T-20 Komsomolets light semi-armored artillery tractor
The development of artillery weapons in the 1930s followed the path of increasing the fire power of the guns, increasing their range, rate of fire, and maneuverability. However, horse traction, by that time, no longer provided the necessary mobility on the battlefield of new artillery systems, especially in anti-tank and battalion artillery, which was armed with 45-mm anti-tank guns of 1932 and 76-mm regimental guns of 1927 . These guns required high maneuverability when changing firing positions, not inferior to the mobility of opposing tanks, shooting direct fire at a distance of 500 - 1000 m in front edge conditions, during short-term fire contacts under enemy rifle and machine gun fire.
The Red Army needed a light, agile and small-sized tracked tractor of the leading edge, whose mass production would be under the power of industry to quickly arm anti-tank battalions and artillery regiments. At that time, autotractor factories and machine-building enterprises, where by that time the production of tankettes and light reconnaissance tanks had been mastered, had such capabilities. In this regard, at the end of 1936 in the design bureau of the Moscow machine-building plant number 37 to them. Ordzhonikidze under the leadership of the chief designer N. A. Astrov was created a semi-armored tracked tractor, which originally had a factory index "020", later, he received the name "Komsomolets". This tractor was designed to tow anti-tank and regimental guns on the front edge, in close proximity to the enemy.
O.N.Astrov had extensive experience in the creation of tracked vehicles, in particular light reconnaissance amphibious tanks. That is what determined the use in the design of the new machine of the components and assemblies of the small floating tank T-38 and the truck GAZ-AAA. In August - November 1937, military tests of the Komsomolets hand-made unit took place, which, if it was shown that, subject to the elimination of certain defects, could be adopted by the Red Army. The average speed of the tractor with a trailer on the highway reached 15 - 20 km / h, on the country road and off-road - up to 8 - 11 km / h, which was recognized as high speed, and movement was possible even at 40 ° heel. The maximum climbable with a crew of two people and a full refueling without a trailer reached 45 °, and with a full combat weight and a trailer weighing 2000 kg to 18°.
When maneuvering, the turning radius was only 2.4 m (turn on the spot), which was also evaluated positively, given the high demands on the maneuverability of the machine. At the same time, representatives of the military noted that the power developed by the automobile engine for artillery systems was clearly not enough. Nevertheless, according to the test results, the Komsomolets was adopted by the Red Army under the designation “T-20 light semi-armored artillery tractor”.
The Komsomol member had a riveted-welded hull with anti-bullet armor of 7 to 10 mm thick (defending the crew — driver and gunner commander — from rifle caliber bullets and small fragments), divided by a transverse partition into the cab located in the front half of the vehicle and cargo platform with two rows of seats in the middle, facing back to each other. The crew cabin, armored on all sides, had two manholes on top for landing — the landing of the crew, and in front and along the sides — folding armor covers with viewing slots, later replaced by bullet-resistant triplex units. In the frontal armor sheet of the cab on the right side, a 7.62-mm DT machine gun was mounted in a ball mount, used as a defensive weapon.
Behind the cab was the engine compartment (the engine was located behind the seats and was turned forward by the flywheel), closed at the top with an armored hood with hinged covers. Above it, behind the armored partition, there was a cargo compartment with two blocks of longitudinal three-seater seats. Ammunition was transported on a cargo platform. A traction coupling device for towing artillery systems weighing up to 1.5 tons was placed in the transverse stern beam. In inclement weather during long marches from above, the platform was closed with a canvas awning with windows, while the height of the car increased to 2.23 m. A four-cylinder carburetor engine GAZ M-1 with a power of 50 hp was mounted on the tractor. The engine was started using an electric starter or from the crank.
To increase the survivability of the vehicles, the commander-gunner had duplicated control of the machine (except for shifting gears), which was important in the event of a wound or death of the driver. Fuel gas tanks, with a capacity of 115 liters, were in the stern. The four-speed gearbox provided four forward gears and one reverse gear. The engine was supplemented by a demultiplicator from the three-axle GAZ-AAA, which doubled the number of stages in the transmission, allowing you to have two ranges: traction and transport. It is this feature that allowed the T-20 to get a minimum speed of 2-2.5 km / h with a pulling force of up to 3000 kg on the hook. The rest of the transmission units, including: the main transmission; side clutches with brakes; onboard gears with leading sprockets, as well as finely-divided caterpillar,
The tracked propulsor (as applied to one side) consisted of a fine-hanger caterpillar belt of tsevochnogo engagement with an open hinge; two carts with four blocked in pairs supporting single rollers (as opposed to the tanks that received a more compact suspension with semi-elliptical leaf springs, which lowered the height of the tracked bypass for convenient placement of the calculation); two single support rollers; a guide wheel with a crank tensioning mechanism of a track chain and a driving wheel of a front arrangement with a removable gear.
In 1937, the production of the Komsomolets tractor was mastered both at the main plant number 37 (Moscow) and at the Stalingrad tractor and Gorky automobile plants. In total from 1937 to 1941, inclusive, these enterprises produced 7780 T-20 tractors of three production series, differing in the design of the platform, seats, cooling system, running gear, and armament. The release of Komsomolets was discontinued in July 1941, due to the need to expand the production of light tanks on the basis of automobile units.
Artillery T-20, which was in service in the rifle and motorized rifle units used by the Red Army in battles with Japanese troops in 1938 at Lake Hassan and in the summer of 1939 in the area of Kalkhin-Gol, as well as during the Soviet-Finnish war of 1939-1940. As of January 1, 1941, there were 4,401 T-20 artillery towers in the Red Army, which accounted for 20.5% of the fleet of all special tractors, with a total of 2810 state personnel. machine, and by the beginning of World War II the number of tractors of this type in the troops had already reached 6,700 units.
Along with their direct functions for towing artillery guns, at the beginning of World War II, these tractors were sometimes even used as tankettes to support infantry. In the absence of other tractors, Komsomol members were often used with overloads, for towing heavier anti-aircraft and divisional artillery. In the summer of 1941 at the Gorky Artillery Plant No. 92 on the initiative of the chief designer V.G. Grabin on about 100 T-20 tractors were mounted 57-mm anti-tank guns ZIS-2 sample 1941. These tank destroyers, which received the name "ZIS-30", although they were unstable when fired (due to the small support base and the high height of the line of fire), military tests passed in July and were soon distributed to tank brigades. SAU ZIS-30 took part in the battle for Moscow. During the war, Komsomolets artillery tractors were widely used on all fronts, despite the fact that their number was continuously decreasing (as of September 1, 1942, there were only 1,662 vehicles in the Red Army and 1048 as of January 1, 1943). Until the end of the war, they continued to carry out their hard service in the army. Artillery T-20 "Komsomolets" played a significant role in the motorization of the Red Army.
|Year of release||1937 - 1941|
|Total released||7780 units.|
|Weight in the fighting position, t||3.5|
|Engine power, hp||50|
|Maximum speed on the highway, km / h||50|
|Cruising on the highway, km||250|
|Crew, pers.||2 + 6 (crew)|
|Armament||7.62 mm machine gun DT|
|Armor: body shell, mm||10|
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