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T-29


Medium Tank Prototype (1934)


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Another Soviet tank project of the interwar period became the T-29 Medium Tank of which several prototypes were realized and nothing more.



Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 11/11/2020 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site.
Soviet tank design underwent considerable experimentation (and evolution) in the period between the wars (World War 1 and World War 2). Such was the determination in advanced the existing, outmoded, and aging stock of battle tanks that the country went so far as to import foreign help in some cases and, in others, indigenous designs influenced by foreign products would suffice - as became the case with the "T-29".

The T-29 was developed along the lines of a medium tank meaning vastly improved firepower and protection over light-class battle systems such as the in-service T-26 Light Tank (detailed elsewhere on this site). This came at a price, however, for additional weight and reduced performance was a byproduct and often went hand-in-hand with more complex systems, increased production and procurement costs, and additional crewmembers sharing a single, cramped fighting compartment. The T-29 certainly held many of these traits but was eventually done in by the complex politics of the communist Soviet Union at the time.

In 1933, work on the T-29 - under the direction of engineer N.V. Zeitz at Kirov Works (Factory No.185) in Leningrad - began with the focus of developing a new medium tank with increased mobility. This led to the adoption of the "Christie Suspension System" developed by American J. Walter Christie and used in some British and Soviet tanks with success. However, the system was inherently complex and this meant increased cost, extended production times, and longer maintenance routines. Nevertheless, the program moved along and two pilot vehicles were produced for consideration and evaluation as soon as 1934.

The tanks featured four large road wheels to a hull side with the drive sprocket at rear and the track idler at front. Track-link units were wider than the standard Soviet approach of the time, offering good ground pressure particularly over soft terrain. Three track-return rollers were featured to help guide the track-links at the upper reaches of the hull side. As in the BT series of Fast Tanks, the T-29 could be driven on its track-and-wheel arrangement or on its road wheels with the tracks removed (some axles were steerable while others were used for drive power). This offered an excellent increase in road speeds (up to 81 kmh maximum) from the standard 55 kph rating but, in turn, reduced cross country mobility.

Internally, the tank borrowed heavily from the previous T-28 model - a cumbersome, multi-turret development of 1933 which was produced to the tune of 503 examples and went on to see action in World War 2 (1939-1945). As such, the T-29 exhibited a multi-turreted armament arrangement in which there was a larger, centralized turret set atop the middle of the hull roof housing the main gun armament and a coaxial machine gun. The turret was taken from the T-26-4 artillery tank which fielded a potent 76.2mm KT main gun. Ahead of this emplacement, and straddling the sides of the driver's compartment at center in the bow, were fitted smaller, independently-operated turrets each sporting single machine guns. All told, the vehicle was well-armed with its main gun and up to five individual 7.62mm DT machine guns in various facings - capable of engaging enemy armor and infantry at range with equal lethality. The crew numbered five and included a driver, vehicle commander, primary gunner, and several machine gunners/loaders.

At the rear of the hull was fitted the sole M-17F 12-cylinder gasoline-fueled engine supplying 500 horsepower.

The new tank certainly proved more effective in terms of performance and mobility as the Christie Suspension System did not disappoint. On paper, the armament scheme was also considerable when compared to contemporaries of the time. However, with all of this good came the bad and the product was simply too complex - and therefore expensive - to comfortably produce in the numbers that would be required by the Soviet Army.

In 1936 there emerged yet another, albeit improved, T-29 pilot vehicle but this was instead fitted with the 76.2mm L-10 cannon as its main armament. The design was evolved to become the "T-29C" of 1937 which also differed in having five road wheels to a hull side. In addition to this, the hull superstructure incorporated sloped armor facings for improved ballistics protection (a key quality of the upcoming war-winning T-34 Medium Tank).

Range of this finalized form was recorded out to 200 kilometers and this was increased to 300 km when running on its road wheels. Armor protection reached up to 30mm at the most important facings (namely the front) and listed dimensions were a length of 7.3 meters, a beam of 3.2 meters and a height of 2.8 meters. Combat weight was 24 tonnes.

Serial production of the modified T-29 was scheduled for 1938 but the project received an irrecoverable setback when, in the fall of 1937, Zeitz fell victim to Stalin's politically-driven "Great Purge". With its lead engineer missing, the T-29 project stalled before it ultimately fell away to Soviet military history. Its story ended with one prototype being delivered to the Finnish front during the "Winter War" between the Soviet Union and neighboring Finland while another was used in the successful defense of Moscow when the Germans drove within reach of the Soviet capital. Other than that, the T-29 became nothing more than a footnote and eventual stepping stone to more advanced designs to follow.
Soviet tank design underwent considerable experimentation (and evolution) in the period between the wars (World War 1 and World War 2). Such was the determination in advanced the existing, outmoded, and aging stock of battle tanks that the country went so far as to import foreign help in some cases and, in others, indigenous designs influenced by foreign products would suffice - as became the case with the "T-29".

The T-29 was developed along the lines of a medium tank meaning vastly improved firepower and protection over light-class battle systems such as the in-service T-26 Light Tank (detailed elsewhere on this site). This came at a price, however, for additional weight and reduced performance was a byproduct and often went hand-in-hand with more complex systems, increased production and procurement costs, and additional crewmembers sharing a single, cramped fighting compartment. The T-29 certainly held many of these traits but was eventually done in by the complex politics of the communist Soviet Union at the time.

