Saturday, October 14, 2017

Russia's T-72: Taking On the World's Best Tanks

When the Soviet T-72  tank was first deployed, Richard Nixon was President, the F-4 Phantom was America's primary fighter, and the world's steel beasts had yet to discover a nemesis called the wire-guided anti-tank missile.

At least 25,000 T-72s have been built, making it the second-most prolific post-World War II tank, coming in behind only the ubiquitous T-54/T-55. That the T-72 is still in service today -- and still being used by about 45 countries, including Russia -- speaks to the longevity of this vehicle.

What's notable about the T-72 is how it has been upgraded over the years, as well as its numerous variants. The T-72A appeared in 1979, with thicker armor. "The thickened appearance of the turret frontal armor of the T-72A led to the unofficial U.S. Army nickname "Dolly Parton’ for this variant, after the buxom American country singer and actress," writes tank experts Steven Zaloga in his book "T-72 Main Battle Tank 1974-93".

Next came the T-72B in 1985, which incorporated features from the newer T-80. In particular, the T-72B had a laser rangefinder and thicker armor of as much as 560 RHA, with the turret beefed up with composite armor.

It was the T-72BI version that really had a well-protected turret ("Super Dolly Parton" composite armor). The Soviets were particularly concerned with shaped-charge shells and rockets; The T-72BI's hull and turret had a remarkable 900 to 950 RHA against HEAT warheads.
Russia's T-72: Taking On the World's Best Tanks Rating: 4.5 Posted by: Minato Namikaze