Russian BT Tanks and their variants

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Russian BT Tanks

Source: "Soviet Tanks and Combat Vehicles of World War Two" - (Steven J.Zalogo and James Grandsen)

The companion of the T26 was the BT series of "fast" tanks. The T26 was employed promarily by tank units assigned to the support of infantry, while the BT was assigned to independent tank brigades and in support of cavalry formations. The BT series was based on the American Christie M1930 convertible tank. Convertible tank were a fad of the 1930's prompted by the lack of reliable tank tracks. Tracks had a short running-life, and were a primary source of the mechanical breakdowns which afflicted early tank units. The convertible tank skirted thye problem by making it possible to remove the tracks and run the tank on its roadwheels. This was accomplished by providing a sepcial chain drive to power the rear road wheels while in the wheeled mode. In this fasion, the tanks could be moved at high speed over roads with no wear on their tracks, and the tankconverted to provide cross-country mobility once the battlefield was reached; it took about 30 minutes to change a Christie from track to wheel mode.
The two M1930 p[rototypes arrived in the USSR early in 1931, having be shipped from the USA under the guise of agricultural tractors. They were turned over to a new design team at the Kharkov Locomotive Works (Komintern),(KhPZ nr.183) which was already preparing for production on the basis of angineering drawings already sent by Christie.On 23 May 1931, the RVS accepted the new tank for RKKA use as the BT-2 although not even a single prototype had been completed. The BT-1 designation was applied to the American prototypes. The Christie prototypes had arrived without turrets, so the main design change involved the development of turrets and armament combinations. The first three BT-2 prototypes were completed without armament in October and took part in the Moscow parade on 7 November 1931. After trials, KhPZ gegan quantity production of the BT-2 in 1932, manufacturing 396 tanks that year.There were two variants of the BT-2 Model 1932, on armed with a 37mm Model 1930 gun and the other armed with machine-guns. Both vehicles had a DT machine-gun mounted i a ball socket to the right of the m antlet, so the machine-gun armed variant had a total of theree DT machine-guns.The machine-gun variant was not popularly received and subsequent production turned antirely to gun-armed types.

Combat History

BT-5's were first used in action during the Spanish Civil War in 1936 when they fought on the Republican side against the Nationalists. BT's made up part of the large 500 stroke tank force under General Zhukov which took part in the influential battle of Nomonhan against the Japanese over the disputed area between Mongolia and Manchuria in August 1939. They participated in the carve up of Poland (in league with the Germans), and the invasion of Finland the same year.
Used to help try and stem the German advance into the USSR during the German onslaught in 1941, many were dug in and used as fixed pill boxes when they ran out of fuel or broke down and couldn't be repaired due to the poor logistics of the Red Army at the time. Whilst they only had thin armour their gun was a very potent weapon when they were first built.

"Christi T-3"

The photes are made by Narayan Senupta, on Aberdeen Proving Ground - www.peachmountain.com/5Star

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The T3 Tornado and other Christi tanks are the ancestors to the famous Soviet BT series of tanks and thus also influenced the design of the T-34 tank. This model is the M1931 (model 1931) and was also referred to as the T3. This tank was derived from the earlier M1928. The M1931 was 2 ton's heavier, better armoured and mounted a turret sporting a 37mm gun.
The US bought 3 of the Christi T3 tanks and the Soviets bought 2.The US didn't proceed further with this design, but the Sovietsdid basing the BT tanks almost directly on the Christi.

Kit UM403 - Christie Tank T3 - 1931/1940 - model built by Zhenmin Han

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Model built by Juraj Korpa

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"Christi M1940 / BT-2 hull without turret - Model built by Vladimir Yakubov (www.RussianNavy.net) - (converted UM BT-2 model)"

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"BT-1 Variants"

1931 Soviet BT-1 Light Tank Two m.g.
1932 Soviet BT-1 Light Tank Two m.g.

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"BT-2 Variants"

1931 Soviet BT-2 Light Tank gun + m.g.
1931 Soviet BT-2 Light Tank gun + non-coaxial m.g.
1931 Soviet BT-2 Light Tank three m.g.
1931 Soviet BT-2 Light Tank Two m.g. + non-coaxial m.g.

