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The Preliminary T-72ology Thread


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Soviet designers played with idea of using space between engine and turret compartment as protected ammorack. In fact Object 477/490 prototypes had version with 36-40 round mechanized ammorack between 6TD engine and turret, in addition to 8 round protected autoloader in turret. In case of T-72 storing non-autoloader ammunition anywhere outside is much better choice that storing it in fueltanks-ammoracks.

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


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


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


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


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





The stuff is atleast on the "floor" besides,if you get that far in any modern tank with a HEAT or APDS round the crew will be left dead or in no condition to fight, so the ammunition safety is an afterthought

Hell. its better than the Leopard 2s, which keeps it left center on the assumption that any round making it past the front armor will kill the crew reguardless 

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Thanks to all who replied.


I will chase up pics of the Burlac turret.


My interest was sparked by considering the T-90MS and what a very neat design it was.  Good firepower (including the gun control and fire control systems), good protection and good mobility - and still within the Class 50 bridge classification.  Your Engineers will like you and it does wonders for operational and strategic mobility.  It also has a complete family of support vehicle, recovery, engineer and the BMPT for long range anti-tank defence plus getting attack helicopters to worry about something other than shooting respectable tankies. 


The family, or lack thereof, is a weakness in M-1.  The Americans may be able to run a fleet of M-88s, as theirs must be quite large.  For other armies, trying to run M-1 and a small orphan fleet of M-88s is difficult.  Leopard 2 has a family of support vehicles, but is Class 80 and without access to classified material, there is a lingering doubt about protection levels(??)


The other strengths of Russian design are the families of mobile artillery and air defence.  By the way, Tied, should you move on to being behind 20 Pantsirs, or at least Tunguskas?  They really would take aviators minds off sex.


I am still exploring the Russian/Soviet approach to AFV technology, which is why I think this site is so useful.   And helpful - thanks again, guys.




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I'm not entirely clear on why you couldn't have an autoloader with ammo under the turret basket that has blowout panels.


In any case, I don't think the turret detachment syndrome usually seen in T-72s is caused by the ammo in the autoloader, not most of the time.  It's very low and not really that likely to get hit, and the turret floor that the gunner and commander are on is spall-proof IIRC.  I think it's from the extra rounds they store in the turret.  If those were in spall-proof liners, ala merkava, that would go a long way in mitigating the problem.

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First turret is Proriv-2 (T-90M turret) and second one is Burlak.


Burlak had a turret bustle autoloader with blow out panels. Bustle sides were covered by active protection system, possibly a previous itteration of Afganit/Shtandart.


Prototype of the Burlak turret on T-72 chassis, AFAIK.


If you google T-72 Burlak turret, you can fimd more photos.

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  • 2 weeks later...
  • 3 weeks later...

Ported from AW forums:



It's generally thought that the export variants of the T-72 Main battle tank are actually monkey models, or dumbed down in one way or the other, however this is only partially true. The only one that can be considered a true monkey is the T-72M, which featured a T-72 model turret, T-72 model suspension, while being based off the T-72A. Generally, however, the export models are newer than the actual variant. For example, T-72 is from 1971, while the export model is from 1975. Like wise, the T-72A is from 1979, yet, the T-72M1 was produced in 1982. It should be worth noting that in 1982.
Now, without further talk, lets explore the variants!
- Object 172M-E/E1 "T-72 Export"
This tank is the T-72 Ural Obr. 1975 offered for export. The Objekt 172M-E is for Warsaw Pact countries, while the Objekt 172M-E1 is for third world countries/any country outside the Warsaw Pact. It's a literal copy of the T-72 Ural obr. 1975. This tank is pictured above, in a parade in East Germany, identified as the "Gerät 172M", this tank was unveiled to the public in 1979, in that parade. The primary difference between the E and E1 is the NBC system. 
- Object 172M-E3/E4 "T-72M"

This tank is the T-72A obr. 1979, however it comes with several limitations. The primary difference is the turret. Unlike the T-72A, the T-72M has the turret's cavity filled with sand instead of the traditional multi layer armor mounted on the T-72A. Like the T-72 Export, the T-72M comes in 2 versions; Object 172M-E3 and Object 172M-E4, the E3 is offered for Warsaw Pact countries, and the E4 is for the rest of the world. It should be worth mentioning that the turret is also the Cast turret mounted on the T-72 Ural, not the composite turret mounted on the T-72A. It also has the old commander sight of the T-72, and not the upgraded one on the T-72A. Furthermore, it features the old suspension of the T-72 Ural, not the T-72A's upgraded suspension. The T-72M was offered and produced in 1980. The Object 172M-E4 has the same NBC protection as the Object 172M-E1.
- Object 172M-E5/E6 "T-72M1"

