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Models and pictures of Soviet MBT designs from 80s. Object 477A, Object 490 Buntar and Object 299.

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     I want to show you several late Soviet MBT designs, which were created in 1980s in order to gain superiority over NATO focres. I do think that some of them are interesting, some of them look like a vehicle for Red Alert/Endwar games. 

     

     Today, Russia is still use Soviet MBTs, like T-80 and T-72s, but in late 1970s and 1980s Soviet military and engineers were trying to look for other tank concepts and designs. T-64 and other MBTs, based on concept behind T-64, were starting to reaching their limits, mostly because of their small size and internal layout. 

 

PART 1

pA5SdwX.jpg

 

T-80U, one of most advanced Soviet tanks of late 80s. Elite Kantemirovskaya Guards division was spotted using modified T-80Us in 2013.

 

 

Object 292

 

   We open our Box of Communism Spreading Godless Beasts with not so much crazy attempt to mate T-80 hull with 152 mm LP-83 gun (LP-83 does not mean Lenin Pride-83). It was called Object 292.

 

 

lFEhaaI.jpgRecent photo from Russian social newtork "Vkontakte". 

 

yNFZnq6.jpgTracks look like new. Gun is noticeably bigger than usual 2A46.

 

    First (and only, sadly) prototype was build in 1990, tested at Rzhevskiy proving ground (i live near it) in 1991, which it passed pretty well. Vehicle (well, turret) was developed by Leningrad Kirov factory design bureau (currently JSC "Spetstrans") Because of collapse of Soviet Union this project was abandoned. One of reasons was that main gun was "Burevestnik" design bureau creation, which collapsed shortly after USSR case to exist. It means that Gorbachyov killed this vehicle. Thanks, Gorbach!

 

    Currently this tank is localted in Kubinka, in running condition BTW. Main designer was Nikolay Popov.

 

    Object 292, as you see at photos, had a new turret. This turret could have been mounted on existing T-80 hulls without modifications to hull (Object 292 is just usual serial production T-80U with new turret, literally). New Mechanical autoloading mechanism was to be build for it. Turret had special Abrams-like bustle for ammunition, similar feature you can see on Ukrainian T-84-120 Yatagan MBT and, AFAIK, Oplot-BM.

    Engine was 1250 HP GTD-1250 T-80U engine. 152 mm main smoothbore gun was only a little bit bigger than 2A46 125 mm smoothbore gun, but it had much better overall perfomance.

    This prototype was clearly a transitory solution between so called "3" and "4th" generation tanks.

 

    Some nerd made a model of it:

14YTXZ5.jpg

 

FTUjKSQ.jpg

 

A1C7nxU.jpg

_________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

 

........Continue in Part 2

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Part 2

 

Armata, uhh sorry, Object 299

 

       Our next target is another Leningrad Kirov factory creation, the Object 299, also known as "guys, lets remove shells and fuel from crew compartment this time, okay?".

 

kxYExg0.jpg

 

As you see, it does not look like usual T-64/72/80/90.

 

    Finally something interesting. This vehicle was part of bigger programm to create unified chassis for severla vehicles, including robotized mine clearing vehicle, heavy IFV, a missile tank with vertical launching ATGMs and etc. 

 

 

Tank variant

1lXl2Z2.jpg

 

gGOn8VV.jpg

Rear mounted turret with autoloader, crew in the middle and engine in the front. Who said "Armata"?

 

    Object 299 tank was to be created under "Leader 2000-2005" programm, and vehicle should have had several design features:

 

      Mobility

  • Frontal engine placement;
  • New engine developing 1500 HP at least;
  • 85-90 km/h road speed;
  • Range - more than 500 km;
  • Upgrade potential to increase HP/T to 40 hp/t. 

      Firepower

  • New cannon, 140+ mm caliber with potential to upgrade for better ammunition and gun;
  • Vehicle should have up to 40 rounds;
  • Higher chance to hit target at distances less than 2 km (with 0.9 probability) with cannon;
  • Increased distance of searching and spotting of targets, including at night (up to 3.5 km at night); 
  • Fighting in bad weather, in situation of EW and jamming;
  • Deacresed time of ammunition loading;

     Protection

  • New passive, reactive armor;
  • New active protection system, including jammers;
  • Better mine protection;
  • Decreased chance of fire and ammunition explosion;
  • Reduced visibility of vehicle for optical, radar and thermal-scanning devices.  

     Other

  • Tank informational-controlling computerized system
  • Crew should have been isolated from ammunition and fuel in protected "capsule" in hull. wich provide all-around protection, NBC protection and give for crew ability to work for up to 72 hours comfortably;
  • unmanned turret and armament systems.

    New engine was to be 1500 HP gas turbine engine (Kirov like Gas turbines!) with potentially 1800-2000 HP gas turbine engine upgrade in the future. 

 

pBCz4NQ.jpg

 

    Main weapon was to be 152 mm smoothbore gun in unmanned turret. Autoloader, that would feed that gun, was planned to be placed under turret in isolated compartment with verticaly stored shells. 

 

    Those are, AFAIK, ammunition for 152mm cannons:

p7K2F4c.jpg

Grifel-1 and -2 are APFSDS rounds, while Grifel-3 is HE-frag. They were designed in Moscow.

 

 

End of Part 2.

 

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 Part 3

 

Other variants

    As we can see from model and scheme, they could draw that vehicle. Could Kirov factory actually build it? Well, they have build prototype for testing engine and chassis for heavy IFV variant of their "Leader":

 

ieYS1aa.jpg

 

Note 7 rollers chassis, rollers themselfs are similar to T-80's rollers.

 

uuZOpNy.jpg

View from the front.

 

lbWAjXM.jpg

View from the rear.

bvoJxcF.jpg

It can move!

 

 

Kirov factory also have build robotizied vehicle for mine clearing in 1988:

 

PV8iPW4.jpg

 

«I need your clothes, your boots and your motorcycle»

    

 

And they were planning to introduce this:

 Gk9UqmC.jpg

Vehicle, based on Object 299 chassis with 30 vertical launching missiles.

 

     In engineers and army thinkers view cannon armed Object 299 should have been supported by those missile tanks. 30 long-range missiles with different warheads, with possible top-attack anti-tank missiles variants, should have increased ability of unit to fight with enemy tanks and long-range ATGM-carrying IFVs. And yes, it have crew of 2.

 

End of Part 3.

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Part 4

 

T-74 (Izdelie 450)

 

    Izdelie 450 was attempt to design or at least look at how tank will look like in future by Morozov, a T-64 designer. He wrote about his concept of new tank, which he called NST-74, Izdelie 450 and T-74, in his diary:

 

    http://btvt.narod.ru/raznoe/1973_komponovka.htm

 

    This vehicle was proposed in early 1970s in Kharkov design bureau, as NST-74 ("New Medium Tank - 74"). It turned to be more a concept than a real design that Soviet industry would be able to build in 1970s. T-74 concept from 1972 was found to be not very good, while 1973 concept had several key improvements over 1972 concept - better gunner position (and later it was futher improved in 1974), gun mount, ammo storage, FCS principles, crew placement. New tank was to be created to surpass new Leopard and XM-801. 

 

vDpnWBG.jpg

 

Note unmanned turret with 2 7.62 mm MGs and 30 mm autocannon, wich was stabilized in 2 axis. Also optics on gun mantlet make this turret look like a face. Commander hatch is visible in the frontal part of the hull with rotatable optics.

 

CkavnFK.jpg

 

Engine in the rear, ammunition was in front of the engine, turret with gunner just under it were to be mounted in the middle and rest of the crew in the front (driver and tank commander).

 

fuW5aKb.jpg

Note main ammorack hatch is open just behind turret. This ammorack with mechanical loading device was supposed to load ammunition in 8 rounds autoloader  under turret or under crew compartment (in 1973 variant of the concept).

 

eAyC7Vl.jpg

Engine compartment. Air filter is build in engine comaprtemnt roof.

 

    Morozov wrote in his dairy that the unmanned turreted tank design will give to engineers ability to improve protection of the crew from enemy fire and radiation without increasing total weight ("weight savings due to the absence of the [conventional] turret is ~5000 kg"). New ammorack would have increased total ammunition number to ~60 rounds for main gun in the future. Also, he made a note about possibility to make modular chassis based on Izdelie 450 for whole series of vehicles because of the internal layout of the proposed tank.

    

    T-74 ('mod.1973') had 34 rounds in his rear ammorack with 8 rounds inside of autoloader. 

Utt2PKk.jpgRear ammorack was mechanized, loading shells to 8 round autoloader under crew compartment in latest model of the T-74/Izdelie 450. How exactly second autoloader would load a new round into the gun is unknown for me.

 

    Gunner was to be placed just under the turret in 1973 model of the T-74:

 

B4EPp12.jpg

Places for crew hatches are visible on that model detail. Gunner was to be also "stabilized" as/with a main gun. 

 

 

    Turret design, especially gun mount and how gunner work would be done with new turret, were pretty serious problems to solve for Kharkov design bureau. From Morozov diary:

 

"2.04.74. Finally, it seems the solution is found for izd. 450 "head". Today looked at Listrovoy proposal. Well done! Found a simple solution, and from his design study would seem to be a good construction. Everything is done properly, the turret ring is on the roof, but a much smaller diameter. The gun 'swings', like a human head, frontal projection of turret is approximately half of serial turret frontal projection, serial produced gun mounts (placed on top). We must now "comb" all that and make prettier. In general, good, finally found a solution." 

