The publication of any images or informations related to nazism, fascism or any other totalitarian regimes must be understood as the reproduction of historical accuracy and not as apology to these regimes, leaders or symbols.
A publicação de qualquer imagem ou informação referentes ao nazismo, fascismo ou quaisquer outros regimes totalitários deve ser entendida como reprodução do rigor histórico e não como apologia a estes regimes, líderes ou símbolos.

T-37A - Soviet amphibious light tank - case report

Comrades !!!
      I found a lot of old kits, deep in my closet...and I decided to bring out to the light... These jurassic kits are primitive, from the former Eastern Europe, which I bought very cheap in some inroads on eBay a long, long time ago.
      If you compare these old kits (Cooperativa, AER, Fort) with to the moderns from Meng, Takom, Dragon, these kits appear to be "naive". Rough, poorly detailed, warped ... but were the only options that existed in those times...
      But let's stop philosophizing and lets we see a bit of modeling from the "old-school". Let us know the Soviet light amphibious tank T-37A, the first mass-produced amphibious tank in the world.
T37A in their environment...
      The T-37A was a Soviet amphibious light tank. The tank is often referred to as the T-37, although that designation was used by a different tank which never left the prototype stage. The T-37A was the first series of mass-produced fully amphibious tanks in the world.
      The tank was first created in 1932, based on the British Vickers tankette and other operational amphibious tanks. The tank was mass-produced starting in 1933 up until 1936, when it was replaced with the more modern T-38, based on the T-37A. Overall, after four years of production, 2552 T-37A’s were produced, including the original prototypes.
T-37As with radio frame parading on Red Square, Moscow - 1934
      In the Red Army, they were used to perform tasks in communication, reconnaissance, and as defense units on the march, as well as active infantry support on the battlefield. The T-37A were used in large numbers during the Soviet invasion of Poland and in the Winter War against Finland.
      The T-37 A was also used by the Soviets in the beginning of the Great Patriotic War, but most of them were quickly lost.
The hidden dangers at amphibious warfare environment. A T37A stuck in stone
      Surviving tanks of that type fought on the front lines until 1944, and were used in training and auxiliary defense until the end of World War II.

