Multi-tower tanks of the Red Army

The classes of medium and heavy tanks in the Red Army in the pre-war years were represented by multi-turret combat vehicles T-28 and T-35. It should be emphasized that it was Soviet designers who made the greatest contribution to the creation of multi-turreted tanks, and the USSR was the only country in the world where such tanks were mass-produced, and in noticeable quantities.

The design of both cars began almost simultaneously and was carried out in parallel with the VOAO design bureau under the leadership of S. Ginzburg and the ABO-5 design bureau, headed by N. Barykov. The first entered into an agreement with UMM RKKA to develop a project and build an 1-ton T-1932 tank for 16 in May 28, while the second received a task for 1 August 1932 to develop and build a new breakthrough 35-ton tank. Soon, both design organizations were reorganized, on the basis of which the Experimental Design Mechanical Department (OKMO) of the Bolshevik plant in Leningrad was created. Headed OKMO N.V. Barykov.



General types of tank T-28 release 1936 of the year. The machine has a hood over the fan with blinds and a single door hatch, a ball mount in the tower niche, two hatches in the tower roof and modified (compared to the previous series of tanks) styling of spares


T-28 tank prototype, July 1932

The first test run in the yard of the factory "Bolshevik" prototype T-28 made 29 May 1932. The leadership of the country and the army showed great interest in the new tank: 11 of July was demonstrated to the leadership of the UMM RKKA, July 28 to the party leadership of Leningrad headed by the first secretary of the regional committee, a member of the Politburo of the Central Committee of the All-Union Communist Party of the Soviet Union (SMP) Kirov. Tank made a favorable impression.

In August - September, the 1932 of the year, under the guidance of OM Ivanov, the OKMO designers, taking into account the test results and requirements of the military, radically revised the T-28 drawings. The result was actually another car: the suspension and transmission, the design of the towers and the hull were changed, and the armament was reinforced. Without waiting for the manufacture of a prototype, at the end of October 1932, the USSR Council of Labor and Defense decided to organize the serial production of T-28 tanks at the Krasny Putilovets factory in Leningrad.

The tank hull was assembled from rolled 20 - 30 mm thick armor plates and was divided into four sections: control, combat, engine and transmission. Tank hulls were of two types: welded and riveted-welded. Two vertical sheets formed the cab of the driver, for the entrance and exit of which there was a hinged cover in it. The aft part of the body was covered with an armored cap of air leaks to the fan.

Multi-tower tanks of the Red Army

T-28 tanks pass through Red Square. Moscow, May 1, 1937. It is clearly seen that tanks of different release years are in the parade.

76-mm gun KT-28 ("Kirov tank") arr. 1927 / 32 g. With a barrel length in 16,5 calibers located in the main tower. To the right of the gun and in the niche of the turret were installed machine guns DT. The gun was equipped with a telescopic and periscopic scopes TOP arr. 1930 and PT-1 arr. 1932. The turret turning mechanism had electric and manual drives. The lifting mechanism - sector type, manual. In small turrets were installed machine guns DT. The main tower had a circular sector of fire, each small 165 °. A characteristic feature of the placement of ammunition was the use of rotating ammunition. Two "turntables" for 12 shells in each were located under the right (commander's) and left (gunner) seats of the main tower. On both sides of the driver on the right and left sides of the machine was one
rotating drum, each of which was packed 40 stores to machine guns.


T-28 on Red Square. Moscow, November 7 1938 g. A grating for laying a tarpaulin mounted on the starboard is visible on the left tank. This is found on some 1936 release tanks. -1938

The tank was installed 12 - cylinder V - shaped carburetor engine M-17-L liquid cooling. The transmission consisted of a dry-friction main clutch, an 5-speed gearbox (which had a locking device that prevented gear shifts when the main clutch was not turned off), side clutches and two-row final gears.

The suspension of the tank in relation to one board 1 consisted of two carriages, suspended from the hull in two points i. Each carriage consisted of three carriages interconnected by levers, and each carriage, in turn, consisted of two pairs of rollers connected in pairs by a balance bar. All carriages were sprung with coil springs. The track chains are fine, with 121 truck, lanterning engagement. The gear rims of the drive wheels were removable.


