.: Bob Williams' Zvezda T26 Russian Light Tank

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"A very poor kit, both in fit and materials - The plastic looking, as I think Gary Zimmer once said, like it was the result of a recycled Wheely-Bins"

This model commissioned by Rob McCallum


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For other uses, see T26 (disambiguation).
T-26 in Kirovsk.JPG
T-26 mod. 1933 at the museum "Breaching of the Leningrad Blockade" near Kirovsk, Leningrad Oblast. This tank was raised from a river bottom at Nevsky Pyatachok in May 2003.
Type Light infantry tank
Place of origin Soviet Union
Service history
In service 1931–45 in the USSR
1936–53 in Spain
1940–61 in Finland
Production history
Designer Vickers-Armstrongs, OKMO of Bolshevik Plant in Leningrad
Designed 1928–31
Manufacturer Factory No. 174 named after K.E. Voroshilov in Leningrad, Stalingrad Tractor Factory
Produced 1931–41
Number built 10,300 tanks and 1,701 other vehicles[1]
Specifications (T-26 mod. 1933[2])
Weight 9.6 tonnes (10.6 short tons)
Length 4.65 m (15 ft 3 in)
Width 2.44 m (8 ft)
Height 2.24 m (7 ft 4 in)
Crew 3 (commander, gunner, driver)

Armour Bottom: 6 mm (0.24 in)
Roof: 6–10 mm (0.24–0.39 in)
Hull and Turret: 15 mm (0.59 in) (front, rear, sides)
45 mm 20K mod. 1932–34 tank gun (122 rds.)
7.62 mm DT tank machine gun (2,961 rds.)
Engine 4-cylinder gasoline flat air-cooled T-26 (Armstrong Siddeley type); engine volume 6,600 cc
90 hp (67 kW) at 2,100 rpm
Power/weight 9.38 hp/t
Transmission single-disc main dry clutch, drive shaft, gearbox with five gears, steering clutches, final drives
Suspension leaf quarter-elliptic springs
Ground clearance 380 mm (1 ft 3 in)
Fuel capacity 290 L (64 imp gal; 77 U.S. gal) [with additional 110-L fuel tank]
Road: 220–240 km (140–150 mi)
Off-road: 130–140 km (81–87 mi)
Speed Paved: 31.1 km/h (19.3 mph)
Gravel: 22 km/h (14 mph)
Off-road: 16 km/h (9.9 mph)

The T-26 tank was a Soviet light infantry tank used during many conflicts of the 1930s and in World War II. It was a development of the British Vickers 6-Ton tank and was one of the most successful tank designs of the 1930s until its light armour became vulnerable to newer anti-tank guns.[3] It was produced in greater numbers than any other tank of the period, with more than 11,000 manufactured.[4] During the 1930s, the USSR developed 53 variants of the T-26, including flame-throwing tanks, combat engineer vehicles, remotely controlled tanks, self-propelled guns, artillery tractors, and armoured carriers. Twenty-three of these were series-produced, others were experimental models.[5]

The T-26 together with the BT was the main tank of the Red Army's armoured forces during the interwar period. The T-26 was the most important tank of the Spanish Civil War and played a significant role during the Battle of Lake Khasan in 1938 as well as in the Winter War in 1939–40. Though nearly obsolete by the beginning of World War II, the T-26 was the most numerous tank in the Red Army's armoured force during the German invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941.[6] The T-26 fought the Germans and their allies during the Battle of Moscow in 1941–42, the Battle of Stalingrad and the Battle of the Caucasus in 1942–1943; some tank units of the Leningrad Front used their T-26s until 1944. Soviet T-26 light tanks last saw use in August 1945, during the defeat of the Japanese Kwantung Army in Manchuria.[7]

The T-26 was exported and used extensively by Spain, China and Turkey. Captured T-26s were used by the Finnish, German, Romanian and Hungarian armies.[8] The tank was reliable and simple to maintain, and its design was continually modernised between 1931 and 1941. No new models of the T-26 were developed after 1940.

