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I would like to add, however, that despite the advantages a frontal engine can provide in such case, it would not really be ideal for desings with unmanned turrets in mind.

The Merkava didnt suffer from the disadvanatges similar Soviet designs for example, because of the lack of autoloader and placement of ammo behind the turret.

However unmanned turrets do require autoloaders, and so while the entire front and middle would be occupied by the engine and crew capsule.

Considering that ammo isolation is now a requirement, it would leave the turret far more to the rear, akin to Soviet designs.

What's left to see is how the Carmel is visualized, to see if the concept of unmanned turrets can work with the Merkava's frontal engine and crew capsule.

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The specs required a highly mobile tank capable to destroy any Warsaw pact (PAVA) tanks at long range with a high hit probability on first shot. This led to the crafting of highly precise system. To

Well it's just a certain nuance. Obviously there is a stabilisation system but it is limited to the stabilisation of the line of sight (within the sights). The turret itself has no stabilisation s

*Warning, Walter engine sperg ahead*     The engine in the Merkava 4 is actually the most compact engine in the market, the MTU 883.  All the other Merkava models use a version of the AVDS-1790 eng

I was talking about a tranverse mounted engine, not a conventionally mounted engine as seen in the picture. Imagine the picture, but now remove the drivers compartment, and rotate that engine 90 degrees,

do you see all that extra space that is freed up?

I know that you wrote about traversely mounted engines, however try finding drawings of CAD data of the MT892 (or another compact high-power diesel engine) used on a combat vehicle such as the Puma...

The graphic still clearly illustrates the overall size of the powerpack, even though the V12 version will be about 20% longer. I don't see any space-savings from traversely mounting the powerpack - the driver then has to be moved further back. In the end it is just a question of wether the driver should be located behind or next to the engine, the volume required by the powerpack will remain the same.

 

Second, APUs are compact, and they already produce a large amount of power, the Abrams is going to get a upgraded APU too:

http://www.scout.com/military/warrior/story/1728632-army-builds-new-abrams-tank-variant-for-2020s

(Shown by Damian in his thread on AW)

The APU shown here has a claimed max output of 1KA. That is A LOT of power, and should be more than sufficient to power a APS, cameras, turret traverse, FCS, computers and sub systems.

I don't want to be nitpicking, but without voltage an amperage doesn't mean much. But I guess most likely it will work at the same 28 volts as the old APU and the new drive systems of the Abrams. The issue is that you are talking about a future system, of which we don't know the dimensions. Will it fit into the same space as the older APU? Or will it be bigger?

The current APU (non-primary power source from Marvin Land Systems) of the M1 Abrams has an output of about 10 kW, it is working with a current of 350 kW at a voltage of 28 V. This system is 1.36 metres long x 0.6 metres wide and 0.32 metres tall. This might be somewhat easy to fit into the front of a tank, but if you tripple it's size (for reaching the 28 kW of running a 28 V at 1,000 A APU) will make it a lot more complicated. To be fair the APU of the Abrams seems to be rather space-inefficient (delivering ~ 38 kW per m³), Jenoptik for example provides a 17 kW APU for the Leopard 2, which is only 0.77 metes long, 0.46 metres wide and only 0.37 metres tall - thus providing about 129.8 kW per m³, but the Abrams' APU might have other benefits which could justify the size.

 

At least in the case of the Leopard 2, the APU is separate from the engine compartment right? The main reason I see for placing the APU in the back of the sponsons is because it does not take up any space inside the hull, and because it is the tallest part of the sponsons, also it helps that it can have it's exhaust going out the back. When it comes to complexity, yes , it would be more complex, but not by much, a longer power cable, and since the MBT would most likely have fuel mounted in it's sponsons, the a longer fuel line would not be needed.

There are many different APUs for the Leopard 2 - depending on version and manufacturer. On the German Leopard 2A7 prototype, the APU didn't feature it's own exhaust vents and cooling system, sharing it with the engine - this is also the case with the Leopard 2A5DK, which doesn't have it's own cooling/exhaust solution. On the production model of the Leopard 2A7 however, the APU has it's own cooling vents, the exhaust is AFAIK still shared with the engine. This might have something to do with the higher power delivered by the 2A7's APU (17 kW vs iirc. 7 kW on the Leopard 2A5DK), but it also could have something to do with costs saving measures (which unfortunately define the current Leopard 2A7). Rheinmetall is using a different placement and potentially also a different type of APU.

 

I was saying that front mounted engines made more sense now, not that all MBT designs are going to use them. If you are refering to my last bit of line, that was spelling error, I meant "I could see front mounted powerpacks in the future". As in, they might have some potential.

Okay, but I still wouldn't say that they really make much more sense, given all the still existing drawbacks that have to be accepted. Reducing the size of the powerpack certainly helps reducing the drawbacks, but they still remain to some degree.

 

A common trick in tank design to reduce the frontal area that needs protection is to slope the roof at a high angle, about 82-83 degrees. In the case of a crew capsule, the crew needs hatches, which usually needs the plain, flat surface. This minimizes the potential to slope the roof, which increases the frontal area needing protection. You can slope the hatches too, but most designers have moved away from this practice. Also, turret armor and the gun barrel blocks these hatches, this can be seen on the Leo 2A5, or any T-series. Without the hatches the designers can freely create a overhand without worrying about trapping the crew. I already explained how we could accomplish the same height as a crew capsule, and if you wondering about the cooling system, just create it is the same way the Puma did, by letting it fill the space between the slope and the engine.

As you can see (with writing that could kill) in this example, the front mounted powerpack has a frontal height 50mm smaller than the crew capsule.

And if you are wondering what the length of that flat is, it is 450mm.

I still fail to see how this is going to increas actual protection. The driver's hatch on tanks like the Leopard 2 and the M1 Abrams are located on the sloped surface, there is no extra flat surface required for the hatch. While some AFVs might have some special hatch designs or flat-surface just for the hatches, I don't think this is the case with any modern tank I currently can think of. Yes, the K2 Black Panther seems to have a flat roof surface (without sloped glacis) at the front of the tank, but this tank has a lot of issues when it comes to actual armor protection and armor layout.

In general using only sloped steel armor for the glacis seems to be a bad design and a thing of the past. Modern missiles and RPGs are capable of fuzing even at extreme slopes, so this is already a main issue. Given that APFSDS ammunition does not riccochet - it will break, but only the frontal part of it will riccochet - relatively thin sloped armor is not a solution for all times. In research papers testing the protection capability of 75° sloped steel plates showed that the penetration was reduced by about 50% (thanks to a part of the penetrator breaking apart, another part of the penetrator deforming and a small reduction in muzzle velocity after penetration). For the Abrams and the Leopard 2 tanks having one to two inches of steel armor at a ~75-85° angle might have been sufficient, but when we look at 130 mm, 140 mm or 152 mm APFSDS the situation changes. Even 120 mm APFSDS should have no issues penetrating the glacis of a M1 Abrams or Leopard 2, specifically given that the performance against highly sloped armor plates can be increased by using special tip design (according to numerous patents).

Still I don't think that a front-mounted engine would be advantagous for armor protection. I'd expect any sort of real next-generation tank (and this is also the case with the T-14 Armata) to feature enhanced protection against top-attack weapons and artillery ammunition. Here having the crew sitting below parts of the frontal armor means that it double-acts as roof armor. With a front-mounted engine, this is not the case.

 

And, how does a rear door in itself increase the height of the vehicle?

The door - and the path to the door - need to be tall enough for a man to fit through. The height of the rear compartment of a Merkava tank - or an IFV such as the CV90 and Marder - is much taller than the height of the crew or engine compartment of a conventional tank.

leopard2_mit_freunden.jpg

 

See CV90. Front mounted engine, rear mounted exhaust. And a rear door/ramp.

The Marder also has a rear exhaust system, still it is a bad design for a tank. It is necessary on IFVs and some APCs for allowing a rear ramp and keeping the thermal signature at the front lower, but it is not a good design choice at all cases. The temperature of the exhaust gases is very high - about 230°C on the Leopard 2 and more than 600°C on the M1 Abrams; so the channel for transporting the exhaust fumes to the rear need to be insulated and/or actively cooled. The higher temperatures can effect other components (such as electronics) or the crew. It is already less weight and space efficient to transport the exhaust fumes to the rear, but the high temperature makes it only worse. Fuel is also more likely to catch fire after penetration when it is hot.

In MBTs the sponsons are already used for storing fuel and other components such as the NBC system.

 

And about the sideskirts, depends on the country. Swedish requirements were 65 degrees coverage of the front, not the crew.

Still the Swedish Leopard 2 has the same side skirt layout as the original version, so it probably will about the same or better in most cases. Do you think the requirement wouldn't be adjusted when the engine would be mounted at the front of the hull? The crew then would be exposed, if this wasn't adjusted - but based on the Strv 103 and the Strv 2000 it probably would be changed.

Udes22.JPG

strv_2000_hotbild-web.jpg

The skirts of the Strv 2000 also provided protection against RPGs from the sides.

 

And yet, the Carmel demonstrator is more than likely to retain a frontally placed engine despite being a clean sheet design.

The Carmel is meant to weigh just about 35 metric tons and is meant to armed with an autocannon between 40 mm and 76 mm calibre and ATGMs. It is not a next-generation tank, but rather another type of combat vehicle.

If you have not much armor (due to a weight of 35 metric tons or less), a lot of drawbacks of the front-mounted engines won't be as prominent. The T-14 Armata has about 1,100 mm frontal armor according to German estimates, which is to weigh significantly more than 3,500 kg/m² (which about the armor weight of the Leopard 2 or 2A4 - equal to 446 mm steel). This is in no way comparable to the Carmel.

 

9PFvyNi.jpg

 

I have to disagree. As the weight goes down, the need for higher power engines reduces. If you can make the heavy weight class future MBTs weigh ~55 tons (7-13 tons less than modern tanks), there is no reason to keep the 1,500hp engines, as they will needlessly consume more fuel which reduces autonomy and increases operation costs - unwanted. I don't know why the T-14 has a 1,500hp engine. Seems excessive to me.

You could argue though, that to better handle autonomy and fuel consumption issues, future tanks will utilize hybrid engines, or less likely, electric. And they're usually larger, though provide higher torque.

I'd like to continue this discussion.

Who says the weight of future tanks will go down. The reason why countries like Germany, the US and France have researched unmanned turrets in the - and why the T-14 has an unmanned turret - is to increase armor protection without increasing the weight. The current Challenger 2 weighs nearly 75 metric tons, the Leopard 2A7 in the best possible configuration (as wanted by the German Army) weighs nearly 70 metric tons. In the future tanks might need even more armor in order to resist 130 mm APFSDS or 152 mm APFSDS; Russia at least has thought about using this gun on a version of the Armata. A modern MBT with two/three men crew and increased armor protection might weigh some 60 metric tons or more, while providing the protection of a 80 or 90 metric tons conventional MBT. Other factors such as larger guns, bigger power supply systems (APUs, batteries), etc. might also affect the weight.

In general having more horsepower, more torque and better acceleration is desirable. Yes, one can try to reduce the weight of the tank and reduce the engine power and fuel consumption. One could however also try to stay at an acceptable level of fuel consumption and try to maximize the automotive performance. There is no law that say the speed of a tank should be limited to just 70 km/h on the road or why the tank should be slow at accerating and unable to climb steep slopes.

 

Having a rear door/ramp is not the only advantage. Aside from having a further layer of protection behind the main armor, Tal would often refer to the frontally mounted engine as a way to secure a safe position for the ammo, to which he attributed at least as much importance as safety of the crew compartment. So for those less familiar with his philosophy, basically ammo protection = crew protection.

The older Merkavas, the ones on which Tal worked, however were never designed with a modern armor layout or ammo seperation with blow-out panels. The tanks were designed for frontal fighting only, with little to no side armor (as clearly visible on the much lower turret side armor thickness) - in this case placing the ammunition at the very rear of the vehicle does mean it will be hit last and more armor and other components need to be penetrated.

However when looking at the protection along the frontal arc - or overall along the complete azimuth of 360° - the ammo is much less protected. Given that the earlier Merkava tanks lacked composite armor at the hull - and the armor is in general much thinner than on other MBTs - I would expect a Leopard 2 or M1 Abrams (which in the original configuration still had 105 mm non-isolated ammunition at the center of the crew compartment) to have much better protected ammunition.

 

There is a multitude of advantages; Carrying injured infantry in the back. Safe exit for the crew. Easy and quick resupplies. Reducing potential firing angles fatal for the crew.

What is the disadvantage? Bad weight distribution. But that was fixed with a center-rear mounted turret and unevenly spread wheels.

These are very subjective advantages. Carrying injured infantry into the back, but not having the place to treat their injuries or putting them into the recovery position is not an advantage, you could do the same with other combat vehicles. There is a reason why ambulance vehicles are tall and roomy. There is not very much place in front of the rear door: just enough to store 120 mm tank ammunition with protective caps - so probably less than 1.2 metres of space - this is not enough to aid an adult man. If the person is larger than that, it will be crushed when the turret rotates.

The safe exit of the crew is very situational. If the enemy can shot from tha tank at the side - even if it is just with a machine gun - then the exit is not safe anymore. If you can hit the front of tank from a 30° angle from the centerline, you can also hit the place behind the rear ramp at an angle of 30-40°. On the other hand having the engine at the front increases the likelyhood of mobility kills in conventional combat, hence making sure that evacuating the tank has to be done more often.

Quick and easy resupplying is depending on what you look at. Resupplying the Leopard 1 or Leopard 2 through the old ammunition hatch could be probably done faster than taking out those bulky ammo racks or crouching through the rear door.

 

This is a misconception you often repeat without trying to understand actually, how one needs to armor a frontal-engine design. The hull becomes taller indeed, but it doesn't mean the entirety of the hull frontal profile needs to have thick armor. The Merkava series of tanks, especially the earliest, show that armor directly above the engine is rather thin, as the angle becomes far too high (akin to Abrams' concept of UFP armor).

The glacis armor of the tank is however not thicker than that of other tanks, it is rather the opposite: it is thinner, while not being as well-sloped as the UFP of an Abrams for example. Hence it is weaker, less protected. The armor in front of the UFP, i.e. the hull nose and lower front plate, also does not seem to have a thickness comparable to that of other current tanks. The Leopard 2 - when fitted with the hull armor used on the Leopard 2A5DK, Strv 122, Leopardo 2E and Leopard 2A6 HEL, or when fitted with AMAP armor as used on the Leopard 2RI and Leopard 2SG - has much thicker armor at the LFP, hull nose and UFP. We are talking about an additional ~300 mm along the line-of-sight, while the basic tank already had thicker hull front armor than the Merkava 4 by most estimations (other than yours probably).

 

There is only a certain portion on the UFP that needs armor, and that is the nose and the engine cover-plate. The main armor though, would come in the form of near vertical plates located behind the fuel tanks, as suggested by Rolf Hilmes and Ogorkiewicz.

1401099141-merkava-lower-front-hull.png

So the main armor of the the Merkava 1 and 2 is a 100 mm steel plate behind the fuel tanks and a ~50 mm steel plate behind the engine? So how thick would the armor of the Merkava 3 and 4 be? Maybe we loo at the tank first...

