T55 Russian Tank T55

Variants T-54; T-54M; T-55; T-55A; T-55 AM; T-55 AMV; T-55 Enigma; T-55 AM2B; T-55 AM2; T55 AM2P; T55 AMD; T55 AD Drozd; T-55 AMV; T-72Z; Tiran Israel

T-55 Russian Tank T55
T-34 T34 Soviet medium tank IS-2_Soviet_Tank, ISU-152, T-35 Soviet Heavy Tank, T-62 Soviet Medium Tank, T80 Main Battle Tank, T-90 Main Battle Tank T-72 Tank M60 Patton M1 Abrams M1A1 M1A2 Tank Tank history WW1 WW2 List of tanks WW1, WW2, Modern US Army List of Tanks WW2 M4_Sherman US Tank Production World War 2 WW2 German Tank Production Panzer 3 III, Panzer 4 IV Pz4, Tiger 1, King Tiger 2 Maus (Tank) - Panzer VIII WW2 world largest tank Matilda Infantry Tank

The T-55 and T-54 medium tanks were the Soviet Union's replacements for the WW2 World War II era T-34 tank. The T-54 and T55 tanks are very similar in construction.

Table of contents
Production History
Combat History
General Characteristics

The T-54 and T-55 main battle tanks were the Soviet Union's replacements for the World War II era T-34 tank. The T-54/55 tank series is the most produced in the world, and very widely employed, especially by former client states of the Soviet Union.

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The T-54 and T-55 tanks are very similar and difficult to distinguish visually. Many T-54s were updated to T-55 standards. Soviet tanks were factory overhauled every 7,000 km, and often given minor technology updates. Many states have added or modified tank equipment (India affixed fake fume extractors to its T-54s and T-55s, so that Indian gunners wouldn't confuse them with Pakistani Type 59s).

T-54 can sometimes be distinguished by a dome-shaped ventilator on the turret front-right, and an SMGT 7.62 mm machine gun in a ball mount in the front of the hull, operated by the driver. Very early T-54s lacked a gun fume extractor, had an undercut at the turret rear, and a distinctive "pig-snout" gun mantlet. The T-55's new turret has large D-shaped panels, visible from above.

Production history
1.1 Variants
1.1.1 Modernization
1.1.2 International derivatives Israel China Iraq Romania
2 Combat history

Production history
The first T-54 succeeded the T-44 in production from 1947 as a result of a WWII project. At the time it was better armed and armoured than its Western counterparts, the British Centurion and the American M26 Pershing.

The T-54 was redesigned in 1958 as the T-55, with a thicker turret casting, more powerful engine, and NBC protection. Production continued until 1981 in the Soviet Union. It was also produced in Czechoslovakia, Poland and in China as the Type 59, later redesigned as the Type 69; the Type 69 is still manufactured in China for export today. The Chinese sold thousands of the Type 69 to both Iran and Iraq during their war in the 1980s.

Tens of thousands of T-55 tanks were manufactured in the Soviet Union between 1958 and 1981. It and the T-62 were the two most common tanks in Russian inventory - in the mid-1970s the two types together comprised approximately 85% of the Russian army's tanks. The T-62 and T-55 are now mostly in reserve status; the active-duty units mainly use the T-64 and T-72, with a smaller number of T-80 and T-90 tanks in service (the T-90 in a few units only).

The Israelis captured over a thousand T-55s from the Syrians and Egyptians in the 1967 Six-Day War and the 1973 Yom Kippur War and kept many of them in service. They were upgraded with a 105 mm/L68 NATO-standard main gun replacing the old Soviet 100 mm D10, and a General Motors diesel replacing the original Soviet diesel engine. The Israelis designated these Tiran-5 medium tanks, and were used by reserve units until the early 1990's. Most of them were then sold to assorted Third World countries, some of them in Latin America, and the rest were heavily modified, converted into heavy armoured personnel carriers designated the IDF Achzarit.

The T-55 is considered to be the single most common tank type in the world today. Although it is completely outdated, it remains the tank of choice for many Third World nations who find it fits nicely within their limited budgets. A wide array of upgrades in different price ranges are provided by many manufacturers in different countries, including new engines, Kontakt-5 explosive reactive armour, new main armament such as 120 mm or 125 mm guns, active protection suites, laser range-finders, and thermal sights such as the French AGAVA. These improvements make it a potent main battle tank (MBT) for the low-end budget, even to this day.

