Monday, September 19, 2005

Soviet Tanks...

Here's a reply I made to a question about Soviet tanks:

I've just been painting some more T72's and started wondering about auto-loading tank guns; the Russians seem very keen on them but no-one else seems to have picked up on the idea. Is there something fundamentally wrong with the way they work? I've heard T72 crew were liable to nasty accidents using this system - trapped fingers or worse? Just out of interest can anyone shed any more light on the subject or suggest a site I could visit to find out more? Cheers.

The autoloaders on Soviet tanks were necessary to reduce the crew size to 3 and keep the turret as small as possible. Soviet tank design is an intriguing example of what happens when non-military considerations drive a military design.

The Soviet Union had a "command economy", which means that a tiny oligarchy controlled all economic output. They simply did this by fiat -- "make 1,000 toasters" and the orders were hopefully carried out. They didn't have a functioning monetary system in the sense that Westerners understand the term. Soviet money was merely a form of voucher issued to the workers by the government. The small scale "real" market transactions were carried out with
real money -- US dollars.

So there was no Soviet military "budget" pe se. The Soviet oligarchs simply decided what was needed and ordered it built. The problem, of course, is that military spending is an economic "hole". Production output spent building a tank is sunk into that tank and cannot be recovered, leveraged or used to make more output. As part of his effort to keep Soviet military production from destroying the civilian economy, Khruschev ordered that Soviet tanks be limited to a certain mass. A tank's cost tends to correlate to its mass, so this was a crude but effective way of imposing a "price cap" on Soviet tanks in an economy that had no mechanisms for price caps.

Soviet designers, then, were faced with a rigid limit on the size of their tanks that had nothing to do with military effectiveness. To produce the most effective tanks within that limit, they focused on making the tanks and particularly the turret as small as possible, thereby maximizing armor protection. A tank's mass tended to increase with its volume, so this was a sensible solution. It also allowed them to maximize armor protection (a smaller frontal area meant more armor thickness for the same weight).

The two ways they did this were to limit the size of Soviet tankers (5'6") and replace the 4th crewman with a much more compact autoloader. The Soviet designers were doubtlessly aware of the problems and limitations of autoloaders, but because it was the best solution available, they went with it.

The result were tanks that were very inexpensive compared to Western MBTs, yet had superior capabilities,
on paper. For instance, the T-72 mounted a 125mm gun when Western MBTs mounted a 105mm gun. Unfortunately, the hysterical cries from Western defense analysts (and contractors) drowned out the facts that most of these superior capabilities were illusory.

For instance, the Western 105mm was at least as good as and probably better than the Soviet 125mm gun. And far more accurate at long range, due to superior Western fire control systems. And the cheap barrel meant that Soviets tanks would wear their barrels out after 100 rounds (vs. thousands of rounds on the Western guns). Since autoloaders were mechanical, many folks naturally assumed that they were faster than human loaders -- but they weren't. Due to small size and by skimping on flank protection and areas unlikely to be hit, Soviet tanks had impressive armor protection in the front. No one noticed that the lousy ammo and fuel storage meant that Soviet tanks were likely to brew up spectaculary when hit. And so on.

The net result is that Soviet tanks were utterly outclassed by Western tanks in the real fights. Of course, the Soviet tanks were crewed by some of the worst soldiers in history, Arabs. And they were "monkey models" -- stripped of some of their fancier gear. But it is telling I think to note that when the Israelis finally built their own tank, they produced a tank that was squarely in the Western design model.
They apparently were not so impressed with Soviet tank design philosophy.

And in the 25 years since the Merkava, no Western nation has built a Soviet style tank. Only the French have deployed an autoloader on their MBTs, and the LeClerc seems much like its Soviet tank cousins - impressive on paper, far less so in actual use.

28 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, that was a lot of opinion and very little fact. AFAIK the main problem with an autoloader is that it is very sensitive to the position of the barrel while loading, so the main gun has to be returned to forward position everytime it is to be reloaded. Also Sweden actually employed a very succesfull autoloader in their previous MBT.

6:19 AM  
Blogger Ty said...

Unfortunately, I am unable to respond to bald assertions like "that's a lot of opinion and very little fact". I made a number of factual assertions in the posts -- perhaps you can identify the ones you disagree with?

My analysis of the Soviet political decision to limit tank sizes is well supported and documented -- I refer you to Zaloga's exhaustive "Soviet/Russian Artillery and Armor Design Practices". My analysis of the limitations of command economies can be found in numerous economic treatises -- the most readable being Thomas Sowell's "Basic Economics".

Also, the problem with autoloaders that you note is, I believe, corrected in the latest generation of Russian tanks.

