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Finnish Army T-72M1

T-72A/M1: Medium Tank


Main gun: 125mm 2A46
Ammunition Stowage: 22 ready/22 stowed
Default Ammunition "A": 8/7 BM-32 APFSDS, 4/3 BK-18M HEAT, 10/12 OF-26 HEF-T

Coaxial machine gun: 7.62mm PK-T
Ammunition Stowage: 250 ready/1500 stowed
Default Ammunition: 250/1500 7.62mm RU

AAMG: 12.7mm NSVT
Ammunition Stowage: 60 ready/240 stowed
Default Ammunition: 60/240 12.7mm B-32 AP

Grenade Dischargers: system 902A 81mm smoke dischargers
Ammunition Stowage: 2 ready/0 stowed
Default Ammunition: 2/0 3D6 Smoke

Armour protection:
Frontal Turret Armour: 280mm-710mm vs KE, 330mm-790mm vs HEAT
Frontal Hull Armour: 180mm-550mm vs KE, 190mm-980mm vs HEAT
(SB documentation)


Combat Weight: 41.5 tonnes
Length: 7.0m (Hull)
Width: 3.59m
Height 2.2m to turret roof
Engine: 780hp V46-6 V12 diesel
Top Speed: 60kph


T-72M1 external characteristics

The Soviet T-72A is a 1979 upgrade to the T-72 “Ural-1”. Compared to the T-72 Ural-1, the T-72A turret front was thickened and reinforced with quartzite "sand" (possibly alumina) in cavities [earning the nickname "Dolly Parton" by US intelligence], the L-2AG searchlight was moved the right side of the main gun, and the vehicle received full length rubber side skirts. Other improvements include a thicker upper hull glacis array (an additional 16mm of high hardness steel) and the addition of the system 902A “Tucha-1” smoke grenade launchers. Fire control remained unchanged with the 1A40 sighting complex and its TPD-K1 laser rangefinder being carried over from the T-72 “Ural-1”. The export T-72M1 is actually an upgrade to the T-72M, bringing it up to T-72A m.1979 standards, but it is generally described as being the export version of the T-72A.

The modeled version is the T-72A m.1984g equipped with laminated borated polyethylene anti-radiation lining, but is otherwise identical the the m.1979 version. Although the lack of this lining, retention of the older 2A26M1 125mm gun, the ability to only mount the KMT-5/6 rather than KMT-7/8 mine roller/plow, and a somewhat less efficient turret armor configuration (some sources posit common beach sand instead of quartzite [unlikely], or quartzite instead of alumina in the cavities) differentiates the T-72A from the export T-72M1 version, for simulation purposes they are considered the same vehicle.

It should be noted that the fire control system, although superior to competing western designs when introduced in 1975-76, is less responsive and well integrated than that of the T-64B and later western systems, but is adequate against its contemporaries. That said, as with other early T-72 types, actual combat experience for the T-72A and T-72M1 has been a mixed bag, good in some cases and considerably less than stellar in others. For the most part, these poor performances are due to inadequate training, worn and poorly maintained equipment, and poor ammunition. Accordingly, the default SB implementation should not be underestimated, especially if equipped with modern ammo, as enemy AI crews are always assumed to be highly experienced.

Serial production of the T-72A was from 1979 to 1985, with T-72M1 production beginning sometime later and stretching through the late 1980s. Along with the T-64B, the T-72A served as the principle tank for Soviet and Russian front line armored formations until fully supplanted by the T-72B in the early 1990s, and remains widely distributed among reserve formations. Although not the primary tank of Warsaw Pact forces, the T-72M1 was license produced in Poland and Czechoslovakia, and was widely exported to more than a score of nations throughout Africa and the Near and Middle East.

  • For scenario design purposes, it is important to note that the T-72M1 is not necessarily equivalent to the "Asad Babil", which was the name of the domestically produced T-72 fielded by the Iraqi Army during Desert Storm (1991). The "Assad Babil" was essentially the lesser armored T-72M with some modifications, but some were upgraded to T-72M1 protection levels (they called all T-72 variants "Assad Babil"). The reality is, the Republican Guard most likely fielded something similar to the T-72M1 and the regular army fielded something similar to the T-72M.

Thermal Signature

T-72M1, front-right T-72M1, rear-left

Crew Positions

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Tank Commander's Position F7

TC's unbuttoned view

In Steel Beasts Professional the tank commander's (TC) position on the T-72A is fully crew-able and fully modeled. The TC's position is accessed by pressing F7.

From this position the user can raise and lower their perspective (and exposure level) by holding the Q key (to go up) and the Z key (to go down). The TC can also button or unbutton (close and open the TC's hatch) by pressing the B key (toggle). While unbuttoned, the TC may also wish to use binoculars to get a closer view on a distant area by pressing the N key (toggle).

TKN-3 Commander's Periscope

The TKN-3 commander's periscope is attached to fully traversable cupola and is used for target acquisition, range estimation, directing the gunner onto a target. The periscope has a fixed 7x magnification with the addition of night vision capability, which is of better quality than the gunner's IR sight, however, the periscope has only a very limited range of movement in elevation.

The TC can access the TKN-3 periscope by pressing F3.

