Meanwhile, proposals for radically new light tanks arrived. A proposal for the MT-25 tank was sent by Chelyabinsk engineers to Stalin on February 24th, 1943. Unlike many proposals, this one contained interesting ideas and was well thought out, and piqued the interest of the Main Armoured Directorate. What were these ideas, and why was the tank never built?
Ideas from practice
One of the main problems with the T-70 and its predecessors was that there was a very small resource for modernization. The tank widely used automotive parts which were simply unsuitable for the loads of a tank. The mass of the T-70 could not exceed 10 tons for this reason. The later T-80 grew to 12 tons, and that was also the limit. The capacity for supercharging the engine was exhausted, and any further increase in weight would have a negative effect on reliability.
In addition, the T-70 was very small. In order to fit in a two man turret, the GAZ design bureau headed by N.A. Astrov had to apply a titanic effort. It was impossible to install anything bigger than a 45 mm gun, and the long barreled VT-42 gun was never put into production.
The two-man turret made the T-80 more difficult to service, and the engine was now very close to the loader, which did not make his job comfortable. It is not surprising that GABTU began looking back at the T-50 in the spring of 1943, a project which was only completely shelved in early 1942.
- High movement speed.
- Low damage as a result of being hit.
- Large operational range.
- Ability to suddenly attack the enemy."
The USSR bet on the revival of amphibious tanks with significantly more powerful armament. That is how the PT-76 came to be. The US initially picked lightly armored, but mobile and well armed tanks (Light Tanks M24 and M41), but also eventually made amphibious tanks (M551 Sheridan).
A mass of 25 tons was too bold for 1943, since tanks with that mass were still classified as medium. If the weight limit on light tanks was raised to this level, the concept of a cheaper, lighter, and more mobile tank than a medium tank, but with comparable armour and armament, could have been successfully developed for another few years.
Of course, history doesn't know the word "if". The situation in Soviet tank building in 1943-1945 left few chances for the MT-25. At 25 tons, the equipment necessary for building this tank would be the same as for the T-34. The new tank with an uncertain future was left without anywhere to build it.
Original article by Yuri Pasholok.