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T-50 / object 126 / T-126SP Light Tank

During the operation of the T-50 was revealed a number of its shortcomings. Despite the fact that it was probably the best light tank of World War II, in comparison with the tanks of the enemy, it had very weak weapons. The T-50 was resistant to shells almost as much as the T-34, and at the same time producing this tank was much easier. But in the end, due to difficulties with production, the choice was still made in favor of the more powerful T-34.

The T-50 tank was developed in 1940 to replace the light T-26, whose main task was the direct support of infantry on the battlefield. In the 1930s, the T-26 was the only infantry support tank that was used by the USSR Army. The main gun version of the T-26, produced from 1933, by the end of the decade could not meet the achieved level of tank building. The increased power of anti-tank artillery to the T-26 tank, which has 15-mm armor, did not leave a chance to "survive" on the battlefield. The battles in Spain demonstrated this clearly. The Twenty-sixths easily cracked down on insurgent tanks with light weapons, but at the same time became easy targets for their anti-tank guns. However, at that time all Soviet tanks were in this position (like most tanks from other countries) that did not have counterbalance armor. In the confrontation of the projectile and armor temporary victory won precisely the projectile.

The USSR Defense Committee on August 7, 1938, adopted a resolution On the Tank Armament System. This document required by July 1939 (less than a year) to develop new models of tanks that would meet the conditions of the future war in armor, armament and maneuverability. In several KB in accordance with these requirements, they began to develop new tanks.

The T-50 had solid armor, equivalent to the T-34, good weapons and a powerful diesel engine. The tank was made according to the classical layout scheme with the front location of the control and combat compartments and with the placement of the engine-transmission unit in the rear part of the hull. The hull had a rational shape with large angles of armor plates.

In 1939, a design brigade under the leadership of Grigory Nikolayevich Moskvin began designing a light infantry support tank under the symbol SP at the Kirov Plant No. 185 . In 1940, the "SP" became the "Object 126" (T-126SP), was built and successfully tested.

The body of the machine was welded from rolled armor plates 37 mm thick, the bottom and the roof were 20 mm thick. Front, upper side and stern hull sheets had a tilt angle of 40-57 degrees. In the welded turret of a faceted form, a 45-mm cannon 20K of the model of 1932/38 (150 rounds of ammunition) and a DT tank gun of the model of 1929 paired with it were installed. In the front hull sheet to the left of the driver's hatch in the ball mount also located DT. The six-cylinder diesel engine B-4 was installed on the tank, that is, the half-B-2, as in the late BT-7 and T-34.

It was an advanced, well-protected and armed vehicle, surpassing not only light tanks of other countries, but quite capable of dealing with medium ones. The crew in it had a bit cramped, so after completion the machine lost one machine gun, and its embrasure was closed with an armored cap on the bolts. There were no other innovations (except for the replacement of rollers with rubberized ones) according to the test results and the T-126SP entered the Leningrad Machine-Building Plant No. 174 named after KE Voroshilov for production.

During the factory and military tests that took place in 1940, the tank showed itself well. However, the State Commission was proposed to reduce the mass of the tank to 13 tons by reducing the thickness of the armor to 37 millimeters (initially the thickness was 45 mm). In addition, the lack of crew jobs was noted. On the second model of the combat vehicle, they tried to eliminate this deficiency by removing the DS-39 machine gun, the embrasure of which closed the armor cover on the bolts. Steps were also taken to reduce track wear by replacing non-rubber support rollers with rubber-coated ones. Modified in this way the machine in the literature is often referred to as T-127.

On the basis of the experimental machine of the design bureau of plant No. 174 under the leadership of designer L. S. Troyanov, they developed and built their own version of the light tank. Both the "newcomer" and "their" tanks passed joint tests and, based on their results, on February 12, 1941, the new model was put into service under the designation T-50 . This machine was intended to be replaced in the Red Army by an extensive fleet of long-obsolete T-26s.