Once the user is at the TKN-3 periscope view, the user can traverse and elevate the cupola using either the mouse, joystick (both of which represent the commander grabbing the two side handles of the periscope and sliding it around the cupola's race-ring).

The sight on the TKN-3 is a simple reticle with lead and elevation lines. Along the bottom of the reticle is solid horizontal line and a series of numbered hash marks used for range estimation similar to the stadia reticle found on the M1 tank's GAS sight. The numbers along the top of the scale represent the range in hundreds of meters. To estimate range to a typical sized tank target (2.7m tall, the approximate height of a Leopard 1), the bottom line is placed at the bottom of the target vehicle (where the tracks touch the ground) and the sight traversed until one of the hash marks meets the top of the target's turret. When the target fully fits between the two, then the range is estimated at the value above the appropriate hash mark.

Like a periscope on a submarine, the TKN-3 has a handle on the left and right of the periscope each of which has a button on top of it (the periscope's handles and buttons are visible in the image above). The left handle's button is a toggle used to stabilize the periscope, that is, to keep the reticle on a certain spot even while the turret is moving. This feature is represented by pressing the , key and basically causes the cupola to counter rotate against the turret's movement. The right handle's button is used to slew the gun to place its azimuth in the direction that the periscope is looking while the button is held. This feature is represented by holding the . key, and is used to more or less put the gunner onto an intended target or to have him look in a certain direction. Note that holding this key while also moving around the periscope will override the turret and have it follow the periscope, although the TC cannot fire the main gun himself.

The TKN-3's night vision can be turned on by pressing the + key on the num pad, however, this cannot be activated during daylight. As mentioned, the passive light amplification capability and image quality of the TKN-3 is better than the gunner's IR sight.

NSV-T Heavy Machine Gun Sight

The T-72A has a NSV-T 12.7mm heavy machine gun mounted on the commanders cupola. The NSV-T heavy machine gun has a very high rate of fire and was intended for air defense. Although the weapon is nearly useless in that role, it can be very effective against infantry and lightly armored vehicles. The T-72's NSV-T is also useful when fired from a defilade position, keeping the tank in cover while TC engages targets. The draw back of this weapon is that it has relatively small ammo cans (only 60 rounds each) which, combined with its high rate of fire, means that it must be fired in short bursts to be effective.

In Steel Beasts, the NSV-T HMG can only be operated from the outside and its ocular gun sight is accessed with the ALT + F3 key.

You are able to slew the gun using the mouse or joystick; manipulation of the weapon's elevation is only possible via the UP ARROW and DOWN ARROW keys (similar to the CWS on the M1 series) in order to simulate the crank that is used to change elevation on the real vehicle.

The ocular gun sight view has a cross hair graduated in mils (Russian) which serve as lead and elevation lines. It also has a pair of outer range rings for use against moving aircraft. While in the ocular gun sight view the HMG is fired with the SPACE BAR.

TC's rear facing 12.7mm heavy machine gun. The ocular gun sight lens is visible on the upper right of the weapon.
12.7mm HMG ocular gun sight

Gunner's Primary Sight Extension (GPSE)

TC's vision block view

Unlike western tanks, the T-72A has no GPSE sight and, as such, the gun sight view key (F2) is not used on this tank. The commander uses his eyes and binoculars from the unbuttoned position, or he uses the TKN-3 periscope to help lay the gunner on target and to provide feedback about shots on target.

TC's vision block view

On some occasions the TC may need to look around the vehicle without having to spin the turret and without having to expose himself to hostile fire. The vision block view allows the TC to remain safely inside the vehicle and quickly scan around for close threats. It is most useful when enemy infantry are in the immediate area, although the TKN-3 periscope is probably more useful for this purpose. Access the TC's vision block view by pressing F4.

Once in the vision block view, the mouse or joystick can be used to quickly and seamlessly pan the TC's view from vision block to vision block, allowing him to scan around the vehicle. While the vision block view completely protects the TC from hostile fire, it does have an extremely limited field of view and offers no magnification.

Note that there are two vision blocks as part of the TKN-3 assembly and two blocks integrated into the hatch. The latter two can only be used if the hatch is closed.

Key listing for T-72A's TC's position

General Commands:

TAB: Pop smoke. Instructs the gunner to launch smoke grenades to deploy a smoke screen in the direction that the turret is facing. Useful for breaking up enemy LRF or completely obscuring your vehicle against a non thermal sight equipped threat. Note that, by doctrine, the T-72's smoke grenades are angled in such a way that the smoke screen is deployed several hundred meters down range. this is because soviet doctrine is to pop smoke, and advance behind the smoke screen

Q: Raise position in hatch. Moves the TC's view and exposure level up in the hatch.

Z: Lower position in hatch. Moves the TC's view and exposure level down in the hatch.

B: Button and unbutton the hatch (toggle). This is used to close and open the hatch.

+ (num pad): TKN-3 IR mode (toggle). While in the TKN-3 periscope view (F3), this key toggles the IR sight on and off.

,: TKN-3 stabilized mode (toggle). While in the TKN-3 periscope view (F3), this key is used to toggle between a stabilized cupola so that the TKN-3 periscope counter rotates in azimuth with turret movement.

.: Slew turret to TKN-3 sight view. While in the TKN-3 periscope view (F3), hold this key to have the turret slew in azimuth to the direction that the periscope is currently facing. Release this key to release control of the turret back to the gunner.