In the armored boxes, on both sides of the hull, TDP-3 smoke exhaust devices were installed, to control which there were round holes in the sides of the hull.

The 71-TK-1 radio station with a handrail antenna, providing communication only at the stops, was installed on commander tanks, which consequently did not have a stern machine gun. For intercom there was a tankphone on the 6 man and a radio device "Safar".


The only good photo of the T-28 with a conical turret at the moment: tanks in front of the parade on Uritsky Square. Leningrad, November 7 1940. It is well seen that the machine is armed with a gun L-10

At the end of 1933, a special design office, SKB-2, was organized at the Krasny Putilovets plant. It was headed by OM Ivanov, who at OKMO was the lead engineer in the development of T-28. In May 1937, the year of OM Ivanov, who was arrested and then shot, was replaced at his post by J. Ya. 29-year-old. Kotin, a protégé of Voroshilov, married to a pupil of the people's commissar of defense. All further work to ensure serial production and improvement of the T-28 tank was carried out under his leadership.

The T-28 tank was produced from 1933 to 1940 year, and during this period more than 600 various changes and improvements were made to its design, which allowed to increase the strength of components and assemblies and the reliability of the machine as a whole. In the production process, the general turret for the crew’s landing was replaced by two, with the gunner’s hatch equipped with an П-40 antiaircraft turret for the DT machine gun, the voltage of the electric motor for rotating the main tower was increased from 12 to 24 B, the Safar intercom was no longer installed; numerous changes were made to the transmission, engine, elements of the chassis. From 1938, the tank began to install an X-NUMX-mm L-76,2 cannon with a barrel in 10 calibers, which had significantly more power than the KT-26. Over the years of mass production, the factory workshops have left the 28 of the T-503 tank.

The first T-28 tanks entered the 2-th separate tank regiment of the Leningrad Military District, then into the 1-th, 3-th and 4-th tank regiments. 12 December 1935, these regiments were deployed in separate heavy tank brigades. Brigades stationed: 1-i - Belarusian Military District (Smolensk), 4-i - Kiev Military District (Kiev), 5-i - Kharkiv Military District (Kharkov) and 6-i named S.M. Kirov - Leningrad Military District (Slutsk). At the same time, the 5 heavy tank brigade had a mixed composition, along with the T-28 there were also heavy tanks T-35. By order of the People's Commissar of Defense against 21 in May 1936, the teams were allocated to the Reserve of the Main Command. They were intended for the qualitative strengthening of rifle and tank formations when breaking through the fortified positions of the enemy. In accordance with this was conducted and training of tankers. The preparation of the T-28 tank crews was carried out in the 2 reserve tank brigade of the Leningrad Military District, in the Oryol armored school, and also in the Leningrad armored personnel improvement courses.


T-28 Tanks The 21 heavy tank brigade near the town of Mir. Poland, September 1939

The first maneuvers with the participation of 15 T-28 tanks were held in LVO in January 1934. The largest number of T-28s simultaneously involved in the maneuvers are the 52 vehicles of the 1 heavy tank brigade during the BVO 8-17 exercises of October 1936. The report on these exercises said: “The tanks covered 250 kilometers during the three days of the battle.” We have good reviews from the parts about the tactical and technical characteristics of the T-28, however, in terms of the quality of the machines, the Kirovsky plant has done more. ”

Another important event, in which T-28 tanks constantly participated, was parades. Starting from the 1933 year and until the beginning of World War II, they regularly 1 May and 7 November were held on Red Square in Moscow, the area to them. Uritsky (Palace) in Leningrad and Khreshchatyk in Kiev. The number of T-28s participating in the parades did not usually exceed 20 machines.

In September, 1939 of the year 10-I (98 T-28 tanks) and 21-I (105 T-28 tanks) heavy tank brigades participated in the “liberation campaign” and fighting against Poland in the Ukrainian and Belarusian fronts, respectively. There were practically no clashes with the enemy troops, the brigades went 350 - 400 km, while the T-28 tanks showed themselves from the best side.


Front view of the main tower. The KT-28 cannon mask and the DT machine gun are perfectly visible.

