The first indigenous Soviet medium tank design, the T-28, incorporated multiple turrets and was intended for an independent breakthrough role. Inspired by the Vickers A6 (its suspension was a clear copy) and German Grosstraktor designs, it grew out of the 1932 Red Army mechanization plan and was first produced by the Leningrad Kirov Plant. Intended for an attack role, the T-28 had a central main gun turret and two machine-gun turrets in front and to either side. The T-28 weighed 28,560 pounds, had a six-man crew, and was powered by a 500-hp engine and had a road speed of 23 mph. It had only 30mm maximum armor protection. The prototype mounted a 45mm gun, but production vehicles had a 76.2mm low-velocity main gun and two machine guns. Combat experience with the T-28 led to changes. Armor was increased on the C version to 80mm for the hull front and turret. Some T-28s substituted a low-velocity 45mm gun in the right front turret for the machine gun normally carried there. The T-28 had a poor combat record, however.
The Soviets also came up with a number of heavy tanks. Indeed, from the early 1930s Soviet heavy tank design was dominated by multiturret “land battleships,” many of which saw service in the 1939–1940 Winter War with Finland and even into the June 1941 German invasion of the Soviet Union. Among these was the T-35 heavy tank with five turrets. Weighing some 110,200 pounds, the T- 35 had a crew of 11 and was powered by a 500-hp engine that gave it a speed of nearly 19 mph. It had only maximum 30mm armor protection, however. The T-35 mounted a 76mm gun, two 45mm guns, and six machine guns.
The Soviet experimental SMK (Sergius Mironovitch Kirov) heavy tank (with two turrets, one superimposed), which never went into production, was even larger. Weighing 58 tons, it had a 500-hp engine, a crew of seven, and 60mm armor, double that of the T-35. It was capable of 15 mph. Armament consisted of a 76mm gun, a 45mm gun, and three machine guns. Although these huge machines proved no match for the more nimble German tanks and artillery in 1941, the turrets, guns, and suspension systems developed for them did find their way into the KV series of heavy tanks.
In the mid 1930’s the multi-turreted T-35 heavy tank entered service with the RKKA (Red Army). It was developed in the Design Bureau (later Zavod #185) of the Leningrad’s “Bolshevik” plant in 1932. In 1933, all blueprints was transferred to the Kharkov Locomotive Works (ChPZ) named after Komintern and the improved T-35A was manufactured here.The T-35 was to be manufactured until an even more powerful super-heavy tank was developed. A super-heavy T-39 tank was designed in 1932-34, but none of them was approved. In July 1932, a government decision was taken that recommended the designers at ChPZ to design a new variant of a T-35 with improved (uparmored, upgunned) hull and turrets. Because of a delay at ChPZ, designers from Leningrad’s Kirow Plant (LKZ) and Zavod #185 were called in to design own variants. A team at Zavod #185 led by N. Barykov designed a T-100 (Izdieliyc 100). The Leningrad’s Locomotive Works (LKZ) team was led by Colonel Z. Kotin , and it developed the SMK heavy tank. It was a three-turret tank with a 76.2mm gun fitted in the main turret and two 45mm guns in the smaller turrets. Maximum armor protection was 60mm and it was to protect the machine from 76mm gun projectiles. Several T-35 components were used, and completion of the first prototype was scheduled for May 1st 1939. A 1:1 scale wooden mock-up of the SMK was presented to a special commission on October 11th 1938, and on December 9th 1938, the first finished prototype was demonstrated at the Kremlin. Stalin reportedly personally removed one of the smaller turrets and recommended an increase in armor thickness. Since January 1939 construction of the first double-turreted SMK prototype began. On 30th April 1939, a nearly finished prototype rolled out from the assembly building for the first time. The prototype was sent to Kubinka Proving Grounds on 25th of July, and trials began in the night of July 31st and 1st of August. On the 20th of September that SMK prototype was presented to representatives of the Communist Party, Defence Commisariat and other industry agents.
In December 1939 it was decided to send the SMK to continue its trials under real combat conditions. The crew partially consisted of LKZ workers and partially of army tankists, the SMK under command of Senior Lieutenant N. Pietin was sent by rail to Karelian Pass. Here, the SMK linked up with experimental tanks T-100 and KW, and joined the special super heavy tank company under command of Captain I.L Lolotushkin of the 91st Tank Battalion in the 20th Armored Brigade. The tank saw combat for the first time on December 17th 1939 in the area of Hottinen. On 19th of December it took part in an attack on Finnish fortifications near Summa and was immobilized and the crew was evacuated by the T-100 heavy tank.
The SMK remained in this position for more than two and a half months. The Finns made several attempts to tow away this unknown tank, however they didn’t possess any equipment powerful enough for its purpose and in addition Soviet artillery was shelling the area heavily to prevent access to the abandoned SMK. Many stories about the Finnish attempts to examine the SMK in detail were later reported in the USSR (for example that on a mysterious disappearance of the driver’s hatch), but no stories have been found in Finland. German intelligence quickly found out the appearance of this new “100 ton tank”, but it was pretty overlooked. In German tank recognition directorates the SMK tank were named
PzKpfw. Mark T-35C 752(r). In February 1940 Soviets gained access to the SMK, and on February 26th the SMK was inspected by a representative of the ABTU (Armored Forces Directorate) who found a damaged bottom and a lack of external equipment. In March 1940, six (!) T-28 tanks connected to each other could tow the SMK to the Perkijärvi rail station. The SMK were here stripped and were sent back to LKZ by rail. After this, ideas were abandoned to construct super-heavy tanks, and such was the end of one of the “Leningrad-monsters”.
- Crew: 7
- Weight: 55.000kg
- Speed: 35km/h
- Range: 225km
- Length: 8.75m
- Width: 3.36m
- Height: 3.35m
- Ground clearance: 50cm
- Range: Road – 220km, Terrain – 160km
- Armament: 1 x 76.2mm L-11 Model 1939, 1 x 45mm Model 1932 L/46 gun, 4 x 7.62mm DT,
- Gun depression/elevation: -7 +35
- Ammunition: 150 x 76.2mm shells, 300 x 45mm shells, 3.969 DT rounds
- Vision & sight device: 2 x POP device, PT-1 vision devices, vision slits
- Armor: 20mm – 60mm
- Engine: V-12 cylinder GAM-34BT petrol engine, 850hp
- Fuel capacity: +1200 liter
- Fuel consumption: 600 liter / 100km
- Transmission: 5 forward gears, 1 backward gear
- Length of track on ground: 585cm
- Tracklinks / side: 120
- Track width: 700mm
- Communication equipment: 71-TK-3 radio set, TPU-6 intercom,