SHIFT + SPACE: Manually fire the coaxial machine gun. While in the eye view (F1) while inside the vehicle, the commander can hold this key to make the coaxial machine gun fire by manually pressing the solenoid switch on the weapon. This can be used for emergency situations.

LEFT ARROW / RIGHT ARROW: Face left / face right. When in the TC's eye view F1, pressing these keys will cause the TC to face to the left or right of the main gun (turret).

UP ARROW / DOWN ARROW: Multipurpose. When in the TC's eye view F1, pressing these keys will cause the TC to face in the direction of or to the rear of the gun (turret). When in the TC's NSV-T heavy machine gun sight view ALT + F3, tap to elevate the 12.7mm HMG by turning the hand crank. Tap the keys quicker to elevate the gun faster.

  • The 12.7mm HMG can only be elevated using these keys.

Driver related commands:

SHIFT + BACKSPACE: Shut down / start up engine (toggle). Orders the driver to shut off or start up the engine. If the TC is a platoon leader then it orders the platoon to execute a "short count" and simultaneously shut down or start up their engines.

W: Driver, move out. Instructs the driver to move forward (press again for increased speed.

S: Driver, stop. Instructs the driver to stop.

X: Driver, backup. Instructs the driver to reverse.

A: Driver, go left. Instructs the driver to go left (hold the key).

D: Driver, go right. Instructs the driver to go right (hold the key).

Gunner related commands:

SPACE BAR: Fire. Orders the gunner to fire at a target he is looking at.

H: Hold fire. Orders the gunner to hold fire. If the TC is a platoon leader then it will also order the platoon to hold fire.

F: Fire at will. Orders the gunner to fire at will. If the TC is a platoon leader then it will also order the platoon to fire at will.

E: Engage. Orders the gunner to engage, and instructs the driver to take up a battle position. If the TC is a platoon leader then it orders the platoon to engage and take up a battle position in the direction of the user's view.

M: Coax / Main gun (toggle). Orders the gunner to toggle between the main gun and coax to engage targets.

SHIFT + LEFT ARROW: Gunner, scan left. Orders the gunner to put move the turret approximately 45 degrees to the left and scan for targets.

SHIFT + RIGHT ARROW: Gunner, scan right. Orders the gunner to put move the turret approximately 45 degrees to the right and scan for targets.

SHIFT + UP ARROW: Gunner, scan front. Orders the gunner to put the gun over the front and scan for targets.

INSERT: Fire, fire (ammo type 1, usually sabot/KE). Orders the gunner (who controls the autoloading mechanism) to switch to ammo type 1 after the next round is fired. Holding SHIFT and pressing this key will instruct the gunner to reload this round type from stored areas in the turret.

DELETE: Fire, fire (ammo type 2, usually HEAT). Orders the gunner (who controls the autoloading mechanism) to switch to ammo type 2 after the next round is fired. Holding SHIFT and pressing this key will instruct the gunner to reload this round type from stored areas in the turret.

END: Fire, fire (ammo type 3, usually HE). Orders the gunner (who controls the autoloading mechanism) to switch to ammo type 3 after the next round is fired. Holding SHIFT and pressing this key will instruct the gunner to reload this round type from stored areas in the turret.

SHIFT + PAGE DOWN: Reload all. Orders the tank crew to reload all weapons systems.

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Gunner's Position F6

In Steel Beasts the gunner's position on the T-72A is fully crew-able and fully modeled. The gunner's position is accessed by pressing F6.

From this position the user can raise and lower their perspective (and exposure level) by holding the Q key (to go up) and the Z key (to go down). The gunner can also button or unbutton (close and open the gunner's hatch) by pressing the B key (toggle).

SB gunner's position
Actual gunner's position
Gunner's unbuttoned view

Gunner's Primary Sight (GPS) (TPD-K1)

This gunner's primary sight (GPS) is the primary sight the gunner utilizes to engage and destroy targets. The GPS view is accessed by pressing F2.

GPS sight view

The gunner's TPD-K1 day sight has one level of magnification at 8x, it cannot be zoomed in or out.

Sight Symbology

In the GPS sight you will see a set of lines, numbers, and symbols: these are referred to as the gun sight symbology.

GPS sight, main gun aiming reticle

The GPS main gun aiming reticle is used for aiming at the target and, when the range scale is set to 0, it is located in the center of the sight picture. The reticle consists of a large caret symbol which is flanked on either side by several smaller carets and vertical lines. The upper tip of the large center caret symbol is the aiming point firing at stationary targets. The upper tip of the smaller carets and vertical lines to the left and right of the larger center caret is the aiming point for moving targets.

GPS sight, laser range finder (LRF) aiming reticle

Somewhere in the sight picture should be a red circle: this is the laser range finder's (LRF) aiming reticle. Unlike western tanks, the LRF and gun sight are not in coincidence and, as such, have two different aim points. To complicate matters, each T-72 has its own unique position of the LRF reticle within the GPS sight, since the position of the circle depends on the given alignment of several components. In order to get the range to a target, the target must be placed inside the red circle to lase it, then the GPS main gun aiming reticle must be placed on target to engage it.

