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  1. Source All Credit goes to: Mike Ennamoro and Tiles Murphy I highly recommend checking out there other articles, espically that on T-72 BLACK SHEEP Ask anybody politically savvy aged 50 and above and they will tell you that the unending string of proxy wars during the Cold War exuded a mostly artificial, but ever-present atmosphere of an imminent danger of a escalation into a full-blown nuclear world war. Fear and paranoia drove an age of accelerated technology growth predominantly concentrated in the military sector, producing various innovations which have crossed over into the non-military world. The proof is in our history textbooks today. The first rockets that sent satellites to space, for example, were modified ICBMs, and the Internet was originally a military project. New tanks sprang up like mushrooms after rain all over the world in approximately decadal increments, always to counter the last, always eclipsed by the next, but sometimes bordering on obsolescence from the moment they were created. One unfortunate example of the latter is the T-62. The T-62 is undeniably the least memorable among all of its world-famous post war era brothers - the T-54/55, T-64, T-72, T-80 and T-90 all come to mind - and it is also arguably the least historically significant among them all, but it was a step nonetheless in the evolutionary path to the modern T-14 we know today, and its relevance on the battlefield was certainly undeniable for the better part of two decades. The sentiment among the few amateur academic-enthusiasts that haven't forgotten the T-62's existence is that it was a highly mediocre design with a whopping gun, and in many ways, that is perfectly true from a technological standpoint in the evolution of armoured warfare during the Cold War. Between former Soviet tankers, however, the sentiment is slightly different. Many remember the T-62 fondly as a fairly reliable and endearing sweetheart that certainly had its own faults, but rarely ever disappointed - a sentiment echoed by Syrian and Iraqi tankers. The ones that lived, at least. Although woefully obsolete at present (it had already been totally purged from the Russian Armed Forces' inventories since 2013), it could at least boast of having the second most powerful tank cannon in the world for a few short years before being usurped by the T-64. Indeed, the sole reason of the T-62's existence was its pioneering smoothbore cannon. Tactically speaking, there were very few differences between it and its predecessor the T-54 in the mobility and armour protection departments, and the T-62 and the T-55, and indeed, both shared the same make of equipment to a large degree, thus simplifying both production and logistics. In fact, the technology of the T-62 was almost entirely derived from the T-55, and most of the interior instruments and controls are practically identical, making the transition from the T-54/55 to the T-62 wonderfully seamless. This degree of commonality wasn't entirely positive, though, because this meant that there was an unacceptable stagnation in armour technology - the type of stagnation seen on the American side of the Iron Curtain in their Patton series of tanks, which began service in the early 50's and dominated U.S Army tank units up til the early 80's. Had the designers decided to only continually modernize a T-54-type design like the Americans did with the Patton, then surely the Soviets would have never achieved the level of armoured superiority and technological excellence as they did in the late 60's, 70's and early 80's. The T-62 is an example of what Soviet tank armies could have been, but never was. It was flawed, redundant, unnecessary, and downright wasteful. But it was still valuable in its own little ways, and some of the technologies found in the T-62 even carried over to its successors. Many of its flaws (such as the U.S Army-propagated myth that it took 6 seconds to eject a spent shell casing) were in fact totally made up, but the tank was undeniably mediocre all the same. Tactically speaking, it had only a few advantages over its predecessor in the firepower department, but otherwise, the T-62 was nothing more than a more expensive T-55. It was plain to see that the T-62 was considered nothing more than a stopgap solution until the new and radically superior T-64 arrived on the scene, though it is some consolation that the T-62 was considered the most advanced Soviet main battle tank during its brief tenure. Being a mere evolutionary stepping stone, though, we can observe the way Soviet school of thought on mechanized warfare evolved with it. In the early 60's, tank riding infantry was still considered a core part of mechanized warfare. The armoured APC had arrived on the scene in the form of the wheeled BTR-152 and tracked BTR-50, but infantry were sometimes obliged to move and fight as one with a tank, and so to that end, the T-62 had handrails over the circumference of the turret for tank riders to hold on to. When the BMP-1 was introduced in 1966, it drove a major revision of contemporary tank tactics, and the shift in paradigm can be very well seen in the T-62's successors. The T-64 did not have any handrails, nor did the T-72, and the T-62M introduced in the late 60's abolished them too. The changes to the T-62 dutifully followed international trends too, most notably the global shift to jet power in the aviation industry. Too fast to be harmed