The T-72 is a russian made main battle tank that entered production in 1970. It is a further development of the T-62 with some features of the T-64A (upgraded version of basic T-64) and has been further developed as the T-90. The T-72 was the most common tank used by the Soviet Army from the 1970s to the collapse of the Soviet Union. It was also exported to other Warsaw Pact countries, as well as Finland, India, Iran, Iraq, Syria and Yugoslavia, as well as being copied elsewhere, both with and without licenses. The T-72A was accepted for service in June 1979 and is a further development of the T-72,
Main Variants T-72:
- T-72: original version - T-72AK: This is the commander's model of the T-72A with additional communications equipment and a total of two antennas. - T-72M: Export "Monkey model" version, similar to T-72A but with thinner armour and downgraded weapon systems. Also built in Poland and former Czech Republic - T-72M1: This is a modernised T-72M and has an additional layer of 16 mm armour plate on the glacis plate and combination armour in the turret with pelletised filler agent. There are two ribs on the upper glacis plate - T-72M1M: modernization of the T-72M1 main battle tank is to enhance its basic characteristics, including firepower, protection, mobility, controllability and reliability, as well as to approach the sophistication level of the tank of the fourth generation. - T-72AV: T-72A fitted with an explosive reactive armour array consisting of 227 boxes. - T-72B: New main gun, stabilizer, sights, and fire control, capable of firing 9M119 Svir guided missile, Super Dolly Parton armour including 20 mm (0.8 in) of appliqué armour in the front of hull, improved 840-hp (626 kW) engine. - T-72BK: Commander's model of the T-72B with additional communications equipment fitted and two antennas. - T-72S: This is the export version of the T-72B and was initially referred to as the T-72M1M. The ERA package consists of 155 boxes, with the hull and turret being identical to those of the T-72M1. There is a different selection of ammunition options for the 125 mm gun and it can fire the AT-11 `Svir' laser-guided missile. This is also referred to as the T-72S `Shilden' rocket tank for the export market. The T-72S is now being manufactured under licence in Iran. - T-72S1: Export version of the T-72B1 with 155 boxes of ERA, the hull and turret are identical to the T-72M1's. There is a different selection of ammunition options for the 125 mm gun. - T-72BM: Improved T-72B with built-in second-generation explosive reactive armour that provides protection against APFSDS and HEAT attack. The explosive reactive armour fitted to the T-72M is the Kontakt-5. It is powered by an SV-84 diesel engine developing 840 hp.
Main armament is a 125 mm (2A46) smoothbore gun fitted with a light-alloy thermal sleeve and a bore evacuator. The thermal sleeve has four removable sections, two in front and two to the rear of the bore evacuator. The 125 mm gun is stabilised in both planes. The gun stabilisation system is designated the 2Eh28M. The 125 mm gun fires three main types of separate loading ammunition, APFSDS with a maximum range of 2,100 m, HEAT-FS with a maximum direct fire range of 4,000 m and HE-FRAG(FS) with a maximum indirect fire range of 9,400 m. The T-72A is fitted with an automatic carousel loader is mounted on the turret floor and also on the rear wall of the turret. The projectile is loaded in the lower half of a carrier, the cartridge and propellant in the upper half. The carousel carries 24 ready use projectiles. When the 125 mm gun loads it must pick up the carrier and ram both the projectile and powder charge. This enables a rate of fire of 8 rds/min to be achieved but there are some doubts as to the reliability of the automatic loader. The main 125 mm armament is stabilised and enables the T-72A to shoot on the move with a high probability of a first-round hit.The T-72A carries a total of 39 rounds, 12 are APFSDS-T, 21 HE-FRAG(FS) and the remaining six HEAT-FS. The additional rounds of ammunition are stowed in racks behind the turret basket and in indentations in the rear floor fuel cell and second forward right cell near the driver. A 7.62 mm PKT machine gun is mounted coaxially to the right of the main armament and has 250 rounds of ready use ammunition and a new design 12.7 mm NSV machine gun is mounted on the commander's cupola. The 12.7 mm NSV machine gun can, however, only be used with the commander exposing the upper part of his body. Maximum sight range in the ground role is 2,000 m; maximum sight range in the anti-aircraft role is 1,500 m. Six smoke grenades discharger Type 902B 81 mm are mounted to each side at the front of the turret.
The hull of the T-72A MBT is divided into three compartments: driver's at the front, fighting in the centre and the power pack at the rear. It is believed that the turret has conventional cast armour with a maximum thickness of 280 mm, the nose is about 80 mm thick and the glacis is of a new laminate armour 200 mm thick, which when inclined gives between 500 and 600 mm of protection. Late production T-72s do, however, incorporate advanced armour protection in their turrets. The other two crew members are seated in the turret, with the gunner on the left and the commander on the right. The T-72A had a significant increase in armour protection, especially over the frontal arc of the turret.
The T-72A is powered by a V-12 piston V-46-6 multifuel air-cooled engine which develops 780 hp. The engine will run on three fuels, with the driver being provided with a dial to set the engine for the type of fuel being carried. The torsion bar suspension each side consists of six roadwheels with the idler at the front, drive sprocket at the rear and three return rollers supporting the inside of the track only. Shock-absorbers are fitted at the first, second and sixth roadwheel stations. The track of the T-72 is of the single pin type with rubber bushes and this has been back-fitted to some older T-55/T-62 MBTs. Total roadwheel travel on the T-72A is 285 mm. There are four removable spring-loaded skirt plates fitted over the forward part of the track, which are unclipped in action and spring forward at an angle of 60º from the side of the vehicle, to give a measure of protection against HEAT projectiles.
The T_72A is equipped with an TPD-K1 laser range-finder sight for improved first round hit probability, TPN-3-49 gunner's night sight, TPN-3 searchlight. A dozer blade mounted under the nose of the tank is used for clearing obstacles and preparing fire positions and, like most other Russian tanks, the T-72A can be fitted with mineclearing equipment such as the KMT-5, KMT-6 and KMT-6 M2. The dozer blade can be brought into the operating position in 1 or 2 minutes and enables the T-72A tank to prepare its own defilade position without calling on engineer support. The T-72A is provided with an NBC system and can be fitted with a snorkel for deep fording, mounted on the left side of the turret. The T-72A series takes about 20 minutes to prepare for amphibious use and is ready for action within 2 minutes of leaving the water. With the snorkel, the T-72A can cross a river up to 5 m deep. Two 200 litre diesel fuel drums can be mounted at the rear of the hull to increase operational range.
One 125 mm 2A46 smoothbore gun, one 7.62 mm PKT machine gun, one 12.7 mm NSVT machine gun, 12 smike-grenades discharger
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