Saturday 16 March 2024

There are Always Two

The tank was initially conceived as a mobile fortress; huge and slow. However, the army had to rein in their appetites from a 300 ton monster to just 28 tons. This didn’t mean that the idea of a mobile fortress died off. The mass of tanks continued to grow and the development of the K-Wagen clearly suggested that not only Lebedenko was thinking about Tsar-tanks. Only the prompt end of the First World War stopped these giants from reaching the battlefield. Although, the monstrous projects that were built by 1919 were about as useful as the rest of the Tsar family: a tank that doesn’t fight in addition to a bell that doesn’t ring and cannon that doesn’t shoot.

T-39, the first Soviet "large" heavy tank. Thankfully, clearer minds prevailed.

For obvious reasons, Soviet tank designers didn’t even think about a heavy breakthrough tank. Ironically, the most numerous tank in the Red Army at the time was the British Mark V that fit this role perfectly. The USSR began working on its own heavy tank in the early 1930s. It just so happened that they ended up with two designs over and over again for two decades. They choice was always made in favour of the lighter one, but it didn’t prevent work on the heavier one from moving forward.