by machine gun fire, the ground attack jet rendered the normally obligatory DShKM machine gun obsolete. The birth of the AH-1 Huey Cobra and the subsequent heavy use of helicopters for fire support and landing missions radically shifted the landscape, and the men and women at Uralvagonzavod obeyed. The DShKM was back by 1972. In the Soviet Union, the T-62 was produced from 1963 to 1975, with the first pre-production models appearing in 1961. After 1975, all "new" T-62s are actually simply upgraded, modified, or otherwise overhauled versions from the original production run. COMMANDER'S STATION The commander is seated on the port side of the turret, directly behind the gunner, and to his left is the R-113 radio station, created just as the T-62 first entered service in 1961. ' The R-113 radio operates in the 20.00 to 22.375 MHz range and has a range of 10 to 20 km with its 4 m-long antenna. It could be tuned into 96 frequencies within the limits of its frequency range. In 1965, the radio was swapped out for a newer and much more advanced R-123 radio. The R-123 radio had a frequency range of between 20 MHZ to 51.5 MHZ. It could be tuned to any frequency within those limits via a knob, or the commander could instantly switch between four preset frequencies for communications within a platoon. It had a range of between 16km to 50km. The R-123 had a novel, but rather redundant frosted glass prism window at the top of the apparatus that displayed the operating frequency. An internal bulb illuminated a dial, imposing it onto the prism where it is displayed. The R-123 had an advanced modular design that enabled it to be repaired quickly by simply swapping out individual modules. It is quite clear that the commander's station is the most habitable one by far in the very spartan T-62. The close proximity between all the turret occupants with each other and the shortage of breathing space makes the internal climate hot and humid, contributing to the overall discomfort. This is compounded by the fact that the crew isn't provided with any local ventilators such as fans or directed air vents, so it can get quite stuffy inside. However, the commander seems to be the most well off, since he sits right in front of the sole ventilator in the turret and he isn't required to exert himself physically, unlike the loader. Unique to the rest of the dome-shaped turret, the area around his station was cast to be devoid of any vertical sloping or rounding whatsoever, which was necessary to enable his rotating cupola to be installed. This meant that the debilitating effects of the ostensibly dome-shaped turret are completely lost on him. The cupola is mounted on a race ring. The fixed part constitutes half of the total size of the cupola, while the other half is occupied by the semicircular hatch, which has a maximum width of 590mm. The hatch opens forward, which is quite convenient for when the commander wants to survey the landscape from outside - perhaps with a pair binoculars - because being as thick as it is, the hatch is a superb bulletproof shield for protecting the commander from sniper fire. There is also a small porthole in the hatch. It is meant for an panoramic periscope tube for indirect fire. As befitting his tactical role, the commander's general visibility is facilitated by two TNPO-170 periscopes on either side of the primary surveillance periscope in the fixed forward half of the cupola, and further augmented by two more 54-36-318-R periscopes embedded in the hatch, aimed to either side for additional situational awareness. Overall, this scheme was sufficient for most purposes, but was deficient if compared to the much more generous allowance of periscopes and vision ports found on NATO tanks. The TNPO-170 periscope has a total range of vision of 94° in the horizontal plane and 23° in the vertical plane. The four periscopes in addition to the TKN-type periscope aimed directly forward gives the commander a somewhat acceptable field of vision over the turret's front arc. The use of periscopes instead of direct glass vision blocks presents pros and cons - for one, the lack of any direct vision means that the viewer's eyes is protected from machine gun fire or glass specks if the device is destroyed, but a bank of periscopes offer a much more limited panorama than vision blocks like the type found in the commander's cupola on the M60 tank. TKN-2 "Karmin" The original 1961 model of the T-62 featured the TKN-2 binocular periscopic surveillance device (above) mounted in the rotating cupola. It had a fixed x5 magnification in the day mode, with an angular field of view of 10°, allowing a nominal maximum detection range of a tank-sized target at approximately 3 km, though this was greatly dependent on geography as well as weather conditions. The periscope could be manipulated up by +10° and down by -5°, while the cupola would have to be turned for horizontal surveillance. The TKN-2 had an active night channel which picked up infrared light from the OU-3 IR spotlight attached to the periscope aperture to provide a limited degree of night vision to the commander. With a nominal viewing range of only about 300 to 400 m, the TKN-2 was all but useless for serious target acquisition at night, serving only to give away the tank's position the moment the spotlight was turned on. Performance could be improved with mortar-delivered IR flares, of course, but that doesn't count as an intrinsic merit of the device itself. Due to the