There is less than 600-650 mm of space in front of the engine, which includes the frontal fuel tanks. So the armor is going to be thinner than that of other tanks, no matter what. If the fuel tanks have the same size as on the Merkava 1 (300 mm), then there would be less than 350 mm of space for the composite armor.

Also supported by various accounts of Merkava tanks fending off ATGMs and ATRs that would leave a few fuel leaks (would switch to other fuel tanks on the sides and rear) but with non-perforated main armor and undamaged engines.

This doesn't say much. It just says that the fuel and the armor are capable of stopping some RPGs, nothing more. The side armor of the Abrams turret (~300 mm) has been capable of surviving some older Soviet ATGMs, while the heavy side skirts of the Leopard 2 together with the side armor (110 mm composite side skirts + ~650 mm empty space + 60-80 mm steel armor) has been claimed of resisting ATGMs with 1,000 mm penetration into RHA by Dr. Held, when being hit at a 30° angle.

 

It's possible to place heavy side skirts exclusively behind the vents and in front of the crew compartment and provide the same level of protection.

Still the engine remains vulnerable then, while being place at a location that is more likely being hit.

 

And how experienced is the German military with frontal engine tanks? Surely such design is no good for a country with rough, rocky, uneven terrain, which is why no such country has adopted one.

Sarcasm off, the only problem with mobility on the Merkavas at least, was the engines.

First the AVDS-1790-6 had issues when going up slopes, and now the MTU 883 is problematic enough to opt for a less powerful 1,200hp engine instead.

Or you know, maybe the German Army had stricter requirements for mobility after having built two tanks with - by international standards - excellent mobility in form of the Leopard 1 and Leopard 2, whereas the IDF was willing to accept vehicles with much lower mobility, such as a 63 metric tons heavy Merkava 1 tank being powered by a 908 hp engine only? When your tank is capable of only reaching 50 km/h on road (and thus probably something between 20 and 30 km/h in heavy terrain), it certainly won't suffer from the same stress as a tank being powered by a 1,500 hp engine... this is why I clearly stated that the mobility issues were found to arrive at maximum speed.

 

Oh and the gun depression of 7° on the Merkavas is only relevant to the Mark 3/4. On 105mm armed variants, it was 8.5°.

Yes, but the tanks with 105 mm guns have no relevance in this discussion.

 

The Merkava tank, while slightly taller than average, is shorter by quite a margin, which helps to keep its weight down.

It is not shorter than the average MBT. It is shorter than the M1 Abrams and Challenger 2 maybe, two of the MBTs with the longest hulls currently being used. It's hull is still a tad longer than that of the Leopard 2 and considerably longer than the hulls of the Leclerc, K2 Black Panther, T-90, T-80 and T-84M.

 

Look at object 416:

mN9etv7.jpg

It had a shorter hull than a T-54, and it had a front-mounted engine.

It's definitely possible to make an engine that fits in the hull of a tank without pushing the hull very tall. The engine just has to be something other than a conventional diesel V.

I am not disagreeing with the last statement of using something other than a conventional diesel V-engine, but that's not really the reason for the size of the Object 416. It's hull is barely shorter than that of a T-54 without fuel drums - by about 100 to 300 mm only. The Object 416 however is fitted with a 400 hp engine only, so using an engine of equal size might lead to a larger Object 416. The hull is not as tall other that of a T-54, but the difference in height corresponds with the reduction ing round-clearance. The photograph however illustrates the problems of visibility for the driver and gun depression caused by this design.

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I am not disagreeing with the last statement of using something other than a conventional diesel V-engine, but that's not really the reason for the size of the Object 416. It's hull is barely shorter than that of a T-54 without fuel drums - by about 100 to 300 mm only. The Object 416 however is fitted with a 400 hp engine only, so using an engine of equal size might lead to a larger Object 416. The hull is not as tall other that of a T-54, but the difference in height corresponds with the reduction ing round-clearance. The photograph however illustrates the problems of visibility for the driver and gun depression caused by this design.

 

 

The 416 has a squatter hull because the driver is in the turret.  If the WOT models are to be believed (and I believe that both T-54 and ob 416 models are from scans of existing vehicles in a museum), then the ground clearance is very similar in both vehicles, and the 416's hull is actually much, much more compressed.  That picture doesn't really do justice to how tiny the design is.  Go to 2:08, and you can see that the top of the turret is the same height as a standing man:

 

 

The 416's engine is a twenty cylinder boxer diesel.  There's no prima facie reason to believe that this design would have greater volume than a V.  It's the same sort of engine, the only difference is the arrangement of the cylinders about the driveshaft.  This would make some difference to engine balance, but there's not any reason this would affect power density.  The reason 416 only had 400 HP is because it only needed that much.  The tank was about the same weight as an M41 Walker Bulldog.  

 

416 has less frontal area because it's a driver-in-turret design, not because it has a frontal engine.  But it does show that using an engine specifically designed to drive the dimensions of the hull as little as possible can greatly shrink the tank.  This is something that the Kharkov design bureau was very enthusiastic about (not always successfully, see T-64).

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If a rear door is wanted or required, one can use a compact higher-power-density engine and have a small path at the side. Wegmann proposed such a design for the German NGP project, which demanded a modular vehicle, that could be reconfigured for different uses such as being a MBT, being an IFV or various other vehicles.

 

Ab1HC0A.jpg

 

The vehicle was to be powered by a diesel-electric powerpack, which was located at the right rear section of the tank. For the IFV version, the left rear section was used for a ca. 750 mm wide path to a rear door. On the MBT version, this place was used for storing some ammunition of the autoloader (due to the design using a low-profile unmanned turret). The same design using a larger turret (with enough storage for all ammunition, but no turret basket) would enable the vehicle to have a rear door and a rear-mounted powerpack.

 

G1Xprmp.png

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Still I don't think that a front-mounted engine would be advantagous for armor protection. I'd expect any sort of real next-generation tank (and this is also the case with the T-14 Armata) to feature enhanced protection against top-attack weapons and artillery ammunition. Here having the crew sitting below parts of the frontal armor means that it double-acts as roof armor. With a front-mounted engine, this is not the case.

 

How is this related to engine placement? If the turret roof armor is pierced, the crew is injured or dead.  If the hull roof armor is pierced, the driver is dead (or in the case of several tanks, the ammo is hit).

In theory, a frontally placed turret would serve additional protection against top attack missiles with a low approach angle, however when the crew is moved back with the turret, this advantage is nullified. 

The door - and the path to the door - need to be tall enough for a man to fit through. The height of the rear compartment of a Merkava tank - or an IFV such as the CV90 and Marder - is much taller than the height of the crew or engine compartment of a conventional tank.

 

For an APC perhaps. In the case of tanks like Merkava (don't know about BTMP-64/72) the door is only tall enough to allow men to crawl in and out. The height of the rear compartment is also lower than the rest of the hull.

APCs and IFVs are a different story, as they're purpose-made to carry troops. 

 

https://tankandafvnews.files.wordpress.com/2015/03/merkava-4.jpg

The Marder also has a rear exhaust system, still it is a bad design for a tank. It is necessary on IFVs and some APCs for allowing a rear ramp and keeping the thermal signature at the front lower, but it is not a good design choice at all cases. The temperature of the exhaust gases is very high - about 230°C on the Leopard 2 and more than 600°C on the M1 Abrams; so the channel for transporting the exhaust fumes to the rear need to be insulated and/or actively cooled. The higher temperatures can effect other components (such as electronics) or the crew. It is already less weight and space efficient to transport the exhaust fumes to the rear, but the high temperature makes it only worse. Fuel is also more likely to catch fire after penetration when it is hot.

 But when the engine compartment is separated from the crew, and protected with fire extinguishers, it's not dangerous. The crew at least has enough time to escape the tank. But when a frontally placed ammo rack is hit, there wouldn't be anyone left to notice that there was even a penetration and that they need to leave.

The Carmel is meant to weigh just about 35 metric tons and is meant to armed with an autocannon between 40 mm and 76 mm calibre and ATGMs. It is not a next-generation tank, but rather another type of combat vehicle.

 

And when did I ever claim otherwise? A cannon in the 40-76mm caliber has to be placed in a turret that pierces the hull, and fed with hull stored ammunition. Maybe the Eitan will be some sort of an exception, if a 40mm cannon is indeed picked over a 30mm. 

When you have an autoloader and an ammo compartment isolated from the crew, you're taking up a rather significant amount of space. So knowing that it won't be an IFV/APC, my point remains.

If you have not much armor (due to a weight of 35 metric tons or less), a lot of drawbacks of the front-mounted engines won't be as prominent. The T-14 Armata has about 1,100 mm frontal armor according to German estimates, which is to weigh significantly more than 3,500 kg/m² (which about the armor weight of the Leopard 2 or 2A4 - equal to 446 mm steel). This is in no way comparable to the Carmel.

 

And why are you comparing the Carmel to a tank right after you said it is not a tank?

Now, I have 2 questions for you:

1)How come Germans estimate more physical armor than the Russians, but show 2 separate pictures of the tank that each suggests a very different armor layout? The top picture suggests a LOT less slope and reduced crew capsule size, while the bottom picture, which is more accurate, shows a much better sloped armor with smaller thickness (~900mm, in line with Russian sources) and more accurate crew positioning? 

 

2)How do you know the armor weight of the T-14? I have yet to stumble upon a source that claims to know the armor weight.

I guess you can explain both claims by looking at the number  of crewmen they give it. First time I hear it has 4 of them.

 

Who says the weight of future tanks will go down. The reason why countries like Germany, the US and France have researched unmanned turrets in the - and why the T-14 has an unmanned turret - is to increase armor protection without increasing the weight. The current Challenger 2 weighs nearly 75 metric tons, the Leopard 2A7 in the best possible configuration (as wanted by the German Army) weighs nearly 70 metric tons. In the future tanks might need even more armor in order to resist 130 mm APFSDS or 152 mm APFSDS; Russia at least has thought about using this gun on a version of the Armata. A modern MBT with two/three men crew and increased armor protection might weigh some 60 metric tons or more, while providing the protection of a 80 or 90 metric tons conventional MBT. Other factors such as larger guns, bigger power supply systems (APUs, batteries), etc. might also affect the weight.

In general having more horsepower, more torque and better acceleration is desirable. Yes, one can try to reduce the weight of the tank and reduce the engine power and fuel consumption. One could however also try to stay at an acceptable level of fuel consumption and try to maximize the automotive performance. There is no law that say the speed of a tank should be limited to just 70 km/h on the road or why the tank should be slow at accerating and unable to climb steep slopes.

 

I'm guessing the weight will go down and basing it on the T-14. Its weight of 48 tons (or 49 with some modifications) is enough proof. The weight reduction in removing turret armor is already significant enough, and general modernization of all components can also save a few tons even. Comparing it to a Challenger 2 that hasn't been touched in over a decade, is not really fair.

Focusing the armor entirely on the hull, may well make them resistant to higher caliber weaponry. However hitting the turret is enough to make them combat ineffective for a while. For this, one might need to focus on saturation fire rather than raw penetration power, as the APS will not be easy to get by.

 

My opinion on whether power generation of engines should be reduced or not, is not yet formed, as there is also the argument that newer engines with the same output incorporate new technologies to reduce consumption, weight and space. 

The older Merkavas, the ones on which Tal worked, however were never designed with a modern armor layout or ammo seperation with blow-out panels. The tanks were designed for frontal fighting only, with little to no side armor (as clearly visible on the much lower turret side armor thickness) - in this case placing the ammunition at the very rear of the vehicle does mean it will be hit last and more armor and other components need to be penetrated.

However when looking at the protection along the frontal arc - or overall along the complete azimuth of 360° - the ammo is much less protected. Given that the earlier Merkava tanks lacked composite armor at the hull - and the armor is in general much thinner than on other MBTs - I would expect a Leopard 2 or M1 Abrams (which in the original configuration still had 105 mm non-isolated ammunition at the center of the crew compartment) to have much better protected ammunition.

 

The M1 would perhaps have better ammo protection due to having it (almost) entirely protected with blow-out panels and only a portion located at the center-rear. The Leopard however, not at all. 

Physical armor of the Merkava 1/2 and M1 were comparable in effectiveness. M1 may have had higher thickness (not entirely accurate, as it did too have large spaces between plates) but in effect, it was roughly equivalent to 300mm of RHA, which is approximately what the Merkava 1/2 had in RHA.

From there, thickness increased as engine size reduced, power output increased, and general tank's weight reduced.  In the Merkava 4, the frontal hull armor was sufficient to protect against Kornet-E missiles and Metis-M.

So in the case of frontal penetrations, the ammo in the Leopard 2, Leclerc, K2 and especially Altay, are far less protected, and are the first ones to be hit in frontal penetration to the hull.

 

In frontal arc attacks excluding direct front, a rear placed ammo rack is still not more dangerous. ammo is not attached to the walls. There are fuel tanks, water tanks, NBC, APU, AC and other components protecting them after armor penetration. There were only 2 instances of ammo cook-off, and both by missiles hitting the side armor at the rear at a very low angle, which in the case of Leopard or Leclerc, would also mean penetration. 

These are very subjective advantages. Carrying injured infantry into the back, but not having the place to treat their injuries or putting them into the recovery position is not an advantage, you could do the same with other combat vehicles. There is a reason why ambulance vehicles are tall and roomy. There is not very much place in front of the rear door: just enough to store 120 mm tank ammunition with protective caps - so probably less than 1.2 metres of space - this is not enough to aid an adult man. If the person is larger than that, it will be crushed when the turret rotates.

 

If a single tank could in 1 occasion carry 19 injured, I am sure there is enough space for a single injured man. If the ammo racks are dumped, there is enough space for 2 stretchers. 

The safe exit of the crew is very situational. If the enemy can shot from tha tank at the side - even if it is just with a machine gun - then the exit is not safe anymore. If you can hit the front of tank from a 30° angle from the centerline, you can also hit the place behind the rear ramp at an angle of 30-40°. On the other hand having the engine at the front increases the likelyhood of mobility kills in conventional combat, hence making sure that evacuating the tank has to be done more often.

 

And other than urban combat scenarios, how can a machine-gunner have direct line of sight to the rear of the tank?

Disregarding the long sponsons on the Merkava 3/4 that provide further protection against even rear attacks, the crew can always hide directly behind the tank, hide below it, or run to safety.  Situational means that in a minority of cases it would work. When it works almost every time, if not every time, then not having such design feature would make crew survivability (upon escape) situational. 

In any case, it's much better than being forced to leave through roof hatches, where the crew will be in danger from any possible angle.

 

Also, as I said and quoted from the interview: http://in.bgu.ac.il/bgi/iyunim/10/2.pdf ,the rate at which tanks would become immobilized is near identical for tanks with frontally placed engines and conventional designs. 

In fact, Tal says that out of 500 tested vehicles, the ones with frontally placed engines had a slight advantage of 2% over conventional designs, and uses Shermans, AMX-13, and Panzers as examples of tanks with forward drive with whom there were no mobility-loss problems.

Quick and easy resupplying is depending on what you look at. Resupplying the Leopard 1 or Leopard 2 through the old ammunition hatch could be probably done faster than taking out those bulky ammo racks or crouching through the rear door.

 

The ammunition hatch on the Leopards was removed, I think in lot 5. 

