unacceptable increase in the length of the body. Other shortcomings of the project could be relatively quickly and easily fixed.

Project "211"

In January, the Leningrad Kirov Plant developed its own version of the Light Tank Support Vehicle, the 1940. Unlike the combat vehicles described above, the Leningrad light tank was supposed to be made with minimal use of the designs of the T-26 project. Probably, this particular feature of the project allowed to use the experience gained in the development of the T-50 light tank, which was mass-produced and took part in combat operations.

As part of the 211 project, two versions of a light tank were developed. The first was to get a cast hull and a tower with armor up to 45 mm thick, and the second meant the use of a welded hull of sheets up to 25 mm thick. Both tanks were to be equipped with a B-3 diesel engine and fuel tanks with a total capacity of the order of 350 liters. A light tank with a cast hull was supposed to carry an 45-mm cannon and two DT machine guns - twin and anti-aircraft. The armament of a tank with a welded hull was to consist of a pair of DT machine guns and one anti-aircraft machine gun. The combat weight of the "cast" and "welded" tanks was 14 and 12 tons, respectively.

The weight and size restrictions imposed by the terms of reference on the “SP” theme made Leningrad designers study the possible configurations of the tank’s internal units. As a result, employees of the design office of LKZ came to the same conclusions as their colleagues from the plant number XXUMX. A relatively large diesel engine B-174 was not placed in a separate engine-transmission compartment, but installed in the rear part of the hull, with a shift to the board. This should have a negative impact on the convenience of the crew, but allowed to reduce the size of the combat vehicle and, as a result, its weight.

It was proposed to equip both versions of the 211 tank with an individual torsion bar suspension with six support rollers on board. In addition to the road wheels, the chassis should have four supporting rollers, a drive and guide wheel on each side.

In March, the 1940 of the Year, the Armored Directorate, along with other projects, studied the development with the “211” index. As in the case of the project "126-2" the main claims of the military were related to the placement of the engine. Other shortcomings of the project could be solved without serious interference with the layout and design of the tank.

Completion of projects

The meetings at ABTU lasted three days, after which the responsible persons of the administration and tank factories agreed on the prospects of the three projects. It was decided to continue work on the project “126-1”, and later to take it as a basis for the modernization of the fleet of existing and newly produced serial T-26-1. Until the end of June, 1940 was required to prepare documentation on the finalization of the T-26-1 to the level of “126-1” as part of the overhaul of the equipment. The production tanks of the old model were to receive new diesel engines D-744, as well as additional reservations, increasing the total thickness of protection to 40-45 mm.

The design work on the 126-1 and 211 tanks was required to continue. The main goal of the designers of the plant number XXUMX and the Kirov Plant was to change the layout of their tanks. The military did not accept the contact of the engine with the fighting compartment. It was necessary to make all the units of the power plant beyond the habitable volume. Updated projects were required to submit in early July.

At the end of April 1940, the military, after analyzing the projects submitted earlier, clarified the terms of reference on the topic "SP". A prospective light tank with a tracked propulsor and one turret should have a combat mass of no more than 13 tons. The maximum dimensions were set in accordance with the restrictions imposed by rail transport and road and road structures. The maximum travel speed was determined in 35 km / h. Perspective light tank "SP" had to rise and descend with a slope of the surface to 45 ° and move with a roll to 40 °. It was necessary to ensure the overcoming of a wall up to 0,7 meters in height and the crossing of water barriers to a depth of up to 1,2 ford without preparation. The capacity of the fuel tanks should be enough for 10 hours of movement.

The armor of the tank "SP" was supposed to protect the crew and units from projectiles caliber 45 mm when firing from any distance. For this, the forehead, sides and stern of the hull were to be made of 45-mm armor plates. The thickness of the roof and the bottom, according to the task, should have been 20 and 15 mm, respectively. The layout of the internal volume was supposed to provide not only comfortable accommodation for a crew of four, but also allow them to replace each other without leaving the car. A new tank was required to be equipped with an intercom system for the commander, driver and gunner, as well as the 71-TK-3 radio station with a whip antenna suitable for replacement from the fighting compartment.