And I don't think that I'd look to Sweden for the cutting edge of tank design. I note that the bizarre S-Tank design wasn't embraced by anyone else. And the S-tank has been replaced by the far more capable -- and far more conventional -- Leopard II.

I also note that the army with the most armored combat experience at the time (Israel) built a tank without an autoloader. This despite the fact that Israel has a very small population and would presumably be receptive to design philosophies that would reduce crew sizes. One would have expected that *if* autoloaders were as good as humans, the Israelis would have deployed them in the Merkava.

So judging from current tank designs, it appears that autoloaders are simply not as combat effective as human loaders. This does not mean that autoloaders won't be used -- some considerations trump pure combat efficiency (the Soviet political decision to limit tank size for instance).

Also, autoloaders will become necessary when tank rounds become too large for humans to easily handle. I suspect that this is one reason the 140mm gun has never been deployed in Western MBTs. The shell is so heavy that it requires an autoloader, and Western militaries aren't willing to give up the rate of fire.

Interestingly, FFT models this rather well. I'd usually prefer a ROF of 3 (human loader) and slightly lower penetration than a ROF of 2 (auto loader) and a slightly higher penetration.

9:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was just doing some research and stumbled on this old post. Nevertheless, Ty, educate your self. Your make it apparent that you have a long way to go. Soviet "command economy"? Look into Soviet planned economy, (5 year plans) and what it takes to recover from a 60% loss of manufacturing capacity, and over 70% loss of city housing, and then compare it to US war bonds and loan leveraging against debtors such as England for one, which paid for US supplies in hard cash. Your understanding of Soviet post WWII economy, or any economy in fact, is laughable. As commented by anonymous, a lot of baseless opinions and no insight. It is always humorous to see such pseudo educated nonsense.

"They didn't have a functioning monetary system in the sense that Westerners understand the term. Soviet money was merely a form of voucher issued to the workers by the government. The small scale "real" market transactions were carried out with
real money -- US dollars."

As of Nixon, US dollar is in fact a "voucher" issued solely on the "faith" in economic stability, since it is no longer backed by US gold reserve but with geopolitical militant force. Get on the ball young man. Considering the scale of destruction Germans inflicted on Soviet industrial sector, the greatest economic rebuild of the 20th century is marked by Soviet Union, along with some of the greatest ecological blunders. The collapse of Soviet economy was stimulated by the strain of defensive arms race philosophy and bureaucracy which proved to be easily corruptible by economic sabotage. In essence, it is not the Cold War that forced the collapse, but bad management, reasons for which are much more involved.

Soviet tank design was based on the experience learned in Great Patriotic War, just as the rest of Soviet Arms industry.

"So judging from current tank designs, it appears that autoloaders are simply not as combat effective as human loaders. This does not mean that autoloaders won't be used -- some considerations trump pure combat efficiency (the Soviet political decision to limit tank size for instance)."

"One would have expected that *if* autoloaders were as good as humans, the Israelis would have deployed them in the Merkava."

Sheer nonsense. 70 ton behemoths are simply impractical in European theater. Tank size limits were not political, but practical, since European theater consists of narrow roads and light bridges.

Autoloaders are expensive to design and manufacture, that is why Israelis absolutely correctly chose to invest the funds into upgraded sight and fire control systems. WWII clearly showed that in desert tank warfare it is the accuracy and lethality that wins the engagement and not the fire density. In European theater on the other hand, long range one shot kills are much less likely, and fire density with average accuracy wins the engagement, thus the autoloder advantage. For longer ranges a more reasonable barrel launched ATGM solution is implemented, with engagement range of up to 4K.

"The net result is that Soviet tanks were utterly outclassed by Western tanks in the real fights. Of course, the Soviet tanks were crewed by some of the worst soldiers in history, Arabs. And they were "monkey models" -- stripped of some of their fancier gear. But it is telling I think to note that when the Israelis finally built their own tank, they produced a tank that was squarely in the Western design model. They apparently were not so impressed with Soviet tank design philosophy."

Where do you get this stuff? Stinks of half baked TV propaganda blindly repeated by a impressionable juvenile. The only Soviet tanks that were "utterly outclassed" in actual engagements were stripped down T72s and earlier models, and they were outclassed by NATO tanks which were two decades ahead in their development. Israelis would be the first to disagree with your preposterous notions on Arab skills in waging war.

What am I doing? Ty, keep working on it, and keep your mind open to common sense, not pseudo individualistic opinionism.

9:33 PM  
Blogger Ty said...

"Ty, educate your self."

I have provided the sources for my data. Therefore, I can see no compelling reason to defer to your unsubstantiated assertions, which seem rooted more in emotion than in facts.

"Your understanding of Soviet post WWII economy, or any economy in fact, is laughable. As commented by anonymous, a lot of baseless opinions and no insight. It is always humorous to see such pseudo educated nonsense."

Since you were unablwe to actually identify the facts that I purportedly got wrong, I can only conclude that your are engaged in mere puffery.

"Soviet tank design was based on the experience learned in Great Patriotic War, just as the rest of Soviet Arms industry."

Steve Zaloga flatly contradicts your empty, unsupported claim. Given your lack of factual support and apparent emotionalism, I see no reason to trust your bald claims over a recognized expert. Sorry.

"Sheer nonsense. 70 ton behemoths are simply impractical in European theater. Tank size limits were not political, but practical, since European theater consists of narrow roads and light bridges."

You leave me two choices. I can accept your unsupported conclusory assertions, and conclude that the British, German, American, Italian and French armies were idiots.

Or, I can conclude that you are talking out of your nether regions and that the aforementioned Western armies knew what they were doing.

Given the complete lack of evidence and the pathetically arrogant tone of your post, I think I'll take the latter choice.

"Where do you get this stuff? Stinks of half baked TV propaganda blindly repeated by a impressionable juvenile."

So tell us, moron, what particular credentials do you have that should persuade a reasonable person to accept your bald, conclusory, emotional claims?


"The only Soviet tanks that were "utterly outclassed" in actual engagements were stripped down T72s and earlier models..."

Ah, the ever reliable "monkey model" excuse. Faithfully trotted out to excuse the fact that postwar Soviet tanks have performed miserably on the battlefield.

I prefer the simpler explanation -- Soviet tanks were simply not as good tank for tank as the latest generation of Western MBTs. Of course, only an idiot would impute superiority to a Soviet tank with 2/3 the mass and 1/3 the cost of the Western MBTs. Especially when those tanks have performed dismally on the battlefield.

"...Israelis would be the first to disagree with your preposterous notions on Arab skills in waging war."

I'll let the Arab military incompetence in this century to speak for itself. I mean they even manage to make the WWII French and Italians look like Patton's Third Army.

"What am I doing?"

Looks to me like you are stamping your little feet and acting like a twit. You don't like my analysis, but apparently cannot refute it with facts or logic. So you resort to pissiness instead.

I think your posts give us a pretty fair measure of your competence at the subject.

"Ty, keep working on it, and keep your mind open to common sense, not pseudo individualistic opinionism."

I have identified the sources for the facts I cite. Since you are unable to provide credible contra cites, I can only assume that you are talking out of your nether regions.

9:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not anonymous... but Joe Collins...
Hi, Ty...

You left out the best part... Soviet tanks really are outclassed in the end simply because of the human engineering. All the other faults/design issues are easily fixed or explained away. The Sov gun was fixed in the 80s. The autoloader was made more efficient in the T64 models and loaded quite abit faster. The rough edges were smoothed out but the actual human engineering which give western tanks the advantage was never fixed.
I once had a source (a very well informed one) tell me they could have made the T72 25% more effective by a simple change costing less than 5K (though to be fair I suspect the engineering costs would have quite abit more).

Sometimes it is the little things that count just as much as the big things.

Joe Collins

11:04 AM  
Anonymous Lev said...

I'll have to go with the anonymous 'moron' above. It's all opinion and little fact.

For starters you (Ty) say that your claim for the soviet political decision is supported by Zaloga's "Design practices", but it's not.
After all You claim that the decision to limit the weight of tanks was a crude way to cap defense spending. It doesn't say that at all, anywhere in the book.
And while one may argue that the decision to stop the heavy tank program was a political decision, it was not based on non-military argument as you claim. It was rooted in the idea that there was going to be a 'revolution in military affairs'.

The whole autoloader is also a matter of what we call 'having heard the chime, but not knowing where the bell is'.
There is merit to the argument that human loaders can be faster in 'burst rate' by putting in 120% effort at the beginning of an engagement, where a machine only gives 100%*. But to say that autoloaders are overal slower is nonsense, it would in fact not be hard to make an autoloader with a much higher speed than humanly possible :). But there is a more down-to-earth example:
the soviets had two types of tank with a 115mm gun (and similar cramped interiors) in service, and rate of fire in the autoloader equipped tank was better.

* Ironically this is in FFT, maybe an idea for an optional rule?

Loose ends: The western 105 was not better than the soviet "120", the midget crews are a myth (unless they have shrunk the tankcrews of Finland, Sweden, and other users of the T-72), the 'Merkeva argument' is a fallacy (Isreal has built a dedicated MOUT-tank) especially if you are just going to thumb-down any counter-examples.

The economic discussion I can be short about: Your understanding of the soviet economy is obviously limited and I think a small pointer would suffice. The soviets had budgets, military and otherwise, how else could they have run an industrial economy (you wouldn't be able to track costs for example).

