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How did the Soviets name their tanks?

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PanzerJosh #1 Posted Apr 08 2017 - 18:50


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Alright so I know the basics, such as what the "T" stands for, and that the KV series, SMK heavy, and the IS series were named after people of importance and what not, but what does the number after the "T" mean? Long ago I figured it stood for the tanks weight, or year it was made, but some of the tanks I have no idea.


For example: T-60 Light Tank. Well if we go off of what I know the "T" stands for tankovyi or Tank, but what of the number? The tank was built in the 60's, nor was it 60 tonnes. 

Another Example: T-150 Heavy Tank. It didn't weigh 150 tonnes, nor was it built in the 150's. 


What do these numbers mean?

MajorRenegade #2 Posted Apr 08 2017 - 19:02


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The same way the American name their tanks or any other Nations

BromousAcid #3 Posted Apr 08 2017 - 19:38


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Most likely just original project numbers that were kept when the tank entered production

Dogsoldier6 #4 Posted Apr 08 2017 - 20:15


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Tankavoya Emcha dah..............


This is actually a tough one to give a complete answer to without writing an entire book on the subject, which I could.


Ok the Soviets sent out design criteria to the various designers, whom worked separately from each other and didn't even work in the same factory complex. Of course they would set their own project numbers for the design, and sometimes that number was retained IF the tank was approved for production. The famous T-34 is one such tank. Its project number started at the A-20, went to the T-32, then finally T-34.


Another system they used was to designate the tank by gun caliber, the SU series of assault guns are an example of this, SU-76, SU-85, SU-100, SU-152, SU-130. Then you have the T-34-85 and T-34-100 as another example.


The KV series was actually started by Stalin when he suggested they reduce the multi-turret KV design down to one turret. In this case the design went through simple numbers as each was approved for production thus we have the KV-1, KV-2, KV-3 and then we also get the caliber designation added instead of 'the next number in line' thus you get the KV-85, KV-100, and the KV-122.


Then they would sometimes use a ten digit progression, like the light tanks deployed in the war, starting with the T-30, then T-40, T-50, T-60, T-70, and finally the T-80. This seems to have been done when a tank was simply a modification of a existing design rather then a completely new tank.


Now I know you probably find all of this confusing, well Stalin and the boys upstairs with him found it all pretty confusing to, so they decided to do something about it. Toward the end of the war they started using the year of approval for a design as the number designation for medium tanks, simple number progression for heavy tanks, and gun caliber designation for assault guns. Thus it made it much easier to know what a tank was in a report without the need of a tank dictionary. Thus you get the T-44, T-54, T-55, IS-3, IS-4, SU-130, and so on.................... Sometimes, for approved modifications, a gun caliber would be added thus you get the T-44/100...........


I hope this helps but I could write even more on the subject..............

Anlushac11 #5 Posted Apr 08 2017 - 20:22


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BT series name literally meant fast moving tank


IS  - Iosef Stalin


KV -Kliment Voroshilov


T for tank and followed by model number. Model may or may not be related to the year design was introduced. 


SU - Samokhodkhaya Ustanovka - Self Propelled Carriage


Prototypes are usually given a Object project number like Object 416 or Object 140

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