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"Frontovaya Illyustratsiya" No. 1-2003
Legkiy Tank T-26
(T-26 Light Tank)

by Maksim Kolomiets
and Mikhail Svirin

"Strategiya KM" Publishing


S u m m a r y

Stock Number and Description "Frontovaya Illyustratsiya" Series No. 1-2003; Legkiy Tank T-26 (T-26 Light Tank) by Maksim Kolomiets and Mikhail Svirin; "Strategiya KM" Publishing, Moscow 2003
Media and Contents: 80 pp with illustrations and plans; price (East View Publications)
Price: USD$19.95 plus mailing (ISBN number 5-901266-01-3)
Review Type: First Look
Advantages: Good new history of the T-26 with lots and lots of 1/35 scale plans, new photos, new information
Disadvantages: Text is in Russian only (albeit illustrations are dual Russian-English captioned)
Recommendation: Highly Recommended to all Soviet armor historians (Russian speaking) and to all modelers of Soviet era armor


Reviewed by Cookie Sewell

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F i r s t L o o k


There are a number of really good and helpful historical researchers in Russia today that are researching and publishing good works on the history of Soviet armored vehicles, and the authors of this paperback volume are two of them. This single-volume history of the T-26 light tank, which the Soviets originally classed as an "escort tank for infantry," covers the history of the tanks themselves; a second volume (No. 4-2003) is to cover the variants and conversions.

The T-26 was designed in response to Soviet RKKA planners who saw five different types of tanks for use in the new Red Army of the 1930s: scouting vehicles/amphibious light tanks, light tanks for infantry escort, light cavalry tanks for high-speed operations, medium tanks, and heavy tanks. The T-26 was designed to meet the second category, which meant that it had to be able to support infantry and therefore speed was not a priority.

Since the Soviet tank industry in 1929 was just getting started, having only produced one series production tank, the MT-1 or T-18 escort tank, information and examples of foreign tanks were sought. While nobody had medium or heavy tanks that seemed worthwhile, the Soviets were able to purchase examples of the Carden-Loyd tankette from the UK as well as the Vickers "Six-Tonner" with two machine gun turrets side-by-side on the same chassis. The "Six-Tonner" met the needs of an escort tank, and was initially produced under license in the USSR.

However, while the Soviets began to gear up to produce the new tank in Leningrad in 1931, experience of the results of the East China Railroad war of 1929 were evaluated, and the determination was that tanks would have to carry heavier guns to deal with pillboxes, machine gun nests, and other battlefield obstructions. As a result, they developed a new turret mounting a useful 45mm gun that provided both good antitank and anti-fortification firepower for its time (1932) and this tank went into production in 1933. The Soviets continued to refine the tank, adding radio-equipped command models as production continued. The final versions of the tank rolled off the Leningrad "Voroshilov" Factory No. 174 lines in 1940. A total of 10,117 were produced in Leningrad and at least a further 183 in Stalingrad over the nine-year production run of the tank.

This book follows the now traditional Russian formula of describing the history of development and evolution of the tank, but this volume is thin on the vehicle in combat service; it is likely that the full combat history will be in the second volume as Russian authors seem to prefer to write vehicle history - description - variants - combat history of the vehicle in that order.

This book does provide English translation of the captions of the photos, and most appear better than in the past. Also obscure Russian terms like "Dynamoreactive" are put in English as "recoilless" so it is much easier to understand.

Modelers will like this book as there are a wealth of different plans of the evolution of the T-26 series tanks, all in 1/35 scale:

  • T-26 Twin-Turreted Model (Early 1932 Production with one 37mm gun)

  • T-26 Twin-Turreted Model (Late 1933 Production with twin machine guns)

  • T-26-4 Prototype Artillery Tank with Model 1927/32 76mm Howitzer

  • T-26 Single-Turreted Tank with 45mm 20-K Gun (1933)

  • T-26 Single-Turreted Tank with bolted hull (1934)

  • T-26 Radio-Equipped Tank (1935)

  • T-26 Radio-Equipped Tank with welded hull (Late 1936-Early 1937)

  • T-26 Radio-Equipped Tank with Conical Turret (1938)

  • T-26-1 Radio-Equipped Tank with Revised Hull (1940)

  • T-26 Rebuilt with Applique Armor based on Soviet-Finnish War Results

  • T-26 Rebuilt with Applique Armor in Leningrad (1941-1942)

  • T-26-1 Rebuilt with Applique Armor in Leningrad (1941-1942)

  • T-26 Rebuilt with Applique Armor in Leningrad - Model 1938 (1941-1942)

  • T-26 as rebuilt and modernized in Finland (KhT-133 hull, conical turret)

All of this makes a nice package and a great reference for anyone trying to do up a T-26 from either an RPM/Maquette or Zvezda kit.

Cookie Sewell

Review Copyright 2003 by Cookie Sewell
Page Created 09 September, 2003
Last updated 14 September, 2003

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