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T-62 Medium Tank / Main Battle Tank (1961)

Authored By Staff Writer | Last Updated: 7/1/2014

The T-62 Main Battle Tank was a futher development of the successful T-54/T-55-series but failed to outright replace the former designs.

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After the end of World War 2, the Soviet military had officially replaced their war-winning T-34 Medium Tank series with the T-54 family. These were then upgraded with NBC protection and a slew of other features to become the T-55 series a short time later, intended to counter the new, interim American developments. Going beyond simply upgrading the T-55, work also began on a new tank design based on the same proven T-54/T-55 system though intended to house a more powerful 115mm main gun. To fit the new armament, the base T-55 had her hull lengthened and given an all-new turret assembly designed specifically for a high-velocity smoothbore 115mm main gun - the U-5TS (2A20 "Rapira"). This weapon was of particular note for it marked the first time a production combat tank had been given a "smoothbore" barrel - to this point, all combat tanks fielded a rifled barrel, the Soviet direction proving a major upgrade to the 105mm rifled main gun being fielded by the new American M60. The new Soviet tank was christened the "T-62" and production of the type resulted in deliveries occurring in July of 1961.

For all intents and purposes, the T-62 was more or less a further upgrade of the T-55 itself with the T-54 still serving as the "true" starting point for the family. As such, the type delivered roughly the same utilitarian appearance of its originator as well as the follow-up modification. The tank sported a low-profile design with a center-fitted turret emplacement. The glacis plate was very shallow and well-sloped for excellent point ballistics protection. The sides were dominated by the track system encompassing five road wheels to a hull side. The drive sprocket was held at the front with the track idler at the rear. Like the T-54 and T-55 before it, the T-62 lacked any track return rollers along the upper track region. The single diesel engine was held in a rear-set compartment and could generate its own smoke screen as needed. The turret was well-curved and squat in its general appearance, housing the 115mm U-5TS main gun armament as well as three of the four crew. The crew consisted of the driver in the front-left hull and the tank commander, gunner and loader in the turret/middle hull region. The turret was protected by up to 242mm of armor thickness along the front facing. A pair of external fuel tanks could be fitted to the rear of the hull for improved ranges and jettisoned when empty. The main gun was fitted with a fume extractor and featured two-axis stabilization for adequate "firing-on-the-move". The main gun was also given case ejector actuated by the recoil action to which spent shell casings were ejected automatically out of the turret rear via a spring-loaded door after firing. The main gun was supplemented by a coaxial 7.62mm PKT series machine gun in the turret for anti-infantry defense. A 12.7mm DShK anti-aircraft heavy machine gun on the turret roof was optional and not generally seen in early production units. Up to 40 x 115mm projectiles were carried aboard, stored within the turret itself and primarily along the hull sides. 2,500 x 7.62mm rounds of machine gun ammunition were also carried for the coaxial machine gun. Power was derived from a V-55 12-cylinder diesel engine outputting at 580 horsepower. This supplied the vehicle with a top speed of 31 miles per hour on ideal surfaces with an operational range of 280 miles not including environmental factors.

The main gun was cleared to fire the requisite High-Explosive (HE) and Armor-Piercing (AP) projectiles of 115mm caliber. The HE breed consisted of the HE-FRAG-FS which stood for High-Explosive, Fragmentation, Fin-Stabilized. The HEAT-FS rounds was the High-Explosive, Anti-Tank, Fin-Stabilized variant. The AP round was the APFSDS - Armor-Piercing, Fin-Stabilized, Discarding Sabot. This projectile could range out at targets up to 1,100 yards away and penetrate up to 330mm of armor plate - a major upgrade from the projectile types fired from the 100mm main guns of the T-54 and T-55 series. The main gun held an elevation limitation of -6 to +16 degrees. One of the key limitations of the T-54/55 models were their lack of true "hull down" firing due to the main gun's depression restriction. The T-62 improved upon this limitation to an extent.

The T-62 was delivered with several notable standardized features including NBC (Nuclear, Biological, Chemical) protection for the crew as well as an automated fire extinguishing system which could also be manually actuated. An integrated snorkel could be erected prior to entering bodies of water and provide the T-62 with limited amphibious capabilities. The engine was used to generate a smoke screen, this essentially accomplished by injecting raw diesel into the engine for the desired result. The commander, gunner and driver positions all included infrared night vision devices for true day/night fighting capability. To keep the tank from becoming bogged over a trench or obstacle, a unique "unditching" beam was fitted under at the rear of the hull.