 

     Cannon was expected to be 125 mm or 130 mm, D-85-like, stabilized in 2 axis.    

 

     Model, which you saw on the picture, was a present to one of engineers from other organisation by Kharkov tank desginers.

 

 

30nesz7.jpg

 

 

2wn4vnk.jpg

 

34npn47.jpg

 

     

 

      Expected "stats" of the T-74:

bBWUQAJ.jpg

 

T-64A, T-64BM and T-74 general information.

 

      As we see T-74 was expected to be ~39 ton tank with 23 hp/t engine power/weight ratio, reaching 70 km/h in both ways with 1000 km range on the roads or 400 km while offroad using max fuel tank capacity of 1800 liters of fuel. Gun would have -10 depression and +12 elevation, with stabilized gun and gunner. Up to 60 rounds of ammunition was planned to put inside of NST-74 using new shells design (2 or 1 piece ammunition). Additional weapons were 2 7.62 MGs and stabilized 30 mm autocannon on top of the turret. Frontal armor protection was planned to be increased to ~700 mm in RHA equivalent (150-200 more than T-64A and BM). 

 

      Work on the NST-74/T-74/Izdelie 450 was canceled later in the middle 1970s. Morozov started to work on the NST-80 concept, but he was not able to finish it, leaving short notes in his diary about his view on a new tank.

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Part 5

 

Izdelie 480

 

2w3dvl1.jpg

 

      Not much information is known about Izdelie 480, appart from the fact that it was a "back up"/Plan B concept for T-74. As you can see on the model it have Active protection system based on "Drozd" (or early model/proposal of "Drozd").

 

167mclu.jpg

 

309sos9.jpg

29265o5.jpg

 

 

 

      Note a shape of the frontal hull armor - later similar frontal hull part would be used on others Soviet MBT projects.

 

      Here is Object 187 with it:

qX0Qm4c.jpg

 

 

 

Object 187

 

sUXvj2m.jpg

It looks very much like T-90.

 

     Speaking about Object 187, it was another project of Soviet MBT which was in development in 1986-1988. Object 187 was under development in parallel with Object 188 (which we will know as T-90). Main goal for this program was to increase protection of T-72 to T-80U level. But UVZ team viewed Object 187 as future Soviet/Russian MBT, so they went beyond simple increase of armor. 

     Engineers changed shape of the frontal part of T-72 hull, which now did not had a famous weakspot, that was jokingly called "cleavage" (weakspot in upper frontal plate becuase of the driver optics, all T-64s, T-72s and T-80s have them).

6SDBlDU.jpg

Driver's hatch is in new position, optics were removed. Plates on rear part of the turret are some sort of anti-radiation protection. Rumors say that those plates also acted as additional protection agaisnt HEAT. 

 

 

     Object 187 also had new welded turret, which was implemented later in ~2004-2005 in T-90A and new gun mantlet. 

 

jIfoE1W.jpg

Turret shape make me feel that it is little bit front heavy.

 

3Ap4TFa.jpg

Laser sensors and mounts for IR-dazzlers suggest that "Shtora" protection system was palnned to be installed. Note how huge are armor "pockets". New gun mantlet, similar design could be found on T-72B3. Also, gunner have 2 sights (second one is imitator of a real sight, AFAIK).

 

 

    Main gun was D-91T (2A66) from Factory N9 in Sverdlovsk, which is believed to be more powerfull gun than 2A46. It was equipped with muzzle brake to decrease recoil.

 

pItPsqE.jpg

 

     Object 187 was planed to be equipped with new ERA, known as "Malakhit", which later will become Relikt ERA (ERA with 2 opposite moving plates instead of 1 in Kontakt-5). 

 

     6 Objects 187 were build for testing, with prototype number 5 and 6 being most advanced. N1 had 840HP V-84MS engine, N2 was tested ith KD-34 1000 HP V-shaped diesel engine, N3 received engine compartment from T-80U with GTD-1250 gas turbine, developing 1250 HP. N4 got fancy X-shaped 1200HP A-85-2 diesel from Chelyabinsk. Weight of new tank reached 55 tons. Overall, internal layout of the vehicle was made less cramped, which would allow to increase modernisation potential for a tank in the future. 

 

     Object 187 was never adopted to service because new Russian Federation state went with cheaper Object 188. Several prototypes survived in Kubinka museum "sump", in bad conditions.  

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Part 6

 

Object 490 "Topol".

HDVkQ4E.jpg

Mock up of the Object 490 Topol, probably 2 variant/"late" version

     Well, we are reaching such tank projects, information about which is hard to find. Only some bits and rumors exist about them. One of them is Kharkov project of future Soviet MBT, with several vehicles created under this programm. One of them - Object 490. Source.

 

Spoiler

UKCDjSg.jpgEarly wooden model of the Object 490.

 

KvgFOyv.jpgObject 490, 2 hatches are visible on this model. Note Shtora IR jammers, laser sensors or TV cameras at turret roof. Unknown big device at turret roof can be radar for active protection system

 

   Overal layout

    Object 490 never got past "test rigs and mock ups", so we are speaking about unfinished project from early 1980s.

   The main features of the tank were:

  • a crew of two people - the commander-gunner and the driver. Reduced crew of two people were placed in a compact, well-protected "capsule". Depending on the specific layout, this gives a volume saving of up to 1.2 m3.
  • the use of hydropneumatic suspension. In addition to solving the main problem - increasing average speeds by improving the smoothness of ride, it makes it possible to control the clearance and tilt of the hull, increasing effective gun elevation and depression.
  • creation of a special armored refuel and reloading vehicle (BZZM) capable of escorting a tank in the same convoy, overcoming natural and artificial obstacles, passing through contaminated areas, and operating under conditions of using nuclear weapons. In the layout option No. 1 and 2, it was supposed to implement the replenishment of the ammunition and refueling the tank without leaving the crews from the tank and refueling machine.

 

 

   Some questions of creating a future tank of the 80s are described in the book by Yu. M. Apukhtin "The last rush of the soviet tank-builders" (diary of the Boxer tank development participant). A number of quotes from the book on the choice of the layout of the tank with two and three crew members:

 

Quote

07.11.80. Voronin came to the design bureau to look at our proposal; Anishchenko, Chubarenko, Rachitsky and others were with him. Morozov was on vacation.

   Two options were reported: Mazurenko with a crew of two people and Kovalyuh with a crew of three people, with a new externally mounted 130 mm gun, a gunner and commander to the left of the gun. All the deputies reported on their directions. Slovikovsky reported on the driving complex, I attended Slovikovsky's report  (at a meeting of this level I was the first time). It was felt that Voronin was trying to figure out and evaluate the options.

   Surprisingly, Slovikovsky reported very well, which Voronin noted. My materials on the analysis of driving systems and control options for two and three people were successfully presented.

   In general, Voronin reacted positively to the complex. The most amazing thing is that everyone supported a crew of two people, which means that no one even tried to dispute this.

 

25-26.03.82. We hosted the Council of Chief Designers for the selection of the "Topol" product variant, there were almost all the first persons. We considered two options, most supported the option of Kovalyuh [crew of 3 and externally mounted gun]. Morozov reported weakly and it was felt that his version was crude/unfinished. At the end, Shomin made a statement and said that he was for two people at heart, but the question of controlling the tank was practically insoluble, so he could not go for this option. Accepted option Kovalyuh.

 

12.12.82. Blinov and Karmanov came from Novosibirsk after our call. They were invited by Morozov for the sighting system with two crew members. From their conversation, I realized that they agree to work, but only on devices, not a whole complex.

 

01.13.86. Upon arrival from Moscow, I learned about the signing of the order on my appointment as the head of the department, despite my attempts, Isaev did not want to give up the department of optical devices.

   DB [design bureau] is divided in half. I was practically equated with Isaev, but Polyakov and Isaev did not allow me to solve organizational issues.

   Morozov was moved to the side, Kovalyuh became the chief designer of the new tank project. In DB, there is a fermentation of who and where to appoint, work in connection with these events has stopped.

 

   A number of issues related to the maintenance of the vehicle with a crew reduced to two people, the issue of managing the unit by a gunner-commander in the case of a command tank were left unresolved.

   At the same time, it is not correct to consider the possibility of creating a future tank with a conceptually different instrument field and ideology based on the controls of the existing serial tank as described in the book by Yu. M. Apukhtin. Quote:

Quote

   2.06.80. Morozov suddenly demanded, according to Shomin’s instructions, to present two and three man crew materials and a two-man crew justification in two weeks. Didorenko will have to force these works. / U.A. When I started talking about the layout of the tank with a crew of two people, I became interested in the capabilities of the crew to control the tank in situation of building up and futher complicating tank's systems and, on my own initiative, began to analyze the workload of the crew of the serial tank. Nobody has done such work before us, and I instructed Didorenko to collect information on the specialized departments of the Design Bureau about the governing bodies and the functional loading of crew members. By that time, we began to receive classified information on ergonomics in military equipment, including even workl of the crew of the Soyuz spacecraft.

