T-27
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modified: Nov 10, 2012

The T-27 is a Soviet tankette that was designed in 1930s based on the British Carden Loyd Mark VI tankette. After the Soviets bought the license in 1930, they modified the design of the Carden Loyd. The hull was larger, the running gear was improved and the weapon mount was modified to accept a Soviet 7.62mm DT machine gun. The Chief Engineer and Lead Engineer were N. Kozyrev and K. Sirken respectively. They adapted the Carden Loyd design to the Russian climate and terrain.

After the tankette was accepted into service on February 13, 1931, it was produced at the Bolshevik factory in Leningrad and GAZ factory in Nizhni Novgorod at the same time. Beginning in the fourth quarter of 1931, 348 vehicles were built. A few of the T-26 Model 1931 tanks were armed with 37mm guns in the left turret. These tanks were sometimes named the T-26TU and usually assigned to platoon and company commanders. In 1932 the T-27 underwent improvements. It had a more powerful Ford AA (GAZ AA) engine. Furthermore, two road wheels were added for greater flotation on soft ground. The new improved tank was designated the T-27A. 2,520 rounds of ammunition were stowed on the T-27A. 1,693 units were built in 1932 although a total of five thousand were planned to be produced. 500 more vehicles were produced in 1933, bringing the total production of the T-27 line to 2,540.

The primary role of the T-27 was as a reconnaissance vehicle. T-27s were deployed in the Soviet republics of Central Asia in the 1930s. They were found to be reliable and easy to operate by the Red Army. However, the narrow tracks of the T-27 made it a poor choice for swampy and snowy terrains. Also, the size of the tank, required smaller people which were difficult to find. At the end of the 1930s, T-27s were mainly used for training. Some were converted to tractors to tow field guns.

Several experiments were conducted on the T-27. In 1935, some T-27s were suspended under the fuselages of Tupolev TB-3 bombers to test air-mobility. A handful of T-27s were pressurized and fitted with special equipment to make underwater crossing of rivers possible. Unsuccessful attempts include equipping T-27s with flamethrowers and recoilless guns.

A T-27 can be attached to the bottom of the fuselage of the TB-3 bomber making it the first Soviet tracked vehicle to be transported by plane. As of January 1941, there were 2,157 tankettes still in service. Some were used at the beginning of the Great Patriotic War. The Battle of Moscow in December of 1941 is the last recorded combat use of the T-27 tankette.


References: OW, STCV, WP, WW2T