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Soviet Union's BT-2 Bystrochodnij Tankov (Fast Tank)

Design

With the vast territories of Russia there was a need seen for fast tanks. In 1931, two Christie M-1931 (T-3) tanks were purchased from the United States. These were sent to Voronesh for testing. The Kharkov "Comintern" factory was to build prototypes based on the Christies. On May 23, 1931, the Revolutionary Military Council of the USSR authorized mass production of the tank that was designated the BT-2.

The BT-2 was built upon the chassis of the BT-1.

The BTs were to be used in the mechanized, armored, and cavalry units. They were to advance into the enemy's rear to break supply lines and disrupt communications.

The rear half of the hull had the engine and transmission. The turret was placed near the front of the hull.

Christie Suspension

They could be run on track across country or on wheels on roads. It took about a half-hour to switch from one mode to the other. When running on wheels the tracks were stored on racks above the running gear. When running on wheels 1/3 of the weight was on the back pair of road wheels which could cause it to sink and slip if driven onto soft ground. Each wheel had twin rubber tires and were linked via an axle arm with a coil spring. The chassis was very steady when moving fast and on uneven terrain.

The driver sat in the center and used a steering wheel when on wheels and a clutch and brake system when on tracks. When on wheels the tracks were placed on shelves along the side of the hull. When using wheels, the front pair of wheels were steered by a wheel. These were copied from the Christie T3.

The idler was at the front and the drive was at the rear.

Prototype

The drawings for the prototype was delivered to the Kharkov "Komintern" factory in August 1931. The first two prototypes were delivered to the Red Army for trials. These were the BT-1 and it was almost a copy of the Christie with 2 machine guns.

Three of the prototypes appeared in the 1931 November Revolution Parade in Moscow.

Production

Production started in September 1931. Full production started in 1932. The first 60 models had no machine guns. The next 350 had a 7.62 mm DA-2 twin MG and a 7.62 mm DT in ball mantlet. There was no room for a radio.

Production stopped after only a few models were built.

  • BT-2:
    • Production: 1931 - 1933

Variants

  • BT-2:
    • First 60 had 37 mm BS-3 tank gun with no machine gun in the turret. Were unpopular with crews.
    • The next 350 had the 37 mm gun with a 7.62 mm DA-2 twin MG and a 7.62 mm DT MG in a ball mantlet.
  • 76 mm Self Propelled Gun: Was to have a main gun with a 7.62 mm DT MG. Never got out of design stage.

Usage

The BT-2 entered service in 1932.

vs. Finland and Germany

The BT-2s saw action in the 1939-1940 Winter War with Finland and in 1941 against the Germans.

A few BT-2s were still in service with armored divisions in 1941.

Specifications

  BT-2 (1931 Model)
Crew 2 - 3, 3
Physical Characteristics  
Weight 22,500 lb
10.2 tons, 10.82 tons, 11 tons, 11.02 tons
9,253.3 kg, 11,000 kg, 11,200 kg
Length 18', 18.1', 19' 4.25"
5.76 m, 5.48 m, 5.49 m
Height 6' 4", 7.25', 7' 3", 7' 9.5"
1.92 m, 1.93 m, 2.21 m, 2.2 m
Width 7' 4", 7.33', 7' 10.25"
2.15 m, 2.23 m, 2.24 m, 2.33 m
Width over tracks  
Ground clearance 0.35 - 0.38 m
Wheels: 9"
Tracks: 10.5"
Ground contact length 10.66', 12'
Ground pressure 8.96 psi
0.63 kp/(cm)
Turret ring diameter  
Armament  
Main 1: 37 mm M 1930
1: 37 mm BS-3 1931 Model
1: 37 mm
OR 2: 7.62 mm MG
MG

1: 7.62 mm DT MG

MG - coaxial 1: 7.62 mm DT MG
1: 7.62 mm MG
1: MG
OR Twin 7.62 mm DT-2 MG
MG - hull 1: 7.62 DT MG
Side arms  
Quantity  
Main 92 - 96, 96
OR 4,000
MG 2,709, 4,000
Side arms  
Armor Thickness (mm) 6-13, 13
Hull Front, Upper 13
Hull Front, Lower 13
Hull Sides, Upper 10 - 13, 13
Hull Sides, Lower 13
Hull Rear 10, 13
Hull Top 6 - 10, 10
Hull Bottom 6 - 10
Turret Front 13
Turret Sides 13
Turret Rear 13
Turret Top 10
Engine (Make / Model) Liberty Aero
Bore / stroke 4 stroke
Cooling Water
Cylinders V-12, 12
Capacity  
Net HP 343, 400, 343@2,000 rpm, 343 - 400@2,000 rpm
Power to weight ratio 30 HP/ton, 32.6 HP/ton, 33.6 HP/ton
Compression ratio  
Transmission (Type) Wheels: Chain drive
Tracks: Sliding gear
Steering  
Steering ratio  
Starter  
Electrical system  
Ignition  
Fuel (Type) Gasoline
Octane  
Quantity 88 gallons
400 liters
Road consumption  
Cross country consumption  
Performance  
Traverse 360°
Max speed 68.4 mph, 69 mph
110 kph
Max speed - tracks 39 mph, 40 mph
62 kph, 65 kph
Max speed - wheels 65 mph, 69 mph, 70 mph
105 kph, 110 kph, 112 kph
Speed - Cross Country 31 mph
50 kph
Cross country speed - tracks 39 mph
Range - Road 55 miles, 186 miles, 187 miles
90 km, 300 km
Road radius - tracks 124 miles
200 km, 150-200 km
Road radius - wheels 186 miles, 187 miles
300 km, 250-300 km
Range - Cross Country 125 miles
Cross country radius - tracks 125 miles
Turning radius 40'
Elevation limits -8° to +25°, -4° to +40°
Fording depth 3.98'
1 - 1.2 m
Trench crossing 6.85'
2.1 m
Vertical obstacle 0.75 m
Wheels: 8"
Tracks: 29.8"
Climbing ability 40°
Suspension (Type) Christie
Christie independent type
Wheels each side 4
Return rollers each side  
Tracks (Type)  
Length  
Width Tire: 2 x 3.95"
Track: 10.25"
Diameter 32.5"
Number of links  
Pitch  
Tire tread  
Track centers/tread 6.33'

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. The Encyclopedia of Tanks and Armored Fighting Vehicles - The Comprehensive Guide to Over 900 Armored Fighting Vehicles From 1915 to the Present Day, General Editor: Christopher F. Foss, 2002
  4. Tanks of World War II, Duncan Crow, 1979
  5. Profile AFV Weapons 37 Russian BT Series, John F. Milsom, 1971
  6. The Illustrated Guide to Tanks of the World, George Forty, 2006
  7. Airfix Magazine Guide 22 Russian Tanks of World War 2, John Milsom and Steve Zaloga, 1977
  8. World War I and II Tanks, George Forty, 2012
20th Century American Military History Crucial Site