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  1. The idea to produce a Romanian MBT was considered after 1968 invasion of Czechoslovakia and it started at the beginning of 70s when Romanian Communist Party embarked in an effort of industrialization of the country. Along with MBTs, an entire variety of armored vehicle was produced ranging from APCs and IFVs to SPGs. I'll start with tanks and I will gradually add posts to this thread. Keep in mind that I am not a specialist and I am open to advice/suggestions. There is very little reliable info available online, some sources give contradictory information but I’ve selected the info from reliable sites and included some considerations of military personnel who served on this tank or worked in the said factories(mainly from http://www.rumaniamilitary.ro website articles and comments); I tried to avoid internet articles, some are poorly documented and contain mistakes and even urban legends. Pretty often Romanian TR tanks series are mistakenly considered T-55s local copies which is quite wrong. Although Romania received the license of T-55 from USSR, it never produced this tank but rather imported it from USSR and Czechoslovakia due to WP internal rules of importing equipment of each other. The Czechoslovak products were preferred due to their better quality/reliability. TR-77-580 The first Romanian tank project yielded results in 1972, as a strategic part of the national defense doctrine. One of the reasons for which Romania’s political leadership accelerated industrialization was for military purposes, including tanks. The first Romanian tank was supposed to be medium one, with a 500 hp engine and was to be named with the TR designation, an acronym for Romanian Tank. The factory was supposed to be located in Marsa, in Sibiu county, in Romania’s western area however subsequently staff and production were moved to ‘August 23rd’ Enterprises in Bucharest where it were put into use various machines received from China. Another reason was the fact that Romanian Army did not considered T-55s as suitable for its doctrine and they requested a better armored medium, with better cabin for crew, better armor, NBC, anti-nuke protection and more ammo stored and better firepower. The only chapter were the first series (TR-77-850) failed was the maneuverability since the tank was 11 tons heavier and only the second generation engine of 850 HP solved this issue (middle 80s). The fist experimental model, the TR-77, came out in 1976, as a pre-mass production. After tests, the TR-77-580 came out and that same year, mass production started, with a target of 210 tanks a year. Compared with T-55, Romanian TR-77-580 had a stretched hull and an extra road wheel on each side to be able to fit the new engine, but the first series received the 580 HP engine and only later the 800 HP was gradually added. Just by looking at the tank, you may be mistaken that it was either a T-54 or a T-55, however this is basically a T-55 on steroids with double the armor, lengthened hull, a domestic anti-tank gun that looks similar to the D-10T (which was continuously improved and developed until 90s), and two extra pairs of roadwheels that are smaller in diameter. Armor: Unlike the T-55, the TR-77 got a thick stratified armor with 320mm on the turret front, and 200mm of armor on the hull (2 100mm plates), along with armored side skirts unlike the rubber side skirts of the T-55AM. This is already superior to the nominal armor of any other tank of its category with just RHA, and stratified armor is of course even better. The armor was theoretically better than the M60A1, T-62, Leopard I, and even the Chieftain. The use of a frontal 200 mm was at first controversial, and had a direct impact on the weight, of around three tons. Chief feature of the series is more than double the armor of T-55 using new technologies. At 200 mm thickness, it surpasses M60 even if only laminated type of armor; turret has 320 mm stratified which makes it one of the best armored tanks compared with most Western models of the same era. Gun: The TR-77-580 is armed with Romanian rifled 100mm A308 which is a variant of the 100mm anti-tank gun (M1977/A307) which also had a naval version (A430). It used 100mm BM 412 Sg ammunition that some sites claim that it is APDS but it’s mainly said to be a form of APFSDS ammunition. This ammo come later into service, at the same time with TR-85 (which was developed in middle 80s based on the experience acquired with TR-77 and using Chinese help). Other ammo used was BK-412 as HEAT ammunition, OF 412 as HE. It has a stabilizer, electric horizontally and hydraulic vertically. The gun itself was very resistant and it wasn’t uncommon to shot 250 rounds to a single exercise which I think says a lot about its durability. Rate of fire is from 7 to 15 rounds per minute, limited only by loader and muzzle velocity is 900 m/s for HE and 1400 m/s for APFSDS-T. Maneuverability: During its development, TR-77-580 was designed for a 830-860 hp engine allegedly derived from the Leopard I. Also Romanian engineers studied Israeli Centurions captured by Syria. This was partially the reason why the tank was lengthened and why it has 2 more road wheels than the T-55 and later it was upgraded with new engine and these variants were named TR-800/TM-800. For the first series it was used a local copy of the T-55’s V-55U engine which put out about 580 HP hence the name of the tank. The TR-77-580’s road wheels are evenly spaced out while the TR-800/TM-800 and the TR-85 has 2 widely spaced out wheels in the front while the back 4 are very close together. The delay in development of the 860 HP engine made the acceleration weaker than T-55s one. Probably mobility wise it is on par with Chieftain. Variants: TR-77-580 – Basic variant, chief feature of the series is more than double the armor of T-55 and is stratified. At 200 mm thickness, it surpasses M60 and deserves 12 FAV; turret has 320 mm stratified; It could be seen in the first pictures from this post. TR-77-580M – One of the first upgrades was to a LRF and ballistic computer; here is a pic with a TR-77-580 TR-77-580M1 – Main feature was its back elongated turret for better accommodation of crew, more ammo stored which would result in a better ROF than T-55s (9 rounds per minute). The pic shows one stripped of equipment and ready to be phased out; The number of tanks of this variant was small because they considered that it needs the 800 HP engine first. It was tested in 1979 by 912th Tank Battalion in Murfatlar although other sources claim is a late model. In middle/late 80s this model received 830 HP engine. The models in the photos are now exposed in a military units (not active anymore) and are stripped of equipment (skirts, boxes, MG, periscopes, IR projector, thermal sleeve and bore evacuator on the gun). Starting in 1983, a decision was made to raise the number of produced tanks to 500, once the new TR-85 model came out. By 1985, only 406 Romanian TR-77-580 tanks were made. To resume this tank weighed 42 tons, had a 580 hp Diesel engine, a top speed of 50 km/h, and a range of 380 km. It had an electric-hydraulic stabilizing system and 200 mm armor on frontal glacis and 380 mm stratified one on turret. Its armament was a 100 mm cannon that could fire six shots a minute, two machine guns and a crew of 4.
  2. 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: 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?
  3. Tank design is often conceptualized as a balance between mobility, protection and firepower. This is, at best, a messy and imprecise conceptualization. It is messy because these three traits cannot be completely separated from each other. An APC, for example, that provides basic protection against small arms fire and shell fragments is effectively more mobile than an open-topped vehicle because the APC can traverse areas swept by artillery fires that are closed off entirely to the open-topped vehicle. It is an imprecise conceptualization because broad ideas like "mobility" are very complex in practice. The M1 Abrams burns more fuel than the Leo 2, but the Leo 2 requires diesel fuel, while the omnivorous AGT-1500 will run happily on anything liquid and flammable. Which has better strategic mobility? Soviet rail gauge was slightly wider than Western European standard; 3.32 vs 3.15 meters. But Soviet tanks in the Cold War were generally kept lighter and smaller, and had to be in order to be moved in large numbers on a rail and road network that was not as robust as that further west. So if NATO and the Warsaw Pact had switched tanks in the late 1950s, they would both have downgraded the strategic mobility of their forces, as the Soviet tanks would be slightly too wide for unrestricted movement on rails in the free world, and the NATO tanks would have demanded more logistical support per tank than evil atheist commie formations were designed to provide. So instead of wading into a deep and subtle subject, I am going to write about something that is extremely simple and easy to describe in mathematical terms; the top speed of a tank moving in a straight line. Because it is so simple and straightforward to understand, it is also nearly meaningless in terms of the combat performance of a tank. In short, the top speed of a tank is limited by three things; the gear ratio limit, the power limit and the suspension limit. The tank's maximum speed will be whichever of these limits is the lowest on a given terrain. The top speed of a tank is of limited significance, even from a tactical perspective, because the tank's ability to exploit its top speed is constrained by other factors. A high top speed, however, looks great on sales brochures, and there are examples of tanks that were designed with pointlessly high top speeds in order to overawe people who needed impressing. When this baby hits 88 miles per hour, you're going to see some serious shit. The Gear Ratio Limit Every engine has a maximum speed at which it can turn. Often, the engine is artificially governed to a maximum speed slightly less than what it is mechanically capable of in order to reduce wear. Additionally, most piston engines develop their maximum power at slightly less than their maximum speed due to valve timing issues: A typical power/speed relationship for an Otto Cycle engine. Otto Cycle engines are primitive devices that are only used when the Brayton Cycle Master Race is unavailable. Most tanks have predominantly or purely mechanical drivetrains, which exchange rotational speed for torque by easily measurable ratios. The maximum rotational speed of the engine, multiplied by the gear ratio of the highest gear in the transmission multiplied by the gear ratio of the final drives multiplied by the circumference of the drive sprocket will equal the gear ratio limit of the tank. The tank is unable to achieve higher speeds than the gear ratio limit because it physically cannot spin its tracks around any faster. Most spec sheets don't actually give out the