Weapons of World War Two
In 1931, the Soviet Union acquired from United States two Christie tanks with the intention of performing technical investigations to produce a tank that should equip the armored forces of the Red Army. The North American tank had a revolutionary characteristic: it could move on diverse terrains thanks to its tracks and, if required, after having removed the tracks in a very simple operation, it could move faster in road thanks to its robust wheels fitted with a solid rubber ring that served as guide.
So it was born, in a sole month, the tank BT (Bistrochodny Tank or Fast Tank). The BT, even if not giving an exceptional play, was undoubtedly a good tank. After the baptism of fire in Spain, it fought in Manchuria against the Japanese, in Poland, in Finland and finally in Russian ground, where it operated actively until 1941, to be later used for reconnaissance and training until 1943. The BT tank was projected to serve in the long-range armored and mechanized units. They had as purpose to intervene in the enemy rearguard and take the neuralgic centers, such as headquarters, supply centers and airfields. In these circumstances its high speed supposed an indubitable advantage.
The aforementioned possibility of this tank of moving on its wheels was never totally exploited by the Red Army in military operations. During its warlike career this vehicle suffered successive modifications and improvements. The BT-7 was born from a modification on its armor, which in this case is soldered and with inclined plates to increase its invulnerability. From this model it was produced also a command version, as well as another model to provide artillery fire support, without having to modify the turret.
During 1938 it had been developed a new Diesel engine of twelve cylinders in V, specifically oriented to be installed in tanks. Since then it was installed in all of the models of the BT-7 that would be produced. This way, the new engine provided to the armored divisions of the Red Army a much increased operational range in respect of what had been possible until that moment.
Weight: 13.8 tonnes
Length: 5.66 meters
Width: 2.29 meters
Height: 2.42 meters
Ground clearance: 41 centimeters
Maximum armor: 22 millimeters
Engine: M 17T of 450 horsepower
Maximum speed on wheels: 73 kilometers/hour
Maximum speed on tracks: 53 kilometers/hour
Operational range on wheels: 500 kilometers
Operational range on tracks: 375 kilometers
Armament: One 45-millimeter cannon; two or three 7.62-millimeter machine guns
Ammunitions: 188 of 45 millimeters; 2394 of 7.62 millimeters
Maximum surmountable trench: 2.00 meters
Maximum surmountable step: 0.55 meters
Maximum surmountable slope: 32 degrees
Fording: 1.20 meters
Also in Weapons of World War Two: