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The Preliminary T-72ology Thread

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Shortly after Jeeps_Guns_Tanks started his substantial foray into documenting the development and variants of the M4, I joked on teamspeak with Wargaming's The_Warhawk that the next thing he ought to do was a similar post on the T-72.

 

Haha.  I joke.  I am funny man.

 

The production history of the T-72 is enormously complicated.  Tens of thousands were produced; it is probably the fourth most produced tank ever after the T-54/55, T-34 and M4 sherman.

 

For being such an ubiquitous vehicle, it's frustrating to find information in English-language sources on the T-72.  Part of this is residual bad information from the Cold War era when all NATO had to go on were blurry photos from May Day parades:

 

maxresdefault.jpg

 

As with Soviet aircraft, NATO could only assign designations to obviously externally different versions of the vehicle.  However, they were not necessarily aware of internal changes, nor were they aware which changes were post-production modifications and which ones were new factory variants of the vehicle.  The NATO designations do not, therefore, necessarily line up with the Soviet designations.  Between different models of T-72 there are large differences in armor protection and fire control systems.  This is why anyone arguing T-72 vs. X has completely missed the point; you need to specify which variant of T-72.  There are large differences between them!

 

Another issue, and one which remains contentious to this day, is the relation between the T-64, T-72 and T-80 in the Soviet Army lineup.  This article helps explain the political wrangling which led to the logistically bizarre situation of three very similar tanks being in frontline service simultaneously, but the article is extremely biased as it comes from a high-ranking member of the Ural plant that designed and built the T-72.  Soviet tank experts still disagree on this; read this if you have some popcorn handy.  Talking points from the Kharkov side seem to be that T-64 was a more refined, advanced design and that T-72 was cheap filler, while Ural fans tend to hold that T-64 was an unreliable mechanical prima donna and T-72 a mechanically sound, mass-producible design.

 

So, if anyone would like to help make sense of this vehicle, feel free to post away.  I am particularly interested in:

 

-What armor arrays the different T-72 variants use.  Diagrams, dates of introduction, and whether the array is factory-produced or a field upgrade of existing armor are pertinent questions.

 

-Details of the fire control system.  One of the Kharkov talking points is that for most of the time in service, T-64 had a more advanced fire control system than contemporary T-72 variants.  Is this true?  What were the various fire control systems in the T-64 and T-72, and what were there dates of introduction?  I am particularly curious when Soviet tanks got gun-follows-sight FCS.

 

-Export variants and variants produced outside the Soviet Union.  How do they stack up?  Exactly what variant(s) of T-72 were the Iraqis using in 1991?

-WTF is up with the T-72's transmission?  How does it steer and why is its reverse speed so pathetically low?

 

 

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I am in the fortunate position of recognizing the need for all 3, maybe even 4 (object 187)

But that's probably becuase of my small slavic brain can't bring itself to criticize a Soviet design

Not even the t-62

Ha, enough with my shitty jokes, nice post

 

When thinking of the T-64/72/80, and i know i use this analogy a fucking lot, but think of them as the holy trinity

 

In most mainstream Christianity, you have the father, son, and holy spirit, all three being physical/spiritual representations of god, all three being no less god than the last, kinda like water, steam, and ice. 

 

Just like all three represent god, the T-64/72/80 all represent the need to get a 125mm auto-loading gun unto the field for purposes of liberating the workers of the world

 

in some way or the other, they are as intertwined as the last and all as equally relevant in Soviet MBT design 

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Consensus opinion on Tanknet is that Iraqi T-72s were not deliberately downgraded, but that they were older models that didn't have all the fancy wizz-bang stuff that the latest Russian makes did.

 

This is in contrast to Soviet export combat aircraft, which in some cases definitely were deliberately downgraded.

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Polish PT-91 still uses the old steel-textolite-steel glacis:

43f1c030cac0.jpg

 

However, as this image of a destroyed T-72 from the First Chechen War shows, later T-72s had a glacis made of what looks suspiciously like NERA:

 

lGExTNF.png

 

Wiedzmin put together this chart showing the progression of T-72 glacis protection:

DGVZdcU.png

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Eh I know the guy who runs that blog... He knows more on the T-72 than anyone I could talk to.

Kampfpanzer.de has good information on -72 variants.

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1os0r3y.jpg

Hey, I thought I was the official poster of Jim Warford ARMOR articles on the internet!  

 

As to the model kit EE posted of the T-74, that tank was not nearly as cool as the T-70.  The T-70 got all sorts of press in Western intel reports back in the day.  In fact, I can point to some early 80's era Armor issues where a young Lt. Jim Warford is arguing about the T-70 with a young civilian Soviet tank expert named Steven Zaloga.  

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T-70... the light WWII tank?

