History Podcasts

BT Fast Tank - The Red Army's Cavalry Tank 1931-1945, Steven J. Zaloga

BT Fast Tank - The Red Army's Cavalry Tank 1931-1945, Steven J. Zaloga

BT Fast Tank - The Red Army's Cavalry Tank 1931-1945, Steven J. Zaloga

BT Fast Tank - The Red Army's Cavalry Tank 1931-1945, Steven J. Zaloga

New Vanguard 237

The BT series of cavalry tanks were the second most numerous Soviet tanks of the 1930s (after the T-26), and also the second most numerous type produced anywhere in the world in the same period. They were fast cavalry tanks based on the American Christie tank, and went through a series of updates between the original BT-2 of 1931 and the much improved BT-7 of 1936.

Zaloga's book takes us through the design history of the BT series, starting with the purchase of two Christie tanks from the United States and the production of the original BT-2 in the Soviet Union. We then move on to the improved BT-5 and BT-7 variants and the numerous special types that were produced (or imagined – including a flying tank and several floating tanks). The last third of the battle deals with the service record of the BT family. The text is supported by an excellent selection of wartime pictures and modern illustrations.

None of the technical updates were of much use when the Germans invaded in the summer of 1941. Just over 6,000 BT tanks were in use with front line units in western Russia at the start of the invasion, and the vast majority of them had been lost by the end of the year. Technically the BT-7 was on a par with, or superior to, over half of the German tanks involved, but many suffered from mechanical breakdowns because of a shortage of spares, and had to be abandoned as the Germans advanced. By 1942 a relative handful of BT tanks remained in use in the west.

Zaloga's account makes it clear that the BT series tanks didn't perform much better in their earlier battles. A small batch was sent to Spain, but was badly used and quickly used up. During the fighting against Japan at Khalkin Gol in 1938-39 the BT proved to be vulnerable to the Japanese antitank guns, a worrying sign given that those same guns would struggle to damage the second line Allied tanks deployed to the Far East. During the Winter War against Finland the BT tanks proved to be equally vulnerable, and the Finns were always short of anti-tank weapons.

The section on the development of the BT series makes it clear just how damaging Stalin's purges and paranoia were. Afanasiy O. Firsov, the chief designer for the BT series from early in 1933, was awarded the Order of the Red Banner for the rapid introduction of the BT-7 in 1935, demoted in 1936 after problems with the design emerged, and denounced and executed in 1937. His main critic, a young tank designer called N.F. Tsyganov, was killed in 1938. As the author's book on the T-64 makes clear the Soviet tank design system was somewhat dysfunctional during the Cold War, but not on this scale!

Chapters
American Origins
The BT-5 Tank
The BT-7 Tank
The PT-1 Amphibious Tank
BT Artillery Tanks
Flamethrower Tanks
Engineer Support Tanks
Flying Tanks
Combat Use

Author: Steven J. Zalonga
Edition: Paperback
Pages: 28
Publisher: Osprey
Year: 2016



BT tank

The BT tanks (Russian: Быстроходный танк/БТ , romanized: Bystrokhodny tank, lit. "fast moving tank" or "high-speed tank") [1] were a series of Soviet light tanks produced in large numbers between 1932 and 1941. They were lightly armoured, but reasonably well-armed for their time, and had the best mobility of all contemporary tanks. The BT tanks were known by the nickname Betka from the acronym, or its diminutive Betushka. [2] The successor of the BT tanks was the famous T-34 medium tank, introduced in 1940, which would replace all of the Soviet fast tanks, infantry tanks, and medium tanks in service.


When the Red Army needed to mechanize its cavalry branch in the 1930s, the BT fast tank was its solution. Based on the American Christie high-speed tank, the Red Army began a program to adapt the design to its own needs. Early versions were mechanically unreliable and poorly armed but by the mid-1930s, the BT-5 emerged, armed with an excellent dual-purpose 45mm gun. It saw its combat debut in the Spanish Civil War in 1937 and was later used in the border battles with the Japanese Kwangtung Army in the late 1930s. The final production series, the BT-7, was the most refined version of the family.

