The T-16 was the prototype of the T-18 light tank, and was an improved version of the Renault FT, with significantly better suspension.
The T-16 was produced by Professor V Zaslavskiy’s Tank Bureau, which had been set up in the mid 1920s. One of his first tasks was to produce a 3 ton tank armed with a 37mm gun, although the weight limit was raised to five tons in the spring of 1925.
He decided to modernise the Renault FT, the same approach taken in several other countries at the time. The new T-16 was given a 35hp engine from a Fiat 14 ter ruck that was under construction in Moscow, a slightly improved version of the French Hotchkiss SA 18 37mm gun, and a new vertical spring suspension system which greatly improved cross country
The T-16 had six pairs of road wheels on each side, mounted on three bogies, each of which was mounted on a vertical spring which was connected to the fuselage at the same point as the three return rollers. It had a rear drive wheel and raised front idler.
The prototype of the T-16 was finished in the spring of 1927 (differ sources say March or May) and underwent trials in June. The results were generally satisfactory, although some improvements were suggested, including an extra road wheel and changes to the transmission. On 6 June 1927 the RVS formally accepted the modified T-16 for production as the T-18 light tank, which became the first Soviet designed tank to enter mass production. The T-18 entered production in 1928, although the first version wasn’t satisfactory, and it had to be modified before large scale production began.