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Tied has been trying to get me to post here for months, and he has finally convinced me to join up. So without further ado here is a post I made on the SA forums since I see there isn't a T-80 thread. ________________________________________________________________________________ T-80 Program The T-80 MBT was another offshoot of the T-64 program. It entered service around the same time as the new generation of NATO tanks such as the Leopard 2, M1 Abrams and Challenger. While it was a capable and effective tank, it also carried a horrifically high price to deliver these qualities. Which considering the economic conditions of the USSR at the time of its introduction, could charitably be considered "negligent". To borrow a phrase, it was an example of "The best being the enemy of the good". Despite its problems, The T-80U was certainly aesthetic. Video "Made in the USSR: T-80 main battle tank". Origins The T-80 was a child of two lineages, primarily, the T-64 design from Kharkov, and secondly the various tank turbine engine projects that had existed in the USSR for decades. In 1971, the soviet tank industry began work on new designs that would replace the T-64 and T-72 after 1981. These new designs were nicknamed "Perspektivy" or "NST" from "New Standard Tank". There was a number of submissions, such as the unorthodox T-74 offered by Kharkov. Leningrad's Kirov KB offered the turbine powered Object 225 and the diesel Object 226, while Chelyabinsk offered the Object 780. Over time these projects were refined and replaced with the Leningrad Object 258, Chelyabinsk Object 785 and Kharkov adding the Object 480. Out of the three, only Kharkov remained enthusiastic about their project. Chelyabinsk had been moving away from the tank business after a change in management, and Leningrad had shifted their efforts onto a new T-64 remix, the Object 219T. After the problems with the T-64, along with Morozov's upcoming retirement, the army rejected the T-74. Turbines, a Primer. Interest in turbine engines for tanks had existed since the 1950's. Turbine technology offered engines that would be significantly smaller, lighter and more powerful than equivalent diesel engines. However they also had much higher requirements in terms of air filtering, maintenance and foremost, fuel. The appetites of a Turbine averaged at 240kg/hour of fuel to the 83kg/hour of a comparable diesel, a significant increase! These engines would also cost more than 10x equivalent diesels, an example figure is R9,600 for the V-46 to the R104,000 demanded of the GTD-1000. Object 219 Development The first experimental GTD-1000T turbine engine was mounted on a modified T-64 tank chassis. During early trials, it was found that the T-64 running gear would limit the top speed of the vehicle due to the extreme vibrations of the metal road wheels and the track at high speed. As a result, a new suspension was designed for the Obj.219 but with no attempted made to standardize this with the rival T-72's suspension. During trials from 1968 to 1971, various suspension and subcomponent options were explored. Dust ingestion was a significant problem for the new tank, leading to a redesign of the air filters and the fitting of rubber side skirts to reduce the amount of dust kicked up during movement. The Curse of the 5TDF lived on however and the engines had woefully low average times before failure, falling far below the targeted life of 500hrs. Trials also showed that the voracious fuel appetite of the engine forced the use of external fuel drums to meet the basic range requirement of 450km. Fuel consumption of the engine was an astounding 1.6 to 1.8 times higher than the T-64A. Wisely, Minister of Defense Andrei Grechko rejected plans to put the new Object 219 into production, citing that it offered no improvements to firepower or armor and consumed twice as much fuel as the T-64A. Unfortunately for the soviets, Grechko died in 1976 and replaced by Dmitry Ustinov, who immediately set about getting his pet project approved. Production was to start at LKZ and Omsk. Furthermore, any major tank system upgrades would be earmarked for priority use on the T-80 platform, such as new fire controls, stabilizers and etc. In the original production configuration, the much delayed T-80 was essentially a T-64A with a turbine engine and new suspension. In all other respects the vehicle was equivalent, armor, armament, fire control and etc. But not the price! The T-80 was hideously expensive at R480,000 to the R143,000 of the T-64A. Not to mention, the tank had already fallen behind the T-64's newest version; the T-64B (which cost R318,000 I might add). As a result, the T-80 did not last long in production, with about less than 200 tanks made between 1976 and 1978. T-80B Ustinov used his position to ensure that the T-80 would be the new standard tank of the Soviet Army, and it was imperative that the quality of its systems be brought up to the level of the T-64B. To achieve this, the systems of the T-64B turret such as the LRF, ballistic computer, autoloader, Kobra complex, and etc were adapted to a new T-80B turret. This turret used the same protective technology as well (combination-K) and offered the same protection. The hull was unchanged. This upgrade was designated the Object 219R. The T-80B would be the primary production variant of this tank. The T-80B was put into production in 1978 at LKZ and at Omsk in 1979. The T-80B would also later be fitted with Kontakt-1 ERA, Unfortunately there is not much to be said about the T-80B really as it was essentially a T-64B with a turbine engine that in cost more in total. T-80U The evolutionary links between the T-80B and what would become known as the T-80U were the Object 219A and 219V. The Object 219A would be a combination of a T-80B hull and a new T-64 turret that had been developed in Kharkov as another upgrade for their tank line, the Object 476. This time, rather than waste time and resources on another pissing match where a perfectly fine T-64 turret would be remade for the T-80, the turret was dropped in directly. This new combined effort would leave the LKZ responsible for the overall program, while Kharkov would continue to work on the turret and armament. The Object 476 turret included a new generation of technology, such as the 1A45 fire control system, a new 1G46 sight and new laminate armor in the turret. This new generation of Laminate armor had been developed at NII Stali, with two versions. A simpler “reflecting-plate” system that would be used in the T-72B. The Object 476 turret however used the more expensive “semi-active filled-cell” armor design. In this design, plates of steel were suspended in polymer filled cells backed by a plate of resin and another layer of resin. When penetrated by HEAT, the