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T-72 - what's the verdict?


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SImple. The Soviet production lines were better suited to cranking out lots and lots and lots of tanks, provided they were designed for ease of production. And that's what the T-72 was tailored for - minimal production costs while achieving certain standards for mobility, protection, and firepower.

The nature of centralized planning of the economy was that you evaluated only a handful of key parameters and that the rest didn't matter in the reward system (heh... reminds me of certain business practices of top level CEOs in the banking system - they do everything to maximize their bonuses, even if it ruins the company (or the economy) - purely incidental, I presume). Soviet planners rewarded the fulfillment of production quotas, and they wanted a tank at minimal production cost that had very good armament at its time, excellent mobility, and "adequate" armor protection.

For example, the M60's engine has a reputation for being extremely robust. Soviet planners would argue that a lifetime of tens of thousands of operating hours is a waste of production resources if the average tank's life expectancy on the battlefield is a mere ten days. Creating an engine that lasts just 1500 hours of running time would give you ample reserves, provided that you don't waste them all in costly live exercises. These tanks to a large extent went from the production line straight into long-term storage, e.g. East Germany had an entire tank regiment fully loaded with fuel and ammo in a hidden underground storage (in blatant violation of the CFE treaty, but only discovered after the German reunification).

Why waste your engineering hours and make production more costly to make the tank maintenance friendly, if it's built to last a mere two weeks on the battlefield?

In contrast, western tank designs focused on crew survival and minimal operating costs over the projected lifetime of a tank, also minimal turnaround times in maintenance and repairs (hence the concept of modularity and a multi-tier repair system). That made the individual tank a lot more costly but made your life easier afterwards.

I don't think that the Soviet designers would question that a lot of the Western features make the operation of a tank easier for the crew. But that wasn't a key factor for them when they were tasked to develop the T-72.

It isn't really leading anywhere if you try to use a western yardstick on a Soviet tank. It will only tell you that the designers and the Soviet economy must have been enigmatic or incompetent. If you look at what they were actually trying to accomplish, you realize that within their frame of reference they were just as smart and used principles of economy. It's just that they used a totally different frame of reference.

The ultimate arbiter is of course the battlefield. As it turned out, the T-72 didn't fare as good as the Soviet designers hoped it would. But in the absence of a high tech tank opponent, the T-72 is a fearsome beast that can wreak havoc to whatever draws its attention.

ahh yes makes sense, explains why Eastern and Soviet ways of thinking are so radicallly different.I could never subscribe to their ways of ''doing things''.But in the end their way of doing what they do best caused thei demise,and over 40 yrs later the T72 lives as the T90.Its been around for a long while but in any form IMHO its still obsolete.....but thats good for us.lol.:biggrin:

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Plenty of pics of T-72s killed at max ranges by Israeli M60s. If both tanks are equally vulnerable to each others' guns, I would go with the more accurate one and/or higher rate of fire, which would be the M60 based on combat results. In reality, tanks rarely act alone. Combined arms matter a lot. But the Israelis somehow managed to get into some heavy tank vs tank fights and used the M60 to its strengths. They didn't really like the M60, but if you give them a weapon, they figure out how to use it well.

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Plenty of pics of T-72s killed at max ranges by Israeli M60s. If both tanks are equally vulnerable to each others' guns, I would go with the more accurate one and/or higher rate of fire, which would be the M60 based on combat results. In reality, tanks rarely act alone. Combined arms matter a lot. But the Israelis somehow managed to get into some heavy tank vs tank fights and used the M60 to its strengths. They didn't really like the M60, but if you give them a weapon, they figure out how to use it well.

which war are you talking about? in the yom kippur war, the israelis were fighting T-62s and T-55s, and in the 1982 lebanon war most of the tank-killing was being done by cobra helicopters, and merkava tanks.

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which war are you talking about? in the yom kippur war, the israelis were fighting T-62s and T-55s, and in the 1982 lebanon war most of the tank-killing was being done by cobra helicopters, and merkava tanks.

Well... In 1982 syrians lost about a dozen of T-72, but those tanks were mostly destroyed in ambush by israeli ATGM unit(from 409th airborne AT brigade). Pathetic stories about hordes of T-72s whacked by Merkavas or Pattons(western point of view) and hordes of Merkavas and Pattons destroyed by T-72s(russian point of view) are just urban legends(if call things in polite way).