In the Merkava, the ammo racks are in a fixed position. None removes them other than in emergencies. Shells are loaded individually when 1 soldier hands the shells from the outside and another sits by the door and inserts them into the racks. The whole process is fairly quick, and reloading of the turret and hull can be done simultaneously. As opposed to the Leopard or Leclerc, where hull ammo reloading takes significantly more time as each shell has to be handed through a roof hatch, and then placed lower in the hull. 

The glacis armor of the tank is however not thicker than that of other tanks, it is rather the opposite: it is thinner, while not being as well-sloped as the UFP of an Abrams for example. Hence it is weaker, less protected. The armor in front of the UFP, i.e. the hull nose and lower front plate, also does not seem to have a thickness comparable to that of other current tanks. The Leopard 2 - when fitted with the hull armor used on the Leopard 2A5DK, Strv 122, Leopardo 2E and Leopard 2A6 HEL, or when fitted with AMAP armor as used on the Leopard 2RI and Leopard 2SG - has much thicker armor at the LFP, hull nose and UFP. We are talking about an additional ~300 mm along the line-of-sight, while the basic tank already had thicker hull front armor than the Merkava 4 by most estimations (other than yours probably).

 

That highly depends on which part of the UFP you're looking at. Going above the engine's cover-plate, you're looking at a near vertical plate. Only in the Mark 4 that angle was reduced. 

The main armor however, we only have estimates of the Merkava 1/2. For the Mark 3 and 4 there is the combat experience that showed their resilience, but no thickness estimates exist at the moment, other than Russian sources that say simply 750mm (it only recently came to my knowledge that Russians are fond of the Merkava because of the similarities with the T-14). 

This doesn't say much. It just says that the fuel and the armor are capable of stopping some RPGs, nothing more. The side armor of the Abrams turret (~300 mm) has been capable of surviving some older Soviet ATGMs, while the heavy side skirts of the Leopard 2 together with the side armor (110 mm composite side skirts + ~650 mm empty space + 60-80 mm steel armor) has been claimed of resisting ATGMs with 1,000 mm penetration into RHA by Dr. Held, when being hit at a 30° angle.

 

What is says is that there was enough armor behind the fuel tanks to resist ATGMs and ATRs. 

The Fagot, which was mentioned as having hit a Merkava 2's front, has 400mm of penetration in its basic version.  The frontal plate (76mm) along with the fuel, provide together 118mm of RHA equivalent armor. This leaves 282mm of penetration power for everything behind the fuel tanks. But the jet didn't reach the engine compartment. 

Still the engine remains vulnerable then, while being place at a location that is more likely being hit.

 

as I said above, and gave source, the tested rate at which conventional and front engine tanks suffered mobility kills, is similar and even slightly favors front engine designs. This is mainly due to the fact the crew compartment contains far more valuable equipment.

According to Tal, in the vast majority of cases, frontal penetrations to the crew compartment were a total loss of the tank, and not just a mobility kill that is fixed within hours.

Or you know, maybe the German Army had stricter requirements for mobility after having built two tanks with - by international standards - excellent mobility in form of the Leopard 1 and Leopard 2, whereas the IDF was willing to accept vehicles with much lower mobility, such as a 63 metric tons heavy Merkava 1 tank being powered by a 908 hp engine only? When your tank is capable of only reaching 50 km/h on road (and thus probably something between 20 and 30 km/h in heavy terrain), it certainly won't suffer from the same stress as a tank being powered by a 1,500 hp engine... this is why I clearly stated that the mobility issues were found to arrive at maximum speed.

 

 Despite the higher weight, the Merkavas in service were considered more mobile than Magach (M48 and M60) tanks, mainly due to their ability to drive over more difficult terrain. I forgot to mention earlier, but in the same link I gave you on the interview, Tal quotes a senior engineer as saying the changed center of mass (front) helps the tank to better maneuver over slopes and difficult terrain.

Mobility is not just the top speed of a tank, and no it was not 20 or 30km/h. The spring suspension allows for a much smaller gap between on-road and off-road speed.

Yes, but the tanks with 105 mm guns have no relevance in this discussion.

 

Perhaps, but take into your consideration that the lower gun depression on the Mark 3/4 is the result of a lower turret roof, and not related in any way to the hull height. 

It is not shorter than the average MBT. It is shorter than the M1 Abrams and Challenger 2 maybe, two of the MBTs with the longest hulls currently being used. It's hull is still a tad longer than that of the Leopard 2 and considerably longer than the hulls of the Leclerc, K2 Black Panther, T-90, T-80 and T-84M.

 

 

Leopard 2A5  is 9.67m long.

Merkava 3/4 is 9.04m long.

That makes the Leopard 2A5 about 630mm longer.

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If a rear door is wanted or required, one can use a compact higher-power-density engine and have a small path at the side. Wegmann proposed such a design for the German NGP project, which demanded a modular vehicle, that could be reconfigured for different uses such as being a MBT, being an IFV or various other vehicles.

 

Ab1HC0A.jpg

 

The vehicle was to be powered by a diesel-electric powerpack, which was located at the right rear section of the tank. For the IFV version, the left rear section was used for a ca. 750 mm wide path to a rear door. On the MBT version, this place was used for storing some ammunition of the autoloader (due to the design using a low-profile unmanned turret). The same design using a larger turret (with enough storage for all ammunition, but no turret basket) would enable the vehicle to have a rear door and a rear-mounted powerpack.

 

 

Similar design was used to convert T-55 into Achzarit, but this was not a very good idea, resulting in development of Namer and cessation of T-55 conversions.

 

The concept of placing the engine at the front was not because of any need for a rear door. Rather, it was a "side-effect". 

It was first and foremost made to increase the survivability of the crew, ammo and the whole tank. Quicker reload and dismount capability were only secondary advantages. 

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How is this related to engine placement? If the turret roof armor is pierced, the crew is injured or dead. If the hull roof armor is pierced, the driver is dead (or in the case of several tanks, the ammo is hit).

You seem to lack the context. If the crew is located in an armored capsule in the hull directly behind the frontal armor, then the glacis armor will be located above the crew, protecting it against top-attack weapons. If the engine is located in the front, you need to have an equally thick glacis armor (as part of the tank's frontal protection) and an additional layer of armor above the crew compartment, leading an increase in armor weight without enhancing the crew protection or frontal protection of the tank.

According to an older article R. Hilmes, the roof thickness of modern tanks needs to be within 200 to 250 mm (composite armor) in order to resist (at least some types of) top-attack weapons. On the Leopard 2 variants with upgraded hull armor such as the Strv 122 and Leopard 2 Evolution, there already is 150-200 mm (excluding slope) of composite armor, so resisting top-attack weapons will be a lot easier.

 

For an APC perhaps. In the case of tanks like Merkava (don't know about BTMP-64/72) the door is only tall enough to allow men to crawl in and out. The height of the rear compartment is also lower than the rest of the hull.

The rear compartment with the rear door of the Merkava is still taller than the hulls of other tanks at the crew compartment. There is enough place to store five or even six 120 mm rounds with relatively thick protective containers ontop of each other. On the Leopard 2 or M1 Abrams, you cannot store five 120 mm rounds (without any sort of protective container) ontop of each other.

MerkavaInteriorWithCanistersAtDoor1.jpg

85c71224791d.jpg

 

But when the engine compartment is separated from the crew, and protected with fire extinguishers, it's not dangerous. The crew at least has enough time to escape the tank. But when a frontally placed ammo rack is hit, there wouldn't be anyone left to notice that there was even a penetration and that they need to leave.

 

You are comparing apples to oranges. It nearly seems that you are again trying to hijack a topic to make it focused on the Merkava in comparison to other tanks. First of all, we are not talking about comparing a Merkava to a Leopard 2 or Leclerc, we are talking about the advantages of front- and rear-mounted engines in future MBTs with unmanned turret and the crew located in the hull (as you can clearly see how this discussion started). Mounting the engine at the rear means that the crew is located directly behind the armor - there is no place for ammunition. Here having the exhaust fumes transported along the fuel systems to the rear requires additional effort (armor/fire extinguishers) to have the same level of survivability compared to having engine and fuel systems mounted in the rear.

Besides that, the ammunition in tanks with front-mounted turrets is not safer. On the Strv 122 the frontal hull armor has a thickness of more than 800 mm, while the Merkava 4 has less than 600 mm of hull armor. The Leopard 2 has 640-660 mm hull armor, whereas the Merkava 1 has 280 mm steel armor plus the engine and fuel.

 

So knowing that it won't be an IFV/APC, my point remains.

No, it does not remain valid and it never was valid to begin with. It is not comparable in layout, weight and size to a tank. If a vehicle barely has any armor, a front-mounted engine won't affect the armor integration much, due to the armor being thinner (no space issues) and lighter (no weight balance issues).

 

And why are you comparing the Carmel to a tank right after you said it is not a tank?

To support and prove my point that the Carmel is not a tank and not valid in this discussion.

 

1)How come Germans estimate more physical armor than the Russians, but show 2 separate pictures of the tank that each suggests a very different armor layout? The top picture suggests a LOT less slope and reduced crew capsule size, while the bottom picture, which is more accurate, shows a much better sloped armor with smaller thickness (~900mm, in line with Russian sources) and more accurate crew positioning?

The images are not for scale and based on different sources. If you scale them accordingly, the armor thickness will be comparable. The difference is about 2 to 3 pixels, depending on how to count the pixels with partial transparency. The lower picture is made by a Russian forum user, it might not be the most accurate one. The source of the CAD image above is unknown. I don't think that the 1,100 mm thickness was measured on the image, but is result of further anaylsis of multiple pictures and probably (scale) measurement on photos of the real T-14 tank. The black lines and the color for the different compartments were added for better visibility in the presentation, they are a bit inaccurate.

I have never seen a value as low as 900 mm armor thickness for the T-14 Armata frontal hull, i.e. I have seen Russians claim a thickness of 1,200 mm and more. Given the size comparison between T-14 and T-90 (T-90 has more than 600 mm of glacis armor), this ballpark of values (1,100 - 1,200 mm) seems to be correct. There is about ~1,300 mm of space in front of the T-14 hatch, the upper edge of the sloped armor starts about 100 - 200 mm from the hatch.

 

6ksRM7SJOFI.jpg

 

2)How do you know the armor weight of the T-14? I have yet to stumble upon a source that claims to know the armor weight.

As I previously said, it is from a presentation that previously featured the Leopard 2 (or 2A4), of which the armor weight is roughly known. Hence the author just put "greater than armor weight of the Leopard 2" into the slide, to show the advantage of moving towards a next-generation tank. That the armor weight of the T-14 is higher can easily be estimated by taking a look at the weight per surface area and keeping the reductions in size (unmanned turret with less armored surface) and component weight (MB873 is a 30+ years old engine) into account.

 

I'm guessing the weight will go down and basing it on the T-14. Its weight of 48 tons (or 49 with some modifications) is enough proof.

The T-14 Armata is two tons heavier than the last Russian MBT... nice weight reduction. QED.

 

The M1 would perhaps have better ammo protection due to having it (almost) entirely protected with blow-out panels and only a portion located at the center-rear. The Leopard however, not at all.

Physical armor of the Merkava 1/2 and M1 were comparable in effectiveness. M1 may have had higher thickness (not entirely accurate, as it did too have large spaces between plates) but in effect, it was roughly equivalent to 300mm of RHA, which is approximately what the Merkava 1/2 had in RHA.

Absolutely not true. According to estimates based on the protection requirements (protection vs 115 mm APFSDS from 800 metres, protection against 127 mm shaped charges), the M1 Abrams should have protection equal to 350-400 mm steel vs KE and about 500 mm steel vs HEAT - as a minimum. The Merkava 1 has about 280 to 290 mm steel along the line of sight, which means that the protection provided by engine and fuel matters a lot. Not all of this steel is rolled homogenous armor (RHA), but also cast steel, which provides 10-20% less protection in the 1970s than RHA. A 300 mm fuel tank should provide resistance equal to 43 mm of steel against HEAT and less than that against APFSDS. So in order to be protected to a similar level as the M1 Abrams, the engine needs to provide protection comparable to 50-100 mm steel vs KE and 160 mm vs HEAT.

The Leopard 2 however meet all US armor protection requirements and was even better armored - remember the 3,500 kg/m² armor weight? According to a book written by it's project manager, the Leopard 2 was designed to be capable of resisting Soviet 125 mm APFSDS from 1,500 metres distance. Based on the available pentration figures, this means the frontal armor of a Leopard 2 from 1979 should be equal to at least 450 mm of steel, probably 500 mm or more. Then the engine would need to provide 200 mm protection against KE... this is not possible. The AVDS-1790 has a dry weight of ~1,200 kg, while covering ~1.5 square metre of area. This is in terms of weight equivalent to 100 mm steel, but not all of the engine is made of steel (but materials that provide less protection per weight) and it is not manufactured using armor steel, but rather is made out of non-ballistic steel. Against bullets, which are rather easy to stop compared to APFSDS ammunition, mild steel provides only 75% of the protection per weight and thickness as RHA. Against shaped charges the protection is less than 70%.

In other words you are wrong. Aside of this, there is no gained protection for the ammunition. If you penetrate the armor of the Leopard 2, you might hit the ammo rack; if you penetrate the frontal armor of the Merkava 1 or 2 (which includes the engine and fuel tanks to reach a protection level slightly below the M1 Abrams), then you might hit the ammo racks. However there are more ammo racks in the Merkava hull, which can be hit. You however ignore that the Merkava 1 is 63 tonnes heavy and fails to reach the protection level of the 55 tonnes Leopard 2 and M1 Abrams. Due to the IDF designer's at MANTAK not caring about the 30° frontal arc (see turret armor), the overall protection is much worse.

The armor layout in the Merkava is less upgradable. The engine will always provide a fixed amount of protection when you stay with a version of the same engine (as done by MANTAK on the three first Merkava tanks). On the M1 Abrams and Leopard 2, you could upgrade over 600 mm of composite armor at the hull... on the Merkava 1 and 2 there was no composite and no option to upgrade. On the Merkava 4 however there is much less space for armor than on an Abrams. So essentially you are claiming that a fuel tank and a MTU 883 engine are comparable to ~300 mm of current generation composite armor.

 

So in the case of frontal penetrations, the ammo in the Leopard 2, Leclerc, K2 and especially Altay, are far less protected, and are the first ones to be hit in frontal penetration to the hull.

No proof, just claiming that the Merkava 4 survived a Metis and a Kornet. Now prove that under the same circumstances any of the mentioned tanks - despite having much thicker composite armor - would have been penetrated. Do you think that the Leopard 2 or Leclerc would not survive a Metis or a Kornet?

 

And other than urban combat scenarios, how can a machine-gunner have direct line of sight to the rear of the tank?

Symmetric (tank) combat is expected to occur along the 30° frontal arc of each tank. Now, that means if the tank is on the battlefield and damaged, the crew cannot leave unless being exposed to other threats. Tank combat is not "two tanks meet straight heads on", but multiple units (e.g. platoons) of mixed units (tanks and IFVs) meet in combat, driving along a wider front.

 

That highly depends on which part of the UFP you're looking at. Going above the engine's cover-plate, you're looking at a near vertical plate. Only in the Mark 4 that angle was reduced.