But at the end of November they were faced with a more serious test - participation in the Soviet-Finnish war (from 30 in November 1939 to 13 in March 1940). The fighting was conducted on a fairly wide front - from the coast of the Gulf of Finland to Murmansk. But the most difficult and bloody battles were on the Karelian Isthmus.

Its territory is completely covered with large forests, which allowed the movement of tanks only along roads and glades. A large number of rivers and lakes with swampy or steep banks, non-freezing lakes, boulders - all this presented natural obstacles for the tanks. There were few roads, movement even along passable parts of the forest required high skill from the driver. In addition, the harsh winter of 1939 - 1940 with frosts that reached -45 ° С in mid-January and almost a meter of snow cover created additional difficulties.


Tank T-28 on the exercises to overcome obstacles. Belarusian Military District, 1936

Natural obstacles were reinforced by the Finns, who created a system of powerful fortifications, known as the Mannerheim Line. It consisted of a band of obstacles (predpolya), the main and second defensive lines and a large number of individual positions and defense units. "Mannerheim Line" had a lot of powerful reinforced concrete pillboxes and anti-tank engineering barriers: dolby, escarpes, anti-tank ditches, "wolf holes" and minefields. All this was covered by a well-designed system of artillery and machine-gun fire.

It was here, in the band of the 7 Army, which dealt the main blow, that the 20-I Heavy Tank Brigade operated. Kirov, equipped with T-28 tanks and redeployed from the town of Slutsk of the Belarusian Military District to the Karelian Isthmus. Here it was staffed up to the state of wartime (the brigade was merged up to 50% of the subscription). Over the course of the next month and a half, reinforced combat training went on: the actions of the units in offensive combat on rough terrain were practiced; practical exercises were conducted with tank crews on driving cars in azimuth at night and on overcoming anti-tank obstacles (stone, wooden and earth walls) with the help of fascines. Special attention was paid to the training of drivers. As a result, to the beginning of hostilities, tank battalions were well prepared for combat. The technical condition of the machines was also very good, but there was a shortage of repair shops and almost no evacuation means (just the Comintern’s 4 tractor for the whole brigade).


Tanks 20-th tank brigade before the march to the front line. February 1940 of the year

In the first days of the fighting, when they met the Finns, the tanks acted like this: first they fired obstacles and shelters near the obstacles with machine guns, and then made the aisles with the help of sappers. In some places, granite battles were broken by armor-piercing shells, but there were occasions when tankers got out of the cars and manually scraped holes in reinforced concrete ridges.

The 20 heavy tank brigade played the most active, if not the decisive role in breaking through the Mannerheim Line. Thanks to its able and energetic leadership, this brigade was prepared for combat better than other tank units. Her command was able to organize a good coordination of actions with other branches of the military. The interaction of tanks with artillery and infantry was carried out by combining the command posts of tank, artillery and infantry commanders. An additional receivers tuned to the frequency of tank radio stations were installed on the gearbox. This method gave positive results, since it was possible to respond in a timely manner to the requests of tankers to suppress the enemy’s artillery fire, and the command was aware of the combat situation. To control the tanks during the battle, the commanders of units actively used the radio. Negotiations were carried out using a table encoded with conventional signals, composed of phrases and symbols often used in combat (for example, tanks were called horses, infantry rifles, fuel water, etc.). The supply of the brigade was also well organized: the tank battalions, being in battles for several days, did not have any interruptions in getting everything they needed, despite the busy roads in the rear.


Tanks before the attack. Karelian Isthmus, February 1940 of the year

During the fighting on the Karelian Isthmus, the T-28 tanks were used in the full sense of its intended purpose to support the troops during the breakthrough of heavily fortified positions. And despite the fact that these machines were created according to the requirements of the beginning of the 1930-s, they showed themselves in the best way. T-28 outnumbered T-26 and BT in cross-country in second gear freely moved through the snow with a depth of 80 - 90 cm, better overcome ditches, escarpes and other obstacles. But at the same time, having thicker armor (again, compared with the T-26 and BT), they were vulnerable to fire 40-mm anti-tank guns "Bofors", which was in service with the Finns (fortunately, they had few ). The fighting in Finland has shown that the T-28 is a reliable and maintainable vehicle, despite the harsh geographical and climatic conditions of operation, shelling and minefields.