fact that the periscope is unstabilized, identifying another tank at a distance is very difficult while on the move over very rough terrain. However, the commander is meant to bear down and brace against the handles of the periscope for improvised stabilization, which is adequate for when driving over a dirt road, but not when traversing over especially rough terrain. The periscope's small elevation allowance was for this purpose. The left handle has a thumb button for turning the OU-3 spotlight on or off. The OU-3 is a high-powered xenon arc lamp with an IR filter to create only infrared light. The filter isn't opaque, though, and the spotlight will glow faintly red. It is mechanically linked to the periscope, enabling it to elevate with the TKN-2. ^OU-3 IR spotlight with the IR filter removed to transform it into a regular white light spotlight^ TKN-3 "Kristal" In 1964, the revised T-62 was instead equipped with the TKN-3 pseudo-binocular combined periscope, which is a direct descendant of the TKN-2. Pseudo-binocular meaning that although the device has two eyepieces, the two optic tubes are combined to feed from one aperture, which the viewer sees out of. It has a fixed 5x magnification in the day channel with an angular field of view of 10°, and a fixed 3x magnification in the night channel with an angular field of view of 8°. The periscope can be manipulated up and down for elevation, and the commander's cupola must be turned for horizontal viewing. The TKN-3 was a sufficiently modern observation device of its time. It featured target cuing, was very compact, and had a relatively advanced passive light intensification system, but it wasn't stabilised, and featured only rudimentary rangefinding capabilities as a cost saving measure. It offered rudimentary night vision capability in two flavours; passive light intensification or active infrared. In the passive mode of operation, the TKN-3 intensifies ambient light to produce a more legible image. This mode is useful down to ambient lighting conditions of at least 0.005 lux, which would be equivalent to an overcast, moonless and starless night. In these conditions, the TKN-3 can be used to identify a tank-type target at a nominal distance of 400m, but as the amount of ambient light increases such as on starlit or moonlit nights, the distance at which a tank-sized target is discernible can be extended to up to 800m in dark twilight hours. Any brighter, though, and the image will be oversaturated and unintelligible. The active mode requires the use of the OU-3K IR spotlight, which is practically identical to the OU-3 performance-wise. With active infrared imaging, the commander can identify a tank at 800m, or potentially more if the opposing side is also using IR spotlights, in which case, the TKN-3 can be set to the active mode but without turning on the IR spotlight. Rangefinding is accomplished through the use of a stadiametric scale sighted for a target with a height of 2.7 m, which is the average size of the average NATO tank. Like the TKN-2, the TKN-3 is unstabilized, making it exceedingly difficult to reliably identify enemy tanks or other vehicles at extended distances while the tank is travelling over rough terrain, let alone determine the range. The left thumb button initiated turret traverse for target cuing, and the right thumb button turned the OU-3K spotlight on or off. The range of elevation is +10° to -5°, just like the TKN-2. The OU-3K spotlight is also directly mechanically linked to the periscope (the arm to which the spotlight is linked to can be seen in the photo above) to enable it to elevate with the TKN-3. Target cuing is done by placing the crosshair reticle in the periscope's viewfinder over the intended target and pressing the cue button. The system only accounts for the cupola's orientation, though, and not the periscope's elevation, so the cannon will not elevate to meet the target; only the turret will. Because the cupola did not was not counter rotated as turret traverse was initiated, it will be spun along with the turret as it rotates to meet the target cued by the commander, potentially causing him to lose his bearings. To prevent this, there is a simple U-shaped steel rung for him to brace with his right arm as he uses his left hand to designate the target. This wasn't as convenient as a counter rotating motor, of course, but it was better than nothing. Ventilation for the crew is facilitated by the KUV-3 ventilator, identifiable on the rear of the turret as a large, overturned frying pan-shaped tumor on the rear of the turret. A centrifugal fan inside the ventilator housing sucks in air and performs some low level filtration, ejecting dust and larger particles out of a small slit at the base of the housing (refer to photo above), and then released into the crew compartment, passing through a drum-shaped NBC filter unit inside the tank proper. The air can be optionally cleaned of chemical and biological contaminants by the filter in contaminated environments where the centrifugal fan is simply not enough. The filter unit also contains a supercharger to increase the positive pressure inside the tank to produce an overpressure, preventing chemical and biological agents from seeping into the tank. Notice the PVC pipe connecting it to the ventilation dome on the outside of the turret rear But being the commander is still a mixed blessing, because his seat is seated right in front of the hydraulic pump, subjecting him to