One of the most common types in Red Army service in the first years of the Second World War, BT tanks saw extensive combat in Poland, Finland, and the opening phases of Operation Barbarossa in 1941 and latterly during the 1945 campaign against the Japanese in Manchuria - this is the story of their design and development history.
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BT Fast Tank - The Red Army's Cavalry Tank 1931-1945, Steven J. Zaloga - History

Arkansas Warplanes

Data current to updated 19 April 2020.

(USGOV-PD Photo)

Republic RF-84F-10-RE Thunderflash (Serial No. 51-1893), 184th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron, Arkansas Air National Guard, 1957.

( Mike Freer - Touchdown Aviation Photo)

Boeing KC-135A Stratotanker, 154th Air Refueling Squadron, 189th Air Refueling Group, Arkansas ANG based at Little Rock AFB, 1980.

(USAF Photo)

Boeing KC-135A Stratotanker, 154th Air Refueling Squadron, 189th Air Refueling Group, Arkansas ANG based at Little Rock AFB, 1989.

(USAF Photo)

McDonnell F-4C-15-MC Phantom II (Serial No. 63-7411), 188th Tactical Fighter Group, Arkansas Air National Guard, 1985.

(PH2 Bruce Trombecky, USN Photo)

Lockheed C-130E Hercules (Serial No. 62-1824), 154th Airlift Squadron, 189th Airlift Wing, Arkansas Air National Guard, 1993.

(Senior Airman Scott Poe, USAF Photo)

Lockheed C-130H Hercules (Serial No.81-0631), 154th Airlift Squadron, 189th Airlift Wing, Arkansas Air National Guard, 2015.

( Master Sgt. Bob Oldham , USAF Photo)

General Dynamics F-16C Fighting Falcon (Serial No. 84-1285, 184th Fighter Squadron "Flying Razorbacks", 188th Fighter Wing, Arkansas Air National Guard, 2008.

(Senior Airman Sierra Dopfel, USAF Photo)

Fairchild A-10A Thunderbolt II from the 184th Fighter Squadron, 188th Fighter Wing, Arkansas Air National Guard, 2012.

( Airman 1st Class Hannah Dickerson, USAF Photo)

Fairchild A-10A Thunderbolt II from the 184th Fighter Squadron, 188th Fighter Wing, Arkansas Air National Guard, 2011.

(Jim Haseltine, USAF Photo)

Fairchild A-10C Thunderbolt II with the 188th Fighter Wing, Arkansas Air National Guard, firing a missile in Arizona, 2013.

Arkansas Warplane Survivors

(US Department of Defense Photo)

(Paul Nelhams Photo)

Beechcraft C18S Acro, built in 1943, "Magic by Moonlight", Reg. No. N9109R, Younkin AirShow.

Bentonville

North American P-51D-20NA Mustang (Serial No. 44-63577), "Was That Too Fast", Reg. No. N151JT. Lawrence Classics LLC, Bentonville.

Eureka Springs, Aviation Cadet Museum, Silver Wings Field, CR 2073.

Beechcraft T-34B Mentor (BuNo.), USN. This aircraft is on loan from the National Museum of Naval Aviation.

Convair T-29 Flying Classroom/C-131 Samaritan (Serial No.), forward section cutaway.

Lockheed T-33A Shooting Star (Serial No.). This aircraft is on loan from the National Museum of the USAF.

(Martin McGuire Photo)

North American QF-100F Super Sabre (Serial No. 56-3904), C/N 243-180.

Northrop F-5E Tiger II (BuNo. 741528), 05, USMC. This aircraft is on loan from the National Museum of Naval Aviation.

Republic F-105G Thunderchief (Serial No. 62-0442).

(Martin McGuire Photo)

Republic F-105G Thunderchief (Serial No. 63-8306), C/N F83.

Fayetteville, Arkansas Air & Military Museum, 4290 South School Avenue, Drake Field, 72701-8008.

Aeronca L-16A Champion, Reg. No. N220JK.