According to the experience of the war, the question of increasing the security of tanks became acute. The solution was found simple and obvious: to shield combat vehicles, that is, on the main armor to weld additional armor plates. This work began on January 1 of 1940. The first 16 shielded machines were planned to be sent to the front on February 16. However, they went to the troops only ten days later, while their screening was partial: with an additional 25 30 -mm armor defended only the tower and the frontal part of the body. In total, the Kirov Plant produced a full and partial screening on the X-NUMX T-103 tanks.


The victim of the "winter war" ... The branches of trees cut down completely by bullets and splinters testify to the intensity of the fighting.

With the beginning of the formation of the mechanized corps in the Red Army in the summer of 1940, and the transfer of the armored troops to the new organization, all tank brigades gradually disbanded, and their personnel and equipment went to the staffing of new tank divisions. Heavy tank brigades were no exception. Thus, for example, the 20 Red Banner Tank Division of the 1 Mechanized Corps was formed on the basis of the 1 th Red Banner Heavy Tank Brigade. True, by the beginning of World War II, a fairly large number of T-28s needed repair, and since the production of spare parts for them was stopped in June 1940, and the stock of previously released ones was almost completely exhausted, there was nothing for repairing combat vehicles. For example, a report on the formation of the 5 Tank Division from 4 August 1940 said: “Medium T-28 tanks arrived 30 units, of which 23 need to be repaired. There are absolutely no spare parts for them. ”

As a result, of those who were in the troops, the X-NUMX of the T-292 tank can be considered formally combat-capable, but it is not known how many of them required troop repair for the replacement of rollers, tracks, batteries, etc. Considering the chronic lack of spare parts for T-28, it would not be an exaggeration to consider fully operational and combat-ready approximately 28 - 170 machines.


T-28 tank with an experienced 76-mm F-3 2 1939 gun of the year

In addition, it should be noted that the tanks with a KT-28 cannon were completely unsuitable for fighting enemy tanks, and could only be used to support infantry. The number of T-28s that were directly in the tank divisions of the mechanized corps was significantly less than their total number in military districts. The remaining cars, apparently, were stored in warehouses.

The T-28 5 Tank Division tanks deployed in the Lithuanian city of Alytus were the first to fight the Germans. Part of the division, still 19 June withdrawn from the military camp, took up defensive positions on the eastern edge of the city on the right bank of the Neman River. So when 22 June 1941 of the year in 4.20 in the morning German aircraft began to bomb the division fleets, there was no one there. Following this, the tanks and infantry of the Wehrmacht 39 th motorized corps began to cross the Neman on two bridges, but here they were met with artillery fire and counterattacks of Soviet tanks. During the battle for the bridges, the 1 battalion of the 9 tank regiment acted heroically. It consisted of an 24 T-28 tank. With fire from the scene, they supported the attack of the BT-7 2 battalion. The movement of the German units across the north bridge was suspended. Only in 7.00 23 of June, with the appearance of new parts of the enemy, as well as due to a shortage of ammunition, parts of the 5 tank panned out. On the day of the battle, the 9 Tank Regiment lost 16 T-28 to the battlefield, and the rest failed due to technical reasons and were undermined by the crews.

T-28 tanks, which were in a warehouse near Minsk, were captured by the Germans in the first days of the war. Only one car, driven by foreman D. Malko, 29 June sped at the top speed through the streets of the capital of Belarus, ramming enemy cars and tractors. The tank went through the whole city and was shot down on its eastern outskirts. Malko was wounded, but managed to leave the tank and go to his. After the war, D.Malko was awarded the Order of the Patriotic War of I degree for this fight.


Abandoned "twenty-eighth" 5-th tank division left by the crews. District Alytus, Lithuania, June 1941

On the South-Western Front of the T-28 4-th and 15-th mechanized corps, 23 - 24 Jun. However, the strong deterioration of combat vehicles and the lack of spare parts did not allow them to fully utilize their fighting qualities.

It is interesting to mention the memories of A. Burda, the commander of the T-28 company:
“On July 14, in the battle of Beliavka, we attacked and destroyed the enemy’s convoy, which was rushing towards the White Church, accompanied by 15 tanks. With my tower shooter Vasya Storozhenko, I destroyed a German tank, four vehicles with ammunition and a tractor with a gun with sixteen shells ...

