This light tank became famous for being the most mass military produced machine of the Red Army before the Great Patriotic War. Over the years of production 1931-1941, more than 11,000 T-26 tanks were made. Despite numerous shortcomings, this tank continued to be used until 1960. Often, tactics and numerical superiority compensated for weak points.
The T-26 was based on the English tank Vickers Mk.E, which the USSR acquired in 1930. The main advantage of this tank was its low weight, ease of maintenance and cheapness in production. During the year, Soviet specialists developed the technology of production and in February 1931 began mass production.
During the existence of the T-26, many times it was changed and modified. As a result, several variants of this tank were created. The first tanks had two towers.
It should be noted that the two-tower version of the T-26 had a significant disadvantage. The fact is that during battle the barrels of the 37 mm cannon of the right tower and the machine gun DT-29 of the left towers often prevented each other from firing. This contributed to the appearance of single-tower modifications. In addition, the first modifications did not have a radio link. The basic means of external communication on the T-26 was flag signaling.
Before the Great Patriotic War, the T-26 was one of the main tanks of the Soviet Army. However, it became easy prey because of the lack of radio and slow speed.
After the appearance of anti-tank rifles, the thin armored T-26 completely lost its effectiveness. This contributed to the creation of the last version with additional armor. One of the small advantages of the T-26 was the rear location of the fuel tank and engine.
In 1936, 281 T-26 tanks were sent to Spain to participate in the civil war. However, the most intensive use of the T-26 occurred during the Soviet-Finnish war and at the very beginning of the Great Patriotic War. At that time, the T-26 was the most numerous tank of the Red Army.
In 1941, the T-26 could effectively fight only with lightweight Wehrmacht tanks. Basically, this list included light tanks that did not have any serious weapons. In June 1941, the T-26 had excellent results in battles against tanks like the Pz.I, Pz.II, Pz.35 (t) and Pz.38 (t), as well as medium tanks Pz.III. Another minor advantage of the T-26 was its large storage of ammunition and provided decent infantry support.
Despite this, during the first months of the Great Patriotic War, many of these tanks were lost. In particular, this was due to the fact that most of the T-26s were in poor condition.
On October 28, 1941, at the disposal of the Red Army, there were only 50 serviceable T-26 tanks. Soon it was decided to replace it with modern tanks. The last time the T-26 was used was 1945 in Manchuria, against the Kwantung Army.