The main armor however, we only have estimates of the Merkava 1/2. For the Mark 3 and 4 there is the combat experience that showed their resilience, but no thickness estimates exist at the moment, other than Russian sources that say simply 750mm (it only recently came to my knowledge that Russians are fond of the Merkava because of the similarities with the T-14).

The UFP on the Merkava 3 is not better sloped than the UFP of the Leopard 2 or Abrams, even at the upper section, which is part of the frontal profile. The slope for the Merkava 3 seems to be 9° based on a photo from the tank at Latrun. However the armor is thin just about ~50 mm. The lower section is thicker, but less sloped.

TpAoH1Q.jpg

The Leopard 2 has 40 mm at 7°, which is about 8 mm more at the LOS (so a very negible difference). Still Germany developed in the same year the Merkava 3 entered service an upgrade for the Leopard 2 including better hull armor, because 40 mm sloped steel at 7° was not considered enough agianst future APFSDS ammunition.

awBjekq.png

Upgraded versions of this armor has been installed on the Leoaprd 2A5DK, Strv 122, Leopardo 2E, Leopard 2A6HEL and in the form of AMAP in the Leopard 2SG and Leopard 2RI. The armor was also tested on the Leclerc and M1A2 Abrams as part of the Swedish trials.

strv_ny-16.jpg

Based on a claimed armor thickness of 700 mm for the Abrams hull (even though I think it might be close to 600 mm) that should be about ~250 mm material along the line-of-sight.

The Leclerc already features upgraded glacis armor - similar slope as on the Merkava 3, but about three times as thick.

1432994666-leclerc-glacis-armor-cavities

The placement of the engine is still the same on the Merkava 3. The distance between engine and turret is the same on Merkava 1, Merkava 2 and the Merkava 3. There is no proper way to increase the armor thickness without completely removing the frontal fuel tanks, whcih however are still existent even on the Merkava 4. There is no option for 750 mm thick armor.

 

The Fagot, which was mentioned as having hit a Merkava 2's front, has 400mm of penetration in its basic version. The frontal plate (76mm) along with the fuel, provide together 118mm of RHA equivalent armor. This leaves 282mm of penetration power for everything behind the fuel tanks. But the jet didn't reach the engine compartment.

Which is quite bad protection. This is essentially possible just by adding the steel + the steel of the engine + the fuel alltogether... if the impact occured at a slight angle, this is even less surprising. This is not a bit surprising given the weight and amount of steel used.

 

Despite the higher weight, the Merkavas in service were considered more mobile than Magach (M48 and M60) tanks, mainly due to their ability to drive over more difficult terrain. I forgot to mention earlier, but in the same link I gave you on the interview, Tal quotes a senior engineer as saying the changed center of mass (front) helps the tank to better maneuver over slopes and difficult terrain.

Mobility is not just the top speed of a tank, and no it was not 20 or 30km/h. The spring suspension allows for a much smaller gap between on-road and off-road speed.

Yes, but this is more the result of the M48 and M60 not being known for their mobility to begin with. These are older generation tanks with by modern standards bad suspension systems. These tanks have a suspension travel of only 292 mm and 320 mm, not comparable to a Leopard 1 (407 mm), a MBT-70 (600 mm) and a Leopard 2 (526 mm), the tanks used as reference for the VTF in Germany (afaik VTF had the same suspension travel as the Leopard 2). Supposedly the early models of the Merkava had a travel of less than 500 mm based on comments of the new suspension used on the Merkava 3 and 4 being better.

 

Perhaps, but take into your consideration that the lower gun depression on the Mark 3/4 is the result of a lower turret roof, and not related in any way to the hull height.

Maybe you take into account that the turret roof is lower in order to keep the tank's height at an acceptable level, which is hard to due to front-mounted engine and rear door increasing height considerably?

 

Leopard 2A5 is 9.67m long.

Merkava 3/4 is 9.04m long.

That makes the Leopard 2A5 about 630mm longer.

So did you go to Wikipedia and read the values without thinking about it for a moment? These are the values for overall length with the gun facing forwards, not the hull length. You claim that the short length of the Merkava keeps the weight down, however it is not shorter. The Merkava 4 hull is 7.6 metres long, the Leopard 2 hull is 7.52 m long (excluding mudguards). There is no weight saving as result of a shorter hull, because there is no shorter hull. The Leclerc's hull is only 6.88 metres long.

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You seem to lack the context. If the crew is located in an armored capsule in the hull directly behind the frontal armor, then the glacis armor will be located above the crew, protecting it against top-attack weapons. If the engine is located in the front, you need to have an equally thick glacis armor (as part of the tank's frontal protection) and an additional layer of armor above the crew compartment, leading an increase in armor weight without enhancing the crew protection or frontal protection of the tank.

It's true that the armor would have to be extended as the turret would move further back. But consider another option;

Engine up front, turret in the middle, and crew sitting in the rear section, protected on the sides by additional modules such as NBC, APU and others, also enjoying the advantage of rear exit. Such design would have only 1 problem - backup sights. However it would be fairly easy to fix by installing an LIC-like upgrade in which small cameras are embedded around the vehicle, protected by a bulletproof mesh, making it immune to sniper fire and only vulnerable to electric outage (too rare to discard, considering APU working as well).

 

 

 

Besides that, the ammunition in tanks with front-mounted turrets is not safer. On the Strv 122 the frontal hull armor has a thickness of more than 800 mm, while the Merkava 4 has less than 600 mm of hull armor. The Leopard 2 has 640-660 mm hull armor, whereas the Merkava 1 has 280 mm steel armor plus the engine and fuel.

It's pointless to talk about crew or certain component's survivability when only discussing physical armor thickness. It doesn't make a tank immune. Just more resilient. And when it's pierced, better be safe than sorry.

With that said, we probably should go back to topic - front mounted engines in future tanks.

 

 

No, it does not remain valid and it never was valid to begin with. It is not comparable in layout, weight and size to a tank. If a vehicle barely has any armor, a front-mounted engine won't affect the armor integration much, due to the armor being thinner (no space issues) and lighter (no weight balance issues).

To support and prove my point that the Carmel is not a tank and not valid in this discussion.

But I do believe that it IS valid in this discussion. While not exactly a tank, it certainly does share a very similar layout. 

When discussing, for example, a light tank such as the M8, is it invalid to treat it as an MBT? Because it's merely an MBT in a light package with reduced capabilities but overall same concept. 

 

The Carmel, regardless of armor thickness, would have a crew capsule, a turret that will penetrate the hull, an engine compartment, all separated from each other. And no infantry carrying capabilities. 

Would thick armor automatically change its status according to your logic? 

With that said, I don't think it would be smart to exclude the possibility of thick armor. It would only become operational by 2027, and the armor technology will change. 

I mean, the Merkava 4 already affords excessive amounts of armor in places traditionally unprotected such as the sides of the hull and roof due to reduction in armor weight. And Mark 2 and 3 afford additional protection via similar technologies.

The AMAP-B installed on several Leopard sub-types similarly affords very thick armor over above-mentioned areas with minimal weight gain. 

Achzarit is another example of a 36-ton T-55 converted to a 44 ton HAPC with a ridiculous amount of armor. 

Bottom line; it would be silly to think the Carmel would be paper-thin, especially when the IDF is known for its obsession with sticking excessive amounts of armor on everything that moves.

 

 

 

The images are not for scale and based on different sources. If you scale them accordingly, the armor thickness will be comparable. The difference is about 2 to 3 pixels, depending on how to count the pixels with partial transparency. The lower picture is made by a Russian forum user, it might not be the most accurate one. The source of the CAD image above is unknown. I don't think that the 1,100 mm thickness was measured on the image, but is result of further anaylsis of multiple pictures and probably (scale) measurement on photos of the real T-14 tank. The black lines and the color for the different compartments were added for better visibility in the presentation, they are a bit inaccurate.

I have never seen a value as low as 900 mm armor thickness for the T-14 Armata frontal hull, i.e. I have seen Russians claim a thickness of 1,200 mm and more. Given the size comparison between T-14 and T-90 (T-90 has more than 600 mm of glacis armor), this ballpark of values (1,100 - 1,200 mm) seems to be correct. There is about ~1,300 mm of space in front of the T-14 hatch, the upper edge of the sloped armor starts about 100 - 200 mm from the hatch.

Did you ever bother looking at pictures of the T-14? That black-lined area is nowhere near the real layout. IRL the T-14 has a better slope, as opposed to the near un-sloped armor presented in the German presentation. The forum member made image seems a lot more accurate overall. And I guess this forum member doesn't try to claim the Armata has a 4-man crew, as the German presentor seems to think.

The distance between the hatch and the armor seems to be at least 200mm (or more), and all official and semi-official claims when the T-14 was first revealed, were 900mm of armor. 

Anything above that (I've heard 1,000, 1,100 and 1,200) is simply a fanboy-ish attempt to scare people, or overhype it.

 

 

 

The T-14 Armata is two tons heavier than the last Russian MBT... nice weight reduction. QED

The T-14 is the first Russian MBT. Anything produced prior to that and in-use with the Russian army, is Soviet designed and made. The T-14 is built more in line with western standards and completely abandons Soviet philosophy. 

So knowing that the T-14 has similar size as a western tank, a 48 ton mark is definitely a weight reduction. Not over the predecessor but over the current conventional design.

 

 

 

The armor layout in the Merkava is less upgradable. The engine will always provide a fixed amount of protection when you stay with a version of the same engine (as done by MANTAK on the three first Merkava tanks). On the M1 Abrams and Leopard 2, you could upgrade over 600 mm of composite armor at the hull... on the Merkava 1 and 2 there was no composite and no option to upgrade. On the Merkava 4 however there is much less space for armor than on an Abrams. So essentially you are claiming that a fuel tank and a MTU 883 engine are comparable to ~300 mm of current generation composite armor.

The armor is less upgradable? That's a new one. I could have guessed the opposite, knowing the design bureau had always touted its modular armor construction as a major advantage over contemporary designs, claiming the ability to change the armor as technology progresses with fewer costs and less time than conventional designs.

 

As for space for armor, that was never the problem. 

If there was an armor thickness issue with the Merkava, not only would it be exploited in countless occasions before, but fixing it would have been very easy. 

There are several options;

1)move the fuel tanks to the sides or back. Most of the fuel tanks are already located in the rear and sides. Those few at the front were just moved there to act as spacing between armor plates, as it would function similarly to air in disrupting the jet. Need more space? Move them and put more armor instead.

2)Slightly extend the hull. Merkava 2-3-4 hulls are non-interchangeable and any hybrid requires modifications, cuts, and welding. With every generation, the hull can be made longer to accommodate more frontal armor. 

3)place armor that would extend over the hull length, ahead of the tracks. It was done on several tanks and HAPCs in service with the IDF. The added frontal weight is seen as a benefit in difficult terrain and slopes, and even if not, there are enough modules at the rear to act as counter-weight.

 

Now, the problem is that you ASSUME there is an issue with the armor thickness. At least according to past experience, the frontal armor was the least of their worries when it came to protection problems. 

 

My point is, it would not make sense for a man like Tal who believed that greater protection afforded greater mobility (less mobility kills = better overall mobility) and should not be compromised. Especially when in later designs like Mark 3 and 4, somehow the front would lack protection while much less important areas i.e the sides, roof, and rear, were afforded unprecedented amounts of armor.

I don't know how the armor scheme on the Mark 3/4 looks like. I've never seen photos of that area as it was never documented from the required angle, but to say it's paper-thin? Some things just don't add up. 

 

 

And another problem with your line of thinking, is that the engine was supposed to act as part of the armor scheme. It wasn't. It's supposed to be a last line of defense against a penetrating shot, rather than an integral part of the armor.

 

 

 

 

No proof, just claiming that the Merkava 4 survived a Metis and a Kornet. Now prove that under the same circumstances any of the mentioned tanks - despite having much thicker composite armor - would have been penetrated. Do you think that the Leopard 2 or Leclerc would not survive a Metis or a Kornet?

Irrelevant. You claim the Merkava 4 has 300mm of composite armor over the front section of the hull (despite MANTAK claiming a much increased ballistic protection over every generation). How exactly is that enough to stop a missile penetrating 1,200mm of RHA? Keep in mind the armor was developed in the early 2000's and only improved a year after the said incident.

That would require a 4x space efficiency vs HEAT at optimal approach angle.

 

The Leopard was never combat tested, however I do believe it would withstand it. Leclerc though? I wouldn't count on it to stop even a Konkurs. and I'm saying that because recently a report showed it was frontally pierced by a Konkurs, killing the driver...

aim a bit to the left and it would be more than just the driver.

 

 

 

Which is quite bad protection. This is essentially possible just by adding the steel + the steel of the engine + the fuel alltogether... if the impact occured at a slight angle, this is even less surprising. This is not a bit surprising given the weight and amount of steel used.

This was not an isolated incident. Rather common actually. And "add the steel of the engine"? Forgot that it didn't reach the engine compartment?

 

 

 

Yes, but this is more the result of the M48 and M60 not being known for their mobility to begin with. These are older generation tanks with by modern standards bad suspension systems. These tanks have a suspension travel of only 292 mm and 320 mm, not comparable to a Leopard 1 (407 mm), a MBT-70 (600 mm) and a Leopard 2 (526 mm), the tanks used as reference for the VTF in Germany (afaik VTF had the same suspension travel as the Leopard 2). Supposedly the early models of the Merkava had a travel of less than 500 mm based on comments of the new suspension used on the Merkava 3 and 4 being better.

The Merkava 3 competed against the M1A1SA as well. And despite the M1A1 being a newer design than above-mentioned Leopard 1, MBT-70, and Merkava 1-2, it didn't fare well in the mobility trials. So my point remains.

 

 

 

Maybe you take into account that the turret roof is lower in order to keep the tank's height at an acceptable level, which is hard to due to front-mounted engine and rear door increasing height considerably?

a smaller profile (regardless of armor volume) is always great for the survivability of the inhabitants. 

If height was really a problem, they would just cut down on roof armor. or go in the conventional method of completely neglecting it.

 

 

So did you go to Wikipedia and read the values without thinking about it for a moment? These are the values for overall length with the gun facing forwards, not the hull length. You claim that the short length of the Merkava keeps the weight down, however it is not shorter. The Merkava 4 hull is 7.6 metres long, the Leopard 2 hull is 7.52 m long (excluding mudguards). There is no weight saving as result of a shorter hull, because there is no shorter hull. The Leclerc's hull is only 6.88 metres long.

 

Of course I took values with gun forward length. I couldn't find a source for the Leopard 2's length without gun, so I had no choice. And I picked Leo 2A5 length because it had an identical gun length. 

 

 

 

 

 

Now, shall we return to the original debate?

 

I am repeating my idea;

at first glance, a front-engine design would not suit well a next generation tank with a separated turret from the crew compartment. However, there is the alternative of placing the crew at the rear and keeping the turret in the center.

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I know that you wrote about traversely mounted engines, however try finding drawings of CAD data of the MT892 (or another compact high-power diesel engine) used on a combat vehicle such as the Puma...

The graphic still clearly illustrates the overall size of the powerpack, even though the V12 version will be about 20% longer. I don't see any space-savings from traversely mounting the powerpack - the driver then has to be moved further back. In the end it is just a question of wether the driver should be located behind or next to the engine, the volume required by the powerpack will remain the same.