 

   When we gathered all the controls for the crew, it turned out that there are more of them than on the Soyuz spacecraft. If for many years it has trained officers with the rank of colonel to manage those spacecrafts, the crew of the tank consists mainly of 18-20-year-old soldiers, and this fact has made me very serious about the development of control panels.

   Shomin found out about my initiative work and became interested in it, the choice of the layout of the tank with two and three crew members was based mainly on the conclusions of our work.

 

   Reducing the crew to two people and placing them in a compact, well-protected capsule with high degree of automation of the functions performed by tankers. The fundamental ability to manage tank (driving, shooting) by two operators is beyond doubt. Crew stations were equipped with a similar set of instruments and tank controls that ensured full duplication of functions by crew members. Each workplace was equipped with 2 monitors, a unified control panel for fire and movement. Starting with 2 layout variant, the emphasis was on the use of promising solutions to ensure visibility and information transfer - fiber-optic communications, digital computers, television cameras.

img003.jpg

 

Object 490 scheme, showing unusual internal design of this tank.

 

   Motion control was supposed to be carried out using a television stereoscopic driving system (STV) installed in the frontal section of the hull, on UFP. For reversing, the television camera was also located on the rear plate of the hull. Reverse speed of up to 30 km/h can significantly increase maneuverability and survivability. Observation of areas around tank was carried out using 8 daytime fiber-optic devices. The system provided a 360 ° view for each of the tankers without the view being blocked by devices on top of the turret (there were no invisible zones). The installation of such devices also eliminated the weakening of the armor and radiation protection caused by cutouts in the roof necessary for the installation of usual periscope devices.

 

   In addition, a television camera was supposed to be installed on an air supply tube (OPVT), which greatly simplifies underwater driving. The camera was also supposed to be used when moving in a column, when visibility drops sharply from dust from other vehicles. In addition, the intake of air for the engine through the air supply pipe from the upper, less dusty layers, can increase the life of the engine. The erection of the air supply pipe on the Object 490 did not required the crew to leave the tank and could be carried out automatically.

e2CGYVj.jpg

TV camera is located on left corner of rear hull.

   Protection

   Important attention when creating the “Object 490” was paid to the density of the layout (refusal to lay torsion bars above the bottom plate of the tank, optimization of the shape and overall dimensions of the equipment placed in the tank), reduction of overall dimensions and increased survivability of the tank. It was supposed that without mass growth (Option 1 and 2 - 41 500 kg) and dimensions to create a tank with a significant increase in combat qualities.

   It is impossible to achieve this solely by increasing the size and weight of the armor packages. Therefore, along with the use of the latest developments in the field of passive armor and active protection systems, the tank protection scheme includes frontal fuel tanks, which allows sacrificing secondary qualities of the vehicle (part of the fuel) for the implementation of the most important ones - crew survival and maintaining tank mobility.

   The first to be hit by incoming fire after frontal plate is the fuel compartment, which is divided by several partitions into sections to exclude significant loss of fuel after armor was penetrated, with a minimum acceptable level of armor protection (100 mm/68 °) from the most common anti-tank weapons. Damage to this compartment and a partial loss of fuel in battle will not lead to the loss of a tank’s combat effectiveness. Behind it, in the center of the tank, there is a crew compartment protected by the main  armor (500 mm combined armor) and shielded by the frontal armor of the hull and fuel (In this case, the fuel served as an additional "filler" of multi-layered "armor").

   Armor of the frontal projection of the turret had a dimension of 780 mm (at an angle of 30°). Side protection - 300 mm. Side of the hull 180 mm with 85 mm screens. The bottom at the location of the crew capsule was equipped with layered protection.

 

   The tank was originally designed taking into account the installation of APS created on the theme of "Shtandard". In the second version, the APS mortars were installed along the perimeter of the hull on the fenders, six from each side. The azimuth of interception of incoming projectiles was provided ± 150°. To counter the projectiles attacking from above, the tank was protected by 6 mortars installed in the side niches of the turret (3 on each side). On the third version of the layout, the installation scheme of APS was changed. To protect the side and top projections, mortars with protective charges of smaller dimensions were used, primarily for intercepting ATGMs and RPGs. In the later version, it was also planned to install "Shtora" on the tank.

 

3WRsRrA.jpg

3 man crew variant of "Poplar". APS launchers are visible near driver's hatch.

 

Spoiler

 

SUMLEbt.jpg

The length of the tank in the hull is 6790 mm.

 

8UcGTsV.jpg

   It is necessary to pay special attention to the overall dimensions of the tank and, first of all, to its height, which could change due to the hydropneumatic suspension. The effect of height is well known. On the one hand, this is the probability of detection and the first shot in a duel battle, and on the other, the largest contribution to the mass of the tank. According to data from the VABTV them. R. Y. Malinovsky, reducing the height of the tank from 2,400 to 1,600 mm at a speed of about 40 km/h reduces the likelihood of itbeing hit by half.

   At the same time, the mass gain due to each millimeter of the tank’s height with a modern armor level is 15–20 kg, and the mass of 1 mm in length is 2–3 kg. Thus, one should look for ways to reasonably reduce the height of the tank, compensating for its volume by lengthening if needed. This will also increase the number of suspensions and the length of the supporting surface, compensating for the increase in weight by increasing the elasticity of the suspension and lowering the average specific pressure on the ground.

dADaGlU.jpg

Test rig for hydropneumatic suspension for Object 490 Topol

 

      The tank was equipped with a 6TD engine with hydrostatic transmission. Parts of suspension was unified with the T-64 on the rollers, tracks were 580 mm wide. It is also worth noting that a version of the tank with a crew of three people in which the driver was reclined was also being worked out.

 

   On the other hand, in the variant E.A. Morozov has its drawbacks. Quote:

Quote

9.07.81. Shomin held a meeting on a promising tank, there were Anishchenko, Potemkin, Borisyuk, Maresyev, Ryazantsev, Kovalyuh, Mazurenko, Baisov and I. Again considered two options for the tank. From the very beginning it was clear that Shomin was betting on Kovalyuh’s version. After both reports, he began to criticize Morozov’s version - a low line of sight and the possibility of sticking a gun into the ground, a new engine compartment and an engine, problems with two people crew. He mainly supported the Kovalyukh option and, apparently, decided to bet on it.

 

   Weapons and sights

   125 mm gun of increased power (130 mm variants were considered) was planned to be used on "Topol". In the original version, the autoloader is located in an isolated autonomous compartment behind the tank turret, an additional hull conveyor was located in an isolated compartment between the combat-crew and engine-transmission compartments. The permissible projectile length was 800 mm, the charge length was 550 mm. In the automatic loading device located behind the turret (on the tank variant 1 and 2nd variant), shells with a length of up to 1400 mm were allowed, including unitary ones. In subsequent versions, a variant of a dual-flow automatic loader with projectile and separate propellant charge was proposed. The shell and charge were placed in a turret and hull conveyor in series. Autoloader had an electric backup system.

 

   The ammunition in the tank was isolated from the crew. To neutralize the high pressures arising in the event of detonation of charges, blow-out panels were located in the roof of the hull compartment and in the bottom of the compartment of the turret automatic loader. Between the turret automatic loader and the fighting compartment of the tank there was a layered armor barrier to proect crew in case of fire of the ammunition.

 

   The additional armament consisted of a machine gun coaxial with a cannon and two anti-aircraft machine guns located on the sides of the rear of the turret. There were options considred for a tank with automatic cannon (mounted side of the tower, variant 3). The final version of the additional weapons has not been determined.

 

   The sighting system was to consist of two panoramic sights without a night channel and a thermal imager-television panoramic sight, which was located independently with remote transmission of information from it to the crew. The back up sight that used fiber optic was mounted in a gun mask.

 

Quote

January 28 – Februare 2 of 1980. Back to the Central Design Bureau of KMZ, where they considered more specific proposals for the complex. They at all levels, up to Nekrasov, are surprisingly welcome to work with us. At the suggestion of Mazurenko, based on the layout for two people, the sighting system was to consist of two panoramas without a night channel, a passive night sight was placed independently. Based on the requirements for crew accommodation, the devices should be without optical eyepieces [optical output], which looks too revolutionary and is it possible to create this?

 

   BZZM (Armored refuel and reload vehicle)

9507krI.jpg

Second variant of the Object 490 Topol tank on the left and and BZZM reloading an autoloader of a tank

 

   To achive a quick and remote reloading of a tank, the autonomous module of the autoloader was replaced. Such a solution required the placement of autoloader drives in a removable module. BZZM could provide replenishment of the ammunition of 5 tanks, also that vehicle carried up to 5 tons of fuel and the volume of ammunition boxes of rations and spare parts in 1000 liters range.

   The battlefield of the 80s could not be imagined without the massive use of tactical nuclear weapons, while the full functioning of cargo trucks and their crews in conditions of radiation pollution was impossible, which could significantly limit the possibility of using tanks. Understanding this situation, as well as trying to reduce the likelihood of severe damage to tanks, even in the case of isolated fuel and ammunition, when developing the “Object 490” it was proposed to create an armored fueling and loading vehicle (BZZM) based on it.