The armament of the SP tank was to consist of one 45 mm caliber cannon with an ammunition of at least 150 shells and DT machine guns with 4000 ammunition of ammunition. For self-defense, the crew needed to equip Degtyarev machine pistols with a common 750 ammunition ammunition, as well as 24 F-1 grenades.

Also, the updated technical task stipulated a number of requirements for various components and assemblies of a promising tank and for the convenience of the crew. In accordance with these requirements, it was necessary to continue the development of all three projects.

5 June 1940 of the Year The Defense Committee allowed Plant No.174 to begin construction of a prototype tank of the SP in the T-126-2 variant. However, before that it was necessary to bring the engine into a separate volume and move the drive wheels to the rear of the hull. Shortly thereafter, updated requirements for the armored corps appeared. A few months before, the proposed use of the armor of the Mariupol plant was tested. During the test shelling of 45-mm anti-tank guns using the latest projectiles, it turned out that the protection against such weapons provide only sheets with a thickness of more than 50 mm, however, after such a bombardment, the rear strength of the armor is broken. In this regard, the T-126-2 tank was to receive frontal and airborne armor with a thickness of 55 mm. The roof and bottom to protect against enemy planes and mines now needed to be made from 30-mm and 20-mm sheets, respectively. In view of the increase in the weight of the hull, it was allowed to bring the combat mass of the promising tank to 17 tons.

In August, 40-th completed the construction of two experimental tanks T-126. One of them, equipped with armor no thicker than 45 mm, weighed about 17 tons, and the machine with thicker armor had a mass of about 18,3 tons. Despite the relatively large weight, both tanks were cramped and not very comfortable for crews. The restrictions imposed by various customer requirements have led to a severe economy of internal volumes.

The tests of the first prototype of the T-126 tank began on August 31. Before September 9, an armored vehicle with a crew of testers passed 312 kilometers: 195 km along the highway, 95 km over rough terrain and 22 km along various obstacles. September 10 began finishing the tank with the elimination of the detected deficiencies. 19 September launched the second stage of testing, during which an experienced tank overcame 973 kilometers.

Despite constant improvements, the tanks of the 126 project retained a lot of flaws, the main of which was a large combat mass. In accordance with the first versions of the technical specification, the tank “SP” should not weigh more than 13-15 tons, but 17- and 18-ton machines were put to the test. Customer reaction was expected. After some not very successful improvements, both 126 projects, and with them 211, were closed.

Project "127"

In May, the 1940 of the year, when the constant increase in the 126 tank mass became visible, works on the 174 project began at plant No. 127. As part of this preliminary design, it was intended to work out the possibility of maximally facilitating a promising tank with the fulfillment of existing requirements. A group of engineers led by young specialists Goltvyansky and Makarova got down to business and soon presented her version of the light tank “SP”.

The 127-126 project was taken as the basis for the 1, from which the hull was borrowed with serious modifications, as well as the gearbox, final drives and a number of other units. The tank was supposed to get a diesel engine D-744 power 250 hp With armor thickness from 30 to 45 mm, the new armored vehicle had to weigh no more than 12,6 tons and have smaller dimensions in comparison with the “126-1”. In the undercarriage it was proposed to use three torsions aboard, on each of which it was proposed to place a balancer with a two-wheel carriage.

The sketch project “127” looked promising. A relatively light armored vehicle had a fairly high level of protection, and its mobility, according to calculations, was noticeably higher than that of other tanks created under the theme "SP". The only problem with the 127 project was the lack of an engine. Diesel D-744 was not ready for mass production and even on the stands could not give the required power. Moreover, only one of the three prototypes of the engine was able to develop the power of the 200 hp for a short time, after which they failed. Two other engines with great difficulty took the bar in the 150 hp Nevertheless, the authors of the project believed that without significant modifications this motor could “give out” 250 hp. and thus provide a new tank with high performance.

