Tank T-55: characteristics, device, operation

The T-55 is a Soviet model of a light tank, based on the T-54 version. He became the world's first serial tank equipped with a system of anti-nuclear protection and the first combat, equipped with an active protection complex "Thrush". The T-55 tank and its modifications are still in service with many countries of the world. This and many other things will be discussed in this article.

T-55 tank

Prerequisites for creating

In the early 60s of the last century in the Soviet Union, during testing of nuclear weapons, the impact of the damaging factors of atomic explosions on various types of military equipment was repeatedly tested. In the course of repeated tests, it was proved that a tank can substantially weaken the effect of a shock wave and incident radiation, and also fully protect the crew from light radiation. But there were some nuances. Even at a considerable distance from the epicenter of a nuclear explosion, the T-54 tower, locked in the stowed position, turned 90 degrees.The stopper of the tower at the same time broke straight teeth and brought the tank into complete non-capacity.

At a distance of 300 meters from the epicenter of an explosion with a capacity of up to 15 kilotons, the T-54 failed. At long distances, it remained intact, but the experimental animals used during the tests instead of the crew members died even at a distance of up to 700 meters from the explosion point. So the question arose about the need to create an automatic system that provides anti-nuclear protection. Soon, Soviet designers developed such a system, but to install it on the T-54, it was necessary to radically modernize it. The tank design bureau, based on plant number 183, has already been developed to significantly improve the combat and technical characteristics of the tank. As a result, it was decided to introduce all the innovations at the same time and to formalize this work not as a revision of the T-54 model, but as the creation of a fundamentally new combat vehicle. So there was a tank T-55, whose photos will be recognized all over the world. The machine was adopted at the end of May 1958.


Compared with the T-54B version, the appearance, layout, and design of the T-55 tank have not changed. Ammunition guns increased to 43 shots, and machine guns - up to 3,500 rounds of ammunition.The engine of the T-55 developed a power of 580 liters. from. Planetary transmissions were introduced. Tank T-55 reached a speed of 50 km / h. The volume of the fuel system increased to 960 liters, and the power reserve increased to 500 km. The power supply system was equipped with shelving units. The tank was equipped with an automatic fire-fighting equipment, a PAZ system, and instead of smoke bombs - a multi-effect thermo-smoke equipment. Were applied: modernized night vision devices, mobile driving equipment and gyropolucompass model GPC-48. The air compressor provided the main engine start with air. The term of the warranty service of the car was increased to 2 thousand kilometers, while the predecessor had it twice as short.

Tank T-55: photo

Since 1960, the T-55 tank, whose characteristics have been refined more than once, began to equip the GPK-59 with a gyropolupass and a TS-2B-32P sight. In 1970, a DShK machine gun was installed on the machine, and in 1974 the KDT-1 laser rangefinder was installed. In addition to acquisitions, there were some losses, compared with the T-44 model. In particular, the anti-aircraft machine gun caliber 12.7 had to be removed. He showed poorly in the battle with low-flying jet aircraft, and there were no combat helicopters at that time.But since 1970, the T-55 was again equipped with a DShKM anti-aircraft large-caliber machine gun.

Tank T-55: modifications

Soon, in the arsenal of the NATO countries, new tanks appeared, possessing improved characteristics of security and combat power. Soviet tank builders were forced to upgrade the T-55 tank. Modernization first took place in 1961. As a result, a version of the T-55A. It differed from the baseline by better protection performance. In addition, for a tank gun 100 mm caliber developed advanced armor-piercing shells.

In 1983, based on the combat experience gained during the war in Afghanistan, the model of the T-55 tank underwent a deep modernization. Thus, versions of the tank with additional M and AM indexes were born. At the cost of moderate costs, the designers were able to improve the effectiveness of the tank in battle. The main attention was paid to enhancing the security of the tank and its firepower. In this case, the fundamental point was the preservation of the former mobility of the machine. Model T-55M received a complex of guided weapons "Bastion". It consisted of a ZUBK10-1 shot and instruments for control: a 1K13 sight-guidance instrument, a transducer, a control unit, and an electronic unit. All the organs of the weapons control complex were mounted inside the T-55 tank.In terms of its size, the ZUBK10-1 shot was standard and fit into any unified combat pack. The mechanical device gave the rocket 400-500 m / s initial speed, which was maintained during the flight due to the marching propulsion system. A semi-automatic guidance system with high accuracy and noise immunity was used to control the missiles. Another advantage of this system was the small volume and the ability to easily accommodate in the fighting compartment.