 

   This problem can also be solved by creating a special tracked vehicle. It is advisable to use one machine for refueling and loading ammunition. Armored fueling and loading vehicle should be unified on the chassis with the tank. A cargo platform can be installed on the BZZM chassis, on the inner walls of which is loaded with ammunition containers. To withdraw the containers from the shaft to the swing frame and load the ammunition into the tank’s automatic loader, drive mechanisms must be installed.


   A fuel line with a swivel is fixed along the perimeter of the frame. At the output ends of the fuel pipe, docking devices are installed connecting the fuel tanks of the BZZM with the tank filler "neck". It should be possible to refuel and load the slipper without the crew leaving their vehicles.

   According to preliminary estimates, if a vehicle is supplied with the necessary energy sources, one tank can be refueled in 2 minutes, and a full mechanized ammunition reload in 5 minutes. The transportable stock of ammunition and fuel, which can be implemented at the BZZM in acceptable weight and size characteristics, is sufficient for the full refueling of five tanks.

   BZZM is able to accompany the tank in the same convoy, overcome natural and artificial obstacles, pass through infected areas, function in conditions of using nuclear weapons.

 

X2lXbAq.jpg

 

   In October 1984, the management of GBTU and GRAU arrived at the KhKBM, led by General Potapov and Bazhenov, to familiarize themselves with the development of the project.

   The attitude of the military towards the tank was wary. Shomin reported on the development of the project, a heated discussion began, which caliber should be chosen. A 130 mm gun was installed on the 490A, and talk of increasing the caliber continued for a long time. Disputes began about which caliber to choose - 140 mm or 152 mm. At this point, General Litvinenko, head of the GRAU (Scientific Committee of the Main Artillery and Missile Control) NKT, made a diagram very well and clearly demonstrating how effective the 152 mm caliber for the tank is. From that moment, a 152 mm caliber was adopted for a future project, and no one ever returned to this issue.

 

     Object 490 project later "mutated" into Object 490A Rebel in 1982/83 and in "Molot" (Hammer) project in around 1985.

 

 

Object 490A Buntar' ("Rebel")

 

sIUc4.jpg

Mock up of Object 490A Buntar with 125 mm gun

 

   Work on the new Kharkov tank has been officially conducted since the early 1980s under the leadership of N.A. Shomin, chief designer of KhKBM. Initiative work on the new medium tank of the 80s "NST-80" began even earlier, from 08.17.1977, when a group of designers was formed and approved by N. A. Shomin.

   The layout of the future tank was presented by two projects - a two man crewed Object 490 "Topol" designed by E. A. Morozov from the late 70s and the “Object 490A” with a crew of three people, a low-profile turret, the development of which was advocated by Kovalyukh Vadim Romanovich, who headed Design Bureau of weapons systems, deputy chief designer of KhKBM.

   In the Object 490A tank, despite the relative simplicity of the layout, a bet was made on new ammunition-related solutions that were not yet worked out and required time-consuming refinement, related to charges of a variable shape ("ZIF").

 

Spoiler

0WOPu88.jpg?1

Wooden small scale mock up of the Object 490A with 125 mm gun (early in development).

 

7WdYZkq.jpg

 

9VXTA2Y.jpg

 

IOqGScb.jpg

 

SJLyPpj.jpg

More refined version of Object 490A, scale model.

 

4Cfhb5B.jpg

 

nc3is1l.jpg

 

2IZv4oA.jpg

 

Quote

29.01.83. Was with Kovalyuh on a wooden model of vehicle with a external gun, the gunner and commander are sitting next to each other. Sat inside and felt that the lineup option was likely to work out. For some reason, Bershov and Kovalyuh thought that I would solve all issues regarding the placement of equipment. On the layout I saw that I was mistaken in the control panels. They need to be done differently! A single panel is needed, many controls can be shared for both operators - this ensures the placement of operators nearby.

 

4.11.83. The documentation for the product layout is almost all issued. They made a wooden model, found many shortcomings, there is practically nowhere to place our equipment. He spoke with Kovalyuh, he began to prove that everything will be provided, but, in my opinion, it is necessary to look at more layout options.

 

   Overal layout

   Tank had a low-profile turret with externally mounted weapons, the driver was located on the left, to the right of him was an internal fuel tank with supply of 1290 liters of fuel. The gunner and commander were placed on the left in the turret one after another. Commander was behind the gunner to the left of the gun, with a hatch for crew.

 

img005.jpg

img006.jpg

Layout of the Object 490A. Fuel tank to the right of driver is marked, as well as autoloader to the right of gunner and commander.

 

   By 1982, a life-size wooden mock-up of the Object 490A tank was made. Subsequently, a moving test rig and a prototype of the tank were made. 

Spoiler

img004.jpg

Modern picture-interpretation of how Object 490A looked like

 

IfgZV.jpg

Full size test rig of the Object 490A

 

490a1.jpg

 

   Weapon systems

   The armament consisted of a 125 mm cannon of increased power. Mechanical autoloader occupied the right side of the fighting compartment. Shots were placed horizontally in 5 rows. The crew was separated from the elements of the loading mechanism by a partition. In future, it was supposed to apply new solutions for the tank’s ammunition - shots with a charge of a variable shape (ZIF). Such shots made it possible to create an autoloader with the maximum possible density, allowing to use the internal volume of the tank more efficiently.

 

   In the "Object 490A", the principle of constructing an FCS based on optical coupled units using fiber-optic devices was applied. The aiming system of the gunner was supposed to be implemented as a 2 sights - separate thermal imaging module located on the right side of the turret and a day sight with a visual channel directly to the gunner's working station. With such arragment it was assumed that the sighting module will contain a thermal imager and television unit, a laser rangefinder, a GL-ATGM guidance channel, which can be paired with an automatic target tracking unit. It also was planned to give both gunner and commander to use this sight and if needed commander could use main weapon systems from his station.

 

   Fiber-optic observation devices were also originally used to provide a static view of surroundings for the tank crew, the advantage of such devices, thanks to flexible optical fiber, is that they could provide a static all-round visibility for the commander without zones overlapped by the external equipment/no blind zones. But at that time, it was not possible to realize the potential of fiber-optic systems - the test results showed that in daylight conditions the devices have a low resolution limit and, as a result of this, a small target recognition range. When designing a new layout option "Object 490A" in 1984-86 and in further developments classic prism devices were used.

 

   On the prototype of the Object 490A “Rebel” a 125 mm high-power gun with caseless ammuniton was mounted, the placement of weapons made it possible to provide a fairly high, by Soviet standards, gun depression angle of 8°. As a perspective of tank weapons at that time, a cannon with caseless ammuniton using variable-shaped charges was considered. Since 1980, development has been carried out by department No. 31 of the Central Research Institute "Burevestnik".

 

 

143782242665224464.jpg

 

   Armor/Protection

   The turret of the tank had a cast base with installed armor modules with new "filler", in which it was planned to use the most effective materials developed for that period. The use of steel-ceramic filler, which has high efficiency, both from HEAT ammunition and from kinetic, was considered promising. At that time, it was not possible to achieve a stable quality of batches of ceramics (silicon carbide), as a result of which its use in Soviet tanks of the 80s was not widespread. An armored plate made of low hardness material was installed behind the back of the cast base of the turret with a gap to neutralize or localize the residual fragmentation. A similar plate was used in the design of armor modules of the hull. Variants of the use of volumetric designs of ERA were also proposed (it was not installed on the test rig). 

     Protection of the sides in the first versions is three-layer - steel-polymer-steel, armor of the hull bottom is also three-layer using anti-radiation material as a filler.

 

   The fuel is located in the armored compartments isolated from the inhabited compartment of the tank, in the front of the hull to the right of the driver. Also, fuel was acting as a “filler” that reduces damaging effects of penetrations (not implemented on test rig). The hull of the tank and the low-profile turret had practically no weakened zones from frontal projection, structural solutions were implemented to protect the turret ring by placing it deeper into hull roof. Weapons were located in an isolated compartment and were protected from autocannon fire.

   Later models received APS systems, but i will cover them later, on 125 mm gun version of Object 490A Rebel those systems were not placed.

 

   Engine/mobility

   The engine compartment was unified in basic dimensions for the installation of the 495 diesel (6TDF) and a gas turbine (29G) engine (1250 hp). Engine  495 installation was considered using an electro-mechanical or mechanical (with GOPMP on the engine) transmission.

   The main engine option was 1250 hp 6TDF. The option of installing a gas-turbine engine Product 29G with a hydrostatic rotation mechanism, which in the mid-80s for some time began to be considered as the main engine for serial and promising tanks, was also being worked out.

   The final decision on the choice of an engine for a promising tank came only in the late 80s, the collapse of the USSR prevented the implementation of the plan.

 

   From the book "Chief Designer Vladimir Potkin. Tank breakthrough. Digest of articles. 2013."

Quote

   The chassis of the test rig of Object 490A was created on the basis of the T-64 with coaxial torsion bars, it was supposed to use the chassis with non-coaxial torsion bars (2/3) of differentiated stiffness. Hydroshock absorbers with a two-stage characteristic, also the option with paddle shock absorbers was also considered. The use of a chassis of the type “Object 434” provided a mass of ~ 2 tons less than the chassis of the type of “Object 219”.

 

 

   Later version of Object 490A (was developed under "Boxer" program).