By the time the tests of the T-126 tank began, engineers Goltvyansky and Makarov offered to start full-scale work on the 127 project. The management of the plant No. XXUMX saw its inherent flaws and therefore did not share the optimism of the authors of the project. The absence of the engine, as well as the ambiguous characteristics of the undercarriage became the cause of the corresponding attitude to the project. Nevertheless, the authors of the project continued the struggle and even sent a complaint to the Defense Committee, the Main Armored Directorate (GABTU) and the People's Commissariat for Medium Machine Building.

Shortly after sending such a letter to the plant number 174 arrived commission GABTU. Management Specialists familiarized themselves with the documentation on the project of the tank "127" and rendered their verdict. The Commission noted the closeness of the fighting compartment, which did not provide sufficient crew comfort; the absence of the necessary engine, as well as the impossibility of raising its power to the required 250 hp; low reliability of the torsion bar suspension with carts; the complexity of manufacturing the body with a large number of bent parts. Finally, the tank "127" had no prospects for booking. With an increase in the thickness of the hull sheets, the proposed diesel engine could no longer provide sufficient mobility. The use of a different power plant would entail significant changes to the hull with corresponding consequences for the size and weight of the tank.

Shortly after the commission report appeared, all work on the 127 project ceased.


As part of the “SP” theme, the Soviet defense industry created four different light tank projects. All these projects had both advantages and disadvantages. A common feature of the developed tanks "126-1", "126-2", "211" and "127" was a constant increase in combat mass. The reason for this can be considered ambiguous technical task. The infantry escort tank was supposed to be light enough, but at the same time to have relatively thick armor. As shown by the projects of plants No. XXUMX, No. XXUMX and the Leningrad Kirovsky Plant, the creation of a promising armored vehicle with similar characteristics is a very difficult task. Moreover, at the level of development of materials science and motor engineering of the late thirties, the creation of a tank with specified characteristics turned out to be almost impossible. Because of this, the most successful of the projects on the subject of the “joint venture” - “185-174” - remained at the prototype testing stage.

Based on:
Svirin M. Stalin's armor shield. History of the Soviet tank 1937-43 - M .: Yauza, Eksmo, 2006
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  1. ramsi
    ramsi 3 February 2014 08: 54
    in my opinion, they created the optimal car in this class - Su76
    1. vovich
      vovich 3 February 2014 09: 34
      But the Su 76 is a self-propelled gun and not a tank.
      1. cosmos111
        cosmos111 3 February 2014 10: 08
        The T-26 was a great light tank.
        The re-arrangement, with the front location of the MTO, did not give anything.
        Only, the project of light self-propelled guns, such as SU-76.
        The SP infantry escort on a light chassis was unlikely to succeed.
        But a tank destroyer with a tank version of the ZIS-3 cannon, at the first stage of the war, could make a huge contribution to the defeat of the blitzkrieg.
        1. Bigriver
          Bigriver 3 February 2014 13: 03
          Quote: cosmos111
          ... But a tank destroyer with a tank version of the ZIS-3 cannon, at the first stage of the war, could make a huge contribution to the defeat of the blitzkrieg.

          Is it really iron?
          The key to crushing the blitzkrieg lies not in the BO of the "ideal" tank, but in the organization of formations, experience in planning, management, and supply. By and large, it lies in the theory of application. We went to this theory of ours for the first two years.
      2. Nikoha.2010
        Nikoha.2010 4 February 2014 12: 17
        Quote: vovich
        But the Su 76 is a self-propelled gun and not a tank.

        Yes sir! And knock you down the goose on a self-propelled gun, what will you do ... and the tank can even turn the tower wink
    2. rubin6286
      rubin6286 3 February 2014 10: 41
      The tankers called the Su-76 "". Our designers came up with the idea to put the driver in the space between the fuel tanks.
      1. ramsi
        ramsi 3 February 2014 11: 04
        in any way, the su76 was better than t26, bt, t60, t70
      2. avt
        avt 3 February 2014 11: 11
        Quote: rubin6286
        The tankers called the Su-76 "". Our designers came up with the idea to put the driver in the space between the fuel tanks.

