Soviet Fast Tank BT-2 (Bystrochodnyj Tank)
The idea of wheel-tracked vehicle was born during the 20s, when constructors
analyzed the task of operational movement tank on roads. The wheels were
enlarged to the car wheels and the track was made removable.
For Soviet Union with its large plains it a very perspective idea. Soviet
constructors made wheel-tracked tank called BT-2 ("bystrochodnyj tank" means
"fast-moving tank" - SJ), The mass production began in the September, 1931.
The experienced crew needed only 30 minutes to remove or put on the track.
Its mass was 11 ton, crew - 3 people. Its armament was: 37mm cannon and 7.62mm
DT machinegun, installed in the turret separate from the cannon. Its armour
was 13mm in the front and side parts of the hull and on the turret. The
"Liberty" aviaengine of 400hp was installed. Maximum speed was 52km/h on tracks
and 72km/h on wheels. Operational range was 200km on tracks and 300km on
wheels. The tank was not equipped with a radiostation.
New vehicle had a lot of "child sicknesses". American engines did not work
properly and often overheated. There was a high danger of flaming in the
Soviet Fast Tank BT-5 (Bystrochodnyj Tank)
After further development in 1933 appears a new model called BT-5. The
defects of its ancestor were removed: tank received Soviet motor M-5,
reinforced transmission and the turret of a new form. But the main feature
was the installation of a 45mm cannon (the same as T-26 had). The tank's
mass was increased up to 11.5 ton, but speed and armour protection
remained the same. Some BT-5 had installed 76.5mm/16.5calibre gun. They
were called artillery tanks BT-5A.
In a new cylinder turret of a new construction a 45mm cannon and the machinegun
DT were installed. Some tanks had another machinegun installed in the back of
the turret. Tank had 72 cannon shells if it had a radiostation or 115 if not.
It also 2709 bullets for the machinegun.
Tanks BT-5 were used during the Civil War in Spain, where their great minus
was found out - the weak armour protection.
"During the dark August night, 1941, tank platoon,
commanded by Lieutenant A.Sergeev, slowly moved through the sparse forest.
Three machines, it were light tanks BT-7, returned from the reconnaissance
raid from the rear of the enemy. Tankists gained a lot of valuable
information and even took the "jazyk" ("tongue" in English, the prisoner
which is supposed to speak an important information - SJ), who was in one
of the machines now. Night was on the wane. The east began to become
lighter and lighter. There was a river forward. Not wide, but with high
slopes. Segreev received radio transmission, that ford, that was crossed
by the tanks, when they move to the rear of the enemy, was occupied by the
powerful forces of Nazis.
The forest ended and the river was close about 100 metres. Sergeev stopped
his tank, to the back closed two other machines, he jumped out and called
the commanders of both vehicles to him. Together with them he came to feel
the terrain. There was a battle not far from here. The sounds of artillery
bombardment were close. There were seen explosions. Tankists came to the
river. The nearest bank was high and the water was deep about 2 metres.
The far one is low and, is as far it is seen in the darkness, not muddy.
Then there was a mead, then forest, behind which, as tankists knew, were
positioned our forces. They were not far at all. But how to cross the
river? To find the other better place of river is impossible - the enemy
is too close: the motor roars and tracks are too noisy. Crossing the river
from a such hill is impossible for tanks. The small squad could not break
through the enemy positions - it was too badly outnumbered. To left
machines and return by foot - never! And then Lieutenant Sergeev
remembered that when he studied in the tank school, teachers told the
students about the jumps on the fast tanks BT. He read this in newspapers
also. What is possible in time of peace - is a must in war. So, the
resolution was chosen - to jump! And the first one would be ridden by the
platoon commander. But for the safety of lives of people, he ordered all,
but drivers, to cross the river by swimming. Sergeev took the place of
mechanic-driver and started the tank motor. After a few seconds of 100m
path the tank's velocity was about 50km/h. Then it flew through the air,
drew the curve and fell into the water near the opposite coast. Column of
water nearly covered the tank. But the water was not deep there and the
tank jumped to the coast due to inertia. Sergeev drove it to the shrub.
Inspired by their commander's jump, the others follow his example.
Everything was going fine. Crews took their places in machines, which not
spotted by the enemy entered the forest. The were no Germans in the
forest. And after a half of an hour the scouts were happily met by our
In the middle of 1930's the tank in USSR the possibilities of so-called
dynamical obstacle crossing by tanks. That meant also jumps over trenches
and narrow rivers. Only fast light tanks BT could complete this tasks
On proving grounds BT-2 and BT-5 tanks jumped with the 50km/h speed more
than 20m through the air.
These experiences also tested dynamical elements of tanks transmission.
Thanks to them T-34 was later equipped with the most reliable transmission.
These datas also helped to count other transmissions for tracked vehicles.
No other army in the world did make such tests.
Tanks BT were the most famous and favourite tanks between the Soviet tankists
As its brother T-26, BT was used as a base for many other vehicles. On BT-5
and BT-7 flamethrower tanks were producted that had also a flamethrower, but
the main armament. Also bridge tanks were made on their bases.
Tanks of BT series, mainly BT-7, were the main tanks of the Red Army tank
forces up to the 1941.