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Russia sends old T-54 / T-55 tanks to Ukraine to replace loss of modern tanks

According to a video published on Russian social networks Telegram and VK on March 22, 2023, several old Soviet-made T-54 Main Battle Tanks (MBTs) have been spotted at a railway station arriving from Russia's Far East. Citing open-source information, Russia plans to send T-54 and T-55 tanks to the frontline to replace modern MBTs that were destroyed or damaged.
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It appears that the Russian army is sending old T-54 tanks to the Ukrainian front. (Picture source; screenshot from Video Telegram)

According to our information, before the war in Ukraine, the Russian Army had approximately 13,000 tanks including 2.850 operational tanks, 650 T-72B/BA, 850 T-72B3, 530 T-72B3M, 310 T-80BV/U, 140 T-80BVM, 350 T-90/T-90A an undisclosed number of T-90M as well as more than 10,200 tanks in store including T-4/T-55, T-62, T-72, T-72A/B, T-80B/BV/U, and T-90.

Citing open source information, the Russian army will have already lost more than 1,850 tanks that were destroyed, damaged, abandoned or captured. With the conflict in Ukraine, the Russian army would now have only 1/3 of modern operational tanks available. With these significant losses of battle tanks, the Russian Minister of Defense finds himself forced to put older generation tanks, such as the T-54 and T-55, back into service.

There is a large number of T-54 and T-55 tanks available in Russian armed forces storage or held as reserves, which can be quickly deployed if necessary. The tank has a relatively simple design and construction, which can make maintenance and repair easier in some cases.

The T-54/T-55 tanks can be used in conjunction with other types of units, such as infantry, artillery, and air support, to increase its effectiveness on the battlefield. By working together, these combined arms teams can help compensate for the T-54's limitations and create a more potent fighting force.

The T-54/T-55 can be used effectively in asymmetric warfare scenarios, such as guerrilla warfare or urban combat, where its limitations may be less apparent. In these environments, the T-54 can provide valuable fire support for infantry and serve as a mobile defensive platform.

Using the T-54/T-55 in defensive roles, such as static fortifications or ambush tactics, can help maximize its survivability and firepower. By leveraging the tank's armor and firepower in well-prepared defensive positions, the T-54/T-55 can still pose a threat to more modern adversaries.

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Russian T-55 Main Battle Tank. (Picture source Vitaly Kuzmin)

The T-54 tank, while outdated compared to modern main battle tanks, still possesses some combat capabilities that can be utilized on the battlefield. The tank is equipped with a 100mm D-10T rifled gun, which is capable of firing armor-piercing, high-explosive, and high-explosive anti-tank rounds. Although this gun is not as powerful as modern tank cannons, it can still pose a threat to lighter armored vehicles and infantry.

The T-54 features a cast steel armor hull and turret, which provides some protection against small arms fire and artillery fragments. However, it is vulnerable to modern anti-tank guided missiles (ATGMs) and tank rounds. Some T-54 tanks have been upgraded with reactive armor to improve their protection against shaped-charge warheads.

Powered by a V-54 12-cylinder diesel engine, the T-54 has a top speed of around 48 km/h (30 mph) on roads and a range of approximately 500 km (310 miles). Its mobility is inferior to modern tanks but still allows for tactical movement on the battlefield.

The T-54 tank is a Soviet main battle tank that was introduced in the late 1940s. It was designed to replace the T-34, the Soviet Union's workhorse during World War II. The T-54 was produced in numerous versions over its production life, with incremental improvements being made to its design, armor, and armament.

The latest variants include the T-54A which was upgraded with the addition of a new stabilization system for the 100mm D-10TG gun, allowing for more accurate firing while on the move. It also featured a new V-54 engine and an improved driver's hatch design.

The T-54B received further improvements, including an upgraded gun stabilization system, night vision equipment, and an infrared searchlight for nighttime operations.

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Russian Т-54-2 mod.1949 MBT Main Battle Tank. (Picture source Vitaly Kuzmin)

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