The situation was getting worse every hour. The Nazis knew well that we were scouting here, and on the frontiers of our probable appearance we had tank and artillery barriers. And in this situation, we still cause a flank strike. Everything was done in a hurry: there was not enough time for detailed intelligence. We see beats anti-tank artillery. Lieutenant Sokolov with three tanks rushed to crush her, and before our eyes all three tanks were burned down ...

At this time, we began to bypass the large forces of the Nazis. We were ordered to retreat. With a group of six tanks, I was instructed to cover the withdrawal of the division: it had to concentrate in a new area. We fought from ambush ...

We have completed the combat mission, and here the most difficult thing began: ammunition and fuel are running out, and there is still no order to change positions. It is impossible to withdraw without an order and there is nothing to fight. In addition, the state of military equipment disgusting motors have already worked out what they are supposed to. One tank has failed the starter - its motor starts only from moving when you pull the car in tow. And if stalled under fire, then what?

We hid in the line, disguised, waiting for a liaison from the command. And then, unfortunately, the Nazis. A lot of them. And break the bivouac meters in 30 from our tanks. We are quietly waiting, looking, listening. The Nazis lit fires, sat down for dinner, then went to sleep, leaving the guards. It is already midnight ... The hour of the night ... There is no connected one. It became scary. Suddenly I heard something rustling. Looked crawling man without a cap. I whisper:
-Who it?
- I ... Lieutenant Perdzhanyan, with the order. He has a rifle in one hand, all hung with grenades. I knew him well.
-It is ordered to depart. Here is the route ...

Well, they did everything as agreed. A grenade hit in the direction of the Nazis, all the engines roared, the faulty car was pulled, it immediately started. We give a mad fire on the piles of sleeping Nazis, on their guns, trucks. They have a panic, rushing around fires. We put a lot of them there. Broke through ...

Stopped, counted the machine one is not. What? Did you die? He took a rifle, ran along the road with Perdzhanyan to see what happened. We look, our T-28 turns black.
-Their?
“Yours,” I recognize by the voice of the driver Cherni-chenko.
-What's the matter?
-The machine has worked, the friction does not take. And then there was a stone between the drive wheel and the lash of the caterpillar, which was thrown inside. Now do not wear a caterpillar ...

What to do? The enemy is a kilometer away, the Nazis are about to rush to catch up with us. Yuzom car does not pull. Reluctantly I make the decision to blow up the tank. The commander on the tank was Kapotov - a wonderful, brave tanker. I order him:
-Take bandages, wet up with gasoline, light it and throw it into the fuel tank.

Though he was sorry for the car, he executed the order immediately, but the trouble was that the bandages went out, there was no explosion. I make a new decision:
-Earn a tank with grenades, and we will cover you!

Kapotov did not hesitate to execute this order. There were explosions, the car burst into flames. We rushed to the tanks and drove on.

Found their own, reported on the implementation of the combat mission command, received thanks. From there to the graveyard reached without fighting. It was already July 18. They handed over their cars and went to the formation in the rear. "



For Leningrad! Winter 1942 of the year

Judging by the documents, the T-28 1 of the mechanized corps, which was part of the North-Western Front, operated the longest. This was explained, firstly, by the presence in the corps of predominantly shielded tanks, which were repaired in 1940, and secondly, by the proximity (compared to other fronts) of the Kirov factory, capable of quickly and efficiently repairing damaged cars.

In the fall - winter 1941, a small amount of T-28 participated in the battle of Moscow.

It is reliably known that at least one of the vehicles on the NIBT Polygon in Kubinka was lost in the 1941 battles in October. In February 1942, after the Soviet counteroffensive, this tank was evacuated to the rear for repair.

T-28 was also part of the 150 tank tank brigade (3 army). On 19 November 1941, she had 10 T-28 (only one was operational, the rest required repair), 4 T-34, 19 BT and 15 T-26. By 26 February 1942, two cars were lost, and by April 3 there was only one T-28 in the brigade (not on the move), and seven were sent to the rear for repair.

