T-38 was an armoured vehicle (tank, AFV or armoured fighting vehicle) in combat use during the Second World War (World War II or WWII) primarily on the Eastern Front. The T-38 was a fully tracked all-terrain vehicle designed for military operations. T-38 was produced and deployed by the Red Army of the Soviet Union (USSR). The technical drawing (plan, layout or profile) shows the general appearance characteristics of the specified model (version) of the T-38 tank for purposes of identification and reference. For more detailed information about this armoured fighting vehicle, refer to T-38.

Class Vehicle
Type Armoured Fighting Vehicle
Manufacturer Gorki Automobile Factory No.1 (GAZ)
Production Period 1937 - 1938
Origin Russia (USSR)
Country Name Origin Year
Russia (USSR) 1937
ManufacturerName Production From Production To Quantity
Factory No.37 (in Moscow) 1937 1938 View
Gorki Automobile Factory No.1 (GAZ) 1937 1938 400 View

Designed in 1934–36 by N. Astrov's bureau at Factory No. 37 in Moscow, the T-38 was a development of the earlier T-37, based in turn on the French AMR 33 light reconnaissance tank. The tank was powered by a standard GAZ (Ford) engine and was cheap to produce. Buoyancy was achieved by the large-volume hull and large fenders. In water, the vehicle was propelled by a small three-bladed propeller mounted at the rear.

The tanks were intended for use for reconnaissance and infantry support. As a scout tank the T-38 had the advantages of very low silhouette and good mobility through its ability to swim. The T-38 was also intended to be air-portable; during the Kiev maneuvers in 1936, the tanks were transported by Tupolev TB-3 bombers, mounted under the fuselage. Infantry battalions were each issued 38 T-38s, with 50 being designated for each airborne armored battalions. However, the thin armor and single machinegun armament made the tank of only limited use in combat while the lack of radios in most T-38s was a serious limitation in a reconnaissance vehicle. The T-38's limitations were recognized, and it would have been replaced by the T-40, but the outbreak of the Second World War meant that only a few T-40s were produced.

Around 1,500 T-38s were built, illustrating the importance of amphibious scout tanks to the Red Army. Some were up-gunned with a 20 mm ShVAK cannon, and designated the T-38RT.

The tank served with the Red Army in the Winter War with Finland in 1940, but was unsuccessful due to its light armament and thin armour, which was easily penetrated by rifle and light machine gun fire. In the confined terrain of Finland, the tank was a deathtrap; it also did not do well in the early stages of World War II, and large numbers were captured by the Germans during Operation Barbarossa. The T-38 was rarely seen in direct combat after 1941 and mostly relegated to other roles such as artillery tractor, although it was reported to have been used in the Dnieper River crossing of 1943. During World War II, the main amphibious scout vehicle of the Red Army was the Ford GPA amphibious jeep, an open unarmored vehicle provided through Lend-Lease.

The German Army did not generally use captured T-38s as gun tanks (unlike captured T-26s, T-34s, or other more valuable vehicles). It is reported that some were re-used by converting them into self-propelled anti-aircraft artillery, mounting a 37 mm anti-aircraft gun on the T-38 chassis, although this would seem to be a very large piece for the chassis.

Other DesignationsT-38
Manufacturer(s)Gorki Automobile Factory No.1 (GAZ), Factory No.37 (in Moscow)
Production Quantityabout 4001Production Period1937-1938
TypeAmphibious Light TankCrew2
Overall Length3.78 m (12' 5")Barrel Overhang0
Width2.33 m (7' 8")Height1.63 m (5' 4")
Combat Weight3300 kg (7300 lbs)Radio Equipmentnone/71-TK-12
Primary Armament7.62 mm DT MGAmmunition Carried1512
Traverse (degrees)360°Elevation (degrees)-5° to +5°
Traverse speed (360°)n.a.SightMP
Secondary ArmamentnoneAmmunition Carriednone

Engine Make & ModelGAZ-AATrack Links146
Type & Displacement4 cylinderTrack Width22 cm (9")
Horsepower (max.)40hp@2200rpmTrack Ground Contact190 cm (75")
Power/Weight Ratio12.1 hp/tonneGround Pressure0.39 kg/cm2 (5.5 psi)
Gearbox4 forward, 1 reverseGround Clearance0.30 m (1' 0")
FuelGasoline (Petrol)Turning Radius6.1 m (20' 0")
Range on/off road230/130 kmGradient40°
Mileage on/off road50/90 l/100kmVertical Obstacle0.5 m (1' 8")
Fuel Capacity115 lFordingfloats
Speed on road/water40-45/6 km/hTrench Crossing1.7 m (5' 7")
Armor DetailFrontSideRearTop/Bottom

1This is an estimate based on an analysis of Soviet tank production.
2Only commander's vehicles were equipped with radios.

RT, ST, RTAV, OOBTr, Russian Military Zone


End notes