  • The LRF aiming circle is fixed in the sight. Although the main gun's aiming reticle may move with range (it moves down in the sight when longer ranges are entered into the fire control computer), the LRF reticle always remains in place.
  • The LRF aiming circle only appears when the laser is operational and when it is ready to be fired. The LRF circle will disappear when the LRF is damaged or while it is cooling down between lases or after it has been turned on.
GPS sight, coax aiming reticles with green line added showing trajectory

Below the GPS main gun aiming reticle is a series of very small caret symbols, several of which have a corresponding number. These small caret symbols are the aiming reticle for the PK-T coaxial machine gun. On the right side of the sight is a small caret with a "0.5" value. This is the aim point of the coax at 50 meters. To its left is another with a number "1", this is the aim point at 100 meters. The small carets then move left and curve downward until they are nearly in vertical alignment down the sight. These are the longer ranged aiming points for the coaxial machine gun, with the lower most caret being the aim point for a target that is 1800 meters.

GPS sight, stadiametric scale

Located to the right of the GPS coax aiming reticles (to the far right of the sight picture) is a stadia type reticle that is used to estimate range to target in the event that the laser range finder becomes nonoperational. As with the stadia reticle of TNK-3 above, the numbers on the scale represent hundreds of meters. When estimating range to a target, the target is put in between the long horizontal line and the dashed lines above it (the lines just below the numbers). The bottom line is placed on the bottom of the vehicle (where the tracks touch the ground) and the horizontal dash is placed at the top of the vehicle's turret. When the target fits between both lines, it is roughly at the range specified by the numeric value above it. The gunner can then manually input the range into the fire control system and then engage the target.

GPS sight, range wheel and the ready-to-fire-light; ready light is lit and range is set at 1500 meters

Located at the top of the GPS sight picture is the range wheel and ready to fire light. The range wheel displays the range that is currently entered into the fire control computer. When range is entered into the fire control computer either automatically (by lasing) or manually, the range scale will spin and the GPS main gun aim point will move up and down in the gun sight. In the center of the range wheel is a needle which points to the range currently entered into the fire control computer, with each number representing hundreds of meters. The area above the range wheel with light up red when the main gun is ready to fire. To be "ready to fire" the gun must be loaded, in reasonable coincidence with the gun sight, and the LRF must be ready and cooled down (although the gun can fire before the latter occurs, and consequently before the ready-to-fire light is illuminated).

GPS sight with reticle illuminated

Lastly, the GPS symbology may be illuminated for low-light engagements or to standout against a dark background by pressing the R key.

Engaging Targets

Engaging targets with the GPS can be a complicated affair. Obviously the first thing you need to do to engage a target is to acquire it. The best way to do this is by instruction from the TC or by scanning with the GPS sight itself.

Load the Gun

The second thing the gunner needs to do before he can engage a target is ensure that a round is loaded in the gun tube. Unlike western tanks that have a human loader who reloads the main gun until told otherwise, the T-72A has a mechanical auto-loader that must be “told” to load a round by pressing a button. The gunner must press the V key to load a round.


Once a target is acquired and the gun is loaded, the gunner should lase the target to get the range to it. To do this, the gunner must utilize the LRF aiming reticle.

When the target is in the center of the LRF's reticle (the red circle), lase the target by pressing CTRL or Joystick Button 2. Once you lase the target the fire control system will adjust the main gun reticle to the appropriate position so as to accommodate for the ballistic trajectory at that range and currently loaded round type. As mentioned above, once the range scale and gun reticle has stopped moving, the range is now entered into the FCS and the main gun reticle must be placed back on target before firing.

  • The LRF's red circle only appears in the GPS when you are able to lase. The circle will disappear if the LRF is not functional or if it is cooling down between lases.

After a target has been lased, the main gun reticle must be placed back on the target. Now the gun is ready to be fired. To fire the main gun press SPACEBAR or Joystick Button 1. The round will now be launched down range and the enemy will hopefully be rewarded with a quick and painless death.

GPS view, some lead applied on a moving target

The most important thing to realize is that the T-72A lacks a true FCS and therefore does NOT induce lead. Lead is the term used to refer to putting a gun in front of a target which is moving perpendicular to your vantage point. When you lead a target, you essentially need to fire in front of target at the point in which the round and target will meet. Since the T-72A's 1A40 sighting complex does not calculate lead, the gunner must estimate and apply lead himself, and he does this with the use of the small vertical line and caret markers to the left and right of the large center caret, and with a bit of skill.

Firing on the Move (Delta-d)

The T-72A has a feature called "Delta-d" which, once active, will decrease the range set in the ballistic computer by the vehicle's traveled distance. Turret orientation is taken into account as a simple cos() function of the turret yaw (so if the turret is 90° off to one side, distance will not be changed). Delta-d will accumulate forever unless a range is reentered or it is deactivated.

Delta-d can be very useful when closing with stationary targets, but the disadvantage of it is that the enemy target must be stationary for the adjustments to be accurate, otherwise Delta-d may over compensate or under compensate. This can be avoided by re-lasing the target periodically or by turning Delta-d off, and turning it back on again when stationary threats are encountered. Delta-d can be turned off by left clicking the left most switch in the row of three switched that are below the GPS sight in the interior view.

