Once upon a time, even during the time of perestroika, kind people enlightened us about the innumerable hordes of tanks of the Red Army, the mass of equipment that ingloriously burned and was captured by the Germans at the very beginning of World War II. So how many tanks did Stalin have before the war ?
For a long time, the pre-war number of tanks and aircraft of the Red Army was not called; it was considered a “secret” in the USSR . Although, it would seem, what is there to keep secret, except for the lies of large tank commanders?
In one of the historical works, figures were given: as of 1.04.41 there were 23815 tanks in the Red Army , including 364 KV and 537 T-34 . This is something that was not exactly at the border, but in general in the Red Army, from Brest to Kamchatka and from Arkhangelsk to Kushka.
It would seem that the numbers are gigantic. But this is like the 100,000 MS-1 tanks that Tukhachevsky wanted to have in the Red Army, believing that this would make it a thunderstorm of the continent. Try to imagine such a breakthrough of slow, poorly armed and almost unarmored cans!
What tanks were in the Red Army before the war? We all know that there are three types of lies: lies, blatant lies and statistics. But, alas, it is necessary to operate with the statistics data , which can be found in the studies of historians.
Tank MS-1 (“Small Infantry escort”), aka T-18 . The first tank of the Soviet development. Powerful car with a 35 hp gasoline engine and armor of 16 mm. You can’t break out of a machine gun. It was designed on the model of the French Renault FT-17. With anti-tank rifles or heavy machine guns, this miracle of technology made its way easily. Its speed on the highway did not exceed 16 km / h, and on rough terrain – 6.5 km / h. Armament – 37 mm Hotchkiss gun and machine gun. The crew consisted of two people, one led the tank, the second manually turned the turret, loaded the cannon and machine gun and shot from them.
It was produced from 1926 to 1931, a total of 962 tanks were produced. The combat use began in the battles on the CER in November 1929. Tanks did not suffer losses in those battles, bullets from rifles and machine guns could not damage them, and the Hunhus did not have artillery. Shards of anti-personnel grenades didn’t harm them too. One tank flew a caterpillar. Already in the early 30s, he began to replace the T-26.
Before the Great Patriotic War, several dozen T-18s were still in service with the Red Army. Moreover, they also took part in the winter counterattack near Moscow, 9 T-18 tanks were part of 150 tank brigade. A number of T-18s were in service in the Far East, and there the last T-18s, which by that time had been converted into armored firing points at the border, were abandoned already in the 1950s.
Before the war, the tank forces of the Red Army consisted mainly of T-26, BT-2, BT-5 and BT-7. All these were light and fast tanks, weakly armed and covered with bulletproof armor. Their armor was pierced both by anti-tank rifles, and “door knockers”, and even heavy machine guns – the Me-109E (F) were armed with Mg-151, a 15 mm heavy machine gun. His armor-piercing bullets perfectly pierced the armor of the T-26 and BT.