In 1933, work on the T-29 - under the direction of engineer N.V. Zeitz at Kirov Works (Factory No.185) in Leningrad - began with the focus of developing a new medium tank with increased mobility. This led to the adoption of the "Christie Suspension System" developed by American J. Walter Christie and used in some British and Soviet tanks with success. However, the system was inherently complex and this meant increased cost, extended production times, and longer maintenance routines. Nevertheless, the program moved along and two pilot vehicles were produced for consideration and evaluation as soon as 1934.

The tanks featured four large road wheels to a hull side with the drive sprocket at rear and the track idler at front. Track-link units were wider than the standard Soviet approach of the time, offering good ground pressure particularly over soft terrain. Three track-return rollers were featured to help guide the track-links at the upper reaches of the hull side. As in the BT series of Fast Tanks, the T-29 could be driven on its track-and-wheel arrangement or on its road wheels with the tracks removed (some axles were steerable while others were used for drive power). This offered an excellent increase in road speeds (up to 81 kmh maximum) from the standard 55 kph rating but, in turn, reduced cross country mobility.

Internally, the tank borrowed heavily from the previous T-28 model - a cumbersome, multi-turret development of 1933 which was produced to the tune of 503 examples and went on to see action in World War 2 (1939-1945). As such, the T-29 exhibited a multi-turreted armament arrangement in which there was a larger, centralized turret set atop the middle of the hull roof housing the main gun armament and a coaxial machine gun. The turret was taken from the T-26-4 artillery tank which fielded a potent 76.2mm KT main gun. Ahead of this emplacement, and straddling the sides of the driver's compartment at center in the bow, were fitted smaller, independently-operated turrets each sporting single machine guns. All told, the vehicle was well-armed with its main gun and up to five individual 7.62mm DT machine guns in various facings - capable of engaging enemy armor and infantry at range with equal lethality. The crew numbered five and included a driver, vehicle commander, primary gunner, and several machine gunners/loaders.

At the rear of the hull was fitted the sole M-17F 12-cylinder gasoline-fueled engine supplying 500 horsepower.

The new tank certainly proved more effective in terms of performance and mobility as the Christie Suspension System did not disappoint. On paper, the armament scheme was also considerable when compared to contemporaries of the time. However, with all of this good came the bad and the product was simply too complex - and therefore expensive - to comfortably produce in the numbers that would be required by the Soviet Army.

In 1936 there emerged yet another, albeit improved, T-29 pilot vehicle but this was instead fitted with the 76.2mm L-10 cannon as its main armament. The design was evolved to become the "T-29C" of 1937 which also differed in having five road wheels to a hull side. In addition to this, the hull superstructure incorporated sloped armor facings for improved ballistics protection (a key quality of the upcoming war-winning T-34 Medium Tank).

Range of this finalized form was recorded out to 200 kilometers and this was increased to 300 km when running on its road wheels. Armor protection reached up to 30mm at the most important facings (namely the front) and listed dimensions were a length of 7.3 meters, a beam of 3.2 meters and a height of 2.8 meters. Combat weight was 24 tonnes.

Serial production of the modified T-29 was scheduled for 1938 but the project received an irrecoverable setback when, in the fall of 1937, Zeitz fell victim to Stalin's politically-driven "Great Purge". With its lead engineer missing, the T-29 project stalled before it ultimately fell away to Soviet military history. Its story ended with one prototype being delivered to the Finnish front during the "Winter War" between the Soviet Union and neighboring Finland while another was used in the successful defense of Moscow when the Germans drove within reach of the Soviet capital. Other than that, the T-29 became nothing more than a footnote and eventual stepping stone to more advanced designs to follow.

Specifications



Service Year
1934

Origin
Soviet Union national flag graphic
Soviet Union

Crew
5
CREWMEN
Production
4
UNITS


Kirov Works Factory No.185 (Leningrad) - Soviet Union
National flag of the Soviet Union Soviet Union (cancelled)
(OPERATORS list includes past, present, and future operators when applicable)
Infantry Support
Support allied ground forces through weapons, inherent capabilities, and / or onboard systems.
Medium Tank
Design providing enhanced armor protection and firepower over that of lightweight offerings - but lacking the general capabilities of heavier solutions.
Tank-vs-Tank
Engage armored vehicles of similar form and function.


Length
24.0 ft
7.3 m
Width
10.5 ft
3.2 m
Height
9.2 ft
2.8 m
Weight
52,911 lb
24,000 kg
Tonnage
26.5 tons
MEDIUM
(Showcased structural values pertain to the base T-29 production variant. Length typically includes main gun in forward position if applicable to the design)
Powerplant: 1 x M-17F 12-cylinder gasoline-fueled engine developing 500 horsepower and driving track-and-wheel OR all-road-wheel arrangement.
Speed
34.2 mph
(55.0 kph)
Range
124.3 mi
(200.0 km)
(Showcased performance specifications pertain to the base T-29 production variant. Compare this entry against any other in our database)
1 x 76.2mm KT-28 L/16.5 main gun in primary turret.
1 x 7.62mm DT machine gun in coaxial mounting in primary turret.
1 x 7.62mm DT machine gun in left secondary turret.
1 x 7.62mm DT machine gun in right secondary turret.

OPTIONAL:
1 x 7.62mm DT machine gun on primary turret roof.


Supported Types


Graphical image of a tank cannon armament
Graphical image of a tank medium machine gun


(Not all weapon types may be represented in the showcase above)
Not Available.


T-29 - Base Series Designation; three prototypes completed with the first pair appearing in 1934 with turret of the T-26-4 model; the third developed in 1936 fitting a 76.2mm main gun armament; all versions with four road wheels.
T-29C - Fourth model sporting five road wheels to a hull side.


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