The T54/55 has been employed by Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Angola, Bangladesh, Central African Republic, China, Congo (Type 59), Cuba, Cyprus, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Finland, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, India, Iraq, Israel, North Korea (Type 59), Libya, Mali, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Pakistan (Type 59), Peru, Somalia, Syria, Uruguay,Yemen, South Yemen, Yugoslavia, Vietnam, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

T-54 in desert camouflageT-54
T54 A - (early 1950s) added vertical-plane gun stabilizer. Originally had a small counter-weight on the muzzle, but was replaced with a fume extractor in 1955.
T-54AK - command version with extra communications equipment.
T-54B - (1957) 2-plane stabilization, IR night-fighting equipment.
T-54C - temporarily removed AA machine gun and replaced loader's cupola with a flush hatch.
T-54M - upgraded to T-55M standard (below)
T-55 - (late 1950s) new turret with floor, over-pressure NBC protection, gamma ray detector, improved engine and power-assisted clutch, greater fuel and ammunition load. Early units had flush loader's hatch.
T55 A - (1963-1979) anti-radiation protection (leading to visibly protruding turret hatches), dispensed with bow machine gun. T-55A model 1970 restored a 12.7 mm AA machine gun (sometimes called T-55AM).
T-55 flame-thrower tank.
MT-55A - bridge-layer tank (mostny tank).
T-54-T armoured recovery vehicle.
VT-55A - armoured recovery vehicle
ZSU-57-2 - self-propelled anti-aircraft gun (SPAAG); significant changes from T-54 such as much thinner armour and one less road wheel, with a new turret
T-55M - Modernization with ATGM launcher and new fire control system, improved gun stabilization, engine, increased armour. Visual differences include side skirts, smoke grenade launchers, and appliqu? armour.
T-55AM - T-55M with "bra armour" band around turret front.
T55 AMD - T-55M with Drozd APS.
T-55AM2 - T-55AM with "bra armour" but no new ATGM and fire control.
T55 AD Drozd - T-55AM with with Drozd APS.
T-55 AMV - T-55AM with explosive reactive armour (ERA) instead of bra armour.
T-55 AMV-1 - T-55AMV with V-46 engine as T-72.
T55 AM2PB - mostly made in USSR for East Germany, reactive armour and ATGM, most sold back to Russia in 1992, other T-55 tanks in Russian army upgraded to T-55AM2PB standards during 1992-2000.
International derivatives
Tiran-5 - upgraded Israeli version built on tanks captured in 1967 and 1973, no longer in service in Israel but many were sold off.
Type 59 - copy of T-55
Type 69 - redesigned Type 59
T-55 Enigma - T-55, Type-59, and Type-69 tanks used by Iraqi Brigade commanders had appliqu? armour on turrets and hulls composed of steel filled with concrete. Intended to, and in many cases successful at defeating shaped charge warheads (one example is reported to have survived several hits form Milan missiles before being dispatched by a helicopter).
T-55QM - had NATO-standard 105 mm/L68 gun installed replacing the old 100 mm gun, along with a French laser range-finder), upgrades done in mid to late 1980s.
T55 QM2 - T-55 upgraded by Russian technicians with a Russian 125 mm/L80 smoothbore gun and French laser range-finder, 1986-1991.
Type 69-QM - Type 69 upgraded with NATO standard 105 mm gun and laser range-finder, 1984-1988.
Type 69-QM2 - Type 69 upgraded with Warsaw Pact standard 125 mm/L80 smoothbore gun and laser rangefinder, 1986-1991.
TR-77, or M-77 - (1977-1991) unlicensed redesign exported very widely

Production History
The first T-54 was produced 1947. It was redesigned in 1958 as the T-55. Production continued to 1981 in the Soviet Union. It was also produced in Czechoslovakia, Poland and in China as the Type 59.
Currently used in various countries too poor to afford anything better.

Combat History

Hungary in 1956.
Czechoslovakia in 1968.
Israel-Arab wars in 1967 and 1973.
Southeast Asia. (Vietnam, Cambodia)
"Brushfire Wars" (Angola, Congo)
Iran-Iraq War
Gulf War.

