BT-2 during trials.
The initials "BT" comes from Bystrochodnyj Tank which meant "fast tank". With the engine and transmission located in the rear, the BT:s turret was identical to that used on the original Christie tank and was mounted centrally on the forward part, with the driver seated centrally at the extreme front. As on the original Christie tank, the BT could run on either wheels or tracks, a change which took approx. 30 minutes. When running on tracks, the chain sprocket on each side of the driving wheel was replaced by four rollers which drove the tracks via the driving lugs carried on alternate track plates. When using the wheels, the power was transmitted from the main driving wheels to the solid steering bogie wheels through a chain drive. When running on tracks, the vehicle was steered by the conventional clutch and brake method.
In 1930 Soviet Union purchased military equipment from Germany, France, Great Britain and the USA. Among these were a tank prototype designed by J. Walther Christie. In early 1931 two Christie tanks arrived to the USSR, and they were thoroughly tested. After demonstration to the Soviet High Command and Government, a modified Christie tanks was accepted for production as BT-2. (Bystrochodnyj Tank, fast tank). The Kharkov Steamer Plant took care of the production, but a shortage of M5 engines was compensated with US Liberty aircraft engines. Poor quality of rubber seriously reduced running capabilities. The factory failed to produce stamped road wheels, and therefore the cast ones adopted made the BT-2 800kg heavier. The production of stamped road wheels didn't start until 1932. Only 434 BT-2 of the planned 600 were built, and only 396 were accepted by the Red Army, mainly without armament. There were numerous problems with the armament as the turret was too small for a coupled installation of the B-3 tank gun and the DT machine gun. Due to this, the first 60 BT-2's manufactured lacked the machine gun. The plan was to install the armaments separately, but deliveries of the B-3 gun failed. As a result 350 of 610 tanks built in 1932-33 were armed with DA-2 coupled machine gun installation. The BT-2 was modified several times during the production, and as a result the BT-5 appeared and was put into production in 1933. BT-2 tanks took part in the Polish campaign of 1939, and in the Winter War with Finns in early 1940. Intended to have been withdrawn from front-line service in 1940, but the reorganization of the Red Army along with the forming of the armored corps and the German invasion of 1941, this never happened. Very few of the obsolete BT-2's survived the battles of 1941, but few still were in service in 1942-43 on the Leningrad front and in Karelia.
BT-2 during trials.