The KMDB traces its actual history back to December 1927 when the Kharkiv
Locomotive Plant set up what was known as the Tank Design Team formed by several tractor production designers selected
for the purpose. The first chief of this team was a young design engineer Ivan N. Aleksenko.
One of the first tasks of this team
consisted in participation, together with the GKB OAT, in
designing a tank designated as 1-12-32, providing the plant with
designer documentation, participation in preparing the tank
production facilities at the plant.
As the scope of design work grew,
early in 1928 the director of the plant approved additional eight
vacancies to the personnel list of the Tank Design Team.
In the autumn of 1928 the Kharkiv Locomotive
Plant was awarded a government order for manufacturing a prototype of a 'fast tank' (1-12-32) designed by the GKB
At the Beginning of the Way
Technical office of the KhPZ. 1923
The fast tank, which in the process of manufacturing at the plant was designated the T-12,
was designed as a two-turret one. A small turret with a machine gun was installed on a large turret and rotated independently.
The front part of the large turret carried a 45 mm gun; 7.62 mm machine guns were installed either side on ball supports.
An active part in designing of the tank took the Chief of the Department of self-propelling vehicles of the GKB OAT,
professor V.I. Zaslavskiy, who became later on the first Chief of Tank Department of Military Academy of Mechanisation
and Motorisation of RKKA (today the Academy of Armoured Troops named after R.Ya. Malinovskiy).A.A. Mikulin,
an aviation engine designer and future academician, took part in designing the power pack of the tank and fitting
it with a locally produced M-6 engine.
The T-12 tank was manufactured against the background of the lack of almost
all required special equipment, by the hands of skilled specialists of the tractor production lines. In spite of difficulties
and lack of experience, the manufacturing of the prototype progressed quickly and had been completed by the end of
1929. Factory tests of the T-12 tank began in January 1930 and in February of that year
official trials took place.
As the prototype of the T-12 tank turned out to be heavier than it had
been envisaged in the project (20 tonnes instead of 16 tonnes) and had a number of drawbacks, the Tank Design Team
(by that time its staff had increased by twice) started its urgent redesigning. Major changes to the design of the
T-12 tank with taking into account the test results led virtually to development of
a new vehicle design.
Apart from enhancing the mobility characteristics (the weight
and ground pressure were reduced, while the engine power and speed of
movement were increased), a fourth machine gun was installed in the bow
of the tank to the left of the driver, and machine-gunner's station was
created. Thus, the armament of the tank was then located in three tiers,
which was a novelty in tank development. The new tank was designated the
Ivan N. Aleksenko
of the tank design group of the KhPZ named after Komintern in 1927- 1930