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      T-54 Medium Tank / Main Battle Tank (MBT)  

    T-54 Medium Tank / Main Battle Tank (MBT)

    The T-54 Main Battle Tank succeeded the fabled Soviet T-34 Medium Tank of World War 2 fame.

     Updated: 3/16/2017; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ¬©www.MilitaryFactory.com

    The T-54 series of Soviet main battle tank came about in the search for a viable replacement for the war-winning T-34 Medium Tank of World War 2. The T-34 itself was a proven commodity in the conflict and appeared as a nasty surprise to German tanker crews and anti-tank teams alike. The T-34 was a highly regarded yet crude battlefield implement that utilized a skillful combination of speed, firepower and armor protection which ultimately put the Germany Army on the defensive for the duration of the war. The T-34 went on to be produced in over 84,000 examples from 1940 to 1958 and served many nations well into the Cold War years thereafter (some even fielding the type today). To that end, Soviet engineers attempted several initiatives to replace the utilitarian-minded, though highly effective, T-34 design with a more modern, refined and reliable type. One such attempt became the 85mm-armed T-44 that, despite entering service in 1944, did not see any notable combat action in World War 2 and was further dogged by mechanical unreliability, limiting total production to approximately 1,800 examples. The Soviet Army favored the 100mm main gun instead and the this, along with the end of the war, signaled the end of the T-44 for the long term. Nevertheless, a parallel design emerged as a more reliable replacement and this version mounted the desired 100mm main gun. The tank was designated as the T-54.

    Design of the new tank began in late 1944 to which a prototype emerged in February of 1945. Subsequent trials proved promising enough that the design was formally accepted into service by the Soviet Army thereafter. The war in Europe was over in May of 1945 while the Russo-Japanese War spanned only a short time from August to early September with the Soviets earning the victory. Work continued on the T-54 as a possible replacement for the fabled T-34 series.

    The T-54 was built around the 100mm D-10 series main gun, instantly making it one of the most powerful frontline combat tanks in consideration when compared to Western developments of the time. The T-54 improved upon armor protection over that of the T-34 and was given a new transmission system as well as a new engine. War-time Red Army experience in armored warfare naturally made their way into the design. After several design revisions and numerous engineering "fixes", the T-54 emerged in an evaluation form as the "T-54-1" in 1946. With evaluation of the T-54 system still underway, the Soviet authorities formally ordered the tank into quantitative serial production in 1947. The T-54 became operationally available in the Red Army inventory in 1949.

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    T-54 Technical Specifications

    Service Year: 1949
    Type: Medium Tank / Main Battle Tank (MBT)
    National Origin: Soviet Union
    Manufacturer(s): State Factories - USSR / Poland / Czechoslovakia / China
    Production: 50,000

    Design (Crew Space, Dimensions, Weight, and Systems)

    Operating Crew: 4
    Length: 29.53 feet (9.00 meters)
    Width: 10.73 feet (3.27 meters)
    Height: 7.87 feet (2.40 meters)

    Operating Weight: 40 tons (36,000 kg; 79,366 lb)

    Nuclear / Biological / Chemical Protection: None
    Nightvision Equipment: None

    Installed Power and Standard Road Performance

    Engine(s): 1 x V-54 12-cylinder diesel engine developing 520 horsepower.

    Maximum Road Speed: 30 mph (48 km/h)
    Maximum Road Range: 249 miles (400 km)

    Armament and Ammunition

    1 x 100mm D-10T rifled main gun
    1 x 12.7mm DShKM anti-aircraft machine gun at loader's hatch.
    1 x 7.62mm SG MT coaxial machine gun
    2 x 7.62mm SG-43 fender-mounted machine guns

    1 x 100mm D-10TG main gun
    1 x 7.62mm SG MT coaxial machine gun
    1 x 7.62mm bow-mounted machine gun

    34 x 100mm projectiles
    500 x 12.7mm ammunition
    3,000 x 7.62mm ammunition

    Global Operators / Customers

    Afghanistan; Albania; Algeria; Angola; Armenia; Bangladesh; Bulgaria; Cambodia; Republic of Congo; East Germany; Egypt; Ethiopia; Finland; Georgia; Guinea; Hezbollah; Hungary; India; Iran; Iraq; Kurdistan; Israel; Laos; Lebanon; Libya; Mali; Mongolia; Morocco; Mozambique; Namibia; North Korea; North Vietnam/Vietnam; North Yemen; Pakistan; Peru; Poland; Rwanda; Somalia; South Yemen; Soviet Union; Sudan; Syria; Tanzania; Togo; Uganda; Ukraine; United States; (OPFOR); Uruguay; Zambia; Zimbabwe

    Model Variants

    T-54 - Base Series Designation

    T-54-1 - Appearing in 1946; rounded turret assembly; wide gun mantlet; V-54 series diesel engine; 100mm main gun; 2 x 7.62mm SG-43 series machine guns on track fenders; quality control issues limited production of this mark.

    T-54-2 - Appearing in 1949; improved transmission system; wider track sections; revised turret with flattened sides and rear overhang; fender machine guns removed in favor of 1 x 7.62mm bow-mounted machine gun; later versions incorporated ZET-1 vehicle protection system.

    T-54-3 - Appearing in 1952; oval-shaped turret with rounded sides and roof; TSh-22 series gunner's sighting device; engine-generated smokescreen.

    T-54A - Appearing in 1955; stabilized gun along vertical plane; 100mm D-10TG main gun; muzzle counterweight on early models then bore evacuator thereafter; additional fuel tanks for improved range; snorkel allowed for amphibious crossings; improved radio function; improved engine; automatic fire extinguisher; TSh-2A-22 sighting device; infrared periscope at driver's position; infrared headlamp.

    T-54B - Appearing in 1957; 100mm D-10T2S main gun with two-axis stabilization; night vision equipment for day/night capabilities.

    T-54(M) - NATO designation of T-54B production model.

    T-54K1 - Command Tank; additional radio equipment.

    T-54K2 - Command Tank; telescoping mast

    T-54AK1 - Command Tank; additional radio equipment.

    T-54AK2 - Command Tank; telescoping mast

    T-54BK-1 - Command Tank; additional radio equipment.

    T-54BK-2 - Command Tank; telescoping mast

    T-54MK-1 - Command Tank; additional radio equipment.

    T-54MK-2 - Command Tank; telescoping mast

    T-54M - Standardization program brining T-54s to newer T-55 standard; eventually incorporated new radio equipment, engines, additional 100mm projectile storage; 1977 update brought about OPVT snorkel system as well as KTD-1 series laser rangefinder.

    T-54M - Experimental T-54 based on T-54A production model to test 100mm smoothbore series guns; V-54-6 series diesel engine of 580 horsepower.

    Obyekt 137ML - Developmental model testing firing of AT-3 "Sagger" anti-tank guided missile from 100mm main gun.

    T-54 ARV - Armored Recovery Vehicle

    T-54 AVLB - Bridgelayer

    T-54 IMR - Combat Engineering Vehicle

    T-54 Flame Tank - Flame Projecting Variant