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T-70 light tank

Since it was clear to the Soviet engineers and the military command that the T-60 was suffering unacceptable losses on the battlefield, it was decided to upgrade the tank. Designer Nikolai Astrov led the work until the introduction of the T-70 in early 1942. Engine power was increased to 140 hp and the thickness of the frontal armor to 45mm. The tank had a 45mm canon, more than doubling its firepower, but at the cost of decreased accuracy and rate of fire. On the plus side, the heavier gun could inflict more short-range damage to the rear and front of enemy armored vehicles.

Work on the new tank took only three months, largely due to the streamlined unification of the country’s military production base. Altogether, some 6,300 T-70s had rolled off the line by the war’s close, a number exceeded only by the T-34 (35,000).

Light and nippy, the T-70 was quieter than larger tanks, and its sudden appearance in clusters often hurt the enemy hard. But when the T-70 first saw battle in the summer of 1942, the crews quickly recognized its low individual combat efficiency. It could not deal with the most commonly encountered German tanks, the PzKpfw III and PzKpfw IV, in head-on engagements, and was under-armored to serve as direct infantry support.

The German 7.5cm Pak 40 anti-tank gun could take out a T-70 with one round from a great distance and at almost any angle. “The T-70 light tank has only recently entered service and has so far made no distinction of itself,” the famous Soviet tank commander General Mikhail Katukov wrote in a 1942 report to the high command in Moscow:“This one’s nothing but trouble, Comrade Stalin," he added of progress in fixing the tank’s shortcomings.

However, time showed that by using well-trained crews, the T-70s could not only serve as “extras” but also perform a lead role in battles. The tank formed the basis of the armies that encircled the 300,000-strong German army group at Stalingrad in the winter of 1943, being well suited to launching rapid pincer movements on the enemy.

Although they were no direct match for the German heavy tanks, the low profile and maneuverability of the T-70 meant they could appear as if out of nowhere. In the Battle of Kursk, a commander named Onufriyeva deptly outflanked a 54-ton German Tiger tank and set it ablaze with two rapid hits to the side. The T-70 made up around 22 percent of the Soviet tanks in the key battle, and the light tanks gave good account of themselves. In one incident on July 6, 1943 near the village of Pokhrovka, a lone T-70 commanded by Lt. B.V. Pavlovich knocked out three medium German tanks and one Panther.

In the 1930s in the USSR, the concept of a light tank received significant development. The pre-war theory of domestic tank building provided for them a completely different place than during the Second World War and after its completion: they were assigned primarily not reconnaissance, but combat missions. The BT series of tanks originating from the experienced tank Christie M1930, were intended for a rapid advance and penetration deep into enemy territory. The T-26 (in turn, the development of the British "Vickers 6-ton"), rather, corresponded to the English concept of "infantry tank", whose role in battle was reduced to accompanying the advancing infantry and the suppression of firing points. Over time, by 1939–1940, the military doctrine was substantially revised in favor of medium and heavy tanks,

Approximately to the same extent as armored machines, they could meet the tasks of reconnaissance and reconnaissance in battle — while taking into account the increased maneuverability and greater visibility. A special class of reconnaissance amphibious tanks also responded to a similar purpose. Light tanks remained auxiliary tasks - guarding transport convoys, limited participation in military operations together with other armored vehicles and infantry, etc. Finally, light chassis could be the basis for highly maneuverable anti-tank SAU, air defense machines and some other types of armored personnel carriers.

Before the war, a light tank T-50 weighing 14 tons was designed at the Leningrad Plant of Experimental Machine-Building. In terms of armor protection, it practically corresponded to the average T-34. The V-4 diesel engine allowed the tank to reach a speed of 35 km / h. Thanks to the progressive construction of the undercarriage (dual support rollers with internal shock absorption, torsion bar suspension) and transmission, the T-50 was distinguished by high maneuverability and turning ability. Armament of the tank - 45-mm cannon 20K. Due to technical difficulties, the tank was produced in a small amount, and from 1942 infantry light tanks were no longer designed, remaining a dead end direction of development.