British origin

The T-26 was a Soviet development of the British Vickers 6-Ton (Vickers Mk.E) (the Polish 7TP tank was another development of Vickers E 6-Ton) tank, which was designed by the Vickers-Armstrongs company in 1928–29. The simple and easy-to-maintain Vickers 6-Ton was intended for export to less technically advanced countries: the Soviet Union, Poland, Brazil, Argentina, Japan, Thailand, China, and many others. Vickers advertised the tank in military publications, and both the Soviet Union and Poland expressed interest in the Vickers design. In early 1930, the Soviet buying committee, under the direction of Semyon Ginzburg, arrived in Great Britain to select tanks, tractors, and cars for use in the Red Army. The Vickers 6-Ton was among four models of tanks selected by Soviet representatives during their visit to Vickers-Armstrongs. Under the contract signed on 28 May 1930, the company delivered to the USSR 15 twin-turreted Vickers Mk.E (Type A, armed with two .303 calibre (7.71 mm) water-cooled Vickers machine guns) tanks together with full technical documentation to enable series production of the tank in the USSR. The ability of the two turrets of the Type A to turn independently made it possible to fire to both the left and right at once, which was considered advantageous for breakthroughs of field entrenchments.[9] Several Soviet engineers participated in assembly of the tanks at the Vickers Factory in 1930.[10]

The first four Vickers 6-Ton tanks arrived in the USSR at the end of 1930. The last tanks arrived in 1932, when series production of the T-26 was already in progress. The British tanks were sent to Soviet factories for study in preparation for series production and to military educational institutions and training units. Later, some tanks were given to military supply depots and proving grounds.[11]

The Vickers-built 6-Ton tanks had the designator V-26 in the USSR. Three British tanks were successfully tested for cross-country ability at the small proving ground near Moscow on Poklonnaya Hill in January 1931. Kliment Voroshilov ordered the creation of the "Special Commission for the Red Army (RKKA) new tanks" under the direction of S. Ginzburg to define the tank type suitable for the Red Army. The T-19 8-ton light infantry tank, developed by S. Ginzburg under that programme at the Bolshevik Plant in Leningrad, was a competitor to the British Vickers 6-Ton. The first prototype of the complex and expensive T-19 was finished in August 1931. Because both tanks had advantages and disadvantages, S. Ginzburg suggested developing a more powerful, hybrid tank (the so-called "improved" T-19) with the hull, home-developed engine and armament from the native T-19, and the transmission and chassis from the British Vickers 6-Ton.[9][12]

On 26 January 1931, I. Khalepsky (Head of the Department of Mechanisation and Motorisation of the RKKA) wrote a letter to S. Ginzburg with information obtained via the intelligence service that the Polish government had decided to purchase Vickers 6-Ton light infantry tanks as well as Christie M1931 cavalry tanks and to mass-produce them with the assistance of both the British and French. Because Poland was then considered, in Soviet military doctrine, to be the USSR's main enemy, the Soviet Revolutionary Military Council decided to pass the foreign tanks into Red Army service, starting their production immediately without waiting for completion of development works, in order to counter possible aggression. At that time, the RKKA had only several dozen outdated Mk.V, Mk.A and Renault FT-17 tanks, captured during the Russian Civil War, together with various armoured cars and obsolescent domestic MS-1 (T-18) light infantry tanks. On 13 February 1931, the Vickers 6-Ton light infantry tank, under the designator T-26, officially entered service in the Red Army as the "main tank for close support of combined arms units and tank units of High Command Reserve".[9][12]

One of the Vickers 6-Ton tanks (equipped with Soviet-made turrets for the pilot batch of T-26 tanks) was tested for gunfire resistance in August 1931. The hull was subjected to rifle and Maxim machine gun fire with the use of normal and armour-piercing bullets at a range of 50 m (160 ft). It was found that the armour withstood gunfire with minimal damage (only some rivets were damaged). Chemical analysis showed that the front armour plates were made from high-quality cemented armour (S.t.a Plat according to Vickers-Armstrongs classification), whereas the homogeneous roof and bottom armour plates were made from mediocre steel. Even so, the British armour was better than armour produced by Izhora Factory for the first T-26s because of a shortage of modern metallurgical equipment in the USSR at that time.[13]

The prototype of the TMM-1 light infantry tank during tests in early 1932

At the same time, the Faculty of Mechanisation and Motorisation of the Military Technical Academy named after F.E. Dzerzhinsky developed two tank models (TMM-1 and TMM-2) based on the Vickers 6-Ton tank design but with an American Hercules 95 hp (71 kW) six-cylinder water-cooled engine, improved front armour (to 15–20 mm), and a driver's position on the left side. TMM stands for tank maloy moshchnosti or "tank of low power". The TMM-1 was equipped with transmission details from the native Ya-5 truck (english) and a ball mount for the DT tank machine gun in front of the hull, whereas the TMM-2 was equipped with an improved gear box, a steering device without clutches and a 37 mm Hotchkiss gun in the right turret. Representatives from the main Soviet tank manufacturers together with officials from the RKKA Mobilization Department considered the Hercules engine to be too difficult to produce, and the engine tended to overheat inside the engine compartment. Tests of TMM-1 and TMM-2 prototypes performed in the beginning of 1932 demonstrated no advantage over the Vickers 6-Ton and the T-26 (the TMM-2's maneuverability was found to be even worse).[14][15]

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