The Red Army is spoiled for choice when it comes to Light Tanks with fourteen options/variants. But just how good are these options on the table? Are they worth taking? Is there one that stands above the rest? And what guns and options do they have? I shall attempt to answer all of these questions and hopefully address a few more. This is my breakdown of all the Soviet Light Tanks!
Note: For the purpose of simplicity, all Tanks will be reviewed as Regular and fielded in a 1,000pt. Generic Reinforced Platoon. This selection will only cover domestically built Light Tanks for the USSR. Lend Lease vehicles will have their own section. Light Tanks from Theater and Campaign books are also included.
Armored vehicles with Armor 7 and 8
T-26A – 70 points, two independent MMG turrets, Armor 7. Cheap, small and able to put serious firepower onto infantry and artillery this Tank at first glance seems pretty good. But when you take into consideration it fills the Platoons Tank slot and offers zero AT firepower, and isn’t very survivable, there are much better choices for this all important place in your Platoon. At a minimum, your Tank should be able to damage Armor 7 vehicles.
T-26B – 105 points, turret mounted Light AT Gun with coax MMG, Armor 7. Based off of the same chassis as the T-26A, this little Tank swaps the two MMG turrets for a Light AT gun. But at 105 points for a single shot gun, and still has the weak Armor 7, it’s a tough call to bring this in your Platoon. For 15 more points you could take a BT series Tank with the same armaments and Armor 8. That one step up in armor makes a world of difference in my experience.
OT-26/OT-133 – 105 points, turret mounted Flamethrower and coax MMG, Armor7, Internal Volatile Fuel Tanks. Where to begin? Takes up the Tank slot, has weak AT firepower unless you’re Point Blank against the enemy tank. Once again poor armor/survivability, and has Internal Volatile Fuel Tanks which adds +1 to your Damage Chart roll, giving you a ⅔ chance of exploding. If you’re dead set on taking a Flame Tank look elsewhere.
BT-5/BT-7 and BT-7A – 125 points, Light AT Gun and coax MMG, Armor 8. This is the first Soviet tank worth taking at 1,000pts so far. At Armor 8 you have a good chance to stay alive from anything with a +3 Pen, and a reasonable chance if it’s +4. Once you start facing a Medium AT Guns it gets much less favorable and you need to watch your movement carefully. That being said, I don’t like taking a BT series tank because it’s 125 points for a single die roll. Now, for the exact same points, you can take a BT-7A upgrade. The BT-7A replaces the Light AT for a Light Howitzer. This is a fantastic upgrade for your Tank. With a standard BT-7 infantry aren’t really scared of it, especially if in Hard Cover. But with a Light Howitzer, your Tank can now put some serious fire onto squads both outside and inside of buildings.
T-37 – 65 points, turret mounted LMG, Armor 7, Amphibious. Is it small? Yes. Is it cheap? Yes. Is it survivable? No. Should you take it in your tank slot at 1,000 points? No! A standard (non-German) Light Machine Gun just isn’t gonna do much for you. Especially when it is the sole armament on the vehicle in your Tank slot. As for the Amphibious rule, it’s cool but sadly it will probably never come up during a game.
T-40 – 80 points, turret mounted HMG with coax MMG, Armor 7, Amphibious. The only difference here from the aforementioned T-37, is you upgrade your MMG to a HMG. This, admittedly, gives you a tiny amount of anti-armor capability. But more importantly it gives you a way to really hurt Veteran infantry. But it’s not worth taking in the Tank slot. If this was in the Armored Car slot? It might be worth it, but sadly it’s not.
T-50 – 125 points, Light AT Gun and coax MMG, Armor 8. This is much like the BT series previously mentioned. Main difference is you can’t swap armaments, and it’s smaller than a BT. Harder to hit but harder to justify taking with its single shot and relatively weak anti-infantry abilities.
T-60 – 105 points, turret mounted Light Autocannon with coax MMG, Armor 8. This is a small, compact tank, with identical stats to the Panzer II, but smaller in size. To me, this is a tough call. It’s a good little Tank for zooming around killing infantry and soft-skin vehicles, but won’t be much use in fighting other Tanks. This is a vehicle that I desperately wish was in the Armored Car slot as Autocannons are excellent in Bolt Action. This can be taken in your list, but you need to bring other forms of anti-tank; i.e. an AT gun in the Artillery slot, or preferably, multiple forms of AT. Overall, I would recommend the T-60.
T-70 -125 points, turret mounted Light Anti Tank Gun with coax MMG, Armor 8. This is pretty much a T-50 in game stats wise. No extra rules or cool abilities. Same guns, armor and speed, and same shortcomings the BT-5/7 and T-50 have.
T-28/T-28c – 155 points, turret mounted Light Howitzer with coax MMG, Pintle mount MMG, turret mounted MMG covering front and left arc, turret mounted MMG covering front and right arc. This is a big Tank, it’s long and tall and will be a prime target for your opponent. For frame of reference, it’s larger than most Medium Tanks such as a T-34, M4, Panzer IV, ect. But wow, is it an infantry killing beast! It can put out 20 machine gun shots per Turn, a Pin on up to four different targets! Now, like all other Soviet Light Tanks, it comes with its share of issues. Besides its immense bulk, its Light Howitzer will struggle against enemy armor. Its armor for such a large vehicle isn’t very good, but that’s where you can upgrade it to the T-28c. The T-28c upgrade gives you Front Armor 9 while keeping the rest of it Armor 8, and makes it Slow, for a measly 10 points. To me, it’s a no brainer. Your Tank becomes considerably harder to kill, and retains all of its firepower for a reduction in mobility. In my experience, Tanks aren’t generally running wild around the battlefield anyways, so the loss of speed is a non issue.
OT-130 – 72 points, turret mounted Light Flamethrower, Armor 7. This is the only vehicle in this article where we will be looking at the Inexperienced rating, as that is its only option for the OT-103. This is basically a T-26B that swaps its AT gun for a Flamethrower, but with two important additional rules. Internal Volatile Fuel Tanks (as with all Flamethrower vehicles), and Small Vehicle Flamethrower. Small Vehicle Flamethrower reduces your number of hits from D6+1 to D6, which isn’t bad, but when you add up all of the other negatives; poor armor, must be Inexperienced, more likely to explode, and a weaker Flamethrower, this tank should stay off the table.
With most of the Soviet Light Tanks being little more than a machine gun carrier, the options dwindle down pretty fast. My top three picks are the T-28c, T-60, and BT-7A. The Flame Tanks should be avoided and the tanks with the Light AT plus coax MMG just aren’t worth their points. This comes with a caveat though. If you take any of these vehicles, I cannot stress enough the need to address their lack of effective AT. You will need to utilize the three Anti-Tank Team slots in the Soviet Generic Reinforced Platoon or bring a dedicated AT gun. Or better yet, both.
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