Delta-d switch active

If by some chance you miss the target, first and foremost you need to activate the auto-loader and reload another round. Next, place the red LRF circle back on the target and re-lase. Check to make sure the range wheel and sight did not jump to 800 meters (which is battlesight range -- something the fire control computer resorts to when it gets a base lase) and, if not, then place the main gun reticle back on target and reengage it. If you missed because the target is moving then reload and adjust fire accordingly (apply more "Kentucky windage").

Selecting Ammo
Ammo select switch, auto-loader set in the off position

When engaging targets, the gunner must manually select the type of round to load into the gun. The TC can command the gunner to load a certain round type, but it is the gunner who actually designates what round is to be loaded by the auto-loader.

To select a round type to be loaded next in the auto-loader on the T-72A, press the INSERT, DELETE or END, or by using the mouse to operate the rotating switch located below and to the left of the GPS sight in the interior view. Essentially the gunner puts a rotating ammo selector switch on the appropriate round type which designates to the auto-loader which round type to load next.

  • If no round is loaded in the gun tube, then the fire control computer will adjust the GPS main gun reticle to match the ballistics of the appropriate round type. If a round is loaded in the main gun, then the reticle will not move to adjust to the ballistics of that newly selected round until the gun tube is empty.
Ammo gauge, ammo select "off", 3 empty slots in the carousel

Located to the left of the gunner is the ammunition counter gauge. Normally this gauge specifies how many rounds of a certain selected type is loaded in the carousel (in the auto-loader, ready count). So, if KE is the selected ammo type, the ammo counter gauge will specify how many of those types of rounds are loaded. When another ammo type is selected, it will move to show the count of that ammo, and so on. When the ammo select switch is set in the off position (all the way to the left), the ammo counter gauge will display the total number of empty slots in the carousel, which is helpful to determine when it is a good time to start transferring ammunition from stowed to ready.

  • The ammunition counter gauge has a maximum count of "11". If the needle is pointing at 11, then the actual number could be 11 or greater.

Manually Inputting Range
Range wheel

There may be instances when the gunner must manually index a range into the fire control system. This may be necessary if a target cannot be lased through a smoke screen and another tank in the platoon has a good range on it, or the gunner wants to make an estimate, or for a variety of other reasons. To manually input a range into the fire control system, hold SHIFT and either tap or hold the UP ARROW or DOWN ARROW keys. You can speed up this movement by also holding the ALT while holding the SHIFT key. You can also manually adjust range by scrolling the mouse wheel up and down and holding SHIFT while doing this will increase the speed of movement. The third way to manually input range is by left clicking the mouse on the range wheel just above the gunner's control handles, and moving the mouse left and right (a floating red number will appear displaying the current set range).

When the range is adjusted, the aim point caret and the top range wheel in the GPS sight will move accordingly, with the needle on the top range wheel pointing to the currently set range.

Engaging with the Coaxial Machine Gun

Unlike most western tanks, the coaxial machine gun has separate fixed aiming points in the GPS sight picture (see the sight symbology section). Furthermore, the coaxial machine gun aiming points only work when the range wheel is set to a range of 0. You can reset the fire control system to a range of 0 at any time by pressing the P key or Joystick Button 3. At any other range, the aim points will not be applicable and the rounds will miss the target.

To engage a long range target with the coax, the appropriate range caret must be used for the aim point at certain ranges. These range carets are numbered in hundreds of meters, and move in an arc below the main gun reticle. The most useful technique for engaging enemy troops is to lase the target. After you lase the target, note the range on the range wheel in the top of the GPS sight picture. Note that to get the exact range to the target, refer to the digital readout just to the right of the GPS sight in the interior view.

Once you have the range to the target, null out the range in the fire control computer (return it to 0) by pressing the P key, or Joystick Button 3. Once you do this, the range wheel will spin back to 0, and the main gun and coax reticles will shift upward in the sight picture. Now you are ready to engage the enemy troops with coax.

Place the appropriate coaxial machine gun reticle on the target (in this case the caret below the one marked with a "12" since the target was determined to be nearly 1300 meters), then fire a good "killing burst" while moving the turret back and forth. Adjust fire and re-engage as required.

Engaging targets At Extreme Range With HE-Frag

It is possible to engage targets at extreme ranges of 4000 to 5000 meters with HE-Frag ammunition. To do this, manually index 4000 meters into the fire control system (move the range wheel to its maximum limit until it is off the scale), then use the tick marks to the right side of the vertical line that runs down to the bottom of the GPS sight (the line that is to the right of the coaxial MG range carets). The right side of the vertical line has a "48" and a "50", which represents 4800 and 5000 meters respectively when using HE-Frag ammo with 4000 meters indexed into the fire control system. The other unmarked lines represent 4400 (top) and 4800 (between the "46" and "50") meters, while the large aiming caret is used for 4000 meter shots.

GPS view, range indexed at 4000 meters, HE-Frag extreme range scale at 4800 meters on target

Obviously the challenge lies in seeing the fall of the shot at such extreme range, and due to the ballistics of HE-Frag ammunition the aiming reticle will be located at the very bottom of the screen at typical display resolutions. Keep in mind however that HE-Frag engagements are area effect with much of their damage being inflicted by splash damage effects, and because of that they do not have to be extremely accurate. Also, think of these types of engagements as similar to artillery fire: you will likely have to adjust fire as needed after each shot until you walk the rounds into the target.