The sight of the TShSM-32PV model, which was equipped with the upgraded T-55 tank, differed from the standard version of the base version with the function of independent vertical field stabilization of the field of view. In addition, the modernized machine was equipped with a heat shield of the gun, which eliminated the effect of uneven heating of the gun on the bend of the barrel.

Since the combat mass of the T-55 AM version began to exceed the mass of the base model, in order to preserve the dynamic performance of the vehicle, the V-55U engine was installed on it, developing a power of 620 horsepower. To make the course of the tank smoother, the designers increased the dynamic course of the road wheels.For this purpose torsion shafts made by the new technology were applied.

Tank T-55: modifications


Additional booking of the turret and the hull provided the tank with increased security. Additional protection of the hull was a welded box-shaped structure made of armor 30-mm sheets. Inside it, with a gap of 30 mm, 5 mm plates were stirred. The cavities between them were filled with polyurethane foam. The design was welded to the upper front sheet outside.

Additional protection of the front of the tower was carried out from two blocks located on the right and left of the embrasure. These units have the same level of protection and reservation scheme as the upper frontal section of the tank. As for the sides of the machine, they were protected by anti-cumulative rubber-fabric screens located along its entire length. Crew members were relied on individual vests with anti-radiation functions. The tankers' jobs had additional local radiation protection. Model T-55 tank also received protection from napalm.

For even the additional coverage of the bottom with armor, the anti-nuclear protection for the driver was increased.A frame of 20 mm thick armor plates was welded to the bottom outside. For the driver, on the right side, between the bottom and the roof, pillers were installed.

To increase the masking level of the tank, the 902B smoke grenade launch system was used. It consisted of eight launchers, located on the right side of the tower. The system could work equally well with smoke and aerosol grenades.


Later, on the basis of the T-55 version, the T-55AD tank was developed and put into mass production, which became the first tank in the world equipped with active defense. The Drozd complex consisted of two millimeter-wave radar stations, control equipment and four units with a pair of 107-mm protective shells.

In 1988, with the adoption by the tank forces of the USSR mounted dynamic protection, it began to be used on modernized models of the T-55, which were called the T-55MV and T-55AMV. The introduction of these measures greatly increased the resistance of combat vehicles to defeat by combat cumulative ammunition. Moreover, some modernized tanks of the T-55 family were equipped with the V-46-5M engine, whose power was 780 liters. from. These models received at the end of the name the index "M-1", for example, T-55M-1.

Tank T-55: technical specifications

International production

In addition to the USSR, the T-55 tank in various modifications was produced under license in Czechoslovakia and Poland. In these countries, and later in a number of others: Iraq, Israel, Egypt, Romania and Finland, carried out a deep modernization of combat vehicles. Improvements touched firepower, security and dynamism of tanks. In a slightly modified version, the tank was also produced in China. Let's briefly analyze the most significant foreign models.


The Czechoslovak modification, which differs from the basic model of a new fire control system, as well as a system for detecting the irradiation of a machine with a laser sight. Following it, a version of the T-55AM2 appeared, which received more significant improvements: additional armor, airborne anti-cumulative screens, laser lights, a 620-horsepower engine, smoke grenades, a reinforced chassis and a modernized fuel system.

T-55AM Merida

Polish version of the tank, equipped with: additional armor, airborne protivocumulative screens, steel sheets to protect the fuel tanks, tracked tape RVS, Merida fire control system, smoke grenade launchers, X-ray meter, equipment for disinfection of the machine, as well as a system for detecting the tank's irradiation with a laser sight.The Merida system was equipped with: a laser range finder, a night sight, an atmosphere sensor and a ballistic computer.


Ukrainian version of the Soviet tank. The mass of the car was increased to 48 tons. It was equipped with two engines: 850 and 1050 horsepower. Thanks to such powerful engines, the tank could reach speeds of 75 km / h on the highway, and 55 km / h on the roads. In this case, in reverse, it accelerated to 30 km / h. The crew of the upgraded version decreased from 4 to 3 people, due to the installation of automatic charging. Ammunition of the main gun was 31 shot. In addition, Ukrainian engineers improved the undercarriage, installed an automated propulsion control system, enhanced passive protection, equipped the tank with a modern closed fire control system and anti-aircraft installation.