      The Carden-Loyd tankettes by Carden-Loyd Tractors, Ltd., were promising enough that the company was purchased by Vickers-Armstrong. They developed light, floating tanks to General Staff requirements (A4E11 etc). In April 1931, Vickers-Armstrongs conducted several successful tests of these light vehicles in the presence of the press. Publication of the design and testing by the press attracted the attention of the Department of Motorization and Mechanization of the Workers'–Peasants' Red Army (UMMRKKA), because the small tank was well suited to the new armament policies of the Red Army, as well as possibly being able to replace the older T-27 tankette, which never performed well in combat.
      At the Bolshevik OKMO plant in Leningrad, from the All Russian Co-Operative Society (Arcos), newspapers were handed in containing information about the British tankette, as well as photographs and technical specifications. Based on this information, Soviet engineers found out that the power plant of the Carden-Loyd tankette was originally from a light tractor produced by the company, and thus the overall layout must be similar. Accordingly, the Selezen ("Drake", Ru. Селезень) program was established in order to construct a similar amphibious tank with a layout based on that of the British prototype. The first Selezen prototype, which was designated the T-33, was built in March 1932 and showed good buoyancy during testing. However, the T-33 did not perform satisfactorily in other tests and was too complicated for the existing military-industrial complex to produce. As a result, it was not mass produced or equipped in large numbers.
T-33 amphibious light tank - prototype
      Even before the construction of the T-33, it was decided to increase the scale of work dedicated to creating an amphibious tank. In addition to the Leningrad OKMO, the Number 2 plant of the All-Soviet Automotive Union (VATO), which was already producing armored vehicles for the Red Army, was relegated to the development and production of amphibious armored vehicles. As a result, at the 2nd VATO plant, under the supervision of N. N. Kozyrev, the T-41 amphibious tank was produced, weighing 3.5 tons and using the GAZ-AA engine, which was based on the T-27 power plant.
       The transmission was nearly identical to that of the T-27, and to the power take-off for the propeller, they added a rigid gear clutch. Its construction for turning off the propeller demanded stopping the tank and turning off the engine. The chassis was, in part, borrowed from the T-33, and the tracks were entirely from the T-27. Leningrad builders likewise continued the development of a more suitable amphibious tank, and they designated their latest model as the “T-37”. It had the same GAZ AA engine as the T-41, the same transmission, wide use of automotive parts, and the Krupp chassis, which Soviet engineers first encountered as a result of a technological partnership with Weimar Germany. Although the T-41 was actually produced for the military in small numbers, after testing and battlefield trials the T-37 was denied production due to various minor faults and an incomplete development process.
      Meanwhile, an opportunity to fully analyze the British prototype itself appeared. The British Army declined to put the Vickers prototype into service (although they were used as trials vehicles), and so the company decided to look for foreign buyers. Already interested since the April 1931 demonstration, the USSR, on February 5, 1932, made an offer, through Arcos representative Y. Skvirskiy, for the purchase of eight vehicles. Talks about filling the order did not drag on, and by June 1932, Vickers had already produced and shipped two of the first tanks for the Soviets. It is widely thought that the T-37A was a copy of the Vickers floating tank, with the Soviet purchase of such tanks in mind. However, closer examination of the turn of events leads to the discrediting of such a theory, but it is true that the Soviet T-37A prototypes were heavily influenced by the British models. Nikolai Astrov, a Soviet engineer, having worked hard on the T-37A prototypes, wrote in his memoirs that "peace be unto the T-37A, born “Vickers-Carden-Loyd."
Vickers-Carden-Loyd tankette
       Even before the end of 1932, the high command of the Red Army was planning to order 30 T-37A’s. In order to facilitate faster production, Factory No. 37 (that is what the No. 2 VATO plant was renamed) was handed over all OKMO production related to the T-37, as well as one British Vickers tank. In 1933, the No. 37 plant was given an order of 1200 T-37A’s. However, the events that followed showed the excessive optimism shown by the leadership of the trust responsible for the factory. The trust itself was formed as a governing organ for coordinating large-scale efforts to develop new models of armored vehicles in a number of plants across the country, and subsequently played a significant role in the successful carrying out of this task, but at the beginning of 1933 it couldn’t overcome the “antediluvian” state of equipment at the No. 37 plant, as assessed by M. N. Svirin, purely with organizational measures.