   In 1984-86, a new version of the layout of the Object 490A tank was developed in which the crew was placed according to the classical pattern. The gunner on the left and the commander on the right in the low-profile turret.

   For the first time, the armament of the tank consisted of a 152 mm smoothbore gun.

o3y4g1P.jpg

 

   Autoloader was changed, the ammunition was located in two mechanized loaders in the front and rear sectors of the cabin - one on the bottom of crew compartment, like on T-72s, and one in separated compartment between engine and crew. Ammunition in trays were placed horizontally. In the center of the aft part of the crew compartment there was a mechanism for moving shots from smaller autoloader on the floor of crew compartment to external weapon installation through a hatch in the roof of the fighting compartment. From the "stack" between turret and engine sections, ammunition came into a smaller autoloader located under the crew platform. Total ammunition count was 40 shots.

   Such changes in autoloader design and crew positions/layout forced designers to increase tank's hull height.

image007.jpg

Layout of autoloader in crew compartment/turret section of Object 490A Boxer

 

Spoiler

image008.jpg

The contour of the shell with ZIF. View from above.

 

Quote

   The emphasis in the design process was placed on the unconventional installation of the gun and on the ammunition based on the so-called "charges of variable shape." These charges, in fact, destroyed this vehicle, despite the progressive solutions laid down in it for other complexes, because they [ZIF] did not appear on time. This entailed a radical breakdown of the design of the autoloader with all the ensuing consequences. Quote by V.A. Grigoryan. Chief Designer Vladimir Potkin. Tank breakthrough. Digest of articles. 2013.

 

   1984-86 version of Object 490A designed under Boxer designation also received APS, “Arena”, “Rain”, “Shtandard” were considered. APS was supposed to provided protection against ATGMs, artillery shells, kinetic AP rounds and submunitions (means of attack from above). Protective shots were placed around the perimeter of the tank hull. Radar - on the sides of the turret. The likelihood of protection against ATGM; RPG, HEAT shells, and APFSDS were 0.8, 0.7, and 0.5, respectively.

lDKFCpo.jpg

Object 490A Boxer, with 152 mm gun (caseless ammunition with ZIF) and Shtandart APS. Next to day sight an radar sight was planned to be mounted.

 

Spoiler

o3y4g1P.jpg

Some changes to gun's protective case were made - it became shorter. 1 MG was moved forward, placed on gun mantlet.

 

YxUWkLn.jpg

2 hacthes for crewmembers are visible on turret roof. Devices on turret sides are APS radars.

 

qTqEmJz.jpg

More detailed view of Object 490A Boxer model's turret.

 

   This version of Object 490A was also supposed to receive radar sight intergrated into FCS, but it was never finished.

   The design of the tank with a 152 mm smoothbore gun with caseless ammunition with ZIF was developed in 1984, but was not made in connection with the final decision on the transition to a new type of autoloader and problems with the ZIF. Thus, the layout of the promising tank underwent further changes, as a result of which the Object 477 tank was created, the layout of which was approved in 1985.

   From the diaries of Yu. M. Apukhtin:

Quote

12.05.85. ... Shomin finally approved the layout. Kovalyuh achieved that the design of the autoloader is not ring-shaped, but system in the back of compartment that feeds ammunition from the hull. Let's see what happens.

 

 

Izdelie 477/Object 477 Boxer and Molot ("Hammer")

 

     In 1985 new layout and new weapon were approved. Tank was to be armed with 152 mm 2A73 gun, equipped with new FCS (one new part of it was gun muzzle reference system), 50 rounds of ammunition was required by Army.

img013.jpg

 

Externally Boxer reminds me T-74/Izdelie 450.

 

img015.jpg

Internal layout schematics. Fuel tank is located in the same way as in Rebel, but ammunition/autoloader design was different - 8 round autoloader, isolated from crew, was located in turret, while 32 rounds mechanized ammorack located between turret/crew compartment and engine, was feeding it with fresh rounds.

 

img012.jpg

Part of 8-round autoloader. This tray stored a propellant and shell. They also were able to rotate a bit, to make a loading mechanism smaller.

 

    Gun was mounted at hight of 2088 mm, tank leight with gun - 10650, almost a meter longer than T-64, height (measured from turret roof) - 2434 (T-64 was 2170 high). Because of an internal spy scandal, tank design programm received new code name - "Molot"/Hammer. This Boxer/Molot is armed with 152 mm gun and 30 mm autocannon (+ 7.62 coaxial MG).

 

img016.jpg

Boxer/Molot with additional 30 mm autocannon.

 

      Tank had substantial armor - more than 1 meter frontal armor, 5 layers armor package on sides, and thick roof/crew hatches armor. There were plans to equip tank with Active protection system and several systems were considered - Arena, Dozhd' ("Rain"), Drozd, Shatyor ("Tent"). About 10 of those were made, a photo of real pre-serial production prototype leaked recently:

143912903099969038.jpg

Turret is facing rear, thats why we don't see gun and sights. Note open driver's and commander's hatch, they can give idea how protected a roof of this tank was. Turret ring have additional protection.

 

143913828612941581.jpg

Same vehicle. Tanks near it are most likely from same pre-serial production batch of 8-10 tanks. 30 mm autocannon mount is visible.

 

    After collapse of USSR design programm continued, based on new requirements. Tank design programm received new codename - "Nota".

 

img019.jpg

Object 477/477A Nota.

    Titanium was used in armor of this vehicle. Tank was to be equipped with sat nav system, friendly idenification, radiocontrol/remote control of tank and gun (driving and firing) as so on. 2 test rigs/prototypes were made (one in 1992, second is unfinished, 1993, AFAIK).

    This is believed to be Object 477A or 477A1:

 

ydq5bjU.jpg

This tank have much better protected sides compared to any previous soviet MBT. Note that this vehicle use suspension that looks "T-80-like suspension". Rollers are very similar to T-80's, 7 per side. Similar suspension was to be used on Object 299 and more modern version of it was made for Armata.

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I will cover 2 projects, which were from 1960s, but were planned to be a concept for a future tanks for 1980s-1990s. 

 

Object 780

 

   This tank was designed in early 1960s, after creation of the T-64 work on future developments continued. In 1971, in the Ministry of Defence Industry one of the first reports/presentations about future tanks was held (November 18, 1971 to be exact). At a meeting with Deputy Minister of Defence Industry of the USSR Shkurko, engineers showed their projects of the 1980s future tanks. One of them was Object 780 missile tank, which is rumored to be influenced by information about NATO countries works on MBT-70, another was Object 225, more "conventional" design.

 

rjgB79D.jpg

 

Object 780 model. Note 3 hatches on the turret and no crew hatches on the hull.

 

cfw2A2w.jpg

Remote controlled AAMG (believed to be 12.7 HMG) is visible at turret rear part.

 

HXOA7QD.jpg

Frontal projection of that tank would have been pretty small.

 

 

      Object 780 was create on basis of Object 775 missile tank, but had plenty of new design features that separated those vehicles. Obj. 780 main designer was Pavel Isakov, Chelyabinsk tractor plant.

 

TjY5xu8.jpg

Another model of that tank.

 

      Crew of this tank was planned to be placed in the turret, including driver. Tank driver would have been located in the center of the egg-shaped turret in non-rotatable 'cabin'. Turret rotation would not affect driver's position, his controls and orientation, he always would be looking forward. Only thing to compensate for turret rotation were driver's optics. 

 

RFoSMX3.jpg

Hatch in the middle is driver's hatch. Gunner is to the left from the gun, commander - to the right of driver. Gun breech was in front of the driver.

 

     Main gun was 125 mm rifled gun-launcher, which could fire conventional shells. Vehicle carried 15 GL-ATGM "Rubin" and 22 unguided "Bur" rockets. Although i have conflicting information, which states that it had 49 rounds it total with 17 in mechanical loader. 

 

    Protection and mobility of that vehicle are unknown, but engine was planned to be 700 HP 5TDF. Weight - just a little less than 50 tons. 

 

 

 

Object 225

 

 

     Another consideration of the intermediate stages of work on the future tanks took place May 25, 1972 at the Ministry of Defence Industry USSR with Minister of defense Industry of the USSR Zverev. Besides projects of new tanks "object 225" and "226", commision also examined Object 450 tank (Izdelie 450/T-74) and the Object 780; D-89T and LP-36B tank guns. Object 225 and 226 desginer was Leningrad Kirov plant Design bureau.

 

u9IEVPS.jpgFor some reason it reminds me BMP-3. Commander 12.7mm MG was supposed to be remotely controlled.

 

     Proposed characteristics of the Object 225 and 226 were similar, except for the composition of the engine: nonexistent turbine engine VTDT-1000T was planned to be created and later mounted on 225, while 2V16 diesel engine was proposed for his "brother" - Object 226. Object 225 with the gas turbine was to be 41.6 t. vehicle and "226" with a diesel engine - 42.5 t.

     Protection: 550..600 mm hull front, sides  - 70 mm, 550 mm turret frontal part. The lower hull plate was taken from T-64A. Tank was planned to use new fire control system "Morzh" ("Walrus"), commander sight "Crab" and periscope "Svistok" ("Whistle").

 

VkdJvt1.jpg

Object 225 autoloader was to be placed just under turret ring.