        The old ,, song about the main thing. ”For a long time, everything was put in its place. Do not you understand the difference between a tank and an SPG! ??? That is what the tankers called a bitch, and the trained gunners, self-propelled guns -“ Suvorochka ”.
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      3. Bigriver
        Bigriver 3 February 2014 13: 09
        Quote: rubin6286
        The tankers called the Su-76 "". Our designers came up with the idea to put the driver in the space between the fuel tanks.

        In the T-34, the fighting compartment is also formed between the fuel tanks.
      4. ka5280
        ka5280 3 February 2014 14: 12
        Sherman tanks Germans called the furnace for Tommy, so what? Whatever the tank, but its sensible use leads to unjustified losses.
      5. Landwarrior
        Landwarrior 4 February 2014 12: 22
        Quote: rubin6286
        The tankers called the Su-76 "".

        And also - "Columbine", "Box", "Goodbye, Motherland!", "Holo * opy Ferdinand" ... hi
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    3. Nikoha.2010
      Nikoha.2010 3 February 2014 22: 01
      Quote: ramsi
      in my opinion, they created the optimal car in this class - Su76

      C Respect, smile, but you with your comment "led all the apponents astray."

      The prototype of the T-26 was the English tank Vickers Mk. E (also known as the "Vickers 6 ton"), developed by the English company "Vickers-Armstrong" in 1928-1929. This machine was originally developed with the aim of selling it to the countries of the "Second World", such as the Soviet Union, Poland, Brazil, Argentina, Thailand, China, Japan.
      The machine was designed in three versions:
      - two-turret with two machine guns (Model A);
      - single turret with a 47-mm gun (Model B);
      - a fighter tank armed with two 37 mm anti-tank guns (Model C).
      This division was based on the experience of using tanks during the First World War. Model A was called a “trench cleaner” and was intended to destroy enemy manpower when breaking through fortifications.
      According to intelligence, Poland also procured Vickers Mk.E models and, according to the leadership of the Red Army, by the end of 1930, it planned to produce more than 300 tanks of this type with Anglo-French help. In this regard, the RCA of the Red Army considered it appropriate to consider the issue of the immediate adoption of the B-26 in its current form. As a result, on February 13, 1931, the RVS decided to adopt the B-26 for service with the Red Army as “the main support tank for combined arms and units, as well as tank and mechanized units of the RGK” with the assignment of the T-26 index to it. The design of the tank during production was constantly improved. Since September 1932, the tank’s armor protection has been strengthened by replacing 13 mm armor plates with 15 mm. Two versions of tanks were simultaneously produced - with machine gun weapons and a machine gun and cannon, consisting of a DT-29 machine gun in the left tower and a 37 mm gun in the right. Machine gun tanks at the end of 1932 began to be produced with ball mounts for the new DTU machine guns, but since the latter were soon discontinued, the tanks of these series turned out to be unarmed and they later had to replace the front plates of the towers with those suitable for the installation of the old DT-29.
      In 1940, the military leadership issued an order to two Leningrad factories - Kirovsky and plant No. 174 urgently to create a tank weighing about 14 tons, armed with a 45-mm cannon and protected by moderate-thickness projectile armor. Initially, this tank was listed under the brand T-126SP (SP - infantry escort). Its prototypes were created at the end of 1940 and successfully tested. Preference was given to the tank of factory No. 174. A little later, in April 1940, a decree was issued on its adoption by the Red Army and on putting it into production at factory No. 174 under the T-50 index.
      1. ramsi
        ramsi 4 February 2014 08: 57
        I will not even compete with you with knowledge, but in the role of a tank for direct support of the infantry, the three-inch su76 was probably more useful than forty-five "real" tanks. Quote, because light tanks proved to be completely untenable as a class
        1. Nikoha.2010
          Nikoha.2010 4 February 2014 11: 06
          Good afternoon Igor! Yes, we're just talking about the T-26. I agree, he is a light tank and "light in Africa." At the beginning of World War II, the Germans also had Pz.I and Pz. II, and these are machine guns and 20mm fluff. In Spain, German tanks of this class "met" with republican T-26s. The comparison was clearly not in favor of the Fritzes. Medium tanks Pz. IIIs were equipped with a 50mm cannon, and Pz.IVs were equipped with a 75mm cannon, but these are medium tanks, and our designers did not sleep, for which they are glorified and honored, but this is another topic ... Best regards and good luck, do not blame hi !
  2. avt
    avt 3 February 2014 09: 45
    Initially, the idea was a failure. The T26 was already at its limit, the weak chassis no longer allowed to do anything new with the car, and where the gas engine is located, in front or behind, it did not give anything fundamentally better. The machine simply exhausted the already small modernization resource.
  3. rubin6286
    rubin6286 3 February 2014 10: 49
    With the T-26 tank there was continuous torment. By the mid-30s it was hopelessly outdated. The level of special knowledge even among the specialists of the GABTU of the Red Army was quite low, so the requirements for a light infantry escort tank were often contradictory and could not be complete. least performed by designers and manufacturers. Prototypes of the machine did not work out, the specialists became pests and enemies of the people. In vain they did not tell in this article how many of them, honest workers, perished in the camps, were humiliated and humiliated in Beria's "sharashkas".
  4. kirpich
    kirpich 3 February 2014 15: 24
    Project 126-2 of 1940 seems to have given an impetus to the development of the BMP-1 ... Well, the layout is painfully familiar.
  5. Crang
    Crang 3 February 2014 19: 56
    I liked the object 126-2. Cool technique for its time. The armor looks 30-40mm, which is very good for a light tank. The whole question is engine power.
  6. kirpich
    kirpich 3 February 2014 20: 04
    Quote: rubin6286
    In vain they did not tell in this article how many of them, honest workers, perished in the camps, were humiliated and humiliated in Beria's "sharashkas".

