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T-26 Light Tank - page 2

Combat Employment

Even before the World War Two, the T-26 tank took part in many military conflicts. The conflicts in Finland (1939-1940), and Poland (1939) are considered part of WWII - at least outside of Russia. In July 1938, the military conflict between Soviet and Japanese forces began at Hasan Lake and again, T-26's were used.

From the Soviet side there were: A.P.Panfilov's 2nd Independent Mechanized Brigade (three battalions of T-26, a battalion and a company of "BT" tanks and a company of experimental SU-5 SP guns), which was attached to the 39th Rifle Corps, the 32nd (of major M.V.Alymov) and 40th (commander - 1st lieutenant Sitnikov) Independent Tank Regiments.

In total, 351 tanks were used in those battles: 257 T-26's, 81 BT tanks and 13 SU-5's.

Soviet losses were: 9 destroyed and 76 damaged T-26's, plus a 8 BT tanks destroyed. 39 tanks were repaired soon, another 40 tanks were sent back to the factories due to their heavy damages. Many tanks were damaged because of technical difficulties: gearbox or friction clutch failures.

In August 1939, Soviet tank forces had over 8,500 T-26 tanks. At the beginning of the Great Patriotic War, they were the most common tanks in the Red Army. Over 12,000 tanks were produced. It was intended as an "infantry" tank, i.e. for close support during an infantry attack. Each Soviet rifle (infantry) division had one company of those tanks.

Experimental Tanks Based on the T-26.

In 1933, a new project of the infantry tank was finished. The tank was based on the T-26 tank and named "P-T-26". However the project was abandoned, but the next project - artillery tank T-26A or T-26-4 - was finished and even produced in limited numbers. It had the same turret as on the BT-7A tank and a 76.2 mm KT gun. Tank was intended for direct artillery support of tank attacks. In 1934-1935, 65 tanks were manufactured and after that, production was canceled.

T-26PT - twin turret command tank, 1931-1933. Was equipped with 71-TK-1 wireless, 96 tanks were produced.

OT-26 (HT-26) - chemical (flamethrower) tank 1933-1934. Armament: a flamethrower and one machine-gun. A few tanks were built.

T-26PT - single turret command tank, 1933-1940 equipped with 71-TK-3 wireless. Armament: 45 mm 20K gun model 1932/38, 2 machine-guns. Total 3938 tanks were produced.

T-26A (T-26-4) - artillery tank, 1933. Armament: 76.2 mm KT gun, 2 machine-guns. A few tanks were built.

ST-26 - a bridgelayer tank, 1933-1935. Armament: one machine-gun. 65 tanks were built.

TT-26 - a radiocontroled ("telemechanic" by Russian terms) flamethrower tank, 1935-1936. Armament: flamethrower, one machine-gun. 55 tanks were built. Used together with the TY-26 tank only.

TY-26 - tank to command radiocontroled tanks, 1935-1936. Armament: 45 mm 20K gun, one machine-gun. 55 tanks were built. Used together with the TT-26 tank only.

OT-130 - a flamethrower tank, 1938. Armament: flamethrower, one machine-gun.

OT-131 - a flamethrower tank, 1938. Armament: flamethrower, one machine-gun. A few tanks were produced.

OT-132 - a flamethrower tank, 1938. Armament: flamethrower, one machine-gun. A few tanks were produced.

OT-133 - a flamethrower tank 1939. Armament: flamethrower, 2 machine-guns.

OT-134 - a flamethrower tank 1940. Armament: 45 mm 20K gun, flamethrower, 2 machine-guns. 1336 tanks were produced.

Sources: M.Baryatinsky "Soviet tanks in World War Two" 1995
"Light tanks of the Red Army 1931-1939" 1997

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