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Well... In 1982 syrians lost about a dozen of T-72, but those tanks were mostly destroyed in ambush by israeli ATGM unit(from 409th airborne AT brigade). Pathetic stories about hordes of T-72s whacked by Merkavas or Pattons(western point of view) and hordes of Merkavas and Pattons destroyed by T-72s(russian point of view) are just urban legends(if call things in polite way).
I see, somebody has red Baryatinskiy's book:)
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Кто бы сомневался:)

By the way, I also doubt the story about ATGM ambush and the dozen destroyed syrian t72: the only reason why Baryatinskiy presents it like a true episode is that, as he writes, the story told by Israel officer "seems reliable". So it's not based on documents, but only on the story from one source. Should it be sufficient? I think, no. But in the same book he argues, that every photo of destroyed t72 in that war pictures the same tank, so to a certain extent it shows the scale of t72 losses.

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Кто бы сомневался:)

By the way, I also doubt the story about ATGM ambush and the dozen destroyed syrian t72: the only reason why Baryatinskiy presents it like a true episode is that, as he writes, the story told by Israel officer "seems reliable". So it's not based on documents, but only on the story from one source. Should it be sufficient? I think, no. But in the same book he argues, that every photo of destroyed t72 in that war pictures the same tank, so to a certain extent it shows the scale of t72 losses.

This story is backed up with official "lessons learned"-style IDF research. In any case syrian 81st armor brigade arrived to Lebanon just before ceasefire and did not participated in any major engagements(with exception of discussed ambush).

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Who's this Baryatinskiy? Sounds interesting. But a quick google search gives me this guy:

A_Baryatinsky_01.jpg

Somehow I doubt that's the Baryatinskiy you are talking about. :)

Any other links (not in Russian)?

- Rump

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Well, Baryatinskiy published several dozens books on tanks, including WW2 era and modern. I could send you a pdf version, but only in Russian:)

Can't say that he is a very interesting author, his books mainly contain long passages about equipment with the list of all devices by name etc.

As Jartsev pointed out, one of the most valuable part of his T72 book comes from waronline.org. The article describing first combat action of T72 in Lebanon war is here http://www.waronline.org/IDF/Articles/t72-myth/

You can try reading it using http://translate.google.com.

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Thanks. From what I saw on Amazon, I gathered that he is more a 'technical' writer than a tactician or strategist. The latter ones interested me more, but some technical background on (Russian) tanks never hurts.

- Rump

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Thanks. From what I saw on Amazon, I gathered that he is more a 'technical' writer than a tactician or strategist. The latter ones interested me more, but some technical background on (Russian) tanks never hurts.

- Rump

Also keep in mind, that Baryatinskiy is not a researcher, but a compiler.

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And who is a researcher? Svirin? Maybe, but he doesn't write about modern armor.

Who are researchers?

-team of Zeltov, Sojankin and Kudrjashov

-Pavlov brothers

-team of Kolmakov and Ustjancev

Even mr. Suvorov from VPK corp. PR department doing better job than Baryatinskiy...

P.S. M. Svirin will not write anything anymore.

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I also heard that he broke up with tanks research, but don't know the details.

Svirin have a lot of problems with health and lost interest to military history subject(with "kind assistance" from Y. Pasholok and B. Yulin who systematically trolled him and made everything to discredit him).

P.S. we are going off-topic.

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I recently noticed 2 improvements with the last update:

  1. The joystick now controls the view instead of the main gun in the F1 view.
  2. The gun now slews to the sights instead of vice versa when re-enabling normal stabilization.

Although I never heard mention of the latter on the forums (I assumed it was not a bug), I am happy both were changed. Thanks guys!

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:)

More's coming, thanks to some community guys with access to the original Russian manuals (we had to work originally from East German manuals and Finnish memories - both of which seem to have been in error in a few places).

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Interesting picture(shot made by ukrainian military advisor):

ils1D.jpg

Final production T-72A, upgraded with ERA and sold to Ethiopia as T-72B1(but technically they are still T-72A except external appearance).

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