more acoustic fatigue than anyone else in the tank (the green canister is the hydraulic pump). Nevertheless, the commander's station is the second most roomy one in the tank, besides the loader's station. Here in the photo below, you can see his seat back and the few pieces of equipment that he is responsible for. Sometime during the 70's, a select few T-62s received a shield of sorts over the commander's hatch. It is a sheet steel face shield with a canvas skirt draping down. Being so thin, the face shield is not bulletproof, though perhaps resistant to hand grenade fragments and small mortar splinters. Since it doesn't really do very well as ballistic protection, the main function of the shield appears to be to conceal the opening of the commander's hatch to disguise his exit from the prying eyes of snipers, and to keep away dust if the commander feels like sitting outside during road marches. Either way, not many T-62s received the addition, though almost all T-72s did. The reason for the bias is unknown. GUNNER'S STATION The gunner is squeezed into his corner of the turret, wedged between the turret wall to the left and the cannon breech to the right, and between the commander and the sights. It is so cramped that the commander must partially wrap his knees around him. As was, and still is common among manually loaded tanks, the gunner doesn't have a hatch of his own. Instead, he must ingress and egress through the commander's hatch. The biggest flaw with this layout is that if the commander is unconscious, incapacitated or killed, then the gunner will suddenly find it extremely difficult to leave the tank unless the commander was somehow completely vaporized. Even worse, if the tank has been struck, there is a very distinct possibility that the interior is catching fire. Plus, another flaw with the layout is if the turret was perforated through the front on the port side cheek, both the gunner and commander would be killed, effectively rendering the tank useless in combat. For extra visibility, the gunner has a single TNP-165 periscope pointed forward and slightly to the right, though for what exact purpose this lone periscope is meant for is unknown, since the field of view from it is so small that the gunner can't really see very much, nor can the commander seated behind him. It is more useful for the commander for checking directly in front of the tank. In addition to all of the necessary switches and toggle buttons to activate this and that, there are also some other odds and ends at his station, including a turret azimuth indicator, which is used to orient the turret for indirect fire. It is akin to a clock, having two hands - one for general indication measured in degrees, and the other in 100 mil increments for precise turret traverse. SIGHTING COMPLEX TSh2B-41 sight aperture port, with nuclear attack seal in place The gunner is provided with either a monocular TSh2B-41 or a TSh2B-41U (in later models) primary sight and a TPN-1-41-11 night sight, which also functions as a backup sight in the event of the failure or destruction of the primary sight. TSh2B-41 The TSh2B-41 is a monocular telescopic sight, functioning as the gunner's primary sight for direct fire purposes. It has two magnification settings, x3.5 or x7, and an angular field of view of 18° in the former setting and 9° in the latter setting. As was and still is common for all tank sights, it has an anti-glare coating for easier aiming when facing the sun. It comes with a small wiper to clean it from moisture, and it comes with an integrated heater for defrosting. Like most other tanks of its time, the T-62 lacked a ballistic computer, but it was also unusually deficient in the rangefinding department. For rangefinding, the gunner had to make use of a stadiametric ranging scale embossed on the sight aperture. Compared to optical coincidence rangefinders, stadia rangefinding was terribly imprecise, but also much simpler in both production and employment, and much more economical than, say, optical coincidence rangefinding. In fact, stadia rangefinding is essentially free, since all that is needed are some etchings into the sight lens. The savings made from the exclusion of an optical coincidence rangefinder were enormous, amounting to many thousands of rubles. Ranging errors of up to several hundred meters is often the norm, especially if some of the lower part of the target vehicle is obscured behind vegetation or other terrain features. It isn't uncommon for the first shot on faraway tank-sized targets to fall woefully short or fly clear over. Below is the sight picture: From left to right: APFSDS, HEAT, HE-Frag, Co-Axial Machine Gun When the gunner has obtained range data, he manually enters the necessary correction into the sighting system by turning a dial. The dial adjusts the sight to calibrate it for that range. Calibration is when the chevron is elevated or depressed to account for range. If the target is very far away, for example, then the chevron will be dropped significantly, forcing the gunner to sharply elevate the gun to line up the target with the chevron, thus forming a ballistic solution. Because APFSDS, HEAT and HE-Frag shells all have different ballistic characteristics, the gunner must refer to a set of fixed range scales drawn on the upper half of the sight in order to get the proper gun elevation. For instance, if the target is 1.6 km away, and the gunner wishes to engage it with high explosive shells, then he