 

apparently him and Steven Zagola had a huge interest in the T-70 light tank

 

now that passage in some Zagola book about a Abrams squadron devastating attacking T-70s finally makes sense 

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Jeez, don't you guys know anything about cold war soviet tanks? :P  The T-70 MBT!   It totally existed, at least in the minds of western intelligence experts.  It looked almost exactly like a very early T-64 but it was somehow different.  Much like bigfoot, it only existed in blurry, hard to see pictures.  

 

comparative+characteristics+of+Main+Batt

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Maybe we should add here T-72 timeline and compare it to NATO tanks timeline.

I'd love to see the result of a real fight between NATO doctrine and WARPAC Doctrine.  From what I've been given to understand, given proper training time, Soviet era Combined Arms doctrine works pretty decently against NATO forces from the OPFOR exercises at IIRC, Fort Hood.

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Would you mind inviting him to this forum?  That would be lovely.

Of course.

I believe that some Iraqi T-72's were not downgraded, rather older models as noted. However, many of them (namely the ones mistaken as the "Asad Babil") not only lacked basic features all soviet models did, but were also made out of just steel, had no IR filter on the light etc. It's hard not to call that a downgrade.

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Jeez, don't you guys know anything about cold war soviet tanks? :P  The T-70 MBT!   It totally existed, at least in the minds of western intelligence experts.  It looked almost exactly like a very early T-64 but it was somehow different.  Much like bigfoot, it only existed in blurry, hard to see pictures.  

 

comparative+characteristics+of+Main+Batt

 

I wonder if anyone came up with a unit dedicated to leaking blurry pictures of things to Americans.

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I'd love to see the result of a real fight between NATO doctrine and WARPAC Doctrine.  From what I've been given to understand, given proper training time, Soviet era Combined Arms doctrine works pretty decently against NATO forces from the OPFOR exercises at IIRC, Fort Hood.

 

Something like Operation Barborrossa or Operation Begration 2.0 for the Soviet's being on the attackers side

 

HATO didnt stockpile nukes because they thought they would win in Europe 

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Having looked at T-90MS (or SM, as you prefer) it seems to have retained the carousel auto-loader inside the turret with additional main armament rounds stowed in the bustle under blowout panels.  The traditional Western view would have gone for the autoloader in the bustle and the other rounds (where?) -a la Leclerc?

 

The Ukrainians seem to have experimented with a bustle loader on the Yatagan, but that was for a NATO 120mm gun, perhaps with a French auto-loader(?)

 

Can anyone tell me whether the Russians ever seriously looked at an autoloader with the ammunition in the bustle for the 125mm gun.  I realise the two piece ammunition might be a problem, but was any serious consideration given and, if so, why was it not proceeded with? 

 

Even in just export market terms, it would overcome the criticism that the internal ammunition stowage on the T-72 and derivatives (and T-64 and derivatives) was an additional vulnerability.  Which leads to comment on whether your ammunition stowage matters a damn if you are penetrated by a modern FSDS or HEAT round?

 

Is this the area to discuss this whole ammunition stowage as part of the layered protection concept issue?

 

Cheers

B

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Bill, in Soviet tanks thread i posted a picture of 3D model of Burlak turret and several photos of T-72 test vehicle with Burlak turret prototype. This turret had a bustle autoloader for 2A46M series of tank guns. You can search it for more info, i am posting from mobie device.

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Can anyone tell me whether the Russians ever seriously looked at an autoloader with the ammunition in the bustle for the 125mm gun.  I realise the two piece ammunition might be a problem, but was any serious consideration given and, if so, why was it not proceeded with? 

 

Even in just export market terms, it would overcome the criticism that the internal ammunition stowage on the T-72 and derivatives (and T-64 and derivatives) was an additional vulnerability.  Which leads to comment on whether your ammunition stowage matters a damn if you are penetrated by a modern FSDS or HEAT round?

 

Is this the area to discuss this whole ammunition stowage as part of the layered protection concept issue?

 

Cheers

B

They did, and more than once... Object-640 used a bustle-loader in combination with a 2A46M, though the project went to bust with the bankrupting of Omsktransmash. 

 

Burlak turret, intended for the T-72, also used a bustle loader. The reason for not actually buying them, I don't know...but as a whole it would have been very expensive, and while it used a bustle loader, it also retained the carousel in the hull. 

 

The "additional vulnerability" came more from exposed rounds, rather than the idea of hull-storage itself. T-64/80 used a vertical propellant carousel, that left that propellant exposed. Because it was vertical AND exposed, a decent number of penetrations would lead to a cook off. T-72's use a horizontal carousel, that isn't exposed...however, rounds *can* be stored along the inside of the crew compartment, where they are exposed. That is where the problem came from, *exposing* propellant. 

 

T-90MS fixes this problem by adding more armor to the carousel, and also by putting excess ammunition in the bustle instead of the crew compartment. 

 

Bustle-loaders are very safe for the crew, but they also provide little, if no protection for the rounds. This is one area where hull storage actually makes sense. 

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