BT-42

The Parola tank museum has a large collection of Russian tanks, some of which happen to be extremely rare — or ones that could otherwise only be found in Russia itself. One of these rare vehicles is the BT-42: a Finnish modification of the BT-7.

During the Winter War and later the Continuation War, Finnish troops captured some BT series tanks. Originally, none of the captured BT-7 tanks were used because of their poor reliability. Eventually, starting in autumn 1942, 18 of the captured BT-7 tanks were converted into assault guns carrying a British 114 mm Howitzer model 1908 which had been gifted by the UK during the Winter War.

The BT series of light tanks is generally known for it’s high top speeds, hence the name Быстрокходный Танк  (Bystrodhodnyy Tank) which  roughly translates to high-speed tank. The BT-42, however, is an exception as the essentially unchanged BT-7 hull it was based on couldn’t cope with the increased weight of the turret and its gun.

Source: unknown | Wartime photograph of the BT-42

The performance of the BT-42 in battle was poor. The 114 mm gun wasn’t able to effectively deal with the Russian armour anymore while its own armour protection also seemed to be inadequate. Furthermore, the large turret made it an easy target for enemy gunners.

This tank features Christie’s suspension design which allowed the tank to travel at great speed. This type of suspension could also be operated without tracks: the first wheel is able to be steered and a chain from the drive sprocket would transfer power to one of the road wheels.

The specimen found in Parola, is the last surviving BT-42 in the world. All others had been lost of scrapped at the end of the war. This tank had been transferred to the museum in 1961.