For sources I'll refer you to: Zaloga et al. "Soviet/Russian Armor and Artillery Design Practices: 1945 to Present" (Darlington, 1999).

10:49 AM  
Anonymous Aric Watson said...

Interesting.... Has anyone ever factored in the cost of recruiting, equipping and training a human loader? I assume that is more expensive than a mechanical loader. I imagine there's some utility gained from having a human do the job in that the human can (I assume) fill in for other jobs to help with casualties, etc.

Oh, and this comment is all baseless opinion, and very little fact :)

9:36 AM  
Blogger Ty said...

"Anonymous said...
Not anonymous... but Joe Collins..."

Well, crap. Joe, if you'd identified yourself, I wouldn't have gotten so excited. Assuming you're the Anonymous who made the initial comment.

Hope all's well with you and yours.

You are correct -- Soviet tank design flaws are not really flaws. Rather they are the result of reasonable tradeoffs. If you want to have numerical superiority in tanks over an enemy with an economy 3-5 times bigger, then you are going to have to settle for less capable (and therefore cheaper) tanks. There is no shame in that.

Indeed, I'm more impressed by people who can produce effective weapons with very low budgets than I am by people who design great weapons with unlimited budgets. No nation gets more bang for the buck that the Russians have. They were masters at using existing technology to produce weapons that were close to far more advanced Western weapons. The MiG-29 is the classic example. A plane built with the same technology as the F-4 Phantom, yet it is nearly as good as the far more advanced F-15 and its stablemates.

So I have tremendous respect for Russian weapons designers. But I am not willing to imbue them with superhuman powers either. The T-80 is an evolutionary modification of the T-72 series -- a tank first fielded in 1971. Indeed, its basic layout and design are seen in the T-62 -- a tank fielded in the early 1960s.

Every other tank in that contest was fielded 20 years after the T-62 and were completely new systems. It speaks very highly of the Russian designers that the T-80 is even in that contest, let alone competitive.

But I do agree with you that the Russians were apparently blinded to the significance of ergonomics. However, it may be that this was one of the things that had to be sacrificed for economic reasons.

11:45 AM  
Blogger Ty said...

"I'll have to go with the anonymous 'moron' above. It's all opinion and little fact."

[shrug]

I have disclosed my evidence and reasons. He has not.

"For starters you (Ty) say that your claim for the soviet political decision is supported by Zaloga's "Design practices", but it's not.
After all You claim that the decision to limit the weight of tanks was a crude way to cap defense spending. It doesn't say that at all, anywhere in the book."

Zaloga flatly states that political fiat -- not combat efficiency -- shaped the Soviet tank designs. They were small and light because Khruschev ordered them to be so:

'Any new tank design approaching Soviet heavy tanks in size or weight would likely be branded a "heavy tank" by Khruschev and hence cancelled. This forced Soviet tank designers to develop a universal tank within a very tight envelope that mandated radical solutions in armor, crew size, engine design, and other features to cut weight and size."

He goes on to note that the same considerations straitjacketed the design of the T-72 and T-80.

You are correct that Zaloga -- to the extent he covers the topic -- attributes Krushchev's reason to an amateurish enchantment with newfangled weapons (missiles primarily).

However, an extended discussion of Soviet military-economic policy is outside the scope of Zaloga's work. Nor is he known as an expert on Soviet political and economic history. So I wouldn't consider statements on such matters to be definitive. They are outside the area of expertise that he's know for.

My assertion that this was an economic decision came from somewhere else and my own considerable academic studies of the postwar Soviet Union.

Note that the political limit on tank size occured in the middle of Khruschev's 1960 military reforms. Most Soviet analysts agree that his motivation for radically downsizing the military was to improve the Soviet economy, which was being bled white by military spending.

I can run cites down if necessary, but my thesis does not require an economic motive.

It is only sufficient to note that Soviet design specifications were forced on Soviet tank designers by their political master. Someone who is generally considered to have had little understanding of tanks. This means that the Soviets didn't make their tanks small because they thought that would produce the best combat vehicle. And it also explains why no one else -- including armies with considerable military success -- has looked to Soviet design philosophy in designing new tanks.

"And while one may argue that the decision to stop the heavy tank program was a political decision, it was not based on non-military argument as you claim. It was rooted in the idea that there was going to be a 'revolution in military affairs'."

That is Zaloga's opinion and it reflects public statements by Khruschev. However, most credible historians believe that Khruschev was trying to make the Soviet economy more competitive. (And to trim the political power of the Army a bit). To do so *required* serious cuts in defense spending.

In any case, my thesis does not require that Khruschev's motivation be economic.

