T-26 Model 1933 (E1990.63)
In 1930 the Russians obtained 15 examples of Vickers-Armstrongs Mark E tanks, all of the twin turreted version. They then negotiated an agreement with the British firm to produce similar tanks under licence. The new tanks were built in a factory near Leningrad and deliveries of the first model began in 1931. Those with twin machine-gun turrets were sometimes classified T-26A while tanks with the single turret and 45mm gun were designated T-26B
There is no doubt that later models of the T-26, like our exhibit, were a marked improvement on the original British design. They were armed with a good 45mm gun and powered by an four-cylinder, air-cooled engine. T-26 tanks were used in Manchuria in 1934, in the Spanish Civil War and in the Second World War.
Our exhibit was built as a T-26A and, after capture by the Finns modified to T-26B configuration it was used by Soviet forces in the war against Finland in the winter of 1940/41. It was captured and used by the Finnish Army, in whose markings it is seen. Later, in what is known in Finland as the Continuation War which broke out in June 1941 this tank was back in action and, with an engine change was still active in 1944. However that summer it was knocked out in fighting around Perkjarvi Lake and a crew member was killed. The tank was later recovered and returned to working order. Some sources claim that at the end of the war some T-26 tanks were stripped internally of their engines and dug in, up to the turret ring, along sections of the Manneheim line which might help to explain the condition of this vehicle.
In 1980 a number of T-26 tanks, some running , some hulks were earmarked for use as props in the Finnish war film 'The Winter War" directed by Pekka Parikka. The non-running tanks such as ours were burned at this time which explains the condition it was in when it arrived here.
Designed to carry a crew of 3 and hold 258 litres of fuel the T26 had a max road speed of 28 Km/hr. It had a range of 175km (road) or 120km (terrain). Armour was only 15mm thick although the T-26 was classed as a Light Infantry tank. In Soviet service the T-26 was soon outclassed, the 15mm armour rendered it vulnerable to lightly armed tanks such as the Panzer III and many were lost during the German invasion of 1941. Despite improvements in the shape and thickness of armour the tank was already showing its age and was duly phased out of service.
information supplied by Sakari Sahinaho