American Eagle Eglet 230, Reg. No. N17007.

Beechcraft 3NM Expeditor, C/N CA-152, Reg. No. N6671.

Beechcraft JRB-4 Expeditor (BuNo. 44573), C/N 8134, USN.

Beechcraft T-34B Mentor (Serial No.).

(Michael Barera Photo)

Bell UH-1H Iroquois Helicopter (Serial No. 65-12882), C/N 5215.

Bell UH-1H-BF Iroquois Helicopter (Serial No. 68-15287), C/N 10217.

(Michael Barera Photo)

Bell QUH-1M Iroquois Helicopter (Serial No. 66-15050), C/N 1778.

(Michael Barera Photo)

Bell AH-1S Cobra Helicopter (Serial No. 67-15546), C/N 20210.

(Michael Barera Photo)

Bell AH-1S Cobra Helicopter (Serial No. 67-15817), C/N 20481.

(Michael Barera Photo)

Bell AH-1S Cobra Helicopter (Serial No. 70-16050), C/N 20994.

(Michael Barera Photo)

Benson B-8M Gyrocopter, Reg. No. N4840.

(Michael Barera Photo)

Boeing Stearman PT-17 Kaydet (Serial No. 41-8575). UUS, 36, Reg. No. N5862.

(USAF Photo)

(Michael Barera Photo)

Convair L-13A (Serial No. 47-0275), Reg. No. N275LG.

(Michael Barera Photo)

Curtiss-Wright CW-1 Junior, project.

(Michael Barera Photo)

Douglas DC-3 cockpit, project.

(Michael Barera Photos)

Douglas A-4C Skyhawk (BuNo. 147733), AE-602, C/N 12497. This aircraft is on loan from the National Museum of Naval Aviation. VA-64, USS America.

(Michael Barera Photo)

ERCO Ercoupe 415C, Reg. No. N2278H.

(Michael Barera Photo)

(Michael Barera Photo)

Howard DGA-6 Mister Mulligan, 40, Reg. No. NR273Y.

(Michael Barera Photo)

Howard DGA-11, Reg. No. NC18207.

(Michael Barera Photo)

Howard DGA-18K Trainer, Reg. No. N39668. 1941.

(Michael Barera Photo)

Lockheed T-33A Shooting Star (Serial No. 56-1673), C/N 580-1023.

(Michael Barera Photo)

LTV A-7B Corsair II (BuNo. 154523), ND-501, C/N B-163.

(Michael Barera Photo)

(Michael Barera Photo)

(Michael Barera Photo)

North American SNJ-5B Texan (BuNo. 51968), C/N 88-15111, NAVY

North American T-6G Texan (Serial No. 49-3005), C/N 168-109, Reg. No. N109NA.

(Michael Barera Photo)

North American Rockwell T-2C Buckeye (BuNo. 158880), C/N 352-5.

(Michael Barera Photo)

Piasecki Vertol CH-21C Shawnee Helicopter (Serial No.).

(Michael Barera Photo)

Piasecki Vertol CH-21C Shawnee Helicopter (Serial No. 53-4354).

(Michael Barera Photo)

Piper L-3 Grasshopper (Serial No. 42-13334).

(Michael Barera Photo)

Piper L-16A Grasshopper (Serial No. 47-1171). (NE-1, 1938)

(Michael Barera Photo)

Piper PA-22-160 Tri-Pacer, Reg. No. NH86483.

(Michael Barera Photo)

Royal Aircraft Factory S.E.5a, replica.

Stinson Junio Sr. Reg. No. NC12143. 1931.

Taylor Air D4000, Reg. No. NC6478.

(Michael Barera Photo)

Travel Air Model R Mystery Ship, Reg. No. R614K. 1928.

Fort Smith, Ebing ANG Base, 188 th TFG, Fort Smith Municipal Airport, 72906.

Fairchild OA-10A Thunderbuilt (Serial No. 77-0216), FS, C/N A10-014.

General Dynamics F-16A Fighting Falcon (Serial No. 82-0970), FS, C/N 61-563.