shockwaves from the detonation would cause the reverberation of the semi-liquid filler, degrading the penetrating jet. While the Object 219A was ready for production in 1982, only a handful were made for use in technology trials. The new tank would have to wait for new technology initiatives to bear fruit, such as the Refleks missile complex and Kontakt-5 ERA. The Refleks laser beam riding missile was a brother of the Svir mounted on the T-72B, and both had been based of the Bastion/Sheksna missiles developed for the T-55 and T-62 respectively. The Refleks and Svir offered the most penetration of all, at 700mm RHA equivalent, compared to the 600mm offered by Kobra. The range was also extended from 4km to 5km. Kontakt-5 ERA also provided an impressive degree of protection against HEAT, and in a first for ERA, against APFSDS rounds as well. Against KE rounds, it is claimed that it will degrade their performance by 20% to 35%. While integration of the object 476 turret with the 219A hull, the object 219V was fitted with a new GTD-1000F engine with a supercharger and the refleks missile complex. Both of these designs have been sometimes dubbed the T-80A, even though they were never accepted for service under this name. A new object 219AS merged the features of both the 219A and the 219V. Twenty were produced in late 1983 with eight sent for troop trials and the remainder used in factory and state trials. The Object 219AS was accepted for Soviet Army service in 1985 as the T-80U. Series production of this type began in 1987 at Omsk, which would be the primary producer of this type as production at LKZ had been winding down and Kharkov was busy retooling for the job. The T-80U would be the definitive version of this tank, and offered impressive protection against APFSDS (780mm), HEAT (1,320mm) on the turret front, a very high degree of cross country capability and high speed. However this astronomical performance also came with astronomical cost: a VNII Transmash study found that the T-80U offered only 10% improvement over the T-72B but cost 824,000Ru compared to only 280,000Ru; nearly three times more. After Ustinov popped his clogs in December 1984, his turbine fetish was finally pried from his cold, dead hands. The following death of Leningrad party-boss Romanov 7 months later in July 1985 removed the second major benefactor of the T-80 program. This cleared the way for a return to more conventional engines for the T-80. The pushback concerning turbine engines was focused primarily on cost. A GTD-1000 cost R104,000 which is ten times more than the R9,600 cost of the V-46 used in the T-72. Additionally, turbines had shorter running life, consumed an atrocious amount of fuel and were complicated and expensive to repair. Kharkov had been working on a diesel powered T-80 since 1976 (object 478), which used the new 6TD 1,000hp diesel that had been destined for the Object 476. This would be used in the new diesel powered T-80 Kharkov’s production of the T-80U had been limited, only reaching 45 until the government approved the creation of a new diesel powered T-80U. Kharkov had wanted to follow the tradition of the T-34, T-44, T-54 and T-64 and name the new tank the T-84. Their hopes were dashed and it was called the T-80UD (UD= Improved diesel), to avoid the embarrassment of acknowledging having not three, but actually four similar tanks in production. This slap fight over names had to actually go all the way up to Gorby’s desk in order to be resolved. The T-80UD was approved for trials in September 2nd, 1985 and for production in 1986. About 500 T-80UD were produced before the fall of the Soviet Union and eventually found life beyond death of revolution in one country, morphing into the Ukrainian T-84 program. ~Controversial Opinions Zone~ While I feel like I am about to trigger Lost Cosmonaut or T___A here. I feel that having now read about the tank I got say that I am flabbergasted and have no idea what the fuck the Soviets were thinking. The T-80 was a tank design that seemed to offer only the dubious benefit over its competition of a high speed and considerable power to weight ratio. While these two qualities may be very important on the tank show circuit, the famous “flying tank” demonstration, it is questionable just how much benefit this would confer over its older brothers the T-64 and T-72 on a real battlefield. Not to mention, this impressive performance came as a significant cost to fuel range. The engine would always be drawing the same quantity of fuel, be the tank rolling at maximum speed down a road or idling at a position. In short, and more technical terms, they were increasing their tactical mobility while severely compromising the operational mobility of the tank. When one considers that the armor and armament of the T-80U were effectively stolen from the T-64 program, and that the T-72 had managed to produce a roughly equivalent vehicle at a fraction of the cost, you have to ask, what was the point? The money and effort that had gone into the T-80 program would have been better spent on the T-64 and T-72 lines. Consider the benefits; T-64 could have been upgraded in line with the object 476 program which would have given a spiritual T-80UD much sooner. The T-72B could have received the upgraded fire controls, stabilizers and etc reserved for the T-80U that were eventually fitted anyway in the form of the T-72BU (aka T-90). Along this line of thought, the main thing that had been holding back the T-72 program was its designation as the “cheaper” line that was not deserving of the extra funding to turn a solid vehicle into a superior one (as what happened with the T-90). At the very least, you could justifiably assume that these options would be cheaper due to the lack of the expensive gas turbine. The only thing that I can really give separate praise for in my current impression was that the suspension. To what I gather, it is quite effective and offered a very smooth ride compared to the T-64 or T-72 suspension. But this system could have been adapted for either of these two tanks anyway which brings us back to the original question: what was the point, really? While the new generation of NATO tanks in the form of the Leopard 2, M1 Abrams and Challenger were a major step up, the soviets should have waited for a much more substantially improved design to appear, rather than making their bets with a fattened T-64 with a turbine stuck in it. While overall the tank was not a failure that we in the thread mock the Tiger2 for being (the T-80 at least didn’t set itself on fire, ho ho), it however does share the same fundamental problem in that it just wasn’t appropriate for the strategic needs of the state at the time of its production. It cost too much, consumed too much fuel and offered only mild performance increases over more workhorse designs