Despite its improvements and advancements, the T-62 eventually showcased several limitations to her design. The new advanced tank proved more expensive to produce in quantity, derailing foreign interest, they being content in keeping/producing/modernizing their T-54/55 series still. The lack of T-62 large-scale interest ultimately forced T-55-producing factories to continue serial while T-62 was ultimately discontinued. Furthermore, the original Russian engines proved unreliable and crew protection was lacking - as combat would soon show.

In the T-62's first combat actions during the Yom Kipper War of 1973, the tank shown a tendency to catch fire when hit, making the T-62 a threat to its own crews as much as any Israeli tank. As with the T-54 and T-55, hundreds of T-62 tanks were captured by the Israelis from the Syrians and Egyptians, modified and reconstituted to fight against their former owners. Israeli versions sported improved armor protection, American-based powerplants and technological additions such as laser rangefinders and thermal imaging. Such modified T-62 tanks were designated as "Tiran-6" in the Israeli inventory and proved greater in value and quality than the original design. Unmodified captured Israeli T-62s were known under the "Tiran-3" designation. The T-62 fared no better in the 1982 Libyan invasion of Chad, where large numbers were destroyed or rendered inoperable.

Despite the limitations in combat, the T-62 went on to see its fair share across decades of service. The type was showcased from the 1969 Sino-Soviet Border War onwards. This would include the Ethiopian Civil War of 1974-1991, the Angolan Civil War of 1975-2002 as well as the Soviet-Afghan War of 1979-1988. The tank was featured in the bloody Iran-Iraq War of 1980-1988 and in the Lebanese Civil War of 1982-1983. Iraqi T-62s were also thrown into the fray during the 1990-1991 Gulf War which saw Saddam Hussein's forces routed. Russian T-62 use extended to the 1st and 2nd Chechen Wars of the 1990s. Afghan T-62s were in action during the 2001 United States invasion and Iraqi T-62s were once again fodder in the 2003 American invasion. The 2008 War in South Ossetia brought the T-62 into the forefront once again and the type was utilized in combat as recently as the 2011 Libyan Civil War which saw an end to Muammar Gaddafi's tyrannical reign.


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Specifications for the
T-62
Medium Tank / Main Battle Tank


Country of Origin: Soviet Union
Manufacturer: State Factories - Soviet Union / Czechoslovakia / North Korea
Initial Year of Service: 1961
Production: 22,750


Focus Model: T-62
Crew: 4


Overall Length: 21.75ft (6.63m)
Width: 11.55ft (3.52m)
Height: 7.87ft (2.40m)
Weight: 45.7 US Short Tons (41,500kg; 91,492lbs)


Powerplant: 1 x Model V-55-5 V-12 water-cooled diesel engine generating 580hp @ 2,000rpm.


Maximum Speed: 28mph (45 km/h)
Maximum Range: 280 miles (450 km)


NBC Protection: Yes
Nightvision: Yes - Infrared


Armament:
1 x 115mm smoothbore main gun
1 x 12.7mm DShKM anti-aircraft heavy machine gun
1 x 7.62mm PKT coaxial machine gun


Ammunition:
40 x 115mm projectiles
300 x 12.7mm ammunition
2,500 x 7.62mm ammunition


Variants:
T-62A - Modified T-55 MBT; lengthened hull; revised suspension system; new turret ring; two-axis gun stabilizer; 100mm main gun; limited production.


T-62 - Initial Production Model; 115mm main gun; two-axis gun stabilizer; commander's cupola; day/night fighting capabilities; fitted with V-55V diesel engine of 581 horsepower; later support for firing AT-3 "Sagger" ATGM missile from 115mm main gun; later models featuring ZET-1 protection package.

T-62K - Command Vehicle of the T-62 production model; additional communications equipment; 36 rounds for main gun.

T-62KN - Command Vehicle with additional navigation equipment

T-62 (1967) - Revised engine deck

T-62 (1972) - 12.7mm DShK anti-aircraft machine gun fitted to loader's hatch.

T-62 (1975) - Fitting KTD-1 or KTD-2 series laser rangefinders over main gun.

T-62D - T-62D production model fitting V-46-5M diesel engine

T-62M - Modernized T-62 of 1983; improved fire control system; applique armor; improved mine protection on hull floor; side skirt armor; "Bastion" ATGM support from 115mm main gun; thermal sleeve on barrel; upgraded communications equipment; V-55U diesel engine of 620 horsepower; smoke grenade launchers along turret side (some models).

T-62E - Initial US designation of T-62M production models

T-62M-1 - Fitted with V-46-5M series diesel engine

T-62M1 - Different frontal armor protection

T-62M1-1 - Fitted with V-46-5M diesel engine

T-62M1-2 - T-62M1 production model sans hull floor armor protection and applique armor kit.