Light amphibious tanks were built in the USSR since the early 1930s. In serial production were two machines - T-37A and T-38 - with machine-gun armament, weak protection and a rather archaic device of the undercarriage. To replace them in 1939 at the plant N 37 them. Ordzhonikidze developed a completely original T-40. The design was directed by N. A. Astrov - the future creator of the T-70. The tank received a new welded hull with rational angles of armor plates, slightly reinforced armor and a 70-horsepower gasoline engine. Armament remained purely machine-gun (12.7-mm DShK and 7.62-mm DT) and was installed in a faceted turret. His release amounted to 709 units. The combat experience of the initial period of the Great Patriotic War proved the futility of machine-gun tanks; there was also a small need for waterway mechanisms. Part of the tanks re-armed with 20-mm cannons.

Based on the results of the combat operation of the T-40 in August 1941 on the initiative of N. Astrov - in a record short period of 2.5 weeks - a lightweight T-60 was created. The new machine differed from the T-40 in the initial absence of waterway equipment and enhanced armoring (up to 35 mm), protecting the crew from fragments and small-caliber projectiles. The shape of the hull and the turret was somewhat simplified to facilitate assembly. The GAZ-11 diesel engine was first equipped with a preheater, which turned out to be extremely useful in the cold winter of 1941/42. Chassis almost unchanged with the T-40.

The main armament of the tank was the 20-mm automatic gun TNSh-20 (tank version of the aircraft gun ShVAK) with a rate of fire of 800 rounds per minute. The ammunition consisted of armor-piercing shells with a victor core, at a distance of 500 m penetrated 30-mm armor. At close distances, the T-60 was dangerous for the Sd.Kfz 250 and Sd.Kfz 251 armored personnel carriers, the Pz I and Pz II light tanks, and during flank shelling it could even damage the middle Pz III and Pz IV.

This tank was produced at the Kirov factory N 38, in Sverdlovsk, Stalingrad and GAZ, by the spring of 1942 the output was more than 4,800 units. The T-60, not without success, participated in the winter counteroffensive near Moscow, but by the summer of 1942 its characteristics were already considered unsatisfactory. By that time, the protection of German tanks had increased, and a significant part of them were rearmed with long-barreled guns. And although the specificity of the tasks assigned to the T-60 did not imply the mandatory possibility of opposing the tanks, combat experience indicated the need for further strengthening of protection and armament. Kfz 250 and Sd.Kfz 251, light tanks Pz I and Pz II, and in case of flank shelling, even medium Pz III and Pz IV could damage the tanks.

But already in the late autumn of 1941 N. Astrov began work (again, on an initiative basis) on a significantly improved version of the T-60. Testing the machine in the KB Gorky Automobile Plant continued until the end of the year. At the end of December 1942, the hull was made for the first tank and the tower of the V.Dedkov design was cast. Simultaneously with the cast was developed and welded version of the tower. In January 1942, the assembly was started, which for several reasons was completed only on February 14. In January 1942, the prototype was introduced to JV Stalin. Then the tank was sent to Moscow and shown there to representatives of the Main Automobile and Armored Directorate. The military reacted to the new tank rather coolly, since it only slightly exceeded the T-60 in terms of armor and had an increased mass due to the installation of a 45-mm cannon, and the power of armaments was leveled by only one place for a man in the turret who must fulfill the duties of a commander, gunner and loader. However, the main designer N.A. Astrov promised in a short time to eliminate all the flaws.

Then tests of the prototype of the T-70 tank and test firing of the main weapon were carried out. Compared to its predecessor, the tank had a higher power density (15.2 hp / t against 11 hp / t), more powerful weapons (45 mm gun instead of 20 mm) and enhanced armor protection (45 -mm armor instead of 20-35 mm). According to the results of testing a new tank by the decision of the State Defense Committee (GKO) of March 6, 1942 was adopted by the Red Army. Two days later, the following decree was issued on the production of the tank from April at the plants number 37 and number 38, as well as the Gorky Automobile Plant. However, the new tank required twice as much detail as compared to the previous tank.

The tank was put into service under the designation T-70. From March 1942 to October 1943, GAZ, together with the enterprises of Sverdlovsk and Kirov, produced about 8,200 T-70 and T-70M, which became the second most popular Soviet tank of the Great Patriotic War after the T-34.

