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T-55

Medium tank

T-55

The T-55 tank is still in service with about 50 countries around the world

 
 
Country of origin Soviet Union
Entered service 1958
Crew 4 men
Dimensions and weight
Weight 36.0 - 36.5 t
Length (gun forward) 9 m
Hull length 6 m
Width 3.27 m
Height 2.4 m
Armament
Main gun 100-mm rifled
Machine guns 1 x 12.7-mm, 2 x 7.62-mm
Elevation range - 6 to + 16 degrees
Traverse range 360 degrees
Ammunition load
Main gun 43 rounds
Machine guns 200 x 12.7-mm, 3 500 x 7.62-mm
Mobility
Engine V-55 diesel
Engine power 520 hp
Maximum road speed 48 - 50 km/h
Range 400 km
Maneuverability
Gradient 60%
Side slope 30%
Vertical step 0.8 m
Trench 2.85 m
Fording 1.4 m
Fording (with preparation) 5 m

 

   The T-55 medium tank is a further development of the T-54B. It has some improvements over its predecessor that are hard to notice externally, but these improvements made the tank more efficient and lethal. The T-55 was officially accepted to service with the Soviet Army in 1958. Its production commenced during the same year. This tank was license-produced in China, Czechoslovakia and Poland. It is estimated that around 70 000 T-54 and T-55 tanks were produced in the Soviet Union, Czechoslovakia and Poland. This figure does not include tanks produced in China. Since its introduction the T-55 has seen combat in more than 20 wars. Despite its age this medium tank is still used by about 50 countries around the world.

   Both the T-54 and T-55 were heavily influenced by the Soviet experience gained during the WW2. The T-55 was the first Soviet tank, fitted with an efficient NBC protection system. At the time it was the only tank in the world, capable of fighting after a nearby nuclear explosion.

   This tank has a weldes steel armor hull and a cast turret. Front of the hull has a 60 inclination angle. This tank is also fitted with automatic fire suppression system, that was a novelty at that time. The T-55 can launch its smoke screen by injecting diesel fuel into exhaust.

   The T-55 is fitted with a fully-stabilized 100-mm gun. It can fire accurately on the move. At a speed of 12 km/h the tank has a first round hit probability of about 60%. A total of 43 rounds are carried. The previous T-54 carries only 34 rounds.

   On initial production tanks the roof-mounted 12.7-mm machine gun of the T-54 was removed, because it was ineffective against jet aircraft. In the late 1950s combat helicopters were still under development. The 12.7-mm machine gun was fitted back only in 1970.

   This tank is operated by a crew of four, including commander, gunner, loader and driver.

   This tank is powered by a V-55 diesel engine, developing 520 hp. It replaced the less powerful and unreliable V-45 engine of the T-54. Maximum road speed is about 50 km/h. Cross-country speed is about 25 km/h. Maximum range on fuel, including external tanks, is up to 530 km. The T-55 can be fitted with a deep wading kit and ford water obstacles up to 5 m deep.

   Since its introduction the T-55 was constantly upgraded. Various countries offer a number of upgrade programmes for this ageing tank. However even updated T-55 tanks are no match for modern MBTs.

 

Variants

 

   T-55K command tank. It entered service in 1959.

   T-55A improved version with anti-radiation liner. Its production commenced in 1963 and ceased in 1977. Since 1970 this tank was fitted with a 12.7-mm roof-mounted machine gun.

   T-55AM upgraded version of the T-55A. It is fitted with add-on composite armor and rubber side skirts. The gun is fitted with a thermal sleeve. It entered service in 1983.

   T-55AM-1 upgraded version of the T-55AM, powered by a V-46-5M diesel engine, developing 690 hp.

   T-55AD, fitted with Drozd active protection system. It also has add-on armor. It entered service in 1983.

   T-55AD-1 fitted wit a V-46-5M diesel engine, developing 690 hp.

   T-55AMV fitted with add-on explosive reactive armor and new fire control system. It is capable of launching anti-tank guided missiles in the same manner as ordinary projectiles. The missile has a range of 4 000 m at daytime and 1 200 m at night. It penetrates 550 mm of rolled homogenous armor. It entered service in 1985.

   T-55M upgraded version fitted with add-on composite armor and rubber side skirts. The gun is fitted with a thermal sleeve. This tank entered service in 1983.

   T-55M-1 it is a further upgrade of the T-55M, powered by a V-46-5M diesel engine, developing 690 hp. This tank is also fitted with ballistic computer.

   T-55MV, it has improved protection and firepower. It is fitted with add-on explosive reactive armor and improved fire control system. It is capable of launching anti-tank guided missiles in the same manner as ordinary projectiles. The T-55MV entered service in 1985.

   T-55MV-1 fitted with a V-46-5M diesel.

   T-62A, an improved T-55 with a stretched chassis, new suspension, new turret. It was armed with a 100-mm gun with improved ballistics. First prototypes were built in 1958 and it was accepted to service in 1962. Only a small number of these tanks were built for experimental service. However it was a forerunner of the T-62 medium tank, that was produced in thousands.

   TO-55 flamethrower tank. Coaxial machine gun has been replaced with a flame thrower.

   BTS-2 and BTS-3 armored recovery vehicles.

   IMR armored engineer vehicle.

   MTU-20 and MTU-55 armored bridgelayers.

   BTR-T is a heavy armored personnel carrier. It was first publicly revealed in 1997. It was converted from obsolete T-55 medium tank. The turret has been removed in order to create a compartment for dismounts. A number of other modifications were made to the vehicle. This armored vehicle has a crew of 2 and accommodates 5 dismounts. The BTR-T received no production orders.

 

Some of the foreign variants

 

   Ti-67, Israeli version, fitted with American M68 105-mm rifled gun. It is also fitted with Israeli fire control system, new engine and transmission and Blazer explosive reactive armor. About 200 T-54/55 tanks, that were captured from Egyptian and Syrian forces, were upgraded to this standard.

   T-54E Ramzes II, a proposed upgrade of Egyptian T-54/55 tanks. It is fitted with American M68 105-mm rifled gun, Belgian fire control system, and American Continental AVDS-1790-5A engine.

   T-55 Enigma, upgraded Iraqi version, fitted with composite add-on armor. Add-on armor weights a total of 4.6 t, so a counterweight was mounted at the turret rear. This tank also has improved night vision devices.

   TR-580 a Romanian version of the T-55 with a longer hull. An extra road wheel on each side has been added. It is fitted with a different engine. This tank is fitted with metal side skirts.

 

 
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