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1932 Soviet BT-2 Light Tank gun + m.g.
1932 Soviet BT-2-1 Light Tank Two m.g. + non-coaxial m.g.
Possible turret layouts<

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Kit UM338 - BT-2 w/machine guns - Model built by Zhenmin Han

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Model built by Brett Mahoney

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Kit UM302 - BT-2 with 37mm gun and mg - Model built by Matej Paluda

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Model built by Drew Gleason

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Model built by Augusto Versiani

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Model built by unknown - 1/35 scale - pictures from ww2.mimerswell.com

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Kit um303 - Artillery Tank D-38 (Tank BT-2 w/A-43 turret) - Model built by Zhenmin Han

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"BT-3 Variants"

BT-3 is in official documentation referred to as BT-2. The BT-3 was a modified version of the BT-2, with solid disc wheels in place of the spoked type of earlier vehicles. It is also up-gunned with a 45mm gun. The major problem with the BT-2 was it's mechanical unreliability, a problem never entirely solved.



1932 Soviet BT-4 Light Tank (two turrets gun and m.g.)

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The BT-4 was a prototype with hull features similar to the BT-3 but with twin turrets replacing the single turret and minor changes in the suspension. (3 prototypes were produced (with partially riveted hull)

"BT-5 Variants"

As mentioned before, in 1932, the UMM instructed the design teams in Leningrad (T-26) and Kharkov (BT) tp adapt the new 45mm Model 132 tank gun for their tanks, using a common turret. The KhPZ team brought out the BT-5 model 1933 as a result of these instructions. The main change on the BT-5 was the larger cylindrical turret and the new gun, but the wheels were also changed to a simpler convex style. The new turret dispensed with the ball-mounted machine-gun and used a more practical co-axial machine-gun alongside the main gun instead. Both the BT-5 Model 1933 and the early version of the T/26 Model with the new turret were short/lived, because in the maintime, the OKMO team had developed a better designed turret for thr 45mm gun. The original turret developed at KhPZ had only a single, awkwardly placed roof hatch and had inadequate stowage. The new turret had twin hatches and a larger bustle. This became the standard production turret on the BT until 1937, and the production of the BT/5 lasted until 1935.

1933 Soviet BT-5 Light Tank
1934 Soviet BT-5 Light Command Tank
1934 Soviet BT-5 Light Tank
1934 Soviet BT-5A Light Artillery Command Tank
1934 Soviet BT-5A Light Artillery tank

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Kit um360 - BT-5 with cylindrical turret


Kit um301 - Russian BT-5 - Model built by Brett Mahoney

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Built by unknown - 1/35 scale Zvesda - ww2.mimerswell.com

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Built by Chema Cabero - 1/35 scale - missinglynx

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Kit um313 - RBT-5 with Rockets - Model built by Al Magnus

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Model built by Zhenmin Han

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Kit um406 - BT-5 with Rocket Mounting RS-132

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"BT-6 was an experimental tank" - (no pictures)

"BT-7 Variants"

Kit um310 - BT-7 M1935 - Model built by Zhenmin Han

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Kit um311 - BT-7 M1937 with conical turret - model built by Drew Gleason

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Kit um312 - BT-7A with artillery turret - Model built by Brett Mahoney

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Built model by Zhenmin Han

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Built model by Juraj Korpa

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"BT-7M or BT-8"



Was there a BT-8? Who can help me with some pictures and information?

The BT-8 was a major redesign in 1939. It had a sloping front glacis instead of the previous pointed noses. Had a diesel engine installed. The engine was based on a Hispano-Suiza 12Y aircraft engine.1 Hull MG was placed next to the driver. Used at Khalkin-Gol and in Finland.