Crew 4
Combat Weight (mt) 40.5
Chassis Length Overall (m) 6.20
Height Overall (m) 2.32
Width Overall (m) 3.60
Ground Pressure (kg/cm 2 ) 0.89
Automotive Performance  
Engine Type 620-690 hp Diesel
Cruising Range (km) 390/600 with extra tanks
Speed (km/h)  
Max Road 50
Max Off-Road 35
Average Cross-Country 25
Max Swim N/A
Fording Depths (m) 1.4 Unprepared, 5.5 with snorkel
Radio R-173, R-173P, R-124 intercom
Armor, Turret Front (mm) 200 (base T-55 armor)
Applique Armor (mm) Rubber screens and box armor
Explosive Reactive Armor (mm) 1st Gen raises to KE/700-900
against HEAT; 2nd Gen raises to 450-480 KE/700-900 HEAT
Active Protective System Russian Drozd APS available
Mineclearing Equipment Roller-plow set, and plows available
Self-Entrenching Blade No
NBC Protection System Yes
Smoke Equipment Smoke grenade launchers (4x 81-mm each side of turret), and 24 grenades. Vehicle engine exhaust smoke system
Main Armaments  
Caliber, Type, Name 100-mm rifled gun, D-10T2S
Rate of Fire (rd/min) 5-7
Loader Type Manual
Ready/Stowed Rounds INA
Elevation (?) -5 to +18
Fire on Move Yes (gun rounds only--ATGMs require a short halt)
Auxiliary Weapon  
Caliber, Type, Name 7.62-mm (7.62x 54R) Machinegun PKT-T
Mount Type Turret coax
Maximum Aimed Range (m) 2,000
Max Effective Range (m)  
Day 800
Night 800
Fire on Move Yes
Rate of Fire (rd/min) 250 rpm practical, 800 cyclic, 2-10 rd bursts
Caliber, Type, Name 12.7-mm (12.7x108) AA MG DShKM
Mount Type Turret top
Maximum Aimed Range (m) 2,000
Max Effective Range (m)  
Day 1,500
Night N/A
Fire on Move Yes
Rate of Fire (rd/min) 80-100 practical, 600 cyclic, 2-10 rd bursts
ATGM Launcher  
Name D-10T2S gun
Launch Method Gun-launched
Guidance SACLOS, Infrared laser-beam rider
Command Link Encoded laser-beam
Launcher Dismountable No
FCS Name Volna
Main Gun Stabilization M1 Tsiklon 2-plane
Rangefinder KDT-2 Laser
Infrared Searchlight L-4
Sights w/Magnification  
Day TShSM-32PV, 3.5x and 7x
Field of View (?) 18 and 8
Acquisition Range (m) 4,000
Night 1K13
Field of View (?) INA
Acquisition Range (m) 800-1,300, gun rounds only
Commander Fire Main Gun No
Caliber, Type, Name  
100-mm BM-8 Russian
Maximum Aimed Range (m) 2,500 Max Effective Range (m)  
Day 1,500
Night 800-1,300
Armor Penetration (mm) 200 at 1,000 meters
100-mm APFSDS-T, BM-25
Maximum Aimed Range (m) 2,500
Max Effective Range (m)  
Night 800-1,300
Armor Penetration (mm) INA
100-mm APFSDS-T, BM-412M, Romanian
Maximum Aimed Range (m) 2,500
Max Effective Range (m)  
Day 2, 000+ (est)
Night 800-1,300
Armor Penetration (mm) 418 at 2,000 m, 380 at 3,000 m
100-mm APFSDS-T, M1000, Belgian
Maximum Aimed Range (m) 2,500
Max Effective Range (m)  
Day 2,500 (est)
Night 800-1,300
Armor Penetration (mm) NATO triple heavy target, 4,500 m
100-mm HEAT, BK-17
Maximum Aimed Range (m) 2,500
Max Effective Range (m)  
Day 1,000 (est)
Night 800-1,000 (est)
Armor Penetration (mm) 380
100-mm Frag-HE, OF-32
Maximum Aimed Range (m) 4,000
Max Effective Range (m)  
Day <2,500
Night 800-1,300
Armor Penetration (mm) INA
Other Ammunition Types A variety of other rounds within the range noted above are available. They include the GIAT NR 322/ NR 352 APFSDS-T and Slovak JPrSv AP-T with ranges beyond 2,000 m. Antitank Guided Missiles  
Warhead Type Shaped charge (HEAT)
Armor Penetration (mm) 650 (RHA)
Range (m) 4,000 (day only)
Name AT-10 Improved
Warhead Type Tandem shaped charge
Armor Penetration (mm) 700 (RHA) behind ERA
Range (m) 4,000 (day only)

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