T-32
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modified: Nov 10, 2012

T-32 (originally A-32) was a Soviet medium tank prototype. It was a heavier version of the A-20 and was intended to replace the BT fast tanks.

The A-20 was developed according to specifications which called for 20mm armor and a 45mm gun. Mikhail Koshkin, who headed the A-20 design team, suggested an alternative design with its frontal armor increased to 32mm.

The requirement also specified that the wheel-and-track configuration of the BT tanks be retained. The Christie wheel-and-track suspension enabled the tank to operate on wheels during long transits along roads, increasing the life expectancy of tank tracks. However, the design team did not see the advantage of having the convertible feature as it was seldom used in practice and it required complicated, heavy and expensive additions to the suspension.

Although the design was initially to be fitted with the same 45mm gun found on the A-20, it was later changed to a more powerful short-barrelled 76.2mm gun to make the tank effective against its counterparts.

The program was presented at a Main Military Council conference in August 1938. The council criticized the A-32 because it did not adhere to the original requirement of the Main Administration for Armored Technology (GABTU). A number of Spanish Civil War tankers testified at the conference about the insufficiencies of BT tank armor. Stalin gave permission for a prototype of this heavier version, designated A-32, to be built in addition to the A-20.

Both prototypes were completed in July 1939. The A-32, re-designated T-32, carried 72 rounds of main gun ammunition. The prototypes were sent to NIIBT for trials. Both prototypes showed similar automotive performance but the T-32 had thicker armor and superior firepower. There was no agreement about which prototype to produce. Therefore, a meeting of the Defense Committee of the SNK was held on December 19, 1939 to reach a consensus. Koshkin persuaded the committee members to select the T-32. It would be up-armored and designated T-34-76.


References: STCV, T34MT