must line up a horizontal bar (which moves up and down with the targeting chevron but at different speeds due to a reduction gear) with a notch on the range scale for "OF" shells that says "16". If the gunner wishes to use APFSDS instead, then he need only line up the horizontal bar with the "16" notch on the "BR" scale. Then, the chevron will show how much supraelevation is needed in order to hit the target with the selected ammunition. The gunner will then lay the chevron on the target and open fire. The sight has an internal light bulb that when turned on, illuminates the reticle for easier aiming in poor lighting conditions such as during twilight hours or dawn. Unless the gunner had 20/20 vision and the tank was completely still, considerable ranging errors in the neighborhood of 100 or so meters was the norm, and as the distance from the target increased, the accuracy of the measurement decreased exponentially, deteriorating drastically past 2000 m. As such, it is more difficult hitting targets with lower velocity ammunition like HE-Frag and HEAT shells, and even harder for moving targets. However, the inclusion of near-hypersonic APFSDS ammunition in the T-62's loadout greatly helped counterbalance this issue, making it markedly easier for the gunner to hit both stationary and moving tank-type targets, while most targets requiring HE-Frag shells like machine gun nests and pillboxes and other fortifications would be stationary anyway, thus making pinpoint accuracy much less of a priority. Even so, on account of the extremely high speed of the APFSDS rounds fired from the 2A20 gun, the sight can be battlesighted at a very generous 1000 m, allowing the gunner to confidently hit a tank of NATO-type dimensions at any distance between 200 to 1600 m by aiming at center mass without needing to ascertain the range beforehand. However, one inescapable flaw of the TSh2B-41U was that it lacked independent vertical stabilization, being directly mechanically linked to the 2A20 cannon, forcing it to elevate with it when the loading procedure is underway. This causes the gunner to (very annoyingly) lose sight of anything he is aiming at at the moment, making the commander's the only pair of eyes to observe the 'splash' and give corrections or search for new targets. This led to the development of the independently stabilized TSh2B-41U.
  2. In 1944 the Red Army began looking for a replacement for the battle proven T-34. Their initial action was to simply up-gun the T-34 again, this time with the 100mm D-10T from the SU-100. However deficiencies in the transmission prevented this plan from coming to fruition. As a result the Red Army turned to the T-44. Relying on experience gained from the T-44's own up-gun project they created what was called the T-44B. Given the major changes compared to the current T-44 they later changed the name to the T-54. Designed by A.A. Morozov between October 1944 and December 1944 it had reached sufficient development by November 1st 1944 that People's Commissar of Tank Industry of the USSR V.A. Malyshev ordered Factory №183 to produce a prototype. The factory built the original prototype by January 30th 1945 where until mid-February it underwent testing. On February 22nd it was sent to a NIBT training ground to undergo government testing. Despite identifying several flaws such as a lack hydraulic shock absorbers for the road wheels the T-54 was deemed superior to all existing domestic designs and recommended for eventual adoption. T-54 (first prototype) They had reason for their claim; with a transverse mounted engine and a torsion bar suspension the T-54 was much smaller than the T-34. This size decrease allowed the Soviets to significantly up-armor the tank without greatly increasing the weight. The front hull was 120mm thick angled at 60 degrees, the turret was 150mm thick. Despite the armor increases the T-54 only weighed 35.5 tons. Despite the wishes of of the Soviets (who wanted a 700hp engine on their T-34 replacement) the venerable V-2 sill powered the T-54. With an output of 520hp the T-54 was capable of 43.5 km/h. In addition to the increased armor the T-54 was armed with the 100mm D-10T-K gun which was capable of 7-4 rounds a minute. Like other Soviet tanks the turret design limited gun depression with only -3. So despite only being 35.5 tons the T-54 had comparable firepower and armor protection to the 45 ton IS-2. Armor of the T-54 (first prototype) In response to the deficiencies identified by the Red Army Factory №183 created another T-54 prototype. Still designated T-54, though by this point in time it would receive it's GABTU designation of Object 137. The tank was produced in July 1945 with government testing beginning in July and ending in November of that year. The T-54 second prototype had many changes, the hull and turret were redesigned, the transmission was replaced with a different one, the gun was replaced with the 100mm LB-1, among other changes. The new turret was up-armored to 200mm thick. In combination with the new gun and turret the T-54 second prototype had increased gun depression compared to the original with -5. All of these modification caused a weight spiral to 39.15 tons, which with the same V-2 engine as before the speed was reduced to 42.5 km/h. As before the Soviet Government recommended it for Red Army service along with the corrections of some defects. T-54 second prototype (Object 137)
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