T-28 Model 1934

The T-28 was a Soviet multi-turreted tank that was among the world's first medium tanks. The prototype was completed in 1931, and production began in late 1932. It was an infantry support tank intended to break through fortified defences. The T-28 was designed to complement the heavier T-35 (also multi-turreted), with which it shared turret designs. The type did not have great success in combat, but it played an important role as a development project for Soviet tank designers. A series of new ideas and solutions that were tried out on the T-28 were later incorporated in future models.

T-28 Model 1934
Class Vehicle
Type Armoured Fighting Vehicle
Manufacturer Factory No.100 Kirovskiy Works in Chelyabinsk
Production Period 1934 - 1938
Origin Russia (USSR)
Country Name Origin Year
Russia (USSR) 1934
Country Name Operational Year Retirement Year
Russia (USSR) View
ManufacturerName Production From Production To Quantity
Factory No.100 Kirovskiy Works in Chelyabinsk 1934 1938 318 View

The T-28 was in many ways similar to the British Vickers A1E1 Independent tank, which greatly influenced tank design in the period between the wars, even though only a single prototype was manufactured in 1926. The Kirov Factory in Leningrad began manufacturing a tank that was based on the design of the British Independent in 1932. The T-28 tank was officially approved on 11 August 1933. The T-28 had one large turret with a 76.2 mm gun and two smaller turrets with 7.62 mm machine guns. A total of 503 T-28 tanks were manufactured over the eight-year period from 1933 to 1941.

The T-28 was deployed during the Soviet invasion of Poland, and the Winter War against Finland. During the initial stages of the Winter War, the tank was used in direct fire missions against Finnish pillboxes. In the course of these operations, it was found that the armour was inadequate and an upgrade was initiated. The frontal armour plates were upgraded from 30 mm to 80 mm and side and rear plates to 40 mm thickness. With this up-armoured version, the Red Army broke through the main Finnish defensive fortification, the Mannerheim Line.

According to Russian historian Maksim Kolomiets in his book T-28. Stalin's Three-headed Monster, over 200 T-28s were knocked out during the Winter War, but only 20 of them were irrecoverable losses (including two captured by the Finnish Army). Due to the proximity of the Kirov Plant, all other knocked-out tanks were repaired, some of them over five times.

The Finns nicknamed the T-28 Postivaunu ("mail coach" or "postal train") after a lone Soviet T-28 tank commander was captured with his knocked out tank that carried the monthly salary of and mail addressed to the 91st Tank Battalion (this occurred 19–20 December 1939, during the battle of Summa). The T-28 was also nicknamed Kivitalo ("stone building") by the Finns due to its large size.

The Finns captured two T-28s during the Winter War and five in the Continuation War, for a total of 7 vehicles. The Finns did not have tractors that could tow away vehicles as heavy as the T-28, and so captured T-28s that could not move under their own power were stripped of anything useful (machine guns, radios etc.) and left where they were.

The Soviets had 411 T-28 tanks when the Germans invaded the Soviet Union in June 1941. A large majority of these were lost during the first two months of the invasion, many of them abandoned after mechanical breakdown. Some T-28s took part in the 1941 winter defence of Leningrad and Moscow, but after late 1941, they were rare in Red Army service; a few were operated by enemy forces.

Today, three T-28s remain, two in Finland and one in Moscow. One restored T-28 is on display in Finnish field camouflage in the Parola Tank Museum, Finland. A further wreck is stored at Parola, now awaiting restoration and a hull previously used as a bunker was discovered near St. Petersburg.

Formal DesignationT-28 Model 1934
Manufacturer(s)Red Putilov Factory later renamed Factory No.100 Kirovskiy Works
Production Quantityabout 3181Production Period1934-1938
TypeMedium TankCrew6
Length overall7.4 m (24' 3")Barrel Overhang0
Width2.9 m (9' 6")Height2.8 m (9' 2")
Combat Weight28000 kg (62000 lbs)Radio Equipment71-TK-1
Primary Armament76.2mm Gun KT-28Ammunition Carried70
Traverse (degrees)Manual (360°)Elevation (degrees)-10° to +40°
Traverse speed (360°)-SightTOP, POP
Secondary Armament3-4 x 7.62mm DT MG (coaxial, 1 x 2 MG turrets, turret rear)Ammunition Carried7938

Engine Make & ModelM-17Track Links76/track
Type & DisplacementV12Track Width39 cm (15")
Horsepower (max.)450hp@1750rpmTrack Ground Contact535 cm (210")
Power/Weight Ratio16.1 hp/tonneGround Pressure0.67 kg/cm2 (9.5 psi)
Gearbox5 forward, 1 reverseGround Clearance0.56 m (1' 10")
FuelGasoline (Petrol)Turning Radiusn.a.
Range on/off road220/160 kmGradient45°
Mileage on road295 l/100kmVertical Obstacle1.0 m (3' 3")
Fuel Capacity650 lFording0.8 m (2' 7")
Speed on road37 km/hTrench Crossing2.9 m (9' 6")
Armor DetailFrontSideRearTop/Bottom
MG Turrets22mm@90°20mm@90°20mm@90°10mm@0-5°
1Estimate based on Kirov production statistics of the T-28 for the years 1934-1938 found in RTAV.

End notes