The T-24 medium tank was an improved version of the unreliable T-12, but wasn’t much of an improvement, and production stopped after only 25 had been built.
The T-12 was an enlarged version of the T-18 light tank, which was itself an improved version of the French Renault FT. The T-18 played a major part in the early expansion of the Red Army’s armoured forces, but the Soviets wanted a more heavily armed tank.
The T-18 had been designed by the Tank Bureau led by Professor V. Zaslavskiy. It had an improved vertical spring suspension system and a Fiat truck engine, and after some teething troubles entered mass production in 1929.
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, which took the basic layout of the T-18, with its hull entirely within the tracks, and expanded it to carry a heavier 45mm gun. Production of thirty was funded in 1930, but the prototype failed its trials, and production moved onto the T-24.
The T-24 kept the suspension of the T-12, which had eight sets of road wheels on each side, mounted on four bogies, each of which was connected by the vertical spring suspension to the return roller above. On the T-12 the entire hull had been carried between the tracks, but on the T-24 the top part of the hull was expanded to cover the top of the tracks. The superstructure had a V-shaped front with the driver at the tip. The turret was larger, taking advantage of the extra space, and was topped with a machine gun armed commander’s cupola. It was armed with the same 45mm gun as the T-12, along with three machine guns – on the cupola,alongside the main gun and in the hull front.
The prototype was completed in 1931 and permission was given to build 24 production tanks. However the 45mm gun wasn’t available at first, so they entered service with machine guns only. They were armed with the 45mm guns in 1932, but by this point the drive train and suspension had caused so many problems that the tank was cancelled. The existing tanks were used for parades and training duties only.
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: 21ft 3in
Hull Width: 9ft 8in
Height: 9ft 1in
Weight: 18,20 tones (18,500kg)
Engine: 300bhpM-6 petrol engine
Max Speed: 15mph road
Max Range: 125 miles road
Armament: One 45mm Model 32 gun, three machine guns
Armour: 25.4mm max