 

My reason to mount the engine tranversly is to reduce the length of the vehicle. As we all know, the tank needs a turret ring of about 2000mm in diameter. By having the turret ring protrude into the sponsons we could optimistically reduce the internal hull width to about 1800mm. This means that the vehicle HAS to be at least 1800mm wide, regardless of how the engine is placed, since it is less then 1,8m in length. The crew capsule is also slimmer, so thereby we should use as much of this required width as possible. Since the engine is rectangular it makes sense to place it transversely, this reduces the length required by the engine by about 50%.  Which means less side area needing heavy armoring, which means less weight. For example, let's say we use the MB 833, in a hull 1m tall with 80mm thick side armor.  Let's say that 80mm plate goes 3 meters back from the front to the backside of the middle of the crew compartment, this would give it a weight of about 1,8 tonnes, 3,6 tonnes combined, By transversely mounting the engine we save off 620mm of length, and the plate would weight 1,435 tonnes, 2,87 tonnes combined, this saves you 730kg or a 20% weight reduction. This does not include the weight saved in roof or belly armor. 

 

Also, a driver located next to the engine would not work with a rear ramp or door, since the unmanned turret would be blocking the way. And if we do have the crew capsule mid mounted, then it would not reduce the overall size of the vehicle at all, since the turret still requires 1800mm of width, and 3 people can comfortably sit side by side with 1800mm width. 

 

And yes I do realize that that it is incredibly hard to find a transversely mounted engine in the front in a CAD, if not impossible.  But remember, we are talking about MBTs, not IFVs like the Puma. 

 

 

 

I don't want to be nitpicking, but without voltage an amperage doesn't mean much. But I guess most likely it will work at the same 28 volts as the old APU and the new drive systems of the Abrams. The issue is that you are talking about a future system, of which we don't know the dimensions. Will it fit into the same space as the older APU? Or will it be bigger?

The current APU (non-primary power source from Marvin Land Systems) of the M1 Abrams has an output of about 10 kW, it is working with a current of 350 kW at a voltage of 28 V. This system is 1.36 metres long x 0.6 metres wide and 0.32 metres tall. This might be somewhat easy to fit into the front of a tank, but if you tripple it's size (for reaching the 28 kW of running a 28 V at 1,000 A APU) will make it a lot more complicated. To be fair the APU of the Abrams seems to be rather space-inefficient (delivering ~ 38 kW per m³), Jenoptik for example provides a 17 kW APU for the Leopard 2, which is only 0.77 metes long, 0.46 metres wide and only 0.37 metres tall - thus providing about 129.8 kW per m³, but the Abrams' APU might have other benefits which could justify the size.

 

There are many different APUs for the Leopard 2 - depending on version and manufacturer. On the German Leopard 2A7 prototype, the APU didn't feature it's own exhaust vents and cooling system, sharing it with the engine - this is also the case with the Leopard 2A5DK, which doesn't have it's own cooling/exhaust solution. On the production model of the Leopard 2A7 however, the APU has it's own cooling vents, the exhaust is AFAIK still shared with the engine. This might have something to do with the higher power delivered by the 2A7's APU (17 kW vs iirc. 7 kW on the Leopard 2A5DK), but it also could have something to do with costs saving measures (which unfortunately define the current Leopard 2A7). Rheinmetall is using a different placement and potentially also a different type of APU.

I assumed you knew the voltage of the M1s subsystems. Since it makes zero sense for a APU to generate anything else, that would explain why I did not mention it. I know Ohm's law, it's my field. The size of the new APU was identical if I am not mistaken. 

 

But this discussion was not really about APUs, so we can discuss that later. But I am happy about the information you provided. 

 

 

 

I still fail to see how this is going to increase actual protection. The driver's hatch on tanks like the Leopard 2 and the M1 Abrams are located on the sloped surface, there is no extra flat surface required for the hatch. While some AFVs might have some special hatch designs or flat-surface just for the hatches, I don't think this is the case with any modern tank I currently can think of. Yes, the K2 Black Panther seems to have a flat roof surface (without sloped glacis) at the front of the tank, but this tank has a lot of issues when it comes to actual armor protection and armor layout.

In general using only sloped steel armor for the glacis seems to be a bad design and a thing of the past. Modern missiles and RPGs are capable of fuzing even at extreme slopes, so this is already a main issue. Given that APFSDS ammunition does not riccochet - it will break, but only the frontal part of it will riccochet - relatively thin sloped armor is not a solution for all times. In research papers testing the protection capability of 75° sloped steel plates showed that the penetration was reduced by about 50% (thanks to a part of the penetrator breaking apart, another part of the penetrator deforming and a small reduction in muzzle velocity after penetration). For the Abrams and the Leopard 2 tanks having one to two inches of steel armor at a ~75-85° angle might have been sufficient, but when we look at 130 mm, 140 mm or 152 mm APFSDS the situation changes. Even 120 mm APFSDS should have no issues penetrating the glacis of a M1 Abrams or Leopard 2, specifically given that the performance against highly sloped armor plates can be increased by using special tip design (according to numerous patents).

According to what you are saying here, should we stop sloping the armor and extreme angles completely?  If this is the case then hatch design has to be on a flat roof, or else they would either be insanely thick, or the frontal armor would be have to be heavily sloped. And making a hatch that can be 250mm thick not have weak spots is a hard feat, just look at the Merkava. 

 

By not having hatches, you could have the sloped of the armor reach almost all the way up to the turret ring, which would let the designers reduce the length of the vehicle compared to a conventional one with the same slope. The Armor would also work as roof armor here. By placing the crew in the back they will be protected from top attack munition by the turret and being longer away from the front, which takes the most amount of fire. If a missile aims for center mass, then it is more likely to hit the front hull than rear of the hull. The crew would still need about 200-250mm thick roof armor above them. But shouldn't the engine too? To stop bomblets from disabling the tank.

 

Also, tanks that feature a flat hatch, instead of a sloped one,  T-14, TTB and Leclerc prototype. To name a few. 

 
 
 

 

The door - and the path to the door - need to be tall enough for a man to fit through. The height of the rear compartment of a Merkava tank - or an IFV such as the CV90 and Marder - is much taller than the height of the crew or engine compartment of a conventional tank.

leopard2_mit_freunden.jpg

 

 

In the case of the CV90, this is a lie. The inside hull height at the troop compartment is around 980-1000mm from estimates. This is the same as the internal hull height of the Leopard 2

 

The CV90 is not close to as tall as other IFVs:

cv90_height.jpg

 

 

Could you please explain how a door makes the hull higher? Does it impose any physical limitations or is just because a crew member needs to fit? Because a crew member can easily fit through a 900mm tall door. 

 

 

 

 

Still the Swedish Leopard 2 has the same side skirt layout as the original version, so it probably will about the same or better in most cases. Do you think the requirement wouldn't be adjusted when the engine would be mounted at the front of the hull? The crew then would be exposed, if this wasn't adjusted - but based on the Strv 103 and the Strv 2000 it probably would be changed.

Udes22.JPG

strv_2000_hotbild-web.jpg

The skirts of the Strv 2000 also provided protection against RPGs from the sides.

 

 

 

You know the Strv 2000 was supposed to use a front mounted engine right?

strv_2000_koncept_t3-sida-web.jpg

 

And the RPG protection is only for the front half of the hull, and it only covers the front half of the crew compartment. It is also ERA. I know the turret is not right one, but the hull were almost identical between the different variants. The only thing that changed was the turret. I assume you know about this by reading about Prosjekt Stridsvagn 2000.

 

For those that don't understand Swedish:

Pil = APFSDS

RSV = ATGM

Buren PV = Handheld RPG or man portable RPG.

Finkaliber up til 15mm= HMG

Splitter och tungmetallkulor = Splinters and heavy metal balls. 

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xoon, what do you think of my proposed idea?

Front - engine

Center - turret+autoloader

Rear - crew capsule

 

I believe this would let the crew have further protection against artillery and top attack munitions which are among the most prominent threats on the symmetric battle, as well as use all the front engine's advantages to the fullest. 

a reduced crew of 2 could make the capsule even more narrow, allowing both thick side and rear armor and large equipment such as NBC and APU systems and misc as well as sponsons, protecting the crew from every direction.

 

I honestly think this would be the optimal solution as it would not put the crew directly at the receiving part of the attack, rather protected from every possible direction, and would reduce any total loss to a mobility loss. 

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xoon, what do you think of my proposed idea?

Front - engine

Center - turret+autoloader

Rear - crew capsule

 

I believe this would let the crew have further protection against artillery and top attack munitions which are among the most prominent threats on the symmetric battle, as well as use all the front engine's advantages to the fullest. 

a reduced crew of 2 could make the capsule even more narrow, allowing both thick side and rear armor and large equipment such as NBC and APU systems and misc as well as sponsons, protecting the crew from every direction.

 

I honestly think this would be the optimal solution as it would not put the crew directly at the receiving part of the attack, rather protected from every possible direction, and would reduce any total loss to a mobility loss. 

 

This is exactly what I was thinking about:

6G3eeOO.png

 

 

The US is considering hybrid electric drives, and they talk about what I proposed above:

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....

The T-14 is the first Russian MBT. Anything produced prior to that and in-use with the Russian army, is Soviet designed and made. The T-14 is built more in line with western standards and completely abandons Soviet philosophy.

....

I noticed this part and couldn't walk away.

Check Soviet future tanks from 80s thread in this subforum. Armata is completely a result of Soviet tank development. Armata is less crazy version of Object 195 with bits and ideas from Leningrad's Object 299. All ideas and paradigms, from concepts to technical solutions are either 100% Soviet or continuation of Soviet design programms. Unified chassis - Soviet concept, unmanned turrets - Soviet designs and test vehicles, crew capsule - again, Soviet, 360 observation system, APS with EFP-based interception methods, and so on were in development in designs bureaus in 80s (Kharkov, Leningrad being ahead of others).

And that thread also is relevant for tank layout thread, with Object 299 being a tank with front-mounted engine, middle crew capsule and rear turret. If you look at schematics, 299 did not had any serious frontal armor until crew compartment frontal plates.

Speaking about Merkava, you said that the Russians are fond of Merkava... if you will visit otvaga forum, members of this forum will in details explain why nobody should bother building tanks like Merkava, :-)

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It's obvious that at least most of the main technologies of the Armata, including the general concept were tested and/or examined prior to the break-up, when the Cold War drived tank design bureaus to go crazy on the designing boards.

But in the end only 1 concept is chosen, refined, and built. And the needed concept the Soviet Russia and modern Russia need are wildly different.

It's all about doctrine and economy of war, not thinking capacity.

So while I understand your point, I think you should also understand that if the Soviet Union would still exist, we may not have seen a T-14. Or even anything similar.

I am well aware of the Object 299, but comparing that with other just as ambitious projects of the time, would be more a doctrinal debate, rather than technical debate.

And about Otvaga, I visit quite often, and I know what they say about every tank.

When I say "fond" I mean least disliked. Anything that isn't an Armata or a T-tank is shamed as being too not-Armata-ish.

Shows a great deal what mediocre propaganda can do.

I would not advise any country to buy Merkavas if their doctrines don't match the characteristics of the vehicle, or if they are capable of domestically producing a tank (even if not as good), but at least these have proven their worth almost non-stop for over 3 decades.

As opposed to T-tanks being slaughtered left and right, and the T-14 sharing more concepts with the Merkava than with any other tank.

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It's obvious that at least most of the main technologies of the Armata, including the general concept were tested and/or examined prior to the break-up, when the Cold War drived tank design bureaus to go crazy on the designing boards.

But in the end only 1 concept is chosen, refined, and built. And the needed concept the Soviet Russia and modern Russia need are wildly different.

It's all about doctrine and economy of war, not thinking capacity.

So while I understand your point, I think you should also understand that if the Soviet Union would still exist, we may not have seen a T-14. Or even anything similar.

I am well aware of the Object 299, but comparing that with other just as ambitious projects of the time, would be more a doctrinal debate, rather than technical debate.

And about Otvaga, I visit quite often, and I know what they say about every tank.

When I say "fond" I mean least disliked. Anything that isn't an Armata or a T-tank is shamed as being too not-Armata-ish.

Shows a great deal what mediocre propaganda can do.

I would not advise any country to buy Merkavas if their doctrines don't match the characteristics of the vehicle, or if they are capable of domestically producing a tank (even if not as good), but at least these have proven their worth almost non-stop for over 3 decades.

As opposed to T-tanks being slaughtered left and right, and the T-14 sharing more concepts with the Merkava than with any other tank.

You understand that bureaus were not making those tanks on their own and out of their asses? Object 490A, 477 and even 299 were made according to Soviet Army requirements. Army wanted a new tank, they started a programm to get their new armor. If Soviet Union existed, Armata-like tank would have been in service already. For example 12 Molots were build and tank design was nearly in production-ready state with test vehicles being tested all over USSR (that why several Kharkov-made Molots are in Russia).

Soviet tanks were build for wars with techologically capable enemies, and Armata is also build in the same mindset, not any different from late Soviet tanks designs and concepts. Protection system from top-attack smart munitions is maybe most blatant example.

Late T-72s are also disliked (B3s are hate generators). Leos and Abrams are respected, 99As are not very well known.

And what concepts Armata shares with Merkavas? Isolated crew compartment from fuel and ammo is not presented on Merkava. Autoloading system for a main gun and no loader in the crew are not presented in Merks. Unmanned main weapon system? Modularity? And where you found rear door and rear compartment on Armata tank?

From where you get this idea that Merkava and Armata share anything outside of being MBTs?

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Many things can go wrong before a tank is cleared for procurement, and it's hard to tell what would have come out if the USSR was still alive. And I won't pretend to know a lot about that, but I do believe that with Russia's loss of superpower status and higher value of experienced crews (instead of meat shields previously), its philosophy changed.

 

 

The main similarity between the T-14 and Merkava is the protected crew compartment. 

In the T-14 they are encapsulated in an armored box, separated from everything. While it has its clear drawbacks, it's a good design. The Merkava had, in a sense, emulated an armored capsule by surrounding the crew from every angle with extra modules. So that even when the armor would be pierced, the rate of fatality would be very low.

 

Modularity, as you mentioned, is indeed a similarity shared between them. However I have my doubts as to how much the T-14's armor design is modular.

 

Autoloaders and such, are more of a doctrinal based feature than anything else. 

 

 

 

What future 4th gen tanks there will be? Could be following the same concept as the T-14, or could follow the concept favored by xoon and I, of a forward mounted engine and a rear placed crew capsule for 2.

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What future 4th gen tanks there will be? Could be following the same concept as the T-14, or could follow the concept favored by xoon and I, of a forward mounted engine and a rear placed crew capsule for 2.

A more compact layout would be a sponsons mounted layout:

ZaDgOji.png

But it would need specially designed engines, as well as being harder to maintain. 

And probably taller. 

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Many things can go wrong before a tank is cleared for procurement, and it's hard to tell what would have come out if the USSR was still alive. And I won't pretend to know a lot about that, but I do believe that with Russia's loss of superpower status and higher value of experienced crews (instead of meat shields previously), its philosophy changed.