transmission ratios in different gears, but such excessively detailed specification sheets are provided in Germany's Tiger Tanks by Hilary Doyle and Thomas Jentz. The gear ratios, final drive ratios, and maximum engine RPM of the Tiger II are all provided, along with a handy table of the vehicle's maximum speed in each gear. In eighth gear, the top speed is given as 41.5 KPH, but that is at an engine speed of 3000 RPM, and in reality the German tank engines were governed to less than that in order to conserve their service life. At a more realistic 2500 RPM, the mighty Tiger II would have managed 34.6 KPH. In principle there are analogous limits for electrical and hydraulic drive components based on free speeds and stall torques, but they are a little more complicated to actually calculate. Part of the transmission from an M4 Sherman, picture from Jeeps_Guns_Tanks' great Sherman website The Power Limit So a Tiger II could totally go 34.6 KPH in combat, right? Well, perhaps. And by "perhaps," I mean "lolololololol, fuck no." I defy you to find me a test report where anybody manages to get a Tiger II over 33 KPH. While the meticulous engineers of Henschel did accurately transcribe the gear ratios of the transmission and final drive accurately, and did manage to use their tape measures correctly when measuring the drive sprockets, their rosy projections of the top speed did not account for the power limit. As a tank moves, power from the engine is wasted in various ways and so is unavailable to accelerate the tank. As the tank goes faster and faster, the magnitude of these power-wasting phenomena grows, until there is no surplus power to accelerate the tank any more. The system reaches equilibrium, and the tank maxes out at some top speed where it hits its power limit (unless, of course, the tank hits its gear ratio limit first). The actual power available to a tank is not the same as the gross power of the motor. Some of the gross horsepower of the motor has to be directed to fans to cool the engine (except, of course, in the case of the Brayton Cycle Master Race, whose engines are almost completely self-cooling). The transmission and final drives are not perfectly efficient either, and waste a significant amount of the power flowing through them as heat. As a result of this, the actual power available at the sprocket is typically between 61% and 74% of the engine's quoted gross power. Once the power does hit the drive sprocket, it is wasted in overcoming the friction of the tank's tracks, in churning up the ground the tank is on, and in aerodynamic drag. I have helpfully listed these in the order of decreasing importance. The drag coefficient of a cube (which is a sufficiently accurate physical representation of a Tiger II) is .8. This, multiplied by half the fluid density of air (1.2 kg/m^3) times the velocity (9.4 m/s) squared times a rough frontal area of 3.8 by 3 meters gives a force of 483 newtons of drag. This multiplied by the velocity of the tiger II gives 4.5 kilowatts, or about six horsepower lost to drag. With the governor installed, the HL 230 could put out about 580 horsepower, which would be four hundred something horses at the sprocket, so the aerodynamic drag would be 1.5% of the total available power. Negligible. Tanks are just too slow to lose much power to aerodynamic effects. Losses to the soil can be important, depending on the surface the tank is operating on. On a nice, hard surface like a paved road there will be minimal losses between the tank's tracks and the surface. Off-road, however, the tank's tracks will start to sink into soil or mud, and more power will be wasted in churning up the soil. If the soil is loose or boggy enough, the tank will simply sink in and be immobilized. Tanks that spread their weight out over a larger area will lose less power, and be able to traverse soft soils at higher speed. This paper from the UK shows the relationship between mean maximum pressure (MMP), and the increase in rolling resistance on various soils and sands in excruciating detail. In general, tanks with more track area, with more and bigger road wheels, and with longer track pitch will have lower MMP, and will sink into soft soils less and therefore lose less top speed. The largest loss of power usually comes from friction within the tracks themselves. This is sometimes called rolling resistance, but this term is also used to mean other, subtly different things, so it pays to be precise. Compared to wheeled vehicles, tracked vehicles have extremely high rolling resistance, and lose a lot of power just keeping the tracks turning. Rolling resistance is generally expressed as a dimensionless coefficient, CR, which multiplied against vehicle weight gives the force of friction. This chart from R.M. Ogorkiewicz' Technology of Tanks shows experimentally determined rolling resistance coefficients for various tracked vehicles: The rolling resistance coefficients given here show that a tracked vehicle going on ideal testing ground conditions is about as efficient as a car driving over loose gravel. It also shows that the rolling resistance increases with vehicle speed. A rough approximation of this increase in CR is given by the equation CR=A+BV, where A and B are constants and V is vehicle speed. Ogorkiewicz explains: It should be noted that the lubricated needle bearing track joints of which he speaks were only ever used by the Germans in WWII because they were insanely complicated. Band tracks have lower rolling resistance than metal