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modified: Nov 10, 2012

The T-18 (also called MS-1 Maliy Soprovozhdyeniya-Pierviy: Fist Small Support Vehicle) was the first tank of the Red Army that was designed by the Soviet Union.

After many unsuccessful attempts at tank engineering, a Tank Bureau was formed under Professor V. Zaslavskiy by the Central Directorate of Military Industries. Zaslavskiy focused on improving the Renault FT. In 1924, the AMO Factory began producing a copy of the Italian Fiat 15 ter truck called the AMO-F-15. The 35hp engine of this truck was used for the new tank. The gun was an improved version of the French 37mm Hotchkiss SA 18. A new vertical spring suspension system was designed improving cross-country performance. In May 1927, a prototype designated the T-16 was completed. After trials conducted in June, the T-16 was accepted by the RVS on July 6, 1927 in an improved form called the T-18.

G. Ordzhonikidze, the Commissar for Heavy Industry assigned T-18 production to the Obukhov Factory. More trials were conducted on the T-16 until November 1927 and production of the T-18 began in 1928. The Red Army received the first batch of thirty tanks in May 1929. These early versions had many mechanical glitches and there was a lack of facilities to produce several components of the tank which had to be imported. As a result, production stopped and major improvements were made to the T-18. A more powerful 40hp engine was used, and a bustle was added to enlarge the turret among other modifications. Production resumed in 1929 and continued until 1931, at which point about ninety T-18 were built.

Right before the outbreak of war, about 200 old T-18s were rebuilt as T-18Ms and sent to the western military districts.

References: STCV