The layout of the tank is inherited from the T-60. The control compartment is located behind the inclined front plate of the hull, in which the driver's hatch is equipped. The fighting compartment in the middle part of the vehicle included the reserved space of the center of the hull and the turret, shifted to the left. The power plant of the tank moved to starboard. The crew of the T-70 - 2 people: the commander not only monitored the battlefield, but also served weapons.

The armor plates of the hull were joined by welding. For armor protection, the tank was only slightly inferior to the early T-34. The sloping frontal plate was 45 mm thick and withstood the shelling of light German anti-tank guns (PaK 35, PaK 37) and short-barreled 75-mm KwK 37. The lower front sheet is thinner. The side armor plates were installed vertically, the fences niches were absent. The hull's stern leaf had a reverse tilt angle. The kit of spare parts and tools included boxes with tools, laid on the fences and an interchangeable roller.

Originally it was planned to install cast-turret tanks with smooth contours (designed by V. Dedkov), but in order to save time and labor costs, the T-70s were manufactured with a welded hexagonal turret. In form, it resembled a T-34 turret of the 1942/43 model. with significantly reduced dimensions. As on the T-60, the turret was the workplace of the commander. Its frontal zones were protected by 45-mm armor, on the side and rear surfaces its thickness decreased. A commander's turret with several observation slots is built into the roof. Hooks are dismounted to the side walls to dismantle the turret.

A 45-mm 20K cannon of the 1938 model was installed in a cylindrical mask. Due to its favorable location, the boy-laying was distinguished by a low probability of detonation on hits (less than 10 such cases were noted during the entire war). The close range BS provided damage to all the lungs, and in lateral fire, medium tanks. The angle of the vertical guidance of the instrument varied from -6 to +20 degrees. To the left of the gun there is a twin machine gun DT 7.62 mm caliber with 945 rounds of ammunition.

The undercarriage of the tank was the development of an earlier engine tested on the T-40 and T-60. In connection with the increase in weight, the fifth suspension unit has been added. Single support rollers of a lenticular form with external cushioning (rubber tires), on a torsion bar suspension, were cast from an aluminum alloy. Sloths rear location structurally no different from them. Driving wheel - with a removable ring gear. The caterpillar chain with a double row of thorns consisted of small stamped tracks of the zevochny gearing with a width of 260 (on T-70M - 300) mm.

Two engines (GAZ-70-6004 and GAZ-70-6005, development of the GAZ-11 diesel) with a capacity of 70 liters each. with. connected in series, constituted the power plant of the tank GAZ-203. On the highway, he allowed speeds of up to 45 km / h, off-road speed fluctuated at a level of 20-30 km / h. The engine radiators were led to the stern and right side of the roof of the hull. The fuel reserve of 440 liters allowed to go 250 km without refueling. The front-end transmission included a dry-friction main friction clutch, a four-speed gearbox and side clutches. On the modification of the T-70, it had undergone some improvements.

The T-70s were in service with tank brigades and regiments of mixed organization, together with the T-34. In 1942, the T-70 often went into battle in the same order as the heavier vehicles, although their anti-tank capabilities were very small. But in 1943 they were finally ousted from the first line: heavy tanks appeared in service with the Panzerwaffe, and the average Pz IV as a result of several upgrades turned into really efficient vehicles.

he first to receive new tanks were the 157th and 162nd separate tank brigades, which were formed in the city of Murom in the first half of 1942. in each of these brigades there were 65 such machines. Even before the outbreak of hostilities, both brigades were reorganized into more traditional mixed organization staff. Baptism of fire new tanks received during the fighting in the south-west direction in June-July 1942, where they suffered significant losses. Already the first battles showed their low combat qualities, lack of armor when using tanks as support for infantry and weak weaponry that prevented them from fighting with German medium tanks.

However, in capable hands, the T-70 tank was a formidable weapon. So, on July 6, 1943, in battles for the village of Pokovka on the Oboyansky direction, the crew of the tank under the command of Lieutenant V.V. Pavlovich from the 49th Guards Tank Brigade was able to knock out three medium German tanks and one “Panther”.