Tank T-55: modernization


Slovenian version of the tank. It was equipped with: Israeli mounted dynamic protection "Blayzer", rubber-fabric anti-cumulative screens, 105-millimeter gun, modular turret with a DShK machine gun on the tower, a new fire control system with an integrated ballistic computer, a commander surveillance system,a laser range finder, a gunner's sight with a sensor of atmospheric parameters and a two-plane stabilizer, a driver's periscope, as well as a pair of six-barrel smoke grenade launchers. Motor power has been increased to 600 horsepower. Tracked tape was able to equip removable asphalt shoes.


Israeli-Slovenian refinement of Vietnamese tanks. The tank received an Israeli mounted dynamic protection "Blazer"; anti-cumulative rezinotkanevy screens on the forehead of the case and a tower covered with steel screens; gun M68 caliber 105 mm; grenade launcher caliber 60 mm; new fire control system; commander surveillance system; periscope for the driver; two smoke grenade launchers.

T-55 (tank): combat use

Tanks of this family more than once emerged victorious in battles with NATO vehicles in different parts of the world. Often, the T-55 tank, a photo of which can be found in military publications in different countries, opposed more modern machines. Nevertheless, with a good level of crew training, Soviet tanks offered decent resistance.

Most of these combat vehicles were used in the Arab-Israeli, Iranian-Iraqi, Afghani, Yugoslav confrontations, as well as in the operation "Desert Storm". In these battles, the Soviet tank had to fight with the American Ambrams (M60A1, M60A3 and M1A1), the British Centurions (Mk10, Mk13) and Chieftainers, as well as the Israeli Mervavs. Tankers who participated in these wars, mostly positive feedback about the work of the T-55.

Tank T-55: characteristics

For example, Captain Mohammed, a member of the Arab-Israeli confrontation, the former commander of the Egyptian tank brigade, answered the question about armored vehicles he had encountered during the war, “If I had to fight on British or American tanks, and not on the T-55, now I would not stand before you. " According to the captain, all the losses of tanks from the Egyptians were due to the low qualifications of crews and commanders who simply did not know how to competently use equipment. When the M60A1 and Centurions were faced with experts on the T-55, the first had to retreat.

On the battlefield of the Iran-Iraq war, the Iraqi fighters on the T-55 successfully opposed the English "Chiefs".In Operation Desert Storm, the struggle of Iraqi T-55s with new American tanks on the Abram was unequal. Nevertheless, the American tankers participating in this operation admitted in subsequent interviews that in most cases, when they discovered Iraqi tankers, they tried not to engage in direct combat with them. To destroy the T-55 Americans resorted to artillery fire or army aviation. In extreme cases, they bypassed the enemy from the side and attacked with anti-tank systems from a range in which the return fire of the T-55 was ineffective. The statistics of the defeats of Iraqi tanks confirms these data - 75% of the losses were on rear and side projections. Such indicators were not in the history of previous wars, in which tanks were massively used.

The operation of the T-55 tank in the Yugoslav battles began in the fall of 1991. Despite the fact that at that time these machines were considered obsolete, they showed themselves well on the battlefield. Crews compensated for the weakness of the onboard armor protection, by hanging simple sandbags on the hulls and towers. Often this simple measure affected the outcome of the battle.For example, the medium tank t-55 under the name MARINA, protected by sacks, once withstood two ATGMs. Moreover, after this, the tank crew neutralized two enemy armored cars, a truck and a tank.

To date, the T-55 tank, the characteristics of which we have reviewed, is widely used in Afghanistan. Despite the fact that more than two decades have passed since the delivery of Soviet tanks to Afghanistan, they are still in service and are actively used on the battlefield. This is despite the fact that since the combat vehicles entered the country, no spare parts were supplied to them, and there was no quality service and maintenance work. Afghan tankers unanimously assert that the T-55 tank, whose technical characteristics were always on top, is the best in its class.

Operation tank T-55

Thanks to the powerful rifled tank gun, it can be used in mountainous terrain to attack both direct fire and from closed positions. In this case, the firing range of this machine is a little over 15 kilometers. The high level of security and accuracy of fire from all types of weapons made the tank one of the most effective means of defeating the fortified firing positions of the Taliban in the mountains.

Tank T-55 is a legendary machine.The best confirmation of this is the enthusiastic reviews of the military and a huge number of upgrades that he experienced.

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