 

       Ammunition was 50 rounds, 36 in autoloader, 125 mm smoothbore or 130 rifled gun. Penetration with APFSDS rounds at 60 degr., 2 km - 180 mm, with HEAT - at least 250 mm. 750 rounds for 12.7 mm commander HMG. Protection agaisnt HEAT warheads iwth penetration of 550-600 mm and 125 mm APFSDS with MV 1600 m/s was provided in +-22 degr. arc for hull and +-35 degr. arc for a turret. Max road speed - 70 km/h, max range on roads - 600 km. 

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T-14 will have frontal crew capsule, turret+autoloader in the middle and engine in the rear. T-15 Heavy IFV and Missile tank, based on Armata chassis, will have frontal engine, similar to Object 299.

 

xfygNz4.jpg

 

 

Note where hatches for crew are:

 

uwW0kz2.jpg

 

 

Possbile size (compared to T-90M)

P8LE2wW.jpg

 

Missile tank model, based on Armata:

9oury3B.jpg

 

Q5uXIDU.jpg

 

     Taking into account latest Israel modification of their M48, which are now believed to be a missile-only armed tank with imitation of main gun, i do see a reason to try this type of tank/support vehicles with ATGMs.

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It's interesting that you usually hear of the "driver in turret" concept in connection to MBT-70, but the Soviets actually produced far more prototypes and paper projects using that configuration.

I was just preparing to post about Soviet prototype, which was influenced by MBT-70 ideas.  :lol:

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http://gurkhan.blogspot.ru/2015/03/blog-post.html

 

Around minute 7 of this video those guys are "playing" with certain hull...

 

 

agjb40H.jpg

7 rollers? Shape is also different from T-80, although rollers are T-80-like.

 

Hmmmm...

 

qovM6AX.jpgThis is engine compartment. Holes for drive sprocket connection to transmission is visible. That thing is interesting.

 

J6JfMNY.jpgRear end of that hull, it have a door.

 

q6gxaun.jpg

 

Well, yeap. This is hull of Object 232, or "Komplekt-2" - remote controlled engineers vehicle. It was part of Object 299 development.

 

kaF2tfF.jpg

 

 

     This vehicle was a product of research by "Robotic-VGM" and "Spetsmash" under "Komplekt" programm, which took place from 1989 to 1991 in St. Petersburg. The machine was made on a single platform (unified chassis) with "Object 299" tank. Unfortunately, all this work is now in garbage bin. The last attempt to resurect project was in 2009-10 as part of R&D "Burlan". GABTU was looking at future of "Armata". This chassis "Petersburgers" rolled out for competition virtually unchanged - even old pictures were included in the report - they didn't bothered, or couldn't update them in modern 3D graphics. 
     Thus, in the video we see what could be the "St. Petersburg Armata", but nothing more.

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Heavy IFV that was planned to be build using Object 299 chassis.

 

n59uRip.jpgNote driver's monitors right from 80s.  :D

 

It was planned to use gas turbine engine, mounted in frontal part of hull. Main weapon is some kind of autocannon in 30-60 mm caliber range. This picture also shows Arena active protection system - note boxes mounted on turret, near turret ring.

 

Overall, it looks somewhat similar to T-15. Or T-15 looks very similar to that vehicle. Anyway - KIROVFACTORY > UVZ!

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Object 490A crew hatches.

 

490A.png

 

top left is turret hatch, top right and bottom center is driver's hatch.

 

Object 477A (with "low-profile" turret and externally nounted 152 mm gun):

477.png

 

Upper is turet hatch (both hatces have same construction, only left and right hatches being "mirrored"). Bottom hatch is for driver. 

 

Object 299's crew hatch size.

299.png

 

 

Object 195's hatches. Did UVZ wanted to stop APFSDS with them? :D 

 195.png

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Hello. I read that three configurations were studied for the 447. One is the one seen in models: gunner and commander on the left side of the tower. But the final configuration was classic. Just like other contemporary case: Leclerc.

 

Furthermore, the unified ammunition was finally chosen. Projectiles almost two meters long. Does not look like they may have been accommodated in this model and be introduced into the gun. The breech is far behind.

 


According to this picture:


the barrel does not seem external. Which coincides.

 


Now, joining all these elements, and considering the object 450, the same bureau.

 

It is speculation but ...

 

6p2kp5.jpg

 

The Molot? 

 

Flacon turret style, or maybe Black Eagle turret style, whit few rounds ready; very long unitary ammo. 

 

What do you think?


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Polish-made picture of the Object 477A, claimed to be baised on real schematics.

 

EH3aI7tahIQ.jpg

 

WBDVShZTaeU.jpg

 

Driver is sitting between 2 autoloaders, which feed a single autoloader in the middle of the hull, between gunner and commander.

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            If you pay attention you may see that artist used T-80 rollers for Armata chassis, and this is not a mistake - according to some sources Armata heavy chassis will use T-80 or T-80-like rollers to save weight. And looking at rear part of that tank you may notice a engine deck from gas-turbine equipped version of the T-80, which can be mistake becuase MoD want Armata with new ~1500 HP diesel engine. 
    • By Collimatrix
      At the end of January, 2018 and after many false starts, the Russian military formally announced the limited adoption of the AEK-971 and AEK-973 rifles.  These rifles feature an unusual counterbalanced breech mechanism which is intended to improve handling, especially during full auto fire.  While exotic outside of Russia, these counter-balanced rifles are not at all new.  In fact, the 2018 adoption of the AEK-971 represents the first success of a rifle concept that has been around for a some time.

      Earliest Origins


      Animated diagram of the AK-107/108
       
      Balanced action recoil systems (BARS) work by accelerating a mass in the opposite direction of the bolt carrier.  The countermass is of similar mass to the bolt carrier and synchronized to move in the opposite direction by a rack and pinion.  This cancels out some, but not all of the impulses associated with self-loading actions.  But more on that later.

      Long before Soviet small arms engineers began experimenting with BARS, a number of production weapons featured synchronized masses moving in opposite directions.  Generally speaking, any stabilization that these actions provided was an incidental benefit.  Rather, these designs were either attempts to get around patents, or very early developments in the history of autoloading weapons when the design best practices had not been standardized yet.  These designs featured a forward-moving gas trap that, of necessity, needed its motion converted into rearward motion by either a lever or rack and pinion.
       

      The French St. Etienne Machine Gun
       

      The Danish Bang rifle
       
      At around the same time, inventors started toying with the idea of using synchronized counter-masses deliberately to cancel out recoil impulses.  The earliest patent for such a design comes from 1908 from obscure firearms designer Ludwig Mertens:


       
      More information on these early developments is in this article on the matter by Max Popenker.
       
      Soviet designers began investigating the BARS concept in earnest in the early 1970s.  This is worth noting; these early BARS rifles were actually trialed against the AK-74.
       

      The AL-7 rifle, a BARS rifle from the early 1970s
       
      The Soviet military chose the more mechanically orthodox AK-74 as a stopgap measure in order to get a small-caliber, high-velocity rifle to the front lines as quickly as possible.  Of course, the thing about stopgap weapons is that they always end up hanging around longer than intended, and forty four years later Russian troops are still equipped with the AK-74.

      A small number of submachine gun prototypes with a BARS-like system were trialed, but not mass-produced.  The gas operated action of a rifle can be balanced with a fairly small synchronizer rack and pinion, but the blowback action of a submachine gun requires a fairly large and massive synchronizer gear or lever.  This is because in a gas operated rifle a second gas piston can be attached to the countermass, thereby unloading the synchronizer gear.

      There are three BARS designs of note from Russia:

      AK-107/AK-108
       


      The AK-107 and AK-108 are BARS rifles in 5.45x39mm and 5.56x45mm respectively.  These rifles are products of the Kalashnikov design bureau and Izmash factory, now Kalashnikov Concern.  Internally they are very similar to an AK, only with the countermass and synchronizer unit situated above the bolt carrier group.


       

      Close up of synchronizer and dual return spring assemblies

      This is configuration is almost identical to the AL-7 design of the early 1970s.  Like the more conventional AK-100 series, the AK-107/AK-108 were offered for export during the late 1990s and early 2000s, but they failed to attract any customers.  The furniture is very similar to the AK-100 series, and indeed the only obvious external difference is the long tube protruding from the gas block and bridging the gap to the front sight.
       
      The AK-107 has re-emerged recently as the Saiga 107, a rifle clearly intended for competitive shooting events like 3-gun.
       

       
      AEK-971

      The rival Kovrov design bureau was only slightly behind the Kalashnikov design bureau in exploring the BARS concept.  Their earliest prototype featuring the system, the SA-006 (also transliterated as CA-006) also dates from the early 1970s.



      Chief designer Sergey Koksharov refined this design into the AEK-971.  The chief refinement of his design over the first-generation balanced action prototypes from the early 1970s is that the countermass sits inside the bolt carrier, rather than being stacked on top of it.  This is a more compact installation of the mechanism, but otherwise accomplishes the same thing.


       

      Moving parts group of the AEK-971

      The early AEK-971 had a triangular metal buttstock and a Kalashnikov-style safety lever on the right side of the rifle.



