A recent article from “Russia Beyond the Headlines” inadvertently illustrates the importance of the hyphen in tank designations. Generally, Soviet/Russian tanks include a hyphen in their designation. Examples of this are MS-1, T-34 or T-80. US designations generally are not written with the hyphen, so they look like M4, M60 or M1. Since US tanks are generally designated with an “M” and Soviet/Russian tanks with a “T”, the hyphen is usually not all that important. However, the tricky part comes with US prototype vehicles, which were often designated with a “T.” For for example, the US prototype heavy tank “T34” is easy to confuse with the much more famous Soviet medium tank “T-34.” The Russia Beyond the Headlines article “Saddling the Iron horse: How Soviet tanks were born and bred” runs right into this common pitfall. In discussing early Soviet tank design, they mention the T-20, a development of the T-18 (MS-1), one of the very first Soviet tank designs. However, the accompanying picture in the article is an American T20 medium tank prototype from the 1940’s. The T20 was the first of a series of designs that would eventually result in the M26 Pershing tank. Very different vehicles indeed!
(Credit to Peter Samsonov for finding T-20 picture)