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Click here to view this topic in its original format Forum > The Interwar Period (1920-1940) > Soviet use of airborne tanks, Basarabia 1940?

Posted by: sid guttridge September 13, 2005 11:53 am
According to p.192 of "Soviet Tanks and Combat Vehicles of World War Two" by Steven Zaloga and James Grandsen (Arms and Armour Press, London, 1984):

"There are reports that during the 1940 seizure of Basarabia from Roumania, the airborne units assigned to capturing airfields were reinforced by (T-37) light tanks which were dropped from only a few metres by slow-flying TB-3 bombers. They were apparently without crews, and one hopes that the clutches were in neutral."

If this is true, it is presumably the first ever attempted operational use of airborne tanks in history.

Is there any additional evidence that this really occurred?

Many thanks,


Posted by: Jeff_S September 16, 2005 02:16 pm
It sounds like an early version of the CAM extraction the US 82d Airborne used to do with their Sheridan tanks. I've seen it done, and it was cool to watch. But one of the crews told me they basically needed to tear the tank apart for maintenance after each drop... all the optics and many of the electronic and mechanical systems were useless.

But I'm sure the T-37 was simpler, which is an advantage in this case.

Posted by: JiriTintera March 09, 2015 09:14 pm
user posted image

Rather late than never. Experiments with TB-3 and T-37.


Posted by: Florin March 12, 2015 06:26 am
After Soviet Union entered into war (and obviously after she grabbed Bessarabia in 1940), Oleg Konstantinovich Antonov designed KT "Kryl'ja Tanka" ("Tank Wings") biplane glider that was designed to airlift tanks.
I am not aware of any practical application of this project during the war.

The photos posted by "JiriTintera" are very interesting indeed - it seems they were taken before the war.
However, the experiment is above water.
Landing on ground would present a formidable stress for the tracks and the vibrations damping systems.
However, the tracks may have survived. I am thinking of other famous pre-war Soviet photos with their fast little tanks "flying" after running over an elevation.

Another problem:
The way I know it, most part of the invasion of Bessarabia occurred during one night. Back then, such "tanks drop" operation could not happen during night.
The regular motorized / armored advanced so fast, that next morning would have been pointless to drop tanks from planes in locations most probable already overrun by the rest of the Soviet troops.

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