A Soviet T-72A on the move with crew hatches open.
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Former Soviet Union T-72A obr 1984 main battle tank on public display in 2017.
Source: Alan Wilson - © CC BY-SA 2.0
Copyright: GNU Attribution - Share Alike license
Source: Thomas Hedden
Copyright: public domain
Copyright: CC BY 4.0
Copyright: Public domain
Source: Vitaly V. Kuzmin
Copyright: CC BY-SA 4.0
Source: US DoD
Copyright: Public domain
The T-72A was produced with the 125mm 2A46-1 smoothbore cannon.
A 7.62mm PKT machine gun is fitted as coaxial armament.
The 12.7mm NSVT heavy machine gun is fitted at the commander's position on the turret roof.
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.
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