Tank brigades consisting of 32 T-34 tanks and 21 T-70 tanks could be part of tank and mechanized corps . However, by the spring of 1944, this model of the tank was excluded from the states of the tank units of the Red Army, but in some brigades they continued to be exploited for quite a long time.

The saturation of the battlefield with anti-tank artillery forced P. Rotmistrov to note in the report on the fighting at Kursk: "T-70 tanks simply could not be allowed to tank battle, as they are more than easily destroyed by German tank fire." As a result of the battles of the summer of 1943, it was decided to cease the production of all light tanks.

Discontinuing the T-70 is understandable not only for a number of major shortcomings inherent in it, but also for the general decline in the role of traditional light tanks with balanced characteristics. Armament and defense were completely out of tune with the combat situation, and reconnaissance tasks shifted to armored vehicles. Their technical concept and tactics of application needed a cardinal rethinking, which happened by the last year of the war. Just look at a number of post-war light tanks — the Soviet PT-76, the American M41, and the French AMX-13 — to verify the fundamental differences in design with respect to wartime samples and other functions for which these tanks were created.

As to specific defects of the T-70, then first of all it is necessary to point out the small number of the crew and the congestion of the commander who was also a shooter, gunner, loader and radio operator. To solve this problem, GAZ designers have developed a version of the T-70 with an enlarged double turret. The elevation angle of the gun was increased to fire at some air targets and buildings. The side armor slightly increased - up to 25 mm. The mass, which increased to 11.6 tons, required a new engine, and at GAZ they prepared a GAZ-80 powerplant - a “pair” of two forced up to 85 liters. with. diesel engines. The tank, which received the T-80 index, was manufactured at plant No. 40 in the city of Mytishchi, and before it was taken out of production together with the T-70, the plant delivered only 81 vehicles to the troops. The engine was notable for its high labor consumption and unreliability.

The second drawback of the T-70 is insufficient mobility for its class. Thus, the American light tank M3 had a 250 hp engine, which allowed it to reach speeds of up to 58 km / h. On the other hand, the chassis T-70 provided a much greater smoothness with less noise produced - unlike the American machine.

The last thing that deserves mention is the insufficient power of the weapon. The American and British 37-mm cannons were not inferior to the 45-mm 20K because of the higher quality of the shells, and on the light M24 (USA) a short-barreled 75-mm gun was installed. Attempts were made to strengthen the armament of the T-70, however, the small size of the turret did not allow to install another artillery system. All of the above resulted in a rather limited use of these tanks during the closing period of the war. They were entrusted with secondary tasks far from always connected with intelligence. Quite often they were exploited as commander vehicles or mobile movable radio posts. In general, the T-70 had no particular advantages over the British and American light tanks, with the exception of good protection, but clearly surpassed the German Pz II, which by 1942 were generally removed from the linear parts.

The insufficient crew size of the T-70 tank (two people: the commander, the gunner and loader, and the driver) made it extremely difficult to control the tank and firing. In addition, the troops demanded a machine to accompany the infantry while fighting in the city with the possibility of firing at the upper floors of buildings. All this served as a prerequisite for the creation of a new light tank T-80 with a crew of three and a high elevation angle of the 45-mm tank gun (up to 65 degrees). The tank was created in 1943 in the design office of the GAZ plant and in the same year it was put into production at plant No. 40 (Mytischi).

Major modifications of the T-70 tank and vehicles based on it

  • T-70 - commander tank with a radio station 9R (1942)
  • T-70M - tank with improved chassis (1942)
  • T-70 - tank with a cast turret (prototype, 1942)
  • T-90 - light tank with a twin installation of DShK machine guns (1943)
  • SU-76 - fully armored ACS (360 machines produced, 1943)
  • SU-76M - semi-open SAU (13932 machines produced, 1943-1945)
  • ZSU-37 - self-propelled anti-aircraft installation (released 70 machines, 1945-1948 gg.)