IR Sight (TPN-1-49)

The IR sight

Unlike most western tanks from the late 1970s and beyond, the T-72A has no thermal sight. This is a great disadvantage, however it does have a separate TPN-1-49-23 IR sight. The IR sight only barely keeps the T-72A from being completely blind in darkness. The quality of the sight is extremely poor and short range. If the T-72A is pitted against enemy vehicles with no thermal or night vision capability then it will have a slight advantage, otherwise it is generally unwise to engage thermal sight equipped tanks during darkness.

  • Note that the real T-72A does have an IR searchlight which casts a beam of IR light across the battlefield, but currently the searchlight is not represented in Steel Beasts. On the actual vehicle, when looking through the IR sight the IR searchlight's beam essentially acts as a spot light, greatly increasing the effectiveness of the IR sight (once the IR searchlight is turned on, the sight is essentially an active IR sight at that point). However this increased effectiveness comes at a cost: once the IR searchlight is turned on the T-72A is greatly visible to any enemy equipped with a night vision device or a thermal sight, basically pin pointing the vehicle as a target.

Access the IR sight by pressing F3. You can also access the sight by clicking on the sight's ocular lens in the interior view.

  • The IR sight cannot be access in daylight, as the sight's lens on the turret roof is bolted shut to prevent it from being overloaded and burnt out (if you access the IR sight during daylight, the sight will appear black).
IR sight view, enemy tank at ~500 meters
Engaging Targets
IR sight view, aiming reticle

The IR sight has a reticle consisting of four vertical lines and a inverted V (a caret). The two vertical lines to the left and right of the caret are used to estimate lead. They are offset to the left and right by 4 mils (Russian). The two vertical lines above and below the caret, along with the caret itself, are used as aimpoints for engaging targets with certain ammunition types.

  • The top tip of the upper line indicates the aimpoint for KE at 1100m, HEAT at 200m, HE at 100m and coax at 200m
  • The bottom tip of the upper line indicates the aimpoint for KE at 1900m, HEAT at 400m, HE at 300m, and coax at 400m
  • The tip of caret indicates the aimpoint for HEAT at 600m, HE at 500m, and coax at 500m
  • The top tip of the lower line indicates the aimpoint for HEAT at 1000m, HE at 900m, and coax at 600m

Given that the IR sight has a fixed reticle, it is calibrated to the round types that were available when the sight was created/entered service (KE: BM-15, HEAT: BK-14, HE: OF-19). Note that the ballistics of newer rounds may differ. Generally speaking, the top tip of the upper line should be used for KE engagements and the large caret should be used for HEAT and HE engagements most of the time.

Note that the IR sight is slaved to the gun which further limits the effectiveness of the sight. This means that when using this sight your view may bounce up and down while driving and your sight will elevate with the gun while reloading.

Gunner's Auxiliary Sight (GAS)

Unlike western tanks, the T-72A does NOT have a true auxiliary sight. The vehicle's auxiliary sight is the IR sight and it has no other backup daylight gun sight. When the GPS is disabled, the gunner is essentially blind and forced to engage with the unity sight.

Gunner's Unity Sight

The gunner's unity sight is simply a vision block that the gunner has that allows him to see a 1x view to the front. This sight can be useful if you need to see immediately to the front of the turret in a relatively wide field of view. Press F4 to enter the unity sight and use the joystick or mouse to move the turret around normally.

Note that with GPS damage, it is still possible to engage a target at close range with the unity sight. The proven way to do this is to zero the range in the fire control system, and fire at the target with the coaxial MG and watch the fall of the tracer. Walk the tracer onto the target and then fire the maingun. This works targets around 500 meters where superelevation for both weapon systems and ammunition types is minimal.

Gunner's unity sight
Gunner's vision block

Gunner's Side Vision Block

Like the TC's position, the gunner has a vision block which can be used as a way to look around the vehicle (specifically it provides a view of the turret's left flank). The vision block is located above and to the left of where the gunner is sitting, as it is mounted on the gunner's hatch. It is accessed by left clicking the mouse on it in the interior view. Note that the Gunner's hatch must be closed to use this vision block.

Advanced Procedures and Peculiarities

The T-72 is a crude piece of machinery, and it can be a very complicated tank to use. Several status lights and switches in the gunner's station are utilized for special circumstances.

Status Lights
Gunner's status lights, all lights lit except for TC override

On the top row of lights:

  • Upper left: stabilization (if lit, stabilization is active)
  • Upper center: GPS mirror stabilization (if lit, GPS mirror is stabilized)
  • Upper right: hydraulics (if lit, hydraulics are active)

On the bottom row of lights:

  • Bottom left: TC override (if lit, TC is overriding the turret with TKN-3)
  • Bottom center: Delta-d (if lit, Delta-d is activated)
  • Lower right: Gun loaded (if lit, gun is loaded)
Ballistics Switch

The ballistics switch is located above the GPS sight. It has three lights and a rotating switch. The light represent the different ammunition types, and the currently lit light shows the ammo type that is currently indexed into the mechanical ballistic computer. The data in the computer adjusts the gun sight reticle to match the appropriate trajectory.

