The T-12 was the first Soviet designed medium tank, and was an enlarged development of the T-18 light tank, which was itself developed from the Renault FT-17.
Work on this series of tanks began in the mid 1920s at a newly formed Tank Bureau led by Professor V. Zaslavskiy. He focused on improving the Renault FT, giving it a 35hp engine from a Fiat 14 ter lorry, a slightly improved French Hotchkiss SA 18 37mm gun and a new vertical spring suspension system. The prototype of this T-16 was finished in May 1927 and accepted for production in July 1927 as the T-18 (or MS-1 - Maliy Soprovozhdyeniya-Pierviy/ First Small Support Vehicle). This vehicle strongly resembled the Renault original, and had a simple hull carried entirely between the two tracks. Nearly 1,000 of them were built and they played a major part in the early expansion of the Red Army’s armoured forces.
In 1928 a new design team was organised at the Kharkov Locomotive Factory, headed by I. Aleksienko, and including A Morozov, who ended up heading the design bureau for most Soviet medium tanks between 1940 and the 1970s. The new team worked with the Zaslavskiy tank bureau.
Their first project was the T-12. This was a scaled up version of the T-18, which kept the basic layout of a simple hull carried entirely between the tracks. It used small bogie wheels, with each two-wheel bogie connected by the spring suspension to the return roller above, a rear drive wheel and raised idler at the front. It had a cylindrical turret which was topped with a rounded commander’s cupola, and a crew of four. It was armed with one Model 32 45mm gun (with 100 rounds) and four DT machine guns, one in the cupola, one by the main gun, one on the left side of the turret and one on the hull front. It was powered by a 200hp engine and had a novel planetary transmission.
The 1930 budget included funds for 30 T-12s, but the new tank failed its trails, and was cancelled in favour of the T-24, a modified and somewhat improved development of the same design (although this was also rejected after only a handful had been built).
The T-12 and T-24 did end up as the basis of some tractors that were produced in larger numbers. The Komintern tractor was designed by Zhubarev’s engineering team at KhPZ in 1930 for use by the military, and used the suspension of the T-12. Fifty were built by 1935 when the design was changed to use the T-24 suspension, and around 2,000 of this version had been built by 1941. It was used as the standard military tractor in medium motorized artillery units.
The Voroshilovyets tractor, which also used the same suspension as the T-12 and T-24, was designed in 1937 at KhPZ as a heavy artillery tractor. 230 were built by the outbreak of war, when production was then moved to STZ where it was built until August 1942.
Hull Length: 24ft 6in
Hull Width: 9ft 8in
Height: 9ft 1in
Weight: 19 tons
Armament: One 45mm Model 32 gun, four DT machine guns