T-62M1-2-1 - T-62M1-2 production model fitted with V-46-5M diesel engine.

T-62MD - Completed with Drozd active vehicle protection system

T-62MD-1 - T-62MD production mark fitted with V-46-5M diesel engine

T-62MK - Command Vehicle of the T-62M production mark

T-62MK-1 - Command Vehicle fitted with V-46-5M diesel engine

T-62MV - Delivered with Kontakt-1 series Explosive Reactive Armor (ERA) block armor package.

T-62MV-1 - T-62MV production model fitted with V-46-5M series engine.

T-62M1V - T-62MV production model sans ATGM capability of the 115mm main gun.

T-62M1V-1 - T-62M1V production model fitted with V-46-5M diesel engine.

T-62/122 CEV - Combat Engineering Vehicle mounting 122mm main gun

T-62/160 CEV - Combat Engineering Vehicle mounting 160mm mortar

T-67 - Developmental model sporting 125mm main gun and powerpack to be featured on upcoming T-72 development.

TO-62 - Flame projecting tank; fitted alongside 115mm main gun

IT-1 - Tank Destroyer Variant; stabilized anti-tank missile launching system; sans main gun armament.

IT-1T - Armored Recovery Vehicle based on the IT-1 production model

BTS-4V - Armored Recovery Vehicle based on the IT-1 production model

BTS-4V1 - Armored Recovery Vehicle based on the T-62 combat tank

BTS-4V2 - Armored Recovery Vehicle based on damaged T-62 combat tanks

Impuls-2M - Fire Fighting Vehicle; conversion of outgoing T-62 combat tanks.

TV-62 - Bulgarian designation of T-62-based armored recovery vehicles

TV-62M - Bulgarian designation of T-62M production models converted to armored recovery vehicles.

TP-62 - Bulgarian designation of T-62 Fire Fighting Vehicle

RO-115 Mk 1 - Egyptian designation of upgraded T-62; British diesel engine of 750 horsepower; laser rangefinder; improved FCS; improved armor protection.

T-62E Mk 2 - Egyptian designation of modernized T-62 combat tanks; American M68 105mm main gun; German MTU diesel engine of 880 horsepower; infrared equipment; anti-tank missile launcher support.

RO-120 Mk 3 - Egyptian designation of modernized T-62; 120mm main gun; German MTU diesel engine of 890 horsepower; improved armor protection; side armor skirts.

Tiran-3 - Israeli captured T-62s

Tiran-6 - Israeli modernized captured T-62s; reactive armor; 105mm main gun; General Motors engines; improvements throughout.

Ch'onma-ho I (Ga) - North Korean designation of locally-produced T-62

Ch'onma-ho II - North Korean designation of imported T-62 tanks

Ch'onma-ho III - North Korean designation of upgraded Ch'onma-ho II tanks; side armor skirts; thermal sleeve on main gun barrel; ERA support.

Ch'onma-ho IV - North Korean designation of upgraded Ch'onma-ho III tanks with improved armor protection; ERA support; smoke grenade launchers.

Ch'onma-ho V - North Korean designation of upgraded Ch'onma-ho IV tanks with improved armor protection; 125mm main gun; autoloader; wider track sections.

T-62AGM - Ukrainian designation for upgraded T-62s

T-62AG - Ukrainian designation of upgraded T-62 tanks; fitted with 5TDF diesel engine of 700 horsepower; 125mm main gun; improved armor protection.

T-62 IFV - Ukrainian infantry fighting vehicle based on the T-62 MBT

T-62 ARV - Ukrainian armored recovery vehicle based on the T-62 MBT

T-62 AVLB - Ukrainian bridgelayer based on the T-62MBT

Obyekt 167 - Developmental model fitting V-26 series engine of 700 horsepower; AT-3 "Sagger" missile support; track return rollers instituted; two prototype examples completed.

Obyekt 167T - Prototype model fitting GTD-3T gasoline-fueled turbine engine.

T-72 - Development based on the T-62


Operators:
Afghanistan; Algeria; Angola; Belarus; Bulgaria; Cuba; Egypt; Eritrea; Ethiopia; Iran; Iraq; Israel; Kazakhstan; Lebanon; Libya; Mongolia; North Korea; North Yemen; Russia; South Ossetia; South Yemen; Yemen; Soviet Union; Syria; Tajikistan; Turkmenistan; Ukraine; United States (OPFOR training); Uzbekistan; Vietnam; Yemen