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  1. The idea to produce a Romanian MBT was considered after 1968 invasion of Czechoslovakia and it started at the beginning of 70s when Romanian Communist Party embarked in an effort of industrialization of the country. Along with MBTs, an entire variety of armored vehicle was produced ranging from APCs and IFVs to SPGs. I'll start with tanks and I will gradually add posts to this thread. Keep in mind that I am not a specialist and I am open to advice/suggestions. There is very little reliable info available online, some sources give contradictory information but I’ve selected the info from reliable sites and included some considerations of military personnel who served on this tank or worked in the said factories(mainly from http://www.rumaniamilitary.ro website articles and comments); I tried to avoid internet articles, some are poorly documented and contain mistakes and even urban legends. Pretty often Romanian TR tanks series are mistakenly considered T-55s local copies which is quite wrong. Although Romania received the license of T-55 from USSR, it never produced this tank but rather imported it from USSR and Czechoslovakia due to WP internal rules of importing equipment of each other. The Czechoslovak products were preferred due to their better quality/reliability. TR-77-580 The first Romanian tank project yielded results in 1972, as a strategic part of the national defense doctrine. One of the reasons for which Romania’s political leadership accelerated industrialization was for military purposes, including tanks. The first Romanian tank was supposed to be medium one, with a 500 hp engine and was to be named with the TR designation, an acronym for Romanian Tank. The factory was supposed to be located in Marsa, in Sibiu county, in Romania’s western area however subsequently staff and production were moved to ‘August 23rd’ Enterprises in Bucharest where it were put into use various machines received from China. Another reason was the fact that Romanian Army did not considered T-55s as suitable for its doctrine and they requested a better armored medium, with better cabin for crew, better armor, NBC, anti-nuke protection and more ammo stored and better firepower. The only chapter were the first series (TR-77-850) failed was the maneuverability since the tank was 11 tons heavier and only the second generation engine of 850 HP solved this issue (middle 80s). The fist experimental model, the TR-77, came out in 1976, as a pre-mass production. After tests, the TR-77-580 came out and that same year, mass production started, with a target of 210 tanks a year. Compared with T-55, Romanian TR-77-580 had a stretched hull and an extra road wheel on each side to be able to fit the new engine, but the first series received the 580 HP engine and only later the 800 HP was gradually added. Just by looking at the tank, you may be mistaken that it was either a T-54 or a T-55, however this is basically a T-55 on steroids with double the armor, lengthened hull, a domestic anti-tank gun that looks similar to the D-10T (which was continuously improved and developed until 90s), and two extra pairs of roadwheels that are smaller in diameter. Armor: Unlike the T-55, the TR-77 got a thick stratified armor with 320mm on the turret front, and 200mm of armor on the hull (2 100mm plates), along with armored side skirts unlike the rubber side skirts of the T-55AM. This is already superior to the nominal armor of any other tank of its category with just RHA, and stratified armor is of course even better. The armor was theoretically better than the M60A1, T-62, Leopard I, and even the Chieftain. The use of a frontal 200 mm was at first controversial, and had a direct impact on the weight, of around three tons. Chief feature of the series is more than double the armor of T-55 using new technologies. At 200 mm thickness, it surpasses M60 even if only laminated type of armor; turret has 320 mm stratified which makes it one of the best armored tanks compared with most Western models of the same era. Gun: The TR-77-580 is armed with Romanian rifled 100mm A308 which is a variant of the 100mm anti-tank gun (M1977/A307) which also had a naval version (A430). It used 100mm BM 412 Sg ammunition that some sites claim that it is APDS but it’s mainly said to be a form of APFSDS ammunition. This ammo come later into service, at the same time with TR-85 (which was developed in middle 80s based on the experience acquired with TR-77 and using Chinese help). Other ammo used was BK-412 as HEAT ammunition, OF 412 as HE. It has a stabilizer, electric horizontally and hydraulic vertically. The gun itself was very resistant and it wasn’t uncommon to shot 250 rounds to a single exercise which I think says a lot about its durability. Rate of fire is from 7 to 15 rounds per minute, limited only by loader and muzzle velocity is 900 m/s for HE and 1400 m/s for APFSDS-T. Maneuverability: During its development, TR-77-580 was designed for a 830-860 hp engine allegedly derived from the Leopard I. Also Romanian engineers studied Israeli Centurions captured by Syria. This was partially the reason why the tank was lengthened and why it has 2 more road wheels than the T-55 and later it was upgraded with new engine and these variants were named TR-800/TM-800. For the first series it was used a local copy of the T-55’s V-55U engine which put out about 580 HP hence the name of the tank. The TR-77-580’s road wheels are evenly spaced out while the TR-800/TM-800 and the TR-85 has 2 widely spaced out wheels in the front while the back 4 are very close together. The delay in development of the 860 HP engine made the acceleration weaker than T-55s one. Probably mobility wise it is on par with Chieftain. Variants: TR-77-580 – Basic variant, chief feature of the series is more than double the armor of T-55 and is stratified. At 200 mm thickness, it surpasses M60 and deserves 12 FAV; turret has 320 mm stratified; It could be seen in the first pictures from this post. TR-77-580M – One of the first upgrades was to a LRF and ballistic computer; here is a pic with a TR-77-580 TR-77-580M1 – Main feature was its back elongated turret for better accommodation of crew, more ammo stored which would result in a better ROF than T-55s (9 rounds per minute). The pic shows one stripped of equipment and ready to be phased out; The number of tanks of this variant was small because they considered that it needs the 800 HP engine first. It was tested in 1979 by 912th Tank Battalion in Murfatlar although other sources claim is a late model. In middle/late 80s this model received 830 HP engine. The models in the photos are now exposed in a military units (not active anymore) and are stripped of equipment (skirts, boxes, MG, periscopes, IR projector, thermal sleeve and bore evacuator on the gun). Starting in 1983, a decision was made to raise the number of produced tanks to 500, once the new TR-85 model came out. By 1985, only 406 Romanian TR-77-580 tanks were made. To resume this tank weighed 42 tons, had a 580 hp Diesel engine, a top speed of 50 km/h, and a range of 380 km. It had an electric-hydraulic stabilizing system and 200 mm armor on frontal glacis and 380 mm stratified one on turret. Its armament was a 100 mm cannon that could fire six shots a minute, two machine guns and a crew of 4.
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