Nicholas Astrov's design team at Moscow Factory No. 37 was assigned the task of designing amphibious and non-amphibious scout tanks in 1938. They produced the T-30A and T-30B prototypes. The former was to be manufactured as the T-40 amphibious tank starting in 1940. It also led to the T-40S (sukhoputniy, 'dry-land' version), a heavier tank prototype which was considered too complex to manufacture. The T-30B prototype, sharing the T-40's chassis but simpler in construction and with heavier armour, was accepted as the T-60 scout tank, and production began in July 1941, just after the German invasion.
Although at first intended to carry a 12.7 mm machine gun like the T-40, the armament was later upgraded to the 20 mm TNSh cannon, a tank version of the ShVAK, on the advisement of the People's Commissar for Tank Industry Vyacheslav Malyshev. This weapon could penetrate 15 mm of perpendicular armour at 500 m which proved inadequate against the newer up-armoured German tank designs, thus attempts were made in 1942 to re-arm the T-60 with the 37 mm ZIS-19 cannon, but were abandoned due to the Soviet Union's shortage of 37 mm ammunition. Due to this a new project was started to house the standard 45mm tank gun on a modified turret. That became impossible, and a new turret was designed and tested successfully in the summer of 1942. The new turret had the gun moved to its right side to make more room for the crew member and a co-axial machine gun was added. The project was terminated when Stavka chose the recently produced T-70 as the new standard light tank.