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Soviet Union's T-38 light tank

Design

The T-38 was an improved design of the T-37, and was developed at Zavod Nr 37.1,4 The T-38 didn't have any great enhancements over the T-37.4 However, it did float better.4

The turret was moved to the left side and the driver on the right. Friction couplings were added to transmit power to the tracks. A new running gear suspension was installed that helped provide a vibration free driving.

The hull was redesigned which gave the T-38 a lower profile and less weight.1 Wider tracks for the T-38 also improved handling.1

Prototype

In the prototype a 20 mm SchWak gun was installed and was intended to be operated by the driver but this was dropped due to cramped conditions inside the fighting compartment.

In 1935 the prototype was constructed in Factory No. 37 in Moscow.5

Production

  • T-38: 1,3001,4
    • Production: 1936 - 19394,5, 1937 - 19391
    • Manufacturer: Factory No. 37 in Moscow5
  • T-38-M1:
  • T-38-M2:
    • Production ? - 19385
  • T-38TM:
    • Prototype: 19405

Variants

  • T-38:
  • T-38-M1: New transmission which was too complex for mass production.4
  • T-38-M2: In 1938 improvements were made to the gearbox and the engine was replaced with a GAZ M1 / GAZ N-1.2,4,5 Some vehicles had a 20 mm ShVAK gun replace the machine gun as a field modification.4
  • T-38TU: Command version with extra antenna.
  • T-38TM: Experimental.5 Longer chassis.5
  • NII-20: Was a T-38 equipped with special radios to remotely control a T-26 that was filled with explosives to be directed at a target.4 May have been used in the Winter War.4

Usage

During the 1936 peace maneuvers the tanks were installed under the tails of TB-3 bombers and landed during air landing exercises.1

Infantry-tank battalions were issued 38 each.2 Airborne armored battalions were supposed to issued 50 each.2

Based on experience in Finland, in 1940 experiments were carried out with the T-38 being a guide for a radio controlled T-26 explosives carrier. However this never got beyond prototype stages.

Some were used as immobile gun positions during the German invasion.

Winter War

It was found that the T-38s were too lightly armored to even protect against machine guns.4 They were kept in combat as there was nothing to replace them.4

T-38s used in the Winter War with Finland. Many were captured in 1941 and turned over to the Luftwaffe and used in the defense of airfields.

Defending the Motherland

The T-38 was used until 1942 despite very heavy casualties against the invading Germans.4

