T-62 Medium Tank / Main Battle Tank (MBT)
The T-62 Main Battle Tank was a further 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.