McDonnell RF-101H Voodoo (Serial No. 56-0011), C/N 157.

McDonnell F-4C Phantom II (Serial No. 63-7411), FS, C/N 328.

North American F-100 Super Sabre (Serial No.).

(USAF Photo)

Republic RF-84 Thunderflash (Serial No. 51-11292)

Gravetville

(Brandonrush Photo)

Lockheeed T-33A Shooting Star (Serial No. 53-6073 ), Field E. Kindley Memorial Park, placed here in June 1966.

Holiday Island

(MountainWoods Photo)

Bell UH-1H Iroquois helicopter (Serial No. 71-20244), mounted on a pylon in the Veterans Memorial Park in Carroll County.

Jacksonville, Museum of Military History, 100 Veteran’s Circle, 72076.

(Brandonrush Photo)

Republic F-105F Thunderchief (Serial No. 63-8261), WW, C/N F38. Mounted on a pylon in front of the museum.

Little Rock, Aerospace Education Center, 3301 E. Roosevelt Road, 72209. Closed 2011.

Command Aire 5C3, Reg. No. NC925E.

Curtiss JN-4D Jenny, Reg. No. N6898C.

Forbes Cobra, Reg. No. N320DW.

Piper J-3C-65 Cub, Reg. No. N42092.

Sopwith Camel F-1, original, (Serial No. E1537).

Travel Air 6000-B, Reg. No. NC8112.

Little Rock AFB, 314 TAW, ANG HQ, 72999.

Bell UH-1C Iroquois Helicopter (Serial No. 66-15212), C/N 1940. Mounted on a brick pylon.

Bell HH-1H Iroquois Helicopter (Serial No. 70-2460), C/N 17104.

(Ed Ulthman Photo)

Boeing B-47E Stratojet (Serial No. 52-0595), C/N 450880.

Convair HC-131A Samaritan (Serial No. 52-5800), C/N 53-20.

Douglas C-47 Skytrain (Serial No.)

Fairchild C-123K Provider (Serial No. 55-4567),

Fairchild C-119J Flying Boxcar (Serial No. 53-8084), C/N 187.

Lockheed T-33A Shooting Star (Serial No. 51-9080), C/N 580-6864.

Lockheed C-130A Hercules (Serial No. 58-0518), C/N 182-3126. This aircraft is located outside the main gate.

Lockheed C-130E Hercules (Serial No. 61-2362), C/N 382-3663.

Martin B-57C Canberra (Serial No. 53-3841), C/N 217.

McDonnell RF-101 Voodoo (Serial No. 56-0231).

McDonnell RF-4C Phantom II (Serial No.)

Piasecki H-21 Workhorse helicopter (Serial No.), previously at Kirtland AFB, New Mexico.

Republic RF-84F Thunderflash (Serial No. 53-7543), mounted on a pylon.

Republic F-105F Thunderchief (Serial No. 63-8261), C/N F38.

Cessna T-37B Tweet (Serial No. 68-8077), VN, C/N 41202.

(Gemini II Photo)

Bell UH-1M Iroquois Helicopter (Serial No. 66-15107), C/N 1835. Gate guard for the Pulaski Technical College`s Aviation Maintenance Technology Center.

Bell UH-1V Iroquois Helicopter (Serial No. 71-20332), C/N 13156. Mounted on a pylon at the entrance to the Arkansas National Guard M.G. Charles H. Wilson Army Aviation Support Facility.

North Little Rock, Camp Joseph T. Robinson Army Reserve Base, All Flags Heritage Park.

Lockheed F-104 Starfighter (Serial No. 56-0753), C/N 183-1041.

McDonnell RF-101C Voodoo (Serial No. 56-0057), C/N 275.

McDonnell F-4C Phantom II (Serial No. 63-7463), C/N 443.

North American F-86D Sabre Dog (Serial No. 52-3653), C/N 190-56.

North American F-100D Super Sabre (Serial No. 56-3434), C/N 245-84, painted as (Serial No. 54-4434).

Republic F-84F Thunderstreak (Serial No. 51-1817).

