T-60 small tank and variants
Authors: James Kinnear and Yuri Pasholok
Pub. by Canfora Publishing (2017)
Given its importance during the dark days of 1941-42, the Russian T-60 tank is poorly served with modern reference material, and this new publication from Canfora, the first in their Red Machines series, certainly fills a gap. The authors are well-known and respected, and the reader can trust their text to be accurate.
The T-60 light tank (or Small Tank in Russian terminology) was built in huge numbers, with nearly 6000 coming out from several factories which were themselves being relocated, rebuilt, and struggling with shortages of resources, machinery and manpower. Only the T-34, T-70 and the SU-76 were built in larger numbers. The T-60 was armed with the 20mm cannon, and could hold its own against other light vehicles, which could not be said of the T-37, T-38 and T-40 light tanks that it replaced. The T-60 was much more suited to rapid production that the T-50, which ended up being built in small numbers.
The book is a high-quality hardback of 176 pages, with great care taken with the standard of production – nothing shoddy about this book! The opening chapters look at the rapid development of the tank following the outbreak of war, and the struggles to get production under way at factory 37. Production then picks up, falteringly, at Kharkov and at the GAZ plant. The book then explores further production at Zavod 264 near to Stalingrad, and at the relocated factories 37 and 38. All of the first half of the book is heavy on detail about factory production and difficulties that they experienced, and as a modeller (rather than a historian) this seems to be difficult to absorb. I think I would rather have had a chart or table showing the different detail variations between production types, which would be useful in getting my models correct.
Chapter 5 looks at the service use of the T-60, but there is hardly any detail – just a page of general preamble, followed by two pages describing the actions of Lt. Osatyuk around Leningrad. Then there are 18 pages of excellent photos, which are a very valuable feature of the book.
The next section includes four pages covering the BM-8 ‘Katyusha’ version of the T-60, followed by 30 pages looking at prototypes and variants which did not progress into production. Again, for a modeller with a T-60 kit on your bench, this is not particularly useful, but some of the experimental types are interesting concepts.
The remainder of the book covers excellent walkaround photos, pictures of museum vehicles, colour profiles, and scale drawings. All of this would be excellent for a modeller, although museum exhibits are always suspect as some restoration is very, ahem, ‘creative’.
Overall, for anyone interested in the little T-60, this book is an overdue item for your library. The information is extremely useful and clearly explains how at any one time there could be production of the basic tank, tanks with appliqué armour and vehicles with thicker armour. There is some discussion of variations between factories – for example Factory 264 having some ‘all-steel’ wheels with internal rubber, as in the T-34 and KV tanks of the period. However, the book lacks a clear summary of the production differences, explaining for example when and where the different exhaust pipes were fitted. With MiniArt releasing a series of different T-60 versions, I had hoped for some clarity about the types. At around £30 from booksellers, this book is a good read and a valuable reference for anyone who loves quirky little Russian tanks.