T-60 scout tank

The T-60 scout tank was a simplified land version of the T-40 amphibious tank which entered production after the German invasion of the Soviet Union, with just over 6,000 produced by the time production ended in September 1942.

In 1938 N.Astrov’s Moscow design team was ordered to produce a new amphibious tank to replace the T-37 and T-38. They came up with the T-30A, which replaced the coiled spring suspension of the earlier models with torsion bar suspension, and had a new buoyancy system, with buoyancy chambers in the bulky rear superstructure replacing the pontoons above the tracks used on the earlier models. At the same time the team produced a non-amphibious version, the T-30B.

At the end of 1939 the T-30A was ordered into production as the T-40 amphibious tank. It differed from the prototype in having a 12.7mm machine gun instead the prototype’s 20mm cannon. Once the T-40 had been completed the team began work on an improved non-amphibious version, the T-40S. This replaced the 12.7mm machine gun with a 20mm cannon and would have had thicker armour.

By the time the Germans invaded the Soviet Union only around 220 T-40s had been built. Work on a non amphibious version was also underway. It had been decided to cancel the T-40 and built a non-amphibious version instead. The T-40S was dismissed for being too complex, and the T-30B was revived instead, entering production as the T-60. None were completed before the German invasion, and it entered production at Zavod Nr. 37 in Moscow in July 1941.

The T-60 had the same lower hull and running gear as the T-40. The removal of the flotation gear allowed it to be lower, and the height was reduced from 6ft 4.8in to 5ft 8.5in. It was armed with the 20mm cannon, but still had thin armour. The T-60 was underpowered, but it used a widely available truck engine and some truck parts, and could be produced in large numbers. By the time production ended in September 1942 6,022 T-60s had been built.

After the German invasion Zavod Nr.37 was moved from Moscow to the Urals, and played little further part in the production of the T-60. The Astrov design team moved to Zavod No.38 at Kirov and began work on a replacement for the T-60, which would briefly enter production as the T-70. The majority of T-60s were built at GAZ in Gorki and Zavod No.38.

In 1942 a design team led by G. Surenian at GAZ was given the task of improving the T-60, and produced the T-60A or T-60 Model 1942. This replaced the spoked wheels of the T-60 with solid wheels, gave it a more powerful GAZ-203 engine and added extra armour, giving the hull and turret fronts 35mm and the sides 25mm.

The T-60 was generally rather disastrous in combat. Although it had a similar road speed to the T-34, it was much slower off road because of its underpowered engine and narrow tracks. In contrast it was generally faster than the KV-1, so when it was operating with either type they would end up separated, and the T-60s would have to fight alone. In action its thin armour made it vulnerable to just about any German anti-tank weapons, and it earned the nickname of Bratskaya Mogila na Dovoikh ‘a brother’s grave for two’. The T-60A was a little less vulnerable, but also had worse cross country performance. The 20mm gun was useless against all German tanks. An attempt to fit a 23mm (0.9in) VYa-23 gun instead failed because the recoil jammed the turret traverse mechanism.

It did have occasional successes – General Katukov (commander of the 1st Guards Tank Army from Kursk to Berlin),  reported one incident where it’s low height allowed it to hide in a rye field, get behind a German position and savage undefended infantry, but these were few and far between.

Production: 6,000+
Hull Length: 13ft 5.9in
Hull Width: 7ft 6.5in
Height: 5ft 8.5in
Crew: 2
Weight: 6.4 tonnes
Engine: 85hp GAZ-203 petrol engine
Max Speed: 28mph (road)
Max Range: 280 miles (road)
Armament: One 20mm TNSh cannon and one 7.62mm/ 0.3in DT co-axial machine gun
Armour: 7-35mm (0.28-1.38in)

Armour (T-60A Model 1942)





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Russian Weapons of World War II, David Porter. A good overview of the weapons used by the Soviet Union during the Second World War, ranging from individual infantry weapons up to the battleships of the Soviet fleet, as well as the various lend lease items that supported the Soviet war effort. Well illustrated, acknowledges the problems dealing with Soviet sources, and accurate in areas of some confusion (such as the various types of artillery pieces in service) (Read Full Review)
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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (29 August 2022), T-60 scout tank , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_T60_scout_tank.html

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