The Polish 7TP was a was based on the Vickers 6-ton, which also inspired the Soviet T-26 and the US Light Tank, M2. The 7TP received several improvements over the Vickers 6-ton, including a more reliable engine (using a license-build Saurer-Diesel engine, a first in Europe), a better cooling system and upgraded armour.
Two variants existed: a twin turret version and a single turret version. The twin turret version was armed with two 7,92 mm Ckm wz. 30 machine guns (a copy of the US Browning M1917 heavy machine gun). The two turrets were not fully traversable, and were therefore not very effective. The single turret version was armed with a modified Bofors 37 mm anti-tank gun 36 (named 37 mm Bofors wz. 37) with a Zeiss telescopic sight and a single Ckm wz. 30 machine gun.
The two different versions have become known as 7TPdw and 7TPjw in post-war western litterature, with "dw" being short for "dwuwieżowy" (twin-turreted) and "jw" being short for "jednowieżowy" (single-turreted), however these designations were not used officially by Poland.
Prototype trials started in mid-1934, and 22 were ordered on 1935-03-18, along with 10 special-made railway waggons for rail transportation. Bofors initially handled turret production for the single turret version, and delivered the first 16 turrets between 1936-02 and 1937-01. From 1938-05, the turret production was moved to Poland. Several twin turret versions were upgraded to the superior single turret. In addition, the cooling and exhaust system was upgraded during production.
By the time of the German invasion of Poland, a total of 135 7TPs were available. The two main units equipped with the 7TP were the 1st and 2nd Light Tank Battalion, each equipped with 49 single turret 7TPs. In addition, single and twin turret versions of the 7TP fought in the defence of Warsaw. The 7TP was superior to the German Pz. Kpfw. I, Pz. Kpfw. II and Pz. Kpfw. 35(t), and was able to penetrate the armour on all sides of the Pz. Kpfw. 38(t), Pz. Kpfw. III and Pz. Kpfw. IV. Due to its thin armour, however, it was vulnerable against all German anti-tank weapons.
After Poland's defeat, Germany used captured 7TPs for training purposes and for police and anti-partisan warfare. Yugoslavia and Afghanistan were interested in buying 36 and 12 single turret 7TP's respectively, however Germany invaded Poland before the deals could be concluded.
The 7TP's chassis was also used as the basis for the C7P artillery tractor, of which a few also served as armoured recovery vehicles for 7TP units.
|Single turret||Twin turret|
|Weight||9.9 t||- t|
|Height||2.27 m||- m|
|Armour (range)||5-17 mm|
|Speed (max)||37 km/h|
|Primary weapon||37 mm Bofors wz. 37 (1)||Ckm wz. 30 (2)|
|Secondary weapon||Ckm wz. 30 (1)||-|