By the spring of 1942, the T-28 tanks were only in parts of the Leningrad Front. Under blockade conditions and their use as mobile firing points, the T-28 was used up to the 1943 year, and in the rear units until the spring 1944.

There were T-28s and the 220 Tank Brigade of the 55 Army, as of 27 September 1942, it contained 8 T-28, 18 KB, 20 T-34, 17 T-26 and 4 T-50. The latest information on the T-28 of the Leningrad Front relates to 1 February 1944, then there were still 3 machines in the rear units.


Tank T-28 in the tank museum in Parola (Finland)


This tank has a Soviet and partly Finnish screening. The latter includes the “cheeks” on the sides of the mask of the gun and the folding armrests of the driver’s cabin

However, the longest in the combat units of the Red Army T-28 fought as part of the 14 Army of the Karelian Front in the Arctic. In August, the 1941, a separate tank battalion, was formed from the remnants of the 1 Panzer Division in the area of ​​Allakurti. By September 107 he had in service 1 T-3, 28 BT, 12 T-5 and 26 LHT-5, and according to the command reports "when using our tanks, the T-133 tanks had a special effect." In 28, the battalion was reorganized into the 1943 Tank Regiment, and by July 90 20 (the start of the Soviet offensive in Karelia) had 1944 T-3, 28 T-8, 26 T-5, 30 and 1 T-60. This is the latest (from the documents found) mention of the use of T-3 tanks by the Red Army units in the Great Patriotic War.

As for the heavy tank T-35, in accordance with the Decree of the Government of the USSR in May 1933, its mass production was entrusted to the Kharkov Locomotive Plant named after Komintern (KhPZ). From October 1933-th to June 1939 of the year, a 61 machine of this type was manufactured here.


Tank T-35-1 on trial. August 1932 of the year. The hinged hatchcaps of the driver’s hatches and the gun of the course machine gun, as well as the viewing gaps in the sides of the main tower, are clearly visible.

The T-35 tank had five cylindrical towers arranged in two tiers. In the three towers - guns and machine guns (one 76-, two 45-mm guns and three DT machine guns), in two - one DT machine gun each. Body - riveted-welded construction. From the end of 1938, KhPZ switched to the production of T-35 with conical towers, somewhat thicker armor, a reinforced suspension and an increased capacity of fuel tanks. These tanks had increased the thickness of the armor of the forward inclined and front sheets increased to 70 mm and up to 25 mm - the armor of the towers and the turret box. The mass of the tank reached 54 t.

The first production machines T-35 entered the 5 heavy tank regiment RGC in Kharkov. In 1935, the regiment was deployed in the 5-th separate heavy tank brigade, which in March 1939 was transferred to the Kiev military district and redeployed in Zhytomyr. Soon, she changed the number and became the 14 heavy tank brigade.


The first serial T-35A in Red Square. 1 May 1934 of the year

Already by this time, the combat value of these machines became doubtful. The only thing where they showed themselves fully was participation in military parades. Since 1933, and until the beginning of World War II, the T-35 demonstrated the power of the Red Army at parades in Moscow and Kiev.
In the year 1940, when forming the mechanized corps 48 of the T-35 tanks, the 67 and 68 tank regiments of the 34 tank division of the 8 mechanized corps were received. The remaining tanks were in various military schools and repairs.

The combat career of the T-35 was very short. 21 June 1941 of the year 24.00 in the regiments of the 34 Tank Division, stationed in Grudek-Jagiellonian South-West of Lviv, declared an alarm. The vehicles were refueled and taken to the landfill, where the loading of the ammunition began. In the course of the ensuing hostilities, all the T-35 8 th mech hulls were lost, most of them for technical reasons. Few tanks died in battle.


Tanks 5-th brigade in the exercises. Tactical markings visible on combat vehicles

In the battles near Moscow in the tank regiment of the Military Academy of Mechanization and Motorization named after Stalin took part two T-35. There was another T-35 “combat” debut. This time to the cinema. This is a documentary film “Battle for Moscow”, some episodes of which were filmed near Kazan. They shot two T-35s from Kazan armored advanced technical courses.


T-35 as part of a tank regiment of the Military Academy of Mechanization and Motorization of the Red Army named after IV Stalin on the way to the front. Moscow, October 22 1941 of the year
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