 

 

The main similarity between the T-14 and Merkava is the protected crew compartment. 

In the T-14 they are encapsulated in an armored box, separated from everything. While it has its clear drawbacks, it's a good design. The Merkava had, in a sense, emulated an armored capsule by surrounding the crew from every angle with extra modules. So that even when the armor would be pierced, the rate of fatality would be very low.

 

Modularity, as you mentioned, is indeed a similarity shared between them. However I have my doubts as to how much the T-14's armor design is modular.

 

Autoloaders and such, are more of a doctrinal based feature than anything else. 

 

 

 

What future 4th gen tanks there will be? Could be following the same concept as the T-14, or could follow the concept favored by xoo'n and I, of a forward mounted engine and a rear placed crew capsule for 2.

Wait what? Meatshields? Are were going into dumb shit territory? And you were speaking about russians and "mediocre" propaganda.

You keep saing about changed "philosophy" and yet can't point at actual differences between late Soviet designs and Armata. Do you understand that Object 299's capsule was better protected than Armata's? Or that under Object 299 there was number of programs to create remote controlled mineclearing and engineering vehicles (Komplekt-2) in order to decrease potential danger to crews. Object 490A and 477's attempts at isolated ammunition racks, an extensive work on different soft- and hard-kill protection systems don't indicate that designers were thinking about crewmembers?

Yeah, Merkava "emulated" crew capsule by placing ammunition and crew members in the same space. Fatality rates in Merkavas during 2006 was more than 1-1.5 KIA per penetration, with several ammo fires that killed 3 or 4 crewmembers (at least 1 Mk4 suffered ammorack fire)

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I found some interesting drawings related to the candidates for french new generation tank ( 80s ).

9643_900.jpg

A leclerc prototype ,TC2 TA ,modified turret layout. Gunner and commander were both located at the left of fighting compartment.

9315_900.jpg

One of the Gun-over-hull concepts of AS series ,AS2 P2,

9888_900.jpg

P48 concept, it was very closed to the Leclerc .

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Engine up front, turret in the middle, and crew sitting in the rear section, protected on the sides by additional modules such as NBC, APU and others, also enjoying the advantage of rear exit. Such design would have only 1 problem - backup sights.

Only one drawback? I can see much more: armor integration, weight distribution and the same mobility problems that are related to having the drive-sprocket located at the front (more likely to be damaged during fast travel on uneven terrain). In order to provide just the protection along the frontal 30° arc, the side skirts have to essentially cover the whole length of the tank... that's certainly contra-productive when trying to reduce the weight of tank (or increase the protection while staying at a fixed weight).

 

But I do believe that it IS valid in this discussion. While not exactly a tank, it certainly does share a very similar layout.

When discussing, for example, a light tank such as the M8, is it invalid to treat it as an MBT? Because it's merely an MBT in a light package with reduced capabilities but overall same concept.

It depends on the context. If one discusses the armor integration/layout of a MBT or the distribution of a MBT's weight into it's components, the M8 AGS certainly is not useful for the discussion, because it is not "an MBT in a light package". The weight of the armor (incl. basic steel structure) of a current MBT is 50% or more. The weight of the M8 AGS' armor is much lower in relation to other components such as the engine or tracks.

 

Would thick armor automatically change its status according to your logic?

In the context of this discussion, yes. We are talking about next-generation tanks, which probably have extremely thick armor - take a look at projects from the Soviet Union/Russia, the UK, the United States and Germany. There are numerous tank projects - pretty much all next-generation tank prototypes - which had thick frontal hull armor. This affects the ability of the tank to mount it's powerpack in the hull front: it causes problems in combination with thick and heavy composite armor. The Carmel - based on currently avialable informations - does not fit into this discussion.

 

Did you ever bother looking at pictures of the T-14? That black-lined area is nowhere near the real layout. IRL the T-14 has a better slope, as opposed to the near un-sloped armor presented in the German presentation.

The difference in the hull shape is based on the CAD model showing the tank from the side; the frontal mud-guards of the T-14's tracks were marked by the author as armor by accident. However as previously stated, the black lines were only added for giving the audience a general idea about how the armor layout of a next-generation tank looks like. The armor thickness wasn't measured with the black lines.

 

The forum member made image seems a lot more accurate overall. And I guess this forum member doesn't try to claim the Armata has a 4-man crew, as the German presentor seems to think.

The distance between the hatch and the armor seems to be at least 200mm (or more), and all official and semi-official claims when the T-14 was first revealed, were 900mm of armor.

Anything above that (I've heard 1,000, 1,100 and 1,200) is simply a fanboy-ish attempt to scare people, or overhype it.

Feel free to post any sources for your claims. Here is another drawing made by a forum-user, which pretty much confirms a thickness of 1,100 mm. That the T-14 Armata with an unmanned (and nearly un-armored) turret has an armor thickness comparable to the two-tons lighter T-90 tank seems to be very unlikely. There is also a drawing from Russian Sputnik-News, which also confirms an estimated thickness of more than 1,000 mm.

Take a look at US armor projects for a M1 Abrams replacement/follow-up from the 1980s and 1990s. These tanks had an armor thickness of 1,500 mm or more. The German EGS prototype had about 2,000 mm frontal hull armor. The upgraded Leopard 2 versions already have about 900 mm effective thickness.

 

xjSvdXw.png

I think you are confusing protection level against KE (claimed to be 050 mm or more) with armor thickness. The latter is pretty much alway greater than the former.

 

The T-14 is the first Russian MBT. Anything produced prior to that and in-use with the Russian army, is Soviet designed and made. The T-14 is built more in line with western standards and completely abandons Soviet philosophy.

So knowing that the T-14 has similar size as a western tank, a 48 ton mark is definitely a weight reduction. Not over the predecessor but over the current conventional design.

The T-14 Armata is made by the same companies, the same research departments and some of the same people that made the Soviet tanks. Russia is the official successor state of the Soviet Union, the Russian Army is the de facto successor of the Soviet Red Army. Your claim is wrong and doesn't make any sense. It completely abandons Soviet philosophy, but still heavily relies on ERA and has an autoloader for a 125 mm smoothbore gun firing two-piece ammunition? That was a good joke! Next time you will claim that the Leopard 2 is not German, because it was made in West-Germany before the reunification, will you?

The T-14 Armata is pretty much a lite-version of the Object 195, a Soviet next-generation tank prototype.

 

The armor is less upgradable? That's a new one.

Yes, the hull armor is less upgradable. The Merkava 3 has no composite armor at the hull front, while the Merkava 4 has no composite armor at the LFP. There is no easy option to upgrade this armor. Meanwhile on a conventional tank like the M1 Abrams, the armor inserts can simply be replaced.

 

Now, the problem is that you ASSUME there is an issue with the armor thickness.

The problem is that you reject everything that sounds remotely like a critique of the Merkava, because you are a fanboy. This is the only issue here. Do you think that the rest of the world has moved for increased armor thickness just for fun? Do you think that Merkava is impenetrabtable against anything at all places? No. The tank isn't super heavy-weight, still it has a much greater armored surface... did you ever wonder "how comes that the tank has so much armor, but is relatively light-weight"? Do you think that the Challenger 2 with TES(H) and the Leopard 2A7+ prototypes reached a weight of 70+ tonnes, if a much lower weight could afford a much better protection?

 

Irrelevant. You claim the Merkava 4 has 300mm of composite armor over the front section of the hull (despite MANTAK claiming a much increased ballistic protection over every generation). How exactly is that enough to stop a missile penetrating 1,200mm of RHA?

You keep forgetting that the Merkava 4 is not capable of stopping a Kornet ATGM (which doesn't always have a penetration as high as 1,200 mm depending on warhead) at all places. Even the Metis-M missile has proven of being capable of penetrating a Merkava 4 in several incidents. In 2006 51 Merkava tanks (inlcuding the Merkava 4 tanks) were hit by ATGMs, half of them penetrated the armor. So instead of being invulnerable, the Merkava tanks suffer losses ina bout 50% of the times being hit by ATGMs. In a fight at the Saluki river, three Merkava 4 tanks were penetrated by ATGMs, leading to the loss of seven crew members. At another incident a Kornet ATGM managed to penetrate the frontal armor of a Merkava 3 tank.

Why do you think did the IDF adopt the Trophy APS on the Merkava tank? Just for fun?

Show me any proof that of Merkava 4 being hit at the glacis or the LFP by a Kornet ATGM without penetration. The majority of all hits on a tank occur at the turret, simply due to the height of the vehicle. There the Merkava 4 has much thicker armor than at the hull. The Kornet ATGM was designed to defeat MBTs from the frontal aspect and seems to have no issues at doing so against the weaker armored hull of all tanks  it has encountered including the M1A2SA and the M1A1M.

 

This was not an isolated incident. Rather common actually. And "add the steel of the engine"? Forgot that it didn't reach the engine compartment?

It was not an isolated incident? Just keep trying to grasp straws. This is the LFP we are talking about, there is statistical data on how often the lower portions (incl. the LFP) of tanks has been hit in wars such as the Six-Day War, the Yom-Kippur War and the Lebanon War of 1983. In modern conflicts the hull is only hit in ~25% of all times. Now take into account that the front needs to be hit, which is less than ~12% of the vertical surface below the turret ring and only ~30% of the vertical surface along the frontal arc.

Do you think that the Fagot ATGM will always hit the hull front straight on? If so, you are wrong. The ATGM will in most cases hit at a slight angle, most likely even more than a few degrees due to being a composed angle of vertical and horizontal variance. Most likely the ATGM strikes the hull slightly downwards, because the user doesn't want to risk hitting the ground or rocks/trees/bushes when firing. This would greatly increase the effective slope of the Merkava's LFP. So seeing a ~280-290 mm armor layout capable of protecting against a shaped charge with 400 mm nominal penetration (which for Soviet export weaponry in some cases wasn't reached) at unknown conditions is nothing special nor valid.

You are basing your statements on the Merkava's protection on hearsay performance under unknown conditions. That is the key difference between the armor protection of the Leopard 2 and M1 Abrams, which was tested at known conditions to work equally well at the whole required frontal arc. You can see a photograph of the Abrams' hull armor being tested at 0° against a shaped charge warhead. Compared to this, your story is not verifiable.

 

My reason to mount the engine tranversly is to reduce the length of the vehicle. As we all know, the tank needs a turret ring of about 2000mm in diameter. By having the turret ring protrude into the sponsons we could optimistically reduce the internal hull width to about 1800mm. This means that the vehicle HAS to be at least 1800mm wide, regardless of how the engine is placed, since it is less then 1,8m in length.

Who says that a modern tank needs a 1,800 mm wide turret ring? Modern tanks have large turret ring diameters in order to gain the internal space required for the crew and components in the interior. By moving to an unmanned turret - or placing the gun in a overhead mount - one does not need a turret ring diameter of 1,800 mm or more. Just look at some of the UDES testsbeds or the Marder VTS.

 

vts-1.jpg

 

Cqp2i.jpg

 

I also don't see any reason why a tranversly mounted engine needs to be placed at the front of the vehicle. One can get the same reduction in hull length by placing the engine at the rear. Given that a frontally mounted engine will still lead to additional side skirts being required for crew protection, the weight savings seem to be greater when mounting the engine at the rear.

 

According to what you are saying here, should we stop sloping the armor and extreme angles completely? If this is the case then hatch design has to be on a flat roof, or else they would either be insanely thick, or the frontal armor would be have to be heavily sloped. And making a hatch that can be 250mm thick not have weak spots is a hard feat, just look at the Merkava.

No, we don't need to stop it completely. But relying on (thin) steel plates at high obliquity should stop. The protection provided by a thin steel plate, such as the 40-50 mm used on M1 Abrams, Leopard 2, K1, Type 90 and similar tanks, is not enough to stop modern 120/125 mm APFSDS. Throw the new 130 mm gun from Rheinmetall and the Russian 152 mm gun into the mix and even more armor is required. Given that there are limitations to weight and (high-hardness) steel plate thickness, the armor has to be thicker and made of composite armor in order to stay at an acceptable weight.

If you already need a ~250-300 mm glacis, why not use it as roof protection for the crew? The hatch design doesn't need to be very complicated. Sure, simpler designs might have a few issues with armor coverage at the hinge/sliding mechanisms... but then again current hatches are also considered a weakspot on tanks like Abrams.

For an engine having an engine cover that can only be lifted using a large crane seems to be another drawback. Yes, usually the engine covers are always lifted by a crane, but in case of emergency the crew can still use less potent/non-military equipment to deal with it.

 

By not having hatches, you could have the sloped of the armor reach almost all the way up to the turret ring, which would let the designers reduce the length of the vehicle compared to a conventional one with the same slope.

How would the slope affect vehicle length? It could only affect the length of the vehicle, if on the "conventional one" a further extension is added for having hatches on a un-sloped surface. Look at the hull of the Abrams: the glacis slope already extends to the turret ring.

 

The Armor would also work as roof armor here. By placing the crew in the back they will be protected from top attack munition by the turret and being longer away from the front, which takes the most amount of fire. If a missile aims for center mass, then it is more likely to hit the front hull than rear of the hull.

In your suggested layout, the frontal armor acts as roof armor only for the engine, which frankly doesn't require the same level as protection for the crew. The turret will only protect the crew compartment, if it has a large, overhanging turret bustle (which is capable of providing enough crew protection and not just external storage boxes as most of the turret bustles of the Leopard 2A5/6/7 and the Challenger 2) and the turret is turned towards the front. Want to fight against an enemy at the side? Well, then you have to expose the crew to top-attack weapons...

 

The crew would still need about 200-250mm thick roof armor above them. But shouldn't the engine too? To stop bomblets from disabling the tank.

No, because it is not possible to provide the same level of protection to all parts of the tank. In ideal case every area of the tank would have armor as thick as the turret front - but that's not possible due to weight, size, useability and other factors. The engine is always a structural weakspot due to needing a cooling solution and exhaust systems. So if some place should be less armored, it should be the area at the engine (above and below), which doesn't protect the crew as much as the front, aswell as the roof and belly of the crew compartment. Just look at current tanks: the armor at the sides of the engine of a Leopard 2 and M1 Abrams is 40 mm thick at best. The armor at the front is multiple times thicker, because it protects the crew. The same applies to the roof armor. The engine covers of the tanks are usually 20 to 25 mm thick, whereas the sloped glacis and turret roof are 40 mm or more thick.

 

In the case of the CV90, this is a lie. The inside hull height at the troop compartment is around 980-1000mm from estimates. This is the same as the internal hull height of the Leopard 2

The photo is a bit misleading, because it compares the vehicles at different angles. The CV90 appears to be a lot smaller mainly due to it's smaller turret. The height hull itself doesn't seem to be any smaller than that of a Marder or Warrior IFV if you take other factors (such as the ~60-70 mm thicker, spaced roof armor of the Marder 1A3 hull) into account. The "Puma" is actually a Marder 1A3 with the Kuka M12 turret, which was offered in the export market to Norway, Switzerland and a few selected other countries.

I cannot comment on your esimations, because I have never been inside a CV90 myself. However there are a few things that I can still add to this part of the discussion. In SteelBeasts at least the CV90 hull is a tad higher than the Leopard 2 engine compartment, by about 100 mm. If we take the ground clearance into account - which is between 50 and 100 mm less for the CV90 - the CV90 rear compartment is about 150 - 200 mm taller than the engine compartment of the Leopard 2.