It was supposed to create at once two versions of the tank: the main tank T-50 with a 57-mm cannon and the support tank T-50 (T-52) with a 76-mm cannon arr. 1937/38. In terms of its design, armament and appearance, the T-50 was almost identical to the T-126SP. Like the latter, the sheets of the T-50 case were welded together and located at large angles of inclination. In the upper front plate was the driver's hatch, course gun was absent. Executed at a high technical level and with a relatively small mass of 13.5 tons, the T-50 had 37 mm armor on the hull and turret. Although the 76-mm cannon pierced it from a distance of 400 meters, for most German guns of the period of the beginning of the war, the tank was almost invulnerable.

In the fall of 1940, object 126 was transferred to Leningrad Machine-Building Plant No. 174 named after KE Voroshilov. There, on its basis, for a month and a half, a group of designers under the leadership of L.S. Troyanova and I.S. Bushneva developed a new version of the light tank, which received the designation object 135 (should not be confused with the T-34-85). G.V. Gudkov and S.A. Ginsburg. According to other sources, this machine was developed in parallel with the object 126, but since it had the best tactical and technical characteristics, preference was given to it. In January 1941, the tank was made in metal. In February of the same year, after successfully passing the factory and state. Test tank was adopted under the symbol T-50.

There was another version of the T-50 - "Object 211" - proactively developed and built in 1941 at the Leningrad Kirov Plant. His leading designer was A.S. Ermolaev. The welded body of the combat vehicle had a narrowed nose with a driver's hatch. The turret was also made welded and had a conical elongated shape. Armament and power plant are identical to the "fifty" 174th plant. The Kirov option was somewhat lighter than the Voroshilovsky one, but did not have significant advantages over it, and the shape of its body was less successful. With the beginning of the war at the Kirov factory, work on the object 211 was stopped, and the only sample of the tank participated in the defense of Leningrad.

Serial production of the T-50 was planned to start at the plant number 174, in connection with which on January 1, 1941, the production of the T-26 tank was stopped there. But the restructuring of production under the technologically more complex T-50 was carried out slowly, so in the first half of the 41st year the plant produced only 116 O-133 flame-throwing tanks. Significant difficulties have arisen with the development of the production of diesel B-4 at plant number 75 (Kharkov). But according to plans, the T-50 was to replace the T-26 in the army. According to the original plan for the rearmament of the armored troops troops, this tank was supposed to be the most massive (it should be noted that the first order for T-34 tanks was only 600 units). In 194041, this plan was adjusted as the decision was made to form mechanized corps.

The main restraining factor of production T-50s were engines. In the planned targets, the production of diesel B-2 was a priority, in particular, at the evacuated plant in Chelyabinsk No. 75, the exported B-4s were disassembled into components for the B-2 engines. decided to build two factories in Barnaul: one for production Twa T-50, the second for the manufacture of engines for them V-4. But in accordance with the order of the State Defense Committee on February 6, 1942, the production of T-50 tanks and the engines for them were stopped altogether. In Omsk, the plant number 174 in 1942, releasing 15 tanks (probably collected from the evacuated reserve), began production of the T-34 tank.

Very little is known about the combat career of the T-50 - by the beginning of the war, the tank only began to arrive in units and not many units were manufactured (on the Soviet scale of comparison, of course), most of which were in the Leningrad area. With the beginning of the war, their production collapsed. There was an attempt to re-launch the release of the T-50 only in a more simplified form (early 1942), however, having fired 69 cars, they abandoned this idea.

The shortcomings were a continuation of the merits. Despite the fact that the 45-mm cannon was located in the turret, the three crew members were crowded. In this regard, the commander's turret was shifted to the starboard side, and the commander himself had to sit to the axis of the tank in a half-turn.

On this career, this in every sense of the wonderful and undervalued tank ended. There is no doubt that the T-50 turned out to be constructively developed and balanced, optimal in terms of combat and operational qualities. In terms of armament, booking and mobility, it was superior or not inferior to the German medium tank Pz.Kpfw.III, being significantly smaller than it in size and combat weight. The T-50 turret housed three crew members, which ensured the separation of their functional duties. However, in this case, the disadvantages become a continuation of the merits.

A total of 245 T-50s were produced. Currently, there are three light tanks T-50: in the Moscow Kubinka in the Museum of armored weapons and equipment you can see the tank T-50 and the object 126; another tank, equipped with additional armored screens, is located in Finland in the city of Parola in the tank museum.

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Page last modified: 10-04-2019 10:17:11 ZULU