Light Tank T-60
In order to replace the under-armed as well as under-armoured T-40 amphibious tank, N.A. Astrov's Zavod No 37 design team at Moscow developed a new tank in just 15 days during August 1941. With a GAZ-202 truck engine, a frontal armour of 20mm and a high-velocity 20mm ShVAK gun of aircraft origine, the 6-ton vehicle seemed sufficiently equipped to fulfill the upcoming tasks. Most of all, its production was cheaper and faster than that of the direct competitive design, the T-50.
In fact, the T-60 played a prominent role during the fierce fighting for Moscow in 1941 when Red Army armour had already decreased due to the titanic losses of the summer. Its gun was highly effective against infantry and equipped with special AP shells could even cope with the contemporary German Pz.III tanks.
However, production in late 1941 was largely handicapped by the evacuation of factories, so Gorkiy Auto Zavod (»GAZ«) as well as Stalingrad Zavod No 264 became co-producers. Due to the increasing lack of rubber, parts of the early prouction vehicles had all-steel roadwheels.
In 1942, the up-gunning of German tanks lead to an up-armouring of the T-60 front and turret to 35mm. The other main production feature was the introduction of solid disc-style wheels.
Although the additional armour didn't really improve the lifetime of the T-60, its production continued throughout the whole year, simply because it was so cheap to produce. Hence, T-60 units participated at the Stalingrad counter-offensive as well as at the Leningrad blockade-breakthrough.
When production was finally halted in February 1943, no less than roughly 6,000 vehicles had left the production lines, mainly at GAZ. A few 1941 batches delivered the base for the new BM-8-24 Guards Mortars, and some captured samples were successfully armed with equally captured F-22 76 mm guns by Roumanian forces.