Monday 7 July 2014

Brief History of the T-80

Navigating archives is hard work. Thankfully there is sometimes a list of documents regarding a certain subject, like this one, for the T-80 tank, which gives an overview of its development without having to dig too far.

"During battle, the T-70's drawbacks become apparent. Commanders have alerted GABTU of this. Commander of the 1st Tank Brigade, Colonel Chukhin, points out the following:
  1. The T-70 commander has difficulty when simultaneously observing the battlefield, loading the gun and machinegun, and firing on targets. The company commander's job is even harder, as aside from all this he must command the company. The turret must be widened to fit 2 men.
  2. The armour of the T-70 is weak, and can be penetrated with a high caliber machinegun. T-70 tanks have to be used in the third echelon to fight enemy infantry, where the powerful armament, the 45 mm gun, is not used to its full potential.
July 15th, 1942. Minutes of a meeting of comrades Lebedev, Korobkov, Akopov, Kuchumov, and Lipgart on the issue of increasing the combat value of a T-70, namely:
  1. Reinforcing the suspension.
  2. Increasing engine power.
  3. Increasing turret for two men.
September 1942: According to GOKO decree #2276 on September 8th, GAZ designed an experimental T-70 with a turret for two: the T-80.

October 10th, 1942: GAZ report on firing the 45 mm gun and coaxial DT machinegun on the T-80.

December 4th, 1942: An order of the People's Commissar of Medium Production and GBTU to perform comparative trials of the T-70 and T-80.

December 9th, 1942: Conclusions on trials are completed, signed by comrades Korobkov and Birzhukov.

December 18th, 1942: A letter to comrade Molotov about the comparative trials of the T-70 and T-80.

December 18th, 1942: A letter to comrade Stalin about the comparative trials of the T-70 and T-80.

December 27th, 1942: A GOKO decree on mass production of T-80 tanks. NKSM must produce 20 turbocharged engines (model M-80) in February, and install them on T-70 tanks. In March, conduct trials of these tanks.

April 30th, 1943: A GOKO letter ordering the trials of 12-RPT radios for the T-70 and T-80 to be completed before May 5th.

May 20th, 1943: A letter to comrade Akopov requesting blueprints and technical specifications for GABTU.

May 20th, 1943: A letter to comrade Romanov of the GBTU proving grounds from factory #40, on the start of warranty trials.

June 23rd, 1943: A report from the proving grounds, reporting that the T-80 was removed from trials on the 370th kilometer due to a broken final drive gear.

July 18th, 1943: Minutes of the meeting approving the blueprints and technical specifications of the T-80."

As we already know, by this time, the SU-76 was already produced, failed, and the SU-76M was in the works. The time of need for the T-80 tank has already passed.

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