NI tank

Place of origin  Soviet Union
Service history
In service 1941
Used by Soviet Union
Wars World War II
Production history
Designed 1941
Manufacturer January Uprising Mechanical Plant (Odessa)[1]
Produced 1941
Number built 69
Weight 7 tonnes
Crew 2 - 3

Engine 1MA

The NI tank (/ˈn/; Russian: Танк НИ tank NI, abbr. На Испуг, Na Ispug, literally "for fright"), was an improvised Soviet armoured fighting vehicle, based on an STZ-5 agricultural tractor, manufactured in Odessa during the Siege of Odessa.[1]


NI-1 Diagram: 1  armoured hull, 2  side armour, 3  engine compartment, 4  turret, 5  fenders, 6  track armour, 7  machine gun armour, 8  DShK machine gun, 9  hook, 10  toolbox, 11  exhaust pipe, 12  chassis beams, 13  chassis front, 14  tow hitch, 15  idler, 16  support roller, 17  driving wheel, 18  roller, 19  DT machine gun

At the beginning of the war between the Axis and the Soviet Union, a majority of the factories were evacuated, including most of the equipment from the January Uprising Factory. There was machinery left and it was decided that it would be used to service battle-damaged tanks arriving from the front.[1]

When the army fighting on the outskirts of Odessa (the city defences held out for seventy-two days before the army pulled back) started experiencing shortages in tanks, the workers from the factory decided to build a fighting vehicle of their own design. Aided by the workers from other factories, January Uprising workers built a large metal box and put it on the tractor. Also added was a traversable turret with either a mountain gun or a large-calibre machine gun. The armour was a sandwich of thin naval steel or boiler plate and wood or rubber sheeting to improve protection against small arms. The resulting machine was unlike any other fighting vehicle of the time and made a loud noise when it moved.

Armament was varied to whatever was on hand, including machine guns ShVAK cannon, sub-turrets from T-26 Model 1931 tanks, new turrets with 37 mm Model 15R mountain guns or 45 mm anti-tank guns.

Production history

A total of 69 NI tanks were produced.[2]

Combat use

The first NI left the factory on August 20, 1941. Another two machines were built before it saw its first combat on September 1 in a local engagement on the outskirts of the city. When German troops saw an armoured formation including the unusual looking machines noisily making their way toward them, they retreated back to their starting positions. It was then decided to pull the tanks back to keep their nature secret.

Even though the tanks' speed was very slow (7 km/h (4.3 mph)), their armour was able to withstand small arms fire. In the second half of September, a battalion was formed equipped with NI tanks. In one episode, the tanks entered a village occupied by German troops and while under fire were able to tow away 24 German guns.

Romanian forces captured at least 14 tanks as of 1 November 1942.[3]

See also


  1. 1 2 3 Н. И. Крылов. Не померкнет никогда. М., Воениздат, 1984. стр.107-109
  2. Тыл советских вооружённых сил в Великой Отечественной войне 1941-1945 гг. // колл. авт., под ред. генерала армии С. К. Куркоткина. М., Воениздат, 1977. стр.438
  3. Mark Axworthy, Cornel I. Scafeș, Cristian Crăciunoiu, Third Axis, Fourth Ally: Romanian Armed Forces in the European War, 1941-1945, p. 220
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