The tank T-26 is a light tank of accompaniment of the Infanterie produces by the the USSR of 1931 with 1941, with nearly twelve thousand specimens. Inspired of the Vickers 6-Tone, whose license of production had been bought with the Britanniques, it becomes one of the most successful tanks of the Années 1930. It constitutes the framework of the Soviet forces armor-plated in 1941, but following the appalling losses that it undergoes at the time of the German offensive, it quickly loses this role vis-a-vis the more modern armoured tanks, and as of the semione, it is relegated to secondary roles.
HistorySeeking to replace its growing old MS-1, the Soviet Union buys in 1931 fifteen tanks Vickers Type E standard has with Vickers Armstrong, as well as a license of production. The British armoured tanks are tested with the academy of the Dzerjinskiy artillery, with Leningrad. The Ministry for the War gives the order to put this vehicle in production, while at the same time the studies and the tests were not carried out. Two prototypes, indicated TMM-1 and TMM-2, are then produced by experimental office OKMO of the Bolchevik factory of Leningrad, under the direction of NR. V. Barikov and S.A. Ginzburg, then the production is launched under the designation of T-26 model 1931 .
T-26, although using equipment Soviet, is then a copy almost in conformity of the Vickers tank, of which it takes again especially the reliable suspension consisted of two groups of two bogies connected by a leaf spring, itself fixed at the frame. A sprocket-wheel with front, a tendeuse wheel with the back and four tread rollers supplement the train of bearing. The engine GAS T-26, derived from the six cylinder motor in line gasoline Armstrong-Siddeley Puma, is assembled to the back and actuates the sprocket-wheels, thanks to the transmission which crosses the left of the station of combat. Compared to the original model, the Soviets nevertheless improved the turrets: on their model, they have an arc of shooting of 265 degrees and the machine-guns are assembled on kneecap. The slits of vision are also widened, but the seats of left remain fixed. The case is built by the riveting of armor-plates, the driver takes seat with before right behind an armor-plated shutter.
Narrowly related in Vickers with its design, T-26 evolves very quickly to a tank completely different and quite higher than its model. The configuration of armament with two small turrets used on the model 1931 yielded the place, in 1933, with only one turret armed with a powerful gun 20K of 45 millimetres of gauge, also used on BT-5. The mass of the vehicle passes then from 8,4 to 9,4 tons.
This T-26 model 1933 is the most prolific version of the tank with 2127 specimens produced between 1933 and 1936. They are engaged for the first time in 1934 and 1935, in Mandchourie, at the time of the border incidents with the Japan. The Spanish Republicans receive as for them 362 T-26 model 1933 which are opposed at the time of the Guerre of Spain to the German Panzerkampfwagen I and with Italian CV-33 and which they completely dominate thanks to their armament. However, T-26 appears on this occasion very vulnerable to the shells of the anti-tank guns which start to appear, like PAK-36.
The need for improving protection of the armoured tank is done day, which leads to the launching of the production of the T-26 model 1938 , built by welding and either by riveting, like the preceding models. The profile of the turret becomes semi-conical, of which the slope of the walls improves protection offered. Thereafter, one applies this solution to the sides of the case, giving rise to the T-26 model 1939 which will be the last model of the series. On the whole, 11.218 specimens of T-26 were produced in ten years.
T-26 of all the models still take part in the frontier confrontations of Khalhin-Gol in Mongolia against the Japanese in August 1939, then with the occupation of the east of the Poland in 1939. Their engagement against the Finland during the War of winter, in 1940, watch once more that their shielding became insufficient and they appear unable to bore the Mannerheim line.
At the beginning of 1941,9665 units are in service. In May 1941, at the time of the Operation Barbarossa , they equip in theory a company by division with fusiliers and are at least as valid as many Panzer I and II of the Wehrmacht. However, these armoured tanks are often old and badly maintained, the crews miss drive and are badly ordered, and the majority will be destroyed or given up before the end of the year. They disappear then quickly from the Soviet inventory, yielding the place to the new models then in production, like the T-34 or the T-60. On the other hand, the Finns and the Germans, who had captured a great number of it, use them until the end of the war, often in the operations against the partisans.
- T-26 model 1931 (indicated T26A by the Germans) - two turrets side by side, each one having a machine-gun DT on kneecap, 96 products of 1931 to 1933.
- T-26 model 1932 - version intended for the section heads with a gun of 37 mm, in the left turret.
- T-26 model 1933 (T26B or T26-4) - the two small turrets are replaced by only one two-seater which is also used BT-5, 2127 specimens between 1933 and 1936.
- T-26 model 1933 RT - radio operator version of the precedent, with a circular antenna around the turret, 3938 specimens between 1933 and 1940.
- T-26 model 1938 (T26C) (T26-1) - use of the welding for the assembly of the case, new welded semi-conical turret, 1975 specimens including 204 with machine-gun A.A. between 1939 and 1940.
- T-26 model 1939 (T26S) with a side shielding inclined and reinforced.
- OT130 tank lance-flame (KS25) derived from the model 1933 (403 specimens).
- OT131 tank lance-flame (some specimens).
- OT132 tank lance-flame (some specimens).
- OT133 tank lance-flame derived from the model 1939 (182 specimens).
- OT134 tank lance-flame with gun of 45 mm derived from the model 1939 (2 specimens).
- OT26 tank with lance-flame KS24 derived from the model 1933 with a removed turret.
- SU5-1 motorized howitzer of 76,2mm (6 specimens).
- SU5-2 motorized howitzer of 122mm (6 or 24 specimens).
- SU5-3 motorized mortar of 152,4mm (3 specimens).
- SU6 motorized anti-aircraft gun of 76,2mm (4 specimens).
- ST-26 spreadable bridge (65 specimens).
- TT-26+TU-26 tank remote-controlled lance-flame and tank controller (55 specimens).
- motorized SU-76P with regimental howitzer of 76,2 mm model, product with the factory n°174 of Leningrad in 1941 and 1942 with some specimens. Initially indicated SU-76, they were famous SU-76P (P for Polkaya, regimental), in 1943, to avoid confusion with SU-76 based on the frame of the T-70.
- , History of T-26, design and engagements
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