link tracks, but they really aren't practical for vehicles much above thirty tonnes. Other ways of reducing rolling resistance include using larger road wheels, omitting return rollers, and reducing track tension. Obviously, there are practical limits to these approaches. To calculate power losses due to rolling resistance, multiply vehicle weight by CR by vehicle velocity to get power lost. The velocity at which the power lost to rolling resistance equals the power available at the sprocket is the power limit on the speed of the tank. The Suspension Limit The suspension limit on speed is starting to get dangerously far away from the world of spherical, frictionless horses where everything is easy to calculate using simple algebra, so I will be brief. In addition to the continents of the world not being completely comprised of paved surfaces that minimize rolling resistance, the continents of the world are also not perfectly flat. This means that in order to travel at high speed off road, tanks require some sort of suspension or else they would shake their crews into jelly. If the crew is being shaken too much to operate effectively, then it doesn't really matter if a tank has a high enough gear ratio limit or power limit to go faster. This is also particularly obnoxious because suspension performance is difficult to quantify, as it involves resonance frequencies, damping coefficients, and a bunch of other complicated shit. Suffice it to say, then, that a very rough estimate of the ride-smoothing qualities of a tank's suspension can be made from the total travel of its road wheels: This chart from Technology of Tanks is helpful. A more detailed discussion of the subject of tank suspension can be found here. The Real World Rudely Intrudes So, how useful is high top speed in a tank in messy, hard-to-mathematically-express reality? The answer might surprise you! A Wehrmacht M.A.N. combustotron Ausf G We'll take some whacks at everyone's favorite whipping boy; the Panther. A US report on a captured Panther Ausf G gives its top speed on roads as an absolutely blistering 60 KPH on roads. The Soviets could only get their captured Ausf D to do 50 KPH, but compared to a Sherman, which is generally only credited with 40 KPH on roads, that's alarmingly fast. So, would this mean that the Panther enjoyed a mobility advantage over the Sherman? Would this mean that it was better able to make quick advances and daring flanking maneuvers during a battle? No. In field tests the British found the panther to have lower off-road speed than a Churchill VII (the panther had a slightly busted transmission though). In the same American report that credits the Panther Ausf G with a 60 KPH top speed on roads, it was found that off road the panther was almost exactly as fast as an M4A376W, with individual Shermans slightly outpacing the big cat or lagging behind it slightly. Another US report from January 1945 states that over courses with many turns and curves, the Sherman would pull out ahead because the Sherman lost less speed negotiating corners. Clearly, the Panther's advantage in straight line speed did not translate into better mobility in any combat scenario that did not involve drag racing. So what was going on with the Panther? How could it leave everything but light tanks in the dust on a straight highway, but be outpaced by the ponderous Churchill heavy tank in actual field tests? Panther Ausf A tanks captured by the Soviets A British report from 1946 on the Panther's transmission explains what's going on. The Panther's transmission had seven forward gears, but off-road it really couldn't make it out of fifth. In other words, the Panther had an extremely high gear ratio limit that allowed it exceptional speed on roads. However, the Panther's mediocre power to weight ratio (nominally 13 hp/ton for the RPM limited HL 230) meant that once the tank was off road and fighting mud, it only had a mediocre power limit. Indeed, it is a testament to the efficiency of the Panther's running gear that it could keep up with Shermans at all, since the Panther's power to weight ratio was about 20% lower than that particular variant of Sherman. There were other factors limiting the Panther's speed in practical circumstances. The geared steering system used in the Panther had different steering radii based on what gear the Panther was in. The higher the gear, the wider the turn. In theory this was excellent, but in practice the designers chose too wide a turn radius for each gear, which meant that for any but the gentlest turns the Panther's drive would need to slow down and downshift in order to complete the turn, thus sacrificing any speed advantage his tank enjoyed. So why would a tank be designed in such a strange fashion? The British thought that the Panther was originally designed to be much lighter, and that the transmission had never been re-designed in order to compensate. Given the weight gain that the Panther experienced early in development, this explanation seems like it may be partially true. However, when interrogated, Ernst Kniepkamp, a senior engineer in Germany's wartime tank development bureaucracy, stated that the additional gears were there simply to give the Panther a high speed on roads, because it looked good to senior generals. So, this is the danger in evaluating tanks based on extremely simplistic performance metrics that look good on paper. They may be simple to digest and simple to calculate, but in the messy real world, they may mean simply nothing.