      In this guise the rifle competed unsuccessfully with Nikonov's AN-94 design in the Abakan competition.  Considering that a relative handful of AN-94s were ever produced, this was perhaps not a terrible loss for the Kovrov design bureau.

      After the end of the Soviet Union, the AEK-971 design was picked up by the Degtyarev factory, itself a division of the state-owned Rostec.



      The Degtyarev factory would unsuccessfully try to make sales of the weapon for the next twenty four years.  In the meantime, they made some small refinements to the rifle.  The Kalashnikov-style safety lever was deleted and replaced with a thumb safety on the left side of the receiver.


       
      Later on the Degtyarev factory caught HK fever, and a very HK-esque sliding metal stock was added in addition to a very HK-esque rear sight.  The thumb safety lever was also made ambidextrous.  The handguard was changed a few times.



      Still, reception to the rifle was lukewarm.  The 2018 announcement that the rifle would be procured in limited numbers alongside more conventional AK rifles is not exactly a coup.  The numbers bought are likely to be very low.  A 5.56mm AEK-972 and 7.62x39mm AEK-973 also exist.  The newest version of the rifle has been referred to as A-545.

      AKB and AKB-1


      AKB-1


      AKB


      AKB, closeup of the receiver

      The AKB and AKB-1 are a pair of painfully obscure designs designed by Viktor Kalashnikov, Mikhail Kalashnikov's son.  The later AKB-1 is the more conservative of the two, while the AKB is quite wild.

      Both rifles use a more or less conventional AK type bolt carrier, but the AKB uses the barrel as the countermass.  That's right; the entire barrel shoots forward while the bolt carrier moves back!  This unusual arrangement also allowed for an extremely high cyclic rate of fire; 2000RPM.  Later on a burst limiter and rate of fire limiter were added.  The rifle would fire at the full 2000 RPM for two round bursts, but a mere 1000 RPM for full auto.

      The AKB-1 was a far more conventional design, but it still had a BARS.  In this design the countermass was nested inside the main bolt carrier, similar to the AEK-971.

      Not a great deal of information is available about these rifles, but @Hrachya H wrote an article on them which can be read here.
       
       
    • By LostCosmonaut
      Something I haven't seen discussed on this site before; Soviet/Russian efforts to domesticate foxes by breeding for domesticated behavior. Article in Scientific American here; https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/guest-blog/mans-new-best-friend-a-forgotten-russian-experiment-in-fox-domestication/
       
      Interesting that there were physical changes correlated with the behavioral changes the Russians bred for.

       
      Buy one for only $7,000! https://domesticatedsilverfox.weebly.com/aquiring-a-tame-fox.html
       

      (not entirely unlike a dog I guess)
       
       
      It seems like a pretty cool idea to drunk me, though I don't have a spare 7,000 dollars laying around (thanks student loans!). Also, I don't think my cat would approve.
       
    • By LostCosmonaut
      Intro
       

      The MiG-3. All flying aircraft today have been re-engined with the V1710, and look slightly different.
       
      The MiG-3 was one of the first fighters developed by the famous Mikoyan-Gurevich design bureau. An improvement on the troubled MiG-1, the MiG-3 was designed for combat at high altitude. Introduced in 1941, it gained less fame than its contemporaries like the Yakovlev and Lavochkin fighters. Germany's virtually nonexistent strategic bomber force, and the low-altitude nature of combat on the Eastern Front meant the MiG-3 was forced out of its element, and its performance suffered. Combined with the MiG's difficult flight characteristics and the horrible strategic situation for the Soviets in 1941, this meant the MiG-3 achieved little success.
       
      While the MiG-3 did not spawn a successful series of fighters (like the Yak-1, Yak-9, and Yak-3, for instance), numerous variants were considered, and many of them were built in at least prototype form. However, for many reasons, such as lack of need or nTheonavailability of suitable engines, none of these variants entered large scale production.
       
       
       
       
      I-230/MiG-3U
       

      The resemblance to the baseline MiG-3 is easily seen. via aviastar
       
      The I-230 was one of the more straightforward developments of the MiG-3. Development on the I-230 (also known as the MiG-3U) began in late 1941, with the objective to correct numerous flaws identified in the MiG-3. First was the armament; the MiG-3 had only two 7.62mm ShKAS machine guns and a single 12.7 Berezen (BS) machine gun, firing through the propeller. On the I-230, these were replaced with two 20mm ShVAK cannons (again synchronized to fire through the propeller).
       
      Outwardly, the I-230 looked very similar to the production MiG-3, although the new aircraft was made mostly of wood instead of steel tubing and duralumin. The wing area and wingspan were increased (to 18 m^2 and 11 meters, versus 17.4 m^2 and 10.2 meters for the production MiG-3), and the fuselage was lengthened by .37 meters.
       
      Soviet engineers originally intended to fit the I-230 with the AM-39 engine. However, by the time the I-230 airframe was completed in early 1942, the AM-39 was not yet available. As a result, the first I-230 was forced to use an engine built from both AM-38 and AM-35 parts (designated AM-35A). This engine was roughly 40 kilograms heavier than the intended engine, but produced a respectable 1350 horsepower. Even with such an odd engine, the I-230 flew by the end of 1942, achieving a top speed of over 650 km/hr at altitude. (Some sources say the I-230 first flew in May 1943, this is likely for the machines with AM-35A engines). Four more prototypes were built with AM-35A engines. These aircraft would serve in defense of the Moscow region while undergoing flight testing. While the design showed promise, by this point the AM-35 was obsolete and out of production. Additionally, some other deficiencies were identified. The I-230 was found to be difficult to land (a flaw shared with the MiG-3), and the engine tended to leak oil into the rest of the aircraft at high altitudes. As a result, the I-230 was not built.
       
      I-231
       
      The I-231 was a further evolution of the I-230, using the AM-39 engine that had originally been intended for use in the I-230. One of the I-230 aircraft had its engine replaced with the more powerful AM-39. This required modification of the cooling system; the radiator was enlarged, with another secondary radiator installed. There were also a few other modifications, such as moving the horizontal tail surfaces downward slightly, the fuselage fuel tank was enlarged and some modifications to the radios. Armament was the same as the I-230; two 20mm ShVAK cannons.
       
      First flight of the I-231 was in October 1943. However, in early November, the prototype was forced to make an emergency landing after the supercharger failed at high altitude. Two weeks later, flight testing of the repaired I-231 resumed. The prototype, with the more powerful AM-39 (1800 horsepower), reached a top speed of 707 km/hr at an altitude of about 7000 meters. It also climbed to 5000 meters in under 5 minutes. Flight testing continued in early 1944, and in March, the I-231 was damaged after overrunning the runway during landing. The program suffered another setback when the repaired I-231 suffered an engine failure, damaging the precious AM-39 engine. Following this last mishap, work on the I-231 was discontinued.
       
       

      The similarities between the radial and inline engined models are still visible. via airvectors
       
      I-210/MiG-9 M-82
       

      I-210 with radial engine. via airpages.ru
       
      The I-210 was a more substantial modification of the MiG-3 which began in the summer of 1941. Production of the Shvestsov M-82 radial engine had recently begun, and many design bureaus, including MiG, were instructed to find ways to incorporate the engine into their designs. In the case of the MiG-3, this was especially important, as the Soviet government sought to discontinue the AM-35 to free up production space for the AM-38 used by the all-important Il-2.
       
      In theory, the M-82, with 1700 horsepower, would provide a significant performance increase over the AM-35. Soviet engineers projected that the M-82 equipped MiG-3 (now known as the I-210) would reach nearly 650 km/hr at altitude. It was also projected that performance would be massively improved at low altitude, important for combat on the Eastern Front. The new aircraft was received the designation “MiG-9 M-82”, denoting that it was a substantially new type (this designation would later be reused for a twin-jet fighter in the late 1940s).
       
      In addition to fitting of the M-82, there were several other differences between the MiG-3 and the I-210. Armament was increased to three 12.7mm UBS machine guns (two 7.62mm ShKAS were fitted initially, but soon removed). Several systems related to the engine, including the oil coolers and fuel system were also updated. The fuselage was widened slightly to accommodate the new engine.
       
      The I-210 first flew in July 1941. However, it became quickly apparent that it was not meeting its performance targets. The top speed at an altitude of 5000 meters was a mere 540 km/hr, far inferior to to projects (as well as the production MiG-3!). Part of this was due to having a different model of propeller installed than what was intended. However, wind tunnel testing and inspection showed that the engine cowling was poorly designed and sealed to the rest of the airframe, causing significant drag.
       
      Several months were required to correct the various defects, and it was not until June 1942 that three I-210s were ready for trails. During testing, the three aircraft were assigned to the PVO for use on the front. State trials began in September, and the I-210 fared poorly. Maximum speed was still only 565 km/hr, far inferior to existing types. Overall, the I-210 was judged to be unsatisfactory and inferior to the La-5 and Yak-7. The aircraft did not enter production, although the three completed prototypes would serve in Karelia until 1944.
       
      I-211/MiG-9E
       
      The failure of the I-210 was not the end of efforts to install a radial engine into the MiG-3 airframe. In late 1942, work on the I-211 began. A new Ash-82 engine, an improved variant of the M-82 installed on the I-210, was fitted. With the help of the Shvetsov bureau, the aerodynamics of the engine and its cowling were substantially improved. Further modifications reduced the empty weight of the “MiG-9E” by 170 kg. The three 12.7mm machine guns were replaced by two 20mm ShVAK cannons.
       
