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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 adopted by 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. Russian Army withdrawn last T-55 tanks from active service in 2016. Though despite its age this medium tank is still used by around 50 countries from all 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 welded steel armor hull and a cast turret. Front of the hull has a 60 inclination in order to increase protection. This tank is also fitted with automatic fire suppression system, that was a novelty at the 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 39-liter V-55 diesel engine, developing 520 hp. It replaced the less powerful and unreliable V-45 diesel 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 was basically a T-55AM tank, fitted with Drozd active protection system. This system was designed to provide additional protection for tanks against incoming anti-tank rockets and missiles. It was the first tank in the world to be fitted with this kind of system. Also the T-55AD had add-on composite armor. Development of this tank commenced back in 1978. Mass production of the T-55AD commenced in 1982. It entered service with the Soviet Army in 1983. A total of 258 of these tanks were built.

   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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