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T-72A


Second generation T-72 tank


Overview


T-72A

A Soviet T-72A on the move with crew hatches open.
Source: www.defencetalk.com - © copyright lies with original owner

Origin
Soviet Union
Type
Main battle tank
Entered service
1979
Status
In service
Development
Mid 1970's
Developer
Soviet Union
Production
1978 - Mid 1980's
Producer
Soviet Union - UVZ
Soviet Union - ChTZ
Number produced
Over 10.000
Designations
Obyekt 172M-1 (GABTU index for T-72A)
Notable users
Soviet Union

Description


Introduction

The T-72A is a late Cold War era main battle tank of Soviet origin. Introduced in 1979, the T-72A is the first major production variant. Whereas the early T-72 Ural had only 600 production vehicles, there were over 10.000 T-72A produced. The T-72A cemented the iconic image of the T-72 tank.

Design

The T-72A is a further development of the T-72 Ural. At a glance both vehicles look similar, but the T-72A has many updates that remedy various minor issues. These include improved frontal armor, the new 2A46 main gun, better optics and fire control and smoke grenade launchers. Variants include the T-72AK command tank, T-72M export model (described separately) and T-72AV with added Kontakt-1 ERA.

Firepower

The T-72A is armed with the 125mm 2A46 smoothbore cannon connected to an autoloader. Over 30 two piece rounds are carried, of these 22 are in the autoloader. APFSDS, HEAT and HE-Frag ammunition is carried. The T-72A does not yet have the capability to launch anti-tank guided missiles. Accuracy over the first generation T-72 is improved by improved fire controls and addition of a laser range finder. A 7.62mm PKT coaxial machine gun and 12.7mm NSVT heavy machine gun are fitted as well.

Protection

The T-72A has improved armor over the earlier T-72 Ural. A 17mm armored plate is added to the glacis plate. The frontal turret armor is improved by adding laminate armor to the cast turret. This was nicknamed "Dolly Parton" armor in the West. New rubber skirts replaced the "shark gill" metal armor plates of the T-72 Ural. From 1984 onward additional neutron absorbing layers were added to the turret. Survivability is increased by adding a row of smoke grenade dischargers on each side of the main gun.

Mobility

The T-72A has good mobility on roads and in the field. The T-72A retains the 780 hp V-46 diesel engine. The weight is slightly increased but does not seriously affect the mobility. Compared to lighter armored Western tanks such as the German Leopard 1 and French AMX-30 the T-72A has a lower top speed, but not that much lower speed in the field. The T-72A can ford water, but also cross river up to 5 m deep by using a snorkel kit.

Users

The T-72A was used in large numbers by Soviet forces. During the Cold War the T-72 was one of the major main battle tanks of the Soviet Union. At the same time the Soviet Union employed the T-64 and T-80 tanks as its premium main battle tank. Soviet produced T-72A were hardly exported during the Cold War, the T-72M and M1 export models were produced in the Warsaw Pact. Since the 1990's batches of T-72A have been exported by Russian and other former Soviet nations have been sold, mainly to customers in the Middle East and Africa.

Variants


T-72A obr 1984

Former Soviet Union T-72A obr 1984 main battle tank on public display in 2017.
Source: Alan Wilson - © CC BY-SA 2.0

List of T-72A variants

T-72A obr 1979
First and main production model of the T-72A. This is the most common production model of the T-72A with at least 7.000 produced in the USSR.
T-72A obr 1984
Late production model with anti-radiation lining on the turret. Produced briefly before Soviet production switched to the T-72B.
T-72AK
Command tank based on the T-72A. Comes in three different configurations depending on where in the hierarchy it is to be used.
T-72AV
Update of existing tanks by adding large amount of Kontakt-1 ERA bricks during refit since the late 1980's. The T-72AV is easily distinguished from the T-72BV by having the frontal ERA in a forward facing V-shape on the turret front. On the T-72BV the ERA is placed flat on the turret front.

Details


Facts T-72A (obr 1979)
General
Origin
Soviet Union
Type
Main battle tank
Crew
3 (commander, driver, gunner)
Dimensions
Weight
41.5 t combat load
Length
9.53 m gun forward
6.86 m hull
Width
3.60 m over skirts
Height
2.19 m
Main armament
Type
125mm 2A46 smoothbore gun
Mount
Main gun in turret
Ammunition
44 shells, 22 in autoloader
Elevation
-6° to +13°, powered
Traverse
360°, powered
Rate of fire
7 to 8 rpm
Stabilizer
Yes, 2E42-2 two plane stabilizer
Coaxial armament
Type
7.62mm PKT machine gun
Mount
Coaxial with main armament
Ammunition
2.000 rounds, 250 ready to fire
Traverse
Traverse and elevation as main armament
Stabilizer
Yes, both axis
Secondary armament
Type
12.7mm NSVT heavy machine gun
Mount
Commander's cupola
Ammunition
300 rounds, 50 ready to fire
Stabilizer
No
Sight
K10-T collimator sight
Chassis
Chassis type
Tracked chassis, 6 roadwheels
Layout
Idler front and drive sprocket rear
Track width
0.58 m
Track on ground
4.27 m
Tread
2.79 m
Ground pressure
0.84 kg/cm²
Suspension
Torsion bar
Automotive
Engine model
ChTZ V-46-6
Engine type
Four stroke liquid-cooled supercharged V12 multi-fuel diesel
Power output
780 hp at 2.000 rpm
Torque
3.089 Nm at 1.400 rpm
Transmission
7 gears
Fuel
1.200 L internal + 400 L external
Mobility
Speed
60 km/h on road
35 km/h off road
5 km/h reverse
Range
450 km on road
550 km on road with external fuel
Turn radius
Pivot
Power to weight ratio
18.8 hp/t
Obstacle crossing
Ground clearance
0.4 m
Wall
0.85 m
Trench
2.8 m
Gradient
30°
Fording
1.2 m unprepared
5 m with snorkel
Protection
Armor type
Welded steel hull
Cast steel turret with laminate armor
Metal lined rubber side skirts
NBC system
Yes
Fire supression
Yes
Smoke system
12x Type 902B Tucha smoke grenade dischargers
Exhaust diesel injection
Equipment
Night vision
Passive IR for commander, driver and gunner
L-4 Luna IR searchlight on turret front
Fire control
1A40 fire control system
TPD-K1 laser range finder
TPN-3-49 gunner's night sight
TNP-160 day and TKN-3 night sight for commander
Radio
R-123M radio, R-124 intercom
Navigation
GPK-59 gyrocompass

Media


Related articles


T-72 Ural

The T-72A is the successor of the T-72 Ural on the production line. The T-72A remedied many of the shortcomings found in the early model T-72.