Pine Bluff, Razorback EAA 1388, 619 Hangar Row, 71601.

Boeing Stearman PT-17 Kaydet, Reg. No. N661MP.

North American AT- 6 Texan (Serial No.).

North American SNJ Texan (Serial No.).

North American L-17A Navion (Serial No.)

Vultee BT-13/SNV-1 Valiant (Serial No.), 41.

(Mountainwoods Photo)

Bell UH-1H Iroquois helicopter (Serial No. 67-17416), "Headhunters", mounted on a pylon at the Municipal Airport.

(Nomadwillie Photo)

McDonnell F-101B Voodoo (Serial No. 58-0329), c/n 701. Mounted on a pylon at the Municipal Airport.

Walnut Ridge Army Flying School Museum (Wings of Honor Museum), 70 South Beacon Road, 72476.

Beechcraft SNB-1 Expeditor (Serial No.), USN.

Bell AH-1F Cobra Helicopter (Serial No.)

( Thomas R Machnitzki Photos)

Vultee BT-13 Valiant, forward fuselage.

West Memphis, Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 5225.

( Thomas R Machnitzki Photos)

McDonnell F-4N McDonnell II (BuNo. 152263), WS, C/N 977, VMFA-323. Mounted on pylons outside the VFW Post 5225.


Book Alert: BT Fast Tank: The Red Army’s Cavalry Tank 1931-45

On August 25, Osprey books will be releasing their latest offering in the long running New Vanguard book series. BT Fast Tank: The Red Army’s Cavalry Tank 1931-45 by Steven Zaloga promises to give readers a good look at these Soviet pre-WW2 series of “fast” tanks. This book follows the format of previous New Vanguard titles, being a softcover book of 48 pages with numerous photos and color illustrations.

When the Red Army needed to mechanize its cavalry branch in the 1930s, the BT fast tank was its solution. Based on the American Christie high-speed tank, the Red Army began a program to adapt the design to its own needs. Early versions were mechanically unreliable and poorly armed but by the mid-1930s, the BT-5 emerged, armed with an excellent dual-purpose 45mm gun. It saw its combat debut in the Spanish Civil War in 1937 and was later used in the border battles with the Japanese Kwangtung Army in the late 1930s. The final production series, the BT-7, was the most refined version of the family.

One of the most common types in Red Army service in the first years of the Second World War, BT tanks saw extensive combat in Poland, Finland, and the opening phases of Operation Barbarossa in 1941 and latterly during the 1945 campaign against the Japanese in Manchuria – this is the story of their design and development history.

By our count, this is the 11th New Vanguard title that Mr. Zaloga has written on Soviet tanks. Others in the series include:


Technical legacy [ edit | edit source ]

The BT tank series was numerous, forming the cavalry tank arm of the Red Army in the 1930s, and had much better mobility than other contemporary tank designs. For these reasons, there were many experiments and derivatives of the design, mostly conducted at the KhPZ factory in Kharkov, Soviet Ukraine.

The most important legacy of the BT tank was the T-34 medium tank, designed by the same bureau, and drawing many lessons from the fast tanks. Along the way, an important technical development was the BT-IS and BT-SW-2 testbed vehicles, concentrating on sloped armour. This proof-of-concept led directly to the armour layout of the T-34.

BT tank chassis were also used as the basis for engineering support vehicles and mobility testbeds. A bridgelayer variant had a T-38 turret and launched a bridge across small gaps. Standard tanks were fitted as fascine carriers. The RBT-5 hosted a pair of large artillery rocket launchers, one on each side of the turret. Several designs for extremely wide tracks, including, oddly, wooden 'snowshoes' were tried on BT tanks.

The KBT-7 was a thoroughly modern armoured command vehicle that was in the prototype stage when World War II broke out. The design was not pursued during the war.

