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In October 1937 the Automotive and Armoured Vehicle Administration of the Red Army charged Plant No 183 with the task of designing a new fast wheeled/tracked tank. To fulfil this important task, Mikhail I. Koshkin organised a new sub-department called the KB-24. He selected designers for this design bureau among the volunteers from the KB-190 and KB-35 design bureaux. The staff of that design bureau included 21 persons: 

1. M.I. Koshkin
2. A.A. Morozov
3. A.A. Moloshtanov
4. M.I. Tarshinov
5. V.G. Matyukhin
6. P.P. Vasilyev
7. S.M. Braginsky
8. Ya.I. Baran
9. M.I. Kotov
10. Yu.S. Mironov
11. V.S. Kalendin
12. V.E. Moiseenko
13. A.I. Spaihler
14. P.S. Senturin
15. N.S. Korotchenko
16. E.S. Rubinovich
17. M.M. Lurie
18. G.P. Fomenko
19. A.I. Astakhova
20. A.I. Guzeeva
21. L.A. Bleischmidt

The KB-190 design bureau, headed by N.A. Kucherenko, continued to modernise the BT-7 tank and improve designer documentation for the BT-7M and BT-7A tanks.

Within less than a year the new KB-24 Design Bureau designed a wheeled/tracked tank under the designation of the A-20. It had been designed in a strict compliance with technical requirements of the customer - the Automotive and Armoured Vehicle Administration of the Red Army. The A-20 tank differed from the BT-7M first of all by a new shape of the hull; for the first time in tank development the armour plates were located at an angle. Later on this principle of building of armour protection became a classic one and was widely used in tanks of all countries. The A-20 also differed by a new drive to the drive sprockets - three of four road wheels (per side) were driving ones.

As the A-20 tank gave little advantage over the BT-7M as to its tactical and technical characteristics, the Design Bureau started working on an 'initiative tank' called the T-32. Its main distinguishing feature was the replacement of wheel-and-track propeller by a simpler pure track one. The decision of giving up using wheel motion in the T-32 made it possible not only to significantly simplify the tank design, but also to enhance the armour protection due to the saving in weight. The tank mounted a more powerful 76 mm gun.

At the Supreme Military Council in August 1938, where the results of fulfilment of the task of the Automotive and Armoured Vehicle Administration of the Red Army were discussed, Mikhail I. Koshkin managed to obtain the permission to manufacture in metal, apart from the A-20 wheeled/tracked tank, a purely track-laying tank designated the T-32.


New Tasks

Tests of the BT-7M. Overcoming a marsh-ridden terrain



Tests of the T-35 near Kharkiv 

By mid-1939, the prototypes of the T-20 and T-32 tanks had been manufactured and delivered for formal government testing. The Test Committee noted that both tanks 'exceed all previously manufactured prototypes in strength and reliability', but neither of them was preferred.

The second series of trials of the A-20 and T-32 prototype tanks in the autumn of 1939 and, mainly, the hostilities that took place in Finland at that time, showed clearly that tactical mobility over rough terrain, especially in autumn and winter, can only be provided by track laying vehicles. Besides, it became apparent that there was a need for further enhancement of combat capabilities of the T-32 tank, especially improvement of its armour protection.

In an extremely short period of time the Design Bureau upgraded the T-32 tank by further improving its armour protection and armament, and introduced some other changes to the vehicle design. This work resulted in a tank prototype that was designated the T-34 and later on became the main tank of the Soviet Army in the years of the Second World War.

Due to dramatically increased amount of design work required for the final elaboration of the T-32 tank and producing drawings and technical documentation for prototypes of the T-34, as well as due to cease of manufacture of the T-35 tanks, in 1939 three tank design bureaux of the plant (KB-24, KB-190 and KB-35) were united into one tank design bureau called Department 520. Mikhail I. Koshkin was appointed the Chief Designer of the united Design Bureau, Aleksandr A. Morozov was appointed the Head of the Design Bureau and Deputy Chief Designer, and N.A. Kucherenko was appointed the Deputy Chief of the Design Bureau.

N.A. Kucherenko



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