Specifications

  T-38
Crew Commander, driver
22,3,4,5
Physical Characteristics  
Weight 7,230 lb, 7,275 lb4
3.28 tons3,5, 3.3 tons2
3,300 kg4
Length 12' 4.8"4, 13' 3.5", 12.35'3,5
3.75 m2, 3.78 m4
Height 5' 4.2"4, 5.33'3,5
1.63 m2,4
Width 8' 3", 7.65'3,5, 10' 11.1"4
2.33 m2, 3.33 m4
Ground clearance 0.3 m2
Ground contact length 5.33'5
Ground pressure 0.55 kp/(cm2)2
Turret ring diameter  
Armament  
Main 7.62 mm DT MG2,4,5
7.62 mm MG3
OR 20 mm ShVAK4
Secondary  
MG  
Side arms  
Quantity  
Main 1,5122,5
Secondary  
MG  
Side arms  
Armor Thickness (mm) 4 - 93
Hull Front, Upper 6.5, 92, 9.55
Hull Front, Lower 92
Hull Sides, Upper 92,5
Hull Sides, Lower 92
Hull Rear 92
Hull Top 45, 62
Hull Bottom 42,5
Turret Front 4 - 65, 92
Turret Sides 92
Turret Rear 92
Turret Top 62
Engine (Make / Model) GAZ-AA2,4,5
OR GAZ M-14
Bore / stroke 4 stroke2
Cylinders 42,5
Net HP 40 - 503, 404,5, 40@2,200 rpm2
Power to weight ratio 12.1 HP/ton2
Transmission  
Fuel type Gasoline3,4,5
Octane  
Capacity 100 liters2
Performance  
Traverse 360°
Speed - Road 24.9 mph4, 28 mph5, 28 - 40 mph3
40 kph2,4
Max speed - water 3.7 mph, 6 kph2
Speed - Cross Country 15.5 mph
Range - Road 105.6 miles4, 155.7 miles, 156 miles5
170 km4, 230 km2
Water radius 12 hours
Turning Radius  
Elevation Limits  
Fording depth Amphibious2
Trench crossing 1.6 m2
Vertical Obstacle 0.5 m2
Climbing ability 40°2
Suspension (Type)  
Wheels each side  
Return rollers each side  
Track length  
Tires  
Track width 7.5"5
Track centers/tread  
  T-38 M2
Crew 22,5
Physical Characteristics  
Weight 3.8 tons2,5
Length 12.35'5
3.75 m2
Height 5.15'5
1.63 m2
Width 7.65'5
2.33 m2
Ground clearance 0.3 m2
Ground contact length 5.15'5
Ground pressure 0.55 kp/(cm2)2
Turret ring diameter  
Armament  
Main 1: 7.62 mm DT MG2,5
Secondary  
MG  
Side arms  
Quantity  
Main 1,5122,5
Secondary  
MG  
Side arms  
Armor Thickness (mm)  
Hull Front, Upper 92, 9.55
Hull Front, Lower 92
Hull Sides, Upper 92,5
Hull Sides, Lower 92
Hull Rear 92
Hull Top 45, 62
Hull Bottom 42,5
Turret Front 4 - 65, 92
Turret Sides 92
Turret Rear 92
Turret Top 62
Engine (Make / Model) GAZ N 12, GAZ MI5
Bore / stroke 4 stroke2
Cylinders 42,5
Net HP 505, 50@2,800 rpm2
Power to weight ratio 13.2 HP/ton2
Transmission  
Fuel type Gasoline5
Octane  
Capacity 100 liters2
Performance  
Traverse  
Speed - Road 40 mph5
46 kph2
Max speed - water 6 kph2
Speed - Cross Country  
Range - Road 160 miles5
230 km2
Water radius  
Turning Radius  
Elevation Limits  
Fording depth Amphibious2
Trench crossing 1.6 m2
Vertical Obstacle 0.5 m2
Climbing ability 40°2
Suspension (Type)  
Wheels each side  
Return rollers each side  
Track length  
Tires  
Track width 7.5"5
Track centers/tread  
  T-38 19371
Crew 21
Physical Characteristics  
Weight 3.28 tons1
3,332 kg1
Length 3.76 mm1
12' 4"1
Height 1.62 m1
5' 4"1
Width 1.95 m1
6' 5"1
Ground clearance  
Ground contact length  
Ground pressure  
Turret ring diameter  
Armament  
Main 7.62 mm MG1
Secondary  
MG  
Side arms  
Quantity  
Main  
Secondary  
MG  
Side arms  
Armor Thickness (mm) 0.39"1
101
Hull Front, Upper  
Hull Front, Lower  
Hull Sides, Upper  
Hull Sides, Lower  
Hull Rear  
Hull Top  
Hull Bottom  
Turret Front  
Turret Sides  
Turret Rear  
Turret Top  
Engine (Make / Model)  
Bore / stroke  
Cylinders  
Net HP  
Power to weight ratio  
Transmission  
Fuel type  
Octane  
Capacity  
Performance  
Traverse  
Speed - Road 40 kph1
25 mph1
Max speed - water  
Speed - Cross Country  
Range - Road 150 km1
93 miles1
Water radius  
Turning Radius  
Elevation Limits  
Fording depth  
Trench crossing  
Vertical Obstacle  
Climbing ability  
Suspension (Type)  
Wheels each side  
Return rollers each side  
Track length  
Tires  
Track width  
Track centers/tread  

Sources:

  1. Russian Tanks of World War II Stalin's Armored Might, by Tim Bean & Will Fowler, 2002
  2. Russian Tanks and Armored Vehicles 1917-1945, by Wolfgang Fleischer, 1999
  3. Tanks of the World, 1915-1945, Peter Chamberlain, Chris Ellis, 1972
  4. The Encyclopedia of Weapons of World War II, Chris Bishop, 1998
  5. Airfix Magazine Guide 22 Russian Tanks of World War 2, John Milsom and Steve Zaloga, 1977
20th Century American Military History Crucial Site