In the Kiev maneuvers of 1936, foreign military observers were shown hundreds of BT tanks roll by a reviewing stand. In the audience were British Army representatives, who returned home to advocate for use of Christie suspension on British cruiser tanks. The British A-13, Crusader, and Cromwell tanks all used Christie suspension designs. Interestingly, the pointed shape of the hull front armor on the BT tank also influenced the design of the British Matilda tank. [ citation needed ]


When the Red Army needed to mechanize its cavalry branch in the 1930s, the BT fast tank was its solution. Based on the American Christie high-speed tank, the Red Army began a program to adapt the design to its own needs. Early versions were mechanically unreliable and poorly armed but by the mid-1930s, the BT-5 emerged, armed with an excellent dual-purpose 45mm gun. It saw its combat debut in the Spanish Civil War in 1937 and was later used in the border battles with the Japanese Kwangtung Army in the late 1930s. The final production series, the BT-7, was the most refined version of the family.

One of the most common types in Red Army service in the first years of the Second World War, BT tanks saw extensive combat in Poland, Finland, and the opening phases of Operation Barbarossa in 1941 and latterly during the 1945 campaign against the Japanese in Manchuria – this is the story of their design and development history.


BT Fast Tank Book Review

The vehicles proved "a curious amalgam of American and Soviet technology".

That's how armor historian Steven J. Zaloga starts his superb BT Fast Tank – number 237 in Osprey's perennially popular "New Vanguard" range.

Subtitled "The Red Army's Calvary Tank 1931–45", Zaloga's slim little study summarizes the whole, terrific tale in just 48 pithy pages.

In the 1930s, the Soviets Union sought a high-speed tank to mechanize cavalry forces. American J. Walter Christie offered an innovative option. And BTs entered production – eventually forging fame as progenitors of WWII's legendary T-34 medium tank.

For optimal off- and on-road performance, vehicles with Christie-type convertible suspensions could operate in both continuous-track and wheeled modes. But while BT tanks shared the same general layout as Christie's original design, Soviet iterations proved "substantially different in most details".

Zaloga deftly distills those differences – and expertly charts BT evolution. He skillfully surveys stillborn studies, too. How about that BT-SV-2 with sloped armor? And those amphibious variants? Or that quixotic "flying tank"?

Zaloga competently chronicles BT combat use, too. Spain. Khalkin Gol. Poland. Finland. And early Operation Barbarossa. Even Iran.

The 1941 Nazi invasion débâcle decimated BT ranks. Survivors trickled into second-line service with rear-echelon and training units. By war's end, the Soviet Far East held the "largest reservoir" of remaining BTs. And a last feeble rill from the great flood of "Fast Tanks" actually fought Japan in August 1945. Soviet forces finally retired them in 1946.

Extended captions and informative tables augment the account. Three dozen B&W photos, a couple current color shots, archival drawings, and action paintings support the study. A helpful cut-away aptly illumines Zaloga's technical descriptions. And eight profiles – with authoritative camouflage comments – sample the swath of BT schemes for modelers.

An index and selected bibliography also conclude contents. Other than an ancient Armour In Profile pamphlet, this Osprey "New Vanguard" entry remains the only English-language BT history. That alone makes it a "must have" for English-language Soviet armor enthusiasts.

BT Fast Tank also perfectly complements Zaloga's recent T-26 Light Tank: Backbone of the Red Army (New Vanguard 218). Get them both.


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When the Red Army needed to mechanize its cavalry branch in the 1930s, the BT fast tank was its solution. Based on the American Christie high-speed tank, the Red Army began a program to adapt the design to its own needs. Early versions were mechanically unreliable and poorly armed but by the mid-1930s, the BT-5 emerged, armed with an excellent dual-purpose 45mm gun. It saw its combat debut in the Spanish Civil War in 1937 and was later used in the border battles with the Japanese Kwangtung Army in the late 1930s. The final production series, the BT-7, was the most refined version of the family.

One of the most common types in Red Army service in the first years of the Second World War, BT tanks saw extensive combat in Poland, Finland, and the opening phases of Operation Barbarossa in 1941 and latterly during the 1945 campaign against the Japanese in Manchuria - this is the story of their design and development history.

