Amphibious tanks gave Soviet tank designers endless challenges during the 1930s. With Deep Battle presuming sweeping attacks across the great rivers of central Europe, clearly tanks that could swim – especially for scouting units – would be a great advance. But combining bouyancy with credible armour and a weapon of decent weight was always going to be a riddle.
Wartime production was entirely geared to expanding and replacing the arsenal of main battle tanks, but before 1941 a number of designs evolved culminating in the angular T-40.
The ‘boxy’ shape, of course, gives it bouyancy, and the ungainly flat front is a nod to the requirement to perform as a boat when crossing water.
More or less the same running gear evolved both into the amphibious tank and the T-60 scout tank … so I was able to reverse engineer the less convincing Battlefront example into the T-40. The rear idler on the running gear needed dropping down a bit, and the tank itself would need a reconfigured hull. The turret needed smoothing from hexagonal to conical, and new armament would have to be added. Even so, the basic footprint was there.
Here’s a pictorial summary:
1/. The complex frontal shape was made from a wooden shim filled around with green stuff; 2/. at which stage the rear of the tub was cut back to allow a propeller to be sculpted, after which … 3/. most of the missing rear was then back filled around the completed prop.* 4/. the turret was reshaped and the rear panels were added from plastic sheet, again, filled with green stuff.
The rest is fairly standard mods and cosmetics. The new main gun – a DShk – is pinched from some PP AK47 spares.
Although only a couple of hundred T-40s were made, it features quite prominently in photos and newsreels of the defence of Moscow and the Winter Offensive. There were very few tanks left by then, and a tank was a tank. Here’s what I had in mind …
Production concentrated on the T-60, however, and over 6,000 of these were built. Although no match for medium tanks, smaller factories could churn them out quickly and cheaply and they filled many gaps as the Red Army rebuilt itself.
One of the quirkier project in the T-60 stable was Antonov’s flying tank – an experimental solution to the problems of getting armoured support into the field alongside the new parachute units. Designated the A-40, a set of detachable wings turned the light tank into a glider.
Surprisingly enough, the tank survived the trial, but – due to lack of suitably powerful towing aircraft – the project was dropped in favour of slinging the tanks underneath TB-3 transports. But airborne units and flying tanks are for a future post …
*the prop and twin rudders are inset in the rear of the hull. The only really difficult issue. In the end I decided that rather than try to cut into the rear panel and work inside the cavity, it would be better to take the whole profile back, build the propeller, and then reconstruct around the completed drive. It proved quite an easy job, that way.