    Why not? For example, Marshal Tukhachevsky, who honestly believed that light tanks would replace cavalry. And, according to his plan - T-26, T-28 - "Thundering fire, sparkling with the brilliance of steel, cars will go on a furious campaign ..."

    ... and honest workers worked at the factories organized by the tyrant of all times and peoples - IOSIF VISSARIONOVICH STALIN
    1. Crang
      Crang 3 February 2014 20: 43
      Quote: kirpich
      .a, honest toilers worked at factories organized by a tyrant of all times and peoples - IZIF VISSARIONOVICH STALIN

      With this tyrant, the birth of the first superpower of the world took place, and the Russian people firmly fixed their right to be called great. Probably for this and call him a tyrant.
      1. kirpich
        kirpich 3 February 2014 21: 38
        I call him a tyrant in quotation marks. We had more such "tyrants", you see, Khrushchev's choices ... were sitting in Siberia (well, or the Arctic Circle)
        1. Crang
          Crang 3 February 2014 23: 03
          Khrushchevskys? Don't chase Nikita. A tough guy who showed the whole world "Kuzkin's mother". Under Stalin, the country's power had just begun to emerge. The fact that we defeated the Wehrmacht does not mean anything - we, according to all calculations, should have crushed it. But we were generally weaker than the Western world. And it was under Khrushchev that we reached parity with him and began to overtake. Caught up with nuclear weapons. Overtaken by rocket weapons. The first in the world to fly into space. The creation of a gigantic nuclear missile fleet of the ocean zone began. At the same time, the United States did not concede in aviation and armored vehicles. So Khrushch is a tough guy. He achieved everything himself, with his labor. And the fact that as you say vb ... ki crawled out ... Firstly, they were kept within strict limits. Secondly, another time has come. It was impossible to simply destroy the people and exile to the Kolyma, coming for them on the funnels. Well, you can't. Another time has come - divide and conquer.
          1. Bigriver
            Bigriver 4 February 2014 06: 42
            Quote: Krang
            ... The fact that we defeated the Wehrmacht does not mean anything yet - by all accounts, we should have crushed him...

            Very interesting - according to what calculations?
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      3. kirpich
        kirpich 3 February 2014 22: 49
        Dear Krang, I won’t even argue with you. Read the comments carefully.
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