This tank is the same as the T-72M, however it features the upgraded suspension, turret and commander sight of the T-72A. It also comes with additional armor bolted on the Upper Frontal Plate of the tank. The T-72M1 was offered and produced in 1982. Like the T-72M and T-72 Export, it features 2 variants. The E5 for the Pact, the E6 for the rest of the world. The E6 has the same NBC protection as the Object 172M-E1.
- Object 172M-E7 "T-72S" 
This tank is an upgrade over the T-72M1, and features the latest technology available. The 1A40 FCS, the Kontakt-V Reactive armor, and so on. However, such technology does not come cheap -- Indeed, the Object 172M-E7 did not find any customers due to a very high price tag. The Object 172M-E7 was offered for export and produced in the late 80s. 
- Object 172M-E8 "T-72S"

The high price tag of the Object 172M-E7 led to development of a tank produced for export utilizing older and cheaper technology. The tank features Kontakt ERA, the 1A40 FCS and a specialized night sight made to specially fire laser guided ATGMs. This tank was produced and offered in 1987. It is similar to the older early T-72B. It is NOT identical to the T-72B obr. 1988. It looks similar to the T-72B obr. 1987, however. I am not sure which B model it is based on. However, oddly enough, in Iraq, after the war, one example was found in Iraq. 
One important detail: The E7 and E8 were merged together at one point. The tank found in Iraq was designated E7, however it had the properties of the E8.
@Iraqi T-72S: A Marines friend who served in Iraq told me that they found a T-72S with the laser targetting and the new sights and the new FCS, which means that it could fire ATGMs, however they found no ATGMs with the tank. Whether the tank itself fired any ATGMs or not, nobody knows. Yet.
- Object 172M-E9 "T-72S1"
For users who are too poor to purchase the normal T-72S, this tank, like the T-72B1 was produced. It uses a cheaper night and day sight. As a consequence it cannot fire ATGMs. It is identical to the T-72S in everything but the inability to fire ATGMs. Visually, it's identical to the T-72S.
It should be worth noting that unlike the previous export models, the Object 172M-E9, E8 and E7 do not have different versions for Warsaw Pact/other nations. It's only one version.
This tank was exported to Iran (along with the E8) after the collapse of the USSR.
Notice on the Object 172M-E7, E8, E9: Western and Russian sources conflict here. Western sources mention nothing on the E7 being advanced, and mentions it as the E8, but for Warsaw Pact, while the E8 is for the rest of the world. I decided to rely on Kampfpanzer.de for these 3 tanks, instead of the Western sources, since I cannot read Russian well and that site uses Russian sources.
Pictures also taken from Kampfpanzer.de.
That's all for now. It should be worth noting that this only covers Soviet era export T-72s. The Russian era export T-72s are different, and in 2013, an upgrade called "T-72M1mod" was offered to modernize the T-72M/M1 to modern standards. I may cover export T-90s and modern T-72s later.
Please point out any mistakes.
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  • 2 weeks later...

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


This is an old post but do you know what is it? Imo it looks suspiciously close to the T-64R, which were T-64s upgraded to A standard, but not fully. 

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This is an old post but do you know what is it? Imo it looks suspiciously close to the T-64R, which were T-64s upgraded to A standard, but not fully. 

That picture came out of an US Armor school book on Main Battle Tanks published in 1973.  As far as I can tell, that picture was one of the first the west got of early model T-64s, which they for some reason called T-70's.  The notion that there was a tank called the T-70 persisted for a while.  In fact, there is an amusing series of letters in ARMOR magazine between Steven Zaloga and a young Jim Warford arguing about it.  I have to run off to work, but when I get home I'll look it up.  

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  • 1 month later...

I suspect, but do not know for a fact that the T-64 has a more complex transmission than the T-72.  It's hard to find good information about something as arcane as tracklayer transmissions of Soviet vehicles in anything approaching English technical idiom.


Xlucine spoke to an old DDR tanker who said that the T-72 had some sort of geared steering, and a syncromesh gearbox with 7 forward gears.


The Swedish reports on the T-80 say that it had one turn radius per forward gear, which means it had double or triple differential steering.  Fofanov's site mentions a multiple-radius hydrostatic pump packaged with the improved GTD-1250 turbine, which means it's a double differential.


If the T-80's transmission is based on the T-64's, that would mean that the T-64 has the more sophisticated (but complex) steering system.  It sounds like the propulsive gears were comparable, however.

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