"The whole autoloader is also a matter of what we call 'having heard the chime, but not knowing where the bell is'.
There is merit to the argument that human loaders can be faster in 'burst rate' by putting in 120% effort at the beginning of an engagement, where a machine only gives 100%*. But to say that autoloaders are overal slower is nonsense, it would in fact not be hard to make an autoloader with a much higher speed than humanly possible :). But there is a more down-to-earth example:
the soviets had two types of tank with a 115mm gun (and similar cramped interiors) in service, and rate of fire in the autoloader equipped tank was better."

I consider it significant that virtually all tanks that have used autoloaders are tanks whose size made a 4th crewman impossible (if the tank was to have the specified gun and armor protection).

In other words, the autoloaders have been chosen mostly because they are *necessary* for the tank to meet its mandated weight and size. Not because it has any particular combat advantage.

So I am satisfied that autoloaders are not superior -- or even equal -- to humans. If they were, every modern Western tank would have them. Autoloaders are much cheaper than the cost of training, equipping, supplying, feeding and housing a single enlisted man for the 20+ years that a tank will be in service. This would make them very attractive to nations with limited manpower (Israel) or comparatively small armies (UK). Yet no one uses them unless the tank's size requires it.

"* Ironically this is in FFT, maybe an idea for an optional rule?"

I'm not sure I follow.

"Loose ends: The western 105 was not better than the soviet '120' "

Well, "better" is one of those words...

Western 105mm ammunition performs as well or better -- in armor penetration -- than Soviet 125mm ammunition, according to the analyses we've done. But not much better. What's interesting is that the Soviet 115mm was as good as the 125mm. But I guess the 125mm had more potential. In any case, I would not want to replace the Rhinemetal 120mm guns with 105mm guns.

"...the midget crews are a myth (unless they have shrunk the tankcrews of Finland, Sweden, and other users of the T-72)"

'France and Russian, in fact, require their tank crewmen to be less than five feet six inches in height, allowing manufacturers to build smaller vehicles...'
Dunnigan, How to Make War, 3rd Ed. p83.

Unless further factual evidence is produced, I'll continue to believe Dunnigan.

"...the 'Merkeva argument' is a fallacy (Isreal has built a dedicated MOUT-tank) especially if you are just going to thumb-down any counter-examples."

Sorry, but if the Soviet design philosophy was truly superior to the Western one, then the Israelis would have built a tank that looked more like the T-80 than like the M1. I think the fact that they didn't do so is significant. And your few contra examples are far outnumbered by the numerous nations who chose not to follow Soviet tank design philosophy.

"The economic discussion I can be short about: Your understanding of the soviet economy is obviously limited and I think a small pointer would suffice. The soviets had budgets, military and otherwise, how else could they have run an industrial economy (you wouldn't be able to track costs for example)."

Well, I'll let the readers judge our comparative economic expertise.

A "budget" is a plan to allocate scarce resources to buy or produce goods (which include services). A budget is used to prioritize purchases so that resources are spent in the most efficient manner.

Therefore, a budget requires two things -- a reasonably accurate measure of the resources available and a reasonably accurate measure of the costs of the goods to be bought.

Soviet economic planners had neither, so they did not have a "budget" in the common sense of the word.

The did know generally how much steel or energy could be produced, and how much would go into building a tank. What they lacked, though, was any way to measure the true cost of the tank in comparison to other things.

At the national level, "cost" of something is the value it has in alternative uses.

In market economies, this value is accurately reflected in market prices. Market prices allocate scarce resources in the most efficient manner -- to produce the things that are most valuable. Prices also ensure that just enough resources are allocated to produce that thing and no more.

Market prices also allow us to determine the true economic cost of an item, since prices determine the cost of the labor and materials that were used to make the item.

But in non-market economies like the Soviet Union, the government owns everything. Prices are set arbitrarily by bureaucrats. This arbitrary number seldom had any relationship to the true economic value of the item. This is why the Soviet Union was plagued by massive shortages of many goods and huge surpluses of others. In the former case, the government price was lower than the item's true value. In the latter case, the government price was higher than the item's true value. The bureaucrats were never able to accurately price the hundreds of millions of items in a typical economy.

Soviet planners had no way to measure the relative values of building a tank vs building something else with the same resources.

So while the Soviets might have used things that they called "budgets", they lacked the tools to actually determine the value and cost of what was being produced.

The prices were whatever the government said they were. So how could a meaningful budget exist? Indeed, most of the time, the government simply ordered X amount of a product to be made.

Because, you see, there was no Soviet "money" -- in the way that we define the term in free market economies.

The Soviet ruble was a ration card, not money. It merely defined what proportion of the government's property a person could consume.

And that proportion constantly changed irrationally because prices were established by bureaucratic fiat, not by the market.

But in the real world, Soviet economists had to have some way to determine the real economic cost of producing tanks. Only then could they determine whether it would be better to spend the production resources on tanks rather than, say, highways.