Problems with production:
        By its technological design, the T-37A was much more complicated than the T-27 tankette, which immediately caused complications not only at Factory No. 37, but to its subcontractor – the Podolsk Electric Locomotive Plant, which was producing the hulls of the new T-37A’s. In addition, in 1933 the T-27 tankette was still being produced, which stressed the lack of adequate resources needed to produce both vehicles simultaneously. This only worsened the situation and slowed the introduction of the T-37A. The technology for producing stamped cemented armor plates at the Podolsk plant was completely unrefined; the desired result had to be achieved using improvised and primitive methods.
T-37A in acceleration...
      In the end, in the first half of 1933 the Factory No. 37 built 30 amphibious tanks (12 of which were T-41’s) instead of the 255 needed to fulfill the established plan. The then replacement People’s Defense Commissioner Mikhail Tukhochevsky wrote in his report “of the progress of completion of the tank program in the first half of 1933”:
"Reasons for the unfulfillment [of the]… T-37 tank program:
- Failure of the “Podolsk KrekIng” factory to produce the hulls;
- An unready and unrefined technological manufacturing process;
- Unsatisfactory steel casting quality…
- The Podolsk factory. The program for producing the T-27 hulls was fully completed. The T-37A program has, instead of 250, produced only one workable hull in this half of the year. The main reason for this situation is the transfer [of the hulls] to the stamping and cementation without serious enough preventive and preparative measures. At this time, it can be said that the factory has mastered the stamping process. The further completion of the program depends on the timely shipment of armor plates from the Kulebakskiy factory before May. It cannot produce and ship the armor in June due to a lack of ferroalloys. Currently, the factory has the necessary materials and has started to produce an armor sheet."
      The situation didn’t change during the second half of 1933; the leadership of the Army and Spetzmashtrest, the governing trust, demanded large amounts of T-37A’s to be produced at Factory No. 37, expecting to receive no more than 800 tanks. In reality, only 126 T-37A’s had been produced by 1 January 1934, two of which had built-in radios. Some of the tanks participated in a military parade on 7 November 1933 at the Red Square in Moscow. The early T-37A’s did not differ much from the later, series-produced tanks – the earlier ones lacked wave-diffusing shields and floats.
T-37A early - Notice the absence of floats and upper side hull bulged
      In 1934, the leadership of the Spetzmashtrest lent its attention to improving the conditions in the factories at which the tanks were produced. They purchased foreign equipment for two new wings of the No. 37 Factory, as well as increasing the number of workers and engineering/ technical personnel. These measures, however, did not improve the situation; the number of assembled tanks was significantly lower than planned.
A very rare color shot of T-37A in WWII
      The Office of Motorization and Mechanization of the Red Army noted the insufficiency of the technical and general management at the No. 37 plant, and a lack of planning during the production process and "storming through" the operation. As a result, mid 1934 was marked by a change in leadership of the plant, and only towards the end of the year there had been a positive trend in the manufacturing process. Also, in 1934, slight changes were made to the T-37A design: the thickness of the sides and the front were increased to 10 mm, the curved stern piece hulls were replaced with stamped ones, and the over-track floats were rolled back and stuffed with cork, and they have become empty on the inside.
Light tanks T-37A in advance...Brave men !!!
Notice the sinalization flag in the hands of the commander of the leading tank.
      The production of hulls remained as a limiting factor in the following year of 1935. The Podolsk Electric Locomotive Plant consistently failed to fulfill the plans for the production of parts in adequate numbers. To solve the problem, a year prior, it was decided to use the T-37A Izhorsky plant in Leningrad for additional hull production. But this enterprise, although there was considerable capacity, has been directed other orders for armored car rental for the needs of Navy of the Soviet Union, as well as the production of hulls for the Leningrad plants producing armored cars and T-26 and T-28 tanks. As a result, most of the hulls of T-37A were sent to the #37 plant from Podolsk. Hulls from different manufacturers had various methods of production: Izhorsk hulls were welded, and Podolsk hulls riveted. For a permanent solution to the production of hulls for amphibious tanks, engineers restructured them and altered the power plants.
T-37A users:

Germany :
A small amount of captured tanks were used
T-37A used by Germans and recaptured by Soviets. - Western Front, Spring 1943.
This vehicle is repainted in the German grey standard colors.
On its rear side we can see tactical sign for recon battalion of infantry division

Finland - 30 tanks

Romania - At least 19 tanks
Hungary - Some captured tanks
Hungarian T-37A
Sweden - One tank
Turkey - One tank
In action:
      The T-37A was not designed to see action against any other AFVs, but rather for reconnaissance, screening, communication and active infantry support. Their amphibious capabilities were particularly useful in many areas judged impassable. In 1935 some attempts were made to test the concept of airborne armored forces, using one of the lightest tank available (the T-37A) and the impressive TB-3 heavy bomber, converted to carry up to three of these, at least on paper. But the tests were convincing. 

      These machines saw service during the invasion and occupation of Bessarabia in 1940. During the Winter War in Finland, the T-37A performed well with mechanized and cavalry units of the Red Army, duly painted in washable white. By summer, they soldiered in marshy areas and the many lakes of eastern Finland and many were affected to separate independent reconnaissance units in the Pripet area.
       The Finns, however, succeed in capturing no less than 30 T-37As until 1944, most repaired and pressed back into service, and well as T-38s. 
T37-A being tested by the Finnish Army
      The typical platoons comprised of a command radio version (T-37U or TU) and up to eight T-37A.
A T-37TU leading a platoon of T-37As. Notice the tracks assembled inverted ....
      In June 1941, they took the brunt of the German offensive, lacking armor and used to support infantry in desperate situations, their losses becoming appaling. The survivors were either shipped to rear sectors for training or auxiliary defense units. They were replaced by the T-38 and T-40. Many survived to this day, some in working condition, including at least three that took part in the Red Square 2011 memorial parade.