Now, I only looked at the Norwegian CV90, the Swedish version has (afaik) a slightly lower height at the rear compartment. But the Swedish version isn't exactly the standard configuration of the CV90, being not designed for compability with all NATO standards. On the CV90 Mk II (CV9030) the roof is raised by 140 mm, one the CV90 Mk III (CV9035 operated by Denmark and the Netherlands) it is raised even more. I don't know exactly if this is a NATO standard yet, but German AFVs are always designed with a compability from the 5th to 95th percentile (only the smallest 5% and the tallest 5% of the male adults are incompatible with the vehicle).

 

You know the Strv 2000 was supposed to use a front mounted engine right?

That's exactly why I used is an example. You said that the Swedish requirement for armor protection is reduced to only 65° coverage at the front and not focused on crew protection, after I mentioned that moving the crew towards the rear of the vehicle increases the weight required for achieving the same level of crew protection (due to more side skirt modules being required). I answered by showing that the Strv 103 and Strv 2000 - both with front-mounted engines - had longer side skirts covering the 60° arc for the crew and not the vehicle front.

kNALniI.jpg

The RPG protection is only offered for the engine, because the crew is placed so much away from the front. If the crew was located at the front, the protection against RPGs would be higher for it.

 

 

Some of Leclerc's proposed layouts are posted at page 13.

It should be noted that these layouts belonged to the Char 90/Kampfpanzer 90 project that was co-developed with Germany.

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Many things can go wrong before a tank is cleared for procurement, and it's hard to tell what would have come out if the USSR was still alive. And I won't pretend to know a lot about that, but I do believe that with Russia's loss of superpower status and higher value of experienced crews (instead of meat shields previously), its philosophy changed.

 

 

Um, no.  We actually have a very good idea of what the next MBTs from the USSR would have looked like if it hadn't collapsed.  We even know what they would have adopted if "things had gone wrong," because we know the entire spectrum of proposed future MBTs from high-risk concepts like Object 299, 470, 450, 490A, 477 and 195, to medium-risk concepts like Object 490 to low-risk concepts like Object 480, 187 and 292.

 

Armata is clearly derived from bits and pieces of some of the late Soviet-era high-risk concepts.

 

The Merkava is a very poor tank upon which to judge the merits of the engine-forward configuration.  When the Merkava I was designed, the only suitable engine available to the Israelis was the AVDS-1790.  While the AVDS-1790 is a very reliable and powerful tank engine (as Walter could tell you), it is also an extremely tall engine, in part because it is air-cooled, and in part because it is a V.  It's basically the worst possible choice of engine configuration for that hull configuration, but it was also the only choice the Israelis had.
 
In a rear-engined design this isn't a huge problem; the engine deck can simply be made boxier and slightly taller than the frontal part of the hull.  In a front-engined design this is a huge problem, because it forces the hull to be very tall.  The Merkava has the tallest hull of any postwar MBT by far.  Presumably when the Merkava IV came around, it was too late to redesign the entire hull.  But you can see that the glacis design of the IV is cleaned up a lot, and presumably better.
 
Every other front-engined MBT design proposal I can think of came from a country that had the luxury of choosing an engine that would fit in a smaller frontal hull.  Liquid-cooled Vs (STRV-2000, NKPz), Boxer diesels (Object 416), even turbines (Object 299 and some US FMBT concepts) have been proposed.  Probably there was some Kharkov design that used their weird opposed-piston two stroke diesel too, but I'm only talking about engines that actually work.  As long as the designers have the luxury of choosing an engine that won't force the front hull to be enormous, the design compromises are workable.
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The problem is that we don't know if the ERA (or whatever this add-on armor is made of) is spaced or not. It is spaced on the T-15 Armata with front-mounted engine, but it doesn't say much about the T-14 Armata.

1428780992-rusko-oklepno-vozilo-tbmp-t-1

6Iq5zPt.jpg

Look at the difference at the hull front. There is no empty space visible on the T-14, instead there are mulitple bolts at the front.

On the T-15 Armata the bolts at the LFP start after the ERA element, on the T-14 tank the bolts start at the frontal section of the LFP.

vdaygeneralrehearsalp2-04.jpg

1023874617.jpg

My guess is that the frontal armor of the T-15 was reduced by a lot, due to the engine being located at the front. The T-14 has different armor, the ERA is not spaced, but mounted directly at the composite armor module.

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Wait what? Meatshields? Are were going into dumb shit territory? And you were speaking about russians and "mediocre" propaganda.

You keep saing about changed "philosophy" and yet can't point at actual differences between late Soviet designs and Armata. Do you understand that Object 299's capsule was better protected than Armata's? Or that under Object 299 there was number of programs to create remote controlled mineclearing and engineering vehicles (Komplekt-2) in order to decrease potential danger to crews. Object 490A and 477's attempts at isolated ammunition racks, an extensive work on different soft- and hard-kill protection systems don't indicate that designers were thinking about crewmembers?

Yeah, Merkava "emulated" crew capsule by placing ammunition and crew members in the same space. Fatality rates in Merkavas during 2006 was more than 1-1.5 KIA per penetration, with several ammo fires that killed 3 or 4 crewmembers (at least 1 Mk4 suffered ammorack fire)

 

Care for human lives and life quality could have been better is all I'm saying. A lot better. I lived there after all. The situation now greatly improved though.

APS and separated ammo racks are things that I could lecture you about their merits without mentioning once crew survivability.

 

Engineers are people who care very little about politics or doctrine. You give them an assignment to build a tank, and they will build it. If you change the requirements drastically, they'll build it differently but will still do it. Soviet tank engineers were employed in Israel, and were pretty dominant in the Merkava early design team. They were experienced in building tanks based on entirely different concepts, but they have managed to produce a radically different design as you can see. 

This is because requirements are different. I'm not talking about what would happen if the USSR would still exist. I'm talking about change of reality on the battlefield that altered the tank building philosophy, mostly as result the break up of the union.

Russia was in no state to fund ambitious programs. The Object 299 was indeed a very ambitious project. The focus switched to toned down, less ambitious programs built only with technologically available solutions. And as you said it before, the T-14 indeed doesn't incorporate any new technology as the first user.

 

The ammunition placement in the Merkava indeed loses some of its advantages when the tank is getting shot in the flanks, and in that case it suffers from not having a separation. But so far the only incidents of ammo detonation were by IEDs which were heavy enough to cause the deaths of the whole crew even before the ammo detonates (talking about 300-500kg after all).

The statistics are 51 damaged vehicles, of which 21 were penetrated in some form, in which 23 crewmen were killed in total. This is not "more than 1.5x". It's just a little bit over 1:1. Which is very good considering that even older Merkava 1 have participated, and Mark 2 were targeted even more than Mark 3.

 

Only one drawback? I can see much more: armor integration, weight distribution and the same mobility problems that are related to having the drive-sprocket located at the front (more likely to be damaged during fast travel on uneven terrain). In order to provide just the protection along the frontal 30° arc, the side skirts have to essentially cover the whole length of the tank... that's certainly contra-productive when trying to reduce the weight of tank (or increase the protection while staying at a fixed weight).

 

Armor integration? Modularity. Problem solved.

Weight distribution? Frontally placed engine means rear placed other modules. Counter-balance is not hard to obtain. 

Drive sprocket damage? At least according to a technician's letter to Otvaga forum, who worked on Namers, this isn't a problem. As he gave a long list of issues he had to deal with, and never even mentioned anything like that. 

The only way it can be damaged, as I see it, is when it directly hits the ground when breaking down a slope. 

Side skirts length? Going by purely 30° frontal attacks, it doesn't have to be longer. It can be simply placed in the middle portions of the hull. Placing more armor along the hull will protect the engine and ammo racks, but is not necessary as it was not the case in conventional designs. 

The only reason the Merkava 4 jumped straight from poorly armored sides to perhaps the thickest sides with the best coverage, is because that armor was needed to protect the crew from all directions, including 0° attacks on the sides or from the rear portion. 

If designers of the Leopard or Abrams for example, were required for such protection, they would have placed side armor of similar length. And indeed they did. Abrams has the TUSK and some Leopards have the recent AMAP armor. 

 

In the context of this discussion, yes. We are talking about next-generation tanks, which probably have extremely thick armor - take a look at projects from the Soviet Union/Russia, the UK, the United States and Germany. There are numerous tank projects - pretty much all next-generation tank prototypes - which had thick frontal hull armor. This affects the ability of the tank to mount it's powerpack in the hull front: it causes problems in combination with thick and heavy composite armor. The Carmel - based on currently avialable informations - does not fit into this discussion.

 

Moving other heavy components to the rear, together with the crew capsule, are enough to create counterbalance in weight. Frontal engine design, in itself, does not limit the amount of frontal armor.

Feel free to post any sources for your claims. Here is another drawing made by a forum-user, which pretty much confirms a thickness of 1,100 mm. That the T-14 Armata with an unmanned (and nearly un-armored) turret has an armor thickness comparable to the two-tons lighter T-90 tank seems to be very unlikely. There is also a drawing from Russian Sputnik-News, which also confirms an estimated thickness of more than 1,000 mm.

Take a look at US armor projects for a M1 Abrams replacement/follow-up from the 1980s and 1990s. These tanks had an armor thickness of 1,500 mm or more. The German EGS prototype had about 2,000 mm frontal hull armor. The upgraded Leopard 2 versions already have about 900 mm effective thickness.

 

http://army-news.ru/2015/05/vidimye-preimushhestva-perspektivnogo-tanka-t-14-armata/

http://vpk.name/library/f/armata.html

 

The T-14 Armata is made by the same companies, the same research departments and some of the same people that made the Soviet tanks. Russia is the official successor state of the Soviet Union, the Russian Army is the de facto successor of the Soviet Red Army. Your claim is wrong and doesn't make any sense. It completely abandons Soviet philosophy, but still heavily relies on ERA and has an autoloader for a 125 mm smoothbore gun firing two-piece ammunition? That was a good joke! Next time you will claim that the Leopard 2 is not German, because it was made in West-Germany before the reunification, will you?

The T-14 Armata is pretty much a lite-version of the Object 195, a Soviet next-generation tank prototype.

 

Well at least I'm not claiming the T-14 uses 2-piece ammunition (unitary) or has 4 crewmen. 

Reliance on ERA (which I believe is NOT the case here) is part of technical requirements. Not doctrinal changes.

 

Yes, the hull armor is less upgradable. The Merkava 3 has no composite armor at the hull front, while the Merkava 4 has no composite armor at the LFP. There is no easy option to upgrade this armor. Meanwhile on a conventional tank like the M1 Abrams, the armor inserts can simply be replaced.

 

Hold your horses! The Mark 3 has no composite armor at the hull front? Literally the first time I'm hearing this. The whole point in the Mark 3 survivability upgrade over the Mark 2 was that it finally has composite armor on all areas of the tank, as opposed to Mark 2 which had limited composite armor coverage. 

Ever thought why the Mark 2 has applique in front of the driver while the Mark 3 (with seemingly similar UFP thickness) doesn't? The Mark 3 simply didn't need it. The armor was considered to be sufficient to deal with current threats, whereas on the Mark 2 it wasn't. It still is.

 

Now, saying the hull armor is less upgradable is simply neglecting the whole concept of modularity. If an armor array is no longer sufficient, it can be improved and replaced with ease. The whole point was to make it easy to upgrade. Israel doesn't have the capacity to pump out new tanks and spend a shit ton of money every time a more potent threat appears on the battlefield. 

There are of course prototypes and test-beds of upgraded Merkava hulls with thicker armor over the front. 

 

Upgrading thickness is very easy. Just put it on top of the existing armor (thicker blocks). If needed, even let it extend over the hull a bit, as was done in multiple other Israeli designs. The options aren't lacking. It's just a question of whether it is needed or not. If there's a need, modularity will save production and development costs and time.

The problem is that you reject everything that sounds remotely like a critique of the Merkava, because you are a fanboy. This is the only issue here. Do you think that the rest of the world has moved for increased armor thickness just for fun? Do you think that Merkava is impenetrabtable against anything at all places? No. The tank isn't super heavy-weight, still it has a much greater armored surface... did you ever wonder "how comes that the tank has so much armor, but is relatively light-weight"? Do you think that the Challenger 2 with TES(H) and the Leopard 2A7+ prototypes reached a weight of 70+ tonnes, if a much lower weight could afford a much better protection?

 

In the case of Merkava 4, the answer is armor technology. Every inch of surface is thicker compared to the Mark 3, while retaining the same weight. This is not only because of general weight saving solutions from component modernization. Armor of the Mark 4A is just considerably lighter, and was even tested fully on a Mark 3. This is the same story as with the AMAP-B armor on the Leopard 2 Revolution. By the way, regarding your article in your blog, the Mark 4B has an improved armor that fixes the issue of armor disarray that follows highly energetic hits. 

 

The Merkava 3 in contrast, has garbage side armor, and only a bit above average roof armor. It was by no means light however. It was on the high end of heavy tanks. A certain prototype even exceeded the 70 ton mark.

 

You keep forgetting that the Merkava 4 is not capable of stopping a Kornet ATGM (which doesn't always have a penetration as high as 1,200 mm depending on warhead) at all places. Even the Metis-M missile has proven of being capable of penetrating a Merkava 4 in several incidents. In 2006 51 Merkava tanks (inlcuding the Merkava 4 tanks) were hit by ATGMs, half of them penetrated the armor. So instead of being invulnerable, the Merkava tanks suffer losses ina bout 50% of the times being hit by ATGMs. In a fight at the Saluki river, three Merkava 4 tanks were penetrated by ATGMs, leading to the loss of seven crew members. At another incident a Kornet ATGM managed to penetrate the frontal armor of a Merkava 3 tank.

 

Well of course. In the very early stages of the operation, even the latest ATGMs employed by Hezbollah have hit multiple tanks frontally, to no effect. 

The terrain of Lebanon however, allowed them to very easily ambush tanks and convoys, and so the vast majority of attacks were to the side armor. Together with IEDs, Hezbollah had no problem to overcome the issue of frontal protection. 

High powered ATGMs (especially the Kornet) are capable of penetrating the side armor of even the Merkava 4. Merkava 1/2/3's and any conventional design doubly so (keep in mind Mark 1 also participated in the combat, and most losses were in Mark 2).

The rate of fatalities in side penetrations however, is very impressive.

Why do you think did the IDF adopt the Trophy APS on the Merkava tank? Just for fun?

 

Same reason why USA and Russia are in the process of adopting APS as well.

Do you think that the Fagot ATGM will always hit the hull front straight on? If so, you are wrong. The ATGM will in most cases hit at a slight angle, most likely even more than a few degrees due to being a composed angle of vertical and horizontal variance. Most likely the ATGM strikes the hull slightly downwards, because the user doesn't want to risk hitting the ground or rocks/trees/bushes when firing. This would greatly increase the effective slope of the Merkava's LFP. So seeing a ~280-290 mm armor layout capable of protecting against a shaped charge with 400 mm nominal penetration (which for Soviet export weaponry in some cases wasn't reached) at unknown conditions is nothing special nor valid.