On the basis of the tank, anti-aircraft and anti-tank SPGs were manufactured. In the largest volume produced self-propelled SU-76M. The basic armored corps, which instead of the turret housed 35–15 mm thick armored walls, was located on the base chassis, which extended to 6 support units of the chassis. The roof and the stern were not protected by anything. Armament - 76.2-mm gun ZIS-3. Despite the massive production (over 14,000 units), the SU-76 can be considered the least successful Soviet tank destroyer project. The reasons for this are weak armor protection with outdated outlines of the hull and a low armor-piercing effect of the 76.2 mm BS. SU-76 was suitable mainly for escorting infantry and fighting light armored vehicles. Nevertheless, the T-70 chassis served as the basis for several more combat-ready lightweight ACSs, of which GAZ-75 should be specifically mentioned: with a mass of only 18 tons, the machine was protected by 75-90-mm frontal armor and armed with an 85-mm ZIS-S-53 gun. Unfortunately, this ACS was created too late to be put on the conveyor.

Until the end of the war several prototypes of a light self-propelled air defense installation were created. The anti-aircraft T-90 tank, designed in 1943, was intended for combat against attack aircraft in combat formations and on the march. Two large-caliber DShK machine-guns were installed in a circular rotation turret open at the top. Due to the insufficient range and power of the weapon, the T-90 was not put into service. A more rational version of the anti-aircraft SAU, ZSU-37 with a 37-mm automatic gun, was produced in 1945, but did not participate in the battles.

The T-70s captured by the Germans practically did not act for their intended purpose, but were converted into tractors for light field guns. In small quantities, these tanks were delivered to the Army of the Polish and Czechoslovak Tank Corps.

In general, the T-70 is quite controversial. He did not quite answer his tasks, but in many respects did not yield to his peers. The blame for a significant part of its flaws cannot be laid on the designers, and the reasons for this should be sought both in the state of the Soviet industry at the beginning and in the general crisis of the concept of a light tank, which found not so many places in battle. On the other hand, the tank was produced and acted in the most difficult moments of the war, when the production of full-fledged combat vehicles did not meet the needs of the army in armored vehicles. And it is difficult to accurately determine how much benefit the T-70 brought in the difficult years of 1942-1943.

In the fall of 1943, plants that had produced the tank moved to mass production of the SU-76M self-propelled gun that was based on the T-70M. The remaining T-70 tanks were used in self-propelled artillery battalions, regiments and brigades as command vehicles, and took part in combat operations until the war’s end.

While they became known as “locusts” to the enemy, Soviet crews knew the tank far more affectionately as “Baby.”

In Russia, the remaining T-70s are on display at the Armored Arts Museum in Kubinka (in running condition), the Central Museum of the Armed Forces and some others. Several machines were installed on the territory of the former USSR as monuments.

T-50 T-60 T-70 T-70m T-80
Combat Mass, tons 13.8 6.4 9.2 9.8 11.8
Crew, Cel. 4 2 2 2 3
Body length, mm 5300 4100 4285 4285 4285
width, mm 2470 2302 2348 2430 2500
Height, mm 2165 1735 2035 2035 2175
Clearance, MM 350 300 300 300 300
Gun 45-mm 20k 38 20-mm Nsh 45-K-M 20km OBR 42 g. 45-mm 20km OBR. 42 g. 45-mm 20km OBR. 42 g.
Machine gun 2 x 7.62-mm DT 7.62-MM DT 7.62-MM DT 7.62-MM DT 7.62-MM DT
Shells 150 754 90 90 94
Rounds 4095 1008 945 945 1008
Armor, MM:
Forehead case 37 35 35 22 20
Hull Board 37 15 15 13 13
Roof 20 10 10 13 13
Turret 37 25 25 15 15
Mask Cannon 65 65 5
Engine B-4 GAZ-202 GAZ-203 GAZ-203 GAZ-80
Power, HP 300 76 2x70 2x70 2x85
Max. Speed on highway, km/h: 52 45 45 45 47
Power reserve on highway, km 350 455 350 350 320

T-70 light tank T-70 light tank T-70 light tank T-70 light tank T-70 light tank T-70 light tank T-70 light tank T-70 light tank T-70 light tank T-70 light tank

T-70 light tank

T-70 light tank

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Page last modified: 10-04-2019 10:17:09 ZULU