Home > Tanks > T-38
modified: Nov 10, 2012
T-38 was a Soviet light amphibious tank that participated in the Second World war. It was an improvement of the T-37. The T-38 was designed at the AMO vehicle works and a prototype was built in 1936. The large-volume hull and large fenders provided buoyancy and the tank was propelled by a small three-bladed propeller in water. The tank was intended to support infantry and for reconnaissance purposes. Although the T-38 was similar to the T-37 in that the power-train and engine were derived from the GAZ-AA truck, it had a low silhouette and good mobility because of its ability to swim. Mass production began in 1937.

The T-38 has been transported by air during the Kiev maneuvers in 1936 by being mounted under the fuselage of Tupolev TB-3 bombers. Infantry battalions were provided with 38 units each and airborne armored battalions received 50 T-38s. However, the tank saw limited use in combat beacaue of its thin armor and single machine gun. Most of the T-38s also lacked radios which was a significant drawback when the tank was deployed for reconnaissnace. After 1941, the tank was mainly used as an artillery tractor.

Due to its disadvantages, the Soviets intended to replace the T-38 with T-40. Unfortunately, the Second World War limited the total number of T-40s produced. When production terminated in 1939, about 1,300 T-38s were built and some of them were equipped with a 20mm ShVAK cannon instead of the DT machine gun.

There were a few experimental variants. The T-38-M1 was developed in late 1937 and used a better planetary transmission. However, it was decided to be too complicated and was not mass produced. Next year, the T-38-M2 was built with the power-train and engine of the new GAZ-M1. In 1940, the Scientific Experimental Institute (NII) modified the T-38 alongside the T-26 and Komsomolyets to allow radio control. The T-38 used in this experiment was called the NII-20 and had radio equipment in the hull with an antenna in the driver's position.

References: STCV, WP