  4. I thought this deserves its own thread. Where do you see tank design going in the next few decades? Where do you think it should go? Here is where I think things will go: -Western tank development will be depressing. Every country will want their own indigenous tank design, and upon learning that they are lolnotevenclose to competent to actually make a first-rate MBT, they'll ask someone who is and end up making something that is practically identical to a Leo 2 or Leclerc, only without parts interchangeability. -Except for the tracks, ammo and engine, because all new Western MBTs will have the same Diehl tracks, MTU powerpack and Rheinmetall 120mm cannon. -Anyone who deviates from this formula will soon learn that all the engineers who actually design tanks hung up their hats in the early 1990s, and that re-building that knowledge base is hard. Being unwilling to put actual work into the problem, any tank designed that isn't based around these proven components will be a gigantic shitshow, and having wasted hundreds of millions of dollars, the country in question will throw up their hands and quietly buy T-90s or T-14s. -The vast majority of tank armor will be increasingly refined NERA, possibly with perforated stand off screens or those wedge thingies from Leo 2A5 to improve performance against LRPs. This fact, abundantly evinced by pictures of damaged tanks and tanks undergoing repair and overhaul, will continue to baffle and elude journalists. -The USA, Turkey, Franco-German consortium, South Korea and Japan will be the only "Western" countries still able to produce MBTs, and all will heavily lean on German-designed tracks, engines and guns. Turkish MBTs and other AFVs will be materially designed by South Korean firms to Turkish specifications. Italy and the UK will both lose their ability to design MBTs, the UK will actually lose their ability to make them, which will be rationalized by saying that MBTs are obsolete. Crystal ball cloudy for Poland, Czech Republic, and whatever tank production capability remains in Romania and former Yugoslavia. -The Russians will re-acquire the lead they had in tank design throughout most of the Cold War, with the Chinese playing second fiddle. Chinese first-line tanks will be quite good, but they will sell hilarious, hot-rodded type 59s to export customers (alongside hilarious hot-rodded J-7s) instead of their good stuff. Russia will sell the good stuff, and once they manage to replicate the parts they needed to source from abroad, it will be really good. The Ukrainian tank industry will remain gutted, and the glorious Kharkiv tank design lineage will fade into obscurity.
  5. Pretty much what it says on the tin. These are time to kill charts for tier X tanks with a primary focus on different guns, rather than different tanks. All reload times are based on the stated rate of fire of the gun: Vents, rammer, BIA, or crew skill level are not factored in to these graphs. All times where started on the first shot, because it is assumed that a tank will not go into an engagement without being loaded. For the heavies, I tried to take tanks that had similar DPM because the 120mm and 122mm guns can have middle of the road medium tank levels of DPM on certain tanks, and I felt that this would not make a good comparison. This is why I selected the T110E5 and IS-4 instead of the FV215b and 113. This is also more representative of tanks that one would encounter, considering the popularity of the E5 and IS-4 compared to the FV215b and 113. For autoloaders, I used only heavy and medium tanks. This was mostly to reduce the clutter, and because TD's and arty have substantially different play styles. It turns out that all tier X medium tanks really only mount one of three guns; the L7, the U-8TS/D-54, and a single example of and M62 clone on the 121. So for comparison, I tended to higher DPM mediums because I could find examples of each gun that were fairly close to each other. This was mainly determined by the U-8TS, because it has consistently high DPM among all tanks that carry it. There is an exception now with the T-22SR, however tank is so rare that it is hardly ever encountered in public matches. Also, tier X medium tank DPM is substantially divergent (~500) among tanks that are armed with the L7 or clones thereof.
  6. This is wonderful. I learned: 1) The leo 1 had poor hull armor, but excellent turret armor! 2) Chieftain's armor was 16 inches thick! 4) The T-64 was the Soviet's own version of the leopard(?!) Actually, the materials science stuff seems solid, and jives with what I've heard before (but how much of that is people repeating this article?).
  7. http://477768.livejournal.com/2898982.html A bunch of (French?) cartoons about the happy times when armies practiced for the end of the world up and down the European countryside.
  8. This is a must watch for all Sherman tank fans.
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