Soviet T-10 Heavy Tank And Variantsx

Published: July 18th, 2017     
Product Image
Book cover
Author: James Kinnear and Stephen (Cookie) Sewell
Reviewed by: 
Andrew Birkbeck, IPMS# 27087
Company: Osprey Publishing, UK
ISBN #: 978-1-4728-2051-8
Other Publication Information: Publication Date: 29 Jun 2017; 232 pages; Product Dimensions: 7.5 x 1 x 10.1 inches; 130 contemporary and modern photographs;
Price: $32.00

During the early 1930's, the Soviet Union's military embarked upon a program to produce a massive new tank force capable of defending the vast territories of the Motherland. Tank production was broken down into six "types" of vehicles: amphibious scout tanks (as there was massive amounts of waterways and marshland within the country); light tanks; infantry support tanks; fast (cavalry) tanks; medium tanks; and heavy tanks. The latter were to be produced in smaller numbers (due to their expense and also complexity of production) and utilized for "breakthrough" maneuvers such as engaging large concentrations of enemy tanks, or against hard to dislodge fixed defensive positions unable to be dealt with by lighter armed or armored tank units.

During the emergency wartime production conditions brought about by the invasion of the Soviet Union by Nazi Germany in 1941, and especially the need to disrupt tank production by moving production facilities further east as German forces fought their way towards Moscow and Leningrad, the Soviets simplified tank development and production into just three categories: light, medium and heavy tanks. During the latter stages of the Second World War the Soviets produced a new line of heavy tanks, successor to the KV series of heavy tanks, and named in honor of their authoritarian leader Iosif (Joseph) Stalin: the IS series, the largest production numbers of which during WW2 were the IS-2. The IS-2 Model 1944 mounted an impressive 122mm gun, the D25-T.

Development of the IS-series continued, and at the Allied Victory Parade in Berlin during September 1945, the Soviets displayed a small number of a new heavy tank, the IS-3. This had a new front hull design and a radically new, semi-hemispherical turret. It also took the Western powers completely by surprise, and caused the USA, the United Kingdom and France to counter with their own heavy tank design and production programs. However, unknown to the West, the IS-3 was a failure, suffering as it did from many technical problems, and keeping production to relatively insignificant numbers. Likewise, the IS-4 which was introduced around the same time and scheduled to replace the IS-3 also ended production after a very short time span. It too suffered numerous production problems and service issues, making it no more reliable than the IS-3 it was supposed to replace!

A new heavy tank design minus the problems of the IS-3/4 was now urgently needed. Initially Soviet designers went off on some even more radical tangents, before returning to something that ultimately proved to be more practical: the IS-10. This mated the proven 122mm D-25T main gun, the running gear of the IS-4, and the armor layout and heavily angled front hull of the IS-3. This would produce what turned out to be the very last of the Soviet Union's heavy tanks, a vehicle that with the death of Stalin in 1953 (and the launch of a rapid de-Stalinization campaign) ended up being known simply as the T-10, or Tank-10.

As far as I am aware, this new book by Kinnear and Sewell is the first major title in English on this important, and final, Soviet Heavy Tank. The book is hard cover, with the pages measuring 7 x 9.75 inches, and contains 232 pages. The book is divided into five chapters and nine appendixes:

  • Chapter One: Development History
  • Chapter Two: Service and Combat History
  • Chapter Three: The T-10 Tank Variants Described
  • Chapter Four: Derivatives of the T-10 Tank Design
  • Chapter Five: Preserved T-10 Tanks
  • Appendix One: T-10 Development, Production and Service Chronology
  • Appendix Two: T-10 Production Data Tables
  • Appendix Three: Soviet Era Tank Design and Production Flow
  • Appendix Four: T-10M Cutaway Diagram
  • Appendix Five: Obiekt Number Listing of T-10 Tanks, Prototypes and Projects
  • Appendix Six: Foreign Perspectives: T-10 Recognition during the Cold War
  • Appendix Seven: Preserved T-10 Tanks
  • Appendix Eight: T-10 and Variant Specifications: Data Tables
  • Appendix Nine: Glossary and Abbreviations

The book starts out with a well written and concise chapter on the development history of the IS-series of heavy tanks. There are a number of well reproduced black and white period photos to support the written text, together with some excellent side view color plates. One criticism is that in the age of computer assisted design layout, why can't these color plates be reproduced sideways on one page, rather than being laid out across the book's spine?

Chapter Two covers the T-10 in Soviet Army service (none of the T-10 series of vehicles was exported outside the Soviet Union), and its one use "in combat": the 1968 Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia, Operation Danube. In fact, the T-10M tanks in operation during this invasion did not fire in anger. This chapter is nicely supported by a great number of black and white period photos and color photos of museum examples, with my only criticism of these being that many are rather small in format. One other criticism is that we have two nice sets of drawings, printed across the spine and thus obliterating details.

Chapter Three takes each "mark" of the T-10 series of tanks, and provides both a written description of each, supported with numerous black and white period photos together with color photos of museum examples. The text and photos are additionally supported by numerous line drawings, and also reproduced drawings from a 1956 T-10 Operator's Manual. This chapter provides excellent details for those interested in modeling the T-10 tank kits that exist in either of the main scales, 1/35th and 1/72nd.

The T-10 chassis was utilized in the production of a great variety of non-tank vehicles. Chapter Four details many of these, including mine clearing vehicles, experimental SPGs, some designed to lob tactical nuclear shells. With the dawn of the missile age, T-10 chassis were turned into mobile transport and launch platforms for nuclear armed missiles, such as for the RT-15 Medium Range Ballistic Missile.

Chapter Five deals with "preserved T-10's": gate guards and museum examples are shown in black and white and numerous color photos, both internal and external vehicle shots. Just what the modeler ordered! The photos are clear and for the most part of a suitable size to allow a modeler to discern useful details.

The Appendices are loaded down with details covering the T-10 series of vehicles through to the T-10MK, including but not limited to production data tables, production by industrial plant, vehicle serial numbers, vehicle specifications, plus a T-10M cutaway (somewhat tarnished due to being placed across the book spine), etc.

In conclusion? Well, there isn't a whole lot "out there" in the publishing world on this very important final act of the Soviet heavy tank program. So, this book would be welcomed even if it was only "the basics". Luckily for we readers, it is far more than just the basics, loaded as it is with great information on the development, production and field use of the T-10 series of vehicles. The written text is informative, the photos for the most part clear, along with various color and markings info, and line drawings. For the price, it also offers great value for your money. Thus, I rate it as a "highly recommended" for anyone with an interest in Soviet armored fighting vehicles.

My sincere thanks to Osprey Publishing for allowing IPMS USA to review this great book.

  • Front cover
    Front cover
  • Example color photograph from page 131
    Example color photograph from page 131
  • Sample illustrations, top one of the radio communications system mounted in the turret, the lower providing a breakdown of location of instruments in the driver-mechanic's compartment
    Sample illustrations, top one of the radio communications system mounted in the turret, the lower providing a breakdown of location of instruments in the driver-mechanic's compartment
  • Sample line drawing of T-10M with rear turret bustle stowage
    Sample line drawing of T-10M with rear turret bustle stowage