An East German T-55AM2B which is rather similar to the T-55AM.
Source: baku13 - © GNU Attribution - Share Alike license
The T-55AM is a Cold War era main battle tank of Soviet origin. The T-55M and T-55AM are deep modernizations of the older T-55 and T-55A respectively, extending their service life. This upgrade program proved especially useful for Warsaw Pact and Soviet allies that did not acquire the T-62 and could not yet field the T-72 in quantity.
The T-55AM modernization package was applied to existing stocks T-55 and T-55A tanks at the depot level. In the Warsaw Pact these were also produced as new vehicles, sometimes with minor local modifications. The upgrade includes improvements in firepower, mobility and protection. The applique turret armor and new side skirts give the T-55AM a distinctive look.
The T-55AM retains the manually loaded 100mm D-10T2S rifled gun. The firepower is improved by the ability to launch the Bastion anti-tank missile from the barrel. Fire control is improved by adding the Volna fire control system, new gun sights, an improved stabilization system and fitting a laser range finder in a box above the barrel.
The protection level is improved by adding BDD armor to the turret front, rubber side skirts, smoke grenade launchers and sections of appliqué armor. The BDD passive armor sections on each side of the turret were known as bra or brow armor in the West.
The mobility is improved by fitting an uprated V-55U engine, improved suspension and new tracks. These improvements cancel out the negative effects of the increased weight. The T-55M-1 and T-55AM-1 variants are fitted with the new and more powerful V-46-5M engine.
The T-55AM was a very common Soviet and Warsaw Pact vehicle in the late Cold War era. Many thousands were upgraded to this standard, or produced as a new vehicle. The T-55AM upgrade is more numerous than the T-55AMV with the ERA protection suite. Despite its age the T-55AM soldiers on and has been used in many recent conflicts in the Middle East and Africa.
The T-55AMV has many similar updates as the T-55AM. The main difference is the use of Kontakt-1 ERA instead of BDD passive applique armor.
The T-55M and AM are fitted with many of the same updates as found on the T-62M. Both tanks look very similar, but can easily be distinguished by the location of the bore evacuator and roadwheel spacing.
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