The BT-8A was a Artillery tank. It had a 76.2 mm 1927/32 tank gun. (Only a test model built)

"A20 Last BT version"

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"From BT to T34"

From left to right; BT7, A20, T34


First T34


"Finish BT-42 and BT-43"

BT-42 - a captured BT-7, re-armed by and in Finish service

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Kit um339 - Finnish Tank BT42 - Model built by Zhenmin Han

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As the Second World War progressed, the Soviets were fielding better and better tanks. The Finnish Army, on the other hand, had to make due with a large number of captured tanks, which were for the most part lightly armored and armed. The Finns decided to redesign the BT-7 model 1937 tank. They constructed a new turret and armed it with British-made 114.3 mm howitzers that had been supplied by the British during the Winter War (Q.F. 4,5 inch howitzer Mark II, also known as 114 Psv.H/18 in Finland). The Finns constructed 18 BT-42s and these were pressed into service in 1943.
The BT-42 saw action for the first time in 1943, at the Svir River, where it was used to take out enemy pillboxes. The design worked reasonably well against soft targets but was completely unsuitable in the anti-tank role. To counter this, the Finns copied a German-designed HEAT round for the gun, and it was initially thought that it could defeat the sloping armour of the T-34, however, this was not the case. [1] The BT-42 quickly became very unpopular among its crews. Its mechanical weaknesses could mainly be attributed to the new turret, which apart from giving the tank a high profile also added significant weight to the vehicle, stressing the suspension and the engine.
The BT-42s were used again during the major Soviet offensive in 1944. They were deployed in the defence of Vyborg but were unable to stop the advancing Soviet forces. The BT-42 would suffer heavily during the fighting. At one point, a Finnish BT-42 managed to hit a Soviet T-34 18 times, failing even to immobilize the enemy vehicle. The Finns lost 8 of the 18 vehicles engaged without having made any significant contribution to the fighting. It should however be noted that the Finnish armored units were still mostly comprised of old T-26s, T-28s, and BT-42 AFVs, and that all of these suffered losses during these days (including 25 of the 87 T-26s and a third of all A-20 artillery tractors). German emergency supplies of PzKpfw IVs, StuG IIIs and captured T-34s made it possible for the Finns to replace its aging tanks for more efficient ones. The BT-42 was retired soon after the Vyborg battles and was replaced in the role by German-made StuG IIIs.

BT-43 APC with wooden platform



In March 1943, the Finnish armoured division suggested that 20 BT-7s should be redesigned into armoured personnel carriers. The Finnish HQ gave its approval sign on 18 May 1943, but limited the number of vehicles to 14. A prototype was designed by removing the turret of a BT-7 and by constructing a wooden platform on top of the chassis. Additional hatches were also installed to allow easier embarking and disembarking of the vehicle. The BT-43 prototype was tested in November 1943, but series production was never started. The single prototype was scrapped in May 1945.

"Special BT Variants"

"BT Experimental Variants"

KBT-7 - Commanders Tank

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For more info about this variant, visit: (Russian language)


Other version - (descripted as Armoured Personals Vehicle based on the BT-7)



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BT-SV II "Turtle" or BTR-based BT?

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Comments on alternathistory.org.ua:

It was no APCs and never was. This is a modification of the BT tower, just not visible because of additional vertical bulwarks - BT-SV-2 "turtle.

BTR-based BT/T-46. USSR. 30s.

APC designed on the basis of the BT-7 was designed for 9 seats for the landing with two machine guns or 6 seats in the event that troopers will be armed with two machine guns. APC crew consisted of two persons - the driver and vehicle commander. Landing of the APC was to be implemented through two hatches, one at the top of the body, and the second on (rear?). BTR was supposed with DT machine gun, he was placed in a rotating turret, from the tank T-37/38. In addition to machine gun equipped with a light portable flamethrower installation of fire for landing in the sides of the body located loopholes, closing armor covers the fields of equipment and armored vehicles OPVT means of communication, which are used as semaphores and flags in the future plannedimplement protection of combat crew of metal OV.V this project was not implemented.

BTR-based BT?? or BT-SV II "Turtle" - (based on BT-7 Chassis or T-46 chassis?) - T-46 (picture 2)

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For more info about this variant, visit: (Russian, English and German language)


BT-BMP - Who can inform me of this vehicle, is't an original concept, experimental, drawingtable or fake concept?

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Drawings from internet - russiannavy.net - (After research I don't have found reference to this vehicle in any of the major Russian books on AFV's.)

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