First deployed in 1971, the T-72 main battle tank was the latest in the line of Soviet tank design, and was intended to replace the aging T-54/55 tank as well as the T-62. It was also the tank that made a number of design features standard for future Russian tank design, such as the 125mm main gun and its automatic loader, as well as a comprehensive NBC protection system. Otherwise, the T-72 is a more or less typical design, and exemplifies the Russian tank philosophy of simple, easy to maintain and cheap to build vehicles that are to be used in mass attack.
In combat, the T-72 has so far proven to be no match for heavy Western battle tanks such as the US Abrams or British Challenger, with those that have engaged being completely mauled for no Abrams or Challenger losses. However, it has been pointed out that the T-72 should not totally be dismissed, as it was meant to be used as a mass attack weapon, and not a vehicle built for head to head combat. Further, some have argued that since many of the T-72 users who went into combat against Western MBTs were only using downgraded export versions with poorly trained and demoralized crews, there has been no real head-to-head use to judge the tank's effectiveness.
Widely exported, the T-72 has seen combat in Lebanon, the Iran-Iraq war, the Indo-Pakistan conflicts, Persian Gulf War and Yugoslav civil war. Many users of the T-72 have also mass produced the vehicle under liscense and with their own modifications, such Poland (PT-91), Iraq (Assad Babyl), and the former Yugoslavia (M-84).
T-72 MBT Vehicle Stats: Type: Main battle tank Manufacturer: Uralvagonzavod First deployed: 1971
Crew: 3 Length: 9.24 m Width: 4.75 m Height: 2.37 m Weight: 44.5 tons
Armor: Estimated 400mm Armament, primary: 1 x 125mm 2A46M/D-81T smooth-bore gun Armament, secondary: 1 x 7.62mm PKMT machinegun, 1 x 12.7mm DShK AA machinegun Ammo stowage, primary: 45 rounds Ammo stowage, secondary: 2,000 rounds 7.62mm, 300 rounds 12.7mm
Powerplant: V-46 480hp V-12 diesel engine Max speed: 80 km/h Max range: 480km
Operators: Afghanistan, Algeria, Angola, Belarus, Bulgaria, CIS, Croatia (M-84), Cuba, Czech Republic, Finland, Hungary, India, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait (M-84), Libya, Malaysia, Poland, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, Syria, Ukraine, former Yugoslavia (M-84).
Indeed, the T-72 was highly respected due to it's armor and firepower, they proved superior to Western tanks like Chieftain and M60 during the Iran-Irak war, but were not a match for M1 Abramas and Challengers during the Desert Storm. Mostly because they were downgraded versions with poorly-trained crews, but test made on fully-capable soviet-build T-72 tanks showed that they were indeed very capable and an even match for Western tanks.
I think this tank would have been better off with a separate loading, manual breach operated gun. Autoloaders are a nice idea, but seeing you can only fire so many rounds in one drum, the second it runs out you are pretty much defenseless to enemy fire.
What another beautiful piece of Russian Engineering! I really think they deserve more credit. Back in World War 2 they made things that were ahead of their time. 2 which i remember specifically. 1. The T34 Tank 2. The PPsh submachine gun. Both were ahead of their time.
they weren't necessarily ahead of their time: they were simply better at what they did. for all it's benefits (armor, speed, firepower) the T-34 had plenty of faults. many of the ones the Germans captured intact were due to mechanical failures.
the Ppsh was actually less refined than such weapons as the MP-40: although stamped steel was more modern than other weapons of the time, such as the American Thompson, it still used a wooden stock and rifle ergonomics, the same as the MP-18 of 1918.
the Katyusha, on the other hand...THAT was ahead of it's time. Stalin's Organ FTW!
but every machine has its mechanical failures. I think very highly of the Russians. AK-47's are really nice. they became so popular when they were first introduced.. they can be found all over the world now. Theyre also in practically every shooter type videogame now... theres even a russian gun company in the Borderlands games.. 1 and 2 (2 was just recently released) theyre called Vladof
they're also nigh-indestructible. for instance: a tour group in Vietnam recently found an AK that had been left in the jungle since the war. while examining it, the weapon went off, rapid-fire. after at least 35 years sitting in the jungle, the weapon still operated.
Indeed those thing were built to be indestructible. No matter the circumstances. Hell i heard of two us soldiers in nam stumbling acriss a dead Vietcong soldier with a mud and bloody intrail coverd so they removed the ak and much to there suprise the weapon fired.
It's not proven if Cuba has T-72s. The T-72 became the Soviet Union's most fielded medium tank simply because of the price of the tank and ease of manufacture - as compared to the T-64 and T-80, reserved for elite Soviet tank forces.
Volhv, the T-72s used by Syria were using top-of-the-line Soviet ammunition in 1982, and had added armor to the turret glacis plate. However, these were penetrated by Israeli 105mm HETZ rounds - and this was proven when captured HETZ rounds were fired at Kubinca. The armor of the T-72 was subsequently improved, but so did Israeli and American 105mm ammunition (and later 120mm ammunition).
But, there's no doubt that Iraqi T-72s were largely obsolete by the Persian Gulf War - Iraqi T-72s are not the same as modernized Soviet/Russian T-72s; although these are largely obsolete, as well. The T-72 cannot achieve the same armor perforation as U.S. tanks, not because round technology is different, but because the length of the penetrator is maximized by two things:
1. Short length of the breech.
2. Use of two-part ammunition.
Interesting enough, Kuwaiti M-48s supposedly were found to be more accurate as compared to U.S. M1A1s (not sure which version) - but at the time they were using top-of-the-line European (not Russian) electronics.
"It was also the tank that made a number of design features standard for future Russian tank design, such as the 125mm main gun and its automatic loader, as well as a comprehensive NBC protection system."
----All this was already made for the T-64 tank, and not for the T-72. The T-72 was in the first line cheaper to build than anything else. That’s why the tank was sold in so many countries.
"In combat, the T-72 has so far proven to be no match for heavy Western battle tanks such as the US Abrams or British Challenger, with those that have engaged being completely mauled for no Abrams or Challenger losses."
------T -72 had his fights with a "western" M1A1, M1A2 and the MBT2 Challenger only in the Iraq wars. It was able to hit the allied armour, but the Iraqis had 20 years old ammunition that couldn’t penetrate it. The 125mm main gun can fire better ammunition but ask Saddam why it was not available.