Staff Writer (Updated: 6/23/2016):
As an amphibious combat vehicle, the PT-76 was given the inherent ability to traverse water sources. Its automotive components were shared between the BTR-50 Armored Personnel Carrier (APC), SA-6 "Gainful" Surface-to-Air Missile (SAM) system, and the ZSU-23-4 Anti-Aircraft (AA) gun and included a torsion-bar suspension system for cross-country travel. The powerpack of the PT-76 was also the same one encountered on the T-55 Main Battle Tank (MBT) - this being a V-6 type diesel-fueled unit.
Despite the positive qualities built into the 14.5 tonne PT-76, it lacked NBC (Nuclear, Biological, Chemical) protection for its crew of three (driver, commander and gunner), was rather large dimensionally-speaking, and showcased thin armor protection for a frontline vehicle.
Total production numbers of the PT-76 reached over 12,000 vehicles before the end with manufacture stemming from VTZ and the Kirov Factory of the Soviet Union from 1951 until 1969. The last PT-76 entered service in 1967 and modernization programs and new turret were devised to keep the system relevant into the 1980s. China eventually took up production of a related vehicle form designated the "Type 63".
The PT-76 went on to have an extensive combat history for its part in the last century - from the Vietnam War (1955-1975) and the Indo-Pak War (1965) until the Second Chechen War (1999) and the Second Persian Gulf War (2003). Operators ranged from Afghanistan and Angola to Vietnam and Yugoslavia.
A few operators still manage limited stocks of this aging vehicle.