Steven J. Zaloga received his BA in History from Union College and his MA from Columbia University. He has worked as an analyst in the aerospace industry for over two decades, covering missile systems and the international arms trade, and has served with the Institute for Defense Analyses, a federal think tank. He is the author of numerous books on military technology and military history, with an accent on the US Army in World War II as well as Russia and the former Soviet Union.

Henry Morsheadis a design consultant in the European automotive and aerospace sectors, with clients including Jaguar, Bentley, Citroën and Airbus. He is also a technical sponsor of the Bloodhound supersonic car, contributing digital surfacing and design services. A former officer in the Royal Engineers and illustrator for Jane's, he maintains a keen interest in the design and use of military land and air vehicles.

  • Introduction
  • Design and Development
  • Operational Use
  • Analysis and Conclusion
  • Bibliography
  • Index

Used with permission, copyright ©2016 The Osprey Group. Copyright ©2016 Brey Corp. t/a Hobby Works.


IPMS/USA Reviews

As the First World War progressed, it became clear that one important arm of many nation's military, the horse mounted cavalry, were doomed to extinction. The era of trench warfare, with its use of barbed wire entanglements and the mass use of machineguns spelled disaster for unprotected men on live animals and who required unobstructed solid ground to be effective. Cavalry required speed and mobility to gain maximum shock value.

When tanks were first introduced in the First World War, they were slow, ponderous machines clanking along at the speed of the foot slogging infantry. As the technology advanced, so too did the speed of tanks. A number of nations looked to the tank to provide a replacement for the cavalry via the utilization of rapidly moving tanks: the fast cavalry tank. The nation that fell in love with the tank more than any other in the 1920s and 1930s was the Soviet Union. The origins of the Soviet Fast Tank were in the USA: engineer J. Walter Christie started designing tracked vehicles in World War 1 but had a turbulent relationship with the US military. As his designs progressed, Christie became obsessed with the idea of a "convertible" track laying vehicle, one that could transform from an all track ride, to an all wheel ride. This in his mind was an important feature, as one of the weakest components of early tanks was their tracks. Christie came up with a design that allowed the tracks on his vehicle to be removed and stowed on board, and the machine could then drive on improved roads at greater speeds and for longer distances than if on tracks.

In 1930, representatives of the Soviet Union purchased two of Christie's tanks, plus the rights to license manufacture them in the Soviet Union. These two vehicles were the embryonic start to the Red Army's BT series of Fast/Cavalry tanks.

Author Zaloga is well known to historians of Soviet tank development, having authored numbers books over the decades on this subject. He has a great knowledge of his subject, and his writing style is very easy to read. This book on the BT Fast Tanks in 48 pages in length, and covers the development of the three main variants of the series, the BT-2, BT-5 and BT-7, together with lesser variants such as engineer support tanks, flamethrower tanks, artillery tanks, and even flying tanks! The design history, production history and combat history of these vehicles are covered in a nicely condensed manner. This book is not an in depth examination of the BT series of tanks, but rather a primer for those new to the subject.

The written words are supported by a series of well produced black and white period photos, complimented with color illustrations by Henry Morshead depicting color and markings for the various BT vehicles. Unfortunately one of the most useful of these illustrations, and the largest, which covers the various internal and external components of a BT-7 Model 1937, stretches horizontally across two pages, and thus some of the detail is lost in the spin of the book. Surely with modern computer programming for book layout, this lovely illustration could have been printed vertically across one page? But I quibble. There is also a nice page of scale line drawings depicting the BT-5RT and BT-7RT Model 1937, covering front, rear, side and top profiles. Unfortunately the scale of these is not mentioned?

I am not an expert on Soviet tank design, but I would like to become someone knowledgeable about the subject. If you are someone like me, then this book by Steven Zaloga is an excellent primer on the subject of this very important series of Fast/Cavalry tanks which were produced in the thousands by the Soviet Union in the 1930's. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in this fascinating subject. My sincere thanks to Osprey Publishing for providing this book to IPMS USA for review.


Watch the video: British Battle Tanks - American Made WWII Tanks by David Fletcher u0026 Steven J. Zaloga (January 2022).