The history of mass production and use of Soviet T-50 infantry tanks and why it was doomed to fail
Initially, small tanks (later support tanks and then combined arms tanks) became the most numerous of their kind in the USSR. The MS-1 (T-18) and then T-26 became the most numerous tanks of the Red Army. The T-26's abilities were quite sufficient to escort infantry, and its relatively low speed compared to the BT also made it a more stable firing platform. Since the T-26 had nearly no oscillations after a sudden stop, it could conduct aimed fire much more accurately than the BT, which would rock back and forth. The T-26 was also 1.5 times cheaper and produced in larger volumes.
|First prototype of the T-50 after improvements, spring 1941.
|The production tank was expected to look more or less the same.
|The first order for T-50 tanks called for only 500 units. This was in part because of sufficient numbers of T-26 tanks on hand.
|Even though factory #174 urged the GABTU to hurry and accept the T-50 into service, it was in no rush to begin production.
|A fragment of the report describing the situation with V-4 engine production. As of March 15th "almost no preparations at factory #174 are being made".
|The T-50 was the only Soviet mass produced tank with a pair of DT machine guns in one mount. Based on descriptions of use in combat, this system performed well.
|Situation with production by the start of July. Not a single vehicle had been delivered and the situation with preparation was less than ideal.
|A T-50 tank in production. The driver has a minimum of observation devices and not all the slots in the commander's cupola were filled either.
|Openings for side observation devices were plugged.
|Today this tank can be seen at Patriot Park.
|Characteristics of the T-50 by the fall of 1941. The increase in weight by half a ton would have had an impact on the temperature of the engine and track lifespans.
|The first T-50 tank lost in battle. Vicinity of Petrozavodsk, July 1941. This tank can be seen at the tank museum in Parola Tank Museum in Finland.
|Likely a tank from the 150th Tank Brigade, October 1941. The tank was hit in the rear of the hull.
|This tank was used to test camouflage paint.
|This tank later fought in the 22nd Tank Brigade.
|The driver of a 220th Tank Brigade T-50 tank receives his party membership.
|Proposed simplified T-50 turret with flat plates and no commander's cupola.
|Stalin personally sealed the T-50's fate.
|Tanks produced in evacuation looked like this. The road wheels with ribs are the most distinctive feature.
|Record of the T-50 tanks at BTRZ #66 in Tbilisi. The T-50s stayed here the longest.