Ballistics switch pulled out, HEAT indexed into the computer
  • Top light: KE
  • Left light: HE
  • Bottom light: HEAT

Normally the gunner would not need to touch this switch because, when the fire control system and ballistic computer is fully operational, a round that gets loaded by the auto-loader will automatically index the correct ammo type into the ballistic computer and the appropriate light will be lit. however a failure of the ballistic computer may force the gunner to have to manually index the round type into the computer so that the GPS gun sight moves to the correct trajectory.

To manually index the ammunition type into the computer, first left click the mouse on the rotating switch to the right of the three lights. The switch will pop out and can now be rotated. With the mouse pointer over the switch, the switch can be rotated by rotating the mouse wheel up and down. When the switch is rotated, the ammunition lights will change to the overridden ammo type. After you have the correct ammo type selected, DO NOT left click the rotating switch again because if you do, the switch will get pushed in/seated and the ammo type will automatically revert to the type that was entered into the computer before the switch was rotated (or before the ballistics computer was broken). Essentially, when the switch is pulled out, you are manually indexing/overriding the ammo type into the ballistic computer.

  • CAUTION: When using PELE ammunition, you will need to manually index KE or else the round will have the ballistic trajectory of a HEAT round and will miss the target.

Gunner's Station Start-up Procedure

This is performed exclusively by the gunner:

1. Couple the elevation hand crank (left click the mouse on the small lever located below the elevation hand crank, see the image in the key listing section below).
2. Using yaw and elevation manual cranks (SHIFT + arrow keys), make sure the turret moves and check that neither horizontal or vertical turret locks are on.
3. Enable hydraulics by clicking the right most switch in the row of three switches below the GPS, or by pressing the / key. Turning on hydraulics will also power up the GPS head mirror gyro. Check that the rightmost light in the upper row of control lamps lights up. This action will decouple the manual yaw crank (you should not be able to move the turret using this crank any more).
4. After 2 minutes, unlock the GPS head mirror gyro by flipping the lever to the right side of the entire GPS housing (to access it, place mouse pointer over the GPS sight and press N), or you can flip the lever by pressing the . key. Check that the middle light in the upper row of control lamps lights up.
5. Enable gun stabilization by clicking on the center switch in the row of three switches below the GPS sight, or by pressing the , key.
6. Turn on the laser. The green light should light up immediately while the red "laser ready" light will take a bit more time but should likewise be lit up in the end.
7. Check that the aut/man switch for the auto-loader is in the "aut" position.
8. Turn controls side to side, up and down to make sure that stab works properly.
Peculiarities and Warnings
Stabilization deactivated, this can also be done with the , key

The real T-72M1 has several quirks which make it unique. The quirks must be understood in order to employ the vehicle effectively.

  • WARNING: Leaving the stabilization on continuously for about 50-60 minutes will cause the hydraulics overheat and a loss in stabilization. To avoid this, the gunner should turn off stabilization until contact is imminent. The AI gunner will manage this properly on its own.
  • CAUTION: Traversing the turret at the maximum traverse rate will cause the stabilization to go out temporarily until the traverse rate is decreased.
  • CAUTION: The T-72M1 has an extremely slow reverse speed. This should be a tactical consideration when confronting the enemy. Consider turning the hull away from the enemy and turning the smoke generator on when withdrawing.

Key listing for T-72A gunner's position

Weapon system commands:

V: Load the main gun. This button instructs the auto-loader mechanism to load a main gun round.

P or Joystick Button 3: Reset ballistic computer to 0. This is done to engage troops or as an expedient battlesight at close ranges.

SPACE BAR: Fire main gun. Fires the main gun (coax uses a separate key).

M: Fire coax. Fires the coaxial machine gun (main gun uses a separate key).

SHIFT + SPACEBAR: Master blaster. Fires the main gun manually which is useful in situations where where the gun does not respond or when electrical power to the turret is lost.

CTRL: Lase. Lases the target or area currently in the LRF reticle.

LRF mode set to 1200 (switch is pointing up)

`: 1200 / 1800 / normal (toggle). Toggles between 1200 meter, 1800 meter, and normal LRF modes. At 1200 setting, the fire control system will not accept a lase above 1200 meters. At the 1800 setting, the ballistic computer will not accept a lase above 1800 meters. In normal mode the LRF operates normally. The current LRF mode can be monitored by observing the position of the switch below the digital readout just to the right of the GPS sight in the interior view.

R: GPS reticle illumination (toggle). Toggles turning on and off GPS reticle illumination which is used for low light situations.

INSERT: Select KE. Places the ammo selector switch on KE, designating that round type to be the next type loaded when the auto-loader is activated.

DELETE: Select HEAT. Places the ammo selector switch on HEAT, designating that round type to be the next type loaded when the auto-loader is activated.

END: Select HE. Places the ammo selector switch on HE, designating that round type to be the next type loaded when the auto-loader is activated.

SHIFT + UP ARROW / SHIFT + DOWN ARROW: Manual input range into FCS. This manually indexes a range into the ballistic computer. The currently set range is visible on the range wheel in the top of the GPS sight picture. You can also hold down SHIFT with these keys to increase the speed of movement.

LEFT ARROW / RIGHT ARROW: Manual traverse. Tap to traverse the turret using the manual hand crank. Tap the keys quicker to traverse the turret faster. Manual traverse is vital when hydraulic pressure or electrical power is lost.