 

Regardless, it does come to prove that the Merkava's armor layout over the hull is not the simple 76mm plate followed by fuel tanks. 

You are basing your statements on the Merkava's protection on hearsay performance under unknown conditions. That is the key difference between the armor protection of the Leopard 2 and M1 Abrams, which was tested at known conditions to work equally well at the whole required frontal arc. You can see a photograph of the Abrams' hull armor being tested at 0° against a shaped charge warhead. Compared to this, your story is not verifiable.

 

The 2006, 2009, and 2014 wars as well as the 1985-2000 conflict, provide enough data on many incidents in which tanks faced ATGMs in various conditions.

Results in the 2006 war may seem grim, but if we overlook the incompetence of the entire chain of command of the ground forces at the time, cut-down acquisition, and extremely lacking training budget, the tanks HAVE shown a greater deal of survivability than previously thought.

For an engine having an engine cover that can only be lifted using a large crane seems to be another drawback. Yes, usually the engine covers are always lifted by a crane, but in case of emergency the crew can still use less potent/non-military equipment to deal with it.

 

I've never heard anyone referring to that as a problem of any sort. If the engine is damaged, you tow the tank back and get a new powerpack. You're going to need a new engine anyway, which requires a crane. If only the fuel tanks are hit, the tank will still go for a few hours before it has to stop.

In your suggested layout, the frontal armor acts as roof armor only for the engine, which frankly doesn't require the same level as protection for the crew. The turret will only protect the crew compartment, if it has a large, overhanging turret bustle (which is capable of providing enough crew protection and not just external storage boxes as most of the turret bustles of the Leopard 2A5/6/7 and the Challenger 2) and the turret is turned towards the front. Want to fight against an enemy at the side? Well, then you have to expose the crew to top-attack weapons...

 

Allocating enough roof armor for the crew is not impossible, and is now routinely done. Both the Merkava and T-14 have thick roof armor, consisting of both ERA and passive armor.

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      detailed below is the expected format of the final submission.
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      Again, incomplete designs may be submitted as they are and will be judged as seen fit.
       
      FINAL SUBMISSION:
      Vehicle Designation and name

      [insert 3-projection (front, top, side) and isometric render of vehicle here)



      Table of basic statistics:

      Parameter

      Value

      Mass, combat


       
      Length, combat (transport)


       
      Width, combat (transport)


       
      Height, combat (transport)


       
      Ground Pressure, MMP (nominal)


       
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      Estimated range


       
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      Vehicle designer’s notes: explain the thought process behind the design of the vehicle, ideas, and the development process from the designer’s point of view.

      Vehicle feature list:
      Mobility:

      1.     Link to Appendix 1- RFP spreadsheet, colored to reflect achieved performance.

      2.     Engine- type, displacement, rated power, cooling, neat features.

      3.     Transmission- type, arrangement, neat features.

      4.     Fuel- Type, volume available, stowage location, estimated range, neat features.

      5.     Other neat features in the engine bay.

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      A.    Weapons:

      1.     Link to Appendix 1- RFP spreadsheet, colored to reflect achieved performance.

      2.     Main Weapon-

      a.      Type

      b.      Caliber

      c.      ammunition types and performance (short)

      d.     Ammo stowage arrangement- numbers ready and total, features.

      e.      FCS- relevant systems, relevant sights for operating the weapon and so on.

      f.      Neat features.

      3.     Secondary weapon- Similar format to primary. Tertiary and further weapons- likewise.

      4.     Link to Appendix 3- Weapon system magic. This is where you explain how all the special tricks related to the armament that aren’t obviously available using Soviet 1961 tech work, and expand to your heart’s content on extimated performance and how these estimates were reached.

      B.    Optics:

      1.     Primary gunsight- type, associated trickery.

      2.     Likewise for any and all other optics systems installed, in no particular order.

      C.    FCS:

      1.     List of component systems, their purpose and the basic system architecture.

      2.     Link to Appendix 3- weapon system magic, if you have long explanations about the workings of the system.

      Fightability:

      1.     List vehicle features which improve its fightability and useability.

      Additonal Features:

      Feel free to list more features as you see fit, in more categories.

      Free expression zone: Let out your inner Thetan to fully impress the world with the fruit of your labor. Kindly spoiler this section if it’s very long.


       Example for filling in Appendix 1
    • By N-L-M
      Restricted: for Operating Thetan Eyes Only

      By order of Her Gracious and Serene Majesty Queen Diane Feinstein the VIII

      The Dianetic People’s Republic of California

      Anno Domini 2250

      SUBJ: RFP for new battle tank

      1.      Background.
      As part of the War of 2248 against the Perfidious Cascadians, great deficiencies were discovered in the Heavy tank DF-1. As detailed in report [REDACTED], the DF-1 was quite simply no match for the advanced weaponry developed in secret by the Cascadian entity. Likewise, the DF-1 has fared poorly in the fighting against the heretical Mormonhideen, who have developed many improvised weapons capable of defeating the armor on this vehicle, as detailed in report [REDACTED]. The Extended War on the Eastern Front has stalled for want of sufficient survivable firepower to push back the Mormon menace beyond the Colorado River south of the Vegas Crater.
      The design team responsible for the abject failure that was the DF-1 have been liquidated, which however has not solved the deficiencies of the existing vehicle in service. Therefore, a new vehicle is required, to meet the requirements of the People’s Auditory Forces to keep the dream of our lord and prophet alive.


       
      Over the past decade, the following threats have presented themselves:

      A.      The Cascadian M-2239 “Norman” MBT and M-8 light tank

      Despite being approximately the same size, these 2 vehicles seem to share no common components, not even the primary armament! Curiously, it appears that the lone 120mm SPG specimen recovered shares design features with the M-8, despite being made out of steel and not aluminum like the light tank. (based on captured specimens from the battle of Crater Lake, detailed in report [REDACTED]).
      Both tanks are armed with high velocity guns.

      B.      The Cascadian BGM-1A/1B/1C/1D ATGM

      Fitted on a limited number of tank destroyers, several attack helicopters, and (to an extent) man-portable, this missile system is the primary Cascadian anti-armor weapon other than their armored forces. Intelligence suggests that a SACLOS version (BGM-1C) is in LRIP, with rumors of a beam-riding version (BGM-1D) being developed.

      Both warheads penetrate approximately 6 cone diameters.

      C.      Deseret tandem ATR-4 series
      Inspired by the Soviet 60/105mm tandem warhead system from the late 80s, the Mormon nation has manufactured a family of 2”/4” tandem HEAT warheads, launched from expendable short-range tube launchers, dedicated AT RRs, and even used as the payload of the JS-1 MCLOS vehicle/man-portable ATGM.
      Both warheads penetrate approximately 5 cone diameters.

      D.      Cascadian HEDP 90mm rocket
      While not a particularly impressive AT weapon, being of only middling diameter and a single shaped charge, the sheer proliferation of this device has rendered it a major threat to tanks, as well as lighter vehicles. This weapon is available in large numbers in Cascadian infantry squads as “pocket artillery”, and there are reports of captured stocks being used by the Mormonhideen.
      Warhead penetrates approximately 4 cone diameters.

      E.      Deseret 40mm AC/ Cascadian 35mm AC
      These autocannon share broadly similar AP performance, and are considered a likely threat for the foreseeable future, on Deseret armored cars, Cascadian tank destroyers, and likely also future IFVs.

      F.      IEDs

      In light of the known resistance of tanks to standard 10kg anti-tank mines, both the Perfidious Cascadians and the Mormonhideen have taken to burying larger anti-tank A2AD weaponry. The Cascadians have doubled up some mines, and the Mormons have regularly buried AT mines 3, 4, and even 5 deep.

      2.      General guidelines:

      A.      Solicitation outline:
      In light of the differing requirements for the 2 theaters of war in which the new vehicle is expected to operate, proposals in the form of a field-replaceable A-kit/B-kit solution will be accepted.

      B.      Requirements definitions:
      The requirements in each field are given in 3 levels- Threshold, Objective, and Ideal.
      Threshold is the minimum requirement to be met; failure to reach this standard may greatly disadvantage any proposal.

      Objective is the threshold to be aspired to; it reflects the desires of the People’s Auditory Forces Armored Branch, which would prefer to see all of them met. At least 70% must be met, with bonus points for any more beyond that.

      Ideal specifications are the maximum of which the armored forces dare not even dream. Bonus points will be given to any design meeting or exceeding these specifications.

      C.      All proposals must accommodate the average 1.7m high Californian recruit.

      D.      The order of priorities for the DPRC is as follows:

      a.      Vehicle recoverability.

      b.      Continued fightability.

      c.       Crew survival.

      E.      Permissible weights:

      a.      No individual field-level removable or installable component may exceed 5 tons.

      b.      Despite the best efforts of the Agriculture Command, Californian recruits cannot be expected to lift weights in excess of 25 kg at any time.

      c.       Total vehicle weight must remain within MLC 120 all-up for transport.

      F.      Overall dimensions:

      a.      Length- essentially unrestricted.

      b.      Width- 4m transport width.

                                                                    i.     No more than 4 components requiring a crane may be removed to meet this requirement.

                                                                   ii.     Any removed components must be stowable on top of the vehicle.

      c.       Height- The vehicle must not exceed 3.5m in height overall.

      G.     Technology available:

      a.      Armor:
      The following armor materials are in full production and available for use. Use of a non-standard armor material requires permission from a SEA ORG judge.
      Structural materials:

                                                                    i.     RHA/CHA

      Basic steel armor, 250 BHN. The reference for all weapon penetration figures, good impact properties, fully weldable. Available in thicknesses up to 150mm (RHA) or 300mm (CHA).
      Density- 7.8 g/cm^3.

                                                                   ii.     Aluminum 5083

      More expensive to work with than RHA per weight, middling impact properties, low thermal limits. Excellent stiffness.

       Fully weldable. Available in thicknesses up to 100mm.
      Mass efficiency vs RHA of 1 vs CE, 0.9 vs KE.
      Thickness efficiency vs RHA of 0.33 vs CE, 0.3 vs KE.
      Density- 2.7 g/cm^3 (approx. 1/3 of steel).

      For structural integrity, the following guidelines are recommended:

      For light vehicles (less than 40 tons), not less than 25mm RHA/45mm Aluminum base structure

      For heavy vehicles (70 tons and above), not less than 45mm RHA/80mm Aluminum base structure.
      Intermediate values for intermediate vehicles may be chosen as seen fit.
      Non-structural passive materials:

                                                                  iii.     HHA

      Steel, approximately 500 BHN through-hardened. Approximately twice as effective as RHA against KE and HEAT on a per-weight basis. Not weldable, middling shock properties. Available in thicknesses up to 25mm.
      Density- 7.8g/cm^3.

                                                                  iv.     Glass textolite

      Mass efficiency vs RHA of 2.2 vs CE, 1.64 vs KE.

      Thickness efficiency vs RHA of 0.52 vs CE, 0.39 vs KE.
      Density- 1.85 g/cm^3 (approximately ¼ of steel).
      Non-structural.

                                                                   v.     Fused silica

      Mass efficiency vs RHA of 3.5 vs CE, 1 vs KE.

      Thickness efficiency vs RHA of 1 vs CE, 0.28 vs KE.
      Density-2.2g/cm^3 (approximately 1/3.5 of steel).
      Non-structural, requires confinement (being in a metal box) to work.

                                                                  vi.     Fuel

      Mass efficiency vs RHA of 1.3 vs CE, 1 vs KE.

      Thickness efficiency vs RHA of 0.14 vs CE, 0.1 vs KE.

      Density-0.82g/cm^3.

                                                                vii.     Assorted stowage/systems

      Mass efficiency vs RHA- 1 vs CE, 0.8 vs KE.

                                                               viii.     Spaced armor

      Requires a face of at least 25mm LOS vs CE, and at least 50mm LOS vs KE.

      Reduces penetration by a factor of 1.1 vs CE or 1.05 vs KE for every 10 cm air gap.
      Spaced armor rules only apply after any standoff surplus to the requirements of a reactive cassette.

      Reactive armor materials:

                                                                  ix.     ERA-light

      A sandwich of 3mm/3mm/3mm steel-explodium-steel.
      Requires mounting brackets of approximately 10-30% cassette weight.

      Must be spaced at least 3 sandwich thicknesses away from any other armor elements to allow full functionality. 81% coverage (edge effects).

                                                                   x.     ERA-heavy

      A sandwich of 15mm steel/3mm explodium/9mm steel.
      Requires mounting brackets of approximately 10-30% cassette weight.
      Must be spaced at least 3 sandwich thicknesses away from any other armor elements to allow full functionality. 81% coverage (edge effects).

                                                                  xi.     NERA-light

      A sandwich of 6mm steel/6mm rubber/ 6mm steel.
      Requires mounting brackets of approximately 10-30% cassette weight.
      Must be spaced at least 1 sandwich thickness away from any other armor elements to allow full functionality. 95% coverage.

                                                                 xii.     NERA-heavy

      A sandwich of 30mm steel/6m rubber/18mm steel.
      Requires mounting brackets of approximately 10-30% cassette weight.
      Must be spaced at least 1 sandwich thickness away from any other armor elements to allow full functionality. 95% coverage.

      The details of how to calculate armor effectiveness will be detailed in Appendix 1.

      b.      Firepower

                                                                    i.     2A46 equivalent tech- pressure limits, semi-combustible cases, recoil mechanisms and so on are at an equivalent level to that of the USSR in the year 1960.

                                                                   ii.     Limited APFSDS (L:D 15:1)- Spindle sabots or bourelleted sabots, see for example the Soviet BM-20 100mm APFSDS.

                                                                  iii.     Limited tungsten (no more than 100g per shot)

                                                                  iv.     Californian shaped charge technology- 5 CD penetration for high-pressure resistant HEAT, 6 CD for low pressure/ precision formed HEAT.

                                                                   v.     The general issue GPMG for the People’s Auditory Forces is the PKM. The standard HMG is the DShK.

      c.       Mobility

                                                                    i.     Engines tech level:

      1.      MB 838 (830 HP)

      2.      AVDS-1790-5A (908 HP)

      3.      Kharkov 5TD (600 HP)

                                                                   ii.     Power density should be based on the above engines. Dimensions are available online, pay attention to cooling of 1 and 3 (water cooled).

                                                                  iii.     Power output broadly scales with volume, as does weight. Trying to extract more power from the same size may come at the cost of reliability (and in the case of the 5TD, it isn’t all that reliable in the first place).

                                                                  iv.     There is nothing inherently wrong with opposed piston or 2-stroke engines if done right.

      d.      Electronics

                                                                    i.     LRFs- unavailable

                                                                   ii.     Thermals-unavailable

                                                                  iii.     I^2- limited

      3.      Operational Requirements.

      The requirements are detailed in the appended spreadsheet.

      4.      Submission protocols.

      Submission protocols and methods will be established in a follow-on post, nearer to the relevant time.
       
      Appendix 1- armor calculation
      Appendix 2- operational requirements
       
      Good luck, and may Hubbard guide your way to enlightenment!
    • By Collimatrix
      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?
       
       
    • By Sturgeon
      This is the place for flame wars about rifle-caliber MGs versus autocannons for tank coaxial weaponry. First, we have Ensign's blog post about tank machine guns:
       


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