As it happens, a tank's real economic cost does correlate closely to its mass. So mass would have been a far more accurate indicator of cost than artificially defined "prices". Hence, restricting a tank's size would be a very effective way to limit its economic cost.

The Soviet economic problems were exacerbated by the fact that command economies invariably have far lower productivity levels than market economies. Command economies also expend many more resources to make a given thing than market economies do.

Soviet economists Nikolai Shmelov and Vladimir Popov estimated that the Soviet Union spent "1.5 times more materials and 2.1 times more energy per unit of national output than the United States...[and] 2.4 times more metal per unit of national income than the US."

To make things worse, the Soviets allocated a gigantic proportion of their output to the military. Military spending is an economic "black hole". It consumes resources and produces little that can be used to improve economic performance.

The resources spent on a single tank could have alternatively equipped a medium sized machine shop. The machine shop creates additional production -- typically, enough to return the setup costs in 4-5 years. After that, the shop will increase the size of the economy. The tank produces nothing and will only return a tiny fraction of its cost as scrap metal.

So military spending -- like all government spending -- reduces a nation's future economic performance. Of course, nations must defend themselves. But ideally they should allocate no more resources to defense than what is necessary.

The Soviets thus had a very formidable task in front of them. Their economy was much smaller than the economies of their enemies. They were far less productive, which sapped output further. They made a catastrophically erroneous interpretation of Western military intentions, which led them to build an army far in excess of what was needed to defend the nation. Finally, they failed to realize that massive investments in Third World kleptocracies would never pay off. Fair's fair, though. It took 2 World Wars to make Western Europe figure that out.

Khruschev, to his credit understood these facts, which motivated him to reduce defense spending. Of course, the Soviet economists were aware of why their economy sucked. But like Soviet tank designers, they had to do the best within a politically imposed envelope.

In such a situation, building cheap tanks with lesser capabilities was the only strategy that they could pursue.

2:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I stumpled on this page looking for some info on the T-62 main gun, but I will have to post and repond to this non-sense.


Ty, you take small little peices of information from Zolaga, Like the end of soviet heavy tanks, and apply your own theory of a fantasy weight cap put on Soviet tanks, by politicians.

The heavy tank concept was discredited in soviet tank desgin, since the lacked the kind of mobility needed in modern offensive combat, and the armor superiority they boasted was rapidly being approached by newer soviet tanks , like the T-64.

the weight cap was strictly practical, not a political move by bumbaling politicians (this is just a usual-typical jab at soviet government). All soviet design is strictly practical and utlalitarian.

you also apply western armoured tacitcs and standards to soviet tanks and then conclude that soviet tanks are superior. Soviet tanks are perfectly designed for the jobs they were meant to do. and always vastly outnumbered NATO tanks. even in the late 80s the bulk of NATO tanks could be knocked out by modernized T-55 and T-62 models.

second your knowledge of not only the soviet economy is limited but basic information on soviet tanks too.

what is this soviet 120mm gun your talking about? no such gun exists, the main soviet tank gun is 125mm. secondly your wild assertion that the NATO 105mm is superior to the '120mm'(125mm)soviet cannon is also false. NATO papers and reports show that thw 115mm gun of the T-62 is superior in many ways too the 105mm. why do you think 105mm was replaced by 120mm in newer NATO tanks.

7:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I like your post and your assumptions, Ty. It shows good thought, and I will not criticize your analysis.

I think you are right on about the Soviet T-tanks fundamental flawed nature. I would propose that the intention behind the design series and weight limit was determined as much by the operational nature and exploitation theory of the Soviets from WWII and before, as it was by the "mass theory", though I won't dismiss it's importance.

What is truly interesting, is that the Soviets retain some features, such as the lack of gun tube depression and the lack of ergonomics in their more modern tanks.

Their technical approaches to armor since the T72 are fascinating, though their marriage to the small size is cryptic.

Thanks for putting your ideas out here.

Drew Schumann

9:54 AM  
Blogger Ty said...

"Their technical approaches to armor since the T72 are fascinating, though their marriage to the small size is cryptic."

I suspect that cost is the reason that they are staying with the small size. The T-90S, for instance, should really be called the T-72S, as it is an upgraded T-72. Upgrading an existing tank is far cheaper than designing and building a whole new one, and the Russian military has been extremely cash-strapped since the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Also, I suspect that the Russians are making "business decisions" here. The T-90 would naturally appeal to current users of the T-72 (one of the most exported tanks in history).