UP ARROW / DOWN ARROW: Manual elevation. Tap to elevate the main gun using the manual hand crank. Tap the keys quicker to elevate the main gun faster. Manual elevation is vital when hydraulic pressure or electrical power is lost.

Manual traverse and elevation lock released
  • Note that to use manual traverse and elevation controls, first the hydraulics must be turned off/disengaged, either by clicking on the appropriate switch or by pressing the / key (see below). Also, the locking lever must be released to allow manual elevation. This locking lever is positioned just below the manual elevation hand crank. To unlock this lever, left click it with the mouse in the interior view.

,: Stabilized mode (toggle). Toggles gun stabilization on and off.

.: GPS stabilization (toggle). Toggles GPS stabilization on and off.

/: Hydraulic turret power (toggle). Toggles hydraulic turret drive on and off.

Tank commander related commands:

T: Identified! Tells the TC that you have located a target and that you are going to engage it. Essentially it tells the AI TC to leave you alone while you engage and forbids the AI from overriding you to another target. Use at your own risk.

I: I can't see it! Tells the TC that you cannot see a target or the one he is commanding you to engage. Essentially it tells the AI TC to override you on to a target that it wants you to engage.

Driver related commands:

W: Driver, move out. Instructs the driver to move forward (press again for increased speed.

Driver's buttoned view

S: Driver, stop. Instructs the driver to stop.

X: Driver, backup. Instructs the driver to reverse.

Driver's Position F9

In Steel Beasts the driver's position on the T-72A is fully crew-able but partially modeled. There is a 3D view for the driver but there are no functional switches or gauges in the driver's position. The driver's position is accessed by pressing F9.

Once in the driver's position, you can drive the tank by using the joystick or "W, A, S, D, X" keys. You can also unbutton the driver and raise his view by holding Q and you can lower the driver and make him button up by holding Z.

Auto-loader Mechanism

T-72 auto-loader

As mentioned in the gunner's section, the T-72A differs from most western tanks in that it does not have a human loader, and instead uses a mechanical auto-loading device to load rounds into the main gun. The auto-loader is operated by the gunner who selects the ammo type and instructs the auto-loader when to load the round. To instruct the auto-loader to load a round, press the V key from the gunner's position.

The T-72 auto-loader differs from the T-64 and T-80 basket auto-loader, in that it has both propellant and projectile stored horizontally. The carousel is in turn covered by the turret floor and a steel loading gate, reducing the chance of loaded rounds detonating from fire or spall, unlike the exposed upright charges on the T-64 and T-80.

The carousel rotation is limited to 1 direction only. In normal operation, the cassette loader takes 6 seconds to load a round. However, it can take up to 15 seconds to load a round if the round desired is a 355 degree turn of the carousel away.

There have been rumors that the auto-loader has eaten the hands of gunners, and fed them into the main gun breech, but this is impossible as the gunner would have to put his hand into the breech, after pushing the gun load button. Most likely, the source of this urban legend goes back the the very first auto-loader models that were integrated into the T-62 as well as the unprotected hydraulic loading mechanism of the BMP-1 where a uniform could get snagged with moving parts and result in injuries.

In the case of an auto-loader failure, the TC has 2 manual cranks, one of which is attached to a bicycle chain, to rotate the carousel, and hoist the ammunition elevator. However, this is painstakingly slow, taking over 1 minute to complete the loading of a single round. Fortunately the auto-loader is very simple, and extremely reliable.

Auto-loader in action
Carousel in action

Trouble Shooting

Symptom Problem Solution
Main gun will not fire The gun is not loaded Select a non-depleted ammunition type and press V to activate the auto-loader
Main gun does not elevate or depress hydraulically but does move hydraulically left and right Gryos are not fully ready or stabilization is turned off Wait 2 minutes for gyros to spin up; you will hear a clunk when they are ready, and/or press the , key to turn on stabilization (or left click on the center switch in the row of switches below the gunner's GPS sight)
Lasing a long range target, the range wheel in the GPS does not change A) The target is beyond 3000m, fire control computer does not input above that range

B) You have activated the gated range feature on the LRF (either 1000 or 18000) setting
A) Lase the target, then look to the right of GPS and get the range value from the readout; Look back into the GPS and manually adjust the range to the range in the readout

B) Do the same as above and manually adjust the range from the range value in readout, or toggle the gated range switch (` key) back to center until the light goes out above the switch on the LRF panel to the right of the GPS; see information about the 1000/1800/normal switch above in the gunner's controls list above for more information.
Sometimes when lasing the range in the GPS changes to "8" (800m) The lase was bad, either it was a bad return or below the range that the ballistic computer can calculate and the range is automatically set to battlesight (800m) Either re-lase the target, or use the battlesight range of 800m to engage
When traversing, my GPS view starts to move erratically The T-72's stabilization does not support maximum speed traversing Traverse the turret slower or deal with it
I lase the target and the coaxial MG does not hit anything I aim at Range wheel was not reset to 0 After lasing a target, observe the range and then press P to reset the range wheel to zero -- then use the appropriate coax MG aim points below the main gun reticle
TC's NSVT (12.7mm HMG) does not elevate or depress with joystick/mouse The NSVT is controlled by a hand crank Tap UP ARROW and DOWN ARROW to use the hand crank


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