      Testing of the I-211 began in August 1942 (other sources variously say that testing did not begin until early 1943, my interpretation is that this is when state trials officially happened). Performance was markedly superior to the I-210; the I-211 reached a top speed of 670 km/hr, and was able to climb to altitudes in excess of 11000 meters. However, the La-5, which was already in production using the M-82 engine, had similar performance. Moreover, the La-7 was in development, and was felt to have better potential. In all, only ten I-211s were built.
       
      Interestingly, at least one source claims that a variant of the I-211 equipped with a Lend-Lease R-2800 engine was considered. There is no evidence that such an aircraft was actually built.
       
       
      I-220/MiG-11
       
      The I-220 (and the rest of its series up to the I-225) were substantially different from the production MiG-3, sharing little aside from the basic design and concept. These aircraft took the original mission of the MiG-3, interception of targets at high altitude, to the ultimate extreme.
       
      The initial request that led to development of the I-220 was issued in July 1941, in response to high-altitude overflights by Ju-86P reconnaissance aircraft. These aircraft, capable of operating at over 13000 meters, were outside the reach of almost any Soviet fighter. A few Ju-86Ps at slightly lower altitude were intercepted by MiG-3s before the start of the war, so the MiG-3 was a natural starting point for a high-altitude interceptor.
       
      Work on the I-220 prototype began in late 1942. Originally, it had been planned to install the AM-39 engine, but it was not ready at the time construction began on the prototype. Instead, one source (OKB MiG, Page 48) states anAM-38F engine was installed, which still provided more power (1700 hp) than the AM-35 on the MiG-3. However, it had the drawback of losing power at high-altitudes; the AM-38F would be an interim installation at best. A different source reports that an AM-37 was the first engine installed.
       
      In addition to the new engine, the wingspan was lengthened by .80 meters, with a slight sweep added to the outer portion of the leading edge. The radiator was relocated from the belly of the aircraft to inside the wing center section, with new air intakes added at the wing roots. Armament was increased to four ShVAKs, making the I-220 one of the heaviest armed Soviet fighters.
       
      The I-220 first flew in January 1943. Testing of the aircraft proceeded, as the AM-39 was still not yet ready. Despite being handicapped by the AM-38F engine, the I-220 prototype was still able to reach 650 km/hr during testing in January 1944. It was agreed that the aircraft had potential, but would need the AM-39 to reach its maximum performance. The second I-220 prototype was eventually fitted with the AM-39, but by that point it had been decided to substantially redesign the aircraft.
       
       
       

      I-220 vs. I-221
       
      I-221/MiG-7
       
      While the I-220 had done well, it had not been able to reach the altitudes its designers had hoped for. Numerous changes would be required to get the best possible performance out of the airframe.
       
      The most obvious area for improvement was the engine. Rather than the AM-38F, an AM-39A with a turbocharger was installed. Not only was the AM-39 more powerful than the AM-38, but the twin turbocharger would allow the engine to continue developing power at altitude. Additionally, the wingspan was increased further, to 13 meters. Armament was reduced to two ShVAK cannons, to save weight. Significantly, the I-221 was fitted with a pressurized cockpit, to allow the pilot to survive at extreme altitude.
       
      By the time the I-221 made its first flight in December 1943, the Ju-86 threat had disappeared. One of the high-altitude intruders had been intercepted by a Yak-9PD (a high-altitude version of the Yak-9 designed and built in three weeks), though it had not been destroyed, overflights ceased. Nevertheless, the Yak-9PD was very much an interim solution, armed with only one ShVAK and requiring 25 minutes to climb to 12000 meters. So, development of the I-221 continued.
       
      The test program of the I-221 was cut very short. On the eighth flight of the aircraft, in February 1944, the pilot bailed out at altitude, after seeing flames coming from the turbocharger and smoke in the cockpit. The pilot survived unharmed, but obviously the I-221 was completely destroyed.
       
      I-222/MiG-7
       
       

      Side view of I-222. via ruslet.webnode.cz
       
      The I-222 was a continued development of the I-221. Not only did it have several additional performance improvements, but it was the closest of MiG's high altitude fighters to a “production ready” aircraft. The AM-39A engine was replaced with a more powerful AM-39B, with twin turbo-superchargers, plus a new four-bladed propeller. An improved intercooler was also installed (clearly visible under the central fuselage). To improve the I-222's potential utility as a combat aircraft, 64mm of armored glass was installed in the windscreen, and the cockpit pressure bulkheads were reinforced with armor plate. The fuselage contours were also modified to give the pilot better rearward visibility. Armament was two B-20 cannons, replacing the ShVAKs.
       
      The I-222 made its first flight in May 1944. Relatively little testing was done before the aircraft went to the TSAGI wind tunnel for further refinement. It emerged in September and underwent further testing. Test flights proved that the I-222 had truly exceptional performance. A speed of 691 km/hr was reached, quite respectable for a piston-powered aircraft. The truly astonishing performance figure was the ceiling of 14500 meters, well in excess of any German aircraft (save for the rare and latecoming Ta-152H).
       
      Though the I-222 could likely have been put into production, Soviet authorities assessed (correctly) that by late 1944 there was little threat from high-altitude German aircraft. Nuisance flights by Ju-86s were of little consequence, and German bomber programs such as the He-274 universally failed to bear fruit. Testing of the I-222 continued through late 1945, when the program was cancelled.
       
       
      I-224/Mig-7
       

      As can be seen the I-224 is similar to the I-222. From OKB MiG by Butowski and Miller
       
      The I-224 was a development of the I-222 with an improved AM-39FB engine. Several other minor improvements, such as an improved propeller and modified cooling system. The new aircraft first flew in September 1944. After five flights, it was heavily damaged in an emergency landing. Difficulties continued after the aircraft was repaired in December; the engine had to be replaced in February due to the presence of metal particles in the oil.
       
      Like the I-222, the I-224 demonstrated very good performance at altitude, also climbing to over 14000 meters and recording speeds over 690 km/hr. But by now, it was October 1945, and the war was over. It was decided to fit the I-224 with a fuel-injected AM-44 engine. This was not completed until July of 1946, and by then the time of the piston-engine fighter had passed. Both the I-222 and I-224 programs were shut down in November.
       
      I-225/MiG-11
       

      From OKB MiG by Butowski & Miller
       
      The I-225 was born from the second I-220 prototype. Although the I-225 was still designed for operation at high-altitude, it was decided not to optimize the aircraft for such extreme heights as the I-222 and I-224. It was hoped that this would allow for a higher top speed and heavier armament, among other improvements.
       
      A turbocharged variant of the AM-42 engine (similar to that used on the Il-10 ground attack aircraft) was fitted, providing 2200 horsepower at takeoff. The pressurized cabin was deleted to save weight, and allow the cockpit to be optimized for better visibility. Armament was the same as the I-220; four ShVAK cannons. Armor was added to the windscreen, as well as the pilot's headrest. Improved instrumentation and a new radio system was also added.
       
      As predicted, the I-225 had exceptional performance. The aircraft was capable of speeds in excess of 720 km/hr, and demonstrated good handling characteristics. Unfortunately, the first I-225 prototype was lost after only 15 flights, due to an engine fire.
       
      A second prototype was completed with an AM-42FB engine, and first flew in March 1945. This second prototype was fitted with four B-20 cannons instead of ShVAKs, This prototype was also reported to be capable of over 720 km/hr, as well as able to climb to 5000 meters in under 4 minutes. However, due to continued vibrations, the AM-42 was replaced with an AM-44 in January 1946. This did not solve the issues though, and the I-225, like its predecessors, was not selected for production. All work on the I-225 was shut down in March 1947.
       
       
       
      Remarks
       
      While none of the advanced MiG-3 variants entered production, they did provide the Mikoyan-Gurevich bureau with valuable engineering and design experience. In a different world, one might imagine that some of their designs could have found a niche. The I-210/1 and I-230/1 would have little reason to be built in a world where Yakovlev and Lavochkin fighters exist in the way they did. However, if Germany or another enemy had a developed strategic bombing arm, then the I-220 series fighters could have found a use. Either way, by 1945, it was clear that jet aircraft were the future. Even the Soviets, who had a relatively late start on jet engines, quickly developed aircraft like the MiG-9 and Yak-15 whose performance exceeded any of the MiG-3 variants.
       
       
       
      Sources:
       
      OKB MiG, a History of the Design Bureau and its Aircraft, by Piotr Butowski and Jay Miller
       
      http://www.airvectors.net/avmig3.html
       
      http://www.aviastar.org/air/russia/a_mikoyan-gurevich.php
       
      https://ruslet.webnode.cz/technika/ruska-technika/letecka-technika/a-i-mikojan-a-m-i-gurjevic/ 
      (I-230, I-210, I-211, I-220, I-221, I-222, I-224, and I-225 pages)
       
      http://www.airwar.ru/fighterww2.html
      (I-230, I-231, I-210, I-211, I-220, I-221, I-222, I-224, and I-225 pages)
       
      http://soviethammer.blogspot.com/2015/02/mig-fighter-aircraft-development-wwii.html
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