If the Russians tried to develop an all new MBT, it might not be ready to field for another 5 years. And there would be inevitable teething problems after that. The result would be a tank that probably would be little better than the Western MBTs that are available right now. And the cost of such a tank would inevitably be higher than competing Western designs, since the new tank's development costs would have to be amortized. Western MBTs such as the M1 and Leopard 2 have long since amortized their development costs. Worse, unit costs of tanks decrease dramatically as the number of tanks produced increases. With thousands of Abrams and Leopard 2's already in service, it's hard for me to see how a new Russian tank could compete in the export market.

And since mass does tend to correlate to cost, the current Russian tanks are much more affordable than Western MBTs -- another advantage for the export market.

Personally, I think that the Russians should license an existing tank design from the West, then refine it for lower cost manufacturing. The Abrams consumes too much fuel (and would be politically difficult). However, the South Korean K1A1 might be a good fit. It is lighter than the Abrams (54.5 tonnes), yet carries the Rheinmetall 120mm smoothbore. The Russians could probably retrofit a 125mm gun on it. I wouldn't; the 125mm is outclassed by the Rheinmetall 120mm. However, the Russians might want to keep their ammunition situation simple.

8:58 AM  
Anonymous Lito-Ming said...

Pffff....Zaloga?! I wonder whether anyone over 16 could read "The Battle for Neustadt Junction" with a straight face. If I was on the hardware-determinist, anti-communist side of this thread I wouldn't base my points in an author with such a one-sided approach. His works seem to be designed to constantly expose the weaknesses of the Eastern Bloc designs and organization. Remember the account on the Maliutka missile? I bet even Steve was grinning when he wrote that.

Nice blog anyway
Salut

3:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, you really learned your stupid u.s./israeli propaganda to a 't', didn't you?

It's fun to notice that the more time it passes the worst the soviet tank become, hien?

The fact stands that the u.s. had not an operational doctrine to save their lives with and in a WWIII they would have their yankee butts kicked all the way across the atlantic by a Soviet high command which learned the most out of WW2 by destroying 75% of Hitler's Wehrmacht in complex combined arms operations while the western allies simply tried to flood the Germans in firepower and even then incurred in some of the most spectacular foul-ups ever (Caen, Market Garden, Huertgen Forest...)

4:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh dear god I hope this is irony...unless this person truly believes that the Soviet offensives in 1944/5 were more sophisticated than massive artillery fires followed by an all arms charge that ignored casualties.

"Wow, you really learned your stupid u.s./israeli propaganda to a 't', didn't you?

It's fun to notice that the more time it passes the worst the soviet tank become, hien?

The fact stands that the u.s. had not an operational doctrine to save their lives with and in a WWIII they would have their yankee butts kicked all the way across the atlantic by a Soviet high command which learned the most out of WW2 by destroying 75% of Hitler's Wehrmacht in complex combined arms operations while the western allies simply tried to flood the Germans in firepower and even then incurred in some of the most spectacular foul-ups ever (Caen, Market Garden, Huertgen Forest...)"

5:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Its a known fact that Russian tanks (post WWII) are, and have been usless steel that better benefits a scrap heap. A poorly designed tank combined with inferior ammunition makes for a tank that is more worthless than a bulldozer.
The ammunition is stored around the turret ring on soviet tanks, rather than in protected bussle racks. This means that once the penetrator gets throught the armor and spalls, it ignites the stored ammunition and this causes the turret to violently fly off of the hull of the tank.
Now as for the auto-loader. The only large-bore weapon system that benefits from an autoloading system is a self propelled howitzer and only provides for a reduced crew and higher rate of fire. Most tanks not equiped with an autoloader uses a type of breech called a "horizontal or verticle sliding wedge." This is simply a steel block with a firing pin inside of it that is actuated by an external firing mechanism. On a verticle sliding wedge, the breech moves up and down. Down opens the breech and extracts the casing, and up closes it. The same principle for a horizontal sliding wedge except the breech action is horizontal in movement. A human loader can load a new round much faster than an auto-loader. Where as an autoloader takes anywhere from 6 to 10 seconds to open the breech, extract the casing, select the round, and reload; a human loader can select the round open the breach and reload it in about 3 to 5 seconds. While I am an artilleryman and not a tanker the principle is the same on light guns. The only thing that will delay the firing of the gun is how long it takes the gunner to re-lay on the target.
Now lets look at the inferior ammunition. The primary hard target ammunition for the abrams is the M839A3. This is the new version of the famous M829 "Silver Bullet" that was used in Desert Storm. The penetrator on the M829A3 is 892mm (35.11804in) and has a mass of 22.3kg(49.1 lb.). It utilizes a titanium isotope which causes the penetrator to laterally shear sharpening the penetrator as it travels throught the armor and maximizes spalling by capitalizing on the incindiary properties of depleted uranium when it comes in contact with oxygen. Mathematically speaking it is the most effective Kinetic Energy weapon that can be fired from a main battle tank. The penetrator is nominally 16 times longer than it is in diameter. This is generally considered to be the most efficient length to diameter ratio for a penetrator. If you decrease the length of the penetrator you have to increase its diameter to maintain the same mass. This increases drag slowing the penetrator down. If you increase the length of the penetrator you decrease drag but the penetrator will likely break when it hits the target. The russians use an autoloader which reduces the length of the sabot round which can be fired from the tank. While the sabot for the M829A3 is 892mm in length, the comparable russian round is only 720mm in length. The round is larger in diameter and has an increased drag co-efficient and lacks the range of the M829A3. Then you have to factor in the balistic characteristics of russian ammunition. While the russians use depleted uranium ammunition, it is extremely rare. Their depleted uranium round also lack the titanium isotope possessed by the M829A3. They mostly use tungsten and steel penetrators. They have the same mushroom effects as a lead bullet does. The only difference is the time it takes to mushroom out. The same goes for the depleted uranium round the russians use. Without the titanium isotope, the penetrator still mushrooms out meaning that the penetrator is required to dig out a larger hole the further into the armor it penetrates. While this expansion takes longer due to the incredible density of the depleted uranium, the fact remains that it still expands. The bottom line is simple. While one might still argue against the abrams in favor of the T-72 and newer tanks, the arguement is a fruitless one. The Abrams has squared off against the T-72 and T-80 and came out victorius. It faught against them in Desert Storm and in the war on terrorism. T series tanks are cheap, poorly armored, and undergunned. These are not statements of opinion. They are fact based. I am a soldier and I like guns. The Abrams is the second best tank on the planet. While I am die-hard American, I have to give the israeli's credit for the steel beast that they created. The Merkava is most definately #1.

7:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"The Abrams has squared off against the T-72 and T-80 and came out victorius. It faught against them in Desert Storm and in the war on terrorism."

M-1s having an easy time with T-80s? Care to elaborate?

12:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Its a known fact that Russian tanks (post WWII) are, and have been usless steel that better benefits a scrap heap."

Quite a few knowledgeable people would beg to differ.

12:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

While the sabot for the M829A3 is 892mm in length, the comparable russian round is only 720mm in length. The round is larger in diameter and has an increased drag co-efficient and lacks the range of the M829A3.

Penetration & accuracy at long range matters only in wide open plains, like desert warfare. In Central Europe (the theater for which all Russian tanks were designed) it is quite rare to have a tank fight at more than 1-1.5km. At knife-fight distances all modern tanks are vulnerable.

1:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Abrams is the second best tank on the planet. While I am die-hard American, I have to give the israeli's credit for the steel beast that they created. The Merkava is most definately #1.

Pfffft... the Leo-2A6 will mop the floor with either of them any day :)

1:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I like what you said about arabs being dumb warriors, they used wetern style tactics while isralies used part whermacht part soviet ww2 tactics, after USA realised this, they formed the battle plan 2000 after interogating whermacht veterans

6:57 PM  
Blogger ahmed said...

I have visted this site and got lots of information than that of i visited before a month.

work from home

5:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

'The small scale "real" market transactions were carried out with
real money -- US dollars.'

Where exactly did you get this deluded crap?

10:35 PM  
Anonymous Viagra Online Without Prescription said...

I don't see the point on giving it so much attention to weapons, especially those made for massive war-killing! There should be legislation against war weapons in the world.

1:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

All I know is my buddy was trained as a T-72 gunner in Finnish army. He´s 5ft 11in and weighed 180lbs in 1987, 240lbs today... so definitely not a midget ;-)
Calm down, boys.

11:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"midget tankers is a myth"
Everybody ....
Until you sit down in the drivers position of a T-72 you can't really comment on this.

5'11" Finnish crewman was a gunner for the reason he would not be able to close the hatch over his head in the drivers compartment.
You had to be small to fit.
My 6'1" and skinny could not fit the last four inches under the hatch. (not to mention any kind of helmet)
Veteran

11:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Steve Zaloga flatly contradicts your empty, unsupported claim. Given your lack of factual support and apparent emotionalism, I see no reason to trust your bald claims over a recognized expert. Sorry."

The following is a quote from Steven J Zaloga in his book T-80 Standard Tank "the T-80U and T-72B represented a fundamentally different capability, having substantially better armor and better ammunition. US Army live -fire tests against ex-Soviet tanks obtained in the 1990s concluded that NATO would have had a very hard time penetrating the advanced armor arrays deployed on the T-80U and T-72B; likewise their ammunition was substantially more potent than the export rounds exported to Iraq." page 25, T-80 Standard Tank 2009.

9:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

can I just say the national, political, economic, and racial bias shown by the majority of posters here is quite breath-taking.

2:44 PM  

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