  • T-33: Prototype. Weighed 3 tons/3.7 tons. Crew of two.2, Armament was one 7.62 mm MG. Armor was 7.9 mm / 7 - 9 mm thick. The 63 HP engine propelled it 45 kph.
  • T-41: Prototype. It weighed 3.2 tons with a crew of two. There was a 7.62 mm MG. Armor was 4 - 9 mm thick. The T-41 was propelled by a 40 HP engine and could go 36 kph on land and 4 kph in water.
  • T-37 Light Tank: Based on the Vickers Carden-Lloyd. Communicated via flags.
  • T-37A Light Tank: These were a little longer and had floats attached on both sides. Communicated by flags.
  • T-37U Light Tank, T-37TU Light Tank: Tank commanders with hand-rail aerial around hull. The radios were to contact command in the rear.
T-37А amphibious light tank
Amphibious light tank
Place of origin                  
 Soviet Union
Service history
In service
From 1933
Used by
Soviet Union
Production history
N. Kozyrev, Factory No. 37, Moscow
Number built
T-37A (main production),
T-37TU command tank, M1936
3.2 tonnes
3.75 m
2.10 m
1.82 m
2 (Commander, driver)

3–9 mm
Main armament
7.62mm DT machine gun (585 rounds)
GAZ-AA (Ford)
40 hp (30 kW)@ 2000 rpm
13 hp/tonne
Epicyclic ; 4 forward, 1 reverse
sprung bogie
Fuel capacity
100 litres
Operational range
185 km
35 km/h (land)
6,5 km/h (water)
The kit:
      For this swift project, I used an old Maquette (eewww!!!) kit:
Maquette again...OMG !!!
      As I said above, these old kits are incredible...
Building the tank...The turret don't have locks ...
I made a plastic bottom and a bar to use  a screw as axis
The turret rotates, but does not drop the hull, avoiding accidents ....

       To clean the wheels, I use the Dremel as a lathe. The scalp is my grinding tool
The wheel with burrs and edges...
...and now, clean. Chuck approves !!!!
       The bogies are very spartan. The springs of suspensions are a nightmare. I decided replace the plastic parts for metal springs, made ​​with copper wire...
The springs and the bogies...ewww!
Very ugly !!!
Cutting the spring's heads...
Bogies assembled and one metal spring...
The bogies in the hull. Notice the Plastruct rod for the spring core...
The spring core measured and cut...
Much better !!!
Other side...
      I decided to build my tank as Command version (T-37TU) with antenna frame around the hull. The Maquette kit allows this version!! My T-37TU will be like this:
T-37A (T-37TU) Command tank
More details... Notice the poles for the antenna frame...
The antenna in position. The tracks (LBL) are also ready!!

Almost ready for action....
Using scrap PE for the final details... 
Next: painting...
The inspiration...

And the T-37A Soviet command tank was born...
      Like the T-38, this little girl was ready, too. Meet the T-37A light amphibious tank from 177th Independent Recce Battalion, 122nd Rifle Division, in Soviet Front, December, 1939.

T-37A amphibiam light tank from 177th Independent Recce Battalion
122nd Rifle Division  -  Soviet Front, December, 1939.

T-37A amphibiam light tank - left side

T-37A amphibiam light tank - rear view
T-37A amphibiam light tank - right side

T-37A amphibiam light tank with Kojak and Rover, the dog.
T-37A amphibiam light tank and  T-38 Soviet amphibious scout tank

M4A1, T37A and T-38, for size comparison
The T-37A is ltiny, indeed !!!
A big hug, Gents!!

4 comentários:

  1. Again a big challenge to build a "Maquette" kit, it is not the easiest way to build this very nice amphibian russian tankette. Hobbyboss as recently produced a T-37A and I think it would be a great kit.
    Again many thanks for your historical notice, it's very great and incredible detailed, I like to know all historical and technical informations about the models I build or I see. Again a great post Marcos and very pleasant to read.
    Many fun to paint and for the weathering !

  2. Merci, Alain....I think it's interesting to show the older kits as a means of comparison with the most current kits (generally much more expensive ...). And it's usually very fun to turn a witch on a cheerleader!!

    Big hug and take care, my friend !!!

  3. excelente, muy completa historia de restauración, y contexto histórico

    1. Fernando... gracias hombre!! Saludos!!! Vuelve siempre aquí ... la casa es tuya !!